Friday, April 22, 2011

Uniting Western Europe under the Plantagenets

Eleanor or AliƩnor of Aquitaine, when married to the King of France was Queen to a Kingdom about the size of the present Ile de France, namely the immediate surrounds of Paris.

When married to Henry II, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty, their rule by the year 1170, covered an area from the Pyrannees, across western Europe, into Ireland and up to the borders of Scotland. In the eastern part of Europe at almost exactly the same time the Hanseatic League , interestingly enough, was also being formed.

The  langue d'oc was spoken across the Midi from Catalonia to Provence. It ignored all political frontiers, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it formed one of Europe's most brilliant civilisations. Aquitaine formed its heart and we now remember it chiefly for its Troubadours, Eleanor at Poitiers became their Queen.

Here is a verse to remind us on this Good Friday of the wonders of the heritage held in the West of Europe, the full poem is here:

Domna, vostre sui e serai,
del vostre servizi garnitz.
vostr' om sui juratz e plevitz,
e vostre m'era des abans.
e vos etz lo meus jois primers,
e si seretz vos lo derrers,
tan com la vida m'er durans.

Lady I am yours and yours shall be,
Vowed to your service constantly.
This is the oath of fealty, 
I pledged to you this long time past.
As my first joy was all in you,
So shall my last be found there too,
So long as life in me shall last.

(Research material for this posting came from Norman Davies "Europe - A History")

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