Ever since 2004, I have been using The Akashic Records to write my novels. They are a form of psychic time travel where someone with the skills to tune in can access people, places and events from the past. My good friend Alison King has this ability. You can find out more at her website and mine - see the sidebar of the blog with more detailed explanations. This blog is soley for extracts of research from my work in progress.
I am currently engaged in writing about Eleanor of Aquitaine. The first novel, THE SUMMER QUEEN is well underway, and the extracts I am posting come from the Akashic Records research data so far conducted.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Part 13 Henry II's thoughts on marrying Eleanor

I was fascinated when we came to begin working on this aspect of Eleanor's story.  So many times secondary sources and novels have portrayed Henry and Eleanor as having a white-hot attraction from the outset, but I have always thought that it ain't necessarily so.  and that politics played a large part.  Nevertheless, when I asked Alison to go and take a look at the then 18 year old Henry's attitude to Eleanor in the run-up to their marriage I didn't know what was going to emerge and I was prepared for anything.  The overall answer came as no great surprise, but it was so interesting to see how Henry's thoughts played out.  Again, this makes sense with the historical record, but disagrees with certain secondary source biographers who have, of course, put their own slant on the matter.  It was interesting to see how much say in the proceedings Geoffrey of Anjou had, but it makes big sense.

First of all to Geoffrey of Anjou and his son the future Henry II when they were discussing a marriage between Henry and Eleanor
Alison: There's quite a strange sort of feeling. Geoffrey's eyes are almost closed and his cheeks are pushing up very hard. It feels like stress. It feels like he is trying to make his point. They are quite vigorous spoken words, powerful. ‘You will do as I say and do it quick. There is no time to be lost; I am warning you. You will regret this for the rest of your life if you do not go ahead with it. You will see what you have lost and what other men have gained. I cannot abjure you enough. You must see the sense in what I say. There will not come another opportunity like this in either of our lifetimes. Fulfil your promise and be forceful in this. (forceful has the meaning of truthful as well) and honest. And you shall go forward.' I'm getting the vision now rather than words of him heading out from Aquitaine round the side and over to England. It's as if Aquitaine will fund the takeover of England and he will have massive power. Geoffrey seems really frustrated here. He's run out of words but he still chuntering and tapping his feet. He wants a reaction that is the right reaction.
 I'll go over to Henry now.  Henry's feeling sick. Oh it's just so distasteful to have a woman to bed who is all old and wrinkly. It's repulsive. It's as if phlegm is coming up into his mouth. Not only that, but the leavings of some other man. Eeeuw. He is showing it in his face. This bright young face so full of promise is being forced to contort itself into a marriage with some has-been bedraggled thing. It wasn't the future he was seeing for himself at all. But Henry being the political animal he was, surely he would see the advantage of a marriage like this? That's right we've seen him being in that situation before, but I'm sure that now he is coming to it, there are different feelings involved as well. There are the emotional feelings as well as the mental side of it. He can't ignore the fact that he feels sick. He is almost retching. I am not getting any more but I'm just thinking this explains the enigmatic silence when he met her (which we saw several years ago). So Henry is not very communicative. Geoffrey is getting more and more frustrated. It reminds me of a parent talking through a bedroom door at an uncommunicative teenager. I think Geoffrey is assuming the opposition rather than it being expressed and that's why he's becoming really wound up because he's getting no response.
Go forward to when Henry actually meets Eleanor - his impressions then. 
 He is listening to his father who is giving him a pep talk and telling him what and what not to do. Geoffrey is really imposing on him the secrecy. ‘Remember if anyone should ask you, you are just by chance discussing family matters. And you are to make no commitments, agreements or offers without my say-so.’ He doesn't want him to spoil the negotiations. He says with a really fixed look ‘Are you understanding me?’ Henry doesn't answer and turns on his heel and walks to the window. Then Eleanor comes in and they do the courtesies. Geoffrey introduces her to his son. It seems as though Eleanor doesn't look at him for very long before returning her attention to Geoffrey. I suppose it's because really that's who she is making the agreement with.
Go into Henry's viewpoint see how he is feeling. He likes the smell of her as she comes into the room. He likes the richness of her clothes, they are gorgeous. But then he has this kind of distaste as well because he thinks what's that going to cost me? He is quite taken by the sight of her foot underneath her dress as she walks. I don't know if it's the shoes or the shape of her foot, but he quite likes it. And he is eyeing up her body. She seems quite slender. He is eyeing up her back just above her bottom. He is thinking about how it would feel to have his hands around there. And also the back of her shoulders. He is thinking how it would be to be having sex with her. At least he thinks she will know the ropes. He is doing it with the eye of someone looking over a horse. He is trying to ignore the face. Because he would have to accept her as a person then? Because she is old. Because he thinks she looks older or because he has already come to that conclusion?  He is prejudiced, but obviously she looks like a 28-year-old not an 18-year-old, or 13-year-old, which is what he would really prefer. I think that is the main problem. She is a full-grown woman and he wants more of a child bride. It's going in completely the opposite direction to his taste. I have just realised -you know how he always thinks of himself as a mature man? How can he be when this older woman is around him? He is always going to be the little boy. With a child bride he would be constantly the older man no matter what age she was. That must really cut deep. That's it!  He's admiring her hair and her headdress. Yes he can enjoy that. And when her hair is down, it can cover her face. He is eyeing her with real detachment and a hard silent appraisal. His eyes are quite steely. What I mean by that is that they are hard, they are still, but they have a bit of a glint. They are inscrutable. He really can't trust himself to say anything because it has to be at the moment for political reasons. He still thinks that it may not go the whole way, because at the moment it's not completely agreed. He is indifferent to her, but he hates the situation. He can see her gentility, the charisma, her abilities, social and diplomatic, but they are not things that are attractive to him at all, he dislikes them. Doesn't he think they will be useful in a wife then? What I mean by that is that he doesn't want them in a wife at this stage. He wants those abilities himself and to have a wife who is a little bit less good at it. He doesn't want a wife outwitting him. Any thoughts about her as breeding stock being a she's only had two daughters? No, because it's all about the land. He feels that once he's got the marriage then that's enough to secure him the land.
I'm thinking of a contrast with his father who, when faced with a similar situation and being told he had to marry the Empress Matilda, was of the opinion that he would bonk her until he got her with child and hope that she died in childbirth.  No Henry hasn't got that attitude at all. He hasn't thought about children so far, but maybe he is just taking it for granted. Perhaps he is so confident in himself that he doesn't think about it. Perhaps he's got bastard children already.  Yes, it wouldn't be a problem for him.
After the meeting he is smiling. I can see that his dad is a little bit worried and a little bit relieved as well. He is saying ‘Well that wasn't so bad after all was it? She is a person who will make up her own mind and do what she wants to do. We don't have a lot of advisers to deal with, so we have a good chance.’
Henry has got a bit of a smile, albeit a rueful straight across one. Because quite frankly she isn't as bad as he thought she was going to be. He's a bit relieved about that, especially the smell. That seems to have made a big impression on him, because she smelt fresh, and he had thought she was going to be this old, decaying baggage. Then father and son are standing together looking out of the window...


  1. Brilliant! And to me it makes more sense than the love at first sight interpretations!

  2. I had the same thought about Geoffrey and Matilda - sort of history repeating itself here.
    I wonder, as well, if Henry resented this marriage a little because she is so confident and "powerful"? I agree with the thought that he wanted someone younger (and sillier) so he could be the "elder" of the marriage (in the sense of the dominant partner.)
    Elizabeth - was Matilda dead by this time? (forgive me for not checking for myself! You'd know instantly, I'd have to look it up!) #busy not #lazy

  3. Helen, the Empress died in 1164, so well into his marriage. We looked into her viewpoint too. She thought it was a good idea politically but in her heart wasn't exactly over the moon!

  4. Jules, yes, this feels like the truth.