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Reviews and Media

Sara Cockerill has produced the best biography of Eleanor ever written...

In this thorough and immersive biography, Cockerill returns to original sources to assess which claims made about the formidable monarch have a solid basis in fact. Illuminating and absorbing, this is a startlingly accomplished piece of work.

DAN JONES: History Books of the Year for Waterstones

"Blows the other biographies out of the water!"

Elizabeth Chadwick, author of "The Greatest Knight" and the Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy

“Impeccably researched and beautifully written, this book offers a fresh perspective on one of the most controversial queens in history.  Not to be missed.”

Tracy Borman, author of "Matilda, Wife of the Conqueror"

'Sara Cockerill's new biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine is a welcome addition to the literature on this fascinating medieval queen. There have been many books on Eleanor, but too many repeat myths and misconceptions about her. Cockerill's careful historical detective-work digs behind the mythology to reveal what we know about the real Eleanor of Aquitaine.'

Michael Evans, author of "Inventing Eleanor"

'This scholarly, well-written book provides a welcome reassessment of the extraordinary life of a woman who was successively queen of France and of England. Sara Cockerill deploys forensic skills in a thoroughly readable study solidly based on the sources. Eleanor of Aquitaine is revealed not as a romantic heroine, but as a woman faced with extraordinary problems, from her unsatisfactory marriage to Louis VII of France, to her turbulent relationship with Henry II of England and her rebellious sons.'

Michael Prestwich, Emeritus Professor of History, Durham University

"Cockerill is certainly good on the accounts and the charter evidence, but there is hardly anything on the personalities. The research ... is mostly excellent. ... Eleanor geeks will still welcome it, though, as a useful addition to the canon on this most elusive queen."

Claudia Gold, The Spectator 

An article for BBC History magazine about some of the myths that surround Eleanor:











The podcast, for History Extra, where I am talking to Dan Jones about Eleanor, can be found on YouTube here

And here is another podcast, this time with History Today's Travels Through Time ...

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For History Today, I wrote a piece comparing Eleanor's life with taht of her contemporary, Ermengarde of Narboone. Find it here:















And here is another podcast, this time with History Today's Travels Through Time ...

history today.png

Reader reviews


John Miller at

"This may be the best history book I have read on the medieval period from a technical point of view, an almost peerless exhibition of the historians craft. Cockerill has the confidence to ask questions of established narratives and the skill and dedication to form new conclusions from the evidence she has gathered, while not being afraid to show her working, so to speak.
The Eleanor that emerges from this book might to be as bold a character as you may expect, but she is much more human. Her place at the centre of European history at the time isn't diminished in this re-telling, but it is made more realistic and sympathetic.
And I also very much enjoyed the slightest hints of shade that the author throws at less rigorous historians who have preciously tackled the subject. I'm a sucker for academic fisticuffs.
A wonderfully crafted and thoroughly engaging book, any lover of European history, ancient or otherwise, would gain a lot from it."



Sharon Bennett Connolly at History's Interesting Bits

"Sara Cockerill’s Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France and England, Mother of Empires was one of the most anticipated history books of 2019 and it did not disappoint. Dispelling many of the rumours and stories that float around whenever Eleanor of Aquitaine is mentioned, Sara Cockerill looks for the real woman behind the legend.

Mainly using primary sources, Sara Cockerill re-examines every aspect of Eleanor’s life. The research is impeccable and Sara Cockerill’s arguments and analysis are well reasoned and compelling. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France and England, Mother of Empires is essential reading for anyone interested in the era in general and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s story in particular.

This is one of those books that should sit in all medieval history lovers’ libraries, to be read and devoured.

Hamstead at

Sara Cockerill has written a deeply researched and considered biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine that has long been needed. It's a crowded playing field but not a level one. So many of the other biographies have deep flaws in their research, or are outdated, or turn out to be wild fairy tales that only serve to add to the obfuscation that so often surrounds Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Cockerill gives us the 12th century queen as she was and dispels numerous myths along the way. If you are wedded to the fake Disney version of Eleanor you might be in for a few shocks, but stick with this biography and you'll learn some truth and reality.
Highly recommended.

Gareth Russell at GoodReads

"This is a magisterial myth-buster of a biography, juxtaposing the drama of Eleanor of Aquitaine's life with rigorous scholarly insights. It also offers fascinating insights into twelfth-century England and France, the Second Crusade, and the birth of the Plantagenet monarch."

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