The Most Expensive Divorce Ever

Medieval power couple King Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine, seemingly unable to produce a male heir, had a messy breakup. Their annulment on 21st March 1152 was granted by the Pope on the grounds of consanguinity - meaning they were too closely related by blood. And yet both parties went on to marry people to whom they were even more closely related.

Henry of Anjou was Eleanor’s next husband - a move which made her the only woman in history to have been both Queen of France AND Queen of England. Meanwhile, Louis lost half his Kingdom - and had to sit and watch as Eleanor popped out male heir after male heir with her new hubby.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Arion explain why going on a Holy War is not great marriage therapy; get between the sheets with the Royal couple; and consider how an attempted kidnapping might have made for an awkward family atmosphere at Eleanor and Henry’s wedding reception… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine - Queen of France, Queen of England, By Ralph V. Turner’ (Yale University Press, 2009):

• ‘Eleanor Of Aquitaine: The Medieval Queen Who Took On Europe's Men’ (HistoryExtra, 2020):

• ‘The Court of Love - Eleanor of Aquitaine #2’ (Extra History, 2022):

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2023.

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