Why write the Eleanor Code?
Because I care about love and its origins. The foundation of romantic behavior began in the 12th century by Eleanor of Aquitaine and her family. Nothing has yet been written about this generational focus.
Why did she celebrate love-song, begin a code of love, academy of manners? To some degree, she traveled to see civility in foreign courts, but fundamentally Eleanor comes out on the other side of the apocalyptic singularity of the 2nd Crusade. Only one in twenty return home. Many lost their religion. In a vacuum of values, and in the moral emptiness of her next husband Henri, Eleanor begins an academy of manners that French courts will become famous for. This unique program focuses on raising her sons to be better men, and daughters to be better women. This program is centered in love, with a code that includes the chivalry that developed in the 2nd Crusade. This program evolves as she betroths Leonora in the great ceremony in Puivert. She advocates a change in human conduct that transforms society forever, a premise validated in Marilyn Yalom’s ‘How the French Invented Love.’
I seek to answer three questions. How did we learn to become romantic in love? What are the original rituals? What made Eleanor tick?
One reason for romantic cultivation, as mentioned above, is the departure from average brutality and to fulfill lost spiritual values. It is also a pursuit of pleasure, the antithesis of Christian teaching. Music and personal love-song certainly help reinforce romantic behaviors.
Today, some practice a shadow of romantic behavior found in Eleanor’s code of love. Being a muse to allure and appeal to another’s aspiration is a forgotten art. Pre-Raphaelite muses, water nymphs, chevaliers with a conscience are all part of this medieval world. A book ‘On the honest art of love’ contained the code, dialogs, cases, and definitions of love. Eleanor began the study and her daughter continued it when her mother was imprisoned for the rest of her life.
This series is written with enough depth to understand her life. The question of how Eleanor came to be is useful to readers to know a character is worth emulation. It is also useful for actors who may play her. I begin with her childhood age 6 and show her development into a world traveler, a woman who defies powerful men, and asserts her own view of a better world. Part of the charm is that Eleanor does not know she can change the world, and yet she, by her example is one of the rare people who does.