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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 71



curo the aid οΐ Louis and his mighty army to forward his own ambitious projects. The singular kindness and attention which Lleanora received from her uncle so charmed her vanity, that she expressed no willingness to commence her toilsome march to Jerusalem ; and this, her very natural and womanly reluctance to again encounter fatigue and privation, has, by some modern writers, been censured, as proceeding from an unlawful attachment to her hospitable uncle, whilst others, believing such a view of the question untenable, have, with no better reason, asserted that it was not upon her uncle Raymond, but upon a Saracen emir of high rank, that she had so improperly conferred her favours. That her levity and coquettish conduct at Antioch was highly censurable, there is little doubt; but the fact of the indignantly-offended Louis afterwards continuing to live with her, and treat her with all the respect due to her exalted station, for upwards of three years before a divorce, under the convenient plea of consanguinity, was sought for, renders it highly probable that she was free from the gross crimes imputed to her, and that the pretended jealousy of the king had no other object than Raymond himself, from w^hose political intrigues he was only too glad to find a pretext for freeing himself. But, however this may be, Louis expressed great rage at the conduct of his consort, and after peremptorily seizing one of the city gates, hurried her and her attendants, on a stormy night, out of Antioeh, whence he and his army instantly departed for Jerusalem, On reaching that holy city, upon which every other crusader had gazed with enthusiastic devotion, Eleanora only gave vent to the indignation pent up in her ruffled breast. Weeping with rage and resentment, she bitterly upbraided her rovai lord for so ruthlessly outraging her fair fame ; and on being reminded of the impiety of turning her thoughts from heaven to earth, when she had but just entered the birth-place of the Holy Saviour of the world, she replied : " My heart is wrecked—my happiness for ever gone. All my religious ardour has been swept away by the hurricane of adversity, and the holy and beautiful city is to me but a loathsome prison-house, full of woe and galling oppressions." Louis and hie consort Were most honourably received by Baldwin the Third, King of Jerusalem, in which city Eleanora wras detained almost as a prisoner, whilst Louis, in conjunction with Conrad of Germany, unsuccessfully besieged Damascus. 11 owever, after raising the siege as a hopeless task, the Ercnch King effected something like a reconciliation with his indignant consort; and, careworn and depressed by repeated losses and crosses, laid down the sword of war, and gladly retraced his steps to Europe. In 1118, the King and Queen of France again entered their own dominions, but with them they brought only the shadow of that mighty warrior band who, full of faith and high hope, had gone forth but little more than a twelvemonth previously to fight the battle of heaven, and who, overcome by the perfidy of the Greek and Syrian Christians, and the open hostility of the Painim, were mowed down like wheat before the sickle, and their bones left to blanch the mountains of Cappadocia and the plains of Nice. On reaching Paris, Louis was strenuously advised by his minister and confidant, the sage Abbot Suger, by no means to deprive himself and his progeny of the valuable dower of his consort by divorcing her for only a suspected criminality. Eleanor, therefore, continued to reign with her usual pomp and state. She was, however, closely watched, and not allowed to visit her southern provinces —a restraint which gave her great offence, as the solemn religious decorum that reigned at the court of Paris strikingly contrasted with the sprightly freedom practised in Aquitaine, and by no means accorded with her gaiety of heart. Her royal lord paid no regard whatever to her tastes and sentiments, and at length so disgusted her by wearing plain monkish attire, shaving his face, cropping his hair, and indulging in all the rigid rules of St. Bernard, that she resolved, on the first fitting opportunity, to quit his presence for ever.


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