The Lion and the Tigress
In the second book from the Eleanor of Aquitaine Series, as the blind seer from Antioch predicted, Eleanor marries the love of her life, Henry II of England. Passion rules the marriage as alpha male and alpha female compete for dominance. Meanwhile, to drag his war-torn kingdom back from the brink of anarchy, Henry must rely on the resources of the Eleanor’s Aquitaine.
Marriage to the beautiful, intelligent Eleanor delivers Henry an empire from Scotland to the Pyrenees. Often, she must act as his regent in England while he tries to dampen dissent from across the Channel. Henry comes to fear that Eleanor is a more successful ruler. Only she can control the nobles of the Aquitaine, and, much to Henry’s jealousy, she tames and enchants the rebellious Welsh king.
Over ten years, Eleanor gives birth to nine children. Again, as foretold, many are sons, future competition for Henry’s crown and his affection for their mother, which makes him an ambivalent father.
Then there is the ambitious Thomas Becket., who Eleanor suspects is the greatest threat of all to her regal plans…
|ISBN 9781922830029 (PB, 278pp);
152mm x 229mm
|AUD $33||USD $24||CAD $26||NZD $36||GBP £18||EUR €20|
|ISBN 9781922830036 (eBook)||AUD $17||USD $10||CAD $12||NZD $19||GBP £8||EUR €9|
The Lion and The Tigress evokes, so brilliantly, the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine during her marriage to Henry II, King of England. You travel each onerous step with the feisty, highly educated queen. You hear the snort of her horse and smell its sweat. You feel the intensity of her fury as she defends her children and her realm against all comers, including Henry. An immersive experience and a highly recommended read.
– Kerry Cue, author of Target 91
Rayson-Hill’s Eleanor of Aquitaine is a masterful creation: brilliant, mercurial and vital. This is history brought to life.
– Toni Jordan, author of Addition
Helen Rayson-Hill trained as an infant teacher, and taught in country Victoria, Melbourne and the UK. Later, she became a drama teacher following a long interest in the theatre.
After a family transfer to Brisbane, she was appointed Queensland Manager of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. For two years, she co-ordinated National Arts Week in Brisbane working closely with the Queensland Government’s Ministry of the Arts and Brisbane City Council.
On returning to Melbourne, Helen held a position at the Victorian Arts Centre in the Membership and Fundraising and Development Department. For two years she was an adjudicator for the Victorian Drama League.
Helen has also performed both on the stage in Melbourne and Brisbane and on television in Neighbours on Channel 10 and Something’s in the Air on the Australian ABC network.
Writing has always been an interest of Helen’s and she is a member of the Writers’ Circle at Melbourne’s Lyceum Club. She has written plays for her drama students as well as sketches for amateur theatre. Also an artist specialising in oils, Helen has held successful exhibitions at several Victorian galleries.
Helen’s short stories and memoir pieces have been published in anthologies, and she has written a children’s book, Kid Detectives. The story was inspired by her grandson who wanted to know how children entertained themselves before electronic devices filled their lives.
Helen has long been interested in Medieval history, especially in the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. After many years of research, inspired originally by the play The Lion in Winter by James Goldman, Helen was motivated to write about Eleanor’s amazing life. Consequently, Eleanor, the Firebrand Queen became the first in a planned series of historical novels about this Medieval feminist.
Chapter 1. London
We celebrated the birth of Christ in Westminster Abbey. It felt odd after all the pomp of our Coronation to be back in the that mighty house of God, but also a relief the concerns and nerves leading up to that momentous day were over. However, the ritual, the spirituality and solemnity of the occasion would remain forever in my heart.
What a fateful year it had been for Henry and me. Stephen of Blois and his evil son Eustace were no longer. Henry’s mother, Empress Matilda was at last avenged, and England her rightful inheritance, returned to its dynastic roots.
The year of 1154 was carved like an inscription on a monument in my mind. Judith’s prophesy all those years ago in Antioch had provoked within me every emotion from doubt to anger. Now that it was coming true, I wrestled still with its predictions: You will marry the love of your life, you will bear him many sons, but your life will be tumultuous. You are destined to become a great queen.
This morning while we knelt in Westminster Abbey, I glanced at Henry with his head bowed and I pondered what his thoughts might be. The responsibilities of his kingdom lay heavily on his young shoulders even though his mother had groomed him for this role. I prayed not only for God’s guidance of our onerous future, but to endow Henry and me with the wisdom to unite this war-torn nation. Henry was a natural leader of men, a soldier, a valiant knight, but not a patient diplomat. I prayed I could provide that influence.
After we returned to the old Saxon Palace of Bermondsey, our temporary home, our families enjoyed themselves and were able to relax. Our Christmas court was informal, allowing us to partake in simple fun. We exchanged little gifts, drank mulled wine, and ate goose and other fowl such as grouse and pheasant. With sticky fingers we relished sweetmeats made from dried fruits and nuts flavoured with spices and laced with honey.
This would be the first Christmas little William would remember; such a joy. My Aquitainian court was as excited as puppies with the appearance of snow. Laughter and sport took place in the fairyland-like gardens as we made snowballs and hurled them in all directions. It became quite a joust with the Plantagenet men trying to outdo each other. Henry’s brothers, Geoffrey, and William were as competitive as he was. Nilla’s children ran about squealing with joy, for the first time since their father Raoul’s death. Wrapped up in furs, my sister and I looked like cuddly bears. We joined in the fun. But the cold eventually won as flurries of snowflakes sent us indoors to the warmth of the braziers, but not before I hit Henry on his ear with a snowball, dislodging his cap. He whirled around.
‘What the… Eleanor!’
I saw him wrestling with his thoughts – should he retaliate with someone in my condition or not. But, with a peel of laughter and speed that surprised him, I had shot indoors before he could hurl his handful of snow.
Henry caught me puffing up the stairs. He backed me into a corner. My expanding belly was no barrier as he forced the snow down my neck. My shrieks brought everyone to see what the commotion was. With a fiendish chuckle, Henry picked me up despite my protests and carried me to the great hall.
‘No! Henry, stop. Put me down!’
To get my own back, I shoved my freezing hands under his tunic.
‘Ahhh! God’s teeth Eleanor. Your hands are freezing!’
Sir Robert de Lucy Henry’s squire who was standing with a goblet of mulled wine in his hand and a mischievous look in his eye, quipped, ‘Oh, dear oh dear! Such questionable behaviour from the King and Queen of England!’
‘Ah ha, de Lucy! Enough cheek from you.’
Henry and I pounced on him and thawed our freezing hands on his face and neck. Our attendants thought we had lost our senses.
Mulled wine soon warmed us as we collapsed into chairs or onto stools, still laughing and panting. Nilla and I were reminded of our childhood Christmases at Poitiers or L’Ombrière, though snow was almost unknown in the Aquitaine. Nonetheless, Christmastide was always a time for family festivities as much as a day to celebrate Christ’s birth.
Our first Christmas day in England was a joyous event, a reprieve from the obligations to come. Later in bed, Henry and I reflected on his plans and dreams for our kingdom and our lands across the channel.