Few medieval women had the cultural and historical impact of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who played a significant role (1122-1204) as cultural patroness and political councilor to three courts (Aquitaine, France, and England) in her turbulent lifetime. The greatest heiress in Christendom by the age of eight, Eleanor possessed a rare sense of autonomy for a medieval woman. Aquitaine was not only the chief cultural center of France, but it retained legal and political privileges for women from days as a Roman settlement that ran counter to the custom of primogeniture that dominated medieval feudal society. As the wife of Louis VII of France, and (after a much-contested divorce) Henry II of England, Eleanor was constantly in the public eye; she witnessed many of the most significant historical events of the Twelfth Century, including Abelard's trial for Heresy at Sens, Bernard of Clairvaux's preaching of the Second Crusade, the building of St. Denis (the first church in Europe in the Gothic Style), as well as patronizing many of the most important and enduring writers of the period, from Troubadours to Chretien de Troyes. This course introduces students to the Middle Ages through a personal lens that helps to contextualize a myriad of grand events whose novelty, dramatic power, and historical significance is strengthened through association with Eleanor of Aquitaine.