Friday, September 4, 2015

In Search Of Deep Time, Henry Gee, c. 1999

An easy-to-read book on early cladistics. Maybe something for the beach for light reading but lots of cocktail trivia. Fun to read in light of where we are in 2015.

Full title: In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life.

This small book could have been subtitled with "cladistics."

The "new history of life" appears to be a book about emergency of cladistics.

1. Nothing Beside Remains
2. Hunting Unicorns
3. There Are More Things
4. Darwin and His Precursors
5. The Gang of Four
6. The Being and Becoming of Birds
7. Are We Not Men?
The chapter titles could have been greatly improved.

Chapter 1: Nothing Beside Remains

Introduction of cladistics. Starts with his time in Kenyz looking for hominioid fossils. A nice overview of the Leakeys.

Chapter 2: Hunting Unicorns

The fishes. Today there are more fishes than amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds put together.

Among the panoply of fishes, which are the ancestors of the tetrapods?

Tetrapods sprang from the greater subgroup of bony fished called the Sarcopterygii -- the so-called "lobe-finned" fished. Only four (from the original thousands) remain. Three of the four are the so-called lungfishes, one each from Africa, Australia, and South America. The fourth is the coelacanth. Thought to be dead, one was recovered off South Africa in 1938, after a gap of 70 million years. A second coelacanth turned up in the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean in 1952. Since then, more than 200 have been caught in that area, though many others have been spotted off Madagascar.

A coelacanth discovery in 1998 off Sulawesi in Indonesia was "the zoological surprise of the year."

Discussion of the extinct "osteolepiform" fishes as the missing link in this chapter.

Acanthostega -- a tetrapod missing link. Discussion of the hyomandibula, the equivalent of the tiny stapes ('stirrup') bone in our middle ear -- in fishes, the hyomandibula forms a substantial structural element that holds the back of the skull together. 

Modern tetrapods, the hyoid anchors muscles that work the tongue. The hyoid is a vestige of an elaborate basketlike structure that supports the internal gills of fishes. The tetrapod Acanthostega was an obligate aquatic animal.

Discussion of pteraspids, a jawless fish of the Devonian period.

Chapter 3: There Are More Things

Back to Darwin. Evolution.


Discussion of sex: the origin of sex remains an important problem for evolutionary biologists. Sex explains how variation is maintained; it does not tell us why. Important concept: discussed also by Nick Lane in recent book (2015) the Vital Question.

Chapter 4: Darwin and His Precursors

Those before Darwin.

Chapter 5: The Gang of Four

Don Rosen, Peter Forey, Colin Patterson, Brian Gardiner; 1981; article in Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History: argues that lungfishes (discussed earlier) were closest living relatives of the tetrapods.

Argued that cladistics was the way to do this -- not the classical way used for decades. Not welcomed by paleontologists.

Chapter 6: The Being and Becoming of Birds

Important link: Dromaeosaurs. Mentioned in passing in Dingus and Rowe The Mistaken Extinction, but an important link.

Chapter 7: Are We Not Men?

The cladistics of humans.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Book Of J, Translation By David Rosenberg, Commentary By Harold Bloom

I took these notes years ago; I don't know how much is direct quotes from the book and how much is paraphrasing, my own notes. It was brought over from a Word document and formatting is yet to be done.

Commentary by Harold Bloom
Translation of the “Book of J” by David Rosenberg

Four sources of the Torah: J (the Yahwist), the Deuteronomist (D), the Elohist (E), and the Priestly source. There is a fifth, the Redactor (R) but he redacted / revised -- is not considered a source.

From wiki: The Elohist (or simply E) is identified through textual criticism as one of four sources of the Torah, together with the Yahwist, the Deuteronomist and the Priestly source. Its name comes from Elohim, the term used in the Hebrew and Canaanite languages for the Gods.

From the introduction:

    “‘The Book of J’” is used here [in this book] as the title for what scholars agree is the oldest strand in the Pentateuch, probably composed at Jerusalem in the tenth century BCE [let us say, 900 BCE].

    “J stands for the author, the Yahwist, named for Yahweh (Jahweh, in the German spelling; Jehovah, in a misspelling), God of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

    The later strands in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers are all revisions or censoring of J, and their authors are known as E, the Elohist, for ‘Elohim,’ the plural name used for Yahweh in that version (J always used ‘Elohim’ as a name for divine beings in general, and never as the name of God); P, for the Priestly Author or School that wrote nearly all of Leviticus; D, for the author or authors of Deuteronomy; and R, for the Redactor, who performed the final revision after the Return from Babylonian Exile.

    [Harold Bloom states that ‘Elohim’ are angels.]

    [If J considers ‘Elohim’ as divine beings, one could argue that she had not given up idea of more than one god; Harold Bloom, I believe, argues that J wrote of only one god, Yahweh.]

    The name ‘Abram’ in J means ‘exalted father’; the now more familiar ‘Abraham,’ which means ‘father of a host of nations,’ was introduced by P.”


    Harold Bloom imagines two writers working closely together in the royal court.  One writer was the royal scribe, responsible for court history, and the writer of 2 Samuel. [Samuel was one of the last Israelite judges before the kings of Israel; Samuel had been trained by Eli.]  The royal scribe was undoubtedly a male.

    Near him, perhaps in the royal court, but possibly elsewhere, was a woman, a writer, and friendly rival of the court historian.  Harold Bloom argues that it was she who wrote the Book of J.  I believe he would consider what she wrote to be prose poetry, not religious in nature, and every bit as good as Shakespeare.  Indeed, Bloom states, just as Shakespeare’s Hamlet was a literary figure, for J, Yahweh was also a literary figure.

     For brevity, we will call her ‘J’ for now.
    Bloom suggests that Genesis, written by J, was a companion piece to 2 Samuel, written by the court historian. [Was the court historian tasked with writing on contemporary – or near contemporary – events, and J was commissioned to write the older history?]
    J was an author at or near the court of King Rehoboam of Judah, who reigned in the early 900’s.  [Conflicting dates:  922 – 915 BC or 931 – 913 BC]  King Rehoboam was the son of Solomon, and was the first king of Judah.  Solomon’s Kingdom fell apart under his less-than-adequate son Rehoboam after Solomon died in 922 BE.  [Bloom is going to argue later on that J was protecting Solomon’s and David’s good names after Rehoboam’s disastrous rule.]

    J’s original works have been lost.  Scholars believe that fragments of her work exist in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers – just three of the five Pentateuch books.  These books are often referred to as the “Five Books of Moses” but Harold Bloom states unequivocally it is a fiction that Moses as the author. 

    Harold Bloom states that 2 Samuel and Genesis are companion books.  

    Among many themes, Bloom makes three points early on:  1)  J was a female; 2) there are astonishing differences between J and all other Biblical writers; and 3)  the concept of irony in the Bible is the concept that is most often and most weakly misread concept in the Bible.


    Bloom provides background on the authors of the Torah. 

    One train of thought:

            The Deuteronomist text (D) (centuries later than J)
            The Priestly text (P)           
            The Redactor: Single Work
            Jahwist text  JE text
            Elohist text

    After the Babylonian Exile
        P    rival histories, rival religious views
                All had to be kept but differences had to be minimized
        D    rival law codes

    Many think that the Torah Redactor was Ezra – a priestly scribe who is thought to have led 5,000 Israelite exiles in Babylon to their home in Jerusalem (459 BCE).  History is found in Ezra and 1 Chronicles.

Yahweh as a literary figure for J:  For Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Yahweh is the God of Abraham’s children, BUT in the Book of J, Yahweh is a literary figure – just as Hamlet is a literary figure.

Bloom:  religion is the way people choose to worship based on poetic tales, yet we do NOT worship Hamlet, and yet we do worship Yahweh.

[As I write this, I wonder if there is an irony in this.  For J, Yahweh is a literary figures – which people don’t worship – and yet people worship Yahweh.  J created a literary figure we worship; Shakespeare created a literary figure (Hamlet) whom we study.]

Bloom’s anxiety is that J’s Yahweh is “human-way-too-human” and yet we worship him.

Bloom states that J is not of the same genre as Wordsworth, George Eliot, or Tolstoy, but rather of Kafka!

Only two (2) ways to get back to J:
                The Israeli scholar of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel, or,
                Only those areas of J that normative authors could accept

“What are we to do about J’s Yahweh, the uncanniest of all Western metaphors?" – p. 15
    For believers, Yahweh is NOT personal like Christ for Christians, Muhammed for Muslims, Moser for Jews, or objectivity for secularists.  But for J, Yahweh is very personal – “human-all-too-human.”

    Harold Bloom unequivocally states that he has a myth of J – his myth – just as we all, including himself, have a myth of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Freud.  For Bloom, J is Gevurah (“great lady”).

    The “great lady” wrote alongside her good friend, the court historian, for the post-Solomic court circles.  She wrote “J”; he wrote 2 Samuel.

    Deuteronomy was composed centuries later.  “D” said Moses “wrote down a Torah” – a teaching, p. 20.  [Did “D” not know about “J” or did the Redactor decide that it was better to have Moses write the JE text rather than a non-religious female author, who may not even have had formal education.]

    Bloom is not the first to question Moses as the author of the Torah; there is a history of such questioning:
        Thomas Hobbes was first
        W.M. L. DeWette
        Trio of 19th-century German Hegelians (anti-Semite):
            Karl Heinrich Graf
            Wilhelm Vatke
            Wellhausen (d. 1918)

Another timeline:

    J:  finished writing about 915 BCE

    E:  did not exist as an individual; there was no author E; rather E was a revised or censored J with all consequential implications; and E doubtlessly added additional information

        Therefore, by 850 BCE, about two generations later, J was reduced to a more normative writing (“normative”: prescribed rules of writing)

    D:  the Deuteronomists – focused on violent moment of King Josiah’s puritan reform, 621 BCE

    P:  a generation later.  An alternative text:  all of what is now Leviticus, and a larger store of what is now Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers; written after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, 587 BCE; continued deep into the Exile

    R:  the Redactor, about 458 BCE; of undoubted genius; thought by some to be Ezra the Scribe.  Produced the Torah probably pretty much as we have it now.

    For Bloom, the Redactor is a villain (smile) because he prevented us from seeing the fuller Book of J.  It would be like a John Updike re-doing all of Shakespeare – p. 22.

Imaging the Author J – who was she; what was she; what was she trying to write?

    J is Kafka’s direct predecessor, p. 25
    J invented irony

    Several meanings of irony; first three are given in the dictionary; a fourth will be added by Bloom.

    First (not J):  Socratic irony.   Irony as first used by Socrates.  “A feigned ignorance and humility designed to expose the inadequate assumptions of others, by way of skilled dialectical questioning”

    Second:  “Use of language to express something other than supposedly literal meaning, particularly the opposite of such meaning, and also the contrast or gap between expectation and fulfillment” [I think this could be consistent with J]

    Third, closer to J:  Dramatic irony and Tragic irony.  “The incongruity between what develops on adjacent words and actions that are more fully apprehended by the audience or readers than by the characters.”  J is a master of such irony.

    Fourth, for J, her form of irony:  This form was invented by her.  Her irony was “the representation of what happens when altogether incommensurate realities juxtapose and clash?”  For example, what happens when a god wrestles with a mortal (gross incommensurate beings).  How can Abram haggle with Yahweh?  How can Jacob wrestle with a nameless one among the Elohim (angels)?  Also, p. 26, how can we find it persuasive that a manly rough hunter Esau would barter his birthright for that celebrated mess of pottage?

    [An aside.  In the movie, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” the events between Johnny Depp and an unnamed boy may be examples of both the third and the fourth types of irony.  As an example of the third definition of irony:  when Johnny Depp said he didn’t want to see the boy again, and later in the movie when they cross paths, Depp has been blinded and cannot see the boy.  The same event can represent the fourth definition of irony:  an unnamed, untrained boy saves the life of a trained killer.]

    Of the three (actually four) definitions of irony above, Bloom says J has her own form – invented by her and unique to her.

    J is economical:  she leaves things out; the reader needs to pay attention,
    J is elliptical:  she is aware of the reader’s preconceived notions and she evades them (one technique:  wordplay, puns)

    J:  “If one could imagine a Jewish Chaucer writing with uncanny ironies of Kafka, Isaak Babel, and Nathaniel West, but also with the high naturalistic wisdom of Tolstoy and Wordsworth, then one would approach the high humor of J, ultimate ancestor of The Canterbury Tales, as well as of Tolstoy’s fictions and Kafka’s parables.

27:  “Monism is one of J’s inventions.”

p. 33:  J:  another literary originality – fusing history and myth, now a Western tradition.  Her result:   a new kind of narrative, closer to Tolstoy than to Homer

p. 33:  where did J’s Yahweh come from?  For Bloom, probably a combination of all three:
        a) her people’s past
        b) contemporary beliefs of these people
        c) from her own humorous and subtle imagination

For Bloom, p. 34, why did Yahweh
             almost kill Moses?
             prevent Moses from entering Canaan?
             bury him in a secret location

These all suggest a possessiveness of a young child – think of a child that almost kills a pet goldfish, and then when it does die, buries it in a hidden location.

p. 37, for Bloom:
    J – a member of the royal family
    Court historian:  a scribe, but not of the royal family

p. 41, David, NOT Moses, is the HERO of the Hebrew Bible – so, think about this – the Redactor wanted MOSES, not David to be the hero of the Hebrew Bible.  Why?
    “Yahweh is in love with David (a king) and not with Moses (a prophet)

    This says volumes about J – especially if J was a royal!  And especially if David was her grandfather!

David:  a literary figure – we know little of the historical figure, p. 42

Too much to write on David, but important to read!! – p. 42 and following

p. 44, for J, David is precisely what Abram, Jacob, Tamar and others strive toward becoming.  David is Shakespearean for J, p. 46 – 47.

Wow!  You can almost hear Bloom shouting, “I want the varnish off [I want to discover the real] J because [she] is a writer of the eminence of Shakespeare or Dante, and such a writer is worth more than many creeds, many churches, many scholarly certainties.”  Wow, p. 48.

Translating J: The Book of J as translated by Rosenberg

Commentary on the translation

p. 176:  Monism was J’s invention; the creation story was not her invention.  Many creation stories by this time

J never mentions David – but probably saw David as “god-like” – and the real “first” man, and Adam as a secondary man.

    p. 177, Bloom is unaware of any precedent for an Eve.
    p. 177, for Bloom, for J, Eden is an “era” – not a locale.  Eden:  a “time” – never to return

p. 178:  the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad is J’s invention; other myths included a Tree of Life.

p. 179:  issue of “help met”

p. 179:
    God made man out of inanimate object – clay (mud); and had to breathe life into “it”

    However, God made woman out of living flesh, and thus did not need to breathe life into her – in other words, he got it (life) right the second time around [Bloom is suggesting that God could have made man from pre-existing life forms – but wow – that would have been interesting.  [Others could argue, however, that God’s breath of life was what made man’s life different from other life forms] [It begs the question, from what did God make the other life forms and how did they take their first breath?  Or is that too literal?]

    Also J devotes six (6) times as much space to woman’s creation as to man’s creation! p. 180

p. 181:      Homeric culture:  culture of shame
        Christian culture:  culture of guilt
        Solomonic culture (J’s culture):  neither shame nor guilt

p. 182:  again, the irony for G is the clash between incommensurates

p. 187:  J argues that there is very little difference between man and angels – only difference is immortality (Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge [good and bad], but not of the Tree of Life [immortality])

p. 195, “Moses, despite Freud’s assertions, did not invent monotheism, Abraham did, and the promise of Canaan.  Therefore the promise was made to Abraham, and only secondarily to Moses, who in any case was banned from going there.”

Abraham:  abrupt disaffection with idolatry – we don’t know why – but J noted it, and it is the norm for all prophets since

Too much to write on Abraham, p. 197 and following.

p. 198, Bloom would say this:  “In a way, J was the father of Yahweh (God).”  J is substituted for Abraham by Bloom, just as Moses was substituted for J by the Redactor.”

J did not invent Yahweh, just as Shakespeare did not invent Hamlet.

p. 199, J’s attitude toward the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and towards Yahweh.  Abram first calls upon Yahweh by name (Gen. 12:8)

p. 199, the great cycle of J – to Egypt and back to Canaan.  Abraham went to Egypt, as did his son Isaac and grandson Jacob.  Jacob and Rachel  Joseph  Egypt.

J is NOT judgmental, even less so than Shakespeare.

Why does J tell such unfavorable stories of these patriarchs – [even more interesting, why did the Redactor and other revisionists NOT edit those unfavorable stories?]

p. 204:  sin is NOT one of J’s concepts, contempt is.  Sodom is not destroyed because of its sin but because of its contempt; for Yahweh, for strangers, for women, for Lot, for all who are not Sodomites.

p-. 206: Bloom’s thought on Abraham test to sacrifice his son Isaac – Bloom feels J did not write this story.


p. 209.  Initially Bloom thought J was Jacob, until he “realized” J was a woman.

In this chapter, Bloom discusses the Blessing – to extend one’s name; Jacob becomes Israel.

Too much to write, p. 209 and following.


Earlier, Bloom lists the heroines, p. 216, “commencing with Sarai and Rebecca, to culminate in Tamar.”

p. 220:  Bloom considers Tamar the most memorable character in the Book of J – despite her brief appearance in Genesis 38.

    Tamar:  lineage of Jesus.  P. 220

J makes clear that her centering on Tamar means her allusions to David – her real hero.

  • Tamar (Tamara) and Judah
  • Zerah and Peretz. Peretz, "grandfather" [actually great-great-etc-grandfather] of David. [David's father was Jess, son Obed, son of Obaz and the tribe of Judah and Ruth the Moabite -- website; "Pharez" heads the line -- is Judah's son. This makes Peretz a great-great-etc-grandfather of David.
  • Peretz
  • Hezron
  • Aram
  • Amminadab
  • Nahshon
  • Salmon
  • Boaz
  • Obed
  • Jesse 
  • David

For J, Tamar ensured the Blessing continued to David.

p. 223:  Tamar does NOT give up.  Her will does NOT give up.  Her will becomes the will of Yahweh, and ten (10) generations later leads to David, of all humans the most favored by Yahweh.


    Why did J write so much about Joseph, when Abraham, Jacob and Moses so much more important to the traditions of the Hebrews?  P. 224

    Again, too much to write, p. 224 and following.

    With Joseph, J’s principal contribution is what we now call the art of prose fiction.

    Family diagram:  Jacob and Rachel had 12 children.  The first three, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi did not get the Blessing.  The Blessing went to the fourth son, Judah.  The 11th child was Joseph (the coat of many colors) and the youngest son was Benjamin. 

p. 227.  J’s personages much like Shakespeare’s because Shakespeare drew from J.  “The perpetually changing consciousness of J’s beings is very different from the Homeric state of mind, and…”
    In Shakespeare, “characters change by brooding.”

p. 233.  Re:  Joseph, “J’s greatest literary gift, like Shakespeare’s or Montaigne’s, or Freud’s, may be an original master of moral and visionary psychology.

p. 234 – particularly interesting

    Joseph is for J, as David is for the author of 2 Samuel. [need to think about that; for J, Joseph was a secondary character, not as important as David; David was her hero;  For 2 Samuel’s author, if David was a secondary character, who was the primary?  Solomon and the Royal House of Solomon?]

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime, Harold Bloom, c. 2015

The twelve pairings:
  • Walt Whitman and Herman Melville
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James
  • Mark Twain and Robert Frost
  • Wallace Stevens and TS Eliot
  • William Faulkner and Hart Crane
From the book:
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson met when he lectured in Amherst and stayed for dinner and overnight at her brother's home next door. Her references to him in her letters are wistful and humorous, while her poems offer a sly critique of him.
The relationship of Nathaniel Hawthorne to Henry James is one of direct influence and I bring them close together, in a way James would have disliked.... The ghostly Henry James, as in "The Jolly Corner," also emanates from Hawthorne.
Mark Twain and Robert Frost have little in common despite their mutually concealed savagery, but they are our only great masters with popular audiences. Both dissemble and move on two levels, implying deeper meanings to only an elite.
Long, long paragraph on Stevens and TS Eliot, p. 5.
William Faulkner and my lifetime favorite, Hart Crane, are placed here side by side since each forces the American language to its limits. I contrast these titans implicitly, and I hope subtly, in their authentic shared tradition of American precursors. The only begetters they have in common are Melville and Eliot.  Additional Faulkner begetters include Hawthorne and Mark Twain. Crane's formidable lineage inludes Whitman and Moby-Dick, Emerson and Dickinson, Stevens and Eliot, and a panoply of other American poets from William Culley Bryant and Edgar Allan Poe through William Carlos Williams. 
A long, long paragraph on Whitman and Melville, starting at bottom of page 5.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, Ken Ludwig, c. 2013, With An Introduction By John Lithgow

Incredibly fun book. Highly recommended. The only problem with the book is that the author still believes Wm Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon actually wrote "Shakespeare's Plays." Ignore that part of the book and it can still be enjoyed.

JD Salinger: A Life, Kenneth Slawenski, c. 2010; Salinger, David Shields and Shane Salerno, c. 2014

Salinger died in 2010.

It is amazing how much of this book is devoted to the three years JD Salinger had served in the US Army.

Unfortunately, it does a poor job of describing the six subcamps of the Dachau Holocaust camp liberated by Salinger's "unit," the 4th Infantry Division: Horgau-Pfersee, Aalen, Ellwagen, Haunstetten, Turkenfald, and Wolfrathausen.

This book tends to read like a typical biography of any famous author. The David Shields and Shane Salerno biography (below) is much, much better, though it is written in a very different style.

Salinger had spent seven years in Vienna during his teen-age years. During the war, shortly after VE Day, he returned to Vienna to see the family he stayed with. Salinger arrived in Vienna only to find that every family member had perished in the concentration camps, including the girl with whom had had his first romance.

This was after Hürtgen Forest. This was after liberating the concentration camps. This was after his release from a psychiatric hospital (he self-identified; self-admitted.) This all happened in the space of three years.

This author provides much less information about Sylvia (marriage lasted less than a year) than the biography by Shields and Salerno.

By late 1946, Salinger had begun to study both Zen Buddhism and mystical Catholicism.

Salinger had carried the first six chapters of Catcher in the Rye into Europe when he landed on the "beaches" on D-Day.

In 1961, Time said Salinger had completed Catcher in the Rye, but does not state when. Slawenski says Salinger completed the novel in 1950. It was published in 1951, but The New Yorker refused to run excerpts of it.

From "personal notes -- diary" regarding this book:
Salinger, David Shields and Shane Salerno, c. 2014

Jerome David Salinger

Born 1919
D-Day: 1944 (age 25)

Oona O’Neill: dated Salinger until his entry into US Army (daughter of most famous American playwright, O’Neill)
Jean Miller, met Salinger in 1949, just after the war; relationship, 1949 - 1955
Claire Douglas: second wife, 1953 - 1967
Leila Hadley Luce: a one-time girlfriend of Salinger; died in 2009

Joyce Maynard, lived with Salinger in the early 1970s, a novelist; Salinger, in his 50’s

Salinger’s older sister: Doris, b. 1912
Salinger himself, born 7 years later

Claire Douglas: his second wife, Claire, son Matthew, daughter Margaret (Peggy); a clinical psychologist; Jung Institute of Los Angeles since 1992; second wife from 1953 - 1967

[Note: Claire, his second wife; first wife, hardly counts; German woman, right after the war; very strange, something going on; mutual agreement to divorce, I think. Claire, his second wife officially, but probably, really, his "first" wife in all other respects.]

August 31, 2015:

I continue to read the Salinger book; every night a few pages before falling asleep in bed.

I am now well past halfway into it. He is about 55 years old; has seduced a 20-year-old into living with him, Joyce Maynard, who must have interned at The New Yorker; wrote a piece that resulted in her photo on front cover of Newsweek; she went on to become a novelist.

This is what I takeaway:

     New York, Jewish, with all that baggage
     As teenager, father sends him to Europe to learn the family business; importing/selling hams       (remember, the family is Jewish); this is before WWII; while there “falls in love” with young woman — 14 y/o — in Vienna; longs to see her again
    Falls in love with Oona O’Neill
    ends up in US Army in WWII; in counterintelligence; already has first six chapters of Catcher in the Rye written; carries it with him into combat; continues to work on it; on one of the first waves     hitting the beaches on D-Day
    meets Hemingway at least once, maybe three times while in Europe; in Army
    liberates at least one concentrations camp; sees the horror of these concentration camps         (remember he’s Jewish)
    learns that the first “crush” he had — the 14 y/o in Vienna — she and her family died in             concentration camp
    learns that his first adult love, Oona O’Neill has married a man who could be her father, Charlie         Chaplin
    returns home; after much struggle finally gets a piece published in The New Yorker, his lifelong         dream
    gets Catcher in the Rye published
    the rest is history: becomes a recluse; probably a pedophile by today’s standards; certainly         very immature with his desire for young women; once seduced and won, he tosses them aside
    most likely suffered from PTSD after WWII but probably had mental health issues prior to US         Army

He was probably mentally damaged / depressed when he was teenager in Europe learning his         family’s business; not uncommon for late teen-agers to have “issues”

his experiences in WWII would “justify” PTSD
finding out his first “crush” had died in concentration camp would have been enough to justify everything that happened later
then loses Oona, his true first love
succession of “adolescent” females
reclusive; definitely “crazy” but not insane, as they say; his condition “justifiable”; amazing he never committed suicide; raises questions of whether PTSD prone to suicide; whether someone "crazy" less likely / more likely to be suicidal; narcissistic personality disorder?

I will finish book, but the story is now known. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Duveen: A Life In Art, Meryle Secrest

c. 2004

Fly: p. 4
Post-chaise, p. 16

Chaise: from the French, chair

Post: regular route, for hire

Fly: from "flying-carriage"

Friday, March 6, 2015

Eleanor Of Aquitaine: A Life, Alison Weir

c. 1999

12th century English/French history; High Middle Ages; First Renaissance; time when England owned "most" of western, northern France; and then shortly after, lost it in the 100 Years War.

Romantic literature thrived during the 12th century

Perhaps Eleanor represents that period of coming out of the Dark Ages; England is defined as a country that controls, but then loses, western/northern France. One woman at the center of all this: Eleanor of Aquitaine -- Queen of France (annulled); Queen of England; mother of two kings whom she outlived.

Eleanor and Henry II build up huge empire -- England, Ireland, most of France -- only to lose most of France due to son John's ineptitude.


Before Eleanor is born/married: England -- through Wm the Conqueror still held Anjou and Normandy on the continent.

Marriage of Eleanor to King Henry II (England) added Aquitaine to Anjou and Normandy on the continent.

Anjou, Normandy, and Aquitaine: pretty much all of western and northern France.

Henry II vs Louis VII 

Hundred Years War: England throne lost French lands forever; 1337 - 1453

It is of interest that despite the English kings/royalty holding title to French lands, these French kings/royalty were "vassals" to the French king and owed them their support. The French kept trying to reduce the power and the possessions of English royalty on the continent. Gascony -- far southwest of France, along the Castille, Navarre and part of Aragon of Spain -- was about all that was left by the time of the 100 Years War (need to confirm)


Eleanor becomes Duchess of Aquitaine (owned by "France" ) - 1137
Second marriage to King Henry II (Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou)
So, she is queen (and later queen dowager) of England when married to Henry II
She outlives two of her sons who become king: third-born son Henry (King Richard I -- "Lionheart" -- almost all his time in France) and King John
War of the Roses, 1455 - 1487


Geoffrey (nickname, Plantagent), Count of Anjou
Son by Empress Matilda: Henry II (either Angevin Empire or first Plantagenet), becomes king, 1154
Third son Richard I ("Lionheart" - most of time in France)
 Fifth son John (who lost continental holdings)
John's son, Henry III -- first (or second) Plantagenet


Eleanor of Aquitaine -- during High Middle Ages


First of many Franco-Scottish alliances under Louis VII to frustrate Henry II


Progeny by first husband, Louis VII of France, all daughters
Progeny Henry II, England
First son: William, 1153 (thereabouts); died at age "not quite three" in 1156
Second son: Lord Henry, 1155
First daughter: Matilda (in honor of the Empress), 1156
Her third son: Richard, 1157; designated heir to Eleanor's Poitou and Aquitaine, in place of his deceased brother William; Richard was Eleanor's special son (p. 147)
Fourth son: Geoffrey, after the King's late father and brother, 1158
Fifth (?) son: Philip, unlikely but rumors; unusual name for a son; died in infancy? (p. 155)
Second daughter: Eleanor, 1161 (first baby in three years; led to rumors of Philip; married to King Alfonso VIII, Castile; daughter Blanche to become Louis's wife; Louis VIII)
Third daughter: Joanna, 1165
Six son, last child: John, 1166, raised as an oblate? (p. 170)


Marriage alliances
Soon after her birth, Henry "conspired" to have his son Lord Henry marry King Louis VII's new daughter Marguerite  -- if no male heir, Marguerite could inherit the French kingdom (not allowed under French law, but that wouldn't stop Henry)(hopes to "have" France ended when Louis VII married a second time, after first wife's death in childbirth -- p. 152); Marguerite to have the French Vexin has her dowry; Vexin had been ceded back to France by Henry's father; Vexin to be protected by Knights Templar (p. 148)
11 y/o Lady Matilda to Henry of Saxony; part of plan to ally with German Emperor; Henry the Lion (Saxon) was 24 years her senior; very successful marriage; improved trade between England and Germany



12th century
an age of burgeoning scholarship that is now regarded as the first Renaissance
an age that gave birth to a ssuccession of outstanding and perceptive chroiclers

Prologue: 1152 (Eleanor about 30 years of age); the year she married Henry II, son of Geoffrey -- this would have brought Anjou, Normandy and Aquitaine all under English king (but still vassals? to the French king)

Married in the Cathedral of Poiters; Poiters at one time in the province that ruled Aquitaine; it appears Poiters was Eleanor's home. Considered far from Frankish power.

He was 19; she was about 30?

Henry: claimed England through his mother Empress Matilda; Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou.

But Eleanor also:
  • former Queen of France
  • Duchess of Aquitaine
  • Countess of Poitou
  • owned most of the land between the Loire and the Pyrenees
  • renowned for her loveliness
  • huge prize for an aspiring ruler
  • Louis VII was unaware of the simply, hasty marriage

Chapter 1: "Opulent Aquitaine"
  • history of Aquitaine
  • history of troubadours
  • romantic literature flourished in the 12th century, particularly in Aquitaine and Provence
  • chanson de geste tended to celebrate ideals of courage in battle, loyalty, honour and endurance, as well as legendary heroes such as Charlemagne, Roland, and King Arthur
  • romantic poems and lais (lays) of love
  • the poets of the south, the troubadours, popularized the concept of courtly love, revolutionary in the day
  • troubadours drew on Plato and Arab writers; influenced by the growth of the cult of Virgin Mary
  • lyric poetry and rather complex songs in the mellifluous langue d'oc
  • deified women; granting them superiority over men; laid down codes of courtesy, chivalry, gentlemanly conduct
  • these precepts echoed int he lays of the trouveres of northern France, who wrote in the lange d'oeil 
  • this chapter not completed 
Chapter 2: " A Model of Virtue"

Chapter 3: "Counsel of the Devil" -- begins, "early in 1141, Louis VII decides to lay claim to Toulouse in his wife's name; Eleanore probably instigated this; her grandmother was Philippa of Toulosue

Chapter 4: "To Jerusalem" -- begins, " King Louis meets up with the Emperor Conrad at Metz on the banks of the the middle of June, 1147."

Chapter 5: "A Righteous Annulment"

Chapter 6: "A Happy Issue" -- marries Henry, Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou, 19 years of age

Chapter 7: "All the Business of the Kingdom"

Chapter 8: "Eleanor, by the Grace of God, Queen of England"

Chapter 9: "The King Has Wrought A Miracle"
  • the early days of the new King, Queen in England
  • the early days of Thomas Becket
  • son William dies
  • bastard son Geoffrey
  • son Lord Henry and new female infant return to France with Eleanor
  • third son Richard born 1157; Richard may have been named heir to Poitou and Aquitaine, in place of his deceased brother William
  • "The eagle of the broken covenant shall rejoice in her third nesting" -- Merlin, p. 147
  • Becket arranges marriage between Henry's son Lord Henry to Louis VII infant daughter Marguerite; Louis VII loses the Vixen; Henry gets back "his" Normandy which his father had ceded back to Louis VII in 1151; Henry also promised Brittany over his brother's claim to Brittany; 
  • end of chapter: names Chancellor Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury
Chapter 10: "Conjectures Which Grow Day By Day"
  • 1158; Henry returns to England; absent for five years; would be in England for next 3 years
  • this chapter is on the rift between Becket and Henry II
  • Weir's narrative suggests Becket pretty much in the wrong on all counts 
  • Becket escapes to Flanders; Louis VII protects him in Cistercian abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy
  • Henry's plan to ally with German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (p. 163)
  • Henry's Welsh campaign; Eleanor in France; famous affair between Henry and Welsh Rosamund; "no other mistress of an English king has ever inspired so many romantic tales" -- but nothing verifiable (p. 165 - 166)
  • Aquitaine in revolt; adding to problems -- Henry had designated Lord Henry to inherit Aquitaine; Lord Henry already had Anjou and Normandy; Geoffrey had Brittany; that meant Richard -- Eleanor's favorite -- would get nothing (p. 168)
  • Empress Matilda dies (daughter of Henry I, mother of Henry II, wife of Geoffrey)
  • the story of William the Marshall (p. 171 - 172); saved Eleanor's life in Aquitaine; appointed him guardian, tutor, and master in chivalry to the Lord Henry; became inseparable companions; later described as the "best knight who ever lived"; befriended five English kings; would culminate 50 years later, in his ruling England as regent for the young Henry III
  • Louis and Henry (at Louis' suggestion) agreed to his: no French inheritance for John who was to give his life to the Church; Lord Henry -- Anjou, Maine, Brittany; Geoffrey -- hold Brittany as Lord Henry's vassal; Lord Richard -- Aquitaine
  • Henry II and Louis VII at odds again; Louis VII allies with Henry's other enemy, William the Lyon, King of Scots, thus forging the first in a long tradition of Franco-Scottish alliances
  • Eleanor initiates separation from Henry II; he is not entirely in favor of this; Oedipus worry; but benefits outweigh concerns; Eleanor to live with Richard in Aquitaine; reasons not known; the story of Rosamund surfaces; but nothing suggests this was the reason (she, 46; he, 35)
  • Eleanor sets up court at Poitiers
  • the Courts of Love, probably a literary invention, p. 175; inspired by Ovid;
Chapter 11: "The Holy Martyr"
  • plans fall through Henry's daughter Eleanor to marry son of Frederick Barbarossa; now, new plans for daughter Eleanor to marry 12 y/o King Alfonso VIII of Castille (ro prevent a Franco-Castilian alliance)
  • Lord Henry crowned as The Young King at age 15; his wife, daughter of Louis VII not crowned
  • The Young King becomes ever more upset that he has meaningless titles; no money, no power; even his young brothers ruling their fiefdoms in France
  • first-hand account of the killing of Becket by the four knights; Henry II was in Normandy when the four knights slipped away to murder Becket at Canterbury; December 29, 1170
Chapter 12: "The Cubs Shall Awake"
  • the four knights that murdered Becket remained holed up for one year in Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire
  • was it the murder of Becket that turned Eleanor against her husband? relations soured between late 1170 and late 1172
  • Henry II changes his mind about dedicating his youngest son John, age 5, to the church
  • John betrothed to Humbert's heir, German (Maurienne -- later Savoy and Piedmont); controlled Alpine passes
  • 1171: Henry takes Ireland, more or less; institutes Christian reforms
  • Henry absolved by the Pope over the Becket murder
  • Richard, 15 years old: Eleanor oversees his "Duke of Aquitaine" ceremony; Richard "stronger" than the Young King (Henry); lange d'oc; troubadour culture, an Angevin,
  • wow -- a real rogue -- three illicit daughters; gave Pride to the Knights Templar; Avarice to the Cistercians; and Sensuality to the princes of the Church -- p. 194; and he is considered a "god" by the English -- wow 
  • the Young King and Marguerite, a second crowning
  • Louis VII tried to drive wedge between Henry II and the Young King (the latter upset with his father; delaying him any power, money)
  • Young King spending time with Eleanor, Richard, and Geoffrey -- stage is being set
Chapter 13: "Beware of Your Wife and Sons"
  • Becket canonised by Pope Alexander III
  • rebellion by Eleanor and three sons against Henry II; the latter prevails
  • no savage retribution; Eleanor taken prisoner
Chapter 14: "Poor Prisoner"
  • not much is known about Eleanor at this time; kept in restraint for a decade
  • Henry II no longer trusted her; kept her away from his sons
  • vassals of Poitou and Aquitaine upset, but switched their allegiance from Eleanor to her son Richard
  • commentators saw Eleanor as the Eagle of Merlin's prophecies
  • Henry was Merlin's King of the North Wind
  • Henry lives openly with his mistress, Rosamund de Clifford
  • Rosamund unlikely presided over court; most likely the young Queen Marguerite stood in for the queen
  • Duke Richard off to his domain -- Poitou, Aquitaine; ruthless, savage against the rebels
  • Duke Geoffrey (bastard) off to his domain -- Brittany
  • Young King Henry and Henry II reconciled; all was at peace in the English world
  • 1175 -- Henry II took first steps to annul marriage -- but he would lose his/her lands (Aquitaine, Anjou) and she could no longer be kept prisoner
  • again, the Young King planned to revolt; but Henry II discovered intent; stopped it
  • 1176 -- negotiations concluded for Henry II's daughter Joanna to marry William II, King of Sicily
  • 1176 -- Lord John betrothed to his cousin Hawise, daughter and heiress of Williams, Earl of Gloucester, one of the most powerful English magnates and son of the Earl Robert, who had so staunchly supported the Empress Matilda; John would acquire widespread estates in England
  • 1176 -- Rosamund retires to a nunnery; dies in late 1176 (or 1177)
  • many legends about Rosamund and Eleanor; none of them true
  • new scandal: Henry II begins affair with Princess Alys -- who was pre-contracted to his son, Richard
  • Princess Alys was daughter of Queen Constance (King Louis VII) -- died in childbirth
  • King Louis VII told Henry II to stop liaison with Alys; Henry II "agreed"
  • Richard no longer wanted to marry Alys; nor could he -- it would be incestuous
  • Henry II maintained affair with Alys
  • daughter Eleanor married to King Alfonso VIII, Castile
  • son Lord John sent to Ireland
  • 1179 -- King Louis VII incapacitated with a stroke, son Philip crowned -- and eager to get French lands back from Henry II
  • 1181 -- true son Geoffrey finally married to Constance of Brittany
  • bastard son Geoffrey appointed chancellor of England (Becket's old job)
  • sons Geoffrey and Young King Henry still causing trouble for Henry II in France
  • Young King Henry still a spoiled brat and Richard still the ass -- p. 226
  • June, 1183: Young King Henry dies of dysentery
  • Henry II, through Marguerite kept most of French lands (Vexin, Normandy, Anjou)
Chapter 15: "Shame, Shame On a Conquered King"
  • 1183, Henry II, 50 years old
  • Eleanor has been prisoner for a decade; she was 61
  • Henry II and Eleanor seen more often together now, probably for political reasons
  • Henry II keeping Alys under guard at Winchester
  • King Philip wanted Alys married to Richard immediately; Henry II resisted
  • Henry II did not want Richard to get: England, Normandy, Angou, Poitou, and Aquitaine
  • John "Lackland" would get only Ireland as it now stood; Henry II would not stand for that
  • John was Henry's favorite son; 16 years old
  • John: a dandy, rampantly promiscuous like his father; had at least 7 bastards; raped at will
  • chroniclers considered John worse than Hell; he murdered when it was expedient
  • quarreled with the church; excommunicated
  • father, sons feuding among themselves
  • 1184: Eleanor returns to England
  • family in England; Geoffrey sent to oversee Normandy; shocked observers
  • John given the crown of Ireland; his first kingdom
  • 1186: Duke Geoffrey dies (Brittany)
  • war about ready to erupt between King Philip of France and Henry II, over Alys
  • Richard becomes a close friend of King Philip; ally with each other to fight Henry II
  • meanwhile, in Jerusalem: Saladin, the Turk, wipes out crusaders in Jerusalem; crusaders have only three seaports in the Mideast
  • Henry II raises money for crusades; Richard says he will go to Jerusalem
  • the ancient elm of Gisors cut down by King Philip
  • Henry II -- weak and very ill, loses convincingly to King Philip and Richard
  • 1187, summer: Matilda of Saxony, age 34, Eleanor's/Henry's oldest daughter, dies
  • 1187: a few days later, before he got knew that his daughter died; Henry II dies
  • Richard: the undisputed heir
Chapter 16: "The Eagle Shall Rejoice in Her Third Nesting"
  • Richard I is king
  • first act: free Eleanor and put Eleanor in charge of England until he could get there; Eleanor: 67 y/o
  • she put Alys in house arrest; age 29; future unsettled but would not be part of Richard's life
  • Richard planned to marry Alys
  • John joined them (Richard and Eleanor in England)
  • Richard makes Geoffrey the Archbishop of York (honoring his father's (Henry II's) wish
  • Geoffrey, at Richard's request, resigns his office as chancellor of England
  • John marries his cousin Hawise of Gloucester
  • Richard gives John several counties in England; a county in Normandy; etc -- John becomes the wealthiest and most powerful English magnate; John also gets Ireland
  • most magnificent coronation ever in English history; set precedents for future coronations; Richard and Eleanor ride in together
  • coronation marred by anti-Semitic acts/killings; King of England supposed to protect the Jews
  • despite his lion-hearted reputation, Richard I was to prove a failure as King of England
  • William Longchamp / Hugh de Puiset -- co-leaders of England while Richard I gone; William Longchamp deposes de Puiset; Longchamp alone in charge
  • Eleanor calls Duke John to England to take charge; watch over Longchamp
  • no clear heir if Richard killed (see why, page 257)
  • Eleanor knew Richard needed "new" betrothal (not Alys) and fast and a male heir
  • Berengaria, daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre, the little kingdom that straddled the Pyrenees
  • Mildenhall, Bishop's Lynn (now King's Lynn), Norwich, Lincoln, and Stamford mentioned in connection with anti-Semitism, p. 254

Chapter 17: "The Admiration of Her Age"
  • Richard departs; side-by-side with King Philip to the crusades; though they eventually take separate routes (must have tired of each other) -- upset about Alys (page 261)
  • Richard arrives in Sicily; finds his sister Joanna a prisoner; delays Richard until spring 1191
  • meanwhile, Eleanor and Berengaria, had crossed winter-bound St Bernard Pass; on way to Lombardy
  • Joanna and Berengaria remain in Italy; Eleanor had not seen her daughter for 14 years
  • Eleanor joins son Richard in Sicily
  • Eleanor heads back to Normand; Richard continues to Outremer (French for "overseas"; was a general name given to the Crusader states established after the First Crusade: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and especially the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The name was often equated to the Levant of Renaissance)
  • 1191, Cyprus: Richard and Berengaria finally married
  • arrives at Acre; since the founding of the crusader kingdoms of Outreme, Acre had been the major port of Jerusalem; Richard takes Acre
  • Richard's atrocity: beheaded 3,000 Turks
  • Richard heads for Jerusalem
  • Geoffrey, meanwhile, although consecrated Archbishop of York at Tours, he was told to stay out of England for three years; ignored that advice; headed for England
  • John prepares to take over as King of England; chancellor Longchamp on the run
  • Richard had been in the Holy Land for a year; still no nearer to launching an assault on Jerusalem
  • re-taking Jaffa, his last victory; ill again with malaria
  • on way home, Richard taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria (a cousin)
Chapter 18: "The Devil is Loosed"
  • Richard, imprisoned, under the watch of Emperor Henry VI (Holy Roman Emperor/Germany)
  • Eleanor took control of England; John preparing for his role
  • 1193; Richard spoke for his release at Speyer, p. 283
  • Eleanor refers to herself as Queen of England, Duchess of Normandy, Countess of Anjou, p. 283
  • John returns to England; intent on establishing himself as King
  • King Philip invades Normandy
  • Richard released after huge ransom paid, p. 291; Richard held in house arrest until ransom raised
  • 1194: Richard finally released; Eleanor had traveled to Speyer to receive  him
  • arrives back in England; first time since December 1189
  • Queen Eleanor and King Richard; Berengaria was not present; remained in Poitou
  • visits Sherwood; legend of Robin Hood, p. 298
  • while in the Levant, Philip takes some of Normandy from Richard
  • Richard gives up on the Crusades; eager to get his Normandy lands back from King Philip
Chapter 19: "The Staff of My Old Age"
  • John asks for forgiveness from his brother Richard; gets it
  • John stays quiet for five years; out of mischief
  • for the rest of his life, Richard fought Philip for his land; never able to return to the Crusades
  • 37 years old
  • Eleanor, 72, withdraws to Fontevrault, the refuge of many high-born widows; she had ruled England for 18 turbulent months; had reconciled her sons; felt entitled to a rest; however, she did not take veil, but lived at the abbey as a gues tin her own apartments; may have remained there for most of the rest of Richard's reign
  • not much heard of Eleanor after 1194; Fontevrault centrally placed between Anjou and Poitou
  • no evidence that Richard was homosexual (pp 302 - 304) but much speculation
  • finally brought Berengaria to England, but they never had any children
  • Richard finally frees Alys; she is married to Count of Ponthieu, never heard of after that
  • 1196, Richard names Anthony his heir of Brittany (Anthony -- mother Constance)
  • Eleanor names her grandson, Otto of Saxony, her heir
  • the mural: possibly King Richard I, Queen Eleanor, Queen Berengaria, Eleanor's heir, her grandson Otto of Brunswick; and the fifth, a young, lad, Arthur of Brittany, who Richard had just named his own heir (unlikely County John) -- pp. 306 - 307
  • reminder: Angevins; Plantagenets
  • around 1197, Eleanor lost her two daughters by Louis (Alix and Marie)
  • 1199: 5-year truce between Richard and Philip; Richard got his French lands (Normandy) back
  • 1199: Richard dies of gangrene; arrow hit him in the arm; died, age 41; named John his heir
  • Berengaria left almost destitute after death of her husband Richard; John withheld most of the estates left to her; on one occasion, the Knights Templar intervened on her behalf
  • Berengaria: took care of the poor in her widowhood; found the Cistercian monastery of l'Espan near Le Mans where she retired; 30 years later she became a nun, took the name Juliana; date of death unknown
  • Eleanor had lost her favorite son; now needed to protect his youngest son's inheritance
Chapter 20: "The Most Reverend Eleanor:
  • John to assume power; not sure if all will support him; needs Eleanor's assistance
  • Arthur of Brittany had greater claim; primogeniture not established at that time; Arthur a mere boy; John a grown man; King Philip proclaims 12-y/o Arthur the right heir to the Angevin empire
  • Eleanor outraged; order that Anjou be laid waste
  • Eleanor spent early weeks touring her domains; attending to business; imagine her age
  • 1199: John crossed into England to claim his kingdom
  • John had his marriage to Hawise annulled
  • looked for new wife; considered one of the daughters of King Sancho I of Portugal -- either Theresa or Berengaria -- who was unwed -- another Berengaria?
  • John and Eleanor meet up in Rouen; joined by Joanna, pregnant, destitute (bad husband, Raymond)
  • Joanna, dying; newborn dies; Eleanor mourns the loss of yet another child
  • Eleanor cedes Poitou and Aquitaine to John
  • Philip and Arthur grow apart
  • Eleanor travels across the Pyrenees in the dead of winter; gathers up Blanche, daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Queen Eleanor (this Queen Eleanor was the 2nd daughter of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine -- received her namesake from her mom)
  • Blanche to be married to Louis, son of Philip II -- ensures that Eleanor's descendents would one day sit on the throne of France (p. 327)
  • Eleanor retires to Fontevrault, again
Chapter 21: "The Brook of the Wicked Shall Not Thrive"
  • John, chance meeting, falls in love with Isabella, a 13-y/o;heiress of Count Aymer of Angouleme; political suicide for John if he marries her
  • John marries Isabella, year 1200
  • John and Isabella tour England
  • 1201: John and Isabella cross into Normandy
  • War breaks out between John and Philip; Eleanor actively supports John
  • John defeats and takes Arthur of Brittany captive; most brilliant victory of John's career; saves his mother
  • but John, through his stupidity, failed to consolidate his position (p 334)
  • Eleanor: 80 years old
  • Eleanor: returns to Fontevrault and takes the veil
  • rumors that John killed Arthur (Eleanor's grandson; Eleanor had told John not to harm Arthur); Arthur was John's nephew
Chapter 22: "A Candle Goeth Out"
  • the story of how Arthur might have died, pp. 336 - 338
  • Philip and John still at war
  • Philip had made such inroads into Normandy it was clear that John would never recover what he had lost
  • John losing everything in Normand; English aware of his ineptitude
  • nothing is heard of Eleanor during these terrible months
  • April 1, 1204: Eleanor died; 82 years old
  • her death virtually unremarked in the chaos surrounding the collapse of the Angevin empire
  • buried in the crypt of the abbey of Fontevrault, between those of her husband, Henry II, and her son, Richard I
  • during the French revolution, the abbey of Fonevrault was sacked and the tombs were disturbed and vandalized; the bones of Eleanor, Henry, Richard, Joanna, and Isabella of Angouleme were exhumed and scattered, never to be recovered. The abbey was then converted to a prison.
  • The prison later converted to a hotel, which it remains 
  • Eleanor did not leave to see the eventual destruction of the empire that both she and Henry had built
  • her own death, in fact, removed an insuperable legal obstacle to Philip's ambitions
  • by June, 1204, the whole of Normandy was in Philip's possession -- lost by John
  • grandson Henry III born three years after Eleanor's death
  • Eleanor, like Queen Victoria: could be accurately described as the Grandmother of Europe: her sons and their descendents were kings of England, her daughters were queens of Sicily and Castile; among her grandsons were a Holy Roman Emperor and the kings of Castile and Jerusalem, while her great-grandson became king of France; two saints, St Louis IX of France and St Ferdinand III of Castile were among her descendents; in England, the line of kings that she and Henry founded endured until 1485, and her blood flows in the veins of Britain's present queen, Elizabeth II
  • portrayed in Shakespeare's King John