The French Hated Her As Their Queen
Louis VII was happy with his new wife, but he was the only one. The marriage was doomed from the start: the French court was calm and reserved, while the court of Aquitaine was more open, free, and liberating. She was too outspoken and opinionated for a queen of France, incurring the wrath of both the pope and Louis’ advisors. The king’s advisors hated the influence that Eleanor had over her husband, and they took every opportunity to remind her that she was an outsider. They blamed her for everything, whether it was her fault or not.
The French court resisted her attempts to import Aquitaine customs and refinements, and Louis’ advisors attacked Eleanor and her ladies for wearing luxurious clothes and jewelry. In 1141, Louis VII came into open conflict with Pope Innocent II when they disagreed on who should occupy a vacant religious post. The furious Pope blamed Eleanor for Louis’ behavior and of being an undue influence on him.
The king’s advisors resented Eleanor’s influence again in the scandal involving her sister Petronilla and Louis’ cousin Raoul, the Count of Vermandois. Raoul and Petronilla had fallen in love and wanted to get married. There was only one problem: Raoul was already married to the sister of one of Louis’ vassals, Theobald, the Count of Champagne. Raoul divorced his wife and married Petronilla, and Eleanor pressured Louis to publicly approve the marriage.
A furious Theobald wrote to the Pope and got the newlyweds excommunicated, and the tensions between France and Champagne led to war, resulting in the deadly massacre at Vitry-le-François where 1,000 people burned to death taking shelter in a church that caught on fire. Eleanor tried to intervene, urging Bernard of Clairvaux, a high-ranking religious official, to convince the Pope to drop the excommunication order against Petronilla and Raoul, but Clairvaux demeaned her for interfering in state matters. She backed off, but this wouldn’t be the first or last time that Eleanor would engage in behavior that was not deemed proper for a medieval woman.