She Committed Treason
Eleanor’s second marriage had been as unsatisfying as her first; she lost most of her power, and Henry was incapable of fidelity, even making her raise one of his illegitimate sons. Eleanor soon tired of her husband’s philandering and his autocratic rule, so she used the only thing she could against him: their children.
Fed up with playing secondary roles in the areas where they would rule one day, Eleanor’s three oldest sons, Henry, Richard, and Geoffrey, plotted a revolt against their father, with their mother’s support and blessing. A letter from the Archbishop of Rouen shames her for pushing her sons in rebellion against their father, indicating that she was the real power behind it. She united her sons against their father and she used the discontent in the southern Angevin lands by offering her sons as an alternative.
When the uprising against their father failed, Henry II discovered Eleanor’s involvement, so she fled to France, wearing men’s clothes to disguise herself. She was captured in 1173, and she was brought to Henry. He was furious with his wife, but he wasn’t stupid: Henry knew that arresting Eleanor would open him up to attack from Aquitaine and other European powers. He didn’t announce that she had been taken prisoner, and he kept her under house arrest at isolated castles in England for sixteen years. She only had one servant, and a receipt for their clothes and bed linens shows that they had to wear the same clothes and share a bed.
Henry only released Eleanor from prison when he needed her: she was released during holidays, and he used her to settle a land dispute in 1183. Eleanor’s oldest son Henry the Young King married King Philip II of France’s sister, and when the Young King died, Philip pushed Henry II to give his sister her dead husband’s lands in Normandy. Henry II insisted that they belonged to Eleanor since the death of their son, so Henry sent Eleanor to Normandy to rule there in his name.
The next year, in 1184, Henry forced Eleanor to return to England, but he did not reduce her to total isolation again. Henry realized that his hold on power relied on having Eleanor at his side, but she was heavily supervised and could not do anything without permission The queen of the Angevin empire even had a jailer that restricted her movements.