In this second volume we find Eleanor of Aquitaine, sensual queen of France, manipulative and ambitious, manipulating her royal husband Louis VII the Younger completely prisoner of his love. Following the episode of the marriage and preceding that of the crusade, this volume plunges us into the armed conflicts between the king and his vassals in Poitou, in the county of Toulouse and in Champagne, as well as between the kingdom of France and the Papacy. A romanticized, dramatic story set against a backdrop of French history.
This second volume of the triptych dedicated to Aliénor d'Aquitaine plunges us into the years 1140 / 1143. The queen of France, who more or less ousted the queen mother Adelaide and the councilor of the kingdom Abbé Suger, exercises real carnal terrorism and sentimental about her husband: King Louis VII the Younger. The latter, young, inexperienced, good and pious, lets himself be manipulated by the one for whom his heart burns ardently. Perfectly aware of her charms, Aliénor uses them systematically, playing on her attractions and her feigned sadness to rally her royal husband and the knights who serve her to her cause ... Actress, infidel, manipulator, she turns Louis VII against her vassals and against Pope Innocent II. The good Louis VII finds himself in a terrible gear to satisfy his beautiful: vainly besieging Poitiers then Toulouse, embarking on a mad campaign against Champagne, massacring the innocent of Vitry-en-Perthois, refusing the episcopal appointments of the Pope until may this pious king be struck with excommunication!
This second volume is a continuation of the previous one. Firstly from a graphic point of view the style is realistic and detailed, precise and colorful with talent, the reader immerses himself very quickly in the 12th century, its fortresses, its fairs, its headquarters, its inns… However, some elements stand out more like coming from a fantasized Middle Ages, especially when we see the besieged spilling boiling oil on the attackers (the oil was then far too expensive) or when Aliénor visits the bivouac wearing a coat of full mesh as on the cover of the comic strip. A blanket that sets the tone, with a bellicose queen shedding blood (symbolized by wine) and leaving behind only death and desolation (crows and winter).
From a scriptwriting point of view, Arnaud Delalande and Simona Mogavino offer us not an Illustrated History, but a historical novel, a dramatic novel in a historical context. This implies two things: a real work of research on the context and the characters, but also a real artistic freedom which breaks with historicity. The research work is undeniably found in the way in which the character of historical figures is rendered: the tormented and hesitant king, the frivolous and ambitious queen, Suger aging and seeking appeasement, Bernard de Clairvaux still in temperance ... also this research work in the historical framework (the opposition between Louis VII and his vassals then the Pope) and in various secondary elements which reinforces the authentic aspect of history: the fairs of Champagne, the trade with the Orient via Lombardy, the construction of the Saint-Denis basilica, the violence of the fighting… A whole historical framework in which a completely fictitious part fits, which makes the vigor of the scenario, where we see for example the queen sleeping with the knights in his pay or the abbot Suger going from court to court to counter the ambitions of his sovereign ...
In the end, if this fictitious part is the strength of the saga, the neophyte in medieval history can quickly find himself lost in sorting out the true from the false. The opportunity will you tell me to encourage him to read a biography of Eleanor ... But we know full well that this will only be the case in a tiny proportion of cases. This is why it would be commendable for the Delcourt editions to offer at the end of this type of comic a very short biographical summary, a few well-illustrated lines retracing the state of historical knowledge on the subject. This is still possible for the final episode of the triptych, and we really hope to find a dossier dedicated to Eleanor, a dossier which will serve as a playful bridge between fiction and History.
"Aliénor: The black legend"
- Volume 1
- Volume 2
Scenario: Arnaud Delalande & Simona Mogavino
Storyboard: Erwan Le Saëc
Drawing: Carlos Gomez
Color: José Luis Rio