Foucault's Daughter


Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Eleanor Tams – My name’s origins #1 Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor Tams_ eleanora-aquitaine

#1 Eleanor of Aquitaine

Whenever I ask my parents how I got my name, my Dad always brings up Eleanor of Aquitaine. I doubt that, on the day of my birth, in a newly built hospital amongst the hills of West Yorkshire, Mum and Dad were thinking of that regal figure from the middle ages. But I like how she has found her way into the myths and stories of how I came to be an Eleanor too.

And what an Eleanor she was! According to her BBC Biography,

‘Eleanor was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she would go onto become queen-consort of France and later queen of England.’

That I have a French queen as a namesake is apt, because my grandma’s grandfather (my great great grandfather) was French himself. My sister is keeping that French heritage in our family, as  our ancestor’s  surname – Regnauld – is her middle name. And maybe my love of France and the French language (not to mention a certain French Philosopher), comes from somewhere deep in my familial background too.

I think, (though of course, I’m not the only authority on it), that Eleanor of Aquitaine’s strength and power is another reason I suit her name, and she mine. When I write and express myself (usually online) as  Quiet Riot Girl , I am no shrinking violet am I?.  However much people employ digital dualism to try and separate me from QRG (or rather to link us but in a ‘split personality’ Jekyll and Hyde way), the fact is we are one and the same. I am proud of the battles I have fought, in my QRG armour, against the worst excesses of feminism in particular. Whether those battles are lost or won, only history will decide.

Returning to history, for that is where Eleanor of Aquitaine resides, I was interested to find that historical novelist Christy English, is a big fan of the medieval queen. Christy describes herself (as all good fans would, if they were honest), as ‘completely obsessed’ with Eleanor of Aquitaine.

In a round table discussion about right royal women from the past, Christy goes on to say:

Eleanor of Aquitaine, my hero, became Queen of England in 1154. I often wonder if anyone other than her father ever had influence over Eleanor. To me, she seems like a woman who lived by her own rules.

As someone who  ‘lives by her own rules’, but who, though he may not always realise it, also respects and admires her old Dad a great deal, I am happy to be an Eleanor after Eleanor of Aquitaine.

A final nugget I have picked up in my initial, brief research into my oldest namesake, I found that Eleanor of Aquitaine was a patron of poets and writers (as well as all that Crusades stuff!). I don’t have many financial resources to offer as patronage to my favourite writers. But as a writer myself and a  supporter and editor of other scribes, I am delighted to learn that ‘Eleanor Tams’ has a historical claim to writing, reading and championing both.

More on Eleanor of Aquitaine here:

Christy English’s website:


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