My monthly column is up at the history blog Wonders and Marvels. This time I’m nattering on in my usual way about Eleanor of Aquitaine and her thickheaded husband Louis. Excerpt below.
If I had the chance to choose one item to remain after my death, one artefact that would encapsulate my entire life and all its choices and decisions, I seriously doubt that I would choose anything that I either gave or received as a gift at my wedding.
Believe me, nothing from that day would give any future biographers any tremendous insight into my true nature.
But why do physical artefacts matter so much at all? Why is it so important that we know so-and-so touched this, or wore that, or handled this very thing?
I don’t know why it matters, but it does.
Even Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most fascinating, powerful, and politically important historical figures a person could name, has only left us with one sparkly vase to remember her by.
And I bet she didn’t even like it all that much.