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Eleanor's Crosses

Part 6: A memorial to a strong-minded woman

However, as well as monuments to dynastic glorification, they also stood as an expression of personal grief. And it can be argued that they were intended as a manifesto in favour of the queen, directed at Eleanor’s adversaries in the royal circles and amongst the higher clergy who frequently criticized her greed and opportunism in accumulating estates. An independent, strong-minded woman, she was determined to ensure the security of her own future in case of Edward’s early death, (by 13th c. a queen-dowager had to leave court permanently and support herself from her own revenues) and the evidence shows that Edward was an active and approving partner of her transactions. Thus we can speculate that the crosses, elevating her statues to a quasi-sacred position, certified Eleanor’s right in death to the land she had so successfully acquired, protecting her reputation and soliciting prayer for her heavenly future.

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