|Fair Rosamund painted by Herbert Sydney|
King Henry II of England possessed an energetic and fiery nature. He was also described to be very good-looking and to have possessed a piercing glance. He was an intimidating and formidable warrior-king, a trait necessary for a King of England at that time. He was married to the equally beautiful and formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, Europe's wealthiest heiress. But their marriage was turbulent. When Henry met Rosamund, she was a breath of fresh air for the rambunctious king. She was gentle, pliant, and feminine, the complete opposite of the passionate and dynamic Eleanor.
It was said that Rosamund was the great love of Henry's life. Their affair started around the time when Queen Eleanor was pregnant with her last child, and as a result, Rosamund earned the Queen's hatred. Henry installed Rosamund at the Woodstock Palace and she lived quietly there while he was away in his continental possessions.
Although little is known about Rosamund, she was frequently mentioned in works about Eleanor. Nevertheless, there were countless stories and legends concerning her. There was a story that Henry constructed a labyrinth surrounding Woodstock Palace to protect his mistress from the wrath of his jealous wife. Another tale, which was certainly untrue, was that Queen Eleanor poisoned Rosamund.
|Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor |
by Frank Cadogan Cowper, 1920.