Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor

Fair Rosamund, Queen Eleanor
Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor, painted in 1862 by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones.


Fair Rosamund, mistress of King Henry II, is depicted in light colors that represent innocence and virginity. In contrast, Queen Eleanor wears an angry black. Despite being the wronged wife, it is the fair Rosamund that we pity. The fear is visible on her lovely, crying face. Rosamund is trying to flee, but it is obvious that she is going nowhere.

According to the tale, King Henry II had a house called Labyrinthus built for his mistress. Constructed like a maze, the house protected the King’s mistress from discovery by the Queen. Not to be outsmarted, Queen Eleanor used a thread to find her way to her rival. Queen Eleanor gives Rosamund a choice between stabbing and poison. According to legend, that is. Despite the tale that has been handed down, history tells us that it is possible that Fair Rosamund died in a nunnery.

Here is a fascinating page about Rosamund, along with modern photos of Clifford Castle, where Rosamund once lived.

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