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|Renowned professor Engel delights English Speaking Union|
After 23 years of making annual visits to northeastern Louisiana, world-renowned literature professor Dr. Elliot Engel almost considers Monroe a second home.
That's what he told members of the English Speaking Union, who had gathered at the Bayou DeSiard Country Club on Thursday.
"I have so many friends here," Engel told the crowd.
During an hour-long lecture, Engel entertained the crowd with stories from the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of King Henry II of England.
Engel said Eleanor is famous in America due Katherine Hepburn's 1968 portrayal on the silver screen in "The Lion in Winter."
However, Engel said she has another great American literary figure to thank for her enduring story.
"When Margaret Mitchell was asked how she was inspired to create a character so independent as Scarlett O'Hara, she said this," Engel said. "To find a woman in history as strong, capable and independent as Scarlett, all one must do is look to the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine."
Though she is best known as an English queen, Eleanor first ruled France as the wife of Philip I.
After an annulment, she married Henry II of England and together the couple produced six sons, including two future kings.
Richard the Lion Hearted ruled during the 2nd and 3rd Crusades but died without an heir. His brother, John, assumed the throne.
Engel said that, despite Eleanor's disappointment with John, she still helped him become a powerful ruler.
In 1214, Eleanor brokered a treaty between England and France that shared control of England and France between King John and the French King. For her role in the treaty, Eleanor was kidnapped and, Engel said, an unlikely hero emerged to save her.
"John rescues her, the one decent thing he ever did for his mother," Engel said. "She is so shocked by this, she dies on April 1, at the age of 82."
At her death, Eleanor had ruled either France or England for 66 years and had mothered two kings of England.
Engel noted no other English royal can stake such a claim.
"It is a life fuller than any other monarch in the history of England," Engel said. "From age 70 to 82, she was involved in more important political, military and marital decisions than any monarch in the history of England."
ESU member Jean Huenefeld thanked Engel for his visit and for the knowledge he has given them every year for more than two decades.
"Really, we should be very smart because he has brought us as many good topics as he possibly can," Huenefeld said. "He has certainly educated us and entertained us with so many good things over the years."