That is not to say that Eleanor invented courtly love, for it was a concept that had begun to grow before Eleanor’s court arose. Still, because we do not have much information about what occurred while Eleanor was in Poitiers, all that can be taken from this episode is that her court there was most likely a catalyst for the increased popularity of courtly love literature in the Western European regions.
It is Eleanor’s court in Poitiers that some believe to have been the ‘Court of Love’, where Eleanor and her daughter Marie meshed and encouraged the ideas of troubadours, chivalry, and courtly love into a single court. It may have been largely a court (meaning place rather than a judicial setting) to teach manners, as the French courts would be known for in later generations. The existence and reasons for this court are debated.
In The Art of Courtly Love, Andreas Capellanus (Andrew the chaplain) refers to the court of Poitiers. He claims that several women, including Eleanor and her daughter Marie de Champagne, would sit and listen to the quarrels of lovers and act as a jury to the questions of the court that revolved around acts of romantic love.
Some scholars believe that, because the only evidence for the "courts of love" is Andreas Capellanus’s book The Art of Courtly Love, they probably never existed; to further strengthen their argument, they say that there is also no evidence that Marie ever stayed with her mother in Poitiers, beyond her name being mentioned in Andreas’s work.
Amy Kelly, in her article “Eleanor of Aquitaine and her Courts of Love”, gives a very plausible description of the origins of the rules of Eleanor's court: “in the Poitevin code, man is the property, the very thing of woman; whereas a precisely contrary state of things existed in the adjacent realms of the two kings from whom the reigning duchess of Aquitaine was estranged.”
1167 saw the marriage of Eleanor's third daughter, Matilda, to Henry the Lion of Saxony; Eleanor remained in England with her daughter for the year prior to Matilda's departure to Normandy in September. Afterwards, Eleanor proceeded to gather together her movable possessions in England and transport them on several ships in December to Argentan. At the royal court, celebrated there that Christmas, she appears to have agreed to a separation from Henry.
Eleanor or Aliénor was the oldest of three children of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, whose glittering ducal court was on the leading edge of early–12th-century culture, and his wife, Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimeric I, Viscount of Châtellerault, and Dangereuse, who was William IX's longtime mistress as well as Eleanor's maternal grandmother. Her parents' marriage had been arranged by Dangereuse with her paternal grandfather, the Troubadour.
Eleanor was named for her mother Aenor and called Aliénor, from the Latin alia Aenor, which means the other Aenor. It became Eléanor in the langues d'oïl (Northern French) and Eleanor in English. There is, however, an earlier Eleanor on record: Eleanor of Normandy, William the Conqueror's aunt, who lived a century earlier than Eleanor of Aquitaine.