Eleanor and Rosamund Clifford, as well as Henry II and Rosamund's father appear in Gaetano Donizetti's opera Rosmonda d'Inghilterra with a libretto by Felice Romani, which was premiered in Florence, at the Teatro Pergola, in 1834.
She was portrayed by Mary Clare in the silent film, Becket (1923), by Prudence Hyman in Richard the Lionheart (1962), and twice by Jane Lapotaire; in the BBC TV drama series, The Devil's Crown (1978), and again in Mike Walker's BBC Radio 4 series, Plantagenet (2010). In the 2010 film, Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe, Eleanor is played by Eileen Atkins. In the 2014 film, Richard the Lionheart: Rebellion, Eleanor is played by Debbie Rochon.
Eleanor has featured in a number of screen versions of the Ivanhoe and Robin Hood stories. She has been played by Martita Hunt in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952), Jill Esmond in the British TV adventure series The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955–1960), Phyllis Neilson-Terry in the British TV adventure series Ivanhoe (1958), Yvonne Mitchell in the BBC TV drama series The Legend of Robin Hood (1975), Siân Phillips in the TV series Ivanhoe (1997), and Tusse Silberg in the TV series The New Adventures of Robin Hood (1997). She was portrayed by Lynda Bellingham in the BBC series Robin Hood. Most recently, she was portrayed by Eileen Atkins in Robin Hood (2010).
In the 1964 film, "Becket", Eleanor is briefly played by Pamela Brown to Peter O'Toole's first performance as a young Henry II.
In the 1968 film, The Lion in Winter, Eleanor is played by Katharine Hepburn, while Henry is again portrayed by O'Toole. The film is about the difficult relationship between them and the struggle of their three sons Richard, Geoffrey, and John for their father's favour and the succession. A 2003 TV film, The Lion in Winter, starred Glenn Close as Eleanor and Patrick Stewart as Henry.
Eleanor (or Aliénor) was the oldest of three children of william X, Duke of Aquitaine, whose glittering ducal court was renowned in early 12th-century Europe, and his wife, Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimery I, Viscount of Châtellerault, and Dangereuse de l'Isle Bouchard, 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 william IX.
Contemporary sources praise Eleanor's beauty. Even in an era when ladies of the nobility were excessively praised, their praise of her was undoubtedly sincere. When she was young, she was described as perpulchra – more than beautiful. When she was around 30, Bernard de Ventadour, a noted troubadour, called her "gracious, lovely, the embodiment of charm," extolling her "lovely eyes and noble countenance" and declaring that she was "one meet to crown the state of any king." william of Newburgh emphasized the charms of her person, and even in her old age Richard of Devizes described her as beautiful, while Matthew Paris, writing in the 13th century, recalled her "admirable beauty."
During the period from Henry's accession to the birth of Eleanor's youngest son John, affairs in the kingdom were turbulent: Aquitaine, as was the norm, defied the authority of Henry as Eleanor's husband and answered only to their Duchess. Attempts were made to claim Toulouse, the rightful inheritance of Eleanor's grandmother Philippa of Toulouse, but they ended in failure. A bitter feud arose between the king and Thomas Becket, initially his Chancellor and closest adviser and later the Archbishop of Canterbury. Louis of France had remarried and been widowed; he married for the third time and finally fathered a long hoped-for son, Philip Augustus, also known as Dieudonne—God-given). "Young Henry," son of Henry and Eleanor, wed Marguerite of France, daughter of Louis from his second marriage. Little is known of Eleanor's involvement in these events. It is certain that by late 1166, Henry's notorious affair with Rosamund Clifford had become known, and Eleanor's marriage to Henry appears to have become terminally strained.