Louis and Eleanor were married in July 1137, but had little time to get to know one another before Louis’ father the king fell ill and died. Within weeks of her wedding, Eleanor found herself taking possession of the drafty and unwelcoming Cîté Palace in Paris that would be her new home. On Christmas Day of the same year, Louis and Eleanor were crowned king and queen of France.
Louis and Eleanor’s first years as rulers were fraught with power struggles with their own vassals–the powerful Count Theobald of Champagne for one–and with the Pope in Rome. Louis, still young and intemperate, made a series of military and diplomatic blunders that set him at odds with the Pope and several of his more powerful lords. The conflict that ensued culminated in the massacre of hundreds of innocents in the town of Vitry—during a siege of the town, a great number of the populace took refuge in a church, which was set aflame by Louis’s troops. Dogged by guilt over his role in the tragedy for years, Louis responded eagerly to the Pope’s call for a crusade in 1145. Eleanor joined him on the dangerous–and ill fated–journey west. The crusade did not go well, and Eleanor and Louis grew increasingly estranged. After several fraught years during which Eleanor sought an annulment and Louis faced increasing public criticism, they were eventually granted an annulment on the grounds of consanguinity (being related by blood) in 1152 and separated, their two daughters left in the custody of the king.