Henry, the King of England, married Eleanor for her land; their first son
died, after him, John was Henry's favorite, Richard was Eleanors favorite,
but turned out to be homosexual, Geoffrey plotted against all of them with
the King of France who was Richard's "friend;" Henry had an affair with
Rosalyn, and Eleanor, with Richard lead a couple of civil wars against him,
so Henry locked Eleanor in a tower; Henry's lover died, he bought a wife,
Alice, for the son who was to be King, but had an affair with her . . . And
so went life in the late 12th century. Involved in this complex arrangement
there are many aspects of life during this period including: the status of
women, power of the church and living conditions all of which were
illustrated in The Lion in Winter.
One of the most apparent things in The Lion in Winter was the role of women.
At first impression they did not seem significant. Eleanor was cheated on,
not an uncommon practice, and then locked in a tower to only be aloud out on
holidays. Alice was bought and then became Henry's new lover, and beyond
that no other women were mention. Despite all this, when looked at more
closely women were important to the feudal society. A king could acquire
land by conquering, or marrying the daughter who had that land in her dowry.
Also in the movie Eleanor wielded more power than one would have thought,
for one she and Richard had led civil wars against Henry before. Secondly
because of her control of the Aquataine she exercised more power than other
women of the times. Because of all this women were necessary to the feudal
system, but were still not regarded as meaningful.
The role of the church was influential in the movie, but not as prominent as
expected. It was the church that gave the king his authority and could take
it away. Henry threatened to annul his marriage with Eleanor to gain
leverage to obtain the Aquatain. There was even joking about being
excommunicated, again. Without the church to have marriages and settle
things of that nature it probably been more chaotic than it already was. It
was the church that kept reading and writing going through the Dark Ages, and
also played and important role in the late 12th century.
More interesting than other topics was the living conditions. Whenever
reading a fairy tale, or watching a movie about castles they are always
glorified as wonderful places, large and beautiful, with every luxury. In
truth the castles were not such wonderful places, in fact they were where
serfs and peasants took refuge when they had no other place to go during war
time. The animals also stayed in the castles, with the people. The floors
were dirt and covered with straw, nothing seem to be clean, definitely not
luxurious. A humorous aspect of the castle in the movie was the dogs.
Whatever was happening there would be a dog in the background, sniffing,
fighting or barking.
There were many aspects of life during this period that were interesting and
instructional, but these were the most abundant throughout out the movie and
the most interesting. The Lion in Winter was an excellent movie that was
also a very accurate account of life during the late 12th century in England.