Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Woman Out of Legend

Gareth's two part series on Eleanor of Aquitaine is a pleasant pastime for a Sunday afternoon.

Part I
“Reared with abundance of all delights, you had a taste for luxury and refinement and enjoyed a royal liberty. You lived richly in your own inheritance, you took pleasure in the pastimes of your women, you delighted in the melodies of flute and drum ... You abounded in riches of every kind.” 
- The poet Richard of Poitiers, writing on Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 1176) (Read entire post)

Part II
In 1966, the playwright James Goldman wrote The Lion in Winter, one of my favourite plays and a stupendous piece of writing, dramatising a reunion of Henry, Eleanor and their children during the Christmas of 1183, ten years after the rebellion. Reflecting on why it all started, Eleanor says, ‘Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history’s forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can’t we love one another just a little – that’s how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.’ In short, the war of 1173-1174 was probably the most epic example of familial dysfunction since the Ptolemies. (Read entire article.)

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