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Theatre / The Lion in Winter

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Henry and Eleanor, at the very least appearing to be civil to each other.

"Well, what family doesn't have its ups and downs?"
Eleanor of Aquitaine, vastly understating matters

A 1966 play written by James Goldman, about the troubles in the family of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Henry's three sons, John, Geoffrey and Richard, all aspire to succeed him as king. (A fourth son, Henry the Young King, is recently deceased.) Both he and his wife favour a different son; since she once instigated rebellion against him, Henry has kept her locked up for ten years, but this experience hasn't dampened her spirit. The power play begins in earnest in 1183, when this lovely family goes to celebrate Christmas in their palace at Chinon along with King Philip II of France, whose older sister Alais is Henry's mistress.

The play's original Broadway run featured Robert Preston as Henry, Rosemary Harris as Eleanor, and Christopher Walken in his Broadway debut as Philip. A film version, featuring a screenplay adaptation by Goldman, was made in 1968, directed by Anthony Harvey and starring Peter O'Toole as Henrynote  and Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor. It also marked the feature debuts of Anthony Hopkins, as Richard, and Timothy Dalton, as Philip. Also starring are John Castle as Geoffrey, Nigel Terry as John, Jane Merrow as Alais, and Nigel Stock as William Marshall. The film received seven Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Actress (Hepburn), Adapted Screenplay (Goldman), and Original Score (John Barry).

A made-for-TV adaptation, directed by Andrei Konchalovsky and starring Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close in the leads, first aired in 2003.

The Lion in Winter provides examples of:

  • Always Second Best: Richard despite being a legendary warrior both in the play and in real-life is utterly terrified of Henry in a single fight. His fears are justified as Henry is able to best his three sons when they try to kill him.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Philip and Richard definitely have a thing going on, but whose version of events is accurate and who is lying is left unclear—they both certainly have cause to lie.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
    • In front of her sons, Eleanor confesses that she loved — and still loves — their father.
    • Eleanor, pleading to win back the love of her favorite son Richard, to the point that she cuts her own wrist with a dagger to prove to him that this time she's telling the truth.
  • Arranged Marriage: Princess Alais and Richard, to fulfill an old bargain between Henry and Philip's father. Richard refuses to go through with it if it means giving up the Aquitaine.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The narrative itself condenses years of bloody conflict into an interpersonal struggle over a day or two.
    • Christmas trees first appeared in Germany in the 1500s.
    • Henry announcing that he's got a decade on the Pope is a great line, but Henry is fifty and Lucius III, the Pope at the time, was 86.
    • While Richard's sexuality is still intensely debated, historians have ruled out Richard and Philip II's being lovers. A passage of 12th-century chronicler Roger of Howden's Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi et Gesta Regis Ricardi Benedicti abbatis describes Richard and Philip's closeness and sharing a bed. However, sharing a bed was common in the Middle Ages (and indeed to varying degrees into the 19th century—bed-sharing saved on laundry and heating), and such ostentatious intimacy was a sign of royal favor. In this particular instance Richard, who feared being passed over for John, and Philip, who was eager to promote infighting within the Plantagenet dynasty, were emphasizing their alliance as a threat to Henry. Contemporaries and medieval historians understood this perfectly, and it was not until 1948 that architectural historian J. H. Harvey, failing to understand the medieval social norms behind and the context of the event, anachronistically interpreted the bed sharing as an affair.
    • On the other hand, historians now speculate that Philip and Geoffrey might have had some sort of romantic attachment, given that they were far closer than Richard and Philip ever were and Phillip was intensely grief stricken when he died, but in the play they barely know each other.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Henry and Eleanor's love for each other seeps through occasionally... usually in the form of them hurting each other. It's very telling that Henry planning to annul his marriage to Eleanor is the thing that really hurts her, even after everything else. Likewise Eleanor declaring that she slept with Henry's father utterly disgusts him and destroys him.
  • Batman Gambit: In a brilliant moment of The Chessmaster, Geoffrey proposes an alliance with Philip to make Geoffrey King of England in exchange for all French terrirtories. An angry John decries his betrayal, only for an annoyed and exasperated Geoffrey to explain to John that he knew that Philip is an Obvious Judas and would immediately tell Henry of Geoffrey's plot, making John the ideal heir for Henry again. John admits he acted rashly.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: An astounding amount between Henry and Eleanor.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: Richard, Geoffrey, and John against Henry.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Alais, for most of the film, has been little more than a tradable pawn (much to her own chagrin), and simply doesn't seem capable of the kind of viciousness the rest of the family displays...until Henry proposes to her, and she tells him that the only way to make sure their children are safe is to either keep his sons locked up forever, or kill them.
    Alais: If they're free, they'll kill it. (with steely determination) And I will not live to see our children murdered.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Only one character is actually killed on screen in the 1968 film: the guard outside the cellar where Henry's sons are locked in. Despite the lack of blood, the scene is brutal and disturbing.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • John. Historical in that as the youngest son, he'd traditionally inherit the least (hence the real-life nickname of "Lackland", though ironically he did become king after all, since Richard outlived Geoffrey but died childless). Made painful in this telling because Henry's attempts to favor him over Richard and Geoff have turned John into a clueless spoiled brat.
      John: Who says poor John? Don't everybody sob at once! My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out!
      Richard: Let's strike a flint and see!
    • Geoffrey. John has Henry's support and Richard has Eleanor's, but:
    No one ever talks of crowns and mentions Geoff.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: Henry and Eleanor love and despise each other, and it's clear that they still love each other even while doing a very good job at inflicting any emotional wound that they can.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Eleanor grins throughout every scene, no matter how barbed her words.
  • Chess Motifs:
    Alais: Kings, queens, knights everywhere and I'm the only pawn.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Geoffrey, even more than the others. He promises to hitch his cart to whomever looks like winning at that particular moment.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: When Eleanor warns Henry that his sons will rise against him if he goes to Rome, he says it will happen "the day that pigs get wings." "There'll be pork in the treetops come morning," Eleanor says.
  • Curtain Camouflage: Lampshaded by Philip when he hides multiple people behind multiple hangings.
  • Decadent Court: Tinged with reality. The trappings are as rough and medieval as the period allows, but the interpersonal dynamics are just as convoluted as you'd expect.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Henry, Eleanor, and Geoffrey have honed their sarcasm into fine-cutting weapons. Philip and Richard aren't as clever with words but can give as well as they can take. If you're John and Alais, you can't keep up.
  • Defiant to the End:
    • "When the fall is all there is, it matters."
    • Richard refusing to flinch when Henry raises his sword to execute him for Richard's rebellion.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Richard and Philip and maybe Geoffrey as well. Not that the heterosexual characters are any more virtuous...
  • Destructive Romance: Henry and Eleanor obviously still love each other, and Eleanor barely even tries to hide it. However, it's mixed with resentment, mind games, scheming, and stubbornness on both sides. Their interactions toe the line between genuine affection and seeming like they're literally about to kill each other.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: There are presents (never opened), holly hanging and a tree, but little time for rejoicing.
    Eleanor: No one else is caroling tonight. It might as well be Lent.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Numerous times people overplay their hands by revealing their tactics.
    • Henry smugly explains to a confused Philip that Philip has just explained how he's going to deal with Henry, that he's going to play the waiting game and try to force his sons to fight amongst each other. So Henry now knows what to expect for Philip's responses.
    • Eleanor boldly declares that she and all of Henry's sons will rise against him if he goes to Rome. Henry immediately points out that she's just told him to keep them locked-up which stuns Eleanor.
    • As noted above, while Henry was fine with imprisoning his sons until he and Alais are married, he did not really think that they will always be a threat to any of Henry's children with Alais, and that he has to keep them imprisoned forever.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Philip implies that Richard started feeling him up while he was knocked out after a hunting accident.
  • Dysfunctional Family: You think?
  • Establishing Character Moment: Eleanor's greetings to her sons perfectly sum up her relationship with each of them.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Eleanor and Henry both love their children and each other, even if they all treat each other like shit. Henry also seems to genuinely love Alais on some level, and even Eleanor doesn't actually hate her like she does Rosamund. (She basically raised Alais, which probably explains why she has some affection for her in spite of herself.)
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Eleanor balks when Geoffrey and Richard suggest secretly killing Henry. She's also horrified when Henry tells her that he's going to lock his sons up to keep them from rebelling against him.
    • On the flip side, Henry is aghast when Eleanor coldly informs him that Richard would kill any child Henry has with Alais, and that she'd endorse it.
    Henry: You wouldn't let him do a thing like that!
    Eleanor: Let him? I'd push him through the nursery door.
    • Henry can't bring himself to kill his own children, and lets them escape.
  • Everyone Laughs Ending: Not exactly the end one would expect in a political drama, but it does end with everyone laughing.
  • Evil Matriarch: Eleanor, at least as Richard sees her.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Subverted: Philip made more and more people hide behind a curtain and then exposed things with every newcomer, while also showing the latest curtain-inhabitant that he was overheard himself. (Good job if you understood that sentence after reading it only once!)
  • Family Disunion: You'd need a chart to map out which family members are conspiring with who to undermine one or more other family members, and there'd still a lot of overlap between allies and foes. And it's not your typical family squabbles over who gets great-grandmother's china cabinet, either—the stakes are crowns, countries, and one increasingly reluctant bride.
  • Foil: What would Richard, Geoffrey or John be like as King? Look at Philip. The young newly elevated King whose a master of deceit, betrayal and scheming, that underneath it all has massive insecurities and deep unresolved issues with his father.
  • Freudian Excuse: Henry and Eleanor admit that they're responsible for how their sons turned out: Henry's babying has turned John into a Spoiled Brat, while his neglect combined with Eleanor's smothering and devious nature has made Richard distant and mistrustful. Meanwhile, both of them have completely neglected Geoffrey, which has made him cold and devious, with no real loyalty or affection towards any of his family.
  • Freudian Trio: John as Id, Richard as Ego, Geoffrey as Superego.
  • Gambit Pileup: Pretty much every character is running one, and it's complicated by the fact that Henry, Eleanor, Geoffrey and Philip are particularly capable of Xanatos Speed Chess.
  • The Ghost:
    • Young Henry, the eldest son of Henry and Eleanor is alluded to several times in the play. Most references are to his untimely death. But Richard angrily describes him as being horrendous, a sentiment that Henry agrees with. When a shocked Eleanor points out that Young Henry was supposedly Henry's favorite son, he says he was.
    • King Louis VII of France, Philip and Alais' father, and Eleanor's ex-husband. He's often referred to disparagingly by both Eleanor and Philip, though Henry for his part speaks of him as a Worthy Opponent.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: When it's Eleanor of Aquitaine, a Real-Life Chessmaster and trouble-maker...
  • Good Feels Good: Henry claims that, since he hasn't been to war in years, he's learned "how good it is to write a law, or make a tax more fair."
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: None of the characters are particularly decent people, especially towards each other. And their plotting can actually get other people killed.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: When Henry and Eleanor put away the Snark Daggers and break out the Ham Cannons, there may as well be no-one else in the room.
  • Here We Go Again!: After Christmas nearly ends in a body count, Eleanor politely inquires if Henry plans to let her out again for Easter, implying that this madness will happen every holiday.
  • Heroic BSoD: Henry flips his lid when Philip reveals that all of his sons have betrayed him. After huddling under a rampart, he wakes up everyone in the castle by kicking and screaming at them.
  • Hero of Another Story: William Marshal is a real person who acts as the understated Number Two for Henry and later Eleanor. What else did he do? Well, he was eulogized as "the greatest knight who ever lived" for a start. He would ultimately serve five kings (Henry II, Henry the Young King, Richard I, John, and Henry III), culminating in him becoming Regent for Henry III.
  • Heir Club for Men: Mentioned when Eleanor talks about her previous marriage to Louis VII, which produced only daughters, but not a significant part of the plot. Henry seems to take it as read that he and Alais will have a son, though.
  • He's Got a Weapon!: Complete with the classic "The Reason You Suck" Speech response.
    John: A knife! He's got a knife!
    Eleanor: Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians! How clear we make it. 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.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: Given that he's King of France, it's obvious that Philip already despises Henry. But it's only after Henry reveals that Philip has been outwitted by Henry that Philip unveils It's Personal, as he despised how much Henry utterly humiliated Philip's father time and time again, but paradoxically is also jealous that Louis still seemed to hold no grudge against Henry and his last words went out to Henry and not his own son.
  • The High Queen: Henry describes Eleanor as such, when they first met:
    Henry: He married out of love, a woman out of legend. Not in Alexandria, or Rome, or Camelot has there been such a queen.
  • Historical Domain Character: The main characters, including Richard The Lion Heart. Katherine Hepburn is a descendant of Eleanor Of Aquitaine — not only through Eleanor's marriage to Henry II, but also Eleanor's earlier marriage to the French King Louis VII.
  • Historical In-Joke: In the 2003 version, William Marshal is the one who foils both of Richard's attempts to escape Chinon; furthermore, it takes little more than an admonishing look for Richard to back down. This reflects the fact that Marshal unhorsed Richard in 1189 and refrained from killing him only because Richard appealed to his sense of chivalry; he was one of the only men in Europe who could match Richard for sheer combat prowess.
  • Hot-Blooded: Henry and Richard, which, based on most historical accounts, is definitely Truth in Television.
  • I Have No Son!: Henry tells his sons he is disowning them all upon learning they were plotting against him.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Eleanor does this to Henry, to his displeasure.
  • I Know You Know I Know "I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family." Just so you know.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Eleanor lives off of making Henry miserable since he's imprisoned her. Can you blame her?
  • Improvised Weapon: John tries to kill Geoffrey with a candlestick.
  • In the Back: Or perhaps, better said, 'in the front', since everybody is quite honest about wanting to deceive each other.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: Mentioned when Eleanor and Alais speak privately. Alais has been fostered at Henry and Eleanor's court for years, the intent having been for her to marry one of their sons (they couldn't agree on which), and Eleanor fondly recalls raising the girl: "I remember how I used to brush and braid this hair."
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Both Henry and Richard recall Eleanor's youthful beauty, and Eleanor looks back both fondly and bitterly on her glory days.
  • Jacob and Esau: Henry is trying to get John on the throne and Eleanor wants Richard to have it. (What about Geoffrey, you may ask. What about him?)
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Well, Alais isn't a jerkass, but she does demand Henry kill his imprisoned sons. But she is absolutely correct that, even if she and Henry marry and she gives him an heir, if there are three disgruntled disinherited sons running around, the second Henry dies, she and the child would be in grave danger with no one to protect them.
  • The Lancer: William Marshal, who did serve Eleanor and then the Plantagenets for most of his life.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: They are, but despite the constant bickering, it's clear Henry and Eleanor still have feelings for each other.
  • The Lost Lenore: Rosamund de Clifford, who has been dead for seven years but is still remembered for being more beautiful and more loved by Henry than Eleanor. Eleanor likes to pile abuse on her for being Welsh, though.
  • Man Behind the Man: Geoffrey wants to be the chancellor (since nobody's considering him in the tussle over the actual throne). Though it would be easier to be the true power with John as a king, he still wants the position if Richard wins out.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Henry, Philip, Geoffrey, and Eleanor are the most flagrantly manipulative. As Henry says, it's the only way to be alive, fifty, and a king all at once.
    • As for Eleanor...
      Richard: You're so deceitful you can't ask for water when you're thirsty.
    • Philip implies that his entire relationship with Richard is part of a long con to get revenge for Henry humiliating his father (Eleanor's first husband).
  • Medieval Morons: Utterly averted. Even John isn't wholly stupid—as he points out, he can read several languages (hell, he can read period, and was the only person depicted in the story who ever learned English), he handcrafted a complicated mechanical Christmas gift for his father, and if nothing else, he's smart enough to realize that if he wants to be king, he's going to need help.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Geoffrey is a painfully pure example of this trope.
    Geoffrey: It's not the power I feel deprived of... it's the mention I miss. There's no affection for me here: You wouldn't think I'd want that, would you?
  • Might Makes Right:
    Henry: The Vexin's mine.
    Philip: By what authority?
    Henry: It's got my troops all over it: that makes it mine.
  • The Mistress:
    • Alais is Henry's mistress. Given that he's a king and this is the twelfth century, this wouldn't be a very big deal, except for the fact that she's also royalty, engaged to his son, and his wife helped raise her. They do seem to genuinely care for each other, though.
    • The Posthumous Character Rosamund was another one of Henry's mistresses. Eleanor loathed her, and still does even now that she's been dead for years. Even Henry wonders why she hates Rosamund in particular so much, given that she was by no means the first woman he had on the side, and Eleanor obviously knew that.
  • Modest Royalty: Henry, who dresses and acts like a peasant. This is exemplified in the scene where he greets King Phillip of France: Phillip arrives clean, well-coiffed, wearing his house colors amid a fanfare of trumpets and guards. Henry slaps on his crown at the last second and strolls out to meet him in the same rough tunic and trousers he wore the day before.
  • Momma's Boy: Richard as a child. Not any more now that he's grown up, though.
  • Mood Whiplash: Like crazy. Generally from laugh-out-loud funny to crushing tragedy in the course of just a few lines.
  • My Beloved Smother: Richard thinks of Eleanor this way. He's her favorite child, and she's trying to get at least the Aquitaine for him.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Whilst everyone else goes with The Queen's Latin. Katharine Hepburn goes with a flat Mid-Atlantic. Historically, of course, they should all be speaking French.
  • Offing the Offspring: Subverted. Henry sentences his sons to be executed for treason, but finds he can't do it.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Used liberally at the beginning of the film. It reappears at the climax when Henry sentences his sons to death.
  • One-Liner: Many, so many.
  • Only Sane Man: William Marshal, Henry's right-hand man. Despite his small role, he manages to convince Richard to come along quietly.
  • Parental Favoritism: Henry and Eleanor openly admit who their favorite sons are and endlessly scheme against each other to place their chosen boy on the throne... while Geoffery pits everyone against each other because he's ignored by both parents.
  • Passive Aggressive Combat: Henry, Eleanor, Philip, and Geoffrey are masters of it.
  • The Pawn: Alais, as she says so herself. She claims that because of this, she has nothing to lose.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Geoffrey has a rather good one.
  • Queer Romance: Philip and Richard. Richard was pained enough by Philip's marriage to stop writing to him, but Philip claims he only went along because he could hurt Henry by eventually revealing that his son was committing sodomy.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Largely averted. Henry, despite being the King of England, always wears simple, unadorned clothing, with fingerless gloves and a rather unkempt appearance. When he goes out to greet the King of France (who is dressed well in royal blues), an extra coat and a simple crown is all he dons. Eleanor, meanwhile, is rarely seen outside of her scarlet finery, complete with immaculate white wimple and gold crown.
  • Revenge: Philip went through a lot of trouble to screw Henry over... just because Henry constantly picked on Philip's daddy years prior. Could also be a very subtle case of Feuding Families.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Phillip using Richard to get to Henry.
  • Royal Brat: John is portrayed as a spoiled, block-headed teenager who's a constant, unwitting pawn in his elder brothers' schemes.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Any vestige of familial love is hopelessly entangled with an inability to trust one another's true motivations, and it colors every interaction between any of them. Even the most sincere declaration of loyalty is instantly shattered by the next political betrayal.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Richard, who's more of a soldier than a prince (this was one of his chief criticisms after he became king, funnily enough).
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Henry starts with a slow clap as Eleanor claims to concede and says he can have it all, increasing in speed and volume as she grows more despairing.
  • Seen It All:
    • Henry II is so old he's got ten years on the Pope, and uses those years of experience in dealing with Philip.
    • Eleanor has some interesting history herself. Her backstory involving the Crusades would count as a Noodle Incident if she hadn't given the audience Too Much Information...
      Eleanor: Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn. (smiles) But the troops were dazzled...
  • Sibling Rivalry: Played at the level of a contact sport, if not outright war.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: The only way Henry and Eleanor know how to interact.
  • Snow Means Death: The title The Lion in Winter symbolizes the fiery fighter Henry as he is forced to confront his inevitable death. It's no accident that the play takes place at Christmas—the winter solstice and the longest night of the year. The metaphor is made even more direct by the fact that one of the symbols of House Plantagenet was a lion.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Becket, where Peter O'Toole played Henry II as a young man.
  • Straight Gay: Richard's affection for Philip is not revealed until well into the story. Before, during, and after, he remains a strong-willed Blood Knight and the most physically dangerous of Henry's sons.
  • Straw Nihilist: Richard reveals that underneath his honor he actually thinks it's a Crapsack World, with him giving an angry screed to Eleanor justifying killing Henry that nature does incredibly cruel things so it's fine for them to kill their father.
  • Stepford Snarker: Eleanor is manipulative and sarcastic as they come, and talks about her imprisonment very casually, but a couple scenes show that she is desperately unhappy being trapped in her castle for ten years and counting, and deep down misses her husband and family very much.
  • Succession Crisis: Primogeniture was not the law in 1183, and Henry is worried that his sons might fight a civil war after he dies. It doesn't help that the parents can't agree about which son should inherit: Henry prefers John while Eleanor prefers Richard. Making it worse is Henry's idea of having more children with Alais. Even worse, Aquitaine has different rules than England. The muddled mess will result in the Hundred Years War, the War of the Baron, and ultimately the Magna Carta when John remains in charge.
  • Suddenly Shouting: A specialty of Henry, who can go from calm conversation to bellowing on a dime.
  • Sword over Head: Henry, having passed judgment on his three sons for treason, raises his sword to strike Richard down...
  • Technicolor Eyes: According to Eleanor, the late Rosamund de Clifford had violet eyes, at least in a certain light.
  • Troll: Henry, Eleanor, Geoffrey, and Philip all say and do various things to deliberately get a rise out of each other. Being family means they know exactly where the sore spots are and how to jab them (and though Philip isn't, he's spent enough time with the Plantagenets to be equally effective).
  • Tsundere: Eleanor is a mixture of Harsh and Sweet. She seems to have been mostly the Sweet type in her younger days, but has moved more toward the Harsh type in her later years.
  • The Unfavorite: How Geoffrey perceives himself among the royal sons. John is favored by Henry, Richard is favored by Eleanor, which leaves him with no one. While he is going to be the chancellor to whoever becomes king, the fact the nobody has even considered him as a candidate for the throne is a very sore point for him.
    Geoffrey: No one ever thinks of crowns and mentions Geoff. Why is that?
    Henry: Isn't being Chancellor power enough?
    Geoffrey: It's not the power I feel deprived of. It's the mention I miss. There's no affection for me here; you wouldn't think I'd want that, would you?
  • Unwitting Pawn: Princes John (for Geoffrey) and Richard (for Philip).
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The drama in the House of Plantagenet at the time was very real. But it does play fast and loose with the historical facts in favor of telling a good story. Goldman even acknowledged that much of his characterization of Henry II in particular was fictionalized.
  • Warrior Prince: Richard. In the 1968 film, he's first seen victorious in a tournament, prepared to strike his opponent dead. In the 2003 film, he tries fighting his way out of his bedroom until Marshal gets the drop on him.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: All of Henry's sons secretly want his approval.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the film, after exposing everyone's plots to each other, Philip is never seen nor heard from again. One wonders how he slept through the racket of packing for Rome.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: For all the sound and fury of the story, absolutely nothing actually changes... except for the poor nameless guard who gets killed when Eleanor goes to free the princes.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Geoffrey convinces John and Richard to stab Henry. Richard and John agree, with Richard outright declaring that when push comes to shove he is a killer and it does not matter the circumstances.
  • Wife Husbandry: Not only is Alais young enough to be Henry's daughter, she's been betrothed to his son since childhood... and thus grew up in England, as it was custom for betrothed princesses to live where they'd one day be married. Since her mother died when she was young, Eleanor basically raised her, meaning Henry's carrying on with his wife's adopted daughter and their intended daughter-in-law. Ew.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: King Philip of France is only seventeen, but one of the more able plotters.
  • Woman Scorned: One of the reasons Eleanor is pissed. Richard calls her "Medea to the teeth."
  • World of Ham: But it works.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Henry plans to marry again and have another son. Eleanor states that he's too old and won't be around to protect him.
    Eleanor: And when you die, which is regrettable but necessary, what will happen to frail Alais and her pruny prince? You can't think Richard's going to wait for your grotesque to grow.
    Henry II: You wouldn't let him do a thing like that.
    Eleanor: Let him? I'd push him through the nursery door.
  • Younger Than They Look: Philip. It's even lampshaded by Eleanor.
    Eleanor: I was told you were impressive for a boy of seventeen.

Alternative Title(s): The Lion In Winter