The Lion in Winter

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The Lion in Winter was a 1966 Broadway play by James Goldman.



Set during Christmas 1183 at Henry II of England's château in Chinon, Anjou, Angevin Empire, the play opens with the arrival of Henry's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he has had imprisoned since 1173. The story concerns the gamesmanship between Henry, Eleanor, their sons Richard, Geoffrey, and John, their guest, Philip II of France, the son of Eleanor's ex-husband, Louis VII of France, and Philip's half-sister, Alais, who has been at court since she was betrothed to Richard at age 8, but has since become Henry's mistress.

The Lion in Winter is fictional: there wasn't Christmas Court at Chinon in 1183; it is implied that Henry imprisoned Eleanor for attempting to overthrow him, but, in fact, she was imprisoned for backing their son Henry in the Revolt of 1173–1174. Also there is no definitive evidence that Alais was Henry's mistress (although Richard later resisted marrying Alais on the basis of this claim). The real Henry had many mistresses and several illegitimate children); none of the dialogue and actions are historical, although the outcomes and the events leading up to the story are accurate.

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