Marilyn Stacey on Eleanor and Henry

This post contains some graphic language that may not be appropriate for some readers. It was written as part of a character study by Marilyn Stacey, playing Eleanor in the upcoming The Lion in Winter, and is appropriately savage and sensual as Marilyn grapples with the more animal instincts that dictate her character’s relationship with King Henry.


My dearest Henry,

Only two more days and I will be with you in Chinon. So close to where we met. How thoughtful you have always been to me. How ever-present I must be in your thoughts these ten years. Darling.

Captivity in an architecture I loathe, in a wing that never varies from a sterile 68 degrees – to what end exactly? To keep me hidden? Away? Safe? No,you punish with darkness one whose childhood was a single endless, golden summer under the brightest, bluest, most infinitely sprawling sky. Well, then. Thanks, dear, for the women you send me – a different, yet completely interchangeable batch of spies each year. Dull-witted, narrow- thinking women, nuns itching to get back to their selfless, sexless lives of bringing bottled water to children whose parents never thought to dig in and fight back. Ah, but there was the year you sent me young, beautiful women – your conquests, each and every one. I could smell them on you. How thoughtful you are. How convinced you must be that I care about such things.

Oh, Henry, I know. You know I know and I know you know I know (the family mantra).

That tired joke about shattering the commandments on the spot? I know you know that it was more, and more, and more than that. The moon changed color. The axis of the world shifted. The gravitational press altered that half fraction to bind us together immediately and forever. The world changed for us, and then we changed the world. Don’t you remember? Why don’t you remember?

Why is it so easy to hate and so difficult to love? Why are you calling me to Chinon? Did Richard refuse to come otherwise? Is Alais at her last with you? Are you ready to throw John into the helicopter blades? Is Geoffrey – well, Geoffrey is Geoffrey, isn’t he? The only truly intelligent child we have. He got the best and the worst of each of us. Do you love me, my woolly sheep dog? Does that word have any meaning to either of us anymore? You see, the more you work to make me metasticize, the more you grandstand your love for me, the old woman with the stretched gate (thanks to your teeth, your hands, your children tearing their way free of me to not nearly soon enough rise up against you).

How mortified you must be. Who wouldn’t want Alais Capet to cavort with? I want you to have more children, Henry, a hundred children who have your strong hands and searing eyes and fight and fine fucks. At least you were decent enough to not take up with Alais until the last of my eggs lay soggy in my tubes. I never minded, Henry, it didn’t matter. I loved you, always, ever, and only.

Words you will never hear from me.

So I will light a match and let these white pages go black, and gray ashes fall onto my armor of cashmere and silk. I will gather my coat, my passport, and scrape my pride from whichever wall you last threw it. You will not touch me, Henry. There is nothing you can reach inside of me that you have left alive. I dare you to find a beating heart.


By the Wrath of God,

Queen of England

Duchess of Normandy

Duchess of Aquitaine

Countess of Anjou

Daughter of Aenor

Sister of France

Lover of a Man Who Used to Be

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