I had the surprising pleasure of watching the new Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett at the movies yesterday. Surprising because I didn’t expect much of it. Pleasing because I found it to be intricately crafted, the chemistry between Robin and Lady (Maid) Marion to be entirely believable, and the movie showcased a new and fascinating approach of the man before he wore the hood and became one of the most famous outlaws of all time. If I’m to be perfectly honest, it was a little Hollywood and the movie could have actually been MORE epic than it was – it seemed as if it had been overedited slightly. But in my view that’s a small price to pay for an enjoyable movie trip, and Cate Blanchett as Lady Marion was majestically good as always.
Coming away from the rolling credits however, what struck me most about the legend of Robin Hood was how little I had known of it. Big fan of men in tights and such, but I didn’t know, for example, that ol’ Robin was considered a staunch supporter of 12th century king Richard the Lionhearted. I didn’t know (stemming from this) that the legend of Robin Hood lived in the time of Eleanor of Aquitane. Yeah, THE Eleanor of Aquitane. Oh, wait, you want to know more about her? Well, she was…awesome. And important to history because…um.
You got me readers, I don’t know a thing about her. Oh, I can spin a yarn from here to tomorrow that’s more or less true about Elizabeth I, or count the wives of Henry VIII on my fingers in under 9 seconds (that’s right, I timed it). I even profess to know more than your average Jane about the beloved Plantagenets.
But about the woman who was considered the most beautiful woman of her time (oh, weren’t they all), who defied convention and exercised influence over her sons as heirs to the throne, was super wealthy, survived the marriage of two kings and outlived all but two of her TEN children? Regrettably, not much. Until, that is, Alison Weir, teacher of this area of history, rides in on her trusty white horse to take me far away from the land of ignorance!
I graduated to the class of Alison Weir after I had polished off Philippa Gregory’s “historical” works (so they were mostly fictionalised a great deal, who cares? Still rollicking good reads). Alison Weir writes BIOGRAPHIES about British Royalty, my snobby historian friends said. Not mere fiction.
Yawn. Sounded boring to me. Luckily, the lives of these royals are as good as fiction anyway! I’m flicking through my recent purchase, Alison Weir’s Eleanor of Aquitane, and I’m learning things already. Turns out Eleanor’s first marriage to King Louis VII of France was annulled by consanguinity within the fourth degree (don’t feel shame in looking up that word – I had to)!
I’ll report back once I’ve finished, if any of you out there have some interesting books on Eleanor they’d like to recommend me, I’m all ears (we’re on a first-name basis now, Eleanor and I).
I’m about to be educated – is it wrong that I get so excited about these history lessons?