The wooden images that have crossed almost a thousand years to reach us are very rare, only one of someone who surpassed a dozen births, wore two royal crowns, survived her two husbands, to more than a decade of captivity and accumulates the largest number of biographies dedicated to a woman. The image of Eleanor of Aquitaine rests in the abbey where she died, along with that of her husband Enrique and her son Ricardo “heart of the Lion”, through whom she crossed Europe with tons of silver for her rescue. No other queen in history accumulates so much legend and so many images evocative of an age that was not called Media until the seventeenth century; Knights and tournaments, troubadours and gallant loves, images as powerful as they are false in their cinematic details, contribute to the survival in the imagination of someone about whom we really know little.
The film ‘The Lion in Winter’ is a classic with as much survival force as Eleanor herself, played with passion by Katharine Hepburn, and as historically wrong in its details as most of those that have accumulated to fatten the legend of the Duchess of Aquitaine, which includes an imaginary bare-chested ride at the head of a small group of Amazons in the holy land of crusaders. Even the most ridiculous stories have become reality to tell adventures led by Leonor.
His footprints reach to the end of the Earth, since in the Galician Finisterre an abbey remembers the father of Leonor, legendarily dead at the foot of the main altar of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela after dying at the end of the road. Eleanor of Aquitaine is, quite simply, the most irresistible of the reigning women.
As with the wooden images, few queens have left more than a funerary monument, but the last queen of Spain is among them, even though her biographies rich in absolutism and whims do not usually convey a respectable image. The writer Andrés Trapiello helps us follow part of his trail in Madrid, more abundant than that of Carlos III himself, but less recognized in light of the secondary role of women in general throughout history.
Undoubtedly, the example of Eleanor of Aquitaine opened new possibilities for women. In his time, women were altering the traditional role that the society of feudal lords and intransigent clergy had assigned them. Since Leonor broke the mold and the troubadours extolled the ladies as masters of the will of men, women achieved a prestige that did not exist until then. It is no coincidence that most of the great Gothic cathedrals, as well as the Christian temples of the 12th and 13th centuries, were dedicated to Mary. The possibilities of reconstructing for the screen a moment of the medieval past with precision are scarce, the biology of the planet is very different today and from clothing to food, fashions and gestures have changed. But science does not rule out some surprises that the future may hold, including even projects to recover species and animals that have disappeared, such as the powerful warhorses that roamed medieval Europe.