Film Adaptation Overview

Cinematic and dramatic considerations in producing Eleanor’s historic fiction - Music, Costume, Locations

The Eleanor Code

A dramatic origins series for Streaming

written by

Mark Richard Beaulieu


1. Story Character Questions, Conflicts, Themes    

2. The Overview — Synopsis, Why this series    

3. The World    

4. Tone and Setting    

5. Character Descriptions    

6. Six Season Summary    

7. Potential Episodes For Season One    

8. Summary    


    1.    A basic moral philosophy that rules one’s actions. 

    2.    A system of secret texts to substitute for something of purpose, often used for clandestine communications.

    3.    A set of instructions that operate as a program.

The Eleanor Code is a drama — a six-part epic story with a unique historical plot whose themes parallel many in our times. The central player is Eleanor, an orphan who becomes queen of France as a girl. She idealistically crusades in desperate battles of her inept husband. She recovers from a devastating holy war by developing her own unique code of pleasure and love within a controversial mixed-gender church. She champions music and invents the courts of love. She falls for a young prince and leaves France to become Queen of England. Eleanor is the mother to a large family that revolts against their father for his heinous crimes, who then jails her for sixteen years. But her children’s second revolt succeeds in killing him and rescuing her to build the Aquitaine empire.

Unlike a throne fantasy, this realm origin story redeems itself with a precise historical recreation of past human customs and styles that are as shocking and entertaining as fantasy. Each episode, 8-10 for season one, is a standalone adventure. The aim is to span six seasons, each covering fifteen-year segments of 12th-century Eleanor of Aquitaine’s vibrant life. By the end, she changes the world; her progeny sits on every European throne. In total, young Eleanor becomes the mother of empires.

Characters act with personal heroism, wit, humor, eros, and pathos in a defining drama that intertwines the birth of human empathy and mannered love as a strategy to survive a barbaric world of harsh religion and brutality.

2. The Overview — Synopsis, Why this series

Synopsis in one paragraph

Young Eleanor did not know she could change the world, but she and her medieval friends would, and in a fundamental way. Forced to become the queen of France at age 13, the 12th-century orphan struggles to establish herself in Parisian society. She marches with her dull husband into a humiliating crusade to the Holy Land and barely escapes with her life. She tosses her crown to choose a vibrant younger man. Henri battles to become King of England and make Eleanor Queen. He turns out to be a narcissistic tyrant of the middle ages. Meanwhile, Eleanor conducts a court and school of manners at the height of her achievements, writing a coded book of love that will change the world. Henri has a family friend Archbishop Becket spectacularly slain. An appalled Europe arms themselves to overthrow him with the aid of his sons. Captured, Eleanor endures 16 years in jail. In a second rebellion, the family is victorious. Richard Lionheart slays his father, and Eleanor is released. Ruling in her peculiar way, she places her progeny on every European throne. With few friends in the church, the religion opposes her as she tries to establish a human moral code, elevating the arts and creating her own faith.

Why this series?

In any era of moral strife and search for truth, a personal code is necessary. Breaking new ground in conventional throne stories, a larger theme of changing a brutal world drives Eleanor. She is an empathetic woman who develops her own influential hard-won code.

The origin of romantic tradition is born of necessity. Eleanor shows the inevitability necessity of love. Her idea of love challenges standard conventions. The series explores what made such an accomplished, original, and controversial woman tick. In so doing, a seed is planted for others to consider achieving such a goal.

What makes the story fresh?

Eleanor’s story is an entirely new story of a queen, how she prevailed, and what gave her purpose. It focuses on the origins of an orphan who is given a blank slate. Youth take on responsibility far earlier than we are accustomed to. Eleanor tells us what a person born from privilege might take advantage of for a better world. Collaterally, we see what all families can become through their generations.

Are there any relevant hotbed issues being explored?

The manipulation of people by religion and the utter failure in a singular belief in one kind of God are the consequences of a poorly run Catch-22 Holy War. Salvation through making one’s own moral code is further remedied by beauty and art. Young marriage and early sex, multiple Lolita stories, surviving rape, and slavery of English by the French are explored realistically. The contrast between personal choice in love and parental selection of mates is clearly exemplified in Eleanor's life. Catholicism is compared to Islam and other faiths challenging common prejudices. 

Primary Scope of Each Season

Six charged segments reveal Eleanor’s controversial life. Each lasts about 15 years, each an upgrade in spiritualism, love, combat, art, intelligence, and character.

The story begins young. Characters test a wealth of idealism in how they play, acting unencumbered as the institutions of the time weigh down on them. It all comes crashing down when her father is poisoned by eels on a pilgrimage to Spain and Eleanor is made Queen of France to inherit the vast and wealthy Aquitaine.

The second part is more like The Wire with an upgrade in technology/spiritualism that tests Eleanor. Like the Wire, two sides fight, each with problems of their own. The Christians and Muslims are at war but each side is someone in a Catch-22 mess that if fatal. The second crusade is a catastrophe of the church’s own blind and greedy design. Holy righteousness is no substitute for trained knights and secular battle wisdom.

The third part proceeds from the second, conceived as the story of marching into a holy war and returning home by sea. Eleanor learns the ways of sea trade and how inspiring love and the rudiments of chivalry are survival values.

The fourth part is an entire shift in characters and story. It is as dramatic as in Gone With the Wind when the whole Civil War ends, and we meet Rhett Butler. Eleanor rejects the failed church and her meek husband to be restored to Aquitaine. While battling a troublesome Norman house, Eleanor jumps ship from the Capets to the Anjevins, enamored by the younger vibrant anti-religious Henry Anjou. Whereas her first marriage was forced and holy, this is her chosen second marriage and earthy. But at a cost. The marriage must be secret, as in Romeo and Juliet. Her upgrade is her spiritually rich human philosophy that believes in pleasure and the qualities of love as an antidote to austerity and heartless, blind faith. Eleanor risks it all for love, only to find her husband is a brutal philanderer as she gives birth to seven children.

The fifth 15-year segment has Eleanor raising her family, echoing her youth, and exerting her influence on the Empire. Her unfaithful husband Henri brutally murders family friend Thomas Becket, whom he had appointed Archbishop of England. All of Europe, indeed, she and her children revolt against Henri. Trying to make it to the protection of her first husband, Henri captures her and imprisons her for life. He crushes the entire rebellion forcing his children to his side.

In the sixth and final part, Eleanor triumphs over Henri. A second rebellion by her elder children resists the father's tyranny, fatally defeating him in battle. Eleanor is freed from prison and directs her progeny to take the thrones of Europe and the Holy Land. In a third crusade, she helps her son, Richard Lionhearted, and travels to Germany to pay ransom to rescue him. Heroically, Eleanor travels to Spain to choose a granddaughter and escort her to become the next Queen of France. Retired to Fontevrault Abbey, she continues to fight for her children's future.