Those non-medievalists who had the opportunity to see the film The Lion in Winter may well have concluded that the intensity and extent of hostility among the members of King Henry II's family had been exaggerated for dramatic effect. It would appear, however, that the rivalries between Henry and his sons, and of the latter among themselves, provide a noteworthy example of an historical reality that was even more virulent than the fictionalized version. For example, in 1173-1174, Henry's sons, Henry the Younger, Richard, and Geoffrey, revolted against their father despite the fact that they were only teenagers at the time. The youths were joined in this effort by their mother, Eleanor. However, she was captured by Henry II, who imprisoned her until his own death sixteen years later. In 1182, Henry the Younger again threatened to revolt against his father. The next year found the youth at war with his brother Richard. This conflict widened when Geoffrey joined his brother against Richard, who subsequently was supported by the king. During this campaign Henry the Younger and Geoffrey appear to have attempted to have their father killed. In 1184, following Henry the Younger's death, Geoffrey and his youngest brother, John, went to war against Richard. Finally, in 1189, King Henry died while at war against Richard, who was supported by John.
Henry's family problems were not limited to hostilities with his sons, for on two earlier occasions, in 1152 and 1156, he went to war against his own brother Geoffrey. In a similar vein, Henry's sons did not only find themselves in conflict with their father but, as noted above, they fought against each other. This did not end with Henry's death: John and Richard were in conflict with each other on several occasions, and the former certainly was responsible for the murder of his nephew Arthur.