I have a thing for historical dramas – it’s an open guilty pleasure. I’m talking more than just Downton Abbey though.
I’ve watched some bad ones in my time…really bad ones…
I actually had a professor at University who was famous for his rant against the movie Troy with Brad Pitt and its historical inaccuracies. I always thought it was funny, as a history student, that anybody would take that movie as fact, but there are some gullible people in this world…
Anyway, the purpose of this post is to have a “Let’s be honest talk” about one such drama.
I’m looking at you, Reign
The premise (shamelessly taken from Wikipedia):
Set in 1557 France, the highly fictionalized series follows the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, at French court while she awaits her marriage to the future Francis II of France, to whom she has been engaged since they were six. At court, Mary has to contend with the changing politics and power plays, as well as her burgeoning feelings for Francis and the romantic attentions from Francis’ bastard half-brother, Bash. Francis’ mother, Catherine de’ Medici, is secretly trying to prevent the marriage due to Nostradamus’s prediction that the marriage will lead to Francis’ death. The series also follows the affairs of Mary’s Scottish handmaidens Kenna, Aylee, Lola and Greer, who are searching for husbands of their own at court.
It’s a product of the CW, which means attractive 20-something-year-old actors playing horny teenagers. It’s great if you’re a 14-year-old girl, but not so much if you’re a historian.
I will selflessly sacrifice my afternoon to bring you the real story of Mary Queen of Scots and her motley crew.
So let’s begin…
Mary Queen of Scots
- She was original promised to the English King (Henry VIII)’s son, the future Edward VI
- Catholics opposed the plan, taking her back to Scotland where they arranged an alliance with France instead (France was a Catholic country)
- She moved to the courts of France in 1548 (at the age of 5) when she was engaged to the French Dauphin, Francis. She never lived in a convent!
- She didn’t marry him until 1558, but was only Queen of France for a year. Francis died of an ear infection in 1560
- Returned to Scotland, married twice and was finally executed in 1587 for suspicion of involvement in an assassination plot against Queen Elizabeth I
- She was a red head
Sidenote: All the suspicion against Mary was based on the fact that she was Catholic. Ah, religious upheaval…
- Son of King Henry II of France and Catherine de Medici
- He was sickly and weak
- Took over the throne, at the age of 15, after the accidental death of his father
- He was only King for 18 months – died at the age of 16 from an infection
- He wasn’t a young hunk in the court of France
- He would have been middle aged by the time Mary was in France
- He was, however, a French apothecary and a seer
- Famous for his book of prophecies
- Real name is Michel de Nostredame
- He did not predict the early death of Francis
Catherine de’ Medici
- Her father was the famous Lorenzo de Medici of Florence
- Nostradamus was not her confidant
- The King did have an affair, leaving her sidelined until she started producing children
- Acted as regent for her second son, Charles, who took the throne after Francis died
Ladies in waiting
- Yes they most likely existed…
- ….but their names were most certainly not Lola or Kenna
This is only a fraction of what is wrong, historically, with this show. I just don’t want to bore you will all the details. However, if you’re looking for Pretty Little Liars set in a historical time period then this is the show for you!
Happy viewing 🙂