The Plantagenets: Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty and Their Hollow Crown

Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty.

This series tells of the Plantagenets - the dynasty that ruled England before the Tudors.

The story of the Plantagenets is often called the 'real life Game of Thrones', as it 1. takes place at the same time as the fictional story of Game of Thrones would have taken; 2. the main conflict of Starks and Lannisters in the first few seasons is loosely based on the War of the Roses in England in the 15th century, whose principal participants were the houses of York and Lancaster.  

Above is Episode 1 (Betrayal - Henry II).

Further Episodes here: Episode 2 (Hatred - Henry III), Episode 3 (Revenge - Edward II), Episode 4 (Richard II).

Where can You watch it? YouTube (follow links above) or DVD.

Is it free? Yes (on YouTube). Hi, commercials! 

How many episodes? There are four episodes, each covering one major conflict of one Plantagenet monarch.

How long each episode? 44 minutes

My most surprising moment? The fact that most of the actors in the reenactment segments are actually Romanian. 

My favourite moment? For authenticity, the speech at the English royal court in re-enactment scenes is actually French.

Year of Release? 2014

The host and writer of this series is one of the leading experts on British Medieval History - none other than Dan Jones, who also wrote a book on The Plantagenets - that's handy - check the link below.

Also, here's a podcast hosted by History Extra in collaboration with Historical Royal Palaces at the Tower of London, where Dan talks about the importance of the Plantagenet dynasty and how they sowed the seeds of what made England - England. And here's a History Hit podcast where Dan discussed history that's inspired Game of Thrones. He and Dan Snow (the host) discuss among other things, the historical accuracy that the shows set in medieval times can have and whether a 'neat Hollywood conclusion' is always in everyone's interest. A bonus one here from Dan Jones' talk at the Chalke Valley History Festival. The funny thing is that despite the same author and the same topic, the chats actually differ quite a bit :) Now this podcast episode by History Extra is mainly about Richard II, and the historical accuracy of Shakespeare's portrayal of him. Seriously recommend giving these a listen.

Above is Episode 1 (The Mad King). Further Episodes here: Episode 2 (The Kingmaker Must Die), Episode 3 (The Princes Must Die), Episode 4 (A Mother's Love).

Britain's Bloody Crown.

This series is basically a sequel to 'Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty', as it was written and narrated by the same Dan Jones, covering the events a bit later in history. "Dynasty' started with the first Plantagenet king - Henry II, and 'Crown' ends with the last one - Richard III. 

'Crown' tells the story of the Wars of the Roses, and unlike with its predecessor, some of the episodes have overlapping storylines.

Where can You watch it? YouTube or DVD. 

Is it free? Yes (on YouTube). Hi, commercials! 

How many episodes? There are four episodes, each covering one major turning point of the Wars of the Roses.

How long each episode? 45 minutes

My favourite/ most surprising moments? 1. The actor playing Edward IV in the re-enactment scenes is Tom Durant Pritchard, who can boast being in several Royal History shows, including 'The Crown' (2016 - ), where he played Billy Wallace, Princess Margaret's faux fiancé, and 'The Windsors' (2016 - ) where he took over the role of Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. 2. 'Crown' features a lot of the same actors as its predecessor: Isabella of France is also Elizabeth Woodville; Henry II and Anthony Woodville look the same, and Eleanor of Aquitaine's likeness mirrors that of Margaret Beaufort. 

My least favourite moment? The character of Margaret of Anjou seems to be wearing 21st century make-up, which is somewhat off-putting.

Year of Release? 2016

Here's a fascinating History Extra podcast, where  Dan Jones is interviewed on his Wars of the Roses book by Suzannah Lipscomb, herself a Tudor expert. My favourite aspect of Dan Jones' storytelling is his insistence on looking at history forwards, not backwards. Here's another podcast episode on the topic, hosted by Faber & Faber. Also you'll find the link to Dan Jones' book on the subject covered in the documentary, as well as its DVD.

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