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5 Saucy Historical Dramas To Watch If You Liked Bridgerton

Netflix’s Bridgerton became an instant hit, and while there are no other shows that are exactly like this, there are plenty of shows that go back in time to the era of elaborate dances and balls, court politics, scandals, and gorgeous costumes.

Creators of these dramas often put their interpretations into play, thus rendering the shows historically inaccurate. But these little deviations work wonders as plot machinations, making the shows an exciting watch. While Bridgerton was primarily fictional, many historical dramas have certain non-fictional and real elements that provide an additional edge.

Here are 5 historical dramas you can watch while waiting for the second season of Bridgerton –

Reign 

This historical romantic drama series was created by Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie SenGupta, premiering on The CW in 2013. Adelaide Kane stars as Mary, the Queen of Scots, alongside an ensemble cast that featured Megan Follows, Torrance Coombs, Toby Regbo, and Celina Sinden in prominent roles.

The series follows Mary, the Scottish Queen, and her subsequent rise to power in the French court. Set during the mid-16th century, the first season opens with Mary returning to the court after living in a convent in France. The time has come to honor her engagement to Prince Francis’s French heir, but Francis’ mother, Catherine de Medici, tries to prevent their impending marriage.

Nostradamus, the reputed French astrologer, and seer had predicted Francis’ early death if the marriage takes place. When Mary knows of this, she decides to get married to Francis’ illegitimate half-brother Sebastian. Ultimately, Mary and Francis do get married.

The subsequent seasons trace Francis and Mary’s rise as the monarchs of France, the conflicts between the Catholics and the Protestants, Francis’ death, Queen Elizabeth I’s plots against Mary, and Mary’s return to Scotland to regain her power there.

The show beautifully portrays Mary’s struggles as a female ruler, with plenty of romance, affairs, scandals, and politics thrown into the mix. Though it is based on real-life figures, the plot follows history loosely, and the events are mostly fictionalized.

No. of seasons – 4

Where to watch – Amazon Prime 

Versailles 

This historical drama based on French court politics was created by Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft, premiering in 2015. It features an ensemble cast with George Blagden as Louis XIV, King of France. Other cast members are Alexander Vlahos, Tygh Runyan, Stuart Bowman, Evan Williams, Anna Brewster, Elisa Lasowski, and Maddison Jaizani.

The year is 1667 when the young Louis Dieudonné finally takes over the throne of France as King Louis XIV. A series of civil wars result in the French nobility defying the monarch, and the young king decides to move the court from the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Versailles. He commissions a lavish palace where these nobles seek entry, not realizing it to be a ploy to force them into submission.

The Palace of Versailles, the most beautiful palace of Europe, becomes a hotbed of politics and romance with dangerous intrigues lurking in every corner.

The show loosely follows the decadent lives of the 17th and 18th Century French court and has enough drama, scandal, politics, mystery, and romance to keep you hooked for hours.

No. of seasons – 3

Where to watch – Netflix

Medici 

Created by Frank Spotnitz and Nicholas Meyer, this historical drama premiered in 2016 and ran till 2019. Each season focuses on historical events concerning the Medici family who rose to power in 15th century Italy, starring Richard Madden, Daniel Sherman, Bradley James, Dustin Hoffman, Anabel Scholey, Sarah Felberbaum, and Sarah Parish, among others.

The Medici family was one of the most prominent Italian families who gained their subsequent power under the leadership of Cosmo de’ Medici during the Italian Renaissance. They founded the Medici Bank in 1397, which became the largest bank in Europe during the 15th century, enabling their political rise. The Medicis’ wealth and influence were widespread, and they were the main driving forces behind the political heads, even though they didn’t officially become monarchs. They were bestowed with the Dukedom of Florence.

The series follows the Medici family’s rise during the Renaissance as this visionary dynasty flexed its power in politics and art, navigating its ways through a swarm of enemies.

While most of the political events portrayed remain historically accurate, the writers have let their imaginations wild while framing the characters’ personal lives. Most of the romances are fictional but well characterized.

No. of seasons – 3

Where to watch – Netflix

The Tudors 

Set primarily in 16th-century England, this historical drama was created and written by Michael Hirst. Though named after the whole Tudor dynasty, it primarily focuses on the reign of King Henry VIII. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as King Henry, alongside Henry Cavill, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Natalie Dormer, Anita Briem, Annabelle Wallis, Joss Stone, Tamzin Merchant, Joely Richardson, James Frain, Jeremy Northam, and Nick Dunning in prominent roles.

The show chronicles the early years of King Henry’s nearly forty-year-long reign as he navigates the intrigues of the English court with the help of his trusted advisors and friends. King Henry was the one who broke ties with Rome and established the Church of England. Henry went on to have a total of 6 wives, out of which he divorced two, had two beheaded, one died, and the last wife outlived him.

Apart from his marital relationships, the show also focuses on Henry’s relationship with important and prominent historical figures like Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Wyatt, and Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk.

No. of seasons – 4

Where to watch – Sony Liv

The Spanish Princesshistorical

Based on the historical fiction of Philippa Gregory, this drama was developed by Emma Frost and Matthew Graham as a 16-part miniseries. It centers on Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Spanish rulers Isabella and Ferdinand. Charlotte Hope plays the titular role alongside an ensemble cast.

The series chronicles the life of Princess Catherine as she travels to England to her husband Arthur, the heir apparent to the throne of England, to whom she’s been betrothed since she was a child. She struggles to adjust to the English customs when her husband suddenly dies, and the throne passes onto his younger brother Henry, Duke of York. Henry assumes the English throne as King Henry VIII, and Catherine marries him to keep the peace between the two countries, thus becoming Queen of England and the first of Henry’s many wives.

The show captivates with its healthy balance of history and fiction and is refreshing.

No. of seasons – 1

Where to watch – Sony Liv

You can also watch Victoriathe CrownDowntown AbbeyVikings, and Outlander.

Edited by Urvashi Gupta

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