Tag Archives: Elizabeth I

Reign Update

I watched the series finale of Reign the other night.  Wow!  They moved fast!  No sooner had Lord Darnley been killed did John Knox and his cronies march in there and arrest Mary.  A minute later, we were in 1587 at Mary’s execution.  So much for Mary’s marriage to Bothwell, captivity and the Babington Plot!  The series got seventy-eight episodes total, and I wish they could have had a couple shows to adequately portray Mary’s demise.  So instead, Elizabeth becomes the super-villain!

Mary leaves her infant son, now King James to be raised by his uncle, the Earl of Moray.  On this show, the earl is a noble figure, Mary’s right-hand man.  In history, the Earl of Moray is the main source of Mary’s problem.  He is very much like the John Knox character on the show and forces Mary’s abdication and flight into England.  But the show had to go the simple route of a hot good guy and Elizabeth being evil!

The scene with grown up King James meeting with Elizabeth, pleading for his mother’s life, is the one that really got me.  Elizabeth gives King James the choice – his mother’s life or the English throne when Elizabeth dies.  Said meeting never took place.  Additionally, Elizabeth didn’t name her successor until her deathbed.  She was a smart lady and naming her successor would have compromised her.  The idea that she gave the King of Scotland a choice like this is preposterous.  James then chastises Elizabeth for being weak and afraid of Mary.  Who cares?  Elizabeth lives and fosters the Golden Age of England.

Unfortunately, the show didn’t address the Babington Plot.  Although Mary was set up, there was a letter in her own hand authorizing her supporters to assassinate Elizabeth.  Again, Elizabeth had no choice.  She had to execute her rival, but the show didn’t acknowledge it since it didn’t fit into the “heroine Mary” narrative.

Twitter was a dream on Friday night.  People were tweeting, “Elizabeth, you b****!”  Elizabeth probably was that for many ones, but don’t attack her for protecting her realm.

Historical shows/films, due to time constraints or whatever, often change history but not to the point where they change a person’s character.  The only other one I can think of is Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl.  Don’t even get me started on that one.  Even The Tudors and Braveheart, riddled with historical inaccuracies, didn’t change the characterization of the subjects.  They may have changed some of the surrounding details but not the actual person.

We live in a world where people think Abraham Lincoln was the first president of the United States and chocolate milk comes from brown cows.  Unfortunately, people think what they see on a historical show is fairly accurate, and this show really missed the mark on one of history’s strongest women.  Like it or not, Mary, Queen of Scots had it coming to her and much of it was her fault.

P.S. Mary, Queen of Scot’s execution was a signal to Catholic Europe to attack England aka the Spanish Armada.  Therefore, Elizabeth’s England defeated the Armada in 1588, not before Mary’s death as portrayed on the show.  I had to let that out.

P.S.S. If you want a good movie on Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth, please see Mary, Queen of Scots starring Vanessa Redgrave as Mary and Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth.  Although there are some inaccuracies, such as scenes where the two queens meet, they don’t change the story.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

RIP to Reign

When my husband is working late at night and Baby Munchkin is sound asleep, I sometimes tune into a show called Reign on The CW.  It is a show very loosely based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.  The series finale is this Friday, June 16th.

I don’t know why I watch it.  I am fascinated by that era in history, but the historical flaws really infuriate me.  The actress who plays Mary, although beautiful, looks nothing like Mary.  I could live with that if that were the only thing.  They have changed the characterization of some key historical figures, particularly her first husband Francis II of France and her half-brother James Stuart, Earl of Moray.  There is also this really weird storyline about the supernatural (The CW already has a ton of vampire shows).  These are a just a couple of the really obvious ones.

Whenever history goes Hollywood, inaccuracies can be expected.  Braveheart is one of the most historically inaccurate films ever.  The real William Wallace was 6’6″ while Mel Gibson was a foot shorter.  Princess Isabella, who Wallace is shown to have an affair, didn’t even come to England until 1308, almost three years after Wallace’s execution.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers on The Tudors, although a magnificent actor, was the worst Henry VIII ever.  Henry was known for being red-haired and larger than life, not 5’7″ and moody.  All this aside, the thing that really irks me about Reign is its portrayal of Mary vs. her cousin and rival, Elizabeth I.

Full Disclosure: I am and always will be team Elizabeth.

On this show, Mary is all things good, and Elizabeth is the evil aggressor who executes Mary’s bff (also fake).  The writers try to justify Mary’s claim to the English throne.  In my opinion, Mary is the aggressor here, not Elizabeth.  But if your only experience with this era of history is this show, you would think “poor Mary, bad Elizabeth.”

Let’s think a moment about who Elizabeth was.  Her mother was executed at age three.  She saw another stepmother executed.  Her place at court depended on the mood of her father, Henry VIII.  A scandal in her stepmother’s home almost brought about her ruin at age thirteen.  Her brother disinherited her.  Her sister, Mary Tudor (different person), imprisoned her in the Tower of London and was thisclose to signing Elizabeth’s death warrant. Additionally, Catholic Europe, especially Spain was gunning for her.  The fact that she was a woman didn’t get her any points either.

She could have run away or given up but she survived and THRIVED!  What an inspiration she was and could be to a new generation learning to love history.

Elizabeth survived her perilous beginning and her own reign with her intelligence and non-committal attitude.  She never knew security, so when Mary attempted to claim the English throne, I can understand why Elizabeth reacted the way she did.  I get that it’s “not nice” that Elizabeth ultimately imprisoned and executed Mary.  In fact, she didn’t want to do it and was haunted by Mary until her own death in 1603. Understanding Elizabeth’s time period and own upbringing, you can see that she had no choice.

It would have been better to not have Elizabeth on the show at all than to have these superficial plot points involving her.  She was much more effective as a mysterious figure in season two.  Since Elizabeth and Mary never met in real life, it would have worked!

I know it’s just a show, but I wish they would have focused on the wily queen who would have no master.  The girl who survived a terrible childhood to achieve her destiny.  The woman who defeated the invincible Armada.  The queen who wanted to rule absolutely but was progressive enough to “not make windows into men’s souls.”  Maybe she’s not the good guy, but she’s certainly not the antagonist.

Mary followed her heart.  Elizabeth honored her duty above all else and learned from her mistakes/past.  There is something to be said for that.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews