So I’m watching The White Queen, and I’m hooked on the story. Confession: I love Philippa Gregory’s books. But I’m also explaining the story to my daughter, and I’m telling her not to pay too much attention to the history, because this is a dramatized version of a fiction book. There is much to be said of these period dramas – I think a lot of people who would be indifferent to history are happy to watch things like “Rome”, “The Tudors”, “The White Queen”,  and “The White Princess”.  So, on the whole, there is nothing wrong with it.  And history, so they say, is written by the victors (in this case it’s written by a bunch f script writers under the direction of a group of people who could care less who won the war as long as the story hooks spectators & makes lots of money for their channel.) And finally, this is what hurts the most. Sacrificing reality for fiction in the name of profit. But there is nothing new here, and in the series, Henry Tudor wins the battle and ends the War of the Roses, which, basically, is what happened. But the writers have done something almost subversive. They have managed to strip the story down to the bones,  and the bones are all about money and power. How interesting it is to look back in time and see that finally nothing  has changed. The king (president, leader) still hands out prizes to his nobles (investors) to ensure their loyalty, and the nobles close ranks and make sure no outsider can break in and diminish their fortunes. The wealthy close ranks, claim paying fair taxes will ruin them, and give each other prizes of money and position.  They stab each other in the back, kill and marry for money, and climb over their rivals bodies to reach the top. That part of the story is all (and still) true. However, discrepancies have been included to add drama. Why portray Henry’s mother as a fanatical tyrant? Why have the romance between Richard III and his niece Elizabeth? In that century, cousins were not allowed to marry except by papal dispensation, which means the uncle and niece romance was certainly not going to happen. And who killed the princes in the tower? In the series, everyone, from Anne Neville to Buckingham to Henry VII’s mother is guilty. No one admits to anything, everyone wishes their death. A rather clever way to try  to cover the fact that nobody, in fact, knows “whodunnit“. My money’s on Buckingham, only because he had access, time, and was reputed to be crazy enough to do it. To make Henry VII’s mother part of the plot is just gratuitous drama – and making poor Anne Neville  into such a strange doormat-type character was odd as well. The Neville sisters were simply pawns in the game of thrones that was the War of the Roses. The witchcraft part was strange too – and to make it almost a real/fantasy with the storms and the charms was interesting, but  not exactly historical. But aside a couple nitpicks about clothing and anachronisms, I enjoyed the series and am looking forward to “The White Princess”.

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Elizabeth Woodville (1437–92), Queen Consort of Edward IV of England

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