In this new documentary-drama series, historian and journalist Dan Jones will look at what some might consider the ‘real’ Game of Thrones – The Plantagenets. Once again, this bloody and ruthless dynasty are showing that there is certainly a growing public interest in the family’s violent history in comparison to their already infamous Tudor counterparts. Although BBC Two only aired a series by Professor Robert Bartlett on this medieval dynasty in March, one can expect that this Channel 5 series will bring a great deal more action, battle re-enactment and costumed drama.
For generations, The Plantagenets fought, slayed and betrayed their closest family members in order to achieve one key goal – the crown of England. This is a dynasty of warring cousins, disloyal wives, arranged marriages, betraying brothers and one throne.
Dan Jones has illustrated his brilliant knowledge of this period with his two books The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England and his recent release The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors. One can only expect that Jones will throw himself into such a documentary series with the same enthusiasm and interest as he has with his books.
The first episode in the series looks at the forger of the Plantagenet dynasty – Henry II – an emperor who, at one point, ruled over more French land than The King of France! Henry was a brilliantly bright and peripatetic King, dedicated and determined, but who was betrayed by his notorious wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and all his sons.
Episode two looks at how reliant Henry III became upon Simon de Montfort, and how this relationship turned into a volatile rivalry and even a civil war…
The third episode focuses on Edward II and how his determination for retribution leads England into further divisions and rivalries. In 1326 Edward’s adulterous wife, Isabella of France, led a shocking invasion against her own husband, with the help of her lover, which then led to Edward’s forced abdication in 1327. Jones will look the mystery surrounding Edward’s murder in Berkley Castle, and discuss the myths surrounding that burning hot poker.
Finally, in episode four, Jones explores the reign of the medieval boy King – Richard II – and how such a young man became a tyrant beyond his years.
When speaking about the upcoming series, Dan Jones commented: “This is The Plantagenet story as I’ve always wanted to tell it: big, bloody and thrilling. It’s an edge-of-your seat tour of the middle ages, and I am completely thrilled to have made this series with Channel 5, who bought into my passion for epic historical storytelling from the start.”
Simon Raikes, the Commissioning Factual Editor at Channel 5, stated: “The Plantagenets are like The Tudors on steroids. Their story is so shocking and brutal, the characters so ruthless and flawed, their impact on the history of this country so profound it’s hard to believe they weren’t dreamed up by Hollywood. But they weren’t. And I’m thrilled that Dan is finally telling their extraordinary story on C5 with the vigour, passion, and drama it so richly deserves.”
This four-part series was executively produced by Dan Gold, produced by David Wilson and directed by James Tovell and Oliver Twinch.
The first episode of Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty: The Plantagenets will be aired on Channel 5 at 9pm on Thursday 27th November. It will be available to watch on demand shortly afterwards.
Photo credit: Channel 5