My favorite presenter, historian, and author is Lucy Worsley. She is an amazing historian who has hosted quite a respectable amount of documentaries. I just love her enthusiasm and personality portrayed in her shows. This woman loves life and it shows! In today’s post, I have compiled an excellent list with video of some must see Lucy documentaries!
British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley | War of the Roses
Lucy Worsley debunks the foundation myth of one of our favorite royal dynasties, the Tudors. According to the history books, after 30 years of bloody battles between the white-rosed Yorkists and the red-rosed Lancastrians, Henry Tudor rid us of civil war and the evil king Richard III. But Lucy reveals how the Tudors invented the story of the ‘Wars of the Roses’ after they came to power to justify their rule. She shows how Henry and his historians fabricated the scale of the conflict, forged Richard’s monstrous persona and even conjured up the image of competing roses. When our greatest storyteller William Shakespeare got in on the act and added his own spin, Tudor fiction was cemented as historical fact. Taking the story right up to date, with the discovery of Richard III’s bones in a Leicester car park, Lucy discovers how 15th-century fibs remain as compelling as they were over 500 years ago. As one colleague tells Lucy: ‘Never believe an historian!
BBC Victoria & Albert: The Royal Wedding with Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley restages the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Each detail is brought back to life in a spectacular ceremony as Lucy reveals how this event saved the monarchy and invented modern marriage. Aided by a team of experts, Lucy recreates the most important elements of the ceremony and the celebrations, scouring history books, archives, newspapers and Queen Victoria’s diaries for the details. She reveals how every moment was brilliantly stage-managed for maximum effect. Like every good marriage celebration, the film is a heady mix of fine food, fabulous clothes, music, emotion, gossip and intrigue. From the white dress to the massive tiered white cake, from the music sung by the choir to the moment rings were exchanged, each element has been carefully researched and remade for a grand staging of the big day itself.
The experts include food historian Annie Gray, clothing expert Harriet Waterhouse and military historian Jasdeep Singh. Woven into the recreation of the wedding day is the story of Victoria and Albert’s courtship and engagement, and its political importance. Lucy unpacks and explores the hidden iconography and symbolism of this hugely significant wedding, and reveals new insights into Victoria and Albert’s relationship; both public and private. The film sheds new light on the wider implications of the wedding and reveals how this one extraordinary event helped to invent modern marriage.
Fit to Rule: Tudors to Stuarts (From Gods to Men ) with Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, explores how the physical and mental health of our past monarchs has shaped the history of the nation. From Henry VIII to Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936, this three-part series reintroduces our past royals not just as powerful potentates, but as human beings, each with their own very personal problems of biology and psychology. Stripping away the regal facade, Lucy examines their medical problems, doctors’ reports, personal correspondence and intimate possessions to gain a unique insight into the real men and women behind the royal portraits. She uncovers how kings and queens have had to deal with infertility, religious extremism, depression, bisexuality and culture shock. But could these supposed chinks in the royal armour provide a surprising explanation for the enduring power of the British monarchy? Lucy argues that the survival of the monarchy has been determined not so much by the strengths of our past monarchs but by their weaknesses.
In this first episode, Lucy explores the medical histories of the Tudor and Stuart dynasties, beginning with the ascension of Henry VIII and tracing the changing fortunes of these two very different royal families up to the execution of Charles I. Five hundred years ago our monarchs derived their authority from God alone, but despite their semi-divine status, they were subject to exactly the same harsh physical realities as the rest of us. Lucy discovers how the Tudors and Stuarts coped with royal bodies that were often too young or too old, too infirm or too infertile and sometimes simply the wrong sex at a time when male heirs were all-important. Lucy investigates the most critical medical problems and family psychodramas faced by a fascinating cast of royal characters, including the trouble Henry VIII had in producing a male heir and the cause of his daughter Mary I’s phantom pregnancy. She sheds new light on the biological and psychological make-up of some of our greatest rulers by examining their personal correspondence and private possessions, including intimate love letters exchanged between James I and his lover the Duke of Buckingham, and the special orthopaedic boots worn by Charles I.
A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley recreates how Christmas was celebrated during the age of Henry VIII – eating, drinking, singing, dancing and partying like people did 500 years ago. She is getting into Tudor clothes and inside Tudor minds – discovering the forerunners of some of the Christmas customs we still enjoy today and exploring why other festive traditions fell out of favour. With the help of food historian Annie Gray, she prepares two royal feasts in the kitchens of Hampton Court Palace. For the king’s Christmas dinner, Lucy – in full royal costume as Henry – tucks into stuffed boar’s head, served to her by a choir singing its praises. She also tastes Tudor versions of the mince pies and Christmas cakes we still enjoy today – and munches on a marzipan chess set and some 16th-century sweets.
Lucy joins Tudor carol-singers to perform a festive hit penned by Henry VIII himself, and watches a forerunner of the Royal Variety Show, complete with dancing stags and swordplay. She immerses herself in the rabble-rousing fun created by the Lord of Misrule, an anarchic ancestor of our Father Christmas. Lucy also explores how ordinary Tudors liked to enjoy themselves – and why the holidays were such a welcome break. She discovers how many people relied on charity to see them through the winter – and why Christmas was the only time it was legal to play most games and sports! Lucy decks her Tudor hall with traditional decorations, tastes the ale and mead which were popular Christmas drinks for humble folk, and brings back to life a strange and spooky Christmas custom which is a prototype of Halloween trick or treating.
Lucy is also thrilled to encounter priceless records in the National Archives, which show exactly how much Henry VIII’s lavish Christmas celebrations cost. She discovers that the Tudor version of Christmas gift-giving was an occasion for very big spending. She even receives some of the presents that were offered to Henry VIII in 1532 – which ranged from money and bling to a brace of greyhounds and a six foot boar spear from Anne Boleyn. Alongside all the partying, Tudor Christmas was more focused on religion than it is for many people today. Lucy reminds us how the celebrations followed a month’s fasting during Advent and visits one of the ornate royal chapels where Henry himself worshipped, exploring how the religious Reformation he unleashed would change Christmas forever. Across the programme, she traces Henry’s evolution from handsome prince to ill-tempered old man – but reveals that two of his queens nonetheless found a way of enjoying Christmas together.
The Real Versailles with Lucy Worsley and Helen Castor
As BBC Two premieres its lavish new period drama set in the sumptuous surroundings of Versailles, Lucy Worsley and Helen Castor tell the real-life stories behind one of the world’s grandest buildings. They reveal in vivid detail the colourful world of sex, drama and intrigue that Louis XIV and his courtiers inhabited. As chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley untangles Louis XIV’s complex world of court etiquette, fashion and feasting, while court politics expert Helen Castor delves into the archives and unpicks the Machiavellian world that Louis created.
Our historians meet the real people behind the on-screen characters. They discover what drove Louis XIV to glorify his reign on a scale unmatched by any previous monarch, examine the tension between Louis and his only brother Philippe, an overt homosexual and battle hero, and they meet the coterie of women who competed for Louis’s attention. As Lucy and Helen show, Louis XIV was ruthless in his pursuit of glory and succeeded in defeating his enemies. In his record-breaking 72-year reign, France became renowned for its culture and sophistication.
Fit to Rule Bad Blood Stuarts to Hanoverians With Lucy Worsley
Dr Lucy Worsley explores the medical histories of the later Stuarts, from the exile of James II and the succession of William and Mary to the rise of a new dynasty – the Hanoverians. This was a transformational stage for the monarchy: following William and Mary’s ‘Glorious Revolution’, monarchs were no longer semi-divine, but answerable to their people and to Parliament. But without their cloak of divinity, their human frailties were now under public scrutiny like never before, and if biology failed them, an increasingly powerful Parliament could step in and take control.
Lucy examines William III’s health issues – a sickly child, his chronic ill health continued into adulthood and he proved unable to have children. For Mary the problems were more psychological. As her husband spent more and more time on his anti-Catholic campaigns abroad, she was left to rule in his place – a daunting proposition which served only to remind her of her own inadequacies – as a childless queen, and most harrowingly, as a daughter who had utterly betrayed her father. Lucy then explores Queen Anne’s tragic gynaecological history – she had 17 pregnancies, 12 of which ended in miscarriage or stillbirth and of her surviving children the oldest only lived 11 years. Plus the extraordinary lengths Parliament employed to find a Protestant successor when Anne died childless.
Unlike the Stuarts, the Hanoverians proved they had no problems producing heirs, but in producing a royal family they found themselves waging a very personal war, as toxic relationships between parents and heirs would threaten the power of the monarchy as much as infertility had threatened the Stuarts. Lucy scrutinizes the so-called madness of George III, as new research and clinical analysis of his personal letters reveals the real reason behind his manic episodes, before finishing with George IV and his battles with obesity, alcohol and drugs.
I hope everyone enjoys the videos! You can find more of her content on Amazon Prime Video, Brit Box, BBC, and PBS streaming services. I highly recommend watching Suffragettes, the documentary she won a BAFTA award for. What is your favorite Lucy Worsley Documentary? Let us know and leave your recommendations in the comments!
BOOK PICK OF THE DAY
Kensington Palace is now most famous as the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, but the palace’s glory days came between 1714 and 1760, during the reigns of George I and II. In the 18th century, this palace was a world of skullduggery, intrigue, politicking, etiquette, wigs, and beauty spots, where fans whistled open like switchblades and unusual people were kept as curiosities. Lucy Worsley’s The Courtiers charts the trajectory of the fantastically quarrelsome Hanovers and the last great gasp of British court life.
Structured around the paintings of courtiers and servants that line the walls of the King’s Staircase of Kensington Palace – paintings you can see at the palace today – The Courtiers goes behind closed doors to meet a pushy young painter, a maid of honor with a secret marriage, a vice chamberlain with many vices, a bedchamber woman with a violent husband, two aging royal mistresses, and many more. The result is an indelible portrait of court life leading up to the famous reign of George III, and a feast for both Anglophiles and lovers of history and royalty.
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