Good morning! Today, I will introduce you to a new historian on this blog: Kate Williams. She is a historian that you have seen before in the documentaries I have reviewed. This time she is hosting her own documentary series called The Stuarts: A Bloody Reign. She tells the story of the Stuart Kings and the Winn family.
The Stuarts: A Bloody Reign is a series featuring the Stuarts. They took over England after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Europe is torn apart by religious conflict and England is right at the center. The Stuart kings were James I, Charles I, Charles II, and James II. Kate Williams reassesses this dynasty in light of new evidence. She also explores a family who witnessed the rise and the fall of the Stuarts.
The first episode kicks off with James I. He gained the English throne through his mother’s claim. His mother was Mary, Queen of Scots and she was a descendant of King Henry VII. James VI of Scotland is invited to become King after Elizabeth I’s death. Kate looks beyond the Gunpowder Plot and examines what kind of King James was. When James I was declared King, he named Lord Howard to be in charge of his household. Lord Howard was an important man and James wanted someone loyal at his side.
As soon as James I arrived in London, things turn sour for him. The plague struck again. For some people, it was a sign of judgment. James had to find a balance between his new English kingdom and his old obligations to Scotland. James was raised as a protestant. However, the English did not want a Scottish king. The Scots did not want their king to leave Scotland. Immediately he was facing usurpers and the Gun Powder Plot was just another plot against the new king. King James had a tough challenge ahead to unify the country. England was still divided between Catholics and Protestants. Would England and Scotland want to be unified in the first place?
Kate tells the story of the Winn family and how the rise of the Stuarts changed their lives. John Winn, a supporter of James was warned about going to London. He had a tip that something was going to happen in London against the King. The King had bestowed this family a great favor: he made the family baronets. The Winn family was a prominent family in North Wales. However, his family’s rise made people jealous. So how would the Winn family continue to navigate the relationship with the Stuart kings?
How would James I navigate his new kingdom? Would he find the balance between England and Scotland? Would his vision of kingship come into conflict with the English version of kingship? Tune into this documentary to find out more about James I.
Some of the narration of the story was jarring and stilted. It took a lot to get used to. Kate’s style worked in previous documentaries, but she was a participant and not a narrator in those documentaries. She should have slowed herself down in this episode. The documentary also came off as being out of order and if it could have been arranged differently it could have flowed better. It was cool to get a blip about Arabella Stuart. Overall it was a challenge to write this review on the Stuart Kings.
Would I show this first episode to a classroom? This would be one documentary I would pass on. It is too fast-paced, too disorganized, and bounced around too many times. In this first episode, I would prefer to use this for research purposes only. Will this series get better with the next episode? I hope so!
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