The biographical series about the English Queens, all produced and made available by the platform Starzplay, revisited with different eyes the lives of Elizabeth Woodville in The White Queen, Elizabeth of York in The White Princess, and Catherine of Aragon in The Spanish Princess, Starz has two more series on important female monarchs ready: the series The Serpent Queen, about Catherine de Medici, with Samantha Morton, but still no date set, and Becoming Elizabeth, the series that will retell the little-explored youth of Queen Elizabeth I. This production already has a release date, confirmed for June 12.
Although the first three were adapted from Philippa Gregory‘s best sellers, Becoming Elizabeth was written by Anya Reiss and features the German actress Alicia von Rittberg as the young Elizabeth I. The plot begins immediately after the death of Henry VIII, who left three children: Mary (daughter of Catherine of Aragon, played by Romola Garai), Elizabeth (daughter of Anne Boleyn), and Edward VI (son of Jane Seymour, played by Oliver Zetterström), each son of a different mother and of conflicting faiths.
Elizabeth, now a teenager, is old enough to handle the Court games, but the three siblings have become “pawns in a game between the great families of England and the powers of Europe vying for control of the country”. Edward, as the male heir, is crowned in the place left by his father, but is suspicious of the two sisters and leans on his cousin, Jane Grey (Bella Ramsey, the unforgettable Lyanna Mormont from Game of Thrones). The lives of these four will be marked by tragedy, but, in particular, the traumas of Elizabeth’s youth will forever mark her personality and reign.
From the trailer, the series will address one of the most controversial and never explained cases in the life of Elizabeth I, such as when she would have been sexually abused by her uncle, Thomas Seymour (Tom Cullen, from Knightfall), Jane Seymour‘s brother, and fourth husband of Catherine Parr (Jessica Raine), the widow of Henry VIII. That’s right, very confusing and incestuous.
Thomas Seymour was Edward’s blood uncle, and, despite all the family connections and age gap, he flirted with the 14-year-old girl. At the time, there were doubts whether Thomas, who aspired to be the most powerful man in England, and Elizabeth had fallen in love and even had sex. Becoming Elizabeth seems to explore this relationship (putting Elizabeth I older than she really was at the time so there is no statutory rape). Reportedly, the future Queen’s housekeeper was uncomfortable with the growing intimacy between them, alerting Catherine, who dismissed their behavior as “innocent fun”, and even joined in the “jokes” on some occasions, such as the ones that the two tore Elizabeth I‘s clothes nearly leaving her naked in public.
As a young woman, Elizabeth found Thomas more fun than dangerous, but soon even Catherine found the relationship excessive, sending her stepdaughter away to live with other people, planting the seed of gossip that continues to this day. Catherine died soon after in childbirth, and once a widower, he turned to Elizabeth openly, but by this point, aware of the comments and risks, the princess had avoided him. Also, according to historians, it was at this time that his most enduring relationship, with Robert Dudley (Jamie Blackley), would have begun.
Thomas was disgraced by defying his brother, the King’s chief adviser. When trying to break into Edward VI’s room with a gun, he was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. There were rumors that he, in agreement with Elizabeth, would kill the King to pass the Crown to her. She was arrested and interrogated for weeks on end, being genuinely terrified when she realized the danger of dying. That’s when he gave his first sign of cunning, which would become clear in his reign, as she remained logical and firm, avoiding execution. The embarrassing details of Thomas Seymour and Elizabeth I’s flirtatious behavior came to light, but there was no way to find evidence that she had conspired with him. Thomas was executed for treason in 1549.
Drama, sex, violence, and conspiracy. Perfect elements for a series! June 12th!