The White Princess

Having enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, Wolf Hall, the Hollow Crown and many other historical epics, I would like to watch The White Princess, an eight episode British-American historical fiction television series based on Philippa Gregory’s 2013 novel of the same name, and which is out on DVD. It is a sequel to The White Queen, a 2013 BBC-produced miniseries adapting three of Gregory’s previous novels. It features the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York which effectively ends the Wars of the Roses by uniting houses of Lancaster and York. However, the sinister political machinations of their mothers Elizabeth and Margaret continually threaten to tear both the marriage and the kingdom apart.

It begins with Henry Tudor Arriving triumphantly in London after defeating Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth field, and Marrying Elizabeth of York in order to join the warring houses of Lancaster and York. Unfortunately Henry despises Elizabeth and Elizabeth despises Henry especially after he gets her pregnant before committing himself to marry her. So Lizzie decides to play the part of dutiful wife while she and her mother, the former Queen consort Elizabeth, secretly plot against the Tudors.

Henry tours the kingdom to assert his sovereignty. Planning to accompany him to secretly rally York supporters, Lizzie’s mother Elizabeth is instead locked up in Westminster Palace by Henry’s own mother Margaret. Henry survives an assassination attempt by Yorkist Francis Lovell but suspects Lizzie’s involvement, however Lizzie denies any involvement, and wins favor with the common people by seizing funds from the Royal Treasury to aid those threatened by the sweating sickness. Lizzie eventually gives birth to Prince Arthur. Meanwhile Jasper Tudor visits Margaret of Burgundy seeking an alliance but peace negotiations are suddenly aborted by an incident at the Burgundy court. In the meantime, Lizzie’s mother Elizabeth is exiled to Bermondsey Abbey.

The York princesses plan to marry Tudor loyalists, Margaret of Burgundy raises an army behind a peasant boy she has declared is Teddy Plantagenet. So Henry releases the real Teddy from the Tower, however Margaret, the King’s Mother, conspires to sends Teddy back to the Tower and declares the Dowager Queen Elizabeth complicit in the conspiracy, although Henry refuses to execute his wife’s mother. Margaret of Burgundy is rallying European support around a boy she recognizes as the true heir to the English throne, Lizzie’s brother Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York. Henry sends Margaret, now Lady Pole, to prove that the boy is an impostor. Henry and Lizzie name their own son Henry as the Duke of York, but Lizzie’s mother, the Dowager Queen informs them that her son, the rightful King of England, is alive in Burgundy. Meanwhile Margaret causes more trouble for the Tudors.

William Stanley is executed for his support to the imposter Perkin Warbeck. Lizzie and Henry travel to Spain to seek for an alliance, but Queen Isabella of Castile refuses to help the king until his traitors are dealt with. After the death of the Dowager Queen Elizabeth, Lizzie insipires Henry’s men to fight against the pretender Perkin Warbeck, who finds sanctuary in a monastery and refuses to renounce his claim to the throne. Margaret spies for her aunt, Margaret of Burgundy. Lizzie is convinced that Warbeck is her brother and tries to help him. Henry finds out from Lizzie what happened to the Princes in the Tower and points out that if Henry kills Warbeck—who she believes is Richard, Princes Arthur and Henry could find themselves in danger. So Henry tries to find out what Lizzie and her mother Elizabeth have been up to. (Perkin Warbeck eventually died 23 November 1499)

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