32 thoughts on “5 Renaissance Women Who Should Have Movies Made About Them

      1. Late reply is late, but don’t look at the Borgias. Look at Canal +’s masterpiece of Borgia. Isolda Dychauck does a brilliant Lucrezia, as a woman in a sexist society that uses everything she has at her disposal to make her voice known in a way that’s very believable for the world of corrupt Renaissance Rome.

  1. I remember reading about Christina in a book called Norwegian Queens and Princesses, and I absolutely loved her story, so seeing her on your list makes me really happy :D <3

  2. I know there have been a couple movies about Mary Tudor, although I believe they may have focused on her life as Queen of France and her elopement with Charles Brandon: When Knighthood was in Flower and The Sword & the Rose. I’ve only seen the latter, and that was years and years ago, but I’m guessing neither movie has much respect for historical accuracy.

    1. Yeah, I revisited The Sword & the Rose for an upcoming post about Henry VIII, & whoa, it’s pretty bad from a historical accuracy point of view. Right up there with The Tudors, alas.

  3. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a wealthy and powerful duchess married to the priest-like King of France she bedded Henry II of England. She ran off to England w Henry. France agreed to an annulment. Years later her husband Harry had her imprisoned. She survived Henry by decades and used her own wealth to ransom her son Richard the LionHearted when he was kidnapped on the way home from the crusades. King John was also her son. She ruled Aquitaine independent of her husbands.

  4. I donno, I don’t think Christina of Denmark would be a good movie. I think she’s a little too complicated and strategic for something that short. I think her own series is definitely in order.

    I did not know of Bess of Hardwick’s series. I’m totally going to watch that now! Thanks Linziclair!

  5. I’ve seen “The Sword and the Rose” based on the novel When Knighthood was in Flower. It’s an exceedingly romanticized telling of the courtship of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon. But the costumes are interesting, and both Tudor siblings are properly depicted as redheaded. But what I’d really like to see is a film about the REAL Margaret Tudor: three husbands, she managed a divorce/anullment long before her brother did (the self-righteous Henry actually took her to task for it); she was regent of Scotland for her infant son after the forces of her sister-in-law defeated and killed her first husband at the battle of Flodden… And she died just short of seeing the birth and ascention to the throne of her infamous granddaughter, Mary Stuart.

  6. I vote for Ana de Mendoza, Princess of Eboli. A famous beauty despite the fact that she lost an eye in a mock duel when she was younger, she was a big political player until she apparently was caught plotting against the king.

    1. Per the IMDB there was a short lived Spanish TV series about La Eboli. Also she features in the Spanish movie “The Conspiracy” about Philip II’s court at the Escorial. I haven’t been able to find either of these to watch them, but I keep looking. Odd thing about “The Conspiracy” … there is no listing per the IMDB in the cast for Ana de Mendoza’s husband, the king’s favorite Ruy Gomez the first Prince of Eboli. His was quite the rag to riches tale.

  7. I’ll have to look up the Bess Hardwick series! I’d be interested in seeing something on Dilshad Agha- she was queen of Bijapur in the 16th century, and shot Safdar Khan through the eye with an arrow when he tried to attack her citadel.

  8. A film about Catherine Willoughby, Baroness d’Eresby suo jure (in her own right) would be fabulous too.

    Her mother was Maria De Salinas and came over in Catherine of Aragon’s train when she was first married to Prince Arthur. She was one of the few Spanish ladies who were permitted to remain in Catherine (of A’s) household. Maria married William Willoughby, 11th Baron Willoughby de Eresby on 5th June 1516. She was his second wife and bore him their only child Catherine on 22 March 1519. He did not have any children from his first wife before her death sometime before 1512. Therefore, on his death in 1526, Catherine, being his sole heir, was able to inherit the Barony of Willoughby d’Eresby in her own right and become the 12th in the line. There is a female Baroness even to this day.

    As a great heiress, her wardship was controlled by the Crown (Henry VIII) who sold it to his friend Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Catherine was just 7 years old when she became Baroness and the initial thought was that she would be married to any son that Charles had.

    However, in 1533 when Catherine was 14, Charles, as was his right as her guardian, decided to marry her himself after the death of his previous wife Princess Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk.

    Catherine was now the new Duchess of Suffolk and mother-in-law to Frances Brandon who later becomes mother of Lady Jane Grey.

    Of course, it sounds terribly creepy to modern minds that a 14 year old was married to a 49 year old man, however in Tudor period she was 2 years older than the minimum age of 12. It seems the marriage was a successful one and Catherine seems to have had a very good intellect and pragmatic approach to life. She clearly had a mind of her own as we see a few years later when she become one of the leading supporters of the new “reformed” faith – going further than Henry VIII intended with his break with Rome. Its an interesting insight to Catherine – her mother being Spanish and very close to Catherine of Aragon was obviously a very devout Catholic and her daughter, named for Catherine, was now the complete opposite in religious outlook.

    She had two boys – Henry Brandon, 18th September 1534 and Charles Brandon, 15th March 1535.The Duke and Duchess officially greeted Anne of Cleves when she arrived in England in 1539 and then helped to arrange a progress for the next queen Catherine Howard and Henry VIII in 1541. When Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, dies in 1545 rumours quickly arise marking Catherine as the next wife of King Henry VIII. As it happens, he marries Katherine Parr. She and Catherine Willoughby become close friends with the Duchess becoming a member of the the Queen’s household. It is about this time that the Duchess becomes very outspoken in favour of the “new learning” and is quite rude to and about people such as Bishop Stephen Gardiner. It is said she named her little spaniel “Gardiner” – the idea that she could call “Gardiner” to heel in public. Talk about feisty and tempting fate.

    In 1548, Katherine Parr, now Dowager Queen and married to Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley (brother to Jane Seymour, 3rd Queen of Henry VIII), gave birth to a little girl and died a few days later. The little girl was Lady Mary Seymour and was entrusted to the care of Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk. She had to request financial help to ensure the child was cared for due to her status as daughter of a Queen of England. History does not say what happened to Lady Mary as she passes out of the records not long afterwards.

    In 1551, Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk dies at University from a bout of the sweating sickness. His brother Charles, becomes the 3rd Duke but within an hour he too dies of the same sickness at the university. Within the year, trying to rebuild her life after losing her husband, close friend and Queen and now her two sons, she remarries a member of her household – for love and shared religious convictions. She is still addressed as Duchess of Suffolk. She tries to have her husband Richard Bertie (a gentleman) given the courtesy title of Lord d’Eresby but is not successful. In 1553 with the death of King Edward VI and the very Catholic Mary Tudor now reigning, life starts to take an even more uncomfortable turn…Bishop Stephen Gardiner clearly does not forget Catherine’s mocking of him and makes moves to persecute “heretics” such as Catherine and Richard Bertie. in 1555 Catherine and Richard decide it is prudent to leave England for the continent and join a number of other “Marian Exiles”.

    They wander the continent for a while before being invited by the King of Poland and Duke of Lithuania to be Administrators for Lithuania. This they accept and remain there till Elizabeth Tudor takes the Throne of England.

    Catherine and Richard return though Catherine finds that Elizabeth’s views on religion aren’t quite as allied to her own more extreme views and does not find herself a close confidante of the Queen. However, Catherine has two children by Richard: Peregrine Bertie (named as he was born during their peregrinations on the continent). He becomes Baron Willoughby d’Eresby on his mother’s death being the eldest child. He also marries Lady Mary De Vere, sister to Edward De Vere 17th Earl of Oxford. There is also Susan Bertie who becomes Countess of Kent.

    Catherines dies om 19th September 1580 at Grimsthorpe Castle, one of her properties.

  9. All excellent choices, but would like to add a few more:
    Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. Granddaughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, mother of Henry VII. Margaret was married to Edmund Tudor at 12, mother of Henry VII at 13. Married to two other men. Pious, politically savvy, she steered her son to the throne and was his foremost counsellor. She’s my choice for the imminent gris behind the death of the Princes in the Tower.

    Artemesia Gentileschi artist and only women in Vatican Museum. She might be considered more Baroque, but worthy of picture or series.

    Isabella d’Este is also an interesting choice. Patron of the arts, politician – often negotiating for Gonzaga husband, Ferdinand Gonzaga Marquis of Mantua.

    Yes to Eleanor of Toledo wife of Cosmo I Grand Duke of Tuscany.

    Finally, Mary Queen of Scots needs a pro-Mary series or miniseries.

  10. To be fair, there’s only one modern-ish movie I know of that focus on Anne Boleyn, and that’s Anne of the Thousand days. The other is a german(?) silent movie, Anna Boleyn.
    The tudors is about Henry VIII, Wolf Hall is about Thomas Cromwell, The Other Boleyn Girl is about Mary Boleyn etc… And the characterization of Anne suffers from that, she generally ends up a cold hearted women who has her eyes on the throne from the beginning, because they want the to protagonist appear in a better light.
    So I would want a miniseries that’s about Anne Boleyn, I would like to see her childhood in the netherlands and France, her teen fling with Henry Percy, her passion for the reformed faith, her close relationship with her mother, her friendship with Jane Parker, and the fact that she cried when she heard about CoA’s death.
    I would love to see the miniseries focus on the women in Anne’s life, her mother, sister, sister-in-law, grandmother, her good friend Margaret Wyatt, her childhood nurse Mrs. Mary Orchard, and her daughter and step daughter.

    I would love a series about Marguerite de Navarre!
    I would also like to see a show/movie about:
    Margaret Douglas, the niece of Henry VIII and daughter of Margaret Tudor, she kept getting into trouble because of her romantic relationships. Her son was also Lord Darnley, so she’s the grandmother of James I/VI
    Margaret of Austria, she was the first female governor of the Habsburg Netherlands.
    Lady Arabella Stuart, she was in the line of succession to the english throne, and therefor could not marry without the current Monarch’s consent. But she did, and both Arabella and her husband were arrested. She was able to escape her imprisonment by dressing as a man, but was recaptured, and died in the tower of London.
    Mihrimah Sultan, daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hürrem Sultan. She was a political advisor to both her father and brother, and served her brother in a role similar to that of Valide Sultan, since their mother was dead.

  11. Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn both deserve movies Before Henry–the story ALWAYS starts with Henry, or at best Arthur. What is that?

    Caterina Sforza

    Catherine de Medici

    Esther Handali or Esperanza Malchi, financial agents for Hurrem Sultan and Safiya Sultan

    Speaking of Safiya, she and Elizabeth had an ongoing correspondence, and how cool would THAT movie be?

    Malintzin/Dona Marina, Cortes’ interpreter

  12. Oh man, so many choices. Let’s see.

    -Well, for Lucrezia, Isolda Dychauk creates a brilliant version of Lucrezia, and easily my favorite portrayal. I wouldn’t mind seeing another actress portray Lucrezia in a similar spirit with her own twist that strays far from the sterotypcial and inaccurate “seductress that probably slept with her brother” (which isn’t true).

    -Lucrezia’s sister-in-law, Isabella d’Este.

    – Gulia Farnese, mockingly called “The Bride of Christ” in her time. Sister of a Pope and mistress of Lucrezia’s father, Rodrigo Borgia aka Pope Alexander VI.

    -Caterina Sforza, the Tigress of Forli. If it wasn’t for Assassin’s Creed 2, I’d have never known about her.

    -Both of Henry VIII’s sisters, Margaret and Mary

    -A historically accurate portrayal of Elizabeth of York.

    -Catherine of Aragon getting her own movie, historically accurate, showing her as so much more than Henry VIII’s jilted Queen (few people knew she was actually ambassador to the Tudor Court for Spain in the short years between Isabella of Spain’s death and Henry VII’s death, all the while she was coping with her father-in-law’s miserly ways, as Henry VII had refused to send Catherine back to Spain to her father King Ferdinand because he didn’t want to give up the Dowry. Henry actually contemplated marrying Catherine himself, and Catherine proceeded to bait him with marriage to her sister Joana (there’s a letter Catherine wrote to her father Ferdinand confessing that she baited Henry with this idea, I kid you not).

    -More on Catherine’s older sister, Joanna of Castile (aka “Juana la Loca”). Spain has her portrayed in a really interesting light in both their tv series about her mother Isabella, and in the movie La Corona Partida. The latter covers the time between her mother’s death and her husband’s death.

    -Joana’s sister-in-law Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy

    -All of Joanna of Castile’s daughters.

    -More about Veronica Franco.

    -An honest and historically accurate portrayal about Catherine de Medici. She definitely did some awful things in her time, but I want to see her as more than just a “scheming snake” for the sake of her children.

    -And Hurrem Sultan, aka Roxelana. The first slave woman in the Ottoman Empire to have a position equal to that of Queen Consort in Europe. (Haseki Sultan) She was also the first concubine to be married to an Ottoman Sultan in centuries, and sparked a string of fiercely powerful women in the Harem and the Ottoman Court that made accomplishments in their own right. The Turkish show Magnificent Century reduces Hurrem’s accomplishments to scheming and backstabbing, and it’s really sad. Seriously, Gregory would probably love the show with all of the catty behavior knocked up to 100.

    -Hurrem’s successor, Nurbanu Sultan. The first Valide with a great deal of power, she was so pro-Venetian (her homeland), that the Republic of Genoa angrily declared war on the Ottoman Empire. She also corresponded regularly with Catherine de Medici when the latter was Queen Regnant. Catherine wrote to Nurbanu inquiring about a renewal of the trade alliance that Francis I and Suleiman had initiated decades prior.

    -Nurbanu’s successor Safiye. I’d especially love to see more about her relationship with Queen Elizabeth I.

  13. I would like to see a biopic about Margaret Douglas the niece of Henry VIII, who’s mother divorced Margaret’s father Archibald Douglas, and went toe to toe with Mary I and Elizabeth, and orchestrated the marriage between her son Henry Lord Darnley, and Mary Queen of Scots, now that is one badass Babe! My other 4 picks are Lady Mary Howard who married Henry’s bastard son Henry Fitzroy, Anne Askewe who was burned at the stake for being a heretic, Marie De Guise mother of Mary Queen of Scots who ruled as regent of Scotland while her daughter was in France, Grace, O’Malley, the Pirate Queen, and finally Catherine Brandon the second wife of Charles Brandon who was a protestant supporter during the tenure of Catherine Parr Henry’s last Queen!

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