When we turn the pages of our history, what comes to light are conflicts, alliances, betrayals, atrocities, battles, conspiracies, abductions, assassinations, kingdoms, and more. And as we are moving forward, the curiosity of savoring even the slightest of such controversial history is evermore increasing. This curiosity is being recognized by the creators for quite some time now and came into being a range of impeccably created historical thrillers.
While some of them became the talk of the town (talk of the world, literally), some of them remained underrated. Here’s a list of some must-watch historical thriller series that will keep one on the edge of the seats from the start to the end:
The Spanish Princess
Directed by: Birgitte Stærmose, Daina Reid, Lisa Clarke, Stephen Woolfenden, Chanya Button
Cast: Sai Bennett, Alicia Borrachero, Andrew Buchan, Laura Carmichael, Daniel Cerqueira, Aaron Cobham, Elliot Cowan
Where to watch: Starz
The series follows Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Spanish rulers Isabella and Ferdinand, who was promised in marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent of Henry VII of England. Catherine has a diverse court with people who are not so well versed in English customs, traditions, and ways of life. Where Catherine and her people were trying their best to adjust themselves to the societal paradigm, Prince Arthur suddenly dies. Catherine’s pursuit of bringing peace between Spain and England seemed to hit a roadblock till her eyes laid upon Arthur’s younger brother, the arrogant Henry, Duke of York.
Directed by: Metin Günay
Cast: Engin Altan Düzyatan, Kaan Taşaner, Hülya Darcan, Esra Bilgiç, Cengiz Coşkun, Nurettin Sönmez, Hande Soral
Where to watch: Netflix
Resurrection: Ertugrul is a Turkish historical fiction and is known as Turkish Game of Thrones. Ertrugrul was a 13th-century Muslim nomad warrior from Central Asia. Ertugrul led the rebellion against the Mongols, Crusaders, and Byzantines multiple times who were settled surrounding their land and inflicted atrocities on the Turkish tribes. The Ertrugrul and his men fought for a homeland, which was established by Ertrugrul’s son Osman as the Ottoman Empire later on. It is said that Ertugrul was an embodiment of justice, kindness, truthfulness, and forgiveness but when it came to saving his people from the oppressors, he and his handful of men were enough to uproot entire armies.
Directed by: Alik Sakharov, Daniel Minahan, David Petrarca, John Maybury, Jon Amie, and more
Cast: Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Rick Yune, Amr Waked, Remy Hii
Where to watch: Netflix
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant, explorer, and writer who traveled through Asia along the Silk Road between 1271 and 1295. He spent a considerable amount of time in China under the rule of Kublai Khan of the Mongol empire. Though he wasn’t the first European to go to China, Marco Polo was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experience. His writing gave very clear insight to the Europeans into the workings of the Eastern world, the geography, trade, passages, culture, flora, fauna, and more.
The television series, Marco Polo, follows his early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the Khagan of the Mongol Empire and the founder of the Yuan dynasty.
Directed by: J Blakeson
Cast: Kit Harington, Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss, Liv Tyler
Where to watch: HBO MAX
Kit Harington starrer Gunpowder is a British historical drama, based on the Gunpowder Plot in London. The Gunpowder plot was an assassination attempt on King James I during the Opening of Parliament in November 1605. At that time, the English faith was divided into two parts, Catholics and Protestants. James I was a protestant. When he started his reign as the king, it was expected that there would be more religious tolerance during his rule than his predecessor, Elizabeth I, which initially felt right. However, in a speech to Parliament in 1604, James I said he ‘detested’ the Catholic faith. And following the speech, the atrocities on the Catholics kicked started in full force.
Robert Catesby (Kit Harrington) and other Catholic conspirators joined forces and hatched an assassination in order to bring the Protestant government down.
Directed by: Barbara Eder, Stephen St. Leger
Cast: Laurence Rupp, Jeanne Goursaud and David Schütter, Bernhard Schütz, Nicki von Tempelhoff, Gaetano Aronica, Ronald Zehrfeld
Where to watch: Netflix
Set in 9AD, the story revolves around the Roman Empire’s occupation of Germania and their conflict with Germanic tribes on the grounds of independence. Throughout their twenty years of occupation, Germanic tribes went through all kinds of atrocities by Romans. They were demanded an insane amount of taxes and tribute and any retaliation ended with gruesome violence from the side of the Romans.
Arminius is a member of the Germanic Cherusci tribe who was given away by his father Segimer to the Romans in order to ensure peace between his tribe and Rome. After a long time, Arminius returns to Germania to help his foster father, Publius Quinctilius Varus maintain order in the region. However, when Arminius saw the atrocities inflicted by the Romans firsthand, he took over the Cherusci tribe and started a rebellion for independence. Though the events are historically inaccurate and pretty much fiction, the overall story is an absolute must-watch.