Starz continues to lead the way in historical TV dramas with their new series the snake queen. The series, created by Justin Haith, is adapted from Leonie Frida’s 2004 non-fiction novel Catherine de’ Medici: Queen of the French Renaissance. the snake queen Premiering on September 11, 2022, it stars Samantha Morton, Liv Hill, Ludivine Segnier and Sania Nanoa.
the snake queen Follows the life of Catherine de’ Medici, who was queen of France in the mid-1500s. The series is narrated by Catherine (Samantha Morton) as she tells her life story to her new maid, Rahima (Sanya Nanoa). Catherine begins the story when Catherine moves to France at the age of 14 for the death of her husband, Henry II, and in the process dramatizes history.
Who is the snake queen?
Catherine de’ Medici was born in 1519 to the famous de’ Medici family in Italy. Through her mother, Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, Catherine was related to the Bourbons of France and other families of the French nobility. Catherine was orphaned only a few months after her birth and was sent to live with members of the de’ Medici family, where she was educated by Italian nuns. In 1533, Catherine’s uncle, Pope Clement VII, promised her the second son of the King of France, Francis I, Henry. Catherine was sent to France and married Henry on October 28, 1533.
Catherine became Queen of France in 1547 and went on to give birth to 10 children which included three kings, two queens, two dukes and a duchess. Catherine died in 1589 outliving all but one of her children (Queen Margaret of France). Although Catherine is largely disliked (due to her creation during the French Wars of Religion), she is considered one of the most important women in Europe during the 16th century due to the fact that it is unlikely that her three sons would have been able to retain the throne without her.
Fact vs. Fiction of the Snake Queen
The new Starz drama is bold and wickedly fun, but is it an accurate retelling of Catherine de Medici? Although there are a lot of historical inaccuracies in the series (for the sake of the story), for the most part, it’s a pretty good story about the Queen’s life. Catherine was very clever, ruthless and manipulative in her attempt to maintain control of France. That’s part of how she became known as the Serpent Queen, and Samantha Morton does an amazing job of capturing that essence.
Catherine was known to be a very pious woman, so it is highly unlikely that she dabbled in witchcraft. But like others of her time (Elizabeth I of England) she was very interested in alchemy and astrology. Catherine did consult wizards and tried folk remedies to try to get pregnant, which may have been the source of this rumor. Over the centuries, Catherine also became notorious for being poisonous, but there is no proof of this account, although she is said to have had an interest in herbs.
one of the snake queenThe most accurate depictions of the character of Henry II’s royal mistress, Diane de Poitiers, and her relationship with the royal couple. Diane was 19 years older than Henry and their affair began about a year after his marriage to Catherine. Diane did push Henry to visit Catherine more because she knew the importance of heirs. Although after the birth of the twins, Victory and Joan, Catherine was warned not to have any more children and Henry stopped visiting her. Catherine struggled to find her place with Diane at court and by all accounts, she did seem to love Henry.
Satirical drama works best
There have been some wicked satires in movies and on television the snake queen Fits in really well with them. Samantha Morton and Liv Hill (who plays young Catherine) are amazing in balancing the seriousness and sharp wit of the character.
Catherine’s life was full of tragedy, and to be honest it would turn into a rather depressing series. So Justin Haith’s decision to use satire brings the story to another level and gives it the ability to reach a wider audience. when discussing the snake queenTown & Country quoted Haythe as saying:
“I liked the idea of a villain from history who would turn to us and say ‘let me tell you why I did the things I did, and you will judge me differently’. You really have to wonder if this is an evil person with good bits, or if it is a good person who is able to survive evil.”
With the first season of the snake queen Only covering the first half of Catherine’s life, it will be interesting to see where the series goes. Fans can be excited as the series has been renewed for a second season, but no announcement has been made as to when it will premiere. The entire first season of the snake queen Available now on Starz.