10 period dramas to watch if you loved ‘Reign’

The CW’s Reign ran for four seasons and fed audience fascination with all things royal, telling the story of Mary Queen of Scots and her shaky reign in the French court and beyond. Since royalty feels novel to anyone who isn’t born into it ⏤ and who doesn’t dream of being a king or queen and living in a castle? ⏤ Reign gave us an intimate look at what that kind of life would be like.

It’s a delight to get caught up in the fashion, romance, and intrigue of the series, and since it’s based on actual people, it’s also a mini history lesson. What’s even more delightful is that despite Reign’s reign coming to an end on The CW, there are plenty of other shows in a similar vein that you can enjoy right away. Here are 10 other period pieces you can turn to when you’re experiencing Reign withdrawal.

The Tudors

Boasting similar subject matter to Reign but from a different, more kingly perspective is Showtime’s The Tudors. Also set in England, it tells the tale of King Henry VIII and his six wives. Henry ascended to the throne at the young age of 17, first marrying his brother Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, but when Catherine had trouble producing a male heir, Henry’s eyes started wandering to Anne Boleyn. This pattern only continues and ultimately makes for excellent drama, at least for viewers. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as Henry, and the show is currently streaming on Hulu with the Showtime add-on.

Victoria

As seen in Reign, Mary Queen of Scots’ rule was not long or prosperous. Other British queens fared far better. PBS Masterpiece’s Victoria tells the story of Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 until 1901. At the time she was the longest reigning British Monarch. (Queen Elizabeth holds that title now.) This series follows her ascent to the throne into her ’30s, and all three seasons can be streamed on Amazon Prime. The show was created by Daisy Goodwin, who also writes historical novels, and stars Jenna Coleman as Victoria, Tom Hughes as Albert, and Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne.

The Crown

Netflix’s original series The Crown is very much a more modern Reign. This historical drama centers on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and is unique in style given that each season covers a time period of about a decade. Also, instead of using CGI and makeup to age the original cast members, after two seasons, new age-appropriate actors play the same characters later in life. This show is critically acclaimed and has been awarded 21 Emmy Awards since it began its run 2016. These include wins for Best Actress for Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, both of whom portray Queen Elizabeth at different ages and stages of her life. The Crown has also won awards for writing, directing, and production design.

The White Queen

As seen in Reign, succession is a big issue for any monarch. The White Queen, a Starz miniseries, is based on the historical novel series The Cousin’s War by Philippa Gregory. The books in this series include The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter and center around three women, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. Against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses, they try to work behind the scenes to vie for power and the throne. Both the Lancasters and the Yorks believe they deserve the crown, but who will triumph? To find out, stream The White Queen on the Roku channel or Hulu with the Starz add-on.

The White Princess

This Starz miniseries is based on the Philippa Gregory novel of the same name and picks up where The White Queen leaves off. Henry VII and Elizabeth of York get married, which ends the Wars of the Roses by uniting the houses of Lancaster and York. That sounds like it should make for a happy ending, but where’s the fun and drama in that? Henry and Elizabeth don’t really like each other, plus they have scheming mothers, which makes the kingdom unstable. How will they fare? The White Princess can be streamed on Roku or Hulu, and you won’t want to miss it.

The Spanish Princess

Are you sensing a pattern here? This 16-part Starz limited series is also based on Philippa Gregory novels (The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse) and is a sequel to The White Queen and The White Princess. This time we follow the journey of Catherine of Aragon as she goes from Spanish princess to Queen of England and beyond. Charlotte Hope stars as Catherine and Downton Abbey fans will recognize Laura Carmichael as Maggie Pole, Countess of Salisbury. Dive deeper into Catherine’s story by streaming The Spanish Princess on the Roku channel or Hulu with the Starz add-on. 

Medici: Masters of Florence and Medici: The Magnificent

In case you thought there were only English period shows, never fear. Medici takes us to Florence, Italy and follows the family Medici. Reign fans will get to learn about Catherine de’ Medici’s extended family, which basically bankrolled the Catholic Church and ruled over Renaissance Florence, an era of great cultural achievement. Of course with all the power, drama, and romance that’s sure to follow, this show makes for an entertaining binge. You can check it out on Netflix now.

Versailles

Oh là là! If you’re craving more French drama post-Reign, look no further than Versailles. Versailles tells of King Louis XIV’s journey to get the French nobles in line. He decides that the perfect way to do this is to move the court from the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye to his father’s former hunting lodge, Versailles. Of course improvements must be made in order for Versailles to become one of the greatest, most opulent palaces in the world. But along the way, there are plenty of political disputes, affairs, and over-spent budgets to entertain us. George Blagden stars as Louis XIV in this historical series, which you can watch on Netflix.

The Great

Like Reign, The Great features a strong female leader. This Hulu original is a historical comedy that actually labels itself as “an almost entirely untrue story.” But what fun you will have watching it even if it’s not so historically accurate. The Great tells a stylized version of young Catherine the Great’s rise to power to become Empress of all Russia. It centers on Catherine’s youth and her not-so-great marriage to Emperor Peter III. Elle Fanning stars as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult plays Peter. Both have been nominated for their work on the show, and rightly so.

At the end of the day, period pieces offer us glimpses into time periods and places we would otherwise never have gotten a chance to see. The viewer gets swept away on an epic journey to a different place and time filled with beautiful sets, costumes, and intricate plots. It’s only natural when one finishes a series such as Reign to be craving more, and the 10 series on this list will more than fulfill that need.