Royal Bastards: Rise of the Tudors

What's coming up in Royal Bastards? Episodes and more

Royal Bastards: The Rise of the Tudors, a three-part TV docu-drama series premiering on Sky HISTORY, Sky Showcase and NOW, transports us back to a tumultuous and violent time of usurped kings, intrigue and plots which brought medieval Britain to its knees. The series presents the story of the Wars of the Roses and the origins of the Tudor dynasty through a unique lens – the women who shaped the course of English history.

This is the real Game of Thrones, but unlike that fiction, the hero who emerges to save the nation is not a battle-hardened Jon Snow-type but a frightened teenage girl running for her life. This is that period’s history told as never before, through the eyes of its most unexpected heroine, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother to England’s first Tudor monarch.

Betrothed aged just 12, and pregnant at 13, Margaret must outwit myriad forces determined to destroy both her and her child almost as soon as he’s born. As he grows to adulthood, Margaret successfully navigates the perils and pitfalls of a dynastic war to end all wars, which tilts first one way and then the other. Against all odds, she manages to keep her son Henry safe until he can return to England with an army capable of wresting the crown from the last of the Plantagenets, the hated Richard III, and to be crowned King Henry VII.

Royal Bastards: Rise of the Tudors features three of this country’s finest actors as the principal protagonists and ‘storytellers’ at the heart of an epic three-part TV docu-drama series for Sky HISTORY and Sky Showcase. Illustrated with drama dialogue sequences shot on location in Lithuania, this unique approach features Sophie Rundle (as the voice of Margaret Beaufort), Sheila Atim (House of Lancaster),and Philip Glenister (House of York) who transport us back to the tumult of Britain’s medieval Royal Court, where death and disaster lurk around every corner.

In the 15th century, power over government and the realm rests firmly in the hands of men, and yet, in a system stacked against them, a handful of women electrify the narrative with survivalist tenacity and political savvy. As allegiances switch and change with the prevailing wind and split-second decisions often carry horrendous consequences, these women rely on their exhausted wits and play the long game.

Royal Bastards: Rise of the Tudors sees this world through the eyes of a frightened young woman who grows to prove more than a match for the brutish alpha-males arrayed against her, and whose ambition grows with each passing year. A distant descendant from a tainted royal bloodline (the legitimised bastard line from the third son of King Edward III, John of Gaunt, by his mistress Katherine Swynford), Margaret Beaufort is widowed whilst heavily pregnant aged just thirteen after her husband, Edmund Tudor, catches the plague in Yorkist captivity.

Protecting herself and her son means changing allegiances, marrying and re-marrying for political gain, the continual threat of execution and even house arrest whilst the Houses of Lancaster and York tear each other to shreds… Finally, the moment arrives for Margaret to make her move; a desperate all-or-nothing gamble which could result either in victory or certain death for her and her young son.

The brand-new and exclusive three-part series Royal Bastards: Rise of the Tudors premieres on Sky HISTORY, Sky Showcase and NOW on Monday 22nd November at 9pm. Sky HISTORY is available on Sky 123, NOW, Virgin 270 and TalkTalk 327. All episodes will be available on catch-up services.

Programme Information

Episode 1: Monday 22nd November, 9pm

Episode 1 covers the first period of the Wars of the Roses (roughly 1453-1461), telling the story of Henry VI’s sudden illness and the impact that had on England. The drama portrays power struggles between Richard of York and Margaret of Anjou, as well as the emergence of Richard’s son Edward as a contender for the throne. Margaret Beaufort is introduced as a young mother and key member of the house of Lancaster; her husband Edmund Tudor dies in dramatic circumstances, leaving Margaret to take control of her destiny. The episode finishes with Edward’s triumph at the battle of Towton, the imprisonment of Henry VI, and the exile of Queen Margaret.

Episode 2: Monday 29th November, 9pm

Episode 2 traverses the second period of the Wars of the Roses (roughly 1468-1471). We learn that while Edward IV has managed to retain the throne, he has also alienated many – most significantly his right-hand man Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick. Like many in England, Margaret Beaufort has learned how to compromise with Edward’s rule; she has managed to keep hold of her lands and her life under Yorkist rule. Warwick proceeds to lead a rebellion against Edward, allying with the king’s brother George, Duke of Clarence, and his former enemy, Queen Margaret. For a brief period, Warwick achieves his aims and Henry VI returns to the throne - but Edward will not give up that easily. This episode ends with his return to England, his triumphant victory over Warwick at the battle of Barnet, and then over Queen Margaret at the battle of Tewkesbury. The episode concludes with Edward IV once again safe on the throne – while Margaret Beaufort’s son, Henry Tudor, is driven into exile.

Episode 3: Monday 6th December, 9pm

Episode 3 focuses on the final period of turbulent conflict – and the story of the infamous King Richard III. In April of 1483, Edward IV dies unexpectedly and the future of England is once again thrown up in the air. Edward IV’s son and heir Edward V should be crowned king – but the prince’s uncle, the dead king’s youngest brother Richard III, takes control and takes the throne. Sky HISTORY details Richard’s power grab, but we also learn about those who joined forces to rebel against his reign. Margaret Beaufort comes into focus as a seasoned political operator, playing a leading role in the rising against Richard – ultimately securing a valuable marriage for her son Henry Tudor, and laying the foundations for his successful invasion and victory over Richard at the battle of Bosworth.