Is Reign based on a true story?

Reign is the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. At least, that's what The CW series told us it was going to be about.
The CW Network's New York 2015 Upfront Presentation
The CW Network's New York 2015 Upfront Presentation / Gary Gershoff/GettyImages

When Reign was first promoted, it was said to be the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. Just how true to Mary’s story was it? We take a look.

Reign ran on The CW for four seasons. It followed Adelaide Kane as Mary, Queen of Scots, a queen of her own country and soon to be married to the dauphin of France. However, she didn’t live in a castle. She lived in a nunnery in France. That was until someone attempted to poison her and she had to be moved back to the French court.

It was clear early on that this series was only going to be loosely based on history. Let’s just start with the fact that Mary’s four best friends and ladies in waiting were supposed to be called Mary too. Instead, they were all given some very modern names. Then there’s Sebastian, the king’s illegitimate child who was best friends with his half-brother Francis. That guy did not exist in history.

Reign is a dramatized story of Mary, Queen of Scots

There was a lot throughout Reign that took liberties with history for the sake of drama. In real history, Francis was a rather sickly boy, but the show needed him to be far stronger and more of a heartthrob. After all, we needed a realistic love triangle for The CW’s target audience.

All the clothing was of a modern style. As beautiful as those dresses were, there is not a chance that they would have been worn in 16th century France.

We have liberties such as Francis having a child with one of Mary’s ladies in waiting, one of her ladies having an affair with King Henri, and one of her ladies running a brothel. None of that happened in real life.

There were many fans who half expected Francis to survive. The show couldn’t quite do that considering Mary, Queen of Scots had three husbands in her lifetime. Francis had to die to make that possible. The show did bring all three into the story, and Lord Darnley was even killed in a similar way to historical text, but it was too little too late to bring the real historical story back to this series.

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Reign is available to stream on Prime Video.