Premieres Sundays May 15 & 22 at 7 p.m.
Who killed the princes in the Tower of London in 1483? What actually caused the Black Death? Why did a witch hunt craze sweep through 16th century Britain and America? And was King George III really mad? These are some of the most enduring and perplexing questions that have baffled academics and fascinated history buffs for years. Now the popular British historian Lucy Worsley turns sleuth to reexamine these infamous mysteries. In each episode, Lucy mounts a thorough investigation into a single event using historical and contemporary evidence and a range of experts to completely reframe the past. Lucy also reveals how contemporary attitudes towards children, gender politics, class and mental health helped obscure the truth of these cases. The series uncovers new victors and victims, challenges our perceptions and provides fresh answers to each renowned mystery.
“Princes in the Tower” – Sunday, May 15
Lucy tackles one of history’s greatest unsolved crimes — the supposed murder of two young princes in the Tower of London. Was it their power-hungry Uncle Richard who had Edward and Richard killed? Their mysterious disappearance in 1483 and a surprising lack of historical evidence have led to centuries of speculation. If the boys weren’t murdered at the behest of Richard III, who else might have benefitted from their death? Or were they not killed at all, but simply banished? Lucy delves into the period of their demise — the cutthroat era of the War of the Roses — and uncovers a fascinating chain of events leading up to the princes’ disappearance. After conferring with an array of historians who have spent decades trying to crack the case, Lucy ultimately makes up her mind about Richard’s guilt and reveals new insight about the life of a royal child in Medieval England.
“Madness of King George” – Sunday, May 22
Lucy delves into the madness of King George to ask what we can learn about how attitudes toward mental health were affected by Britain having a so-called ‘mad’ monarch. Lucy examines recently released royal papers and explores the king’s profoundly tragic personal trauma: the death of two of his young children. She also explores the enormous political pressures on George as ruler at a time of political upheaval. Revolution was brewing in France; an emperor had been murdered in Russia and Britain was facing the imminent loss of the American colonies after nearly two centuries of British rule. Speaking with leading experts in psychiatry, it becomes clear to Lucy that all of these enormous stresses led to his bouts of mental illness, which would now have been diagnosed as bipolar disorder. She also investigates how an attempt on his life by a mentally ill woman named Margaret Nicholson affected the King and eventually led to a change in the understanding and treatment of mental illness.