If history is written by the victors, then the victors apparently are screenwriters with a passion for costume drama, and bring it on, I say!
I recently viewed the adaptation of Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth. Like most library dvd fans, I waited to watch it ad-free from the library. Who could resist such an all-star cast, including Canadian favorites Donald Sutherland and Gordon Pinsent and Ian McShane as the eyebrow lifting corrupt cardinal and Matthew McFayden (from the MI-5 series) as the compromised priest? As blogger Moe pointed out, this one has all the elements: romance, battle scenes, and a little mystery.
The series follows cathedral architect Tom Builder in his quest to build the first gothic cathedral with abundant light within. Swirling around him are real historical figures battling for the crown during the 12th century: Queen Maud versus King Stephen. Troops plough the priory and villagers while the higher- ups cut off or reinstate funding for the cathedral willy nilly.
This series took me back to the excellent Cadfael mystery series, set near the Welsh-English border during the same time period. See our earlier review of Derek Jakobi roles under "Spotlight" in the link menu to your left.
For these historically based series, I enjoy brushing up on history by going to our e-library on this website and searching the Encyclopedia Britannica for more information on Wales, cathedrals, or Queen Maud (also named Mathilda), for instance.