The centuries past are full of events and characters that make incredible stories. No wonder then that content-hungry Netflix is full of period dramas. We’ve put together a list of historical dramas you absolutely shouldn’t miss, from Medici, a profile of the Italian banking family that could fuel endless seasons, to The English Game, about modern football.

‘Alias Grace’

Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel of the same name, Alias Grace (pictured above) draws on true events. The Canadian mini-series is about Irish immigrant Grace Marks, who was accused and convicted of the murders of her employer and his housekeeper in 1843. She gets a life sentence and goes on to become one of the most infamous women in Canada.
Director: Mary Harron
Cast: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Liddiard, Zachary Levy, Kerr Logan
Seasons: 1 (2017)

‘The Bonfire of Destiny’

In the year 1897, a massive fire broke out in Bazar de la Charite, an annual event in Paris, killing 126 women, many of whom were elite Parisians. The Bonfire of Destiny is a fictionalised version of that tragedy.
Director: Alexandre Laurent
Cast: Audrey Fleurot, Julie De Bona, Camille Lou
Seasons: 1 (2019)

‘The Last Czars’

Part docu-series and part drama, The Last Czars documents the life of the last Russian royal family, the Romanovs, who ruled until the fall of Czar Nicholas II. From Nicholas II’s acquisition of the throne, the Russian Revolution and finally, his removal from the position, this periodic drama will have you hooked.
Directors: Adrian Mcdowall, Gareth Tunley
Cast: Robert Jack, Susanna Herbert, Ben Cartwright, Oliver Dimsdale
Seasons: 1 (2019)

‘Versailles’

In 1667, during the reign of Louis XIV, the French nobles start to rebel against the monarchy. The young king, in order to reign in his nobles, decides to move the court to Versailles from a chateau near Paris. As the new palace is being built, he faces hurdles such as budget constraints and political intrigue.
Creators: Simon Mirren, David Wolstencroft
Cast: George Blagden, Alexander Vlahos, Tygh Runyan
Seasons: 3 (2015, 2017, 2018)

‘Medici’

This Italian-British historical drama and political thriller follows the rise of the Medici family, political and cultural influencers during the 15th century in Florence, which was then a republic. As the powerful dynasty fights for control, they become targets to those who envy them.
Creators: Frank Spotnitz, Nicholas Meyer
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Richard Madden, Stuart Martin, Annabel Scholey, Guido Caprino, Daniel Sharman, Bradley James
Seasons: 3 (2016, 2018, 2019)

‘Cathedral of the Sea’

A Spanish language history drama series, Cathedral of the Sea is based on the novel La Catedral del Mar by Spanish writer Ildefonso Falcones. Set in the 14th century in Barcelona, during the construction of the cathedral Santa Maria del Mar, it follows the life of a serf working on the cathedral. He gains freedom and becomes a prominent figure in the city.
Director: Jordi Frades
Cast: Julian Armaya, Jordi Aguilar and Aitor Luna, Pablo Derqui
Seasons: 1 (2018)

‘Marco Polo’

This drama series follows the adventures of the Italian merchant Marco Polo as he makes his way across continents and lands up as a prisoner to Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan in the 13th century.
Creator: John Fusco
Cast: Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen
Seasons: 2 (2014, 2016)

‘Bolívar’

Bolívar documents the life and romantic relationships of Simón Bolívar, the famed liberator who freed various South American countries from the grasp of colonising Spain.
Creator: Juana Uribe
Directors: Luis Alberto Restrepo, Andrés Beltrán, Jaime Rayo
Cast: Luis Gerónimo Abreu, Carlos Aguilar, Nohely Arteaga
Seasons: 1 (2019)

‘Luna Nera’

Luna Nera, meaning black moon, is a 17th century Italian drama about a teenage girl accused of witchcraft. She must choose between love and fulfilling her destiny as a powerful witch.
Creators: Francesca Manieri, Laura Paolucci, Tiziana Triana
Cast: Nina Fotaras, Giorgio Belli, Gloria Carovana, Giandomenico Cupaiuolo
Seasons: 1 (2020)

‘The Last Kingdom’

Based on Bernard Cornwell’s series of novels, The Saxon Stories, The Last Kingdom is a British historical fiction show set in the 9th century when England was divided into seven kingdoms. It hinges on the character Uhtred, who was originally born a Saxon, but raised by Vikings after he was captured during an invasion of England.
Cast: Alexander Dreymon, Eliza Butterworth, Ian Hart
Seasons: 3 (2015, 2017, 2018)

‘The Frankenstein Chronicles’

In 1827 London, investigator John Marlott finds multiple body parts assembled and arranged to look like a grotesque human form. He has a ruthless killer on his hands, one who has a penchant for mutilation.
Creators: Benjamin Ross, Barry Langford
Cast: Sean Bean, Richie Campbell, Tom Ward
Seasons: 2 (2015, 2017)

‘The English Game’

A six-part historical sports drama series, The English Game showcases the origins of modern football in England in the 1870s. Two players hailing from opposite social classes undergo professional and personal difficulties to make the game as we know it today.
Creators: Julian Fellowes, Tony Charles, Oliver Cotton
Directors: Birgitte Stærmose, Tim Fywell
Cast: Edward Holcroft, Kevin Guthrie, Charlotte Hope, Niamh Walsh, Craig Parkinson, James Harkness
Seasons: 1 (2020)