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//Tilda Swinton as Charles de Beaumont, chevalier d’Éon

Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont (5 October 1728 – 21 May 1810), usually known as the Chevalier d’Éon, was a French diplomat, spy and soldier, whose first 49 years were spent as a man, and whose last 33 years were spent as a woman. From 1777, d’Éon claimed to be anatomically a woman, and dressed as such. Doctors who examined the body after d’Éon’s death discovered that he was anatomically male. He is considered to be one of the earliest openly transvestite or transgender people.

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//Sophie Turner as Marie Thérèse Of France

Marie Thérèse was born at the Palace of Versailles, first child and eldest daughter of King Louis XVI of France and 23 year old Queen Marie Antoinette, on 19 December 1778. When the Bastille was stormed by an armed mob on 14 July 1789, the situation reached a climax. The life of the 11-year old Madame Royale began to be affected as several members of the royal household were sent abroad for their own safety. The comte d’Artois, her uncle, and the duchesse de Polignac, governess to the royal children, emigrated on the orders of Louis XVI. Her stay in the Temple Tower was one of solitude and often great boredom. The two books she had, a prayer book by the name of The Imitation of Jesus Christ and Voyages by La Harpe, were read over and over, so much so that she quickly grew tired of them. But her appeal for more books were refused by government officials, and many other requests were frequently refused;on top of this, she often had to endure listening to her brother’s cries and screams whenever he was beaten. On 11 May, Robespierre visited Marie-Thérèse, but there is no record of the conversation. During her imprisonment, Marie-Thérèse was never told what had happened to her family. All she knew was that her father was dead. In late August 1795, Marie-Thérèse finally was told what had happened to her family, by Madame Renée de Chanterenne, her female companion. When she had been informed of each of their fates, the distraught Marie-Thérèse began to cry, letting out loud sobs of anguish and grief. It was only once the Terror was over that Marie-Thérèse was allowed to leave France. She was liberated on 18 December 1795, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday.

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//Harry LLoyd as Voltaire

François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, free trade and separation of church and state. Voltaire was a prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws with harsh penalties for those who broke them. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day. Voltaire was one of several Enlightenment figures (along with Montesquieu, John Locke, Richard Price, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Émilie du Châtelet) whose works and ideas influenced important thinkers of both the American and French Revolutions.

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//Saoirse Ronan as Young Catherine of Aragon


was the Spanish Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales. In 1507, she also held the position of Ambassador for the Spanish Court in England when her father found himself without one, becoming the first female ambassador in European history.For six months, she served as regent of England while Henry VIII was in France. During that time the English won the Battle of Flodden, an event in which Catherine played an important part. She was considered one of the more pious women of her time. At the age of three, Catherine was betrothed to Prince Arthur, heir to the English throne, and they married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later. Catherine subsequently married Arthur’s younger brother, the recently-succeeded Henry VIII, in 1509. By 1525 Henry was infatuated with his mistress Anne Boleyn and dissatisfied that his marriage to Catherine who had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future Mary I of England, as heiress presumptive at a time when there was no established precedent for a woman on the throne. He sought to have their marriage annulled, setting in motion a chain of events that led to England’s break with the Roman Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was declared invalid and Henry married Anne on the judgment of clergy in England, without reference to the Pope. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and considered herself the King’s rightful wife and Queen, attracting much popular sympathy. Despite this, she was acknowledged only as Dowager Princess of Wales by Henry. After being banished from court, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on 7 January 1536. Catherine’s English subjects held her in high esteem, thus her death set off tremendous mourning among the English people. The controversial book “The Education of Christian Women” by Juan Luis Vives, which claimed women have the right to an education, was dedicated to and commissioned by her. Such was Catherine’s impression on people, that even her enemy, Thomas Cromwell, said of her “If not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of History.”[5] She successfully appealed for the lives of the rebels involved in the Evil May Day for the sake of their families

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//Clémence Poesy as Empress Matilda


was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood. However, her brother’s death in the White Ship disaster in 1120 resulted in Matilda being her father’s sole heir. As a child, Matilda was betrothed to and later married Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, acquiring the title Empress. The couple had no known children and after eleven years of marriage Henry died, leaving Matilda widowed. However, she was then married to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou in a union which her father hoped would produce a male heir and continue the dynasty. She had three sons by Geoffrey of Anjou, the eldest of whom eventually became King Henry II of England. Upon the death of her father in 1135, Matilda was usurped to the throne by her rival and cousin Stephen of Blois, who moved quickly and became crowned King of England whilst Matilda was in Normandy, pregnant with her third child. Their rivalry for the throne led to years of unrest and civil war in England that have been called The Anarchy. Matilda was the first female ruler of the Kingdom of England, though the length of her effective rule was brief – a few months in 1141. She was never crowned and failed to consolidate her rule (legally and politically). For this reason, she is normally excluded from lists of English monarchs, and her rival (and cousin) Stephen of Blois is listed as monarch for the period 1135–1154. She campaigned unstintingly for her oldest son’s inheritance, living to see him ascend the throne of England in 1154.

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Kate Winslet as Elizabeth of York and Joseph Fiennes as Henry VII Tudor

Henry was aware that his best chance to seize the throne was to engage Richard quickly and defeat him immediately, as Richard had reinforcements in Nottingham and Leicester. Richard only needed to avoid being killed in order to keep his throne. Though outnumbered, Henry’s Lancastrian forces decisively defeated Richard’s Yorkist army at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Several of Richard’s key allies, such as the Earl of Northumberland and William and Thomas Stanley, crucially switched sides or left the battlefield. Richard III’s death at Bosworth Field effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, although it was not the last battle Henry had to fight. Henry acknowledged the necessity of marrying Elizabeth to secure the stability of his rule and weaken the claims of other surviving members of the House of York, but he insisted on being king due to a tenuous claim of inheritance from John of Gaunt, ruling in his own right, and not by his marriage to the heir of the House of York, and had no intention of sharing power.[3] Consequently, he chose to be crowned on 30 October 1485, before his marriage.

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//Ben Whishaw as Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language. He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power. He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.

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//Gaspard Uliel as the Sun King

Louis XIV (5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), known as Louis the Great or the Sun King (French: le Roi-Soleil), was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is one of the longest in French and European history. Louis began his personal rule of France in 1661 after the death of his chief minister, the Italian Cardinal Mazarin. An adherent of the theory of the divine right of kings, which advocates the divine origin of monarchical rule, Louis continued his predecessors’ work of creating a centralized state governed from the capital. He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism persisting in parts of France and, by compelling many members of the nobility, especially the noble elite, to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles, succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many members of which had participated in the Fronde rebellion during Louis’s minority. By these means he became one of French history’s most powerful monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution. During Louis’s reign France was the leading European power and fought three major wars: the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession, as well as two lesser conflicts, the War of Devolution and the War of the Reunions. Louis encouraged and benefited from the work of prominent political, military and cultural figures such as Mazarin, Colbert, Turenne and Vauban, as well as Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Lully, Le Brun, Rigaud, Bossuet, Le Vau, Mansart, Charles and Claude Perrault, and Le Nôtre. Upon his death just days before his seventy-seventh birthday, Louis was succeeded by his five-year-old great-grandson, Louis XV. All his intermediate heirs—his son Louis, le Grand Dauphin; the Dauphin’s eldest son Louis, duc de Bourgogne; and Bourgogne’s eldest son and his second eldest son, Louis, duc de Bretagne (the older brothers of the future Louis XV)—predeceased him.