As part of Snark Week, we’ve been picking on Reign (the TV show about Mary Queen of Scots) for being particularly bad when it comes to having NO concept of historical accuracy in clothing. Mary recently got married (spoilers!), so of course there had to be a Wedding Dress. I was looking at photos of this dress, when I realized, “Hey! This is actually a pretty fabulous recreation of Mary Queen of Scots’ wedding portrait!” Read on, while I lay out my case:
First, the real Mary Queen of Scots, painted for her wedding to Francis II of France:
Now, there’s not a whole lot of Mary’s dress to go on there, so I’m guessing the filmmakers had to flesh things out with some other common portraits of Mary from around this age:
Now, let’s look at the wedding dress worn by the character of Mary in Reign:
Now at first glance, you might not see the historical sources in this dress, but hang on as I spell it out for you…
1. They are both non-bipedal!
Close study of the portraits of the real historical Mary Queen of Scots never show her legs (1). Clearly, she had some kind of deformity that made her non-bipedal (2). I’m not sure how she got around, but her gowns were all made to accommodate this (4) (of course, the Des Moines Iowa ambassador’s reports tell us that she was rolled around by a team of 4 oxen , but recent scholarship has cast doubt on this account ).
Now, look closely at the TV gown. The costumer cut the gown with the same wide, A-shaped skirt to make the actress look like she had the SAME deformity! So cool!
2. They both have heads with stuff on them.
Really, we shouldn’t understate the significance of this. The original Mary has hair that is styled AND wears a crown on top. The screen Mary? EXACTLY THE SAME.
3. They both wear earrings.
Look closely! BOTH HAVE JEWELS HANGING FROM HOOKS IN THEIR EARLOBES! I shit you not!
4. Both are wearing clothes made of FABRIC.
Mary’s real historical dress is probably made of linen with silk or wool (7). On screen, Mary’s gown could be silk or cotton, or it could be something synthetic. Nonetheless, both costumes are MADE OF FABRIC.
But it goes beyond that. See how the real historical Mary has a solid (red) part of her gown, with a white collar (called a partlet) worn above, filling in her upper chest area? The TV dress has a solid fabric from about the same point down, with a contrasting lace overlay filling in the Exact Same Area. Now THAT is some mad research skillz!
Also, don’t forget that BOTH of the relevant extant 16th century dresses — the Great Bog Dress of Antarctica, AND the Hortense of AssEndOfNowhere Effigy Gown — are made of… you guessed it! FABRIC (8)!
5. Both dresses have sleeves.
That’s right, bitches. You see that fabric covering the real Mary’s arms all the way down to the wrist? We know from wardrobe accounts that Mary had rampaging eczema, causing her to always cover her arms (9). Well, TV Mary has the SAME SLEEVES covering her arms! BOO YAH.
Also, let’s pause to note that both are wearing shiny belts around their waist, which in the 16th century was used to keep a lady’s Wandering Womb in place (10). COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT!
6. Both are wearing RINGS.
Okay, piece de resistance time: Both the historical Mary AND the TV Mary are wearing GOLD RINGS. Historically, these were used to keep ones fingers attached in an era of rampant leprosy. Granted, the rings are on different fingers, but I think we can allow a bit of artistic license here as no one is sure of exactly how much leprosy the real Mary QoS had.
I think anyone could see through this deeply and thoroughly researched article that the wedding dress worn by Mary in the TV show Reign is firmly drawn upon the historical portraiture of Mary Queen of Scots from her lifetime. Clearly the filmmakers were seriously committed to an accurate portrayal of Mary, ensuring that generations of young women will better understand the politics of the era and the influence of queens regnant in the Renaissance.
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