Love a good period piece? So do we! There’s just nothing like the escapism of a historical tale. And if you’re looking for a juicy new historical drama show to binge, you’ll find an excellent selection on Amazon Prime. The streamer has dramas that harken back to just about any time period a viewer could want, from A Very English Scandal’s ’70s political plot from to The Tudors 16th-century royalty. That’s why we’ve gathered a list of our nine favorite historical dramas on Amazon Prime.
While each of these series and movies features a distinct story and time period, they are all united by the stunning levels of detail in their production design and costuming, their transporting narratives and their powerhouse performances. Read on for our ranking of the best shows to take you on a fascinating journey to the past.
Best historical dramas streaming now on Amazon Prime
9. The Collection (2016)
Starring Richard Coyle, Tom Riley and Mamie Gummer, this drama set in a post-World War II Paris fashion house headed up by two fighting brothers, The Collection exposes the grit and grime behind the glitz and glamour of a rising business. A zealous fashion designer wants to restore Paris as the supreme haute couture capital of the world by letting go of the gloomy fashion of the pre-war era and giving it a romantic new style.
But each brother has his own romantic dramas and dark secrets, including betrayals and bargains made to survive the Nazi occupation. This underrated series is perfect for fashion lovers and ’40s history buffs alike.
Watch The Collection now.
8. The Northman (2022)
Based on the medieval Scandinavian legend of Amleth (said to be an inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet), the historical action thriller set in AD 895 boasts a stellar cast, including Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke and Alexander Skarsgaard (who also produced).
As the tale goes, Amleth is a viking prince who sets out on a quest to avenge the murder of his father. Prince Amleth heads to cold, windswept Iceland to retrieve what was stolen from him: His father, his mother and a kingdom. The evocative cinematography depicting the viking age is breathtaking, and history fans will love the many references to Norse mythology throughout the film. Make sure to snuggle up under a blanket — the Icelandic setting is so cold, you can practically feel it.
Watch The Northman now.
7. The Conspirator (2010)
One of best historical dramas on Amazon prime dealing with American history is The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford. This intriguing combination of mystery and historical fiction tells the story of Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), the only female conspirator charged in the Abraham Lincoln assassination and the first woman to be executed by the United States federal government.
Following Lincoln’s assassination, seven men and one woman were arrested and charged with conspiracy to kill the President, Vice President and Secretary of State. The lone woman was 42 year-old Mary, who owned the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and his cronies met and planned the attacks. The whole nation turned against Mary, so she was forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life — but as you’ll see, there’s far more to the story than meets the eye.
Watch The Conspirator now.
6. Wolf Hall (2015)
Wolf Hall takes us back to England in the 1520s, when the nation was just a heartbeat away from disaster. The series centers on Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance), a lawyer who has risen from humble beginnings only to get caught up in the treachery and intrigue of King Henry VIII’s (Damian Lewis) court, giving him entry into British society. Cromwell soon becomes a confidante to the King, which comes with its own danger.
Wolf Hall offers a different take on the 16th century from the one seen in The Tudors (see below), set in the same era.
Watch Wolf Hall now.
5. Vanity Fair (2018)
Based on the 1848 novel of the same name, Vanity Fair is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. The story follows Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke) as she tries to drag herself out of extreme poverty and rise to the lofty heights of English society.
With much crime, cheating, fighting, villainy and lovemaking, Sharp’s story takes her all the way to the court of King George IV via the Battle of Waterloo, leaving a trail of broken hearts and lost fortunes along the way.
Watch Vanity Fair now.
4. A Very English Scandal (2018 — 2021)
Set in the 1970s, A Very English Scandal is based on the real-life story of how British politician Jeremy Thorpe, played splendidly by Hugh Grant, desperately tried to keep his affair with model and former horse trainer Norman Scott from the public. As Thorpe begins to gain political power, his situation becomes more complex than anyone could’ve imagined.
Eventually, Thorpe and his gang of allies are put on trial for conspiring to murder Scott in order to quiet his threats to reveal his past with Thorpe, making for a truly shocking drama.
Watch A Very English Scandal now.
3. The Man in the High Castle (2015 — 2019)
The Man in the High Castle, adapted from a novel by sci-fi master Philip K. Dick (whose work also served as inspiration for Blade Runner and Minority Report) takes viewers on a harrowing alternate historical journey. The series depicts a parallel universe where the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan rule the world after their World War II victory.
In this dystopian alternate universe, Germany and Japan have divided the United States into the Greater Nazi Reich on the East Coast and the Japanese Pacific States on the West. The neutral zone is the Rocky Mountains. The series begins in 1962 and follows characters whose destinies intertwine when they come across newsreels and home movies that show Germany and Japan losing the way. The series is undoubtedly one of the most unique historical dramas on Amazon Prime, as it forces us to confront terrifying hypothetical situations.
Watch The Man in the High Castle now.
2. Poldark (2015 — 2019)
Set in the late 1700s, Poldark follows Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), a British Army officer back in Cornwell on the coast of England after his involvement in the American Revolutionary war. His return home is less than triumphant as he finds that his love, Elizabeth (Heida Reed), having told him she believed him dead, is set to marry his cousin.
The gorgeous Cornwell settings and detailed costuming in Poldark will get you hooked. The show is based on a popular series of novels, and while the story takes historical liberties, it’s still makes for addictive viewing.
Watch Poldark now.
1. The Tudors (2007 — 2010)
If you’re looking for an epic dramatic series set in the high-stakes world of royalty, The Tudors is a must-see. The show centers on the reign and marriages of King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Season one revolves around Henry VIII growing desperate for an heir and becoming a distant husband to his first wife, but the series quickly does an about-face when Henry becomes infatuated to the point of obsession with Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer).
Set in 16th-century England, the show may take some dramatic license, but the shocking betrayals and plots against Henry are right out of the history books. Filled with political scheming, greed, power and sexuality, The Tudors is one of the most compulsively watchable historical dramas on Amazon Prime.
Watch The Tudors now.
Read on for more streaming TV shows and movies: