An Emperor-to-be without money, and a rich Duchess under siege, sounds like a match made in Starz’ Maximilian. Fifteen years before Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas, this marriage sets off three centuries of fighting between France and the Habsburg Family. Why was Louis XI so upset about the marriage? Nevermind the broken contract to marry the dauphine. It sets into motion the Habsburgs controlling the land on three side of the French.
Like The Restaurant and My Brilliant Friend, you must tolerate subtitles. Yet you will be rewarded with lush sets and costumes. Besides some no-doubt puffed-up history, the viewer is also treated to a grand love story. Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy not only need each other, they adore each other. I give the six-part series 4.0 Gavels and it receives a 7.4 IMDb rating.
In 1477, Mary’s father dies making her the richest Duchess in Europe. Louis XI declares Burgundy, a male fiefdom and long-standing enemy, a part of France. Wary of war with the French, the local burghers force Mary to sign The Great Privilege. Among other matters, that gave them the privilege of approving her marriage partner. Rather than marry Charles, some thirteen years younger than Mary, she turns to penniless Austria and Maximilian. Frederick III sorely requires funds to keep the invading Hungarians at bay. Maximilian hesitates, then realizes that “to make an impression on the world,” he needs money.
Christa Theret and Jannis Niewohner, never before seen by TMJ, are Mary and Maximilian. Some historians see them as co-rulers. The show certainly puts her on an even intellectual plane, if seemingly giving him final authority. As in most of these lavish historical pieces, it’s a fine ensemble cast.
The full, complete title is Maximilian and Marie de Bourgogne: A Game of Power and Love. As in all royal courts, lots of intrigue in this story to be overcome by two headstrong rulers. Comicon.com gushes “finding a TV show nobody else is talking about is like hitting the jackpot. . . It’s outstanding.” PopcornEntertainment reminds us that “as a matter of trivia, Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of Maximilian, which makes his character even more interesting.”
Finally, Mary informs Max that “our life is borrowed. It doesn’t belong to us.” Whether you subscribe to that philosophy or not, Maximilian doesn’t steal your valuable time. It merely borrows a few hours, richly repaid.