A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES
HISTORICAL FIGURES IN
By Michael Ahr
A Discovery of Witches season 2 finds Diana and Matthew in 1590 among real historical figures, and Matthew himself is among them!
Early in the season, Matthew’s Renaissance alias is revealed to be Matthew Roydon, an actual minor poet of the period.
The real Roydon belonged to the School of Night, a group of atheist thinkers that included Sir Walter Raleigh and Henry Percy.
Percy and Raleigh appear in A Discovery of Witches alongside the famed Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, who is a demon in the show.
That’s nothing new! Season 1 introduced us to head vampire Gerbert d’Aurillac, a real life 10th century bishop of Rome.
Season 2 also reveals that Domenico lays claim to Venice—unsurprising since the real Domenico Michiel ruled the city in the 1100s.
Since season 2 takes place in 1590, it’s no surprise to see Queen Elizabeth, but this version knows about witches and vampires.
So, too, does her enforcer Lord Burghley, who historically persecuted accused Catholics on behalf of the Church of England.
Diana discovers a kindred spirit in Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke, who was a noted literary scholar of the time.
Even the alchemists presented midseason are real, including the court’s own astronomer, John Dee, whom Diana visits.
Dee references Edward Kelley, the Renaissance occultist who researched the Philosopher’s Stone, and Rudolf II, King of Bohemia.
Given author Deborah Harkness’ status as a historian just like Diana, real people of the age are bound to continue appearing in the show.