by Steve Lancaster 1/2/18
In 15th Century Russia, the last Byzantium Princess, Sophia Palaiologina, moves from Rome to distant Moscow to marry Czar Ivan III. Destined to become the first influential female figure of the Russian Empire, Sophia overcomes court intrigue and betrayals, and helps Ivan consolidate the fragmented country, push Mongolian invaders out, and build the Kremlin, the most magnificent symbol of Russia.
This is the description on Amazon of Sophia. It is a Russian production subtitled for English. It is produced by the Russian Federation Defense Ministry, so it is a form of propaganda. However, don’t let that keep you away from this series. There is a lot to learn from it about modern Russia. I have finished two episodes. The acting is very good, production values are of the best Hollywood standards. The history is often a little, no a lot, questionable and says more about modern Russia and Czar Vladimir then it does about Ivan III. A recurring theme applied to today’s events is Ivan’s focus on all the Russ must be ruled from Moscow. Apply that to the occupation of Ukraine. Today’s politics cannot be separated from yesterday’s reality.
The first episode deals with fall of Byzantium and the remains of the royal family seeking refuge in Rome. Sophia is basically a ward of Pope Sixtus. The pope is seeking to marry her off and use influence to change the Russ from Orthodoxy to the Roman church, hint it does not work. The trip from Rome to Moscow takes 7 months. Sophia is accompanied by a Papal Legate who schemes to murder Sophia if she won’t convert Ivan. Sophia marries Ivan over the objections of his mother and promptly becomes pregnant. By the end of the second episode Ivan is beset with problems internally and externally with war with the Tartars in the offing.
More later after 3 and 4.