Admitting that genius which has familiarized itself with all the relics of an ancient period can sometimes, by the force of its sympathetic divination, restore the missing notes in the "music of humanity," and reconstruct the fragments into a whole which will really bring the remote past nearer to us, and interpret it to our duller apprehension,–this form of imaginative power must always be among the very rarest, because it demands as much accurate and minute knowledge as creative vigour
This is fiction set in a distinctive historical period other than the one the author lives in, which brushes up against actual historical figures if it doesn't star them outright. Depending on the bent of said author, they may let their biases
bleed through via Historical Hero Upgrade
or Historical Villain Upgrade
. A Historical Beauty Update
will make the story more fun without making it much less accurate. Important historical events are at least mentioned in passing if they don't have a strong influence on the plot. Deliberate Values Dissonance
is frequent for historical accuracy. Often, the period predates a Trope Breaker
(though sometimes the audience doesn't realize that).
This may overlap with Alternate History
if the history is shown to play out differently and Historical Fantasy
if fantastic elements are present. Compare to Period Piece
, which uses the past as a backdrop for the drama, while Historical Fiction is fiction in which historical events significantly affect the plot. Historical Detective Fiction
is a common subgenre.
Usually it includes one or more Historical Domain Characters
, and may commonly employ Artistic License
when the author feels the story is more important than accuracy.
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Anime & Manga
See also Jidai Geki
- Anatolia Story, set in the Hitite Empire.
- Le Chevalier d'Eon, set in 18th Century Europe.
- Claudine, set in France, but in the first decade of the XX century.
- Evyione Ocean Fantasy, set in 18th century Europe.
- Haikara San Ga Tooru, set in Imperial Japan, in 1923.
- Historie, set in the time of Alexander the Great.
- Honey Honey No Suteki Na Bouken, set in Vienna, 1907.
- Kasei Yakyoku, set in Imperial Japan of The Roaring Twenties
- Kaze to Ki no Uta, set 1880s France.
- Kingdom, set in China, during the Warring States Period.
- Mademoiselle Butterfly, set in the 1930s with geishas.
- Peacemaker Kurogane covers the pre-Meiji period from The Shinsengumi point of view.
- Rose of Versailles, set in pre-revolutionary France.
- Rurouni Kenshin, set in the early Meiji period.
- Sakura Gari, set in the Taishou Era.
- Shut Hell, set in the early 13th Century, during Genghis Khan's time.
- Vinland Saga chronicles the rise to power of Cnut the Great in the Viking Age, amongst other things.
- The Uplifted series is this. Especially the first trilogy, which takes place during World War II.
- Aguirre, the Wrath of God, set in South America during the Age of Exploration.
- Barry Lyndon set during the War of the Austrian Succession and Georgian England.
- Ben Hur, set during Jesus' lifetime.
- Ever After, during the French Renaissance. Complete with Leonardo da Vinci (and the Mona Lisa).
- Forrest Gump inserts the title character at various points in American history from Elvis Presley to Hurricane Camille.
- Gangs of New York, set just before the Civil War draft riots, which break out during the climax.
- Gladiator, set during Commodus' reign.
- Gone with the Wind, set during the Civil War and featuring an iconic burning of Atlanta.
- Inglourious Basterds, set during World War II.
- Invictus, set in South Africa, in the early years of Nelson Mandela's administration.
- The Last Emperor, a biography of the Emperor Pu Yi, chronicles Chinese history in the 20th Century.
- The Leopard, set during the Wars of Italian Independence
- Lincoln, set during the Civil War and the final days of Abraham Lincoln.
- Master and Commander, set during the Napoleonic Wars.
- Pearl Harbor. Unlike other Pearl Harbor movies, you have to sit through Developing Doomed Characters first.
- Quo Vadis, set during Nero's reign.
- The Robe, set during the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula.
- Spartacus, a retelling of Spartacus' revolt.
- Titanic, set during the 1912 sinking of the famous ship.
- U571, set during World War II.
- Young Mr. Lincoln, set during the early years of Abraham Lincoln.
Live Action TV
See also Historical Series
- Blackadder, with each of its four seasons taking place at a different time in British history.
- Bomb Girls: Canadian drama set during World War II.
- The Caesars, an earlier treatment of Julian emperors.
- Copper is a police drama set in 1864 New York.
- Doctor Who occasionally slips into this, and uses Time Travel to land in the periods of historical figures such as Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and Vincent van Gogh. Of course, its not a straight Historical Fiction, considering the aliens, space-ships, and 'mythological' creatures, but then when was the show's genre ever easily defined?
- Dong Yi, set in late 17th century Korea during the reign of King Sukjong.
- Fall Of Eagles Mini Series dealing with the collapse of empires of Austo-Hungary, Imperial Germany and Russia.
- I, Claudius, a biography of the Julian emperors up to Claudius based on a duology by Robert Graves.
- Isabel, based upon the reign of Queen Isabella I of Castile the Catholic.
- "Land Girls", World War Two drama following women serving in the British civilian Women's Land Army.
- Masada, based upon the historical siege of the Masada citadel in Israel by legions of the The Roman Empire in AD 73.
- My Place is probably the most ambitious example for Australian history. Starts in 2008 and travels back to pre-1788. Each episode is set in the same location, but a different decade, often with many of the same characters.
- North and South (Trilogy), a three-part miniseries based upon the novels by John Jakes, set during and after The American Civil War.
- Princess Returning Pearl, a Chinese series set in the Qing dynasty in the time of Emperor Qian Long. It tells the Mistaken Identity story of Xiao Yan Zi, an orphan living in Beijing and Zi Wei, the illegitimate daughter of the emperor.
- The Roman Mysteries The Roman Mysteries is a historical Detective Drama series set in 1st Century AD of The Roman Empire.
- Rome is the rise of the Julian dynasty from the perspective of Those Two Guys.
- Several World War II games, especially the original Call of Duty recreate with great or little accuracy, actual battles of World War II.
- The Assassin's Creed franchise uses Conspiracy Kitchen Sink as an Excuse Plot to indulge in recreations of actual historical events, places and figures.
- Bioshock Infinite is a fantastic steampunk recreation of America in the Presidency of William McKinley.
- L.A. Noire recreates Los Angeles in the 50s and involves actual historical figures and real-life events such as the Black Dahlia murder as part of its plot.