by Tyler V

There are literally thousands of quotes and/or aphorisms related to History that I could start this article off with, but I’m gonna go with the most tired, clichéd one of them all: "Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it." I never liked that quote, probably because it always seemed to focus on the evil that men and women have done to each other over the millenia. Or, maybe it was because my sophomore Western Civilization teacher would scream that at kids failing his class.

Besides, history is repetition, with a little bit of progress every now and then. What better way to understand the intricacies and interplay of empires, societies, and politics than through film and television? Hot actresses portray historical characters, and we learn from their beauty. Repetition, progression, hotness…everyone wins! Hop in my Delorean, turn on the Huey Lewis, and let’s go back in time.

18th Century France

Asia Argento as Comtesse du Barry

No better way to start off a world history list than with super sexy Asia, and we ain’t talkin’ bout the continent. She portrayed the Comtesse du Barry in Marie Antoinette, a seductive courtesan. (That’s a fancy word for "female companion." Wink wink.) The real Comtesse was the illegitimate offspring of a count and a seamstress in the French court, renowned for her beauty and charms. And when you’re that well-known for seduction in an upper class society that basically encouraged infidelity, that’s like saying she was the LeBron James of female escorts. Asia the actress is best known for being the daughter of Dario Argento, zombie master and film provacateur. There are flesh-eating monsters in Marie Antoinette, sadly.

Rose Byrne as Duchesse de Polignac

Ms. Byrne looks as beautiful as a rose (sorry, weak similies are in my contract), but the character she plays in Marie Antoinette had some sharp and influential political thorns in the side of the queen during her early years in the court. She was entrusted as the governess of the royal children, and she was the obvious leader of the queen’s inner-circle of aristocrats. Fanboys probably know Rose better as Queen Amidala’s faithful handmaiden, but there will be NO comparisons between the court of Naboo and the French aristocracy! None! If you don’t like that, go eat some cake.

16th Century England

Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn

 We all know it’s good to be the king, but Jonathan Rhys Myers puts all the other kings to shame with his depiction of Henry VIII on Showtime’s The Tudors. Not only does he get his pick of any damsel in the kingdom, he gets to share his throne with Ms. Dormer, who may even be a hotter Boleyn than that other, other Boleyn girl (Natalie Portman). The actress herself could’ve dueled it out with Ms. Portman in a rather dignified manner by challenging her to a round of fencing; she’s a distinguished member of the London Fencing academy. Devastatingly beautiful and handy with a sword? She was meant to be a queen.

World War II

Alexandra Maria Lara as Traudl Junge

Alexandra is an alluring, Romanian-born actress who lives in Germany. She played an important role in 2004’s Downfall, a dark account of Hitler’s final failures during the end of the war. Traudl Junge (born with the surname Humps, ha ha) was Hitler’s personal secretary during the war. She said that he was a fatherly figure and a pretty cool boss, which is just strangely ironic enough to make total sense. After portraying what may have been the weirdest personal assistant position of the 20th century, the lovely Alexandra scored another big role in The Reader, and we hope that we get to see her in many more films to come.

Rachel Weisz as Tania Chernova

Ms. Weisz is a gifted actress that also seems to ignite men in the same way as a firing pin explodes a bullet (see, there’s my quota for weak similies). She’s very proper and prim in her roles, and yet every male hopes to see her librarian-like restraint give way to her inner, reckless sex goddess stature. She plays a famous female sniper in Enemy at the Gates, and still manages to ooze sexuality in her fatigues. Of course, a hot and muffled sex scene in a barracks always helps. Reality check: the real Tania was a super tough chick and New Yorker (kind of the same thing, in many ways). She was born in the USA and ended up joining the Russian sniper forces after failing to evacuate her grandparents during German occupation.

Ancient Greece

Diane Kruger as Helen of Troy

Playing the woman that supposedly caused a war between what were, at the time, the biggest armies in the world is a pretty tall order for any actress. Diane Kruger played Helen with a sort of detachment that was more nuanced and interesting than many of her critics would’ve given the gorgeous 5’7" model. I’d talk more about Helen of Troy to give you some historical context, but if you didn’t read The Iliad by now, stop reading this dreck and go read that damn thing. As for Diane, we’ll all be excited to see her play the awesomely named Bridget von Hammersmark in Inglourious Basterds.

That concludes today’s history lesson, but there will be more time-travelling articles to come.