Cranky Ladies: Julie d’Aubigny aka La Maupin
Night Terrace isn’t the only really cool crowdfunded project I’m supporting this month. There’s also the Pozible fundraiser for the Cranky Ladies of History anthology by Fablecroft! They’ve reached full funding already – but now they’re working on stretch targets for the best ways to use the extra funds raised!
In March, I am writing about some Cranky Ladies of History across my Kitty and Cadaver (Euphemia Allen), Mortal Words (Lola Montez) and Adventurous Hearts blogs, in honour and support of the Cranky Ladies of History anthology Pozible campaign. The contents of the book haven’t been finalised, but the anthology has submissions from amazing writers like Karen Healey, Jane Yolen, Rob Shearman, Foz Meadows, Kirstyn McDermott, Garth Nix and Deborah Biancotti!
In the 17th Century, all ladies were demure and well behaved and knew their societal place.
How about OH HELL NO as your answer?
No doubt there’s a long list of fabulous women who bucked that particular trend, but my favourite is Julie d’Aubigny – opera singer, lover and oh yes, very definitely a fighter.
Too much woman to restrict herself to only half the population for the purposes of good lovin’, d’Aubigny – also known as La Maupin – took both men and women as lovers. She dressed as a bloke. She fought duels – and killed a few men as well, which isn’t precisely admirable, but let’s face it, as a person who refused to be confined by gender stereotypes, she refused with gusto.
Among her famous exploits, she’s said to have learned fencing from one of her lovers, a fellow named Serannes. When they had to flee Paris due to a little contretemps over having killed someone in a duel, she and loverboy ran low on funds, so she kept a roof over their heads by giving fencing displays and singing opera.
She apparently left Serannes for a young woman, whose family tried to hide her in a monastery. Folks, you cannot hide a woman from another woman by putting her in a walled building filled with women. Not when one of those women is La Maupin, at any rate. It’s said that d’Aubigny, ever the improviser with flair, entered the nunnery as a novice, then found a dead nun to put into her lover’s bed, grabbed said lover by the hand and took off into the night. Not forgetting to set fire to the nunnery first, to cover their tracks. It didn’t last, alas, but I’ll bet they had a good time while it did.
Still dressing as a man at times, La Maupin sang and fought duels. Infamously, she stabbed one fellow in the shoulder, discovered he was the son of a Duke, and promptly popped around to seduce him while he was recovering – successfully.
She even persuaded a later lover to get the King to grant her a pardon for the crimes of kidnapping, bodysnatching and arson that were hanging over from the ol’ nunnery escapade. (Ironically, after this wild and deliciously wicked life, she retired from the opera into a convent. She died in around 1707. Presumably not from some new madcap genderqueer singing swashbuckler setting her convent on fire.)
Theophile Gautier’s controversial 1835 novel, Mademoiselle de Maupin, was based on her and her friends and in the 21st century, a fellow named Jim Burrows plans to write a book about her actual life.
I suspect Julie d’Aubigny was not the nicest lady of the 17th century. But she sure as hell was one of the most fabulous.
Read more about La Maupin:
- Badass of the Week
- The Daily Dot
- The Adventures of La Maupin
- History Masquerade
- The Women of Action Network
And in other Cranky Ladies news:
- Visit the Cranky Ladies of History Pozible campaign and pledge your support
- Read about Euphemia Allen and the Chopsticks Waltz.
- Buy Lola Montez: A Life by Bruce Seymour in paperback (Amazon)
What fabulous cranky ladies of history do you admire? Please comment and share the joy!