don’t get her dander up.



This is a HW Follower request! Perfect for this month’s feature: Ireland & Scotland.

Grace O’Malley (1530 – 1603) was the called the Sea Queen of Connacht. She inherited a large shipping and trading business from her father (they were accused many times of piracy). Between this and the land passed on to her through her mother, Grace was a very wealthy woman in 16th century Ireland. In 1593, her sons and half-brother were kidnapped by the English governor of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham, Grace sailed straight to England to petition to for their release. She made her case directly to Elizabeth I at Greenwich Palace.

The two (FABULOUS) women agreed that Sir Bingham was to be removed from his position in Ireland and Grace was to stop supporting the rebellion. Btw- their entire discussion was in Latin, Elizabeth did not speak Irish and Grace did not speak English.

Seems quite civil… but neither kept their end of the bargain. Bingham went back to his post, O’Malley never got the cattle he stole – and – she rejoined the rebellion with zeal!

There is a LOT more to this story, I found a great article here (which I like mostly because of the blog name):

Don’t mess with the Dunbar dress.


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Agnes Randolph, Countess of Dunbar and March, was better known as Black Agnes. This was due to her dark hair and eyes. She was the wife of Patrick, 9th Earl of Dunbar and March. She was also the daughter of Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray- nephew and companion-in-arms of Robert the Bruce.

Black Agnes is hailed as a hero for her part in the defense of Dunbar Castle from English attach in 1338. William Montagu, 1st Earl of Salisbury tried for 5 months to take over Dunbar (while her husband, Patrick, was off fighting elsewhere) but realized that he’d never beat her. In their defeated march away from the battle, the soldiers sang “She makes a stir in tower and trench, the brawling boisterous Scottish wench; Came I early, came I late. I found Agnes at the gate.”

Agnes is quoted as saying “Of Scotland’s King I haud my house, I pay him meat and fee, And I will keep my guide auld house, while my house will keep me.”

Good for you Agnes!!!!

More info here:

Also— GREAT info on Dunbar Castle, here:

Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie…


Continuing with this month’s theme: the ladies of Scotland and Ireland, this is Flora MacDonald (1722 – 1790). She is hailed as a Scottish heroine for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie evade capture after the defeat at Culloden.

For her role, Flora obtained a pass to travel from the Outer Hebrides to the mainland- through this pass, she was allowed to bring two servants and six boatmen. They disguised Charles Stuart as one Betty Burke, the Irish spinning maid. They made it to Skye by boat.

Charles escaped to France, but Flora was thrown in the Tower of London. She was released in 1747. She married and emigrated to North Carolina to raise her family.

The Skye Boat Song was written about this clever escape. I happen to like the version currently being used as the Outlander Series theme song.

There is a more extensive account here:

The Outlander theme song is here:

And just because it’s AWESOME… check out this song by the Corries, Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie! It will get you motived:

Celtic Goddess of the Dead.


This month I’ll be featuring the ladies of Ireland and Scotland! Starting with the story of Scathach (which is Gaelic for “the shadowy one”).

She is a bit of a legend in Irish mythology. A Scottish Warrior and Martial arts teacher, Scathach is said to have trained the hero Cu Chulainn in combat. She is often referred to as “the Shadow” and “Warrior Maid”.

It is thought that she lived on the Isle of Skye and trained many Celtic heroes in pole vaulting (for jumping over forts), underwater fighting and hand-to-hand combat. She even had a weapon of her own invention called the gae-bolg which was a harpoon with spiked barbs around it.

Most of the accounts say she was a prophetess, a magical warrior, and a formidable enemy. She also evolved into being the Celtic Goddess of the dead, leading those killed in battle to the land of eternal youth.

Hmmm… I’m going to quote Tina Fey here and say “bitches get shit done.”

There is a more in-depth article about this mythical amazon here:

I am NOT a leper!


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Eleanor of Woodstock (1318 – 1355) was the daughter of Edward II of England and Isabella of France. She was originally betrothed to Alphonso XI of Castile, but that fell through, and then Philip VI of France… but THAT fell through too. It seems her dowry was not acceptable. Yikes.

She eventually married the Count (and later Duke) of Guelders. Reginald II the Black, who was a widower with four daughters (that could NOT have been an easy family to jump in to.) “the black” was added to his name due to his sinister ways- he had his own father locked up for over six years.

Eleanor had two sons with Reginald (thank goodness), Reginald the Fat and Edward, Duke of Guelders. I happen to love these titles- my title this week would be Lisa the Grumpy (it really needs to stop snowing in New England.)

She was very eager to please her husband- but he grew tired of her and sent her away by saying she had leprosy! WHAT?!?! Reginald tried to have the marriage annulled, but Eleanor showed up in court to contest the annulment. She stripped down to her birthday suit to prove she was NOT a leper. Reginald was forced to take her back. He died from a fall off his horse in 1343.

Poor Eleanor died in complete poverty in a convent. She never asked her brother Edward III for help. She is buried in Deventer Abbey, but there is an image of her and her husband (ick!) in Westminster Abbey.

There is a good article about Eleanor and her sister Joan, here:

beauty and the boat.


Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (1785 0 1879) was the first wife of Jerome Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon I of France.)

“Betsy” was born in Ireland, but came to the US before the American Revolutionary War. Her father, William Patterson was the wealthiest man in Maryland.

Jerome and Betsy met when he was visiting the US as a lieutenant in the French Navy. They married on Christmas Eve in 1803 and the gossip began IMMEDIATELY! She became well known for her very risqué taste in clothing (french styles of sheer fabrics and low-cut bodices), including her wedding dress! Zut Alors!

Napoleon, was less than pleased with the marriage and ordered his brother back to France WITHOUT his wife. In 1804, they both left by boat and headed for France. A very pregnant Betsy was not allowed to disembark in France or the Netherlands, per her brother-in-law. She was forced to give birth to her son in London. Jerome gave in to his brother’s demands soon after and ditched her to married a German princess (despite the divorce not being final.)

She returned to Maryland with her son “Bo” and lived with her father. She was well known for her royal connections, and used those connections to mingle in some very exclusive social circles.

In 1815 she finally got her divorce papers. Having independent financial and legal status was extremely rare for women in that time. Betsy never withdrew from society- but flaunted her fashion choices and lifestyle. Bravo! She spent her final years in Baltimore, building her estate, and getting sued by the state- they were trying to tax her out-of-state bonds. The supreme court eventually decided in favor of Maryland. Boo.

She never remarried, but was known as “Madame Bonaparte” until she died.

There is a historic fiction novel about her life, you can purchase here:

and a great article here:

hurry up dragon, I just murdered my husband’s new girlfriend.


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Definitely a scorned lover! Murder, dragons, kings and princesses… this is a good one.

Medea is an enchantress in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King of Colchis. She fell in love with Jason and enabled him to slay the sleepless dragon that guarded the golden fleece (I imagine this is today’s equivalent of letting a man kill a spider in your bedroom “Oh you’re SO brave!”). The two were married, and went to Greece and helped King Peleus regain his youth suggesting he bathe in Medea’s magic cauldron. But the cauldron boiled him alive, a trick to help Jason claim the throne.

However, Jason grew tired of Medea, and began to pursue Glauce. Medea befriended the young princess and sent her a dress that killed her instantly. Medea also murdered her own children and then fled to Athens in a chariot led by dragons!

Don’t mess with the dress.

There is a full article on the stories of Medea and various interpretations here:

Her Majesty


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Screen shot 2014-08-01 at 9.56.56 AM

Very excited to announce that my new book, Her Majesty, is officially available for purchase.

“This illustrated guide to famous (and infamous) queens tells us that power isn’t everything.

Each of the extraordinary women featured in this book have impacted world history. Featuring the bold and beautiful style of Lisa Graves’ Women in History series, this book is sure to become a classroom, library and household favorite for parents and educators who want to show that being a princess or a queen means much more than fancy dresses and fairy tale endings.”

Available here:

the girl got around.


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Elizabeth “Jane” Shore (1445 – 1527) was King Edward IV of England’s mistress. She was also Edward’s stepson’s concubine along with Thomas Grey and William Hastings. The girl got around. The role of this beautiful harlot within history is quite complicated.

She was born in London, received a good education. At the age of 22, her first marriage to William Shore was annulled due to impotence. heh. She had caught the eye of the King and quickly became a very powerful woman in the court.

Then there was that tricky war of the roses thing going on.

Richard III  became King after the marriage of Edward and Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid and their children illegitimate. Richard took aim at Jane as a sexual offender. Her later affair with Hastings was what really caused the problems.  Richard accused Hastings, Jane Shore, and Elizabeth Woodville of conspiring against him. Jane was sent to the Tower and accused of sorcery and witchcraft.

The witchcraft case was dropped, but Jane was forced to walk through London in public penance for her sins. She was then put in Ludgate Prison- but managed to marry Thomas Lynom while in that prison. Huh. I’d say she was rather resourceful.

She was eventually given a pardon and spent the rest of her life with Lynom. She died at the age of 82 and is buried in Hinxworth Church (which looks SO beautiful).

Not necessarily a “scorned” lover, Jane made it out of some pretty dramatic times almost unscathed (minus the prison and public humiliation part).

You can read more about this very complicated woman here:

boxer’s demise.


Belle Schreiber was a prostitute at an all-white brothel in Chicago in the early 1900’s. She had come to Chicago to be a secretary, but ended up at the exclusive Everleigh Club located in the Levee District. Not a lot is known about her life, mainly due to the fact that most prostitutes went under various aliases.

In March of 1909, the famous (and first black) heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, visited the club. Despite it being “all-white” Johnson was permitted to take several girls for a “ride” in his car. One of these women was 23 year old Belle. She was fired by the madame for sleeping with Johnson, but it didn’t matter- at this point, she was Jack’s favorite and began traveling with him. She was soon replaced by another prostitute by the name of Etta Duryea. Belle and Jack had violent fights and despite her efforts to leave him, she could not find work at other brothels because it was well known that she was Johnson’s lover.  In October of 1910, Johnson helped Belle open her own brothel. He paid for everything- rent, furniture, expenses, etc. But it failed.

When Johnson moved on to marry not one, but two white women, Belle’s jealousy got the best of her. She had always referred to herself as Mrs. Jack Johnson, so the news did not go over well. Strung out on absinthe and drugs- she agreed to testify for the US Government in prosecuting Johnson for violating the 1910 Mann Act (this prohibited taking a woman across state lines for prostitution.) Her testimony sent him to prison, ruined his career, and forced him into exile in Canada. The charges were most definitely motivated by blatant racism- so resorting to a strung-out, jealous whore seemed reasonable. WHAT? *face palm*

There is a more in-depth article here:


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