let us prey.

BaobhanSith

A boabhan sith is a female fairy in Scottish mythology. The story is very similar to that of a banshee. This blood-sucking seductress preys on those traveling at night and takes the form of a beautiful lady in green (sometimes white).

The legends say that she will invite men to dance and then pounce with her sharp teeth to suck their life force. Just like vampires, boabhan siths cannot tolerate daylight and return to their graves by morning… but (strange) they are extremely afraid of horses.

They are mostly attracted to hunters, and (supposedly) live only in the Scottish Highlands. They can also speak any language but when heard, seem to have a strange accent.

Some stories say they have the vampire teeth, while others say they use long fingernails to pierce their victims.

Either way, I’m not wandering alone in the woods of the Scottish countryside. Or, er, any woods for that matter.

Typhoid Mary.

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TyphoidMary

In 1906, Henry Warren was on vacation with his family in Oyster Bay, NY. They had hired an Irish woman, by the name of Mary Mallon (1869 – 1938), as their cook. The family LOVED her ‘peaches on ice’ dish along with everything else she cooked. After a short period, Mary left to look for another job.

After a few weeks, 6 out 11 members of the Warren house contracted Typhoid fever. At the time, it was thought this disease only effected poor people in the slums – living in filthy conditions. In shock over how his wealthy household could have Typhoid, an investigator was called in.

It had recently been documented that healthy people could carry the disease, so the investigator immediately suspected the cook. He tracked her down to another household but just missed her. sort of. Mary was hiding in an outdoor closet. After many tests, they discovered that she did, indeed, carry the virus- with no symptoms.

She spent three years in an isolation hospital… but the public got wind of a healthy woman in an asylum and demanded her release. The officials let her go, but only under the condition that she have her gall bladder removed – or – stopped working as a cook.

Mary did not follow the stipulations set and disappeared.

In 1915 there was an outbreak of Typhoid in Sloan Maternity Hospital in NY. The hospital’s cook was, you guessed it, Mary Mallon (using the alias Mrs. Brown).

She was committed to the isolation hospital once again and stayed until her death in 1938.

“The Most Harmless and yet Most Dangerous Woman in America” – Headline, 1909.

don’t get her dander up.

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graceomalley

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): http://www.badassoftheweek.com/omalley.html

Don’t mess with the Dunbar dress.

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BlackAgnes

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: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/black-agnes/

Also— GREAT info on Dunbar Castle, here: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/dunbar/dunbarcastle/

Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie…

FloraMacDonald

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: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/women/wih9.htm

The Outlander theme song is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUBRbJPJtio

And just because it’s AWESOME… check out this song by the Corries, Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie! It will get you motived: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK7hLNxCY9E

Celtic Goddess of the Dead.

Scathach1

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: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usbiography/s/scathach.html

I am NOT a leper!

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EleanorofWoodstock

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: http://edwardthesecond.blogspot.com/2008/11/edward-iis-daughters-eleanor-and-joan.html

beauty and the boat.

Betsy_Bonaparte

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: http://www.amazon.com/Ambitious-Madame-Bonaparte-Ruth-Chatlien/dp/1937484165

and a great article here: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/06/wondrous-beauty/

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

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Medea1

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:

http://www.academia.edu/475589/A_Woman_Scorned_Medea_and_Betrayal

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: http://tinyurl.com/pn44p8t

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