Richard’s Lioness


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Several HW followers requested that I cover Berengaria of Navarre (1170-1230).

She was the Queen of England from 1191 until 1199 as the wife of Richard I.

If you’re not following Susan Abernathy’s blog and/or Facebook page, you SHOULD. She was written a very thorough article on Berengaria of Navarre that is far more educational than anything I could write. You can read the article here:

Freddie don’t play that.


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Fredegund! (died 597)

“In revenge and in love, woman is more barbaric than man is.” -Friedrich Nietzsche


She was the Queen Consort of Chilperic I. King of the Soissons (people of northern France), but not because of her noble blood. Au contraire. Fredegund was a slave/servant to the King’s wife. Somehow she seduced the king and talked him into divorcing his first wife and sending her to a convent. The plot didn’t really work out at first- Chilperic ended up marrying another woman, Galswintha.

This did NOT go over well. Galswintha died the same year. She was strangled in her sleep. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Chilperic then (probably for self-preservation purposes) married Fredegund.

There are many, many deaths associated with Fredegund and her violent, bloodthirsty ways. Death by poisoned beverages, assassins, torture, and mutilation.

So ok… stay with me here because this gets good.

Brunhilde, Galswintha’s sister, launched a seven year war with Chilperic and Fredegund. Fail. Fredegund defeated everyone and had King Seigebert (Brunhilde’s husband and Chilperic’s half-brother) stabbed in kidneys during a speech about vengeance. She captured Brunhilde and was planning all sorts of torture for her- but Brunhilde was rescued. Seigebert’s top government official was also captured. That poor guy was dismembered with red hot pokers. Ouch. A bit overboard, but whatevs.

She continued on a power rampage by going after Chilperic’s first wife (the one in the convent). She killed her and her sons by infecting them with dysentery. WHAT? Conspirators and supporters of the first wife were also tortured and executed in all sorts of horrible ways.

She even tried to murder her own daughter by slamming her head in a chest!

Her son, Clothar II, continued with his mother’s cause (after mum died) by executing Brunhilde. And I’m not talking just a simple chopping off with the head… oh no… Brunhilde was put on the racks for three days and then drawn and quartered by horses. (Why the long face?)

Fredegund ruled for 40 years, mainly by killing off anyone that disagreed, blinked, spoke, sneezed, etc. and died in Paris in 597.

Oh- one more thing. Chilperic died in 584. He was mysteriously murdered by an unknown assailant while out hunting. Hmmmm. I’ll give you one guess as to who was probably responsible.

There is a great article on her here:


Bipolar van Buren.




AnnaofSaxony Anna of Saxony (1544 – 1577)

Anna Van Buren came from a long line of well documented mental illness. Poor thing was a hunchback who walked with a “marked gait” and is described as “unfortunate looking.” But this did not stop the plethora of suitors from streaming in due to her enormous wealth.

Lucky (heh) William of Orange was the winner. The incredibly spoiled, melancholic, aggressive and suicidal Anna agreed to marry him in 1561.

Anna was painfully unstable, so after they were married she went through bouts of extreme partying and debilitating depression where she refused to eat or leave her darkened room for days. Pregnancy seemed to amplify the symptoms. This behavior escalated quickly and soon William tried to remove their children from her care. Anna did not take this well and waged a very public war against her husband, accusing him of impotence. Somehow, William took her back and begged Anna to lead a more “conservative” lifestyle. No such luck.

Anna mistreated her staff, engaged in very immoral behavior and went into drunken rampages. She also began to have an affair with Jan Rubens and eventually gave birth to his daughter, Christina in 1571. Christina was Peter Paul Rubens’ half-sister.

This was the final straw. William had the marriage annulled, and she was never allowed to see any of her children again. She was placed in Beilstein Castle in Germany in a completely deranged state. Her windows were closed up with bricks, door locked, key thrown away… there are reports that she was suspected of being possessed by demons after she was seen foaming at the mouth. She remained there until her death, five years later. Anna was 33.

It is my opinion that the mental health care options nowadays haven’t improved much.

If you like the subject of Mad Kings & Queens, I highly recommend this book, it’s a like cliff notes for the crazies:

Riches to rags.


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Continuing on with Medieval Queens…

Margaret of Anjou (1430 – 1482) was the Queen Consort of England from 1445 to 1461 as the wife of King Henry VI.

She is a very complicated woman to study. I can’t quite tell if she was the power-hungry, relentless witch some describe her as – or – she was a strong woman who did the best with the hand she was dealt. Hmmmm. Leaning towards the latter.

She played a major role in the War of the Roses as the leader of the Lancastrian forces. Henry VI was mentally unstable, so Margaret took over control. She led her followers into a battle that they would eventually lose to the Yorkists, in an effort to assure her son Prince Edward would inherit the thrown. Edward of Lancaster would not get the chance, as he died in the Battle of Tewkesbury, making him the only heir apparent to the English throne to die in battle.

After losing the war and her son and her husband, Margaret was arrested. Louis of France eventually paid for her release in exchange for all of her lands. She died in complete poverty in Anjou, but not without leaving her mark on history. Evidence shows that she was highly intelligent, strategic, and knew how to play the political (bullshit) games. Bravo Margaret. Bravo.

“[Margaret] arrived there poor and alone, destitute of goods and all desolate; [she] had neither credence, nor money, nor goods, nor jewels to pledge. . . . Her body was clad in one single robe, with no change of clothing.”

— Georges Chastellain, describing Margaret’s arrival as a refugee at Sluys in 1463.
From  The Wars of the Roses by J. R. Lander




unbearable pain.


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Such an sad story for a Friday, but here it goes.

Joanna of Austria (1547 – 1578) definitely came from a long line of royal blood. Her mother was Anna of Bohemia and Hungary and her father was Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. Also her paternal grandparents were Philip I of Castile (also known as Philip the Handsome) and Joanna of Castile (also known as Joanna the Mad.)

She was married to Francesco I de’ Medici in 1565 but it was a very unhappy marriage. The people of Florence did not like the Austrian duchess, and I’m guessing, this left her quite lonely. She managed to give birth to six daughters, but only 3 survived infancy (so so so sad.) Unfortunately, all Francesco cared about (like all the royal men of the times) was having a male heir. This caused a lot of stress and turmoil for poor Joanna. Francesco took a mistress, Bianca Capello, who gave birth to a son in 1576. Can you even imagine how tragic this was for Joanna?!?!? The mistress had a boy first?!?! Mon dieu.  Makes me kind of want to cry.

But, alas, she did have a son in 1577. Phew. They named him Filippo. Another tragic story, he died at age 4 from Hydrocephalus (water on the brain.) Thank goodness Joanna wasn’t alive to see him go. She died while pregnant with her 8th child. She fell down a flight of stairs and the baby was delivered the next day- prematurely, arm-first, and ruptured Joanna’s uterus. Absolutely horrifying.

Francesco went on to marry his mistress, which fueled stories about how Joanna had actually fallen. But, turns out, she would most likely have died from the birth anyway. She had severe scoliosis and a deformed pelvis – which would cause incredible and unbearable pain for her during all of her pregnancies. Historians have mentioned that it is a miracle she survived any of them.

Out of all 8 children, only two survived to adulthood – Eleanor de’Medici (married the Duke of Mantua) and Marie de’Medici (married Henri IV of France.)


royal temper tantrum


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I’m switching over to Medieval Queens for the month of November. The creepy chicks were giving me nightmares (I had a dream I accidentally hired Belle Gunness as a Nanny).

Ingeborg of Denmark (1175 – 1236) had a HORRIBLE existence. She was married to Philip II of France after his first wife died. However, on the day of the wedding, Philip changed his mind and tried to send her back to Denmark. WHAT?

THEN… Philip went so far as to have a FAKE family tree drafted to show that they were related so that the marriage would be deemed illegal. Pope Celestine III prohibited Philip from marrying again, but Mr.-husband-of-the-millienium didn’t listen.

Ingeborg was held prisoner for the next 20 years in various castles throughout France. The Pope continued to support Queen Ingeborg, but it didn’t help much. Philip even asked for an annulment based on the grounds of non-sonsummation (which historians believe to be due to Philip’s impotence).

So then the impotent weasel married Agnes of Merania in 1196, BUT, the new Pope Innocent III (what a great name for a pope) said the marriage was no-good and ordered Philip to get rid of Agnes and take Ingeborg back as the rightful Queen of France.

Ingeborg was locked away and Agnes was brought back. For these reasons, Philip was excommunicated in 1200. In 1201 Philip begged the Pope to declare his children with Agnes as legitimate and AGAIN asked for an annulment under the grounds that Ingeborg was a WITCH. Fail. Didn’t work. He died still married to Ingeborg, who outlived him by about 14 years.


no bathtubs on the hillside.




Anna Marie Hahn (1906 – 1938) was a serial killer. (After this one, I’m switching back to painting pretty medieval ladies… and unicorns and rainbows.)

She was born in Germany – the youngest of 12 children. Anna claimed to have had a relationship with a doctor, but no one could find a doctor by the name she gave. However, she did have a relationship with SOMEONE that produced a son, Oscar. Anna’s parents were horrified by the scandal and shipped her off to America (and kept her son.)

Her targets were elderly men in the German-American community of Cincinnati. She’d off her services as a live-in attendant (despite having no experience or training as a nurse). Hahn cared for them so well, that they all left her money in their will. Once the victim did so, she’d poison the men with arsenic. This was all an effort to support her GAMBLING habit!!

Her take:

Victim 1: left her a house

Victim 2: $1,000

Victim 3: $17,000

Victim 4: $15,000

Victim 5: $5,000

Her last of five victims, Georg Obendoerfer,  was lured by Hahn on a trip to Colorado to visit her “ranch” (which did not exist). He died in his hotel room before they went to the so-called ranch. Convenient. Police became suspicious when she complained about paying for his funeral. They did an autopsy and arsenic was found.

Some reports claim that she was poisoning her victims by offering them an aphrodisiac. One could say that the uh “popularity” of such drugs as Viagra and Cialis proves that the offer was most likely enthusiastically accepted by these elderly gents.

The trial was quite a media sensation. Anna claimed she was an angel of mercy, and even held a press conference (chock full of overblown dramatics)  but after four weeks she was sentenced to death by electric chair. She was executed on December 7th, 1938.


Castle of Carnage


Dr. Henry Howard Homes, born Herman Webster Mudgett (1861 – 1896) carried out the most gruesome murders in recorded American history. He committed most of these crimes within the walls of his custom Murder Castle in Chicago, Illinois.

Setting the scene- Holmes’ spree took place in the time of the World Fair in Chicago. Over 27 million people came to see the fair, but many never made it back (especially women checking into the World’s Fair Hotel). Chicago had basically been scrubbed clean for the fair, and went from being “The Black City” to “The White City”. Business was booming.

He was raised in New Hampshire by devout Methodist parents and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1884. Soon after passing his exams, he moved to Chicago and changed his name. He was married to Clara Lovering, but uh… married another woman named Myrta Belknap (while Clara was still alive). He married yet another woman, Georgiana Yoke, while still married to both Clara and Myrta. His charisma and good looks are well documented- but come ON.

Then he began building his castle which later became known as The Murder Castle. To anyone passing by it looked like a decent hotel, but it was years later that the horrifying and deranged custom details of the building were discovered – Soundproof rooms set with gas lines (to asphyxiate victims), a huge soundproof bank vault (for imprisonment), secret chutes (for dumping bodies in the basement), secret doorways, trap doors, acid and lyme pits (for disposal) and “experiment” rooms. He would torture his victims and then eventually dissect and de-skin them- selling their skeletons and organs to medical schools. He also claimed any and all insurance money.

He was eventually caught, convicted, and executed. But only after killing his accomplice, Benjamin Pietzel, and his 3 young children.

There are 27 confirmed murders, but it is estimated that it could be closer to 200. Most of his victims were women that had either checked into the hotel or worked there.

He was hanged on May 7, 1896 in Philadelphia. His last meal was boiled eggs, toast and coffee. As he approached the noose- he changed his story, claiming he only killed 2 people (after confessing to 30). It was not an immediate death as his neck did not snap. Before the execution, he requested that there be no autopsy, that he be buried in a coffin filled with cement, and that his grave also be filled with cement. Because of these bizarre requests, some speculate that he somehow faked his execution. Some have even suggested that there is a possibility Dr. Holmes was also Jack the Ripper.

After his death, thousands of curious Chicago citizens lined up to see the crime scene, so a former police officer set up the building for “Holmes House of Horror” tours. However, the building mysteriously burnt to the ground before the “exhibit” could open.

There’s a great bio mini movie here:

Documentary/Additional info here:

And, there’s a great book on the case called The Devil in White City. Supposedly, Leonardo di Caprio is producing and starring in the movie based on this book. You can purchase here:

the Emperor’s Assassin


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Locusta was probably the first recorded serial killer and/or hired hit-woman. It is believed she knew a great deal about herbs and plants- and when she moved to city of Rome, this knowledge was sought out for evil purposes.

Agrippina the Younger hired her in 54 AD to serve up poisoned mushrooms to murder Emperor Claudius (so that Agrippina’s son, Nero could become Emperor). It worked.

Nero became emperor and, with good reason, was extremely paranoid. Claudius’s other son, Britannicus, had claim to the throne. So… Nero ordered Locusta to be released from prison (for poisoning another victim) and set her up to start an assassin school. She was given a large estate where students were sent to “learn her craft.” Again, her mad skills were effective, Britannicus died from poisoned wine while dining with Nero and Agrippina.

Business was good after that. Land, money, gifts… imperial referrals, assignments. Cha-Ching! That is, until Nero committed suicide. Although he had requested a deadly concoction from Locusta, he ended his life with his own dagger. With Nero dead, Locusta was held accountable for all of her crimes (I believe the official charge was sorcery) in 69 AD under the orders of Emperor Galba.

There are some, well, uh… disturbing rumors about how Locusta was executed. Many have said that she was raped by a specially trained giraffe and then ripped apart by wild animals. I’m not making this up. Historians have *sort of* debunked this story, saying that the confusion was based around the fact that the Ancient Romans usually conducted executions during festivals. However, the Agonalia festival was celebrated on January 8th (oddly enough, that’s my birthday) and Locusta was publicly executed on that day.  Bestiality was a common form of entertainment at these festivals. So, in conclusion, it would not be outlandish to believe this could’ve happened.

Ok. I’m going to throw up now.


the girl gets around.


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Scan 5

Probably the most notable ghost story in history is that of Anne Boleyn.

For such a short life, Anne has left an incredible legacy. She is discussed at length and there are hundreds of books, theories, myths and rumors that STILL circulate to this day- almost 500 years later!

Well, not discussing her life on this post, but her death. As most of you will know, Anne was executed by beheading on May 19th, 1536. It was scheduled for May 18th, but they had to find a proper executioner. Oh how nice of them.

For hundreds of years it seems Queen Anne has refused to “let it go” (yes I’m singing that song now) and has been haunting several locations throughout England. Including:

The Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Hever Castle, Blickling Hall, Hampton Court, Salle Church, and Marwell Hall. Sometimes she is merely floating in the halls, other times she is seen standing in the window, and some stories report that Anne’s ghost has been seen sitting in a coach, led by a headless coachmen, with her severed head on her lap. Eek.

There is a great article on all of these hauntings here:


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