America’s Venus


Audrey Marie Munson (June 8 1891 – February 20, 1996) was actually America’s first supermodel and often referred to as Miss Manhattan or the American Venus. You may not realize that you have seen her many, many times before- but not the way you think. She was the model for some very famous statues. Audrey was also the first American to star in a movie while fully nude. She starred in 4 silent films.

There is a really fabulous article about her HERE that includes the tales of her exposure to Gypsies as a child, and the really unfortunate fortune given to her by one of those gypsies. She remembered that fortune throughout her life and considered it a curse.

All that glitters is not gold. In her own words:

What becomes of the artists’ models? I am wondering if many of my readers have not stood before a masterpiece of lovely sculpture or a remarkable painting of a young girl, her very abandonment of draperies accentuating rather than diminishing her modesty and purity, and asked themselves the question, “Where is she now, this model who was so beautiful?

By 1920 things went very south and Audrey was unable to support herself. She attempted suicide in 1922, and in 1931 her mother had her committed to an asylum, where Audrey remained until she passed away at the age of 104.

She was buried in New Haven, New York without a gravestone (one was added much later.)

Shown below- some of the statues she modeled for (which happen to be some of my all-time favorites.)


She’s got legs.


“I think the eyes flirt most. There are so many ways to use them.” – Anna Held

Helene Anna Held (1872 – 1918) was the common-law wife of Florenze Ziegfeld and a broadway performer/singer. Of course, the reason I find her so interesting is the controversy that surrounded her.

Anna was born in Poland and started her career in London, however, in 1896, Florenz persuaded her to come back to New York with him. Upon arrival, Florenze went to work creating a buzz, getting Anna as much press as possible. As you may know, Ziegfeld was quite famous for creating publicity stunts which eventually led to the famous Ziegfeld Follies. Anna was his star.

She was very popular, outgoing, outspoken- and extremely flirtatious. The controversy? She was very willing to show her legs on stage and her songs were almost always considered risqué. Mon Dieu!

Their marriage was not a happy one- fraught with stories of forced abortions, unrealistic demands, and several mistresses. Anna died at the age of 46 from a very painful form of cancer. Ziegfeld did not attend the services due to his phobia of death. Ass.

The Vampire of Barcelona



Sorry for the content. This story is rather gruesome.

Enriqueta Marti (1868 – 1913) was a child murderer that conducted some of the most horrific crimes in the worst poverty stricken sections of Barcelona, Spain.

At the time, Barcelona’s population quadrupled in size and  with the political turmoil, daily violent uprisings, and lack of resources… awful, unspeakable things happened.

Enriqueta began her career in prostitution, which led her down a very dark and twisted road. She often kidnapped orphans to bring with her to go begging outside churches during the day. At night she would sell them off as sex slaves to the highest bidder (at the time, Barcelona was also known as the pornography capital of Europe).

It wasn’t long before she became known as one who could “procure” children for wealthy and disturbed clients (pedophiles). She also moonlighted as a “witch-doctor” making potions of human (child) remains as a cure for tuberculosis. Because she was known to drain her victims blood and because she kidnapped children by hiding them under a long black cloak, she was labeled the Vampire of Barcelona.

She was beaten to death in prison while awaiting trial.

I will not go on about this woman (soulless monster), but here are some links for further reading, just be warned- it’s all VERY upsetting and incredibly disgusting.


Worst neighbors ever.


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Tis the season of the witch! Stumbled across this very vague story…

Janet Horne was the last person to be executed for witchcraft in the British Isles. In 1727, she was stripped, covered in tar, led through the town of Dornoch, and burned alive. The poor woman was accused by her neighbors, which most likely came about because she was going senile. Her daughter was arrested too- she had a deformity in her hands and feet. The neighbors told stories of Janet of riding her daughter like a pony to meet with the devil. After a quick trial, she was sentenced to death. Her daughter escaped, but no one knows what happened to her after that.

One slight glitch in this story- “Jenny Horne” was a slang term for a witch in Scotland. Janet Horne may not have been her real name, but given to her over the years as the story was passed down because her real name was unknown.

A little more info here:

Arthur’s Enchantress


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‘Tis the season of the witch!

Morgan Le Fay, also referred to as Morgana, Morgain, Morgaine, etc. was the famous witch/sorceress found in the King Arthur legends. Where originally she was described as the king’s half-sister (just a healer and magician), the stories twisted her character into something incredibly evil (enchantress, witch, murderer).

There are hundreds of articles and theories about her but I find the most thorough to come from the University of Rochester Camelot Project. You can read the article here:



The story behind the story

With the fall upon us, I personally can’t wait for the season of stews and roasts.  There’s plenty of that in A Thyme and Place. A book that I co-wrote with my best friend, Tricia Sandland Cohen. The book is organized by Medieval Feasts and features some holidays you may have heard of, and some you haven’t. For example, Pig Face Day is just under two weeks away, how better to celebrate that with Wee Matilda’s Pork Balls?!?

We’ve put together a video to tell the story behind the story. Our journey was difficult, but rewarding. Tricia and I are already working on book 2, so stay tuned!


You can purchase the book here:

The BEATrice goes on.


If you follow my History Witch Facebook page, you’ll know that I recently went on a trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. As a result, I’ve become incredibly intrigued with Hungarian Culture- Budapest certainly exceeded my expectations. I will be diving deep into the history of all three cities over the next month or so.

This is Beatrice of Naples, Queen Consort of Hungary and Bohemia (1457 – 1508) also known as Beatrix de Aragon.

In 1476 she married King Matthias of Hungary. This union created an alliance between Naples and Hungary which proved successful in the fight against the Ottomans. She was no wallflower- introducing Italian renaissance to the court as well as creating an academy and being instrumental in building the palace Visegrad.

Things turned a bit sour when Matthias appointed his illegitimate son as heir to the throne, but Matthias died shortly after. She was again, no slouch, and immediately went into survival mode- securing a power of position in the Hungarian court. She eventually married her second husband, Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary in 1491. The nobles loved her- but the second marriage was ultimately challenged. Vladislaus did not exactly secure a divorce from his first wife. Being such a sweetie, Vlad told the court that he was forced to marry Beatrice against his will. They indeed deemed it illegal and Beatrice was forced to pay all the legal costs of the trial. She was forced to move back to Naples in 1501.

She died, childless in 1508.


Beautiful Beatrice


Beatrice of Burgundy (1143-1184) was the second wife of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. She used her position to encourage literature and chivalric ideals and often accompanied her husband on various trips throughout their kingdom. She definitely had influence on the King. The two had eleven children:

Beatrice (1162-1174)

Frederick V, Duke of Swabia (1164-1170)

Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor (1165-1197)

Conrad (1167-1191)

Otto I, Count of Burgundy (1170-1200)

Conrad II, Duke of Swabia (1172-1196)

Renaud (died in infancy, 1173)

William (died in infancy, 1176)

Philip of Swabia (1177-1208)

Agnes (1181-1184)

But what I find the most interesting thing about this woman is poem written about her on her wedding day:

“Venus did not have this virgin’s beauty,

Minerva did not have her brilliant mind

And Juno did not have her wealth.

There never was another except God’s mother Mary

And Beatrice is so happy she excels her.”

Naples- the city of brotherly love.




Can’t believe I’ve never profiled or painted this woman!

Sancha of Aragon (1478-1506) was the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso II of Naples and his mistress Trogia Gazzela (she might be next on my hit list.) She married Gioffre Borgia and the two became Prince and Princess of Squillace. They actually lived in the Vatican, where Sancha became close to her infamous sister-in-law, Lucrezia Borgia.

It all went downhill from there (and in the Vatican no less!) She was accused of having affairs with both of her husband’s brothers- Juan and Cesare.

Here’s where it gets confusing.

Sancha’s brother Alfonso married Lucrezia. Cesare married the French Princess Charlotte d’Albret, and Juan allegedly murdered his brother Cesare (over his alleged affair with Sancha) but some speculate that Alfonso murdered Cesare, due to his interests in both France and Naples.

By this point, Sancha is considered the Jezebel of Naples and was thrown in prison. It was only upon the death of Pop Alexander in 1503 that she was able to regain her freedom and returned to Naples. She did not go back to her husband- but Cesare managed to visit her and asked that she raise Lucrezia’s illegitimate son, Giovanni.

You can’t make this stuff up- although, if you watched The Borgias on HBO, you’d know that they made up a LOT of stuff (including an affair with her husband’s father, Rodrigo.)