Julie d’Aubigny (1673-1707) was a 17th century swords woman and opera singer! What an interesting combo!
Her father, Gaston d’Aubigny was a secretary to Louis de Lorraine-Guise, comte d’Armagnac, the Master of the Horse for King Louis XIV. Because Gaston trained court pages, his daughter was trained in dancing, reading, drawing, and fencing. When she was a bit older, she traveled to Marseille- stopping along the way to perform impromptu fencing shows while dressed as a man.
Upon her arrival in Marseille, she joined an opera company (as a woman) and had a fling with another woman. This woman’s parents found out and had her sent to a convent. Julie followed her there and planned an escape. There is where it gets good…
So Julie steals the body of a dead nun and places it under her lover’s bed, lights the entire room on fire and flees, hoping the fire/body thing covered up their escape. Didn’t quite work out. They managed to escape, but the affair ended after 3 months and the girlfriend returned to her family. Mon dieu! Julie (now nicknamed Maupin), was charged, in absentia, as a man, with kidnapping, body snatching and arson. She/he was sentenced to death by fire. Fitting, I suppose. But they didn’t catch on to her true identity.
She joined the Paris Opera in 1690, where she performed using the name Mademoiselle de Maupin. They loved her. Many short-lived affairs ensued- until 1695 when she kissed a young noblewoman. Three men challenged her to a duel and she beat ALL of them. However, duels at the time, were forbidden in Paris. So she did what anyone else would’ve done… fled to Brussels.
Eventually she returned to Paris, only to get in more trouble for beating up her landlord. I like this woman. a lot.
You can read more about her here: http://kellygardiner.com/fiction/books/goddess/the-real-life-of-julie-daubigny/