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.)

On the shelf!

Very excited to say that the new book is on the shelf at Barnes and Noble (Nationwide) and An Unlikely Story (Plainville, MA). My co-author, Tricia Sandland Cohen, and I couldn’t be any happier. The official release date is tomorrow, but we’re getting pictures from friends all over the country showing that it is currently available everywhere.

Here’s a photo of us beaming in the store. I’m on the left in Manchester, NH and Tricia is on the right in Pittsburgh, PA.

You can order your copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.




best dressed


Amalia of Oldenburg (1818-1875) was born a duchess and became Queen of Greece when she married King Otto in 1836. Otto was appointed King of the “new” Kingdom of Greece in 1833.

Upon her arrival, she was immediately loved by the Greeks for her beauty, grace, charm, and sense of fashion. When she began to get involved with politics, that warm welcome went sour. Topped with her inability to produce an heir- the Queen found herself the victim of some pretty harsh attacks. It didn’t help that she remained Protestant in a strictly Orthodox country.

After an uprising in 1862, the King and Queen were forced into Exile and spent their final days in Bavaria.

Interesting notes on Amalia:

  • She was the first to introduce the Christmas Tree to Greece
  • When she arrived in Greece, she had a special dress made to reflect the style of her new people. It became a legendary fashion choice and is a national costume known as the Amalia dress.
  • There was an assassination attempt on the Queen in 1861, the man was sentenced to death but Amalia stepped in and pardoned him.
  • She was determined to beautify Athens, and in 1836 commissioned the National Gardens of Athens.

Someone call the doctor.


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This was a follower request! Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, Queen Consort of Denmark and Norway (1751-1775). What a tragic life! As you may or may not know, the movie “A Royal Affair” (2012) was based on her life, and played by the beautiful Alicia Vikander (who just won an oscar for The Danish Girl). I am embarrassed to say- I have not seen either movie, but hoping to catch up this weekend.

Back to Caroline. Ouch. She is described as being attractive enough for men to look, but not enough for women to gossip. What? Well, if you look at her portraits- the artists were not very kind. Her appearance ranges from sweet & innocent to deformed & obese.

Her story is not unusual for the times- married a King with mental illness, had an affair with his doctor, was thrown in jail for adultery, lost her kids, and exiled. Scandal, jealousy, madness, and greed.

I highly recommend this in-depth article on her life:

And there’s a GREAT mini movie here – but I strongly recommend you have the pause button ready because it moves to quickly to read the text. It’s fantastic (I’m a sucker for the great music choices)


Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom



I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Lois Frankel on an amazing book- and now you can read it on your Kindle for $1.99!!! It’s a perfect Mother’s day gift for any woman in your life. I have to admit- this was an emotional and powerful experience for me. There’s a bit of my own history in those pages.

To take advantage of the special $1.99 ebook price go here:

AND Check out the promotional video here:


In the kitchen? really?


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Last weekend I had what we call a “Ray Day” with friends in New Hampshire. A Ray Day is when we sit and watch tv all day while eating and eating and eating and eating. Anyway… so we watched a documentary series called Murder Maps on Netflix. WOW. And that is how I came upon this woman’s story- Marie Manning. I highly recommend watching the show, very informative and well done.

Marie Manning (1821 – 1849) was born in Switzerland, and became a domestic servant in England to Lady Palk of Haldon House, Devon and then to Lady Blantyre at Stafford House. She married Frederick George Manning in 1847. Frederick had a very shady past. Before Marie married him, she came in contact with one Patrick O’Connor. Patrick was extremely wealthy and worked as a money lender, charging a LOT of interest to his clients. Patrick and Marie continued their friendship after her marriage and it is suspected it was romantic in nature. Ok… I’m going to go with it was DEFINITELY an affair, and Frederick knew about it, but was too drunk to care.

On August 9, 1849, Frederick and Marie murdered Patrick in their home and buried him under the flagstones in their own kitchen. Yup- right there in the kitchen floor. Did anyone think this out? Who wants to eat over a rotting corpse? Well, Marie went straight to Patrick’s home and stole all of his railway shares and his money. But there was a double-cross going on. Marie took most of the stolen property, ditched Frederick and fled to Edinburgh, while Frederick, in a panic, took whatever he could get his hands on and fled to the island of Jersey.

The law caught up with the murderous duo rather quickly for the times, and they were put on trial at the Old Bailey in October 1849. During the trial, Marie never once looked at her husband. They were found guilty and sentenced to hanging.

This was a very public execution in which hundreds, if not thousands of citizens attended. Charles Dickens was also in attendance and was horrified by the behavior of the crowd. So much so, and wrote a letter to the newspapers expressing his disgust. “I was a witness of the execution at Horsemonger Lane this morning” “I believe that the a sight so inconceivably awful as the wickedness and levity of the crowd collected at that execution this morning.” “When the two miserable creatures who attracted all this ghastly sight about them were turned quivering into the air there was no more emotion, no more pity, no more thought that two immortal souls had gone to judgement, than if the name of Christ had never been heard in this world.”

Harsh words.

Like I said, watch the show. But there is a bit more on the case here:

Color the most colorful women in history!


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Colorful Women in History, Volume 2 is now available!

I’ve listened to your comments and made a few adjustments- one being that now there is only 1 portrait per spread so that colors don’t bleed through. This will also allow you to cut out pages and hang up your own work! So excited about this one- features women such as Catherine of Aragon, Madame de Pompadour, Margaret of Anjou, and Dangereuse de l’Isle Bouchard!

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Kicking off Women’s history month with Queen Anna Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba (1583 – 1663).

Her father, King Kiluanji, favored Nzinga and let her watch him lead his kingdom from an early age. At this time, the Portuguese were running slave trades through the Congo and South West Africa and throughout Angola, colonizing villages as they went.

As she grew older, Nzinga was always by her brother’s side during the political turmoil. After his suicide, she assumed control of her people and managed to regain control of the Portuguese fortress of Ambaca.

She established peace,  offered sanctuary for runaway slaves and Portuguese-trained African soldiers, and secured independence for her Kingdom.

But no woman makes this much progress without the rumor mill churning out some rubbish. Some of these rumors suggest that she: killed her brother and then ate his heart, decapitated slaves and drank their blood, had a 60-man harem (GREAT idea,who wouldn’t?), and dressed her soldiers like women (well- were they bad boys?).

There is a more in-depth article on this fascinating woman here:

A handsome, but wretched head.


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She’s no Bathory, but still an interesting story.

Eadburh (also Eadburg, Edburga) was the daughter of King Offa of Mercia and Queen Cynethryth. She became queen by her marriage to King Beorhtric of Wessex in 789.

It is said that she “accidentally” poisoned her husband and fled to Francia- there, Charlemagne asked her if she’d like to marry him, or his son. When chose his son (because of his youth) Charlemagne said “because you didn’t choose me, you shall have neither.” (or something along those lines.)

Instead- she became the abbess of a convent.

However, even at the abbey she managed to find trouble and was accused of “fornicating with an English exile”. So… she was then expelled from the abbey. But there’s more.

According to some creepy welsh monk named John Asser:

“This Queen Edburga was a handsome murderess, who poisoned people when they offended her. One day she mixed a cup of poison for a certain noble belonging to the court, but her husband drank of it, too, by mistake, and died. Upon this, the people revolted in great crowds, and running to the palace, and thundering at the gates, cried, “Down with the wicked queen who poisons men!” They drove her out of the country, and abolished the title she had disgraced. When years passed away, some travellers came home from Italy, and said that in the town of Pavia they had been a ragged beggar woman – who had once been handsome, but was then shriveled, bent, and yellow – wandering about the streets, crying for bread; and that this beggar woman; and that this beggar woman was the poisoning English queen. It was, indeed, Edburga; and so she died, without a shelter for her wretched head.”

She actually goes down in history as a serial killer. I think this was all rubbish- a politically motivated smear campaign. But you can decide for yourself. Read a more in-depth article on her life here: