Tag Archives: WOMEN IN HISTORY

Cleopatra – Fashion Icon, Military Leader, Murderer

National geographic.com

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Fashion icon, military leader, murderer. Few women can lay claim to all three titles, but Cleopatra was no ordinary woman. Born in 30 B.C.E., Cleopatra, who ruled Egypt for 21 of her 39 years, was a woman of great beauty and style. She was also a fierce leader who craved power and control. Among many other bold actions to maintain that power and control, Cleopatra optimized her social status, femininity and charm,  personally led a fleet of ships into battle and helped to organize war efforts, and took part in the death of three of her rival siblings.

Having no Egyptian blood running through her veins, Cleopatra VII Theos Philopator, was born into the Greek Ptolemaic family who ruled Egypt from the time of Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C.E.

The second daughter of Ptolemy and possibly Cleopatra V Tryphaena or Cleopatra VI Trypaena, (either woman could have been Ptolemy’s sister or cousin, it is not known for sure), the young Cleopatra showed much promise as an intellect and future leader. She studied science, literature, philosophy, and became fluent in 9 languages, including Egyptian, which the rest of her family refused to speak.

While Cleopatra had the makings of a great and cherished leader, her father did not. Having allowed centralized power and corruption to flourish, Ptolemy lost control of his dynasty and fled to Rome with the young Cleopatra in tow. Cleopatra VI Tryphaena took control of Egypt, but died soon after, some say from poison administered by Cleopatra’s older sister Berenice IV, who then assumed the crown. With Roman support, Ptolemy and young Cleopatra returned to Egypt in 55 B.C.E. and Ptolemy had Berenice imprisoned and later executed.

Soon after their return, Ptolemy died and wrote in his will that Cleopatra and her 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII, would share the crown. The two married, as was common in Egyptian royal culture, and ruled together. Not wanting to share the regency with a boy 8 years her junior, and desirous of complete control, Cleopatra took the reins. She had Ptolemy’s name eradicated from official documents and had her face alone printed on Egyptian currency.

The Gabiniani, powerful roman troops and named the guardians of the young Ptolemy, opposed Cleopatra’s willfulness and lust for power and ran her out of Egypt. She fled to Syria with her only remaining sister, Arsinoe.

Biography.com

While in exile, Cleopatra’s young brother made his own mistakes, the most grievous by far, angering the most powerful man in Rome, Julius Caesar, by ordering the execution of Pompey, a military and political leader of the Roman Republic. While Pompey was Caesar’s political enemy, he was also his son-in-law, husband to Caesar’s only legitimate daughter who had died in childbirth. Furious, Caesar seized the Egyptian capital and made himself arbiter between the rival claims of Ptolemy and Cleopatra.

Using Ptolemy’s fatal mistake to her advantage, Cleopatra set out to gain favor with Caesar. She had herself smuggled into Caesar’s palace rolled up in a carpet, dressed in her royal finery. Enchanted with her brashness, beauty, and brains, Caesar fell in love that night. An affair developed and nine months after that fated meeting, Cleopatra had a son whom she named Caesarion Ptolemy.

Soon after the love affair started, Cleopatra’s brother, Ptolemy XIII, drowned in the Nile, some say at Caesar’s hand with the encouragement of his beautiful mistress. Caesar then named Cleopatra’s youngest brother, Ptolemy XIV, Pharaoh of Egypt, and Cleopatra as co-ruler, and the siblings married. Caesar then set sail for Rome.

Four years later, Cleopatra took her young son with her to Rome where she and Caesar rekindled their relationship, much to the grievance of the Roman people. Their loyalty lay with Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, and they were outraged at Caesar’s blatant flaunting of his relationship with the Egyptian temptress. He even went so far as to house Cleopatra in one of his country villas just outside Rome, and also had a golden statue of her, portrayed as Isis, erected in the temple of Venus Genetrix.

After the assissination of Caesar  in 44 B.C.E., Cleopatra returned to Egypt to claim her title as Pharaoh. After her return, young Ptolemy XIV died, many say poisoned by his older sister. Cleopatra was known to concoct poisons and perfumes as a hobby. After her brother/husband’s funeral, she named her son as co-regent.

Wikipedia

At the height of her power and beauty, Cleopatra’s popularity with the Egyptians was paramount for several reasons. Like all fashion icons she wore exotic hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing; she was the first of her family to speak her countryman’s language, Egyptian; and she believed herself to be the embodiment of the reincarnated Egyptian goddess, Isis. Because of her engaging personality and style, Egyptian women made themselves up and dressed like her. According to the historian Joann Fletcher, “so many Roman women adopted the ‘Cleopatra look’ that their statuary has often been mistaken for Cleopatra herself.”

Rich, powerful, intelligent, and beautiful, Cleopatra was in her prime when Mark Antony, a triumvir who ruled Rome after the death of Caesar, summoned her to Tarsus to incur her support of his planned war against the Parthians. In her typical diva fashion, Cleopatra made an entrance designed to impress. For the voyage she designed a golden barge adorned with purple sails and silver oars. Dressed as Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, Cleopatra set sail for Tarsus determined to win over the Roman trimivir, who also considered himself the embodiment of a god; the god Dionysus.

Encyclopedia-Britannica.com

As she had hoped, Mark Antony fell for her, and Cleopatra had yet another powerful Roman leader hopelessly devoted to her. So devoted that at her urgent suggestion, Mark Antony ordered the execution of Arsinoe, Cleopatra’s younger sister, whom as the last sibling left, Cleopatra feared would attempt to take the throne. The murder took place on the steps of the sacred Temple of Artemis, a scandalous act against the temple sanctuary and thus, the Roman people. Already not in favor with Rome because of her relationship with Julius Caesar, Cleopatra further scandalized the city when she convinced Mark Antony to marry her in an Egyptian ceremony while still married to Octavia Minor, sister to his fellow triumvir, Octavian.

With the relationship between Octavian and Mark Antony on the brink of disaster even before Cleopatra, tensions continued to rise and in 33 B.C.E. Octavian waged war against Egypt and in doing so, Cleopatra. Two years later, the conflict climaxed with the battle of Actium. Cleopatra led the charge, alongside Antony’s fleet, with dozens of Egyptian warships, but the lovers’ forces were no match to Octavian’s army. Cleopatra and Mark Antony fled back to Egypt.

Their respite was not to last, and in 30 B.C.E. Octavian invaded Egypt. There are several stories surrounding the death of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, but the most popular is when Octavian invaded, Mark Antony believed he had captured and killed Cleopatra, so attempted to take his own life by falling on his sword. When his friends learned that Cleopatra was hiding out in her mausoleum, the rushed Antony, still alive, to her where he died in her arms.

Wikipedia

With Octavian’s rise in Roman power, Cleopatra feared she would meet a public death much as her sister Arsinoe did, so committed suicide in her mausoleum with two of her women attendants as witnesses. The most recounted story is that she had a venomous snake, the Egyptian asp, smuggled into her sanctuary and enticed it to bite her arm. Other stories claim she used an ointment, or drank wine laced with poison of her own making.

Like many of history’s empowered women, Cleopatra lived her life on the edge making bold, sometimes unpopular but always provoking decisions, taking monumental risks and enforcing change. She lived her life at top speed, she rarely looked back, and she never settled for defeat.

 

Sonora and her Flying Horse

For nineteen years, Sonora Webster Carver made her living on the back of a flying horse.

Photo of Sonora Webster Carver and her horse
pressofatlanticcity.com

 

Clad in a trim bathing suit, Sonora climbed a forty-foot wooden tower and when a galloping horse charged up the adjoining ramp, she jumped on its back and the two would sail through the air, eventually landing in a tank filled with twelve feet of water.

The notion of diving horses was developed by Doc Carver, a sharpshooter who toured in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. After he left the Wild West Show, Doc took his own circus show on the road, featuring the captivating horse divers.

Sonora was born in 1904 to a working-class family in Waycross Georgia, and at nineteen years old, she was looking for some adventure and a way out of a life of what she called “genteel poverty.”

After seeing an ad placed by Doc Carver calling for “a girl who could swim and dive, and was willing to travel,” Sonora felt she’d found her ticket. Her sister Arnette followed in Sonora’s footsteps and at fifteen also joined the show.

Both Sonora and Arnette loved the thrill of sailing in the air on horseback. The girls reveled in their jobs and in their fame, and for Sonora, the adventure also led to love and marriage. Doc Carver’s son Albert, who took over the show after Doc’s death in 1927, was smitten with the feisty horse diver and he and Sonora married in 1928. Sonora and her horse diving into the water

Although horse diving by nature is a dangerous occupation, Arnette, in an interview, said the secret to avoid injury was to “keep your head tucked down to one side, so that when the horse raised his head as he jumped up at the bottom of the pool, you wouldn’t get smacked in the face.”

Unfortunately for Sonora, she couldn’t avoid injury all together. In 1931 while diving her horse Red Lips off Steel Pier in Atlanta, Georgia, Sonora hit the water off balance with her eyes open. Both retinas detached resulting in blindness. But the loss of sight didn’t deter the amazing young woman. She continued for eleven more years and went on to become the most famous horse diver in history.

Horse diving continued until 1978 when the SPCA grew concerned over the safety and well-being of the horses. According to Arnette, Doc’s horses were always treated well, and no horse was ever injured while on his watch.

Lucretia Mott- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Lucretia Mott

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

At age 13, Lucretia Coffin was sent to the Nine Partners School in Duchess County, New York, which was run by the Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers. After graduation she became a teacher at Nine Partners and met her future husband, also a teacher there, James Mott. Learning that the male teachers were paid significantly more than female teachers started Lucretia on a mission to fight for women’s rights, and for the rights of other suppressed peoples.

In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister. With her husband’s support, she traveled extensively as a minister, and her sermons emphasized the Divine within every individual regardless of sex or race.

In 1833, her husband helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. At the societies organizational meeting in Philadelphia, Lucretia, as an experienced speaker through her ministry, was the only woman presenter. Days after the conclusion of the convention, Mott and other white and black women founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.
In 1838, Lucretia attended an Anti-Slavery convention at Pennsylvania Hall, a newly opened meeting place built by abolitionists.

During the convention, an unhappy mob rioted and destroyed the hall. Mott and the white and black women delegates linked arms to exit the building safely through the crowd. Afterward, the mob targeted her home. As a friend redirected the mob, Mott waited in her parlor, willing to face her violent opponents.

In June 1840, Mott attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, England where she met activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton admired Mott, and the two discussed the possibility of working together in the future to tackle issues including women’s right to property, their earnings, and custody of their children in the event of divorce.

In 1848, Mott and Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, at Seneca Falls, New York. By this time, Lucretia Mott had become a well-known advocate of minorities rights and women’s rights, and her fame eventually reached the political arena. That same year, during the National Convention of the Liberal Party, five voting delegates cast their vote for Mott to be the party’s candidate for the office of U.S. Vice President. She placed 4th in a field of nine.

Over the next few decades, women’s suffrage became the focus of the women’s rights movement. While Cady Stanton is usually credited as the leader of that effort, it was Mott’s mentoring of Cady Stanton and their work together that inspired the movement.
After the Civil War, Mott was elected the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization that advocated universal suffrage. In 1864, Mott and several other Hicksite Quakers incorporated Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, which remains one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the country.

In 1948, a stamp was issued in remembrance of the Seneca Falls Convention featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott. And, in 1983, Mott was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Lucretia Mott always adhered to her Quaker ideals of equality of all people regardless of race, sex, or creed. Did you know that Annie Oakley was raised Quaker? Knowing that helped me in my research for my Annie Oakley Mystery Series. If you are curious about it, you can find my books on Amazon.

Olive Thomas: Her high powered life and mysterious death

After winning The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City contest in 1914, Olive Thomas’ life would change forever. Her win led her to become a popular artists and illustrators model and she appeared on numerous magazine covers including The Saturday Evening Post.

Her beauty captured the eye of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., and he hired her to perform in his wildly popular Ziegfeld Follies, and later his more risqué show The Midnight Frolic.

In 1916, she began a career in silent films. She also met and married Jack Pickford, the younger brother of silent film star Mary Pickford. Four years later, she died while on a second honeymoon with Pickford in Paris, France. News of her hospitalization and death were the subject of speculation in the press, and has been cited as one of the first publicized Hollywood scandals.

Was her death an accident? Suicide? Or Murder? The world may never know!


Fanny Brice – Ziegfeld’s Funniest Lady

Famous funny lady, Fanny Brice, was one of the many stars who got her start in the Ziegfeld Follies.

Born with a gift for comedy, an excellent singing voice, and plenty of acting chops, Fanny Brice took the world by storm.

From humble beginnings and a less-than enviable love life, Fanny rose to mega-stardom. She will forever be remembered through two films made about her, Funny Girl and Funny Lady, starring the incomparable, Barbara Streisand.

You can learn more about this early 20th century dynamo in the video below. You can also read about her in this post I wrote in May! Enjoy!

 

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!


 

Billie Burke & Judy Garland

Ziegfeld’s Girl – Actress Billie Burke

Who was Glinda the Good Witch?

Watch this video and learn about actress, Billie Burke who was forever immortalized as the enchanting witch, Glinda, in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.

Married to the famous Broadway showman, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., she had an amazing career of her own on stage and screen.

Just tap your heels three times, click on the arrow, sit back, relax and watch this ten minute video!

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!

 


 

Seven Fascinating Facts About Hawaii’s Last Royal Heir – Princess Ka’iulani

Referred to as “The People’s Princess,” “The Tragic Princess,” “The Peacock Princess,” and “The Island Rose,” Princess Ka’iulani is one of Hawaii’s most beloved royal Princesses. Born in 1875,  this amazing young woman  lived her life with heart, passion, and a sense of duty to her native land. Unfortunately, her destiny to rule would be cut short  by the abrupt end of her family’s legacy, and the end of an age. Here are some fascinating facts about this young Hawaiian heroine.

#1)  She was the first ‘hapa haole’ (half western/white) heir to the Hawaiian throne.

Born to Princess Miriam Likelike, sister of King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani, and the Scottish financier, Archibald Scott Cleghorn, Victoria Ka’iulani’s birth was a gift to the Islands. Kaʻiulani was named after her maternal aunt Anna Ka’iulani, and Queen Victoria of England who helped restore the independence of the Kingdom of Hawaii during King Kamehameha III’s reign.

She was christened Princess Victoria Ka‘iulani Kawekio I Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Cleghorn at St. Andrews Catherdral in Honolulu with the King and Her Highness Ke’elikolani standing in as godparents. After the christening, the King hosted an elaborate celebration at the Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Upon her birth, Kaʻiulani was gifted the estate of ‘Ainahau in Waikiki where she grew up with her parents and three half-sisters from her father’s first marriage.

#2)  She was an accomplished athlete, musician and artist.

Growing up in the paradise of ‘Ainahau (which means ‘cool land’), the Princess spent much of her time outdoors. She loved to ride her pony, Fairy, and also excelled in swimming, surfing, and dancing the hula. She and her half-sister Annie would often play the ukulele and sing for visiting dignitaries and honored guests. Influenced by her mother’s lady-in-waiting, art enthusiast and painter Isobel Strong, and the landscape artist Joseph Dwight Strong, the Princess developed an interest in painting. While pursuing her education in Europe, she took several trips to Scotland and France to study. While in school she also enjoyed many hours of tennis and cricket.

#3)  She loved peacocks.

The birds, native to India, were highly prized in Victorian England. Ka’iulani’s godmother, Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani, gifted the young princess with a small flock of the birds called pikake in Hawaiian. They soon became favored pets of Ka’iulani and her fondness of them was so great, she was sometimes referred to as The Peacock Princess. She also adored the white blooms and fragrance of Arabian jasmine, also native to India, and the flowers also became known as pikake. Today, a small park that was once part of her family’s estate is graced with a statue of Ka’iulani feeding her beloved peacocks.

#4)  She received a British education.

As future Queen to the Hawaiian throne, an well-rounded education was extremely import for the Princess. After discussions among the King, the cabinet minister Mr. Lorin Thurston, and her father, it was decided that thirteen-year-old Victoria would to pursue a private education at Great Harrowden Hall in Northhamptonshire.

Prior to her departure, Honolulu was honored with a visit from the famed author Robert Louis Stevenson. The royal family welcomed him with open arms and he became close with the King and Ka’iulani’s father. To help ease the anxiety of leaving her home for the first time, Stevenson told the Princess tales of her father’s homeland, and of great Celtic Warrior Queens. He also gifted her with a poem that he wrote in her autograph book.

Forth from her land to mine she goes,

The island maid, the island rose,

Light of heart and bright of face:

The daughter of a double race.

Her islands here in southern sun

Shall mourn their Ka’iulani gone,

And I, in her dear banyan shade,

Look vainly for my little maid.

But our Scots islands far away

Shall glitter with unwanted day,

And cast for once their tempest by

To smile in Ka’iulani’s eye.

Ka’iulani and her older half-sister Annie, with whom she was closest, traveled to England to pursue their education for one year. However, for the princess, one year became four. She excelled in her studies of Latin, Literature, Mathematics and History. She took courses in French, German, and English, and art.

#5)  She was an impassioned advocate against the annexation of Hawaii.

During Ka’iulani’s years abroad, there was much unrest in Hawaii. Her uncle, King Kalakaua, died in 1891, and her aunt, Princess Lili’uokalani, became queen. The new queen appointed Ka’iulani as her heir, making her Crown Princess of Hawaii. In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and her aunt was deposed. The movement to annex Hawaii to the United States was in part lead by Lorrin Thurston, the very man who took part in the decision to prepare Ka’iulani for her future life as queen.

In an attempt to fight the overthrow of her kingdom, Ka’iulani traveled to Washington to plead “for my throne, my nation, and my flag.” Upon her arrival she made a statement to the press:

“Seventy years ago, Christian America sent over Christian men and women to give religion and civilization to Hawaii. Today, three of the sons of those missionaries are at your capitol asking you to undo their father’s work. Who sent them? Who gave them the authority to break the Constitution which they swore they would uphold? Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people. Even now I can hear their wail in my heart and it gives me strength and courage and I am strong – strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine!”

She also met with President Grover Cleveland to plead her case. Impressed with the seventeen year old Princess, President Cleveland agreed to reassess the situation in Hawaii. However, in the end, the annexation took place, much to the devastation of the Princess.

#6)  She died at 23 years of age.

After the overthrow of the Hawaiian royal family, Princess Ka’iulani’s health began to deteriorate. A family friend stated that the weakness of her heart was due to shock, the direct consequence of her promised kingdom being wrenched away from her. On a happier note, she became engaged to the Hawaiian Prince David Kawananakoa, and the couple made plans for a joyous celebration.

Despite her weakness, the princess continued to partake of swimming, surfing, and other outdoor activities. But, when she was caught in a thunderstorm while riding horseback in Waimea while visiting the Island of Hawaii, she became ill and never recovered. She died on March 6, 1899 of “inflammatory rheumatism” to the heart-break of her fiancé, her family, and the Hawaiian people.

#7)  A movie was made about her.

A dramatized movie of her life was released in 2009. The film’s original title, “The Barbarian Princess,” was very controversial, and hearkened back to the pro-annexation press referring to her as a half-breed, or “dusky” or “heathen.” The title was changed several times and was finally released as “Princess Kaiulani.”

 

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

 

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!


Olive Thomas

Women in Show Business History – Olive Thomas, Tragic Beauty

Olive Thomas was born Olivia R. Duffy, October 20, 1894, to a working class Irish American family in Pennsylvania. To help support her family, she left school at 15 years of age.  At 16 she married Bernard Krush Thomas. The marriage lasted two years. After her divorce she moved to New York City, lived with a family member, and worked in a Harlem department store. In 1914, she won “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” contest and landed on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

Having caught the public’s attention, and the eye of the famous Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., Olive was hired to perform in his wildly popular Ziegfeld Follies. It wasn’t long before Olive had star billing in the Midnight Frolic, a show at one of Ziegfeld’s favored venues, the Roof Top Theater of the New Amsterdam Hotel. The Frolic catered primarily to well-known male patrons. The girls’ costumes, often just a few strategically arranged balloons, allowed amusement for the gentlemen who would pop the balloons with their cigars. The beauty of Olive Thomas became legendary and she was pursued by a number of wealthy men. She is said to have had “lovely violet-blue eyes, fringed with dark lashes that seemed darker because of the translucent pallor of her skin.”

Olive ThomasKnown for her beauty, Olive was also known for her wild ways. That free spiritedness became more pronounced when she became involved with Jack Pickford of the famous Pickford family. Alcohol and cocaine became part of her partying repertoire and it proved to be reckless. She had three automobile accidents in one year. After that, she hired a chauffeur.

Screenwriter Frances Marion later remarked, “…I had seen her often at the Pickford home, for she was engaged to Mary’s brother, Jack. Two innocent-looking children, they were the gayest, wildest brats who ever stirred the stardust on Broadway. Both were talented, but they were much more interested in playing the roulette of life than in concentrating on their careers.”

The marriage to Pickford caused much trouble for both parties. For Jack, his high-brow famous family did not approve of Olive’s work in the Frolics, and for Olive, her employer Florenz Ziegfeld accused Jack of taking her away from his entertainment dynasty. There were rumors that Flo and Olive were also romantically involved.

The relationship with Pickford could even have been said to contribute to her sudden death in 1920.  After a long night of dancing, drinking, and drugs, Olive and Jack went back to their hotel room. Suddenly, from the bathroom, Jack heard Olive scream, “Oh God!”  According to Jack’s account, Olive had accidentally drank from a bottle of something marked “poison”.  After a trip to the hospital and having her stomach pumped three times to no avail, Olive Thomas died. The autopsy stated that she died of a mixture of mercury bichloride and alcohol. Mercury bichloride was the prescribed tonic for Jack’s persistant and cronic syphyllis.

Olive Thomas had a short, but successful career. She worked for the Ziegfeld Follies and Midnight Frolic and she starred in over twenty motion pictures. She was also one of the first actresses to be termed “a flapper,” along with Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and Joan Crawford.

 

Repost from March 14, 2017

 

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!

 

 

Grace O'Malley Irish Pirate Queen

Irish Women in History – Grace O’Malley, Lady Pirate

Her Irish name is Gráinne Ní Mháille, and she is known as one of the most tenacious female pirates of the Emerald Isle.

Born of a noble family in 1530, Grace took over the lordship of the Ó Máille dynasty in the west of Ireland after the death of her father, despite having a brother. Not much is known of her childhood, but it is thought that she grew up at her family’s residence on Clare Island. She was most likely formally educated, as were all noble children of her time, and it is known that she spoke fluent Latin.

Grace O'Malley and menIn 1546, Grace married the heir to the O’Flaherty title, giving her more wealth and power. Her husband, Dónal an Chogaidh had aspirations of one day ruling all of Connacht, the area now known as Connemara. When her husband was killed in an ambush while hunting, Grace returned to her own lands on Clare Island where she established her principal residence. It is believed she took a shipwrecked sailor as her lover. He too was killed, and seeking revenge, Grace attacked the castle of Doona in Blacksod Bay, home to the murderers of her lover the MacMahons of Ballyvoy. She tracked them down and killed them on the nearby island of Cahir. The act earned her the nickname, “Dark Lady of Doona.”

Grace remarried, this time to “Iron Richard” Bourke, the 18thlord of Mac William Lochtar. But, she was still not done with the MacMahons. When she sailed for Ballyvoy this time, she attacked Doona Castle again, but this time took it as her own.

English might steadily grew in 16th Century Ireland, weakening O’Malley’s power. In 1593, her sons and half-brother were taken captive by the English governor of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham, on the grounds that O’Malley was responsible for ‘nursing’ the Irish rebellions that had occurred for more than forty years.

O’Malley sailed to England to petition Queen Elizabeth I to release them. She showed up at Greenwich Palace dressed in her finest gown and met with the English monarch surrounded by English guards. When the guards searched O’Malley’s person, they found a dagger hidden in her dress. O’Malley stated she carried it for her own safety. Elizabeth nodded her approval, and let O’Malley approach her.

O'Malley and Elizabeth
sites.google.com

Refusing to acknowledge Elizabeth as the Queen of Ireland, O’Malley did not bow upon meeting the sovereign. Despite the affront, the two had a lively discussion in Latin, and came to an agreement. The prisoners were released, Bingham was removed from his position in Ireland, and O’Malley was to stop supporting Irish rebellions. However, some of O’Malley’s other requests remained unmet, and when Bingham returned to Ireland, Grace returned to supporting the Irish rebellions during the Nine Years War.

The date of her death is not known, but historians speculated it was in 1603, the same year of Elizabeth I’s death.

annie oakley mystery series kari bovee novel authorAre you a historical fiction fan? Do you love a good adventure and a strong female lead? Check out my Annie Oakley Mystery Series here!

 

 


Maria Edgeworth

Irish Women in History – Maria Edgeworth, the Irish Jane Austen

A prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adult and children’s literature, Maria Edgeworth was instrumental in the evolution of the novel in Europe. Many of her works featured the plight of the Irish, women’s issues, politics, and education. A contemporary of Jane Austen, she was also a friend and correspondent of famed literary and economic writers Sir Walter Scott and David Ricardo.

In her early childhood years, Maria spent most of her time with her mother and her mother’s family in Oxfordshire, England. When her mother passed away when she was five, Maria’s father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth married her aunt, (her mother’s sister) and the family moved to Edgeworth’s estate, Edgeworthstown in County Longford, Ireland.

While attending school in London, Maria, at 14 years old, became afflicted with an eye infection. Her father sent for her to return to Ireland, and Maria engaged in helping her father and step-mother with the raising of her younger siblings.

Home-tutored by her father in the study of law, Irish economics and politics, science, and literature, Maria showed much promise as an intellect. She also assisted her father in managing the estate where she would live and write for the rest of her life. Observing the details of daily Irish life, and collaborating academically with her father, Maria procured extensive material for her future novels. Her aunt on her father’s side, Margaret Ruxton of Black Castle encouraged Maria’s writings and supplied her with inspirational material such as the works of Anne Radcliffe and William Godwin.

After the death of his third wife, Richard married Frances Beaufort, a woman one year younger than 30-year-old Maria, and the two women became life-long friends. The family took to extensive traveling, and Maria began her writing in earnest. Her novels celebrated Irish culture and also highlighted the gradual anglicanization of feudal Irish society. In her novels, Maria also articulated education as the key to both individual and national improvement. She believed boy and girls should be educated equally and together, and that women should only marry whom they choose, or not at all.

Maria older yearsMaria was also passionate about Catholic Emancipation, agricultural reform, and improving the living standards of the poor. During the Irish Potato Famine she worked for the relief of the Irish peasants. Her efforts became well-known, and she even procured help and gifts for the poor of Ireland from America.

After her father’s death in 1817, Maria edited his memoirs and then added to them her biographical comments. She wrote until her own death in her eighties.

Even though her works were often criticized for being too moralistic, Maria soldiered on, becoming a prolific author, a defender of women and children, and an early innovator of the literary novel.

annie oakley mystery series kari bovee novel authorAre you a historical fiction fan? Do you love a good adventure and a strong female lead? Check out my Annie Oakley Mystery Series here!