Happy Christmas in July, you guys! I have something nice for you. Because you’ve been so good.
MRG got you a bisexual, cross-dressing, opera-singing, nun-banging, murderous-ten-times-over BADASS BITCH. I know, I know. It’s what you’ve always wanted.
If that sounds like I just made this person up at some type of bespoke historical figure shoppe (million dollar idea, you’re welcome), I get it. It seemed too good to be true when my little sister, AMG, who is way smarter and funnier than I am (but it’s okay because I am just as special in other ways) and who might grace us all with a guest post in the near future, casually told me about her. But it wasn’t too good to be true. Instead, IT’S JUST TOO GODDAMN GOOD.
Julie d’Aubigny was and continues to be a next-level goddess of womanhood the likes of which have never appeared on this blog. I know I throw that g-word around a lot when a strong historical lady gets hers, but this time it’s serious. She was a pistol for the ages. She is to not-giving-a-sweet-fuck what Isis, Frejya, and Bhuvaneshvari are to their respective mythologies. She is the human manifestation of that #YOLO thing the kids do. She is everything.
And luckily, she was born (in 1670 in France) to one of those dads who maybe wanted a son real bad but instead of ignoring his girlchild he, like, still loved her. And he bestowed upon her the required education for both genders. Daddy, Gaston d’Aubigny, was the secretary to the Grand Squire of France under Louis XIV and therefore was partly responsible for the all the king’s stables, pages, and most importantly, the royal partay fund. And this is the goddamn Sun King — it’s not like he’s throwing a low-key potluck just for the girls once every couple years. Thusly, Julie’s dad was pretty well connected and had a measure of power. As a hobby, he was also a master swordsman. Whereas my dad likes to do crossword puzzles and some light woodworking.
So by the time she blossoms into young womanhood, Julie can dance, she can sew, she can read multiple languages, and oh yeah, she can kill you real good with a rapier. And it’s not that she was good at swordplay for a lady — she was just fucking good. She also liked to dress up like a boy, accost and embarrass the shit out of another boy, and then reveal her ladyness. At a young age, Julie knew her way around a dagger. And around a dick.
In her teens, she seduced her dad’s boss, the Comte d’Armagnac (and because his name is hard and he was in charge of the king’s horses, he shall heretofore be known as The Mane Man). The Mane Man, though he was an adult fucking his employee’s 16-year-old daughter (think of the HR paperwork!), was also kind of a good dude in the beginning. He undoubtedly expanded her knowledge of military weapons and strategy and also her knowledge of how to do sex. Most importantly, he introduced her to the court of the Sun King.
If ever there was a diva in need of a venue, it was Julie d’Aubigny. Mane Man, soon sensing the potential error in bringing a gender-bending, sword-confident, underage hottie with a thing for embarrassing dudes at their own game to the most public and socially narrow place in the country, decided to marry Julie off and deflect attention. This was A Thing Men Could Do. Not long after her marriage to Monsieur Maupin (of whom little is known and few fucks are given), Julie and Mane Man called it quits. It’s probably likely that Mane Man was terrified of a) what Julie could to to his entrails and b) word getting out that he’d dated a woman with “talents” and “opinions,” so he invented a position in the French countryside for Maupin, assuming Julie would dutifully follow her new and uncharismatic husband. You know what they say about assuming. It’s a dumb fucking thing to do.
See, Mane Man’s plan really backfired on him. As a married woman, Julie really didn’t have to worry about the moral and social expectations that the court had for marriageable girls. And her husband, being a Toby Flenderson-type, was essentially powerless when it came to sexual politics. In the Maupin marriage, not only did Julie wear the pants, she had one of those giant MTV Cribs-style, apartment-sized closets full of pants. Pants on pants on pants. So naturally, when Mr. Maupin packed up the U-Haul and headed for the hills, Julie didn’t go with.
Instead, Julie. Went. WILD. Slapping shopkeepers? Check. Publicly taking the piss out of aristocrats? Check. Boning a fencing master wanted for murdering someone in an alley? CHECK.
Julie and her new slice, Serannes, Bonnie-and-Clyded their way through Paris, and when trouble found them, headed to Marseilles, where Serranes claimed he had the means to support them. He fucking lied. Rather than immediately impaling her lover, though, Julie, ever resourceful, essentially enslaved him as one half of a song-and-sword duo to pay the bills. Did I mention that our Jules was a fucking gifted contralto? She was. It was also around this time that Julie picked up that cross-dressing thing again, because the swordplay part of their act required ease of movement, and seven layers of petticoats are not so conducive to that sometimes/all the time. A cross dresser with the voice of an angel — maybe it’s a Julie thing.
Anyway, the pair were the talk of the town before long. The plebians ate that shit right up. And of course, because Julie was an Inigo Montoya-level swordist and wore pants, those same plebians thought she was a dude. Rumor has it that one night a crowd was so raucously convinced that she had a dick, Julie ripped open her shirt, showed them her tits, and said “Who’s the dick now?!” Or something like that.
Of course, a bold and beautiful ingenue of the stage and sword was going to be bored by her murderous, less-talented boyfriend. In fact, Julie was pretty bored by men altogether. She was just better than them at pretty much everything. But she still wanted to get hers — an Earth-goddess still needs to get her rocks off. And as we’ve established, our sweet JuJuBee gave zero fucks about social strictures or propriety. Julie looked around, noticed that women were a large group of people she hadn’t tried to seduce, and went for it. Bless her.
And here’s one of my favorite stories I’ve come across during this 2.5-year blogsperiment. Julie, somewhere in the middle of her lady-fucking rampage, fell in love with a cute blonde. Blondie’s parents, of course, were terrified of the Amazon who kept sending their daughter home flushed and extremely satisfied, so they decided the best course of action was to ship her off to a convent. That’s how Jules came to bone a nun. A self-proclaimed wife of Jesus. Yes. Of course, it became hard for them to meet, let alone plan liasons, so Julie took these Six Easy Steps to get her lover back:
1. She took Holy Orders herself.
2. She made sure she was assigned to the same convent as Blondie.
3. She waited for an elderly nun to die, then disinterred her.
4. She placed the body of said nun in Blondie’s bed.
5. She set the convent ON FIRE.
6. She and Blondie stole away into the night and never fucking looked back.
Turns out even that John McClane-like endeavor bored our Julie, and she broke up with her nunpiece a couple months later but stayed on the lam. Since body snatching and arson and kidnapping are crimes, Jules was tried in a Marseilles court in absentia and condemned to death by fire (eye for an eye, I guess). So Marseilles was no longer a great place for her to be, and she hopped from Paris to Orleans to Poitiers and back to Paris again, renewing her vaudeville-vagabond-crossdressing-disco-spectacular. Life’s a fucking hustle, man.
Along the way, Jules was doing her best Victor/Victoria in Villeperdue when a young roustabout in the audience realized she was a woman despite her pantaloons. Supposedly he accosted her by shouting, “Pretty bird, I’ve heard your chirping. Now let me see your plumage!” which is nothing if not a tightly constructed metaphor. Julie responded in the only way she knew how: by challenging him and his two best friends to a goddamned duel in the middle of the show. In the scuffle, Jules ended up putting her sword straight through the dude’s shoulder and out the other side, at which point he was like “Okay, ouch, sorry, geez.” Julie then dropped the mic and took a nap.
She still had a conscience, though. Hurting that defenseless manchild weighed on her, so the next day she asked the hotelier who she’d stabbed. Louis-Joseph d’Albert de Luynes, the son of a duke and therefore some kind of viscount. This made Julie feel bad but also made her see the glistening mountain of francs that could be hers if she played her cards right. When one of Lou’s squires visited Julie later that night to convey his master’s apologies for saying all that nasty shit to her, Julie was like, “I’ll deliver my response in person. With my vagina.” She boned him that night and many more nights. Extortion turned to love. They continued to bang for decades in like a friends-who-fuck-and-also-sort-of-love-each-other-but-keep-it-casual kind of way. Think about how much game you need to have to get a guy you RAN THROUGH WITH A MOTHERFUCKING SABER and HUMILIATED PUBLICLY to fuck you forever. This is real history.
And did I mention all of the above shit happened within four years? Yeah, on our timeline, Julie is 20. Really makes college feel like a waste.
Naturally, Julie’s career as a vaudevillian segued into the chance to sing in the Paris Opera. La Maupin, as she was called (going by her noodle of a husband’s name is probably the most heteronormative thing about her) was soon a bonafide opera star, and brought real-life badassness to notably badass roles like Athena, Dido, and Medea. It was like the opposite of method acting.
By now you’ve deduced that our Jules was also a bit of a wild card when it came to her temper, so it should be no surprise that she once whacked the shit out of a fellow actor in a dark alley with a wooden cane because he was creeping on one of her actress friends. When he showed up at work with two black eyes and a limp, he said he was beaten and robbed by four street youths. Julie, hearing this, said “HAHAHAHAA,” and handed the guy his pocket watch and empty wallet in front of everyone.
And of course, given that she and Lou had a loving and VERY open relationship, Julie fucked a lot of her co-workers. Both tenors and sopranos, if you catch my drift. Just once, Jules fancied a lady who gave her the ol’ I-just-wanna-be-friends, which led Julie to attempt suicide. She really only had one speed, our girl.
I know you’re all getting tired here, but I have just one more Julie story, I promise! Also, what the fuck guys, she’s amazing, I want to talk about her forever, you should want to know everything there is to know about her, etc. etc.
Okay, so Julie’s operatic fame led to her reintroduction to court life, which of course led to her being invited to a ball. And Julie just wanted to dance. Really get down. And she couldn’t twerk in a heavy dress, so she of course wore a full-on cavalier’s uniform. Much pearl-clutching ensued, because not only did she not hide the fact that she was a woman in manpants, she also openly danced and MADE OUT WITH the belle of the ball. In the middle of the Sun King’s dance floor. Je SCANDAL!
Belle-of-ball’s suitors were shocked and immediately directed a collective “Not cool, bro” Julie’s way in the form of a duel invite. Apparently talking things out was not a viable resolution method in seventeenth-century France. Julie had been outnumbered by a bunch of dudes before and was probably bored, so she agreed. They got a-fighting right there in the middle of a waltz and Julie defeated all of them handily. Mr. Sun King himself, pissed that Julie diverted the groveling masses away from him, reminded her that he’d recently instituted a law against dueling. Julie was sent away thinking that this might be the end of the road for her. You don’t piss off the Sun King. He could actually have you killed for sitting without his express permission. True fact. One would imagine that killing three dudes in the middle of his nice party might not fly.
UNLESS YOU’RE FUCKING JULIE D’AUBIGNY MAUPIN, WARRIOR PRINCESS.
The next day, after preparing to hear that she was going to die, Julie got a message from the King that essentially said, “You’re pretty that thing you did was funny I like seeing people die I guess my no-dueling law can just apply to men.”
And Julie celebrated by moving to Brussels and becoming mistress to a goddamn Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and opera-ing on the side until she died in 1707.
Except I’m pretty sure she’s not dead because goddesses are immortal.