Julie D’Aubigny: Opera Singer, Duelist, and lover of adventure – what more could I ask for in an eminent person?

Meet Madame de Maupin: a 17th- century bisexual opera star who could beat the greatest swordsmen in a duel. Born to a lower french aristocrat, she had a colorful childhood, learning to duel and ride. She was briefly engaged and met the King, but her fiance broke it off and sent her away to France, where she had a string of short affairs, including one with a murdering swordsmen, before happening to meet a young woman whom she quickly became enamored with. The woman’s parent’s decidedly did not approve and sent her to a convent. D’Aubigny promptly took the vows at the same convent and spent weeks coming up with an escape plan, before sneaking herself and her lover out and setting the convent on fire as a distraction. This affair ended months later when Julie became bored and left her lover. She escaped her trial for arson and spent the next few years travelling as an opera singer. Upon one such travel, one man made a derogatory comment of her and she instantly challenged him to a duel, which she won, stabbing him in the shoulder. Later, in apology, she stayed with him in the hospital and became his lover instead. She died at the age of 33.

There are many more fascinating tales about her, such as how she crashed the ball of king Louis, dressed in men’s clothing and flirted shamelessly with the ladies, beat 7 angry suitors in a duel and got pardoned because the laws against dueling only applied to men. How she defeated men while singing embarrassing songs about them and when people doubted her gender, ripping open her blouse so they could “see for themselves”.

Obviously, I cannot fully understand her point of view, her being a minor french noblewoman and me, as a middle class Canadian. We both, however, share the same sense of adventure and hate of boredom. Both us are bisexual, and understand that sometimes cutting your hair or wearing the wrong clothes won’t make it easier for people to like you. We both are loud, proud, and often overzealous about things we are very passionate about. She, however, was of course an extremely talented singer and swords woman, and I don’t see myself mastering either of those particularly soon.

No matter what, I am super pumped to learn more about her and her story, and the scandalous tales that lie in between.