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Emancipated Duel (Part One)

In this episode, I explore an iconic duel, its main players…and whether or not it ever really happened. Expect scandalousness, queerness, Opera, fashion, flowers…and SWORDS.

Transcript 

Hello and welcome. To Bustles and Broadswords. This is a podcast about women with swords throughout history, fiction and the blurry territory in between. I’m your sword-wielding and storytelling host, Claire Mead. Bringing you a story today which I have always found…titillating.

It’s 1892 on the borders of Liechtenstein. A quiet country scene in the midst of Summer is disrupted by new sounds, new voices…and rising tension amidst the dry heat. As a Princess faces a Countess, both of their blades drawn. The rapiers glint in the August sun. By the end, one of them will have drawn first blood – and signalled a winner. The witnesses are present to account for this – women dressed in the latest fashions, looking on with a mix of anxiety and anticipation. The surgeon is as well – as she prepares her material, grimly predicting having to tend to one wound – at the very least. But while a few more people are present – they are not witnesses. How can we tell? Well – they are not women.
The only men present have detached themselves from this situation the best they possibly can. In fact, they turn their backs to the scene, following their employers’ orders. And there’s a clear reason for this. Four reasons, in fact. Assuming, of course, that both Princess and Countess had two sets of nipples each. Because in this scenario both pairs were bared in dangerous proximity to sharp sword points. To any passer-by glimpsing a peek at the two women, stripped down at the waist amidst their clothed peers, something would quickly become clear. This wasn’t a major wardrobe malfunction. And it wasn’t a scandalous bout of forgetfulness. It was this duel’s condition.
And this image as it travelled around the world seared itself in the minds of those who weren’t there to witness it in the flesh.

Because the story of this Topless Duel caused a scandal at the time whose repercussions live on in Internet legend today. It inspired countless imitators, as paintings and photographs considered combining swords with usually censored bits. And it remains the most infamous duel amongst damsels…that may have never happened. There’s a lot to unpack. A story veering between fact and fiction. At least four uncovered nipples. With, at the heart of it all, a woman who had a clear idea of the way her story would be immortalized…and lost control of the narrative.
And of what parts of her story would be revealed…and concealed, in the double edged sword of her legacy, from Opera and fashion to…drama and various states of undress. So let’s uncover…a little bit more. This is the fabric-lacking and perhaps fabricated yet still fascinating legend of…the First Emancipated Duel.

Now I got your attention, I know…I know how much you want us to stay at the nipples and blades convention we started with. I mean WHAT exactly is going on and how did we get there? But to answer that we have to backtrack a little. Add a few layers…back on. And hop into a horse-drawn carriage. Because we’re leaving rural Liechstenstein for the cobbled streets of Paris in the 1860s. Three decades before our fateful undressed duel. It’s well past midnight and the city of lights has fallen asleep…for the most part. The windows of the Austrian Embassy still shine into the night. And if you found a way to sneak your way in, you’d encounter the smell of cigars and the sound of raunchy songs that wouldn’t feel out of place at a gentlemen’s club. But instead, in a murmur of taffeta, you find yourself amongst women. And not just any women – the high society of Paris, the hoity toity upper class letting loose for an evening.

And in the crowd, you spot her. It’s difficult…not to. She’s waving a cigar around for emphasis as she shares the latest gossip with a loud, booming voice. As the puff of smoke she’s just exhaled clears, you see a tall, athletic silhouette. And a face you may have already seen occupying the best seats at the Opera. Unless you’ve first seen it formed by the brushstrokes of a portrait by a famous artist. The pride glinting in her eyes tells you this spark of recognition isn’t new to her. She’s used to having her reputation precede her.

Because this is Countess Pauline Sándor de Szlavnicza. At least this was the title she inherited from the Hungarian noble family she was born in. At that moment she would have been known under her married name, whose new title marked her as part of the Austrian nobility – Princess Pauline von Metternich.

This…is her after-midnight ladies’ cigar smoking club. Highlighting one of her favourite hobbies after shooting pheasant on horseback – a habit she acquired from her father. Who was such a fan of horse riding he was known throughout the Austrian Empire at the time for being a “furious rider” who once drove his carriage up the marble staircase of the imperial palace in Prague, and was also known for casually jumping into the river Moldau on horseback. Because the 19th century nobility apparently had no chill. And this was their way of being unbearably quirky while being obscenely privileged.

And thankfully for us and our entertainment right here and right now, Pauline Sandor is cut of the same cloth – a brash, cigar-smoking sportswoman, described as a sharpshooter and fearless rider even though she was raised with her much more sensible (and boring) mother’s family, the von Metternichs. But if you’re wondering why her mother’s family name is also her married name…well…about that.

A heads up for incest. Yep…we’re starting strong.

Pauline essentially marries her uncle – Richard von Metternich. The Austrian half-brother of her mother from a first marriage. Not that that really makes it any less weird.

And I’m sure Pauline’s uncle-husband Richard lived a somewhat interesting life as an Austrian diplomat. But this isn’t a podcast about diplomats. I mean. Not unless you believe swordfighting is a very brutal form of diplomacy. His main purpose in this story is being the reason Pauline is living it up in the high society of Europe. While he’s doing his diplomatic thing, she’s following him around the Continent, from Vienna to Paris via Dresden, throwing wild balls and sharing intense gossip in doing so. This includes his stint as Austrian ambassador in France, at the court of the Emperor Napoleon III. Which brings us here, now, in the 1860s.

And leads to a passage in Pauline’s memoirs which, frankly, I have no heterosexual explanation for.

“I was subjugated, as much by her grace, her kindness, than her stunning beauty. Her features were incredibly delicate, her gaze tender and intelligent, her nose, lips, the oval of her face, the shape of her head, her neck, her shoulders formed with rare perfection, her teeth so neat and beautiful, her smile…delightful. (…) But what surpassed her true beauty was her grace beyond comparison, with each of her movements so refined you could have painted her in any pose…”

In Pauline’s memoirs, these extracts flow with admiration and fascination. As she goes on to describe an encounter that gave her the impression they’d both known one another for years and years even though they’d met seconds ago for the first time.

And I’m left wondering…did our Princess have a massive crush on the last Empress of the French?

Because the woman she is describing is Eugénie de Montijo, whose husband is Napoleon III – making her Empress Eugénie under France’s Second Empire at the time. (Because, in France we’ve had a monarchy, a couple Empires and we’re now on our fifth Republic. It’s a whole chaotic mess). The passionate horse rider and sportswoman may have found common ground with Pauline. Who became one of her closest friends.

Pauline devotes a lot of space in her memoirs to Eugénie’s beauty and the vivid memories she has of her. Like the time they go on a picnic in the mountains and Eugénie erupts into spontaneous dancing. Or the time Eugénie is convinced a trip on a ramshackle boat with a bunch of ladies is a great idea. To great comedic effect when they all end up projectile vomiting their lunches. If you wanted a top ten of the Empress’s quirkiest moments, Pauline could deliver.

Whether this was friendship or something else beneath the surface is obviously unknown.

On Eugénie’s end…we know she reportedly found sex with her emperor husband disgusting and surrounded herself with twelve ladies in waiting after she got married. As you do. And we know that Pauline’s wedding to Richard, while stable, was operated with a clear awareness he was messing around with actresses and opera singers. In return he expressed no concern about her midnight cigar smoking with the ladies.

Neither the dozen ladies nor the cigar-smoking club mean anything on their own. But they are glimpses into a possible queer story which, if it existed, would not have been documented. Not even by its main protagonists. And certainly not in an official memoir by a reputable lady. So all we can do in the face of uncertainty is interpret and sometimes wonder. IS there a heterosexual explanation to any of this? This is the same episode in which we are exploring topless fencing between two women. It’s worth considering the non-straight scenario…for a hot minute.

All we know is that a decade between the moment they met and the fall of the Second Empire in 1870 is recounted in snippets that hint at the formidable Pauline’s influence and free-spirited nature. And how this maybe allowed Eugénie to let loose a little. Little things – like stories of wearing trousers for climbing or hiking and riding recklessly into the fields.

And bigger little things.

Like a recounted story of the moment the Empress muses with curiosity about what Paris must look like…say, from the top of an omnibus. Pauline looks at her with what I can only guess is a mischievous smile. And later on, two silhouettes slip out of the royal Palace into the night, and meander through the noisy, bustling city. They walk past the cabarets and cafés referenced so often in the racy songs of Pauline’s midnight cigar club. The cafés where women from all walks of life have started to form their own spaces to socialise, organise and sometimes…fall in love. They move past the operas and concert halls where the audience knows them under other disguises – and where they both dictate the latest fashions.

They make it to the top of the omnibus and steal a complicit glance, the nervousness and thrill of a caper though Paris in men’s clothes. At that moment, Eugènie and Pauline didn’t know what was to come. They didn’t know that a decade later, they’d be making rushed goodbyes as the Empress went into exile and her Empire collapsed. And that Pauline would do her one last little upper class gal pal favour. Smuggling her jewels into a bag to London for her.

But for now, here they both were on top of that omnibus – or here they weren’t. This story has something of a fairytale vibe to it. But it does capture a lot of what Pauline could do, would do – and would get away with. All of this under the guise of being eccentric, high-spirited and not quite the dainty, young and beautiful noblewoman people expected her to be.

In fact – quite the contrary.

It’s a regular night at the opera. Intrigue. Drama. Back stabbing.

And that’s only what happening off stage.

Where everyone is focused on who’s turning up, who they’re with and …what they’re wearing. Which is why a few of those fancy little binoculars may have dropped – as well as a few jaws – when Pauline turns up. With a cocky little smile.

And a new outfit.

Because Pauline didn’t end up the central subject of a topless duel at age fifty by being forgettable. Or by not knowing how to brand herself. As a ruthless taste-maker who described herself as “a fashionable monkey” and whom others called the “beautiful ugly one”, Pauline would openly admit she wasn’t beautiful – but she didn’t give a damn. Instead of being ashamed of it – she wore it as a badge of honour, summed up in one of her iconic one liners:

“I’m not pretty, I’m worse.”

Pauline’s attitude? Anybody can do pretty. But it takes guts to be worse than pretty – insufferably chic. And kind of a freak. And as we know – le freak, c’est chic. Her story with Eugénie is an alliance. But noble circles are battlegrounds for her to attack, provoke, influence and thrive long before she possibly found herself with a blade in her hand.

And that very evening, with a single dress, in the language of fashion and performing for the main stage of the Opera’s who’s who and gossip…she’s going for the jugular. At the time, European high society fashion involved a lot of crinoline – a structured petticoat to hold out a skirt which would make them take up a lot of space. Pauline disliked this floofy, voluminous frilliness. In fact she enjoyed describing the women of the time as waxworks – immobile, bogged down by excessive layers of clothing they couldn’t move around in. And so that evening, Pauline, true to her reputation, is wearing not a puff-pastry crinoline, but a tight dress with a long train. This was the fuseau or spindle dress. And Pauline wearing it, as well as the person who designed it, were about to change fashion forever. And contribute to the early beginnings of haute couture.

And that person is definitely…worth talking about.

Because English designer Charles Worth, arriving in Paris with barely five pounds to his name, soon gets noticed by Pauline for his innovative silhouettes – after she gets over her fear of being dressed by an Englishman. Give her some slack – she’s a Parisian. And as soon as Eugénie sees her confidante in one of his creations, a stunning and again, tighter fitting white and silver number, she must have one for herself. And so must the rest of Paris. Now there are several queer readings of Charles Worth. But they go beyond the idea of his identity alone. Instead, they look at the culture of fashion he constructed – a world in which men could express masculinity and creativity in different ways. Who swapped a world of bravado and performative strength for a world of silk and careful tailoring. His practice also introduces a new kind of relationship between the couturier and his model – through friendship and collaboration, mutual respect and inspiration.

Charles and Pauline, for decades, cultivate a creative relationship – despite Worth’s slightly catty, caustic attitude towards her and the numerous other women he receives in his house. They tease one another with affection. And they both claim one “made” the other – either by contributing to their fame or by creating an iconic look. Though given that the original discovery may have occurred when Worth’s wife asked Pauline’s maid to show her the fashion engravings, it’s worth questioning who gets left out of these narratives of discovery in the first place.

And this fashion influencing with an innovative flair is not happening in a vacuum either. In the midst of all of this, Pauline is throwing the wildest, most extravagant parties you have ever seen. She’s transforming entire gardens into bizarre, shiny ballrooms. And as one of her bemused guests says:”lighting up trees, houses and people by Bengal fires, thus giving the scene the appearance now of a veritable Eden, and anon the aspect of the realm of Lucifer.” Pauline can literally send you to Heaven or Hell in the space of a party. And…she can cause a riot.

Because it’s 1861 and we’re at back at the opera – the Paris Opera. The music swells. Pauline is so hyped about at this new show by this promising young composer she discovered that she can’t contain herself. And promptly breaks her fan with excitement.

I know. Oh, my. Calm down, Pauline.

But she’s not the only one getting agitated – as boos and whistles shoot up in the crowd. Because the opera had disobeyed a crucial rule in French opera conventions and it had included a ballet in the first act instead of the second act.

But I mean, really…who cares?

Well, the angry members of the Jockey Club cared. This was a club of old crusty aristocrats who…heads up for the mention of what were very likely underage relationships…had most of their young mistresses taking part in the ballet act. This was in a context in which many ballerinas were very poorly paid or unpaid and relied on rich patrons for income. This meant the club would have missed the ballet as they always drunkenly turned up after the interval…way after any act 1. And these men believed very strongly about their right to ogle and objectify women while drunk. So naturally on the opening night they finally make an effort to turn up on time…but only to heckle and boo the entire performance. And because this is France and we are are generally petty as hell, other people with no idea about what they were actually booing join in on the heckling. But Pauline stands by her decision and her taste-making.

Because the opera Pauline had pulled strings with the Emperor himself to show at the Paris Opera was Tannhauser. By a certain humble, niche composer she’d discovered called Richard Wagner. You know. The [Ride of the Valkyries tune] guy. Yes. Well. Big deal right? And a bittersweet moment. This was the very first time Wagner was being given a chance in France, thanks to Pauline’s influence. But due to the fuss, the opera was shut down after its third night as protests continued. And it wouldn’t be performed in France again for another two decades. Pauline, however, again, did not give a damn about what anyone in France thought and continued to support Wagner, helping him rise to fame. And this wasn’t a one-off. She championed many other composers’ careers, and formed an artistic crowd around her. Becoming a respected taste-maker of music and opera.

And when she didn’t find an opera to showcase a piece she liked – she’d do it from home. More specifically, within her salon. Essentially regular get-togethers that were held in upper-class people’s living rooms to showcase literature, music and theatre. Also the best places to swap all the gossip. One of these salon operas performances had her stage directing an abridged version of Wagner’s massive four-part, 17-hour long opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung. Not only that but she also played a singing role. I’d like to think it was the role of the warrior woman, spear-wielding Valkyrie Wagner’s opera is most known for. The one with the [Ride of the Valkyries tune]. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

In any case, it’s one of many examples of Pauline’s love of the stage – as an amateur actress, singer and dancer. As well as someone who liked to put on a show and be the centre of attention. And in fact, this, combined with her sense of showmanship and flamboyance mingled with chic and a good dose of pride…would lead to the story she is now most known for.

Because we’re now in the 1880s in the streets of Vienna – where another kind of show is taking place. Horse drawn carriages, beautiful outfits and…flowers. Flowers everywhere, Dripping from these extravagant displays, as far as the eye can see.

Because when Pauline eventually made her way back to the Austrian city, a decade prior, she wasn’t ready to hang up her party planning hat just yet. In fact her events just got even weirder as she proceeded to create what…I can only describe as the first festival floats, with her “fiacre festivals”. These involved all of the high society of Vienna riding around town on richly decorated carriages because you know, they were bored and people were obviously starved for entertainment. And they had names like “The Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival” which is innocent enough but also… “The Spring Festival in a Futuristic Village” and…”The Mars Festival”. Which can only be described as Pauline’s Japan-obsessed and science-fiction obsessed phases respectively. So 10 years later she’s still going strong. And then she goes “hey everyone – why don’t we organise a big banger of a Flower Parade?”

Okay, I mean “big banger” is my addition but I think the general sentiment was there.

So in 1886 this involved – you guessed it – MORE decorated carriages parading around Vienna. But obscene amount of flowers edition. And to this day, it’s still going on. So I think it’s safe to say that Pauline was kind of all about her event planning expertise. With a specific obsession around flowers. They were the symbol of her ongoing legacy and her contribution to Vienna’s end of century splendour.

And by that time, at 56 years old, she’s still an incredibly influential tastemaker who knows a huge amount about music, who was still supporting Wagner’s career and had shaped him into a big deal on the opera scene. And that was alongside a range of other composers as well. So it’s fair to say she’s not willing to have many people question her authority on at least three things. Event planning, music, and flowers. Which means we’re approaching our perfect storm. Our perfect musical flowery party storm.

But the skies still seem clear as Pauline volunteers at the Music & Theatrical Exhibition in 1892. This was originally going to be a modest little affair. But Pauline is like “Hell no. Do you know who I am? My parties in Paris shocked the breeches off the elite. I single handedly put the last Empress of the French in a tight fitting dress. I made the French aristocracy lose their sexist little minds at the Opera. We’re going big or we’re going home.”

And in doing so she completely transforms a small exhibition of Austrian music – into a major, impactful show with international reach. She also includes theatre where there was once only music. Because of Pauline, operas like Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana are shown at the Exhibition. Successfully this time. Or at least without riots. And, as the Honorary President of the Ladies’ Committee, Pauline is basking in the glory. And won’t take no for an answer.

At this stage she is glorious, respected…but also feared. This is a woman who is scared of no-one. So much so that she is openly dislikes the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Much to everyone’s ongoing entertainment gossip wise.

And that’s when the storm clouds start forming. Or maybe the air was already…crackling with electricity for a while. Just waiting for the right person to make sparks fly.

Because a young firebrand steps onto the scene.

In a flurry of event planning and flower drama.

And this is the President of the Ladies’ Committee for the Music & Theatrical Exhibition…Anastasia Lebedevna von Lebedeff or as she was known at the time, Countess Anastasia Kielmannsegg. Of which we know…honestly…not much at all. All we have are a few snippets of her story…that do at least reveal one thing. And that is that she couldn’t have been a better foil to Princess von Metternich if she tried.

First off, she’s young, in her 20s by the time the Exhibition rolls around – and a beautiful brunette. With looks that could have maybe prompted lavish memoir entries from Pauline in…other circumstances. She is a member of the Russian nobility and married the Austrian statesman Count Erich Kielmannsegg who at the time would have been governing lower Austria.

But probably most threatening of all for Pauline, was Anastasia’s ability to also throw a sick party. The Countess was a rising star – and maybe Pauline knew, deep down, that her own star was slowly fading. Not due to lack of beauty or youth which she’d never really wanted or made a part of her image. But due to the inevitable change in fashion and taste. Countess is described as ambitious and full of energy – especially facing the Princess who had started to run out of steam for…a range of reasons. One of these may have been the murder of her own daughter. Maybe just one extra reason she may have felt like a raw, exposed nerve…facing a rival young enough to be her child.

And so on a fateful day, the President and Honorary President of the Ladies’ Committee…clash. Now I assume most of these clashes were good humoured verbal jabs. It’s all fists of steel in gloves of velvet. But then the Countess takes it up a notch in terms of passive-aggressive aristocratic behaviour. She goes “hey uh so those flower arrangements you really care about for this Exhibition that capture your whole brand in Vienna as the inventor of the iconic Flower Parade…let’s do them differently.” Or words to that effect. Yes, the root cause of the disagreement is…flowers. The assumption is that the Princess wanted a big and bold display that would link in with her pre-existing flower parade legacy and…that the Countess wanted something different. We don’t really know.

But suffice it to say that Pauline responded with what I can only imagine is the Austrian upper class version of…“bite me.” And she reveals another side to her that lies barely dormant. The Sandor, reckless riding, sharpshooting, daredevil side, As she faces up against the Countess…she stares her down. “Oh, you don’t like my flower arrangements? Fight me.” Literally. Because our Flower Princess can beat your ass in a fight.

You will like her flower arrangements…or perish.

But wait – are they really doing this?

Fighting over…flowers?

I’m going to be honest with you. This isn’t the most unplausible part of this legend.

Firstly. Escalating things massively because of a tiny disagreement being unrealistic?

Have you SEEN the Internet?

But seriously though. Or…more seriously. Semi-seriously.

It’s part of this story’s appeal for many – the so-called feminine frivolity of women’s disputes over flowers…contrasting with sword-based violence. But it’s also often framed with some amused disdain. “Oh these silly women! Fighting over flowers! How frivolous! How petty!” And that disdain is steeped with a certain sexism that seems to imply that…of course women would fight over flowers. Petty precious little things that we are.

As if men duelling in 19th century Europe were doing so for high-level, lofty ideals immortalised in modern-day knightly accounts. Sorry to disappoint but just as our idea of medieval knights and their chivalry is completely fictionalised and romanticized…so is the idea of most duels fought for the most serious, lofty, noble reasons.

If gender equality and duelling in history can ever truly be attained, it can be by admitting this: whatever your gender, if you were duelling someone else in the 19th century in a civilian, non war-time context…like, literally pulling out your sword to stick it into someone else until a little bit of blood spurted out or one of you fainted…you were 99% of the time doing it for a really petty reason.

Sure, “honour” is often stated as the reason. But what that equated to in practice in the 19th century was not so much a sacred oath to restore your integrity by capturing the Avatar. And…more so a verbal insult, not appreciating a review of your book, and someone taking your hat instead of theirs…and no, reading through these records…I cannot tell if some of these are fake or not. That’s how ridiculous some of them really are.

But just in case, you should probably leave a good review for this episode.

Otherwise I might just challenge you to a duel.

One encounter under Napoleon’s reign has a Colonel Barbier-Dufrai and Captain Raoul de Vere facing off. Why? Because Barbier-Dufrai had criticised de Vere’s…cockade. Wait, hang on…his…his…what? Oh…right…okay…his hat ribbon. That’s what that is. And how did they solve this terrible affront on Raoul’s honour or…cockade? By hopping on a moving carriage circling the place du Carousel in Paris and stabbing themselves with blades on this moving vehicle until one of them survived. Ironically…the guy who criticised the cockade is the one who survived, bringing the conversation about responding to trolls to a whole new level.

France also boasts a 19th century account of two men duelling one another from two hot air balloons – presumably using pistols and not very long swords. And why were those two, Monsieur de Grandpré and Monsieur de Pique, fighting? Because it turns out they’d been sleeping with the same woman. Which you know, is more severe than cockades but does it justify a death duel in the sky? Feels like they’re both just really full of…hot air. There are even rumours of a duel between Otto von Bismarck and the scientist Rudolf Virchow following one of them feeling insulted. Using…sausages. Wait, I can explain. Allegedly the scientist says “oh yeah, I’m being challenged by Bismarck eh? Well…” and he holds up two identical large sausages which he just had on his person apparently. He states that one of them is infected with deadly trichinae – the very thing he’s working to eradicate – and the other is healthy. And he offers Bismarck his choice of sausage to eat. It’s all very choosing the cup without poison in Princess Bride but make it 19th century Germany. With sausages. Except Bismarck didn’t even need to build up an immunity to infected sausages. His representatives, weirdly enough, refused and the duel gets called off.

Is this a true story? Uh…probably not. But honestly? It could be. That’s how ridiculous duels could be.

It’s also worth pointing out that these all feature men. There isn’t a shortage of women throughout history duelling their own gender or people of other genders for laughable reasons. And don’t worry. We’ll get to those stories. But in short, facing the idea that two women duelling for petty reasons was due to their status as women…I’m here to say – nah.

Damsels can duel for ridiculous reasons, gentlemen can grapple for silly purposes and non-binary people can nab people with blades for senseless motives.

No innate gendered pacifism or gendered violence here.

Historical humans are all chaotic fools running around with swords.

And I’m just here for the drama of it all.

So much drama in fact, that it couldn’t all be packed into one episode. So this episode…concludes part 1 of this story. Tune in next time for the duel itself, an unexpected additional unconventional lady and her unconventional weapon and some investigative journalism around pinup fencing debunking.

In the meantime, thank you so much for listening! And a big personal thanks to the people who have been following the podcast from its pre-reboot beginning, the people who have hyped me up and for people with whom I have done a lot of accountability of “I’m doing the thing!” Well now the thing is out and if you like the thing you can encourage me to make more episodes by leaving a nice review, sharing with your friends, sharing with your fencing club!

And in this new iteration of the podcast I also want to hear…your stories. And your questions! If you have a story about a swordlady, real or fictional, or maybe a bit of both that you’d like to tell me about…or ask questions about…write in at bustlesandbroadswords@gmail.com. In the meantime you can follow the podcast at @bustleswordpod on social media. And you can find me on most social media platforms trying to procrastinate from writing, narrating and producing this podcast at @carmineclaire.

Stay safe sword lady lovers and see you in a future episode!

Show Notes 

This episode took a lot of digging through old newspapers for a story that may not even be true! Here are a few sources below as well as some recommended further reading…And a bit of a sense of Pauline’s legacy as well as the emancipated duel’s legacy in art…I’d recommend having a look at these after enjoying Part Two of this story if you are wary of historical spoilers!

By Claire Mead

Independant curator and art historian. I did my BA Art History at Oxford University and my MA in Curating at the Courtauld. Now based in Paris, I write about art, undertake independant research and curate contemporary art exhibitions and projects.

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