Friday, November 27, 2009

Queen Suriyothai

I am the Queen of Thailand, married to the king who reigned from 1549 to 1569. All consider me to be a heroine of Thailand, because I sacrificed my life while trying to save my husband during a battle.

My husband was famous for his white elephants. He had a number of them and according to Brahminic beliefs, a monarch who had one or more white elephant was a symbol of glory and success. My husband's reign was extremely successful.

He ascended to the throne in 1549. After just six months, he was challenged by the King of Burma to a war. The King of Burma had a personal grudge towards my husband and he wanted to capture the main city, Ayutthaya, which was the capital of Siam. During those days Thailand was called Siam.

The Siamese king could not let the challenge go and my husband led his army in defense of the capital. During those times women were not allowed to take part in wars. But I was concerned about my husband’s well being and I wanted to be at his side during the battle. However, the King would not hear of it so I disguised myself as a man and I joined my husband on the battlefield.

During the battle, my husband's elephant was killed and taking advantage of this mishap, the Burmese king tried to kill him.

I intercepted the attack, but I died in the bargain. When the Burmese King found out that he had killed me, a mere woman, he was extremely ashamed and immediately withdrew from the battle; leaving Ayutthaya to Siam.

All looked upon me as a heroine for sacrificing my life to save my husband’. To this day, I am venerated and revered in Thailand for my bravery.

Queen Suriyothai
16th Century

Fredegunde (550 - 597)

(Image courtesy of:  Kristin Forbes-Mullane.  Visit her art gallery at:

Originally a servant, I became mistress to the king of Neustria after persuading him to murder his first wife. But I was not satisfied to be a mere mistress. Because he was a king, he remarried, but remained his mistress. I waited patiently and when the time was right, I induced him to murder his second wife, too. Thus I became his third and last wife.

The murdered queen's sister, in revenge against my husband, began a feud
which lasted more than 40 years. Her brother, too, constantly feuded with my husband who had inherited the western portion of the Frankish lands, which came to be known as Neustria. The hatred between the two intensified.

When my husband's forces attacked Austrasia in 573, a desire for vengeance made the dear ex-brother-in-law vindictive, and in the fighting he overran Neustria. He was about to be proclaimed king of Neustria when I had him assassinated.

Murder came easy to me. I procured the deaths of my own stepchildren and made attempts on the lives of my husband's brother, the king of Burgundy, and my predecessor's sister.

After the mysterious assassination of my husband in 584, I seized his riches and took refuge in the cathedral at Paris. None could say for certain that his death came about by my own hand, and I shall never reveal the truth. My son was proclaimed heir, and I ruled as his regent. My reign was marked by war with rival parties for the throne and numerous murders I engineered.

I am remembered primarily as a figure of cruelty and intrigue.

Gregory of Tours depicts me as ruthlessly murderous and sadistically cruel; in his account, few can rival my monstrousness. Although I did not live to see it, my son's execution of my nemesis (the murdered queen's sister), bore the mark of my hatred for he had the sixty year old woman stretched in agony upon the rack for three entire days, then watched her meet her death chained between four horses that were goaded to the four points of the compass, tearing her body asunder.

I died on the 8th day of December 597 in Paris, France. My tomb is a mosaic figure of marble and copper, situated in Saint Denis Basilica, having come from St. Germain-des-Prés.

Legend says that I was proposed as one of many sources for the folk tale alternatively known as Cinderella, Aschenputtel, Cenerentola or Cendrillion.

It has also been said that I was jealous of my own daughter, who continually declared that she should be mistress instead of me because I began life as a palace maid, while she was of royal blood, being a king's daughter. I waited for my opportunity and under the pretense of magnanimity took her to the treasure-room and showed her the King's jewels in a large chest. Feigning fatigue, I exclaimed "I am weary; put thou in thy hand, and take out what thou mayest find." I thereupon forced down the lid on her neck and would have killed her had not the servants finally rushed to her aid.

(550 A.D. - 597 A.D)
Frankish Queen
Wife of King Chilperic I of Soissons - Neustria
Regent for her son Chlotar or Lothair II

Anna Pavlova (1881 - 1931)

To this very day, I am considered the most famous dancer in the world.

I was born on January 31, 1881 in St. Petersburg. My mother was a washerwoman and my father was a reserve soldier whom I never knew. From the time I was a very small child, after I attended a perforamnce of Sleeping Beauty, all I wanted was to become a dancer. Two years later, I entered an elite school for classical dancers. The school and its students were under the protection of the highest leader of the land, who was its benefactor. In return, the school expected the highest degree of physical and mental dedication.

But I was considered frail and thin, and even worse, unattractive. Regardless of these physical barriers, I was exceptionally supple and possessed beautiful arched insteps, critical to ballerinas. My love of the dance was exemplified in each step I danced. My talent soon came to the attention of a ballet master who became my most dedicated mentor.

My debut occurred on September 19, 1899. From the very first, I impressed everyone with my expressive abilities. My first tour began in 1907. After that, I was on tour for most of my career. It is said that I travelled over 400,000 miles and was seen by millions all over the world.

In February 1910, I made her first appearance in America at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Although the benefactor of my ballet company approved these early tours, I was forced to return home in the summer of 1914. I was in Germany enroute to London when war was declared on August 2, 1914. I found myself alone and without the protection of my benefactor.

Afterwards, from this time in my life until my death, I continued to make exhaustive, world-wide tours with my own international company. During the early war years, I was in America. In 1917 I travelled to South America. By 1919 I was in Bahia and Salvador. I returned to America in 1920 and in 1923 I took my company to Japan, China, India, Burma, and Egypt. South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand received me in 1926. I entertained British citizens during 1927-1928.

My signature dances were the Bacchanale and my eerily beautiful The Swan.

My popularity grew from my passion for ballet, my good humor, and self-discipline. When I wasn't dancing, which was a rare occasion, I spent my time at Ivy House in Hampstead, London, where I kept a menagerie of exotic birds and animals - including a pair of pet swans.

Victor Dandré, a fellow exile from my home country, was rumoured to be my husband, and if not my husband, definitely my lover.

After a lifetime of incessant performances, the illness of pleurisy claimed my life in The Hague on January 22, 1931. My last request was to have my Swan costume prepared and to, "Play that last measure softly."

Australia and New Zealand both claim they created the famous desert named in my honor. The Australians claim it originated from Chef Bert Sachse, the chef of Perth's Esplanade Hotel where I had once stayed. It is a sweet dessert made with a base of meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits.

Who Am I?

Anna Pavlova
12 February 1881 - 23 January 1931

Agnodice (300 B.C.)

I was born in 300 BC in ancient Greece, and in today's world, you know me only as a legend. Did I exist? Or did I not? I shall leave it to you to decide. Here is my story:

I was a noblewoman who dreamed of becoming a healer. More than anything, I wanted to practice medicine in an era when women were legally prohibited from the healing arts. The only way I could achieve my dream was to cut my hair and wear men's clothing. Encouraged by my father, I dressed thusly and soon become an avid student of the famous Alexandrian physician, Herophilus where I earned the highest marks.

After I finished my studies, as I walked the streets of Athens, I heard the screams of a woman in the throes of labor. I rushed to assist her. The woman, believing me to be a man, refused to allow me to touch her. Desperate to convince her otherwise, I lifted up my clothes and revealed that I was a woman. She allowed me to deliver her baby. Women everywhere soon flocked to me. To evade the authorities, I dressed as a man, not only during my studies but also whenever I practiced.

When my male colleagues discovered that requests for their services were dwindling, while mine were increasing, they accused me of seducing and raping the women patients.

I was subsequently arrested and charged. At my trial, the leading men of Athens condemned me. To save myself from the death penalty, I revealed I was really a woman. A crowd of my patients declared in front of the temple that if I were executed, they would die with me. The wives of the judges argued, "You are not spouses, but enemies since you are condemning her who discovered health for us."

Under pressure by the crowd, the judges acquitted me and allowed me to continue practicing medicine.

I continued to work mostly with women and have been credited with being one of the first women gynecologists in history.

Whether or not the legend of my life is true, it is a story which the world of medicine has long cherished.

B.C. 300

Mary Barrett Dyer (1611 - 1660)

I was married at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on 27 October 1633. In 1637 I supported Anne Hutchinson, who preached that God "spoke directly to individuals" rather than only through the clergy. I joined with her and became involved in what was called the "Antinomian heresy," where we organized groups of women and men to study the Bible in contravention of the theocratic law of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

On October 17, 1637, after nearly four years of marriage, I gave birth to a deformed stillborn baby, who I buried privately.

Because I had sided with Anne Hutchinson in the Antinomian heresy, my husband and I were banished. We settled in Providence, Rhode Island.

Shortly thereafter, the authorities learned of the “monstrous birth,” and Governor Winthrop had it exhumed in March 1638, before a large crowd. He described it thus:

“It was of ordinary bigness; it had a face, but no head, and the ears stood upon the shoulders and were like an ape’s; it had no forehead, but over the eyes four horns, hard and sharp; two of them were above one inch long, the other two shorter; the eyes standing out, and the mouth also; the nose hooked upward; all over the breast and back full of sharp pricks and scales, like a thornback [i.e., a skate or ray], the navel and all the belly, with the distinction of the sex, were where the back should be, and the back and hips before, where the belly should have been; behind, between the shoulders, it had two mouths, and in each of them a piece of red flesh sticking out; it had arms and legs as other children; but, instead of toes, it had on each foot three claws, like a young fowl, with sharp talons.”

Winthrop sent descriptions to numerous correspondents, and accounts were published in England in 1642 and 1644. The deformed birth was considered evidence of the heresies and errors of Antinomianism.

In 1652, we travelled to England, where I joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) after hearing the preaching of its founder and feeling that it was in agreement with the ideas that Anne Hutchinson and I held years earlier. I eventually became a Quaker preacher in my own right.

My husband returned to Rhode Island in 1652. I remained in England until 1657. The next year I travelled to Boston to protest the new law banning Quakers, and I was arrested and expelled from the colony. My husband, who had not become a Quaker, was not arrested.

I continued to travel in New England to preach Quakerism, and was arrested in 1658 in New Haven, Connecticut. After my release, I returned to Massachusetts to visit two English Quakers who had been arrested. I was also arrested and then permanently banished from the colony.

From there, I traveled to Massachusetts a third time with a group of Quakers to publicly defy the law, and was again arrested, but this time, I was sentenced to death.

After a short trial, two other Quakers were hanged, but because my husband was a friend of the Governor, he secured a last-minute reprieve, against my wishes, for I had refused to repent and disavow my Quaker faith.

I was forced to return to Rhode Island, then traveled to Long Island, New York to preach, but my conscience led me to return to Massachusetts in 1660 to defy the anti-Quaker law. Despite the pleas of my husband and family, I again refused to repent, and was again convicted and sentenced to death on May 31. The next day, I was hanged on Boston Common for the crime of being a Quaker in Massachusetts. I died a martyr.

My execution is described by Edward Burrough in A Declaration of the Sad and Great Persecution and Martyrdom of the People of God, called Quakers, in New-England, for the Worshipping of God (1661).

My last words before I died were: “Nay, I came to keep bloodguiltiness from you, desireing you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law made against the innocent servants of the Lord. Nay, man, I am not now to repent. ”

After my death a member of the General Court uttered one of those bitter scoffs which prove the truest of all epitaphs, "She did hang as a flag for others to take example by."

A bronze statue of me created by a Quaker sculptor now stands in front of the Massachusetts state capitol in Boston; a copy stands in front of the Friends Center in downtown Philadelphia, and another in front of Stout Meetinghouse at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

Mary Barrett Dyer
1611 – June 1, 1660

Love Letters - Voltaire to Olympe Dunover

Voltaire (1694-1778), a famous French author, wrote this love letter to his beloved Olympe Dunover while in prison. Why was he in prison? Because Olympe's mother and the French ambassador disapproved of their relationship, so poor Voltaire was thrown into prison to keep him away from the beautiful and beloved girlfriend. Shortly after he wrote this letter, Voltaire managed to escape by climbing out of the window.

The Hague 1713

I am a prisoner here in the name of the King; they can take my life, but not the love that I feel for you. Yes, my adorable mistress, to-night I shall see you, and if I had to put my head on the block to do it.

For heaven's sake, do not speak to me in such disastrous terms as you write; you must live and be cautious; beware of madame your mother as of your worst enemy. What do I say? Beware of everybody; trust no one; keep yourself in readiness, as soon as the moon is visible; I shall leave the hotel incognito, take a carriage or a chaise, we shall drive like the wind to Sheveningen; I shall take paper and ink with me; we shall write our letters.

If you love me, reassure yourself; and call all your strength and presence of mind to your aid; do not let your mother notice anything, try to have your pictures, and be assured that the menace of the greatest tortures will not prevent me to serve you. No, nothing has the power to part me from you; our love is based upon virtue, and will last as long as our lives. Adieu, there is nothing that I will not brave for your sake; you deserve much more than that. Adieu, my dear heart!

Most Viewed Posts