Picture a French dueler who kisses women at royal balls and kidnaps lovers from convents—no, it’s not The Three Musketeers, it’s Julie d’Aubigny, the coolest woman in history. Julie d’Aubigny, also known as Mademoiselle de Maupin, or Le Maupin for short, became famous for fighting duels and singing opera. She also dressed like a man, and her skills with the sword were so legendary that one time she had to rip off her shirt to prove she was a woman.
La Maupin was one of many women who disguised themselves as men, and her fencing skills shocked France, just like women war heroes broke the mold. And Julie was not the only cross-dressing seventeenth-century lesbian—but like Catalina de Erauso, La Maupin also found herself in hot water after kissing too many women.
In her brief career on stage, La Maupin stunned audiences with her singing, but the real scandals happened off-stage, like when La Maupin burned down a convent or stabbed a nobleman and then became his lover. How did La Maupin get away with dueling and kissing her way across Europe? Hint: it might have to do with radishes.