Rejected Princesses
Women too awesome, awful, or offbeat for kids' movies.

Updated Wednesdays.

Boudica: the Headhunter Queen (20s?-60 AD)


At the height of its power, Rome once seriously considered giving up its British holdings entirely. The reason? Queen Boudica, whose brutal revenge spree made her the Roman bogeyman for generations. She killed 70,000 people, burnt London to the ground, established herself as the most famous headhunter of all time - and to this day, Britain loves her for it.

You can stop emailing me about her now. More after the cut.

NOG PRIZES 3-5: isaac41256, M Kerr, Aichon

Time for another round of Nog Prizes! (confused as to what this is? explanation here)

isaac41256 writes:

Did you draw out the nog price because if you did may I suggest on Athena’s shield instead of a owl head which has never been put on her shield(those were her earrings that were owls) having Athena’s shield aegis which had an imprint of Medusa’s head so that it is more accurate.

D’oh! You are correct. Fixed! Although the previous entries (one, two) still have the old owl shield. They’re vintage!

M Kerr writes:

By that description, your next entry must be ÉtaÍn, although I simply must object to your calling it a fairytale. “Tochmarc ÉtaÍne” is a part of the mythological history of Ireland that, among other things, lays connections between the displaced Tuatha Dé Danann and the invading Sons of Míl. I’m sure it was not intentional, but referring to the story as a fairytale (connoting total fantasy) instead of a part of a larger mythological cycle (connoting pseudo-history) can be considered offensive.

Not only did M Kerr figure out from the previous week’s hint that I was talking about Etain, and not only helped correct my terminology around the entry, but also furnished an incredible amount of doctorate-level information about Etain and Irish mythology. The post is a lot more thorough thanks to the information provided — so thank you!

Aichon writes:

"You sure about that Cyrus = Xerxes thing? Cyrus the Great was indeed the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, but Xerxes the Great (a.k.a. Xerxes I) was his grandson by Cyrus’ daughter, Atossa, and Darius the Great (a.k.a. Darius I), and was also the one who showed up in that horrible 300 film. ;)

D’ahh, you’re right! I was low on sleep, I have no idea how, in the Tomyris entry, I’d conflated Xerxes and Cyrus — other than they kind of sound similar, they were related to one another, and ruled around the same time in the same place. Still, my bad! I corrected the entry before it was up for very long, but that was a dumb error on my part.

I’ll have another Nog Prize to give out soon, but that will require a bit more of a writeup.

La Jaguarina: Queen of the Sword (1859 or 1864-?)


In April 1896, hardened military veteran US Sergeant Charles Walsh, in front of a crowd of 4,000 onlookers, turned tail and ran. Mere minutes earlier, during a round of equestrian fencing, he’d been hit so hard he’d been nearly knocked off his horse – so hard that his opponent’s sword was permanently bent backwards in a U shape. In response, Walsh did the honorable thing: jumped from his horse, claimed that the judge was cheating, and fled the scene, to the jeers of the massive crowd.

His opponent? A woman known as La Jaguarina, Queen of the Sword – an undefeated sword master who later retired only because she ran out of people to fight. Had she born 25 years later, according to the US Fencing Fall of Fame, she might be recognized as “the world’s first great woman fencer.” This week we tell the tale of this largely-forgotten heroine.

Hello NPR!

I was glad to have been on NPR’s All Things Considered for an interview, so I thought I’d put out a landing post for those of you who found your way here.

If you’d like to follow the project, you have options:

  • There is a Facebook Page!
  • I have a Twitter!
  • There is a mailing list! (this is mostly for announcement on a potential book — haven’t posted to it at all yet, actually!)
  • Of course, the page you’re looking at is a Tumblr.
  • And if you want to email me, you can do so at

I update every Wednesday, so you can always come back here as well.

As for the entries mentioned in the story, here’s some quick links:

  • Noor Inayat Khan, the amazing WW2 radio operator mentioned in the segment after mine.
  • Julie d’Aubigny, the larger-than-life convent-burning opera singer.
  • Osh-Tisch, the Native American two spirit whose name means “Finds Them and Kills Them.”
  • Elizabeth Bathory, possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history. I make the case that she was basically framed, which is a bit of a controversial stance.
  • Petra Herrera, the soldadera who led a squadron of hundreds of women in the Mexican Revolution.
  • And, of course, Mariya Oktyabrskaya, the Russian tank commander, and her tank, Fighting Girlfriend.

Thanks for visiting! If you like the project, please help spread the word.

Tomyris: the Promise-Keeper (6th century BCE)


This week we celebrate Tomyris, a woman who was legendary 500 years before the birth of Jesus. When the aggressive ruler of the world’s largest empire set his eyes on her country, she: turned down his marriage proposal, crushed his armies, and defiled his decapitated head in a manner so humiliating she was a household name for centuries. More on this incredible woman after the break.

Ching Shih: Princess of the Chinese Seas (1775-1844)


In 1809, the Chinese government sprang a trap. They were gunning for a group who’d taken control of its southern waters, the Red Flag pirate fleet. Blockading them in a bay, the authorities laid siege to the pirates for three straight weeks with an overwhelming amount of firepower. In the end, the Red Flags strode out through a graveyard of government ships, largely unscathed. At the head of the Red Flags stood one of the most fearsome pirates in history — Ching Shih, a former prostitute turned leader of over 70,000 men. More on her asskicking adventures after the cut.

Etain: the Shining One


This week I’ve got an offbeat one for you all. For your consideration I present Étaín, heroine of Irish mythology, who: spent her life being shunted around a ludicrous number of suitors; was transformed at various points into a worm, a butterfly, a swan, and a pool of water; and induced one of the strangest pregnancies since Jesus. Onward!

Noor Inayat Khan: the Spy Princess (1914-1944)


This week, we meet Noor Inayat Khan, one of the bravest women to ever live. She was a British secret agent during World War 2, working as a radio operator in occupied Paris. In fact, working as the ONLY radio operator in occupied Paris. The average lifespan for that job was 6 weeks, and she lasted almost 5 months. She escaped the Gestapo numerous times, and went out fighting. All this, even though everything about her work went against her basic pacifist nature. Read on for more about this phenomenal human being.

Nog Prize #2: thelandofmonsterscomics


Hi. I liked your Khutulun post, and your research is good. One thing you missed however that comes through majorly in the image is the nature of mongolian wrestling. Victory does not come with pinning your opponent, but throwing them to the ground. 


Victory in Bokh comes when your opponent touches the ground with any part of their body other than their feet.     

Eep! You are correct. Let’s just agree that Khutulun’s image takes place after her opponent took his defeat less than gracefully, and she had to forcibly subdue him. Good? Good.

Here is your prize, you smart cookie:


(click for high-res)

(confused about what this is all about? check out this entry for an explanation)

Julie d’Aubigny: Princess of the Opera (1670-1707)


This week we turn our attention to La Maupin, Julie d’Aubigny: sword-slinger, opera singer, and larger-than-life bisexual celebrity of 17th century France. Her life was a whirlwind of duels, seduction, graverobbing, and convent-burning so intense that she had to be pardoned by the king of France TWICE. Read on for more.