The sourcing on this one is a bit of a mess – and likely at least partly apocryphal. In terms of English language sources, about the only thing is one page in Henry Francis Gribble’s Women in War (you can read it here). Gribble’s account appears to come from an 1866 French book by Alfred Tranchant and Jules Ladimir, who appear to be military historians (you can read it here). The story also pops up in an 1845 book that seems to be a riff of 1001 Arabian Nights, in an account of the downfall of Louis de Chalons written by Alfred de Bougy (read it here). Based off what I can translate (and I’m no French expert), these accounts have a couple extra details:
- Louis de Chalon’s forces killed her mother and father in the assault on their castle. Her father’s name was Georges de Bressieux.
- After the assault, she and the other women found refuge with the Baroness of Anjou (whom I think would have been Isabella of Lorraine, but I could be off on this)
- There, they get a bunch of weaponry and train in horseback riding and the arts of war.
- The flag was actually more ornate, I goofed on this: It had silver tears on it and bones of enemies strewn about, as well as the lanced orange and “Ainsi tu seras.”
- Their scarves were also white, not purple.
- The French sources name Ismidon of Primarette as one of the royal forces under Raoul de Gaucourt, saying he recognized his cousin as one of the twelve black knights.
- The twelve women set forth for battle alongside Raoul de Gaucourt’s forces on May 29, 1430.
- Throughout June of that year, the twelve women fought in several battles, acquitting themselves well on the field. These battles were at the castles of Pusignan, Aziz, Saint-Romain, and Colombier.
- Several prisoners were explicitly named in the capture of Autun: Thibault de Rougemont, Girard de Beauvoir, Lois de Couches, de Bussy, and Varembon.
- The battle of Autun was on June 11, 1430 (I believe), according to Mathieu Thomassin, one of Louis XI’s counselors.
- Marguerite died in the care of the nuns of Salettes. The other womens entered the order of the Salettes and became nuns.
I can’t find earlier references to her, and some readers have decried the whole story as “fake news” (ugh I hate that phrase), since seemingly nobody can find her grave. That’s all the info I have! Would welcome more from bilingual historians. I just think it’s a great story and I wanted to illustrate it.
UPDATE: Some historians chimed in with other sources, and it seems like this is a legend: see here for more!
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Next Time on Rejected Princesses
Still finishing up artwork on book two, which is taking awhile. Likely won’t hit this before late October. Here’s your hint:
Bound to get the site banned in China, this next entry celebrates the heroine of a mournful mountain.