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Over the years Disney has gotten a lot of grief for its "inaccurate even for a cartoon" interpretations of historical heroes like Mulan and Pocahontas and Lilo. And it's all just so unnecessary; history is full of royal women who kicked all kinds of ass.

Although some of these stories would have to be toned down a bit ...

5
Isabella, the She-Wolf of France

The Princess:

If you've seen Braveheart, you know this lady. It was her:


One hair-reduction treatment away from a gold bikini.

She was the French princess under the evil king and she, in the world according to Mel Gibson, had sex with ... you guessed it, Mel Gibson. But, in the real world, William Wallace was not only too damn dead to have fathered a kid with the woman, but Princess Isabella was so damn deadly that she eventually earned the nickname "She-Wolf of France" for all the new assholes she tore England.

Isabella began her life as a wealthy French princess, betrothed at the age of 12 to her very gay husband, Edward. And for a while there, Isabella played along as nicely as one could expect for the tween wife of a homosexual guy, even making an alliance with her husband's boyfriend. It wasn't until Edward got a new boyfriend that the shit hit the fan.

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Caption writers in the 14th century had a much tougher job.

It started when Edward, Isabella and their entourages were mucking around after a failed battle in Scotland, and Edward decided to split. With his army. While the Scottish army was heading in her direction. Before you knew it, Isabella was surrounded by hostile forces and it took a couple of her knights stealing boats to get her out of the jam. So, that was bad.

And then, on her return home she found Edward had confiscated her lands, taken over her house, put her staff in jail and given custody of her children to her political enemies.

Wikipedia
To be fair, her children were tiny-headed monsters.

The Badass:

Isabella went to France to regroup. And by "regroup" we mean raise a navy and an army and nab her own boyfriend, because why should Edward have all the fun? In 1326, Isa-rebella and her army sneaked over to England, where they were joined by multiple factions who were also pissed at Edward and his boyfriend, Hugh. Edward and Hugh saw the jig was up, so they fled. Within weeks they were both arrested and brought back to Isabella.

Wikipedia
"This ... is probably about the lack of sex, right?"

What happened next is up for debate. Hugh's dad, who was Edward's adviser and Isabella's main political enemy, was captured and sentenced to be dragged by a horse, hanged and decapitated. And he was the lucky one. Hugh himself was also dragged by a horse, hanged until mostly dead, disemboweled and then decapitated. His body parts were cut up and sent to towns all over England and his head was displayed on the London Bridge.

Wikipedia
We bet a lot more people would vote if shit like this happened in American politics.

Edward's disposal was a little more tricky. After all, he still had supporters, and Isabella's grip on the throne was pretty shaky. So she just locked him away. And then he "died." "Accidentally." A generation after Edward's death, an English historian named Geoffrey le Baker claimed the king was definitely murdered. Big deal, right? Lots of kings have been murdered. Not this way, though. According to Baker, who allegedly got the story from Edward's murderers, the king was stabbed with a red hot poker. In the rectum.

Wikipedia
The really cool stories never make it into the illuminated manuscripts.

Maybe this isn't the best story for Disney treatment after all.

4
Touch Princess Chiomara, Lose Your Head

The Princess:

Back in the days when Rome was conquering everything, they came across a tribe of people who were next in line to be conquered. The Romans captured a particularly beautiful tribal woman named Chiomara, who by the way was the wife of the chief.

At this point, a Roman centurion proceeded to violate her. You know what we mean when we say "violate," right? Of course you do, you're not stupid.

Wikipedia
Rape was only the third favorite thing for a Roman to do after mass murder and sex with 12-year-old boys.

Even in the ancient world rape was a pretty shameful affair, so her assailant tried to ease his guilt with a deal. He offered to send her home if somebody paid him a gold ransom, which is kind of like Jaws demanding Amity Island to pay it for the privilege of chomping down on residents.

The Badass:

Here's the scene: The tribe agrees to pay the gold. Chiomara's captor brings her to the designated drop-off to get his ransom from her tribesmen. While counting the gold, the chief's wife gives a little nod, or, according to one historian, gives a little chit chat in her native language. Whatever she did, it translated into "Cut his fucking head off" to her rescuers. And they did it.

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That casual attitude to decapitation explains why these litter our museums.

So, at this point, you'd think poor Chio's had enough. That she's been through some 'Nam style war trauma and she's probably ready to get back to her home and family and forget about the whole thing. But you'd be wrong. Head wrong.

That's because she picks up the bloody head of her Roman rapist and carries it in her dress all the way home. And upon seeing her husband, she throws the noggin at his feet like some kind of rapper dropping his mike, declaring, "Only one man who has lain with me shall remain alive."

Wikipedia
That's the sound of thousands of men desperately trying to recall all their ex-girlfriends.

Then they presumably had sex.

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3
Rani Lakshmi Bai Brings Her Toddler to War

incredible-women-of-history

The Princess:

Rani Lakshmi Bai had two things in common with most Disney princesses: a dead mother and spunk. Lakshmi Bai was born in India in 1835, and her dad worked for a prime minister, so she was raised in a royal setting. But unlike most princess types, Lakshmi Bai wasn't content to just learn needlework and curtsy etiquette. Instead, she spent her youth studying swordsmanship, archery and how to use guns, and also how to find the tightest yellow jumpsuits. Clearly this is all going to come into play later.

historyofrajput
Oh yeah, this is definitely a Rufus Wainwright moment.

Lakshmi Bai was married to her Prince Charming at age 12 (again -- yeah, it was a different time) and they adopted a son. But then her husband the raja died soon after. At this point a guy named Lord Jackass cited the Doctrine of Lapse as justification for seizing the rani's lands. According to the British government (who was occupying India at the time), the princess and her son weren't of royal blood, so the throne was empty.

Big mistake.

Wikipedia
Also a mistake was riding a toy pony and brandishing a pipe cleaner.

The Badass:

While emotionally recovering from the trauma of losing a husband while also still being a child herself, Rani Lakshmi Bai said "Fuck it" and became a freedom fighter. Her first move was to recruit an army that allowed lady soldiers. Next up, fighting the British! She took her role so seriously that she reportedly went into battle with her adopted son strapped to her back, presumably to drop him off at soccer practice after each fight.

badassoftheweek
Weirdly, he never got put in reserve.

Rani Lakshmi Bai, "the most dangerous of all the rebel leaders," was eventually killed during the Battle of Gwalior. According to a British report of the battle, she died "firing at the man" who had shot her in the back ... hopefully while Raja Jr. was at the babysitter's.

2
Princesses Chelidonis & Archidamia Were True Spartans

The Princesses:

Remember in high school, or for some of you, yesterday, when all it took to cement a ruined reputation was a single outrageous rumor? Usually one started by a glue sniffer who said they knew someone who knew someone who thought they saw so-and-so "doing it" with a janitor's dust broom? (In the butt?) Remember that? Sometimes reading the Greek historian Plutarch feels like someone took all those high school rumors and codified them in classy English leather. Keep that in mind as we tell you about the next two women.

think-differently-about-sheep
"I said it was the chair, but no one listened."

According to Plutarch, there was a decrepit old Spartan noble named Cleonymus, who, through luck and probably a lot of money, married the much younger Chelidonis (who was a lady, in case we had to make that clear). It should also be noted that Cleonymus was a bit of a bastard and everyone hated him. As often happens in these cases, Cleonymus ended up cuckolded when Chelidonis fell in love with her great-nephew. And, as cuckolded men often do, he left town and convinced a neighboring army to join him in his quest to exact his revenge on the couple/relations who wronged him.

Wikipedia
He stubbed his toe once, and sent ten thousand men to lay siege to the table.

Long story short, the guy Cleonymus invited to the revenge party was Pyrrhus, the same Pyrrhus that the phrase "pyrrhic victory" was named after. Pyrrhus and Old Man Cleo approached Sparta with 25,000 soldiers, 2,000 horses, 24 elephants and pages of angst-ridden poetry. So the Spartans gathered, took a vote and decided it was best if the women folk stayed out of the fray.

But Chelidonis and her buddy Princess Archidamia disagreed.

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We dunno, Hollywood told us woman's armor should have tassels or something.

The Badasses:

Princess Archidamia entered the senate "with a sword in her hand" and told them that they were all going to die unless Sparta's women took to the battlefield. She also served as captain to the Spartan women and put Spartan children to work, because this was Sparta, after all. As for Princess Chelidonis, she paced her bedroom with a noose tied around her neck so that her estranged husband would never take her alive.

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Later, she used it for less morbid things.

Thanks to Princess Archidamia's leadership and Princess Chelidonis' horniness, the Spartan women were able to hold off the invading armies long enough for Chelidonis' boyfriend to show up and assault Pyrrhus from the rear -- which was every bit as brutal in ancient Greece as it sounds.

mainlesson
Phyrrus, seen here either dying or achieving orgasm. It's hard to tell with ancient Greeks.

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1
Princess Zhao of Pingyang Earns Her Title the Hard Way

The Princess:

Technically, Princess Pingyang didn't start out as a princess. She was the married daughter of a governor living in China in the 600s during the Sui Dynasty. It just so happened, however, that the Sui Dynasty had about as much control over China as a sick dog has over its bowels, so her dad decided it was time to get his rebellion on. The bad news was that he was out in the boonies, and Pingyang and her husband were a stone's throw from the palace. So, like any good father fixing to take on an empire, he warned his family before they became enemies of the state. At this point Pingyang and her husband must have had a difficult conversation:

Husband: We have to escape. Your father needs us.
Pingyang: You go ahead, I'll be right behind you.
Husband: OK!

cultural-china
We can't tell if her father was incredibly wise or slightly constipated.

Which was exactly what happened. The husband took off to join the rebel army and Pingyang moseyed out of Sui town like she had all the time in the world. Except, not really.

cultural-china
"You're in serious danger of losing your trust fund if you don't get moving."

The Badass:

On the way, the future princess sold her family estate, using the money earned to raise an army to join the rebellion. Tens of thousands of otherwise warring rebel forces joined her to support her father until she eventually commanded an army 70,000 strong, which Pingyang personally led to numerous victories. Also, once Emperor Yang found out that her strict no raping/pillaging policy was winning over his people, he sent an army of his own to engage the "Army of the Lady." Pingyang didn't just defeat the Sui army sent to kill her, she fucking routed them.

chinahighlights
Routed them hilariously.

By the time her father defeated the Sui and became emperor of the newly minted Tang Dynasty, Pingyang was no older than 20. Her father, easily the proudest dad in all of China, commemorated her with a military parade fit for a general, the honorific "zhao" -- an ancient Chinese word for "Jedi Master" -- and, as a final gift, the title "princess."

thinkquest
She achieved every girl's dream, and none of it required singing to any damn bluebirds.

To learn more about princes and princesses in a wholly Machiavellian sense, pick up a copy of Jacopo's book "Go @#$% Yourself!" -- An Ungentlemanly Disagreement, by Filippo Argenti, available in paperback and DRM-free on Kindle.

For ancient badasses, check out The 5 Biggest Badass Popes and 5 Nuns Who Could Kick Your Ass.

And stop by LinkSTORM to see the Disney Princess Battle Royale.

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