Welcome to part 2 in this series about female pirates of old. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that I only ever write about men being brutal and cruel to other men, but here’s evidence to the contrary, I also write about women being brutal and cruel to men. As a percentage, female pirates were a lot rarer, but they were out there and just as full on as their blokey counterparts.
Here’s a couple of tales from the high seas showing female pirates giving it the same gusto as the men folk. Let’s begin in 14th century France. Batten down the hatches and knock some weevils out of the biccies. Rum anyone?
THE LIONESS OF BRITTANY
Jeanne de Clisson was born Jeanne-Louise de Belleville, Dame de Montaiga in 1300. She became known as the Lioness of Brittany, and for good reason if the legend is to be believed.
As a 12 year old she married Geoffrey de ChÃ¢teaubriant (or just plain Geoff to his mates) and had a couple of kids, but he died only seven years into the marriage. In 1330 she remarried the even snazzierly named Olivier III de Clisson (or Oli to his pals). It seems they were very happy together and had five kids as proof. They were rich, he owned a castle, manor house and some land.
The Hundred Year War was just kicking off, the Lioness of Brittany’s husband Oli was backing the English favourite Jean de Monfort. To many Frenchies this seemed treasonous. Massive faux pas. Although Oli did help defend Brittany from the English in 1342, he had surrendered under suspicious circumstances and to some French nobles it looked a bit like he’d just thrown in the towel to make way for the English.
This suspicion ended in 1343 with Oli being tried for treason by Philip VI; he was found guilty and hung. His head was then lopped off and displayed on a post for the world to enjoy. Here’s a sculpture of him from his tomb, he looks very French doesn’t he?:
When Jeanne heard of the news she was rightly and unsurprisingly mega miffed. She took her sons, got together a band of loyal men and got on with some good old fashioned massacring of the nobility. French people don’t like being massacred any more than other nations, so it soon became too dangerous for her and her band on land, so she took to the seas.
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