The Bisexual Fencing Opera Singer From the 17th Century
Updated: Nov 1
Julie D'Aubigny was the daughter of one of France's great nobles. She lived in the Tuileries Palace where her father raised her with the same education the boys had (she even dressed as a boy), and taught her fencing, which she became proficient at by the age of twelve. By fourteen, she began an affair with her father's boss, Count D'Armanac. He found her a husband, who is said to have disappeared the day after the wedding.
Julie grew bored with Count D'Armanac and ran off with a fencing master. The pair performed in fencing competitions around France to earn money, while Julie continued to dress as a man. Julie was so good, no one believed she was a woman. At a tavern in Marseilles, she ripped off her blouse to prove her gender.
When young Julie grew bored with the fencing life, she became an opera singer. By seventeen, she was performing at the Paris Opera House. Her popularity soared, and she continued several sordid affairs.
She began a relationship with a merchants daughter. When the girl's parents sent her off to a convent, Julie decided to take matters into her own hands.
Julie allegedly broke into the convent and took the body of a recently deceased nun, set it on fire in her girlfriend's cell, creating so much chaos they were able to escape together. Julie was charged with abduction and arson, and sentenced to death, but the couple traveled together in secrecy for months. Besides, Julie had already been pardoned by the king twice by this point, so she carried on with her wild ways.
Her relationship eventually fizzled, so Julie traveled the country on her own, dressed as a man, performing duels to make ends meet. When one man in particular challenged her to a duel, she slashed him through the chest, felt bad for him, and brought him back to health while taking him as her lover.
At a society ball, Julie kissed a woman in front of the entire crowd, leaving everyone shocked. Three men were so horrified they challenged her to a duel. Of course, she beat them all. Not one at a time either, but as a group.
She ran off to Brussels where she became the lover of the Elector of Bavaria who felt she was a bit too much for him after she stabbed herself on stage with a real dagger. She returned to Versailles where she wreaked havoc at the court while performing opera, attacking her landlord, and threatening members of the nobility.
She returned to Brussels with the love of her life, Madame la Marquise de Florensac, a woman heavily sought after by the king. Sadly, that woman died two years into their relationship, and Julie grew so distraught she ended up in a convent, where she died at age 33.
Her life was short but she broke every rule and lived on her own terms, fearlessly.