Infamous Femmes Fatales Throughout History


It's day 2 of Femme Fatale Week on Va-Voom Vintage and today we're talking about real life deadly dames.
These are my top 5 favorite historical Femmes Fatales...


Queen of Egypt who married her brother and then seduced Julius Caesar to give her aid in leading a revolt against her brother. She gave birth to his son just 10 months after they first met (what a vixen!). After the death of Caesar, She took Marc Antony as her lover and persuaded him to execute her sister (who took sanctuary at a Roman temple)so that she would not lose her power over the Egyptian throne. Antony broke Roman law and executed the teenage Arsinoe on the steps of the temple. Modern science has concluded that Cleopatra was not a beauty but she had plenty of charm, intelligence, power and appeal to win over two of history's most powerful men.
Eleanor of Aquitaine

One of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages, Duchess of Aquitaine (at age 15), Queen of France, Queen of England and mother of Richard the Lionheart. In her younger years, Eleanor has the best of everything. She was skilled in several languages, literature, music and evening hunting. After the death of her parents, she was married and became Queen of France. It is said that even as a young woman (and a Queen) she dressed and spoke as she pleased. Gervase of Canterbury described her much later as "an exceedingly shrewd and clever woman, born of noble stock, but unstable and flighty." When she was in her early 50's, Eleanor and her 3 sons revolted against the King. She disguised herself as a man and tried to escape to France but she was captured and imprisoned for 16 years. Throughout her life, Eleanor went on crusades, built her empire and even founded the "Court of Love" where ladies with love problems could come to her and she would determine the best course of action for them.

Lucrezia Borgia

The beautiful Italian Renaissance femme fatale. The illegitimate daughter of Roderigo Borgia who later became Pope Alexander VI. "She is described as having heavy blonde hair which fell past her knees, a beautiful complexion, hazel eyes which constantly changed colour, a full, high bosom, and a natural grace which made her appear to "walk on air". Lucrezia's life was full of scandal and sex. She was married 3 times to very powerful men: Giovanni Sforza ,Alfonso of Aragon and Alfonso d'Este. She had many affairs with various men, including her bi-sexual brother in law and it is rumored that her first child was fathered by her own brother! Her second husband was murdered by her brother because he was jealous that his sister paid so much attention to her husband and not to him. It is also rumored that Lucrezia wore a hollowed out ring which she used to poison her enemies.

Queen Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Boleyn, Earl and Countess of Wiltshire. She was educated in the Netherlands and France and became a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Anne's sister Mary became the mistress to the King and apparently gave birth to two of his children. King Henry soon became madly in love with Anne and tried to make her his mistress as well. Anne refused to be a lowly mistress and pressured the King to divorce his wife and marry her. When the Pope refused to annul Henry's marriage to Queen Catherine, Anne Boleyn and her family conspired to make Anne Queen of England. When the Boleyn family chaplain became Archbishop of Canterbury, he annulled the King's marriage to Catherine and married Henry and Anne. The Pope excommunicated everyone involved and the Church of England broke from the Pope's religious reign in Rome, starting a political and religious upheaval (all because Anne wanted to be Queen and Henry wanted to get her in bed!) The people of England hated Queen Anne and called her a witch and a whore. After she couldn't bear a male heir to the throne, fickle Henry became sick of her and had her arrested, charged for incest, adultery and treason. He claimed that she used spells to capture his affections. She was executed by beheading on May 19th 1536.

Mata Hari

Exotic dancer, executed for espionage in 1917. Mata Hari is a very mysterious character in history. No one really knows if she was indeed a spy or if she was a scapegoat. At any rate, rumors suggest that she blew a kiss to the firing squad before they executed her (or that her lawyer and former lover was present and the kiss was intended for him). Another rumor suggests that she flung open her coat to reveal her naked body and proclaimed "Harlot, yes, but traitor, never!" and that her last words were "Merci monsieur.". During her lifetime, Mata Hari had many lovers and even became the mistress of a French millionaire. She was scandalous, seductive and dangerous!


  1. lovely article, but seems to me it's pretty dangerous to be a femme fatale, it's fatal to oneself in the end :)

  2. Since you are in the Renaissance period, don't forget Mary Queen of Scots. She was a total vixen. Married to the Dauphin of France at 16, widowed at 18, she remarried her first cousin Lord Darnley a few years later who mysteriously died (supposedly at the hands of her next husband). Her son with Darnley later became King of England after Queen Elizabeth I died, even though Mary was executed for treaty against QEI for reportedly trying to get Liz overthrown and get herself appointed Queen of England. Even more scandalous was that she wore a red chemise to the beheading- ooh snap!

  3. I also like Ann Boleyn. Her childhood home isn't that far from where I live, I must get around to visiting! x

  4. So true! Mary Queen of Scots was a total femme fatale, shacking up with all of those guys, betraying her cousin, etc.
    I read that Anne Boleyn also wore red on the day of her execution. Baaad girls!! :)

  5. Hmm, I agree with garofit ~ to be a femme fatale seems to be pretty darn fatal!! Still these women's stories are interesting.

    bonita of Depict This!

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  6. Great list! I'm glad you added Eleanor of Aquitaine to it : ).

  7. Awesome post, as a bonafide history geek this made me smile.

    Wallis Simpson is another one- although not necessarily "fatale" she completely changed the British line of succession in 1936, plus she's from one of our favourite eras too!

    FF xo

  8. What a great history lesson. Love it.

  9. The men around her , more than Anne herself were the conspiritors. Especially her Uncle - the Duke of Norfolk - who pulled the stings and cut them accordingly. In fact - the Duke of Norfolk had one of the casting votes when it came to her trial in 1536. She and Henry were in love for 8 years before the Pope became involved and wanted nothing more than to be married. Henry had grown tired of Catherine of Aragon, who he had been forced to marry when his brother Arthur died leaving behind a 14 year old widow that they could not send back to Spain. Catherine had also failed to produce a living heir – so things were not stacked in her favour. With the help of Thomas Cromwell (a huge plotter who always seemed to be pleasing the people who could please him and who later displeased the King and paid from the neck up - oops) and a certain passage in the Bible - plus excommunication from Rome and the development of the Church of England - they were married. But those that rise high - often fall fast - and inside of 3 years - Anne (minus the often misquoted red dress - she wore a fur coat to the scaffold - but wore a simple gown underneath) was beheaded by French swordsman who made her look the other way as he swung the sword. It is true that she was disliked in England – mainly due to the fact that in their eyes she had usurped a Queen (as in a proper Royal Princess ) and had gained a divorce. I think it made women panic that if the King could cast one wife aside for another - then so could his subjects. And as they could not focus their anger on the King - she was the next best thing. I think that due to this she has gone down the ages either loved or loathed. Me? I fall on the “hero worship” side (*wink*)

  10. Wow! That was a ramble! Sorry!! :o)

  11. No, I like the historical ramblings! She is such an interesting character. I often wonder if she played a bigger part in that drama than most people think or if she was a simple pawn to the men in her family that wanted power. We'll never know for sure but I'm like you, I LOVE her!

  12. What an intriguing post - got to get back to it in free time, since I love history and I love learning about gutsy women and scandals of the past. Don't have any interest for smutty stuff of the present, but it's great to find out that humans have always been human and that we're not really getting any worse! My favorite thing is that beautifully-tinted photo of Mata Hari, with her adornments and drapery. Excellent.


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