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Vulgar History

Vulgar History

By Ann Foster
A feminist women's history comedy podcast about the scandalicious stories of people from olden times. Hosted by Ann Foster.
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Anne Stanley, Countess of Castlehaven
Anne Stanley (May 1580 – c. 8 October 1647) was a descendant of Mary Tudor through Eleanor Brandon. Following the death of the three Grey sisters, she became a potential heir to the English throne. She testified against her second husband, the Earl of Castlehaven, in a rape trial, setting the precedent that a wife could give evidence against her husband. The scandal of the trial ruined her reputation, ensuring she would never inherit the throne from her relative Elizabeth I. References: A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven by Cynthia B. Herrup “Such Daughters and Such a Mother”: The Countess of Derby and her Three Daughters, 1560-1647 by V.J. Wilkie Other stuff: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
October 28, 2020
Lady Mary Grey
Lady Mary Grey (c. 1545 – 20 April 1578) was the youngest sister of Lady Jane Grey. Through her grandmother, Mary Tudor, she had a claim on the crown of England. Mary did her best to stay out of trouble, but her secret marriage to a non-royal landed her in a world of trouble. References: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy by Leanda de Lisle Other stuff: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
October 21, 2020
Lady Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford
Katherine Seymour, Countess of Hertford (25 August 1540 – 26 January 1568), born Lady Katherine Grey, was the younger sister of Lady Jane "Nine Days Queen" Grey. Following the execution of her older sister, Katherine was seen as a potential new heir to the throne/a royal rival to both Queen Mary I and Elizabeth I. But Katherine didn't care about all of that, she was all about her secret sexy marriage to Ned Seymour, which would prove her undoing. Also, she had a pet monkey. References:  Elizabeth’s Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey by Nicola Tallis Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England by Kate Hubbard The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots: Elizabeth I and her Greatest Rival by Kate Williams The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy by Leanda de Lisle  Recommended books:  Patreon:  Merch:
October 14, 2020
Lady Jane Grey, or, How To Lose A Queen In Nine Days
Lady Jane Grey (c. 1537 – 12 February 1554) was kinda the first-ever woman to rule England, except she was technically a girl and technically sort of didn't actually rule? Hence this whole season-long discussion. Anyway, this week is LJG's time to shine!! Learn about how and why she sort of reigned for nine days, how and why she was executed, and most importantly: how will she score on our scandilicous scale??  References:  Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey by Nicola Tallis The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy by Leanda de Lisle    Lady Jane (the movie, starring baby Helena Bonham Carter and baby Cary Elwes!!) Recommended books:  Patreon:  Merch:
October 7, 2020
Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk
Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk (16 July 1517 – 20 November 1559), was an English noblewoman. As the daughter of Mary Tudor and niece of Henry VIII, she was of royal lineage and in the line of succession. She was also the stepdaughter of Katherine Willoughby, and the mother of Lady Jane Grey, Lady Katherine Grey, and Lady Mary Grey. But mostly as the Kris Jenner of her age, she was a behind-the-scenes power player who dedicated her life to maintaining her family's prestige even in the face of great odds. Also apparently she's long had a bad reputation among historians, almost definitely undeserved!! References:  Elizabeth’s Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes who shaped the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey by Nicola Tallis The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy by Leanda de Lisle The Death and Burial of Frances, Duchess of Suffolk by Susan Higganbotham The Maligned Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk by Susan Higganbotham Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk (The Freelance History Writer)   Recommended books:  Patreon:  Merch:
September 30, 2020
Anne Askew
Anne Askew (1521-1546) was one of the earliest-known female poets to compose in the English language, the first Englishwoman to demand a divorce, and wound up the only recorded woman to be tortured in the Tower of London. She died via explosion when one of her supporters hid gunpowder in the pyre for her execution by burning. An icon!  References:  The Queen and the Heretic: How Two Women Changed the Religion of England by Derek Wilson   Anne Askew Sentenced to Death (The Anne Boleyn Files)  Anne Askew (Spartacus Educational)  Anne Askew: Dangerous Convictions (Dangerous Women Project)    The Examinations of Anne Askew   Recommended books:  Patreon:  Merch:
September 23, 2020
Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr (1512-1548) is best known for surviving being the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII. She had three other husbands, one of whom was worse than even Henry; she was held hostage; she broke new ground for women writers in England; she was a member of the Renaissance Reformation Girl Squad, AND ALSO she was the guardian to (and role model for) Lady Jane Grey.   References: Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII by Linda Porter Catherine Parr: Wife, Widow, Mother, Survivor, the Story of the Last Queen of Henry VIII by Elizabeth Norton  Other stuff: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
September 16, 2020
Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk
Katherine Willoughby de Eresby (22 March 1519 – 19 September 1580), later Katherine Brandon, then Katherine Bertie, was an English heiress, Protestant rebel, and overall total heroine. From a pretty gross start (being married at age 14 to her adoptive father figure), she wielded her wealth and privilege to support other women and Protestants.  References: The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII by Amy Licence  Understanding the life of Katherine Willoughby (On The Tudor Trail) Katherine Willoughby, the Lincolnshire Lady who nearly married Henry VIII (LincolnshireLife) Katherine Willoughby by Sarah Bryson (Tudor Society)  Other stuff: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
September 9, 2020
Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Mary Tudor (9 October 1514 – 1 January 1515), not to be confused with Queen Mary I or Mary, Queen of Scots, was briefly Queen of France. She then had a secret marriage to her boyfriend, Charles Brandon, and lived an interesting and -- dare I say -- scandlicious life. She was also the grandmother of Lady Jane Grey, which sets us up for this season's theme: How To Lose A Queen In Nine Days aka The Lady Jane Grey Scenario. References: The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France by Maria Perry Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir Other stuff: A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein Recommended history books: Patreon: Merch:
September 2, 2020
Milkmaids, Harem girls, and the History of the Smallpox Vaccine (Pandemic Super Special)
Smallpox was a highly contagious, deadly disease which likely first appeared around the 3rd century BCE in Egypt. From then on, it followed trade routes and colonization, decimating populations in many countries. The development of the smallpox vaccine can be traced back many centuries, to people in India, China, West Africa, and the Ottoman Empire who used a technique known of variolation to inject healthy people with pus from those afflicted by smallpox. In the late 18th century in England, Dr. Edward Jenner popularized and advocated for the injection of cowpox cells to immunize humans against smallpox, leading to the eradication of the disease by 1980. Crowdfunding site for Dr. Jenner’s House Museum and Garden References: Princesses, Slaves, and Explosives: The Scandalous Origin of Vaccines by Kiona Smith-Strickland, Gizmodo Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes who fought them by Jennifer Wright COVID-19 May Permanently Shutter Museum Devoted to Vaccination Pioneer (Smithsonian)
May 19, 2020
Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the English sweating sickness (Pandemic Super Special)
From 1485 - 1551, England experienced several epidemics of a mysterious illness known only as the sweating sickness. Unlike other diseases that affected the very young, very old, and the poor, this one seemed to target young, healthy, rich people. And two of the rich people affected were King Henry VIII and his mistress, Anne Boleyn. EDIT: Two corrections were brought to my attention after this episode published. 1) Henry VII defeated Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth on August 22 1485; therefore, he and his troops did not arrive in England from France on August 28th, as I stated in the episode. What happened is that the first case of English sweating sickness was reported on August 28 1485, and 2) Henry VIII's BFF/brother-in-law was *Charles* Brandon, not Henry Brandon, as I said in the episode. Charles Brandon's son Henry died in the sweating sickness. References: The 'Sweating Disease' That Swept Across England 500 Years Ago is Still a Medical Mystery (Discover Magazine) The Sweating Sickness Returns (Discover Magazine) Anne Boleyn and the Tudor sweating sickness (On the Tudor Trail) The Mysterious Epidemic That Terrified Henry VIII ( Anne Boleyn: 11 Surprising Facts (History Extra) How Did King Henry VIII 'Self-Isolate' From The Sweating Sickness? (History Extra)
May 6, 2020
Joanna of Naples
Joanna of Naples (1326-1382) was Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily for thirty action-packed and highly scandilicious years. This story has it all: kidnappings! Revenge murders! Evil popes! Evil husbands! Being trapped in an iron cage for fourteen years! The black plague! But how will Joanna herself score on our scandilicious scale? The results may SURPRISE YOU!! References: Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples by Anne Theriault on Longreads The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone Other stuff: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
April 22, 2020
Anne, Queen of Great Britain
Anne I (1665 – 1714), best known as the main character of the movie The Favourite, was Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland and then of Great Britain and Ireland for twelve years. Her life story is a gossip buffet of rivalry, death, and resiliency. But how will she score on the scandilicious scale?? References: Queen Anne: Politics and Passion by Anne Somerset The Favourite: The Life of Sarah Churchill and the History Behind the Major Motion Picture by Ophelia Field Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
April 15, 2020
Eyam, The Plague Village (Pandemic Super Special)
In 1665, the tiny English town of Eyam was beset by the same plague that was affecting London. Under the guidance of the town's reverend, the villagers agreed to quarantine themselves in order to protect nearby villages. After fourteen months, all but 83 of the town's 344 residents had died. References: Eyam Historic Plague Village (the town's current website): Did this sleepy village stop the Great Plague? (BBC) Plague-Infested Village Self-Quarantined to Stop the Plague of 1666 (Interesting Engineeering) Eyam plague: The village of the damned (BBC News) Eyam Plague Village Museum – Eyam, England (Atlas Obscura) The Black Death and the Great Plague: a comparison (Teachit History)
April 13, 2020
Charles II de Valois And The Pillow Fight Of Death (Pandemic Super Special)
Charles II de Valois (1522-1545) was the third son of the French King Francis I. He died very young from an entirely preventable and ridiculous pillow fight related situation in the middle of a plague-ridden town.  References:  Francis I: The Maker of Modern France by Leonie Frieda Charles II de Valois, Duke of Orleans (Wikipedia)
April 10, 2020
Juana I of Castile
Juana I of Castile (1479-1555) was the third child of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. She's remembered now for being "Juana La Loca/Juana The Mad" but, in fact, that reputation was just part of a larger scheme that found her caught between her ambitious and terrible husband and her ambitious and terrible father. References: Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox Juana I: Legitimacy and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Castile by Gillian B. Fleming Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
April 8, 2020
Joan Of England: The Princess And The Plague (Pandemic Super Special)
Joan of England (1335-1348) was the first known English person to die of the bubonic plague. She set out with a massive entourage from England to Castile to meet her betrothed, didn't listen to warnings in Bordeaux about the plague, and then lived through a horror movie of mass death. If you find this sort of story interesting right now, here you go! If you don't want to hear about lots of people dying through exposure to a gruesome disease, YOU DON'T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS.  References:  Joan of England (Wikipedia) The black death and Joan of England (History of Royal Women) Joan of England & the Black Death (Rebecca Starr) On This Day: Death of Joan of England (Creative Historian)
April 6, 2020
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I of Castile (1451-1504) was one of the most significant figures in world history. We continue this season’s theme of Women Leaders In History And The Men Who Whined About Them with the Isabella's journey from little girl trapped in a ghost castle to teenage war mediator to PR stunt inventor to genocidal dictator! This is a heavy one, so get ready. References: Isabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen by Giles Tremlett Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
April 1, 2020
Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda (1102 - 1167) was the daughter, wife, and mother of Kings. She also should have been England's first crowned female monarch, but the patriarchy got in the way. She also once escaped by camouflaging herself in white cloaks in the snow!! A true legend. Referenced in this episode: Matilda: Empress, Warrior, Queen by Catherine Hanley She-Wolves by Helen Castor Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
March 25, 2020
Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians
Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians was a significant figure in English history. Not only did she repel Viking invaders through the clever use of BOILING BEER and BEES, she also worked alongside her brother Edward to see through their father's goal of a united England. Also: BEES. Referenced in this episode: Æthelflæd: England's Forgotten Founder (A Ladybird Expert Book) by Tom Holland Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
March 18, 2020
Boudica, Queen of the Iceni
“Camulodunom. Camulodunom.” Boudica was Queen of the Iceni, a Celtic tribe during the Roman conquest of Britain. She led a rebellion of united tribes against their Roman invaders, leaving a path of death and bloodshed in her wake.  Referenced in this episode: Boudica: Warrior Woman of the Roman Empire by Caitlin C. Gillespie Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
March 11, 2020
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina Augusta, aka Agrippina Minor aka Agrippina the Younger, was a completely badass woman in ancient Rome. She leveraged her power as first the sister of the Emperor, then the wife of the Emperor, then the mother of the Emperor (three separate Emperors) to break new ground for Roman women. She also murdered a lot of people. Her placement on the Scandilicious Scale may SURPRISE YOU  Referenced in this episode: Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World by Emma Southon Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
March 4, 2020
Cleopatra VII
As the first part of our new series "Women Leaders And The Men Who Whined About Them," we take it all the way back to the first century BCE and the legendary Egyptian Pharaoh Cleopatra VII. Growing up amid non-stop familial murder, she cannily usurped control of the kingdom from her relatives and teamed up with Rome. But where will she wind up on the Scandalicious Scale??  Referenced in this episode:  Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
February 26, 2020
Vulgar History Presents: So This Asshole: Count Cagliostro
Bonus!! This is a preview of So This Asshole, a new spinoff podcast available through my Patreon. This side series will share the wild stories of some of the many, many assholes involved in the stories of the women profiled on the main Vulgar History podcast. This episode is all about Giuseppe Balsamo, aka Count Alessandro di Cagliostro (1743-1795), who was briefly mentioned in the Vulgar History episode about Jeanne de la Motte. Referenced in this podcast: How To Ruin A Queen by Jonathan Beckman (which is a GREAT book!) Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
February 5, 2020
Lucy Percy Hay, Countess of Carlisle
Lucy Percy Hay, Countess of Carlisle (1599-1660) was a British noblewoman known for her espionage work surrounding the English Civil War. But she was not just a spy... was a #LADYSPY, mentored by one of the most memorable heroines of a previous Vulgar History episode!! Will it all be enough for her to take the top spot in our Scandalicious Scale??  Mentioned in this episode:  Sweet Valley Sagas by Francine Pascal  Court Lady and Country Wife: Two Noble Sisters in Seventeenth-Century England by Lita-Rose Betcherman  Invisible Agents: Women and Espionage in Seventeenth-Century Britain by Nadine Akkerman  Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
December 11, 2019
Mary Toft
Mary Toft (1701 - 1763) was an English peasant who became notorious for her involvement in her family's scheme to pretend she'd given birth to seventeen rabbits. The story is profoundly, continuingly, and rage-inducingly bananas. Mentioned in this episode: The book The Imposteress Rabbit Breeder: Mary Toft and Eighteenth-Century England by Karen Harvey Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
December 4, 2019
Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed
Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614) was a Hungarian noblewoman who, for a time, oversaw more properties and estates than anyone else in Europe. Her undoing came about when the Palatine of Hungary accused her and four servants of mass murder, and she's now remembered as more of a myth than a person. Did she really commit these gruesome crimes, and bathe in the blood of her victims?? And how will she score on the scandalicious scale?? Countess Dracula: The Life and Times of Elisabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess by Tony Thorne The Unobscured podcast by Aaron Mahnke Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
November 27, 2019
Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, Comtesse de la Motte
Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, Comtesse de la Motte (22 July 1756 – 23 August 1791) was an illegitimate descendant of the French royal family who became famous on her own as AN INCREDIBLY CLEVER CON ARTIST/HEROINE! But how will she score on the Scandalicious Scale?? Mentioned in this episode: How to Ruin a Queen by Jonathan Beckman Frock Flicks review of the hats and wigs in The Affair of the Necklace Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
November 20, 2019
Frances Howard, Duchess of Somerset
Frances Howard Carr, Duchess of Somerset (31 May 1590 – 23 August 1632) was a British noblewoman who, among other things, pled guilty to murder and also most likely faked her own virginity inspection. She also showed much more bosom in her portraiture than anyone in the history of breasts and lived her life both physically and psychologically Tits Out. But where does that place her on the Scandaliciousness Scale???  Mentioned in this episode:  The Poison Bed by E.C. Fremantle  The Overbury Affair: The Murder Trial That Rocked The Court of King James I by Miriam Allen DeFord  Unnatural Murder: Poison in the Court of James I by Anne Somerset Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
November 13, 2019
Caroline of Brunswick
Caroline of Brunswick (17 May 1768 – 7 August 1821) was Queen consort of the United Kingdom for a year, but that's basically the least interesting thing about her. Where does our inaugural story subject score on the Scandalicious Scale?? And was she really having an affair with Bartolomeo, her Italian servant???   Mentioned in this episode:  "What Eye Has Wept For George IV" from the Noble Blood podcast Caroline & Charlotte: Regency Scandals by Alison Plowden Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
November 6, 2019
Vulgar History - Coming Soon!
It's a trailer for the new feminist women's history comedy podcast, Vulgar History! Subscribe to this feed in your fav podcast situation, and get ready to learn lots of scandalicious stories of women from (mostly) British history who you (likely) haven't heard of before.  Other stuff: History writing: Recommended books: Patreon: Merch:
October 23, 2019