A girl named Geillis


Welcome to Witch Season! Better late than never. So sorry for my lack of posts.

This is Geillis Duncan. Her name became quite popular with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. These books are AMAZING and completely inspired my trip to Scotland two years ago (and yes, I tried to go through the stones- they wouldn’t take me).

In the books, Geillis is a bit of a nightmare- traveling through time to change the course of history while killing off a few people along the way. However, this character was based on a real woman, or rather, a girl. According to Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb (her and Lucy Worsley are my favorite historians) Geillis was a young maidservant working for David Seaton in the late 1500’s. It was said that Geillis suddenly developed amazing healing capabilities and was seen sneaking out of the house at night.

Poor thing was probably slipping out after dark to meet a love interest or to just get away from Seaton. Seaton proceeded to torture Geillis in unspeakable ways until she confessed to being a witch. Dr. Lipscomb suspects Geillis was turning down Seaton’s sexual advances and (now this is my own interpretation) in order to save his deflated ego (and tiny limp… well, you know what I’m talking about) he needed a reason to unleash  masochistic, misogynistic fury upon the young girl. He continued to torture her beyond the forced confession until she named other women from her coven.

This led to the North Berwick witch trials of 1590. Over 100 people were accused and tortured- forced to confess with meeting with the devil, devoting themselves to evil, and causing horrible things to happen to King James. More on his witch hunting in a future post.

Poor Geillis was eventually hanged as a witch in 1591 after giving Seaton and King James the ammo then needed to kill a bunch of people they didn’t like and prove witchcraft existed in Scotland.

Hungry in Hungary


Barbara of Cilli (1392 – 1451) held many titles. As the daughter of Herman II, Count of Celje and Countess Anna of Schaunberg, this ambitious young lady went on to be crowned Queen of Hungary in 1408, Queen of Germany in 1414, Holy Roman Empress in 1433 and Queen of Bohemia in 1437. She was said to be a beautiful and intelligent leader who participated in the success of her kingdoms. She “got her hands dirty” so to speak.

She spent the majority of her time in Hungary and served as regent while her husband, Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, went about securing their other kingdoms. They had one daughter, Elisabeth, who married Albert II of Germany. Albert was a bit of a problem. Him and his pesky Hapsburg family accused Barbara of just about everything- heresy, alchemy, plotting against the king, immoral behavior… whatever Underbite dynasty (history joke). She was forced to give up everything- EVERYTHING and sent to prison. Luckily she was eventually able to live in exile, in Poland where the King there was a little nicer. Albert soon bit the dust and Barbara and her daughter reconciled. Barbara died of the Plague.

Summation: Gorgeous, powerful and confident woman gets sandbagged by power-hungry small-peckered pansy ingrate son-in-law who never does get to be Emperor. The end.

America’s Venus


Audrey Marie Munson (June 8 1891 – February 20, 1996) was actually America’s first supermodel and often referred to as Miss Manhattan or the American Venus. You may not realize that you have seen her many, many times before- but not the way you think. She was the model for some very famous statues. Audrey was also the first American to star in a movie while fully nude. She starred in 4 silent films.

There is a really fabulous article about her HERE that includes the tales of her exposure to Gypsies as a child, and the really unfortunate fortune given to her by one of those gypsies. She remembered that fortune throughout her life and considered it a curse.

All that glitters is not gold. In her own words:

What becomes of the artists’ models? I am wondering if many of my readers have not stood before a masterpiece of lovely sculpture or a remarkable painting of a young girl, her very abandonment of draperies accentuating rather than diminishing her modesty and purity, and asked themselves the question, “Where is she now, this model who was so beautiful?

By 1920 things went very south and Audrey was unable to support herself. She attempted suicide in 1922, and in 1931 her mother had her committed to an asylum, where Audrey remained until she passed away at the age of 104.

She was buried in New Haven, New York without a gravestone (one was added much later.)

Shown below- some of the statues she modeled for (which happen to be some of my all-time favorites.)


She’s got legs.


“I think the eyes flirt most. There are so many ways to use them.” – Anna Held

Helene Anna Held (1872 – 1918) was the common-law wife of Florenze Ziegfeld and a broadway performer/singer. Of course, the reason I find her so interesting is the controversy that surrounded her.

Anna was born in Poland and started her career in London, however, in 1896, Florenz persuaded her to come back to New York with him. Upon arrival, Florenze went to work creating a buzz, getting Anna as much press as possible. As you may know, Ziegfeld was quite famous for creating publicity stunts which eventually led to the famous Ziegfeld Follies. Anna was his star.

She was very popular, outgoing, outspoken- and extremely flirtatious. The controversy? She was very willing to show her legs on stage and her songs were almost always considered risqué. Mon Dieu!

Their marriage was not a happy one- fraught with stories of forced abortions, unrealistic demands, and several mistresses. Anna died at the age of 46 from a very painful form of cancer. Ziegfeld did not attend the services due to his phobia of death. Ass.

The Vampire of Barcelona



Sorry for the content. This story is rather gruesome.

Enriqueta Marti (1868 – 1913) was a child murderer that conducted some of the most horrific crimes in the worst poverty stricken sections of Barcelona, Spain.

At the time, Barcelona’s population quadrupled in size and  with the political turmoil, daily violent uprisings, and lack of resources… awful, unspeakable things happened.

Enriqueta began her career in prostitution, which led her down a very dark and twisted road. She often kidnapped orphans to bring with her to go begging outside churches during the day. At night she would sell them off as sex slaves to the highest bidder (at the time, Barcelona was also known as the pornography capital of Europe).

It wasn’t long before she became known as one who could “procure” children for wealthy and disturbed clients (pedophiles). She also moonlighted as a “witch-doctor” making potions of human (child) remains as a cure for tuberculosis. Because she was known to drain her victims blood and because she kidnapped children by hiding them under a long black cloak, she was labeled the Vampire of Barcelona.

She was beaten to death in prison while awaiting trial.

I will not go on about this woman (soulless monster), but here are some links for further reading, just be warned- it’s all VERY upsetting and incredibly disgusting.





Worst neighbors ever.


, ,


Tis the season of the witch! Stumbled across this very vague story…

Janet Horne was the last person to be executed for witchcraft in the British Isles. In 1727, she was stripped, covered in tar, led through the town of Dornoch, and burned alive. The poor woman was accused by her neighbors, which most likely came about because she was going senile. Her daughter was arrested too- she had a deformity in her hands and feet. The neighbors told stories of Janet of riding her daughter like a pony to meet with the devil. After a quick trial, she was sentenced to death. Her daughter escaped, but no one knows what happened to her after that.

One slight glitch in this story- “Jenny Horne” was a slang term for a witch in Scotland. Janet Horne may not have been her real name, but given to her over the years as the story was passed down because her real name was unknown.

A little more info here: http://www.historylinks.org.uk/Dornoch18.htm

Arthur’s Enchantress


, , ,


‘Tis the season of the witch!

Morgan Le Fay, also referred to as Morgana, Morgain, Morgaine, etc. was the famous witch/sorceress found in the King Arthur legends. Where originally she was described as the king’s half-sister (just a healer and magician), the stories twisted her character into something incredibly evil (enchantress, witch, murderer).

There are hundreds of articles and theories about her but I find the most thorough to come from the University of Rochester Camelot Project. You can read the article here: http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/theme/morgan



The story behind the story

With the fall upon us, I personally can’t wait for the season of stews and roasts.  There’s plenty of that in A Thyme and Place. A book that I co-wrote with my best friend, Tricia Sandland Cohen. The book is organized by Medieval Feasts and features some holidays you may have heard of, and some you haven’t. For example, Pig Face Day is just under two weeks away, how better to celebrate that with Wee Matilda’s Pork Balls?!?

We’ve put together a video to tell the story behind the story. Our journey was difficult, but rewarding. Tricia and I are already working on book 2, so stay tuned!


You can purchase the book here: http://tinyurl.com/jr5zozs

The BEATrice goes on.


If you follow my History Witch Facebook page, you’ll know that I recently went on a trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. As a result, I’ve become incredibly intrigued with Hungarian Culture- Budapest certainly exceeded my expectations. I will be diving deep into the history of all three cities over the next month or so.

This is Beatrice of Naples, Queen Consort of Hungary and Bohemia (1457 – 1508) also known as Beatrix de Aragon.

In 1476 she married King Matthias of Hungary. This union created an alliance between Naples and Hungary which proved successful in the fight against the Ottomans. She was no wallflower- introducing Italian renaissance to the court as well as creating an academy and being instrumental in building the palace Visegrad.

Things turned a bit sour when Matthias appointed his illegitimate son as heir to the throne, but Matthias died shortly after. She was again, no slouch, and immediately went into survival mode- securing a power of position in the Hungarian court. She eventually married her second husband, Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary in 1491. The nobles loved her- but the second marriage was ultimately challenged. Vladislaus did not exactly secure a divorce from his first wife. Being such a sweetie, Vlad told the court that he was forced to marry Beatrice against his will. They indeed deemed it illegal and Beatrice was forced to pay all the legal costs of the trial. She was forced to move back to Naples in 1501.

She died, childless in 1508.