Growing up in 17th-century France, Julie d’Aubigny did things differently from the very beginning. And as she grew older she developed a reputation for breaking the rules, dismissing the customs of high society in favor of a wild and passionate life. But her daring streak would land her in some serious trouble as well.
A renowned opera singer and skilled sword fighter, d’Aubigny — who was known as La Maupin — was no stranger to smashing gender stereotypes of the day. And that fluidity extended into the bedroom as well. Partial to seducing both men and women alike, her list of lovers was long enough to make even Casanova blush.
By the time that she died in 1707 d’Aubigny had fought in countless duels, courted scandal after scandal both on and off the stage, and been pardoned by the King — twice! But who really was the woman who’s considered the ultimate feminist icon today? And how much of her legend is true?
Born in 1673 — or perhaps 1670, depending on which source you believe — d’Aubigny was the daughter of Gaston d’Aubigny, who worked as a secretary for the Count of Armagnac. At the time, King Louis XIV sat on the throne of France, and the aristocrat was employed as his Master of Horses.
Versailles and the Sun King
As a result, d’Aubigny spent her childhood on the periphery of Louis’ opulent court, relocating to the Palace of Versailles in 1682. One hundred years later, the sprawling mansion would be abandoned as the royal family fled in the face of impending revolution. But during the reign of the Sun King, it was a lavish and extravagant place.