The Lioness of Brittany
Jeanne De Clisson, often called the Lioness of Brittany is my all time favourite kick arse lady pirate. She was born Jeanne-Louise de Belleville and at the age of 12 was married to the 19 year old Geoffrey de Châ teaubriant. They had 2 children. With the death of Geoffrey, Jeanne then married Olivier III de Clisson in 1330, and by all accounts they were very much in love. Olivier was a wealthy nobleman, with a castle in Clisson. In 1342 Olivier joined Charles de Blois in defending Brittany against the English, however after failing to hold Vannes against the English invaders, Olivier decided instead to defect to the English side. In 1343 Olivier was arrested and tried as a traitor. Found guilty of treason, he was beheaded and his head displayed on a spike outside a castle at Bouffay.
Enraged at her husband’s murder at the hands of the French Jeanne sold off much of her lands and equipped a small fleet of ships, which she had painted black with the sails being dyed red. She then sailed the English Channel for years capturing French ships, and killing all on board save one or two men whom she sent back to France to tell their tale. Jeanne personally beheaded any French nobles she found on board the ships she captured, becoming known as the Lioness of Brittany. Loved and loathed in equal measure as madame or monster.
After 13 years her lust for revenge was finally sated, and Jeanne retired from her life of piracy, going on to marry King Edward III’s Commander in the Marches, Walter Bently. The King’s wedding gift to her being the Belleville lands still in French hands. It is believed Jeanne died in 1359 and her ghost may still be seen to haunt halls of Clisson Castle in Brittany. Well, I certainly hope so!