Jason Porath is a former DreamWorks artist. He came up with Rejected Princesses after a lunchtime conversation at his old workplace.
If you’re interested in wacky history, inspirational women, horrible tales, and bizarre myths, you NEED to follow this Tumblr. Below are 12 of his posts.
1. Mariya Oktyabrskaya: the tank princess
When her husband was killed in World War II, she sold all their belongings, bought a tank, named it Fighting Girlfriend, and started killing Nazis.
Porath writes: “On her first outing in the tank, she outmaneuvered the German soldiers, killing around thirty of them and taking out an anti-tank gun. When they shelled her tank, immobilising Fighting Girlfriend, she got out – in the middle of a firefight – and repaired the damn thing. She then got back in and proceeded to kill more Germans.
“During all this, she wrote a letter to her sister describing her time in the war. She told her, ‘I’ve had my baptism by fire. I beat the bastards. Sometimes I’m so angry I can’t even breathe.’
“In the end, she was taken out by a mortar round when she got out of her tank in the middle of yet another firefight to fix Fighting Girlfriend. She was awarded the highest honour in the Soviet military and is buried in one of the nation’s most sacred cemeteries.”
2. Wu Zetian: the poison princess
Porath writes: “Introducing Wu Zetian, the first and only female Emperor of China – seen here poisoning her infant daughter.
“That’s actually a bit of a historical inaccuracy. The generally accepted truth was that she *strangled* her young daughter, to frame the old queen and get her out of the way. It worked – both the old queen and the old queen’s mother were executed, and haunted her from that point forward.”
And it gets worse from there. She kept her hold on the throne through a campaign of killing that would put Machiavelli to shame. “Early on, her method of choice was a slow-acting poison made from silkworms. As time went on and her influence grew, however, she took to engineering treason charges for her opponents, summoning them to the throne room and making them kill themselves in front of her.”
Hatchepsut – which means “foremost of noble ladies” – was the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, and lived from 1508 to 1458 BC.
Porath writes: “Thanks to a sustained campaign by her successors to erase all traces of her reign, it was not until fairly recently that she came back to historical prominence. She was rediscovered due to the fact that her time in power saw such an incredible proliferation of architecture, statues, and art that it proved impossible to scrub mention of her from *everything* …
“Moreover, she did her own PR. In order to solidify her claim to the throne, she spread word that her parents were told by the gods that she was to be pharaoh. The official story was that, at the gods’ behest, her mother gave birth to her in a LION’S DEN. To quiet the gossip at court, she began her rule wearing men’s clothing, including the pharaoh’s false beard. Once they stopped flapping their gums, she went back to wearing whatever the hell she wanted.”
4. Khutulun: the wrestler princess
Khutulun was born into a Mongol household with 14 brothers. As Jeremy writes: “She had no shortage of testosterone around her at any given time. She grew up to be incredibly skilled with riding horses and shooting bows.
“Marco Polo, history’s greatest tourist, described her thus: ‘Sometimes she would quit her father’s side, and make a dash at the host of the enemy, and seize some man thereout, as deftly as a hawk pounces on a bird, and carry him to her father; and this she did many a time.’”
“But this was nothing on on her wrestling skill. Her father wanted to see her get married, but she refused to until she met a man who could beat her at wrestling. Every bout she won meant she ended up with 100 horses. She ended up with 10,000 horses and no husband.
“Now the number is likely hyperbole, but Mongolia continues to honour Khutulun’s story to this day. The traditional outfit worn by Mongolian wrestlers is conspicuously open-chest – the reason being to show that the wrestler is not a woman, in deference to the undefeated Khutulun.”
5. Penta: the handless princess
What do you do when your brother is hellbent on marrying you? In this 1634 Italian fairytale, the answer is: chop off your own hands and float in the ocean until you find your true love.
6. Mai Bhago: the Sikh warrior saint
An 18th-century Sikh warrior-saint and only survivor of the Battle of Khidrana. It’s a very long story, but the short version is that in 1705, Bhago led 40 men into battle against 10,000 (there’s been a bit of historical revisionism going on here, but they were massively outnumbered) and was the only Sikh alive afterward to tell the tale.
Fredigund was a 6th-century Merovingian queen consort with a penchant for killing people. She did all sorts of horrific things, but what was the craziest thing she ever did? Porath writes: “Well, you see, she had a daughter, Rigunth. Rigunth, as princesses do, was looking forward to one day being queen herself.
“One day, exasperated by her daughter’s ‘I want to be queen nowww’ whining, Fredegund told her to go look inside Chilperic’s treasure chest and pick out some jewelry for herself. When Rigunth poked her head in the treasure chest, Fredegund slammed it shut on her neck. Had servants not stopped her, she would have killed her own daughter.”
8. Nzinga Mbande
One of Angola’s most notable heroes, Nzinga Mbande waged war against the invading Portuguese for dozens of years, and struck fear into their hearts in the process.
At one meeting, in a sign of disrespect, the Portuguese offered her no chair to sit in, instead providing a floormat fit for servants. In response, Nzinga ordered one of her servants to get on all fours and sat on her as she would a chair. After the negotiations concluded, she slit the servant’s throat in front of everyone, and informed them that the queen of the Ndongo does not use the same chair twice.
9. Corn Maiden
Corn Maiden is a mythological Native American figure. Porath writes: “Corn Maiden figures into a vast number of tribe mythologies, all of which are slightly different from one another. This much is generally agreed upon across most of the stories.
“Corn Maiden was a pretty neat lady who settled down with the tribe in question, a long time ago. Somehow, whenever she was around, the corn storehouses would overflow! Corn for everyone! It was pretty great! But, she warned, never try to check out why or how that’s happening. Eventually someone did, only to find Corn Maiden secretly rubbing corn off her skin in the most delicious case of leprosy ever recorded. In some versions, it’s hinted that she was actually pooping it out into bucket after bucket, bag after bag, like a chunky firehose.
“From there, one of two things happened:
1) The tribe chased Corn Maiden out of town, subsequently ran out of corn, realised their terrible mistake, and attempted to find her/make amends, or:
2) The tribe decided to kill her for witchcraft, at which point Corn Maiden was like, “OK cool, but after you kill me, drag my gruesomely murdered corpse around the field, and corn will pop up wherever you go. Taking one for the team here, guys!”
10. Elisabeth Bathory: the blood countess
Bathory (1560–1614), a countess from Hungary, is generally accepted as the most prolific female serial killer there has ever been. You really don’t need to know all the horrible, grotesque, sickening things she’s alleged to have done, but if you really want to, read Porath’s original post. It makes for quite the drinking game.
Sita, the heroine of the Indian epic Ramayana, is kidnapped by a demon. She’s rescued by the hero, Rama, who makes her prove that she stayed faithful while held captive. She passes every test, but is exiled – so she jumps into a pit of lava.
Mythical Greek queen. Really wanted to have sex with a bull that Poseidon gave her husband, King Minos. Gave birth to the Minotaur as a result. Moreover, as Porath writes: “Being a powerful sorceress (her sister was Circe) and knowing that her husband was cheating on her, she made a charm such that if he slept with anyone save her, he would ejaculate serpents, scorpions, and millipedes. Gross.”