Wicked Women: The Podcast

They were adulterers, murderers, mistresses, religious zealots, thieves, and traitors. They were queens, wives, mothers, young, and old. What binds the women together in this podcast is their legacies. These are women who were known during their lifetimes or reinvented after their deaths as wicked women. The lenses of history are often gendered, damning women for some of the same actions that men have been lauded for. The nuances surrounding the women in this podcast were removed in exchange for a one-sided portrayal. Within Wicked Women: The Podcast, I do not attempt to excuse or condone the wrongs committed by these women, instead, the podcast looks at their overarching story and examines the origin of their negative legacy. Alongside a brief biographical overview of the woman, I will be incorporating interviews I have held with experts on the subject to provide multiple and diverse perspectives.

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Episodes

2 days ago

Shakespeare called her the “She-wolf of France” and “A hateful withered hag.” Philippa Gregory described her as “The Bad Queen.” Contemporary chronicles described her as “poor and alone” and as a “great perversion.” Margaret of Anjou has gone down in history as one of the many villains of the War of the Roses. Her story emulates the concept that history is written by the victors, for the truth is, Margaret and her cause lost spectacularly and brutally. Margaret refused to conform to contemporary expectations of womanhood and queenship throughout her life and paid the price with her legacy. 

Saturday Sep 17, 2022

She witnessed some of the most monumental events of Henry VIII’s reign. She was a lady-in-waiting to five of his six queens. The sister-in-law to one, and a cousin-in-law to another. She callously brought about the downfall of her husband and sister-in-law and led a young girl farther into sin and to the block. Or so the legend goes. When Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford laid her head upon the block on the cold February morning, the real woman died and a myth of the “Infamous Lady Rochford '' was born.   Featured Guests: Claire Ridgeway, a historian, best-selling author, and founder of the website The Anne Boleyn Files, and Adam Pennington, the creator of the widely popular blog and instagram page The Tudor Chest.

Thursday Jul 21, 2022

Empress Wu Zetian is the only woman in Chinese history to rule in her own name, but, similarly to Empress Theodora, her story is steeped in rumors, political agendas, and missing documents. There is no way for people today to truly know the truth of her story or the accuracy of her legacy. The legend paints her as a murderous, vindictive, power-hungry vixen. In recent years some historians have called for her to be recognized as a proto-feminist. A woman who “broke the glass ceiling” and rose higher than any female before or after her in Imperial China. Empress Wu was a woman far ahead of her time, but her legacy has been blighted and silenced over the centuries. Featured Guests: Jonathan Clements, a historian, professor, and TV presenter who specializes in the history of East Asia, and Mike Dash, a New York Times bestselling author and historian.

Thursday Jul 14, 2022

It is the ultimate Cinderella story. A dashing Emperor falls in love with an actress and changes the law to make her his bride. Empress Theodora was born into a life on the stage and in sex work, but after her marriage to Emperor Justinian, she became the most powerful woman in the Byzantine Empire. But her name has been sullied by the salacious publication The Secret History by Prokopios in which she is depicted as the ultimate Wicked Woman. Featured Guests: Dr. Leslie Brubaker, an expert in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, and award-winning author Stella Duffy who has written two novels about Theodora, Theodora and The Purple Shroud.

Thursday Jul 07, 2022

Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, was Queen Consort for only 16 months before she was executed for treason. While Henry VIII's other wives (particularly Anne Boleyn) have been constantly reinvented, Katherine has remained stereotyped as the frivolous hyper-sexualized "good-time girl" (as David Starkey phrased it). In truth, she was a far more sympathetic and interesting young woman, thrust into one of the most dangerous spotlights imaginable, the court of Henry VIII.    Featured Guests: Gareth Russell, the author of the critically acclaimed book on Katherine Howard, Young and Damned and Fair, and Dr. Nikki Clark, a senior lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Chichester who has researched the women in the Howard family extensively.

Thursday Jun 30, 2022

Step back into the world of glittering palaces, violent revolutions, mystical healers, and one woman’s struggle to survive it all. In today’s episode, I will be discussing the life and legacy of Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna Romanov, the last Tsaritsa of Russia. Tsaritsa Alexandra’s legacy is a complicated one. The contempt and hatred felt for her during her lifetime and expanded upon during the communist regime in Russia have created an image of an overbearing, fanatical, evil woman hell-bent on Russia’s destruction. Her strong will and natural reserve have helped to create a version of Alexandra as haughty and cold. She was altogether a more complex woman.  Featured Guests: Helen Rappaport, an international best-selling author and historian on the life of the last Romanov Imperial Family, and James Boulton, the creator of the popular podcast series The Queens of England and The Other Half.

Thursday Jun 23, 2022

Queen Mary I, more commonly known as Bloody Mary, is perhaps best known for the burning of Protestants. However, she was an altogether more complex and complicated woman. In addition to being the first crowned Queen Regnant in English history, Mary's life was a constant mix of the greatest triumphs and the most heartbreaking lows. Listen to this episode to learn more about this fascinating queen.    Featured Guests:  Melita Thomas, the author of the book The King’s Pearl which analyzes Mary’s tumultuous relationship with her father Henry VIII, and Johanna Strong, a current PhD student focusing on rehabilitating Mary in the public eye.

Thursday Jun 23, 2022

Welcome to Wicked Women: The Podcast, a series that looks at some of the most infamous and maligned women in history. This episode provides a brief overview of how the series will work, and which women will be featured. Enjoy!

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Wicked Women: The Podcast

In this season of Wicked Women I will be focusing on some well-known and some lesser known women in history who have acquired an unsavory reputation. This season will analyze the lives and legacies of Alexandra Feodorovna (the last Tsaritsa of Russia), Queen Mary I (more popularly known as Bloody Mary and England’s first crowned Queen Regnant), Katherine Howard (Henry VIII’s fifth wife who was executed for adultery), Empress Wu Zhao, also known as Wu Zetian (the only empress in Chinese history to rule in her own name), and Empress Theodora (a former sex worker who became Empress of the Byzantine Empire). In the end, this podcast does not look to excuse or dispute the wrongs committed by some of these women, but it is also not looking to completely villainize them. Instead, I hope this can be a conversation starter on the complicated legacies prescribed to women in history.




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