The Pirate Queen Who Avenged Her Husband’s Death on the High Seas
After the King of France beheaded a nobleman on questionable charges, his devastated widow transformed into “the Lioness of Brittany” and spent the next decade exacting her revenge.
When Olivier IV de Clisson was convicted of betraying France by spying for England, his punishment was swift and severe: Off with his head. But the stern-faced King Philippe VI felt execution alone was not sufficient to get his message across. So he ordered Olivier’s decapitated head to be sent from Paris and placed atop a gate in Nantes, near the disgraced nobleman’s home.
The execution was the coda to a contentious episode during the War of the Breton Succession. When the heirless Duke of Brittany died in 1341, both the French and English had laid claim to his lands in northwestern France. Olivier, a wealthy Frenchman with pale white skin and long brown hair, was entrusted with protecting France’s honor and leading the army as a commander. But when the key city of Vannes fell into the hands of the English, Olivier was accused of not fighting valiantly enough for the French.
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