Skip to content Skip to navigation

Gender-Queer Historic Motif Project: 81a Krimmer 2004 - In the Company of Men: Cross-Dressed Women Around 1800 (Ch 1)

Full citation: 

Krimmer, Elisabeth. 2004. In the Company of Men: Cross-Dressed Women Around 1800. Wayne State University Press, Detroit. ISBN 0-8143-3145-9

Publication summary: 

A study of cross-dressed women (or trans men) in history and literature in 18-19th century Germany and surrounding cultures. Most of the summary for this work is provided by guest-blogger Rose Fox.

Chapter 1: Equality, Liberty, Travesty: The Female Soldier and the French Revolution

* * *

(blogged by Heather Rose Jones)

This chapter focuses primarily on the history of women participating in military contexts in male dress, whether actual disguise was the intent or not.

Starts off with Joan of Arc, as usual.

Cross-dressed noblewomen involved in the Fronde insurrection in 1652-3: the Princess of Condé marched to Bordeaux in military uniform to gain support; the Duchess of Longueville disguised herself as a man to escape imprisonment after leading the Spanish army in Paris . Also participating in male disguise: the Duchess of Chevreuse and Madame Montpensier.

The upheavals of the French Revolution inspired some women to cross-dress openly as a symbol of their right to public participation, including Théroigne de Méricourt (1762-1817). Many women served openly in the French National Guard as early as 1789, even as officers. Known names include the sisters Félicité and Théophile Fernigh, Thérèse Figueur, Madame Poncet, Angélique Marie Josèphe Brulon.

In this same era, cross-dressing for better employment was documented for Catherine Louise Vignot (a coal carrier), Anne Grandjean (a carpenter), an unnamed female cobbler.

Even after attempts were made to discourage women’s military participation, we find Renée Bordereau, Francoise Després, and the Vicomtesse Turpin de Crissé.

The Napoleonic wars also provided a more relaxed context on the other side for German women participating in the military in male guise (though perhaps sometimes openly). Known individuals include Eleonore Prochaska (whose gender was only discovered after a heroic death that inspired poems and plays), Rosalie von Bonin (who commanded a cavalry unit), Anna Lühring (who was unmasked only due to a letter from her father).

The remainder of Chapter 1 discusses novels with cross-dressing female protagonists, set in the context of the French Revolution.

Time period: 

Add new comment

historical