The true story of the 18th century’s greatest femme fatale


If Robert Perreau was telling the truth⁠⁠—if he had, indeed, been taken for a rube by his conniving sister-in-law⁠⁠—then he would hardly have been the first. From a young age, Margaret Caroline Rudd had an almost supernatural ability to manipulate those around her, especially when it came to men. Her opinion of the opposite sex was no doubt cemented in her formative years, after she was expelled from boarding school at the tender age of 13 for so-called “illicit relations” with a staff member. Social mores of the time placed blame firmly upon the victim, at least if the victim were female, and local gossip could barely keep up with the flirtations and affairs that supposedly followed. At 17, Caroline ran off with an English soldier whose regiment was stationed near her small Irish hometown, but his commanding officer promptly sent her home again. Undeterred, she continued courting military men⁠⁠—who offered both a secure income, and an escape from the drudgery of rural life⁠⁠—until she won the heart of another young soldier named Valentine Rudd. Ten days after meeting, the two were married.

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Jennifer Lee Noonan — Damn Interesting

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