Dangerous Women: Ching Shih


When we think of pirates, we might think of such men as Edward Teach, Black Bart, or Henry Morgan. Edward Teach, Blackbeard, commanded a fleet of four ships and over 300 pirates. Black Bart seized over 400 ships. Henry Morgan was the terror of the Caribbean in the 1600s. Their “accomplishments” pale in comparison to the most successful pirate of all—a woman named Ching Shih. Ching Shih is known to have commanded more then 300 junks manned by 20,000 to 40,000 pirates. Her Red Flag fleet, which was a coalition of pirate fleets, may have included upwards of 1800 ships manned by over 80,000 people. From 1807 until 1810 she dominated the South China Sea and a merchant ship could not sail anywhere from Korea to Malaysia without purchasing a license ensuring safe passage from her. She also “retired” from pirating, was allowed to keep her wealth, and lived to the ripe age of 69.


Ching Shih’s early life is mostly unknown. She was born in 1775 in Guangdong province. Her birth name may have been Shil Xiang Gu. Ching Shih means the “wife of Zheng Yi”. As a young woman she enters history as a Cantonese prostitute on one of the renowned floating brothels. In 1801, at the age of 26, she was captured by the notorious pirate Zheng Yi. He had fallen in love with her and set his pirates to raid the brothel and bring her back as his portion of the loot. Zheng Yi was from a lineage of pirates that extended back to the mid-seventeenth century. He commanded a fleet of several ships called the Red Flag Fleet. When she appeared before him, it is rumored that she scratched his face and refused to marry him unless he allowed her to co-command with him and to receive a share of the loot equal to his. Zheng Yi agreed.


With Ching Shih beside him, Zheng Yi’s fleet grew. By 1807, because of alliances that they made with the Cantonese Pirate Coalition and with another pirate named Wu Shi’er, 1700-1800 ships were at their command. And because of their successes, more and more pirate ships joined them. Then tragedy struck. Zheng Yi’s ship was caught in a typhoon and all aboard perished. Ching Shih, did not step aside. She offered to co-command with Zheng Yi’s second in command, a 21 year old man named Chang Pao who Zheng Yi had adopted as his son.


Ching Shih set up an ad hoc government to rule her pirates. She established a businesslike framework, which included taxes. Ching Shih set in place an absolute code of conduct that made the pirate code of the Spanish Main look tame. Disobeying an order would result in a pirate being beheaded. Stealing from the common plunder before it was accounted for and divided properly would result in being beheaded. Ugly women were set free. Beautiful women could be purchased for marriage and were expected to be treated appropriately. If a pirate ill-treated his wife he would be punished. Raping a woman meant death. Consensual sex while on duty meant beheading for the male pirate and the woman would be dropped into the ocean with cannon balls to weigh her down to the ocean floor. If a pirate or a pirate ship harassed a town, merchant, farmer or anyone that the Red Flag Fleet had an agreement with or received support from, the pirate or pirates would be beheaded. If a pirate tried to desert, their ears were chopped off to announce their humiliation as a coward.


Thinking beyond the norms, Ching Shih did not limit the raiding by her ships to the open sea. She used numerous shallow bottom boats to traverse up China’s rivers to raid towns inland. Two towns banded together to form a small fleet to try to defeat the Red Flag Fleet. They were annihilated.


For the Chinese Emperor this was a humiliation. He raised a naval fleet to attack Ching Shih’s fleet. Ching Shih met his fleet head on rather than run. She routed the Emperor’s navy. She captured 63 large ships and impressed thousands of recruits from his sailors by offering them the choice of joining with her or having their feet nailed to the deck and being beaten with clubs.


The Emperor of the Qing Dynasty was at a loss. He turned to the aid of the British and Portugese navies. He offered large sums of money to Dutch mercenary ships to defeat the Red Flag Fleet. These combined forces engaged with Ching Shih’s ships repeatedly. And were repeatedly defeated. No one sailed in the ocean waters where her fleet held sway without her permission and she was ruthless to those who tried.


In 1810, the Emperor offered her amnesty if she was willing to kneel before him as his subject. She refused these terms. The official who had performed her marriage ceremony when she became Zheng Yi’s wife offered a solution. He proposed that Ching Shih kneel before the Emperor not in subjugation but rather in thanks for allowing her to maintain her wealth and for the offer of amnesty. Ching Shih agreed and negotiated a peace with the Emperor. Her fleet was to disband, her ships were to be given up, and amnesty was extended to all pirates under her command except 376 individuals who were brought up on various other crimes. Ching Shih also negotiated for herself that she was to be given an aristocratic title, “Lady by Imperial Decree”, which entitled her to various legal protections.


Ching Shih retired at the age of 35. She settled down at first with Chang Pao and they had a son. When he died unexpectedly, she moved to the countryside and opened a gambling house and brothel. She lived to the age of 69 and had a grandson. Ching Shih made her way in a dangerous world. She seized every opportunity, went beyond anyone’s expectations of what was possible, and lived well.

Dangerous Women: Grandy Nanny

Dangerous Women: Grandy Nanny

There is little clear physical evidence about Grandy Nanny. Historical texts only mention her four times. However,  Grandy Nanny is a Jamaican cultural hero believed to have lived in the eighteenth century. Jamaicans revere her for her role in Jamaican independence. Her image adorns the $500 bill. Oral tradition passed along by her descendants preserved much of what is known about Grandy Nanny. She is as much a myth as a historical figure.

Obeah Priestess and Medicine Woman

Grandy Nanny began her life as a royal member of the Ashanti tribe. Growing up, she was trained in the religion of Obeah to be a priestess and medicine woman. Kidnapped in western Africa in an intertribal conflict, members of her tribe sold her and her brothers into slavery. Once they were in Jamaica, they quickly escaped and went into the hills. Grandy Nanny created a community of free men, women, and children in what would become Nanny Town. Additionally her brothers created other settlements. For instance her brother Captain Cudjoe was the leader of the Leeward Maroons and founded Cudjoe Town.

Leader of the Windward Maroons

As the leader of the Windward Maroons, Grandy Nanny lead one of several groups of escaped slaves. These slaves formed independent tribal groups around the Caribbean. They ran their communities in a similar way to tribal villages in Africa. Many of the the members of the Maroons were from the Akan region of Western Africa. Slaves from other areas also joined their ranks. Further, the former slaves inter-married with the indigenous Arawaks. Archeological evidence of some of these various communities suggests the different Maroon groups traded with Spanish and later British plantations or settlements. They exchanged produce and livestock for cloth, weapons, and other items. In addition the Maroons obtained necessities by leading raids against the plantations and settlements. The raids freed more slaves and drove the British out of Jamaica.

Around 1720, Nanny and her husband settled in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. Between 1728 and 1734, the British frequently attacked the Maroon communities. The British saw the settlements of escaped slaves as lost wealth and property. Due to British attacks, Grandy Nanny chose her location for its strategic importance. It overlooked the Stony River from atop a 900 foot ridge, making a surprise attack by the British practically impossible. Further, the Windward Maroons also organized a system of look-outs to watch for attacks. If an attack was eminent, a member of the Maroons blew a horn called an abeng summoning their warriors to battle.

Guerilla Warfare

Several times Grandy Nanny personally lead attacks on the British. An old sorcerer woman organizing and leading the attacks flabbergasted the British. In addition, rumors of Grandy Nanny’s spiritual powers assisting her in resisting the British circulated widely. Because of the rumors about Grandy Nanny, the British hunted specifically for her to stop the rebellion. In response, she retreated into the highest mountains of Jamaica. Further, she continued her strategy of guerilla warfare against the Redcoats who she called “red ants.” Over the course of 30 years, Grandy Nanny freed more than 800 slaves in her raids on plantations.


In March 1733, a written citation in the Journal for the Assembly of Jamaica notes Grandy Nanny’s death. It reads:

“for ‘resolution, bravery and fidelity’ awarded to ‘loyal slaves . . . under the command of Captain Sambo’, namely William Cuffee, who was rewarded for having fought the Maroons in the First Maroon War and who is called ‘a very good party Negro, having killed Nanny, the rebels old obeah woman.'”

While there are so few citations about Grandy Nanny, this one points to her death at the hands of William Cuffee. Most likely Cuffee was a type of hired soldier known as a “Black Shot”.  Reward motivated him to fight against the Maroons. Plantation owners used “Black Shots” to discourage slaves from escaping. The Maroons buried Grandy Nanny at “Bump Grave” in Moore Town which is another settlement established by the Windward Maroons.

In 1739 the British governor in Jamaica signed a peace treaty with the Windward and Leeward Maroons. A land grant promised 2500 acres in two locations to the Maroons. The Maroons were to remain in their five main towns, namely Accompong, Trelawny Town, Mountain Top, Scots Hall, and Nanny Town. The terms negotiated were that the Maroons would live under their own chief, with a British supervisor. In exchange, the Maroons agreed not to liberate or hide new runaway slaves. Further, they would help to catch the runaways and be paid for any runaway slaves they caught. In addition, the British agreed to pay the fierce Maroons to fight for them in the case of an attack from the French or Spanish.

Grandy Nanny was a very dangerous woman.

Dangerous Women: Voodoo Queen Marie LaVeau

Warm and sultry with a heat that mesmerizes and seduces, New Orleans is known in part for such things as Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, and its colorful history. The city’s reputation is also infused with the scent of rum-fed spirits, sightings of vampires walking white skinned down its boulevards, and the heartbeat rhythm of generations of voodoo drums.

Voodoo has a life in New Orleans. People can be seen with gris-gris bags attached to their belts and many of the folk remedies for a variety of ailments come straight from voodoo practice.

Who knows how early voodoo began in New Orleans? It was alive and well in the 1800’s. Such practitioners as Doctor John were invoking the Lwa, making gris-gris, and holding ceremonies with snakes and other animals at the inception of the nineteenth century. One of the most powerful voodoo priestesses that ever lived was Marie LaVeau.

In reading about Marie LaVeau it is hard to determine when and where she was born. Some accounts say that she was born in Haiti and some that she was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans to a wealthy landholder and his Creole wife who was a free woman of color somewhere around 1794. On August 4, 1819 she married Jacques Paris who was a free man who had immigrated from Haiti after the revolution in 1804. Their marriage certificate is preserved in Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. The marriage mass was performed by Pere Antoine. Jacques died a year later under mysterious circumstances. Marie LaVeau then married Christophe Glapion with whom she had 15 children. One of these children, Marie, inherited her charisma and later continued as the reigning voodoo queen of New Orleans.

Marie was raised as a Catholic and throughout her life she went to mass daily. While the connotations around the title of “voodoo queen” might imply something of a nefarious nature, Marie served the populace nobly. She administered to the sick throughout the yellow fever and cholera epidemics of her time period. In 1853 a committee of gentlemen, appointed at a mass meeting held at Globe Hall on the behalf of the community, requested that she tend to the fever stricken. She went out, worked tirelessly, fought the pestilence where it was thickest, and many survived because of her efforts.

Marie LaVeau was egalitarian in who she would create remedies and charms for. A slave could get a love potion or a remedy for a sick child for a small amount. The wealthy who came to her were charged in accordance to what they could afford. She presided over both private and public rituals. Rituals were performed at Bayou St. John, along Lake Pontchartrain, and outside of Congo Square. Rituals were held every Sunday afternoon which was a time that slaves had free.

Marie LaVeau’s voodoo included African elements of obeah that came from Haiti after New Orleans was flooded with refugees, references to Catholic saints and the use of incense, and preexisting voodoo and folk wisdom from the Creole community already in New Orleans. She had a very large snake named Zombi after an African god that she danced with during the public rituals. Her power and influence were legendary and no one began an endeavor of importance without first consulting the voodoo queen.

Some say that Marie LaVeau’s magical abilities did not derive from her voodoo practice, but rather from her ability to gather information. She began her career as a business woman as a hairdresser and a cook. She catered at first to those in jail and later to the wealthy of New Orleans society. It has been said that she was adept at listening closely and storing in her memory tidbits of gossip and overheard remarks that she later used to great effect. Another possibility is that she used her knowledge of herbal medicine and folk remedies to treat the slaves and household servants of the wealthy who she then employed to act as a network of informants. Whether Marie LaVeau’s clairvoyant abilities were paranormal in origin or had a more mundane explanation, she had significant influence over the activities in her society.

Marie LaVeau is said to be buried in her husband’s family crypt in Saint Louis Cemetery Number One. In the past people came and laid three silver coins at the base of the crypt to request her help with wishes and problems. People still visit the crypt and write three XXX’s on the wall to incur her favor because voodoo queens don’t just die, they pass on to a dimension alongside our own reality and they can still work their influence.

Dangerous Women: Queen Nzinga Mbande

Queen Nzinga Mbande was said to have been born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. This was an omen that she would be a proud woman. It was prophesied that she would become a queen.

In 17th century south west Africa, the Portuguese sought to colonize the region in order to control the trade in African slaves. They attacked many of their trading partners including the African kingdom of Ndongo where Nzinga’s family ruled. At the time her brother King Ngola Mbandi was forced to flee his country when the governor of Luanda invaded the capital as part of an aggressive campaign to conquer and colonize the area. Thousands died. Thousands were taken captive.

The king sent Nzinga to negotiate a treaty with the Portuguese. When she met with the governor, Joao Correia de Sousa, he did not offer her a chair. Instead he asserted that she was a subordinate by placing a floor mat where she was to sit. Refusing to bow to the governor, Nzinga summoned one of her servants. She had him kneel on the floor and she sat upon his back placing herself at a similar stature to the governor. Rumor has it that at the end of the negotiations she had the servant beheaded in front of the Portuguese to show her fearlessness. The Ndongo people did not submit and assume vassalage under the Portuguese.

The treaty with the Portuguese was never honored despite in a show of good faith Nzinga Mbande had converted to Christianity. The Portuguese never withdrew and never returned their captives. Nzinga Mbande’s brother committed suicide and she became queen. Rumors abounded that she had poisoned him and the Portuguese used the rumors to not honor her right to succeed him.

Queen Nzinga Mbande refused to be subjugated under the Portuguese. She made an alliance with the Dutch and with Dutch reinforcements she routed a Portuguese army in 1647. She laid siege to the Portuguese capital of Masangano. When the Portuguese recaptured Luanda in 1648, she retreated to Matamba and continued to resist Portugal. She and her two sisters personally lead their troops into battle.

In 1657 after a decade of battle, she made peace with the Portuguese and included in the treaty that they would supply support to her family as allies to maintain them as the ruling family. She devoted her later years to resettling former slaves. Legends abound that she had a male harem that she required to dress as women, that men were beheaded after one night of pleasure with her, and that to show her ferocity she ate human flesh. Despite numerous attempts to dethrone her, Queen Nzinga Mbande remained in power until her death at the age of 80.

Dangerous Women: Mochizuki Chiyome

Do you remember the James Bond movie Octopussy? Maud Adams played a woman who was the head of a secret organization of women thieves and spies. There is little known about her but Mochizuki Chiyome was a Japanese noblewoman from the 16th century who was the head of a secret organization of female ninjas.

Chiyome was the wife of the warlord Mochizuchi Nobumasa who was from Shinano and the head of Mochizuki Castle. Whenever he was off making war, she was in charge of the castle. After his death in 1575, it is rumored that her husband’s uncle approached her and offered her the chance to be in charge of an underground network of kunoichi agents. Kunoichi means “deadly flowers” and he was offering her the chance to be at the head of a group of female warriors.

Medieval Japanese aristocratic politics were corrupt and ever changing. Samurai were more than warriors, they were spies, disseminators of subversion, and assassins. Despite that they did the noble class’ dirty work they weren’t paid very well. As popular as they are now in modern culture, during their time they were paid a wage akin to that of someone who works in a fast food chain. Chiyome who was recently widowed had the skills of a ninja, but to become a ninja was unacceptable. She decided to become the sensei to the kunoichi.

Locked away in her compound, Chiyome began to recruit. Those taking note thought that she was simply taking in unfortunate girls and women. Her recruits were orphaned and abandoned girls, runaways, and downtrodden women. Nobody on the outside seemed to hear the whistle of sword blades cutting the air or the zing of throwing stars hitting targets.

In Chiyome’s Kunoichi School for Wayward Girls, the girls were trained in the martial arts. They learned to use knives, swords, spears, and halberds. They also learned the art of disguise, how to use their feminine wiles, how to escape, and to improvise. Sometimes a fan would be sharpened to have a razor sharp edge or a hairpin would be dipped in poison in order to bring death to a target. It is rumored that at the height of Chiyome’s power she had 200-300 agents that were working for the Takeda clan and kept the daimyo Takeda Shingen informed of all happenings within the countryside. Her women could be anywhere. A washer-woman, actress, maid, market seller, or geisha might be one of her deadly flowers. Madame Chiyome was truly a dangerous woman.

Dangerous Women: Artemisia Gentileschi

Judith Slaying Holofernes

Artemisia Gentileschi once vowed, “As long as I live, I will have control over my being.” This was a bold statement for a woman who was born in Rome in 1593. She was the eldest daughter of Orazio Gentileshi. Orazio was a painter who followed in the Baroque style of Caravaggio. He tried to teach painting to his sons, but it was his daughter who had a genius for drawing, mixing colors, and painting. Artemisia surpassed her father’s abilities. Because she was a woman, she could not study in any of the art academies. Orazio hired Agostino Tassi who he was working on a commission with to give his daughter private lessons. Tassi was not a virtuous man. Unbeknownst to Orazio he had been convicted of trying to murder his wife. Tassi attempted to seduce Artemisia and when that was unsuccessful he raped her. Because Artemisia thought that he would marry her she carried on as his sexual partner for several months. It soon came out that he had tried to commit violence on his wife and he attempted to steal a painting from the Gentileschi household. Orazio sought justice. Agostino Tassi was charged with raping Artemisia even though they had a months long affair because he had deflowered her. Justice in the 17th century involved torture techniques from centuries previous. Artemisia was subjected to thumbscrews, a gynecological exam, and lacing of her fingers. Under torture she maintained her story that Tassi had initiated their affair by raping her. Agostino Tassi was sentenced to one year in jail which he never served. Artemisia was married to Pierantonio Stiattesi who was an artist and minor nobleman from Florence. The marriage was a match to bring respectability to Artemisia. The couple moved to Florence where Artemisia bore five children– a daughter and four sons. Her daughter was the only child to survive to adulthood.

Susanna and the Elders

Because of the rape and trial Artemisia’s amazing talent was secondary to her story for a very long time, but her ability to portray her subjects in a naturalistic fashion makes her one of the most important artists of the generation after Caravaggio. In a time period when women were considered to have insufficient intelligence to work and contribute anything of significance to society, Artemisia Gentileschi brought thought and passion to her works. When she was only 17 years old she depicted the sexual assault of Susanna by the Elders as a traumatic event. Much of her work shows violence and stirs with tension. Her painting, Judith Slaying Holofernes, is memorable for violence that it portrays.

Judith and Her Maidservant

Artemisia Gentileschi was recognized within her own time period for her talent. The Medicis, Charles I, and Michelangelo Buonarroti the younger (the nephew of the Michelangelo) all commissioned work from her. She was the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. The tone in her paintings of strength and defiance lessened and became more feminine over the years, but she was always a strong women who was freed from the constraints on women of her time period. Roughly 57 of her paintings are known about and of those approximately 94% feature women as protagonists or equal to men. Her paintings depict courageous, powerful women. Artemisia herself was a courageous and powerful woman. She left her husband over money and went back to Rome on her own to set up her studio. In addition to her daughter from her marriage, she had another natural daughter that little is known about. She was friends with scholars and humanists such as Cassiano dal Pozzo and Galileo Galilei. Artemisia Gentileschi was a dangerous woman who expanded the possibilities for women.

Dangerous Women: Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter has been a symbol of women’s rights for decades. She first appeared in a popular song that was released in 1942. Sung by numerous artists, including Kay Kyser the Ol’ Professor of Swing and his big band, it became a national hit. The lyrics described a woman working in a factory to do her patriotic part during World War II.

“All the day long,
Whether rain or shine
She’s part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter”

During World War II the American government campaigned to get women to work in the defense and munitions factories with the expectation that once the men came back from the war, the women would leave the factory jobs. One government advertisement said “Can you use an electric mixer? If so, you can learn to operate a drill.” Between 1940 and 1944 the number of working women increased from 12 million to 20 million. Although Rosie the Riveter immortalized the riveters, welders, and factory workers, the working women in reality filled jobs in every sector of the economy. Women taking these positions and doing them well proved that women could do the same jobs as men. Black women took many of these jobs and whites and blacks worked side by side during the war effort. This great equalizing moment in the history of the American workforce set the groundwork for not only the modern feminist movement but contributed to the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights organizers could point to the war effort– how people worked together in the factories to defeat the Nazis and the Nazi ideal of white supremacy.

Work in the factories was not easy. Conditions were harsh, the shifts were long, and the women did not get paid the same amount as men who worked with them. The average woman made about $31.50 per week while the average male wartime factory worker made $54.65 per week. The “We Can Do It!” posters that are typically associated with Rosie the Riveter were originally created to boost morale in the Westinghouse plants in the Midwest. The posters only appeared during World War II for a few weeks and then they disappeared. During that time, the poster was not seen as the image of Rosie. The artwork was rediscovered during the 1980’s and then associated with Rosie the Riveter and the feminist movement. The original Rosie the Riveter that inspired the song was Rosalind P. Walter who worked the night shift building the F4U Corsair fighter. Rosie the Riveter later became most closely associated with Rose Will Monroe who was a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She worked building B-29 and B-24 bombers when the song was extremely popular. Because she so closely resembled the character of the song, she was asked to appear in posters and films to promote women to join the war effort.

While the number of women working in the American workforce did not return to the World War II levels until the 1970’s, Rosie the Riveter changed the perception of what was possible. A woman could do a man’s job. A woman could wield a rivet gun, operate a turret lathe, or weld with a welding torch. People of all colors could work side by side and were capable of doing the same work. Rosie the Riveter was a woman who changed the world.

Dangerous Women: “The Divine Sarah”

“Life is short, even for those who live a long time, and we must live for the few who know and appreciate us, who judge and absolve us, and for whom we have the same affection and indulgence….We ought to hate very rarely, as it is too fatiguing, remain indifferent a great deal, forgive often and never forget.” — Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt has been referred to as “the most famous actress the world has ever known.” Famous and infamous, Bernhardt made a name for herself on the stages of France in the 1870’s. Her personal life read like something from the modern day tabloids and she was the lover of princes, noblemen, artists, and writers.

Alexander Dumas called her a notorious liar because she exagerrated and distorted the truth. Disputes over her early life and familial ancestry arose from the various fictions that she told about her family and ancestry. Her birth records were lost in a fire in 1871. In order to prove French citizenship, she created false birth records that listed stated she was the daughter of “Judith van Hard” and “Edouard Bernardt” from Le Havre. At various times she said that her father was a law student, an accountant, or a naval officer. It is believed in actuality that her mother was a Parisian courtesan named Julie Bernardt who was known as “Youle” and her father was never identified.

Bernhardt stage career began at the tender age of thirteen while she was a student at the Comedie-Francaise. Her performance did not garner much interest. She soon left Paris. She tried an unsuccessful stint in burlesque and became a courtesan in Belgium. While she was in Belgium she became the mistress to Henri, Prince de Ligne whose son she bore in 1864. After her son Maurice’s birth, the prince proposed marriage to her but his family forbade the marriage. The Prince de Ligne was not the only prince that she became involved with. She also had an affair with King Edward VII while he was still the Prince of Wales.

In 1865 Bernhardt acquired her famous coffin. As a young child one of Bernhardt’s sister died of tuberculosis and it has been debated whether or not she too was afflicted with the disease. She was frequently sick when she was young and this lead to a fascination with death. She often slept in the coffin. The coffin went with her on tour and became part of the Sarah Bernhardt legend. Bernhardt seemed to enjoy the intriguing presentation that she offered to the public. As it was she didn’t need her coffin until she was 79 years old. She made all of her own funeral arrangements before her death.

Bernhardt was passionate about performing. Jumping from a parapet she injured her leg. The leg continued to give her pain and remained swollen. Her physician had a cast applied. When the cast was removed it was discovered that sepsis had set in and the leg had to be amputated. This occurred in 1915 when she was 70 years old and after she had performed at the front lines during World War I. The loss of her leg never slowed her for a minute. While she found that using a wooden prosthetic leg was painful, she performed in a wheel chair and looked for roles that she could perform while seated.

Perhaps because death was such a triviality to this vibrant women, she continued to act up until her death. Her last profect was a film titled “La Voyante” where she played a fortune teller. In addition to the difficulties with her leg, Sarah Bernhardt developed kidney problems later in life. She left the set of “La Voyante” to never return again to acting. Her son Maurice sat with her at her bedside. When she was informed of the multitude of papparazzi outside her house that were waiting for the announcement of her death, she said, “All my life reporters have tormented me enough. I can tease them now a little by making them cool their heels.” She died the next day, March 26, 1923 from uremia.

Sarah Bernhardt is buried in Paris in the Pere Lachaise Cemetary. Her unofficial funeral procession took over the streets of Paris and stopped briefly in front of her theatre to pay homage to the most famous actress that the world has ever known.