it's a 1,000 page history of the romanov rule of russia that i got for 6 bucks at a used bookstore in auburn (oh, how i miss you gnu's room). anyway, whenever i'm reading about any historical figure that i am unfamiliar with i like to wikipedia/google image search them to see portraits and whatnot. i just like to have an image.
so yesterday i'm reading about sofia - half sister to peter the great who tore down the constraints of traditional womanhood to force herself into politics as regent. she was dominating and brilliant. and in an age where most tsar's daughters were left to live a life of virginity (few western european princes would have them, and they were considered above even the noblest russian) and obscurity, she took one of the most powerful men in russia as her lover. so as i'm searching her, i expect to see an attractive but powerful woman (much like catherine the great or elizabeth I). but this is the picture that comes up:
"surely this can't be right!" i think to myself. after all, i just took a stab at the russian patronym of alekseyevna that would set her apart (i mean, why even read if you can't learn cool things like russian patronyms) but i skimmed the article and it was the same woman. so i continue reading my book and the next paragraph says this: "...her appearance evidently bordered upon the grotesque. in the memorable words of one of her contemporaries, she had 'a shapeless body. monstrously fat, a head as big as a bushel measure, [and] hair growing on her face'."
all that to say, i never would have known that there was a russian grand duchess who looked like a man, yet was able to still get someone - an attractive man, nonetheless - to sleep with her (and of course she did lots of important things, too) but now i do.
so take a look. it's in a book...reading rainbow...