One of the most intriguing engravings of the 18th century shows an elegant lady holding a sword and staff, wearing a cross of the military order of Saint-Louis and, more bizarrely, wearing a Masonic apron. The engraving is entitled ‘La Découverte ou la Femme Franc-Maçon’ – roughly translated as ‘The Discovery of the Female French Mason’. Rites of Adoption were not uncommon in France, with women being admitted to quasi-Masonic Orders but what was most unusual was that the woman in the picture was actually a man. A cross-dressing author, diplomat, soldier and spy, the Chevalier d’Éon, became a legend in his own lifetime.
Article featured in The Square magazine – click on the link to read.