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Claire Baizanville's
Character Sheet for GURPS

Claire Baizanville (1684- )

She is not properly a Galatan/Catalan character, but her increasing role as the Monte-Cristan officer comissioned on the security and protocol of the Legate Marquis of Vilana allows her to become a key character in the dramatic Galatan/Catalan struggle for Liberty. So that I've thought it fair to deserve some room for her biography, kindly delivered by his author and manager of Monte-Cristo Presipality, Jean-Louis. My warmest thanks to him for having designed a so cool, seductive from all points of view character:

When the Galatan legation led by the Marquis of Vilana came to Monte-Cristo in July 1713, the highest ranking among the few women Gardes de l'Etrier was the beautiful Claire Baizanville, "La Belle Dame sans Merci". As her name suggests, she was born in Normandy. Given the local maritime tradition, it was natural for an adventurous girl to masquerade as a boy and embark in a merchant ship -In her case it was to escape poverty without becoming a serving wench in a tavern or a chambermaid in a rich burgher's hostel or a noble's castle, with what it implied for a poor girl. It is said she killed her first man in wharfside tavern brawl; for sure she had to fight like a cornered panther to avoid the "fate worse than death" of cabin boys in that time. So once in the Caribbean she joined a crew of "pirettes".

Soon, with bounty money in her purse and her fighting skills sharpened, she paid her passage back to Europe and became a famous professional duelist. Her later service records as an agent of the Secret du Roy, the French Secret Service, are a state secret but were obviously outstanding. Then -perhaps with too many enemies everywhere else and a bounty for her head placed in most capital cities of Europe- she accepted the invitation to Monte-Cristan service.

Yet she is a kind and lovely person: to be accepted in Monte-Cristo, foreigners must have fully adopted the local worldview and way of life: "sea, sex, smoke and sun", "friendship of the thighs and sunbathing", "peace and love" if at all possible, astoundingly pitiless bursts of violence if threatened...

Claire Baizanville is a completely fictitious character, whose origin I figure should be sought into the deepest corners of their authors' minds. As for her "official" portrait, all the merits ought to be credited to the beautiful Russian actress Kseniya Knyazeva (Ксения Князева), who played a role in the also Russian film The Sovereign's Servant (Слуга Государев).



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Lady Francesca's Coat of Arms as Countess of Santa Sofia

Countess of Santa Sofia (1687- )

Lady Francesca Di Bella i Aymerich is a young, unmarried noble lady belonging to a mixed Catalan-Sardinian lineage of Cagliari town (Sardinia) As an increasing number of pre-illustrated parents brethren from all around Europe, young Francesca was sent to the reputed École de Sciences des Demoiselles of Monte-Cristo, where she incidentally concurred with Elisenda Folc de Cardona, who was one year elder. Both girls soon became close friends all through their shared schooling period and spent long times discussing lively about politics, science, history... and boys, of course.

Few years after Francesca's graduation, War of Spanish Succession knocked violently on Sardinian doors. In 1708 the island came into Archduke Charles' hands, so that Philip d'Anjou soon tried to regain it by force. When in 1710 a Two Crowns expeditionary force invaded Sardinia, Francesca's father volunteered in the island defence and died in battle. Much like her Catalan second self Elisenda, Francesca had to take the County reigns at the young age of 23 --and she has been performing quite well so far, wisely introducing some gradual changes in the small fief management, so as to improve both productivity and standard of living of her vassal subjects. Not strangely, the ideas Lady Francesca is putting into practice have close resemblance to those applied by Elisenda in her own County of Prades.

As a lover of social life however, Lady Francesca is not allowing her duties to monopolize her time. She usually alternates residence between the capital city of Casteddu (better known for its Italian name of Cagliari, or Càller in Catalan) and the small town of Belvì in her county very heart. When in Cagliari, she doesn't neglect attendance to prominent social events, but also devotes some evenings to organizing scholarly discussions on Sardinian Prehistory --a subject really passionating her.



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Foix de Rovellats (1692- )

Born in the beautiful Sant Martí Sarroca village in Penedès county, Foix de Rovellats is the second daughter of a wealthy farmer publicly committed to the cause of Archduke Charles Habsburg. Pretty, responsible and a good daughter, her life would not have experienced any dramatic turn if it hadn't been for her father's misfortune in choosing a husband for her, a rich landowner from Vilafranca del Penedès named Joan Agustí de Copons, Marquis of Moja, about whom a number of bad rumours existed; some of these pointed him as a hidden supporter of Philip d'Anjou -but others swirled about his undisguised contempt for women, and these latter concerned Foix the most by far.

From a purely objective standpoint, Sir Rovellats' election could not be more accurate, because the alliance with an eventually influential Bourbon supporter meant a reasonable assurance of survival for the family states, whatever the result of war. About Foix herself, she was not in such deep political convictions to reject the Marquis just for it, but his rumoured misogyny was another question. Horrified at the prospect of being forever enslaved to such a cold and ruthless man as rumours stated, she finally fled the family home, following the furtive advice of her friends.

Foix de Rovellats then undertook the most logical possible way, that one that might simultaneously fed any eventual hope and uncertainties: the dynamic, bustling city of Barcelona. There she hoped to be greeted by any distant relative, with no higher prospect in fact than earning a living working as a home servant. This was an undoubtedly humble prospect, nevertheless it still would allow her to retain the dignity she would certainly have lost at hands of the Marquis.

A happy coincidence was that she just arrived in Barcelona when Countess Elisenda was raising her Daughters of Minerva female regiment. The girl saw in it her chance and did not hesitate at all to get enlisted. Intelligent, resolute and diligent as peasant girls use to be, Foix soon learned some mastership at her new job and easily won the confidence of the regiment's Lieutenant Colonel Loys d'Hauteville, who quickly promoted her to Sergeant Major -his second-in-command and confident.

Foix neatly understands that Loys favors to her are far from being accidental, and that the young military has a hardly disguised crush on the girl, not less evident to her than his own efforts to suppress such feelings. Perhaps it only happens that such knowledge is pleasantly feeding her own self-esteem, but as a matter of fact Foix clearly perceives as she is in turn also starting to feel herself interested in that attractive, distinguished and courtly young man, who speaks in that sweet accent, so vaguely familiar as exotic as well...

Foix de Rovellats is a fictional character too, most of whose behaviour traits are to be defined yet. However, the image associated to our Foix is to be based on that of the Catalan charismatic actress Ariadna Gil, whose portrait can be seen next. She has few roles performed in 18th century movies, but some of you maybe have noticed her through her work at films such as Pan's Labyrinth, Captain Alatriste or Libertarias.



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General Basset (1654- )

Joan-Baptista Basset -very soon.



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General Moragues (1669- )

Josep Moragues i Mas -very soon.



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General Prado (1670- )

Son of a Galician officer and a Barcelonese lady belonging to a family of Ciutadans Honrats (=Honored Citizens), Francisco Prado was born in the Pyrenean city of Jaca, in Aragon. He soon followed the path of his father and started the military career as an auxiliary junior officer in his father's unit, under command of the Duke of Savoy. Young Francisco's first war experience was in the battle of Staffarda (1690), later distinguishing himself during the siege of Cuneo (1691), where he first fell wounded. For these early actions he was granted the rank of Captain -although he was assigned no employment for a while. After his convalescence at Sacro Monte di Crea (Alessandria), Francisco married a lady belonging to the alessandrian lesser nobility, and shortly later was appointed as captain in Eugene of Savoy's regiment, thanks to father-in-law's influence. In his new employment he soon got involved in the War of the Holy League against the Ottoman Empire and distinguished himself again at Zenta (1697).

In 1704 Francisco volunteered to the force gathered by Príncep Jordi (Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, as he was affectionately called by the Catalans) to support the Archduke Charles cause in Spain. It was under Darmstadt command that he participated in the seizure of Gibraltar (1704). After that action, Prado purchased a warrant to raise a fusiliers regiment and fought as a colonel in the liberation campaign of Valencia under command of General Basset, although unnoticed. After the seizure of Barcelona by the Allies he was comissioned to the Principality of Catalonia, where he was temporarily appointed to command the Blas Ferrer regiment withdrawal after the Mont-Roig defeat.

Lacking a commission again, in 1706 Prado went back to Italy seeking a better chance. Taken under Eugene of Savoy's service once again, he fought at Malplaquet carnage and was afterwards promoted to General.

After the peace of Utrecht, our Francisco inherited his mother's family fortune, so that he took his family in Barcelona to enjoy it, where they are surprised by the start of the 1713 campaign for the submission of Catalonia. When it was noticed the appointment of General Villaroel as Commander in Chief of the Catalan army, Francisco Prado joined his staff.

This is a purely fictional character too, intended to represent an average professional soldier of that period.



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Lord Guillem's Coat of Arms as Marquis of Aitona

Marquis of Aitona (1674-)

Guillem Ramon VIII de Montcada is a fully historical character, the last native representative of an aristocratic dynasty with deep roots in the early beginnings of the Principality of Catalonia, later becoming one of the Crown of Aragon most powerful lineages (if not the most powerful one), often in open rivalry to the House of Cardona --whose latest native representative in this what-if setting is our Elisenda Folch de Cardona.

At the outbreak of the War of Spanish Succession, Lord Guillem sided with Philip d'Anjou, for whom he fought since an early stage defending the Duchy of Milan (1704). He later took part in the first siege of Barcelona by King Philip V (1706). When the siege had to be raised, he succeeded to lead the Two Crowns Army withdrawal toward the safety of neighbouring France, thanks to a net of gentlemanly covenants he weaved with the Enemy --many of whose Catalan leaders were also vassals to him as Count of Osona.

He later tried unsuccessfully to use this event as an argument to persuade King Philip V to change his attitude toward the Catalans, stating that persuasion and according spirit would be a thousand times more fruitful than pugnacity and repression. Frustrated by the king's inattention, he later resigned leading the 1713 invasion of Catalonia army, a task ultimately assigned to the infamous Duke of Popoli.

Historically, Lord Guillem of Montcada married with a Spanish noblewoman from the Benavides lineage. Their only offspring was a girl, María Teresa who married to a Fernández de Córdoba. This is how Montcada lineage would utimately get absorbed by the powerful Spanish House of Medinaceli.

In our what-if setting, Lord Guillem has accepted King Philip's commission after a first failure of His Army under Duke of Popoli. He hasn't succeded in this task either, and now the Principality has been recognized as a fully independent Nation. The status of Lord Guillem as a privileged confident of king Philip has weakened significantly, while his commission as colonel of the Spanish Royal Guard colonel is now at risk.



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Lord Josep's Coat of Arms as Marquis of Rubí

Marquis of Rubí (1669-)

Lord Josep Antoni de Boixadors -very soon.



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Lord Ramon's Coat of Arms as Marquis of Vilana


Order of the Goblet awarded July 1713 by HH William Baron of Beerstein


Marquis of Vilana's
Character Sheet for GURPS

Marquis of Vilana (1653- )

Despite Ramon Vilana i Peguera (better known as Marquis of Vilana), is a merely fictional character, as a matter of fact he is strongly inspired in an actual Catalan historical figure of these times: Ramon Vilana-Perles, Marquis of Rialb (Oliana 1663 - Vienna 1741), who was a key figure in Emperor Charles' Court.

Our fictional Ramon Vilana was born in 1653 into a wealthy farmers family in Sarrià (a village close to Barcelona city). Similarly to his historical counterpart, Vilana got graduated Doctor in Law and had a brief military experience as a cavalry officer during the war of the League of Augsburg, but abandoned soon the military career as opposed to his natural character. Vilana was later appointed Ciutadà Honrat (=Honored Citizen) of Barcelona. As a knowledge keen, cultivated and restless soul, he was soon granted membership into the literary Acadèmia dels Desconfiats (=Academy of the Distrustful), so he might well be considered one of the very first precursors of Enlightenment in the Principality.

Early oppositor to Philip V, he was imprisoned in 1703 by Viceroy Fernández de Velasco, following the Academy closure after a complaint of the Spanish/Hispannic Inquisition and the (well founded, BTW) suspicions of Austrophile propaganda activities. Released in 1705 after the liberation of Barcelona by the Allies, he became one of the speakers at the Catalan/Galatan Constitutions updating agreed between the Parliament and King Charles III. In 1706 he was appointed Cònsol de Mar (=Seas, or Overseas Consul), a Crown of Aragon’s honorary title that under the new king accompanied the charge of Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Simultaneously, he was granted the nobility title of Marquis of Vilana.

It is since mid-1713 that our Marquis de Vilana's life began to drastically diverge from that one of his historical counterpart: while the actual Marquis of Rialb chose exile and accompanied Queen Elisabeth Christine in Vienna –where he eventually continued working as the Austrian Secretary of State and later chaired the Council of Spain–, our starring character chose to remain in Catalonia instead, where he judged would be more useful. In July 1713 he has been entrusted by the Parliament as plenipotentiary Legate to the Courts of Europa, under the no-longer honorific title of Cònsol de Mar of the Principality.

Marquis of Vilana undeniably plays some role as an alter ego of my own. However, it would be plainly inaccurate to fully attribute such role to one single of my characters –all of them likely share a number of features with their creator; in any case, I must admit a high empathy level between this particular character and myself.



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Marshall Villarroel (1656- )

Antonio de Villarroel y Peláez -very soon.



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Mireia Perelló's
Character Sheet for GURPS

Mireia Perelló (1696- )

Whe've first known about Mireia in July 1713, when she is a pretty teenage girl, black-haired, slim and tall, no more than 17 years old -maybe younger. She's born in the peasant Catalan/Galatan town of Tivissa, in the Ebro Riverside county, where she's living along with her mother Blanca and her grandmother Teresa.

Our Mireia belongs to a well-known, respected long living saga of local healers, whose powers are not fully understood. These have been sometimes taken as withcraft, although there is no record of any of Mireia's ancestors ever performing any kind of black magic: occasional students of their activities have only reported cases of healing, some kind of intuitive psichiatryc intervention or even social advicing based on wisdom and common sense. Other sources believe such "powers" to be fragmentary pieces of an extremely ancient wisdom, whose remnants have survived till the Age of Reason, thanks to hidden dinasties of women, such as Mireia's family. Anyway, if Blanca and Teresa know or believe anything, they never talk about it to anybody. Even to Mireia.

As for Mireia herself, she has shown no special habilities so far, although old Teresa is convinced her granddaughter is treasuring a hidden power of still unknown nature. By now, the girl has already shown symptoms that something odd is starting to happen inside her mind. She first started to experience premonitory dreams: not that kind of dreams we'd call "future seeing", but some kind of vividly dreamt warnings -either induced or self-produced-, apparently aimed to influence her behaviour or decisions. As if some kind of external, superior force was trying to guide her towards... what?

The burst of war in Catalonia/Galatea has taken the women by surprise, just when Teresa and Blanca had started debating the convenience of acknowledging Mireia about something, so that they've decided to flee away from the approaching Two Crowns' armies, which they've judged to be dangerous for them. During their escape, Mireia has occasionally shown other signs of her awakening powers -such as some unexplainable kind of intelligence with animals.

Mireia is a purely fictional character, although she has much to be credited to my niece Sílvia, daughter of my wife's brother, who's had just started Pharmacy in the University of Barcelona when I endeavored this What-if Nation. Our only real descendant, my wife and I are most proud of her.



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Lady Elisenda's Coat of Arms as Countess of Prades


Order of the Tankard awarded August 1713 by HH William Baron of Beerstein


Coat of Arms as Princess Elisenda I of Catalonia (March 1714)

Princess Elisenda (1686- )

By mid 1713 -when we first learn about her, Lady Elisenda Folc de Cardona is still a young, unmarried landowner belonging to a Catalan/Galatan aristocratic lineage -one of the oldest and most powerful of the former Crown of Aragon, in past times only surpassed by the Royal Dynasty itself. As a matter of fact, she belongs to a secondary branch of the lineage, with only marginal rights to their ancestors' prestigious title of Dukes of Cardona -which had fallen time ago into hands of the Spanish Fernández de Córdoba lineage -and afterwards into those of Dukes of Medinaceli House. Despite this circumstance, which considerably reduced her chances to re-collecting her lineage's former power and influence, she keeps to be one of the last native descendants of the Catalan-Aragonese High Nobility -being therefore respected and even feared among the Principality's ruling spheres.

During her early years of life, Elisenda enjoyed best teachers and soon revealed great skills and intelligence. Later, her proud father did not hesitate at all to send the young lady in Monte-Cristo for a more thoroughful education, so that she entered the École de Sciences des Demoiselles, where she developed an insatiable thirst for Ancient History and Arts, finally graduating at the early age of 18 in Hellenistics.

Her life, apparently straightly forwarded into the study of Classics -and perhaps pointing to excel as an early precursor of modern Archaeology, suffered a dramatic change when returnig back home, by 1704. Her parents had died from pneumonia some weeks before, so that she found at her arrival the homely estates in a chaotic, unruling anarchy. Therefore, the young lady had no other chance than taking charge of her vast inheritance and firmly lead it all again to a stable, prosperous status thanks to the wise implementation of an emancipation program addressed to the household serfs.

Cultivated, intelligent, audacious and really pretty, Lady Elisenda quickly earned notoriety among the most influent circles of the Principality, so that was soon granted access into the Acadèmia dels Desconfiats, where she majored with a passionate lecture on Hypatia of Alexandria. This was considered an heretic offence by some Catholic circles, which had been suspiciously watching the Academy for long, and the enlightened institution was closured following a claim set up by the Inquisition.

A further change in Lady Elisenda's life came with the arrival of the Spanish throne pretender Charles Habsburg in Barcelona in 1705, where He installed His Court and government as Charles III. She was soon introduced in Court and established a close friendship with King Charles. Many malitious rumours spread over a so unusually close relationship -openly fed by Philip d'Anjou's faction-, but Lady Elisenda had always kept an irreproachable attitude, and rumours finally faded away after Charles marriage to Elisabeth-Christine of Brunswick in 1708, when Lady Elisenda also earned the Queen's friendship.

This way, Lady Elisenda became a decisive character in Court and a devoted politician. Her influence apparently reached a zenith when directly appointed by King Charles as Countess of Prades, a title that granted to her a full-right membership in the Parliament -an influence that, far from declining after Queen Elisabeth-Christine's departure on last March, still keeps ceaselessly growing instead...

I find my Lady Elisenda fictional character to be fully matching with Keira Knightley's look in her roles at the films The Duchess and Pirates of the Caribbean, so that I'll be usually representing her with that English beautiful actress image.



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Lord Vicente's Coat of Arms as Marquis of San Felipe

Vicente Bacallar (1669- )

Vicente Bacallar y Sanna -very soon.

13 comments:

Jordi said...

I had not noticed the resemblance dear marquis.

Soldadets said...

Molt de la conya, tu...

abdul666 said...

Lluis,

as you know well, the character of Claire Baizanville is *your* creation -and my warmest thanks for introducing the concept of female Gardes de l'Etrier: perfectly in accordance with Monte-Cristan ethos / perspective, as you underlined; an unavoidable consequence of these, actually, that I had failed to see!

Kseniya Knyazeva was 25 when she appeared in 'The Sovereign's servant', thus Claire could at most be 30. Then I had to provide her with two successive dazzling careers: one in foreign service, where she had to reach (the equivalent of ) commissioned officer rank to be later accepted in the Gardes, one in her new Corps to raise so fast from private trooper to junior officer. These required exceptional experience and skills.
Given the double nature of the Gardes (palace guards and Presipapal counterspies / troubleshooters / assassins) Claire needed expertise in both (quasi-)military and individual fights [while Monica Bellucci's striking character in 'Brotherhood of the Wolf', a source of inspiration for other Monte-Cristan 'active' female characters, is 'only' a classical 007-like secret agent]. To give her a first experience as sailor / pirate was suggested by an old French song about a 15 Years old girl who, to stay close to her lover, dressed as a sailor and embarked on his ship (a traditional English song tells the same story): turning pirate gave her the required 'battle' experience. Then, the idea of a professional duelist was suggested by an old French musical video.

As for a name, I was (with some nostalgia) listening the best known of Cat Stevens' songs; and for a fitting nickname for a murderous French women, Keats' poem came naturally to mind.


Now, I guess she got at least an equal with Lady Elisenda Folc de Cardona! Hope the two will meet after the (victorious Galatan!) war.

abdul666 said...

Monte-Cristo offers Mireia Perello a professorial chair in the Ecole de Medecine et d'Art Veterinaire des Demoiselles.

Soldadets said...

I do keep in mind your kind offer to Mireia, and no doubt she will gladly accept that honour... if she manages to escape the horrors of war.

(He he he... is it some kind of early precedent to Erasmus program?)

abdul666 said...

Is Mireia Perello of Gypsy blood? Even if she's not, 'gifted' Gitanas -so influencial among their people- would probably recognize her as a 'half-sister'.
Are there many Gypsies / Zingaros (or whatever they are called there) in Galatea? For more a century the Monte-Cristan 'Service' finds in them reliable and useful allies, would it be as scouts / spies, messengers (though the rumour that they brought from Transylvania the use of carrier bats is so far -at least officially- unsubstanciated), to spread (plant, animal or human) disease (but don't repeat it, their repute is already bad enough), to relay rumours or influence some credulous persons, or to 'exfiltrate' endangered people from hostile territory.
The alliance is renewed every year during their pilgrimage to the Santei Marias de la Mar in 'Kamarg' to honor their Saint Patron Sara the Black Virgin , and then the Presipapal Palace buys their fine horses and excellent steel blades. Furthermore, a few Monte-Cristans share with some Romanos that special empathy with wolves, so precious at times .

Soldadets said...

But Jean-Louis... Are you perhaps reading my mind at distance?

Gypsy people are generally reluctant to mixing with "payos" (=non-gypsies), so that Mireia has no such blood. However, I guess her lineage would easily be able to some degree of empathy with this nomadic nation.

Of course there are "Gitans" or "Zíngars" in Galatea, as everywhere in Europe. Sadly, their condition is more or less the same as in any other side.

And about wolves empathy... oh Lord, you've got telepathic powers, now I know!!

Capt Bill said...

I checked out your Marquis of Vilana in Who's Who, and I am pretty sure he is wearing his Order of the Goblet award under his sash in his portrait.

abdul666 said...

"Lady Elisenda had always kept an irreproachable attitude": platonic love can well be the deepedt and longest-lasting.

abdul666 said...

Lady Elisenda's reference / reverence to Hypatia of Alexandria, while perfectly understandable -and fully in accordance with Monte-Cristan worldview- may sound... as frightening as appropriate. And she turning female warlord, Joan of Arc fashion, may sound equally ominous. We wishe her the best.
Now, appearances and self-restrain notwithstanding, if she keeps fond memories of her sojourn in the Presipality, in depth she is not 'such a cold, such a lonesome heroine'.

Soldadets said...

Lady Elisenda's "irreproachable attitude" can in fact mean anything, and I'm consciously musing with this, leaving to readers interpretation whether she and Archduke Charles were actually in love before his wedding to Elisabeth Christine, or they simply kept that ever ambiguous kind of boy-girl close friendship, not exempt of some unfructified sexual tension so much celebrated in trobadouresque literature...

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis, I've just recalled now you asked me for Catalan heroines in the "Jeanne d'Arc" style, some time ago, and I didn't answer to you.

At the time you asked me I didn't know, so I've been spending some time in this subject research. And the result is quite amazing.

Catalan History and Mitology is plentiful of heroines. However, none of them is a warrior, but they're always queens, leader women who got beloved by their subjects: a Queen Elisenda de Montcada (http://monastic-dev.usc.edu/vitae/?function=detail&id=663 -yes, another one Elisenda; this time belonging to the other Catalan High Nobility lineage, the Montcada), or an earlier Countess Ermessenda de Carcassonne (http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ermessenda_de_Carcassona), or Queen Violant of Hungary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violant_of_Hungary).

The only one example of legendary female warrior in Catalan Historiography is Lady Guilleuma de Montcada, nicknamed is "Invicta Amazona" for having lead an army into Muslim-held territory to free her husband (http://senseanarmeslluny.blogspot.com/2010/06/la-invicta-amazona-llegenda.html). I was tempted to give the regiment the name of "Invicta Amazona" but finally discarded it for an evident reason: Lady Guilleuma had belonged to lineage rival to the Cardona's...

abdul666 said...

If it comes to the worst,
Monte-Cristo offers Lady Elisenda a professorial chair in the Ecole des Sciences des Demoiselles. The school is extremely proud of the achievements of its ex-pupil - and it's significant on many levels that the Academie des Sciences et Arts recently elected Lady Elisenda as foreign member honoris causa.

L'Amor cortes... despite some misleading appearances, the trobadoresca tradition, the memories and works of trobairitz are highly valued in Montr-Cristo.