Ep 3 of Curiosity Aroused: Ladies Hath Run Amok

It’s a saucy one this time! Skepchick Carrie tackles the sexy rumors about queens of yore.

You can listen at, via RSS, or on iTunes in the culture section. If you are on iTunes, please rate and comment!

Show notes after the jump.

Prominent historical figures are inevitable targets for rumor and intrigue, especially surrounding their personal lives. It might be easy of those of us living today to think that tabloids and gossip rags are modern inventions, but this is simply not so. People have always been obsessed with the affairs of the privileged classes, enjoying with special relish a good story of tragedy and downfall; the more debauched, the better.

This week, we will examine the lives and legacies of two such figures, Elizabeth I of England and Catherine the Great of Russia. Why was Elizabeth able to transcend the malicious gossip of her day, while sordid tales about Catherine still circulate today? Perhaps the stories that persevere are true, while fabrications fall away as the years go on?

In this podcast, we take a look at these various stories and legends and attempt to determine truth from rumor in the alleged happenings (or non happenings) in the bedrooms of queens.

Special thanks to Carrie Iwan of for the report, and thanks to Quiet Company for providing us with their music. Their most recent album is Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon. You can hear more at

Also heard in this episode is Sonata No 2 from the album “JS Bach: 6 Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord” by Ingrid Matthews and Byron Shenkmen from

Also thanks to Maria Walters, Amy Davis Roth, Tim Iwan, Richard Saunders, Sid Rodrigues, and Chris Blohm for their contributions to Ladies Doth Run Amok.

Tune in next time, when we discuss the ins and outs of colon cleansing.

You can find more at You can also subscribe through iTunes, where you can help us out by leaving positive comments and ratings. Thanks for listening.


Queen Elizabeth:

Chamberlin, Frederick Elizabeth and Leycester, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co 1939.

Doran, Susan Monarchy and Matrimony: The Courtships of Elizabeth I, London:

Routledge 1996.

Loades, David Elizabeth I: The Golden Reign of Gloriana, London: The National

Archives 2003.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I: A Biography, London: Jonathan Cape 1934.

Somerset, Anne Elizabeth I, London: Anchor Books 2003.

Weir, Alison The Life of Elizabeth I, New York: Ballantine 1998

Wilson, Derek Sweet Robin: A Biography of Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester 1533-1588,

London: Hamlish Hamilton 1981.

Catherine the Great:

De Madariaga, Isabel Catherine the Great: A Short History, New Haven: Yale University

Press 1993.

Rounding, Virginia Catherine the Great: Love, Sex, and Power, New York: St Martin’s

Press 2008.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. Talk about good timing! I’m currently reading Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser. Although the book focuses more on Boudica, Fraser spends some time with Elizabeth I and Catherine as well as Zenobia and Indira Ghandi.

    It’s a good read!

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