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Mata Hari


7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917 (Aged 41)

Born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Died in Vincennes, France.

Margaretha Zelle became a Dutch exotic dancer, known as Mata Hari, who spied for France during World War I.

During the war, Zelle was involved in an intense relationship with a Russian pilot serving with the French, Vadim Maslov, whom she called the love of her life.

In 1916, Maslov was shot down by the Germans and badly wounded, losing the sight in both of his eyes. This led Zelle to ask for permission to visit him at the hospital near the front.

Zelle was met by agents from the Deuxième Bureau (French intelligence agency), who would only allow her to see Maslov if she agreed to spy for France.

She met with a German military attaché in Madrid, asking to arrange a meeting with the German Crown Prince Wilhelm. She also offered to share French secrets in exchange for money. It is unclear whether this was because of greed or an attempt to set up the meeting.

In January 1917, the attaché transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the help of a German spy code-named H-21, whose description was so precise it could only be referring to Mata Hari.

The Deuxième Bureau intercepted the messages and identified H-21 as Mata Hari. The messages were in a code German intelligence knew had already been broken by the French. This suggests the messages were planned to have Zelle arrested.

It is thought that German intelligence officers were annoyed that she had provided no valuable intelligence, instead sharing gossip about the sex lives of French politicians and generals.

On 13 February 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her room at the Hotel Elysée Palace on the Champs Elysées in Paris and put on trial on 24 July.

Mata Hari admitted to taking money to work as a German spy, but that she only ever passed on trivial information, as her loyalty was with France. However, she was found guilty and executed by firing squad in Vincennes, in the suburbs of Paris, at the age of 41.

Many historians agree that Hari was made a scapegoat by French authorities for their many military failures during the war, laying the blame at the hands of a German spy and exaggerating her importance and work as a spy.


(Hawaiian Queen)

  Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

2 September 1838 – 11 November 1917 (Aged 79)

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. Died in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Liliuokalani was Hawaii’s first female ruler and final monarch of the islands before she was overthrown in January 1893.

U.S. President Grover Cleveland’s administration found the overthrow to be illegal and initially suggested handing control back to the Queen if she absolved those involved in the coup. She wanted them executed.

In 1895, Liliuokalani was put under house arrest. She agreed to abdicate the throne in exchange for her release.

The annexation by the United States was completed in July 1898.

Liliuokalani lived out the rest of her life as a private citizen, before dying from a stroke at the age of 79.

Auguste Rodin


by George Charles Beresford / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917 (Aged 77)

Born in Paris, France. Died in Meudon, France.

Rodin was a French sculptor, whose work had earned him worldwide fame by the start of the 20th century.

During his lifetime, Rodin was compared to Michelangelo, and was widely recognized as the greatest artist of the era, with The Kiss and The Thinker, being two of his most popular works.

He is widely regarded as the pioneer of modern sculpture.

Buffalo Bill Cody

(American Folk Hero)

Sarony / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

26 February 1846 – 10 January 1917 (Aged 70)

Born in Scott County, Iowa, USA. Died in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Buffalo Bill was one of the most famous figures from the old American West, where he originally earned fame as a buffalo hunter.

He went on to serve as a U.S. Army scout during the Indian Wars, for which he received the Medal of Honor.

Bill’s legendary place in American folklore was secured through stories of his exploits in a series of dime-novels and, later, his Wild West traveling show spent three decades touring across America, and later Europe.

Edgar Degas


 Self portraitCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917 (Aged 83)

Born in Paris, France. Died in Paris, France.

Degas was a French painter and sculptor, renowned as one of the founders of impressionism. Above is his self-portrait from 1855.

His strong anti-Semitic views have divided opinions of his legacy.