The language may not be vulgar, but the facts certainly are. Ann Foster’s “Vulgar History” is a feminist women’s history podcast looking at the most scandalous, most dynamic, and often the most misrepresented women in history. With a generous smattering of Foster’s sarcastic wit, this podcast is expanding the single sentence women often get in the history books.
“Vulgar History” is going strong with over 50 episodes and counting. Foster’s episodes span just about an hour, with her earlier episodes averaging around just 40 minutes or so. As a lone podcast host, she keeps things interesting not only with her fascinating subjects, but with her satirical commentary on these far-too-scandalous-for-history-class lessons. While she occasionally does series that should be listened to in order, most of her episodes are stand-alone stories that can be listened to in any order.
Listen to the story of Doña Ana de Mendoza, a 16th century Spanish princess who wore an eyepatch for no discernible reason besides looking hardcore? Or Marguerite de Valois, a French princess whose life story is full of poisoned gloves, multiple assassinations, and the caretaking of the decapitated head of her lover. And you can hear about all of the things that were mythologized about her after her death, including her being a nymphomaniac.
An informal but incredibly well-researched podcast, in the vein of “You’re Wrong About,” “Vulgar History” will have you chuckling about with Foster’s inner musings. From her constant use of the phrase “secret sexy marriages” and describing what she imagines historical figures to look like based on actors who’ve played them, she’s definitely playing the role of the cool history teacher that everyone wanted to have write a college letter of recommendation.
Hear about the women and families who inspired the characters in Game of Thrones, or work your way through her series titled “How To Lose A Queen in Nine Days,” about the brief, brief reign of Mary Tudor, Queen of France. Not to be confused with Mary, Queen of Scots. So different, yet so scandalously similar. On that note, at the end of every episode, Foster ranks each woman’s plight with a Scandalicious score despite most of these stories not having super happy endings.
Long story short, we can’t recommend “Vulgar History” enough to any history fans out there. It’s got sex, it’s got scandal, it’s probably got Succession-esque storylines, and it’s definitely got witches.