Maria Salome: Spain’s Famous Female Bullfighter

Famous people, History

Maria Salome: Spain’s Famous Female Bullfighter

In 1900, a twenty year old woman named Maria Salome shook Spain to the core. The slightly built lady entered the bullring. Salome, known as La Reverte, became well known and shocked Spanish society with her endeavours in the ring. So much so that in 1908, legislation was introduced that banned women for participating in fights with bulls.

Maria Salome

Bullfighting has taken place in Spain for centuries. It has always courted some controversy, despite its popularity in some parts of Spain. In 1811 the puppet Bonaparte King of Spain, Joseph, overruled his Ministers to allow a lady to fight in the ring. This had created some upset at the time, though was a relatively isolated example of a female wanting to participate.

Over the years that followed there were many localised instances of women choosing to enter the ring. The Governor of Madrid issued a decree in 1849 banning women from taking part in the City: his decree was largely ignored. Indeed when the legislation was written up three years later, the mention of female fighters was removed. Again in the 1890’s there were attempts to stop females from participating, though they never really gathered much support.

When Maria Salome emerged in 1900, things changed a little. Maria became well known. This meant that she was in demand. This time, with growing media attention, the King of Spain opted to act. In 1908 a circular was issued to all governors that prohibited females from being bullfighters.

This ought to have been the end of La Reverte. However, there was a late twist. At the next available fight she entered the ring. In front of the crowd. she then took off a wig and revealed that she had, in fact, been a man in disguise throughout. La Reverte’s attempt to continue a career in the ring was unsuccessful though. The fee paying public were appalled at the fact that they had been conned for 8 years and La Reverte was forced to obscurity.

Agustin Rodriguez, the man who had disguised himself as Maria ‘La Reverte’ Salome, retired to the island of Mallorca. There he assumed the name Maria Salome once again and lived out his days in his feminine guise.


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