Here’s another one of my favorite Rejected Princesses — Nzinga Mbande, 17th-century African queen of what is now Angola.
She began her political life as her nation of Ndongo was fighting off a Portuguese invasion. Her brother, a by-all-accounts wimp, could not bend over backwards far enough for the Portuguese, and once he ascended to the throne, the Portuguese just tossed him in jail and took over. Nzinga approached the Portuguese and demanded her brother’s return and that they leave Ndongo. At their meeting, in a sign of disrespect, the Portuguese offered her no chair to sit in, instead providing merely a floor mat fit for servants.
In response, Nzinga ordered one of her servants to get on all fours, sitting on her as she would a chair. After the negotiations concluded, she slit her throat in full view of everyone, and informed them that the Queen of Ndongo does not use the same chair twice. Shortly thereafter, the Portuguese agreed to let her brother go.
With her brother now safely back home, she proceeded to murder him in his sleep, kill her brother’s son, and assume the throne herself – because if you’re going to do something right, you better do it yourself. From there, she moved south, conquered the infamous ruthless cannibal tribe known as the Jaga, made them her slaves, and waged war on the Portuguese for THIRTY FIVE YEARS.
Rumors of her badassness grew increasingly outlandish throughout her life. By some accounts, after killing her brother’s family, she ate their hearts to absorb their courage. As a pre-battle ritual, she was rumored to have decapitated slaves and drank their blood. It is widely-accepted that she maintained a 60-man-strong harem throughout her life — men who, by many accounts, would fight each other to the death for the right to share her bed for the night. She also apparently dressed some of them like women. Conversely, she staffed her army with a large number of women warriors.
After decades of killing the Portuguese, they eventually threw their hands up and negotiated a peace treaty. She died several years afterwards, at the ripe old age of eighty. There are statues of her all over Angola to this day. In fact, her outfit and axe are derived directly from one of those statues.