Mata Hari Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1876 - 1917 *** Full Name: Margaretha Geertruida “Margreet” MacLeod nee Zelle *** Nickname: Mata Hari *** Occupation: Frisian Exotic Dancer and Courtesan *** Date of Birth: Mata Hari was born on August 7th 1876 *** Place of Birth: Mata Hari was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands *** Family background: Her father was Adam Zelle and her mother Antje van der Meulen, the eldest child, she had three younger brothers. Adam Zelle was the wealthy proprietor of a hat shop *** Early life and childhood: Mata Hari grew up with all the advantages of a wealthy family *** Education: Mata Hari began her education at very exclusive schools as her father was able to pay for a private education *** Mata Hari died on October 15, 1917.
Mata Hari Fact 1: Mata Hari was born on August 7th 1876 during the latter part of the 19th century and a period in history when new empires were formed by the British, the United States, the Russian and German.
Mata Hari Fact 2: By 1889 her father became bankrupt, her parents got divorced and in 1891 her mother, Antje, died. Her father remarried two years later.
Mata Hari Fact 3: In the absences of any real familial bond with her father she moved to live with the Godfather Mr Visser in Sneek.
Mata Hari Fact 4: Mata Hari began to study to become a kindergarten teacher in Leiden but when the headmaster began to make inappropriate advances towards her, her godfather removed her immediately, several months after this incident she left for the home of her uncle in The Hague.
Mata Hari Fact 5: When she was eighteen years of age Mata Hari saw an advertisement for a wife in a Dutch newspaper. She answered the advertisement and on July 11th 1895 she married Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod who was a descendant of the MacLeods of Skye.
Mata Hari Fact 6: This pleased her most as it meant she would be accepted into the upper classes of Dutch society and her financial status was more secure.
Mata Hari Fact 7: In 1897 they boarded the SS Princes Amalia and travelled to the island of Java where they set up home in Malang on the East side of the island.
Mata Hari Fact 8: Mata Hari bore two children, Norman-John MacLeod in 1897 and Louise Jeanne in 1898.
Mata Hari Fact 9: Their marriage was an unhappy one, MacLeod was a heavy drinker and would take out his life’s frustrations on his wife until she finally moved out for several months. She took up residents with another officer and began to study the Indonesian traditions and their culture, even participating in a local dance class where she assumed her stage name, Mata Hari meaning “eye of the day”.
Mata Hari Fact 10: Eventually, with much urging from her husband she returned to the family home, but in 1899 both their young children became incredibly ill apparently from complications of having contracted syphilis from their parents but there is also a possibility that the children were poisoned. Little Norman at only twenty nine months old died and little Jeanne at just thirteen months survived.
Mata Hari Fact 11: The couple returned to the Netherlands where they parted and MacLeod took his daughter with him in 1902 and by 1907 they were divorced.
Mata Hari Fact 12: To make ends meet Mata Hari moved to Paris, France in 1903 where she took a job with a circus as a horse rider while also posing as a model for artists.
Mata Hari Fact 13: With a couple of years Mata Hari was making a name for herself as an exotic dancer and would also become the mistress of Emile Etienne Guimet, the founder of the Musee Guimet and a millionaire Lyon industrialist.
Mata Hari Fact 14: Mata Hari performed under the guise of a Javanese Princess of priestly Hindu birth.
Mata Hari Fact 15: By 1912, less talented artists attempted to copy her style and her mode of dance rapidly became looked down on and by 1915 she performed for the last time.
Mata Hari Fact 16: Although her dancing career may have come to an end, Mata Hari would become very successful as a courtesan and frequently had relations with senior ranking military officers as well politicians and other men of influence from around the globe.
Mata Hari Fact 17: Before the First World War broke out she was seen simply as a free spirited bohemian but when the war finally began, as a Dutch national and so neutral, she was able to travel freely and avoid the areas of conflict by travelling via Britain and Spain but eventually she would draw suspicion.Mata Hari Fact 18: As a passenger aboard a steamer that had departed from Spain, the ship docked at the port of Falmouth, an English port, where Mata Hari was arrested by Sir Basil Thomson, the Assistant Commissioner of the counter-espionage division of New Scotland Yard. She was eventually released.
Mata Hari Fact 19: Originally there were doubts as to whether or not she actually was a double agent. She admitted she was working for the French intelligence but as the investigation went on it became apparent that the Germans had a code name for her which was H-21.
Mata Hari Fact 20: In Paris on February 13th of 1917 Mata Hari was arrested by the French and was accused of spying for the Germans which lead to the deaths of 50,000 soldiers. Although Mata Hari proclaimed her innocence and pleaded that certain aspects of so called evidence against her was simply part of the act, she would nevertheless be found guilty.
Mata Hari Fact 21: Many decades later official documents would be opened that categorically proved she had in fact been a German spy.
Mata Hari Fact 22: At forty one years of age, on October 15, 1917 Mata Hari was executed by firing squad. Her body was never claimed.
Influence and Legacy: The body of Mata Hari was used for medical research and her head apparently embalmed and kept at the Paris Museum of Anatomy where the rest of her remains were supposed to have followed. At a much later date it was discovered that her remains were actually missing and it is thought they went missing as far back as 1954.
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