Mata Hari was the most renowned female spy in history. She was also an exotic dancer and a famous courtesan. Her father was a Dutch hat maker who also invested in oil, meaning that he had money to spoil his only daughter. At six years old she was already a flamboyant character, and it is reputed that she travelled in a goat-drawn carriage, a gift from her father. When her mother died, she was sent to train as a kindergarten teacher but the headmaster, Wybrandus Haanstra, became infatuated with her, causing a massive scandal. After a later disastrous marriage, she went to Paris and used her experiences to create a new erotic persona. At this time, the name Mata Hari was born and has since been shrouded in Mata Hari facts and fiction. She wore jewels and exotic perfumes and danced seductively in salons. Adding to her mystique, she spun fantastic stories about her life, pretending that she was an exotic Javanese princess. The Mysterious Mata Hari, in Dance, was alluring and captivating and soon became famous. She also travelled extensively, collecting numerous lovers who helped to pay for her extravagant lifestyle. During World War I, she was frequently moving across borders with a variety of male friends, and she was eventually accused of espionage by the French. They arrested her on February 13, 1917, and conducted a private trial which led to her being sentenced to death by firing squad. On October 15, that same year, Mata Hari was executed at the young age of 41 years old. Of all the Mata Hari facts and fiction, it remains true that she was Europe’s queen of eroticism, courtesan and harlot, spendthrift and deceiver. Whether or not she was a spy or guilty of espionage has never been proven.


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