Born Margaretha Zelle in August 1876, by 1903 (when she moved to Paris) she'd already been married, had two children, and contracted syphilis. Once in Paris she parlayed a career as an exotic dancer into life as a high-profile courtesan.
Alas, her taste for men knew no boundaries, at a time when those very same boundaries were being fought for by the same men with whom she shared her bed. Affairs with French, Russian, and German military officers gave France just the distraction it needed to take everyone's mind off of how badly they were losing the war.
She was arrested in March 1917, given one helluva show trial, after which no one was too surprised she was found guilty of treason; on this day in 1917 Mata Hari died at the hands of a firing squad. Documents regarding her imprisonment and death are due to be released by the French government in 2017, at which time the truth about Mata Hari may finally be known...
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