01 July 2007
Female bullfighters date back to the 18th century, but only at the whim of local authorities. Only in 1808, the new Bonaparte puppet king, José, gave a royal blessing to female bullfighters. This blessing outlasted José's deposition, the restoration of the Bourbons, the First Republic and another restoration of the Bourbons.
However, in 1908, but again in 1930 and of course again under Franco, women were banned from bullfighting. Some retired, some emigrated to Latin America.
From 1900-8, La Reverte had been one of the few female toreras. She was one of Spain's most popular and was especially revered by women. In 1908, when she was banned, Maria Salomé, said that she was not really a woman, that she was a man, Agustin Rodriguez. This claim was accepted. However public opinion reacted against the deceit and Rodrigues was never successful as a bullfighter.
He left Madrid for retirement in Majorca. However it is said that he reverted again to being Maria Salomé in retirement.