Queen Meadhbh: She wants your cows!
In a previous episode of Claire Shouts about Irish Badass Saints and Heroes, I mentioned Queen Maeve. She was a very formidable woman in Irish history and lore. CDProjektRed have released a store and featured some merch just for Queen Meve. Now you might have noticed that this particular character has not had her name spelt the same way so far. The beauty of the Irish language and random anglicizing of it.
Before we get into the history of the real Maeve, let’s break down some spellings of her name. We have Maeve, Meve, Meadhbh, Medb and Barry. For the purpose of this post I’ll stick with the modern day Irish version of the name Meadhbh.
In the Witcher series, Meadhbh was a queen of Lyria and Rivia and known for her wisdom, strength and beauty. When the Second Nilfgaard War broke out and her small realm was conquered, she led guerrillas into many battles wearing her iconic white armor. In one such battle her face was wounded and she was left with disfiguring scars. After the war with Nilfgaardian Empire, she was one of the negotiators of the peace treaty.
In the real world, mostly, Queen Meadhbh of Connaught, shared the fame of beauty, strength and royalty of her gaming counterpart, but was a far fiercer entity.
Etymologist have deduced that her name means “mead-woman” or “she who intoxicates”, which is both amazing but also plain rude. But not as rude as Meadhbh.
Meadhbh sought power and would do anything to achieve it. She married not out of love but for land (this I can get on board with to be fair). She killed potential wives that got in her way with nabbing the King of Ulster, Conchobar mac Nessa. Tinni mac Conrí (the human version of a tin of gone off beans) was not a very nice person. He was installed as King of Connaught but conspirators favored Meadhbh to rule. She had many lovers, one of which was her bodyguard, Ailill. Remind you of anyone?
Now lets get to one of the juiciest more epic tales involving Queen Meadhbh. Táin Bó Cúailgne or The Cattle Raid of Cooley. I could try and give pronunciation tips on all these Irish words but you’d need to be full of whiskey.
Yes a battle for a bovine became one of the most glorious Irish stories! Here’s the tldr; version:
Meadhbh didn’t just want to be Queen, she wanted to be wholly equal and that also meant in terms of wealth. Her husband Ailill had a great bull that was worth more than her, which again means this woman has had her fair share of insults. But then the pregnant potential wife killing kind of evens it. Someone else had a bigger better bull and she had her eyes on it. So naturally the country went to war.
She rallied forces from across the province to raid Ulster and seize the majestic bull but there was one thing standing in her way. Cúchulainn, that lad from our previous post on Marvelous Games Fate/EXTELLA. Cúchulainn and the army of Ulster eventually defeated Meadhbh and she went home cowless. I did say tldr.
Meadhbh has many other tales, but this is the one taught in school. As far as I know she’s never been featured in a video game, which is frankly ridiculous. Imagine the Cult of Meadhbh or a Mass Effect style game where you have to hunt through the galaxy for your favoured cow in order to restore the balance and take your place as ruler! In fact I’m going to have a word with Alexis and Lottie…