As an example, consider the following people:
Black Agnes of Dunbar
In 1338, when Patrick Dunbar was away, the English laid siege to Dunbar Castle, where Lady Agnes was in residence with her servants and a few guards. However, she was determined not to surrender the fortress, and is said to have declared:
"Of Scotland's King I haud my house, I pay him meat and fee, And I will keep my gude auld house, while my house will keep me."Women were known to take charge of castle or manor business while the husband was away in the Middle Ages, but the stand of Lady Agnes is one of the best remembered instances. Salisbury’s first attempt at taking the castle centered on catapulting huge rocks and lead shot against the ramparts, but this was met with disdain by Lady Agnes, who had one of her ladies-in-waiting dust off the ramparts with her kerchief.
The first use of the prayer book was in St Giles' on Sunday 23 July 1637, when James Hannay, Dean of Edinburgh, began to read the Collects, part of the prescribed service, and Jenny Geddes, a market-woman or street-seller, threw her stool straight at the Minister's head. Some sources describe it as a "fald stool" or a "creepie-stool" meaning a folding stool as shown flying towards the Dean in the illustration, while others claim that it was a larger, three-legged cuttie-stool. As she hurled the stool she is reported to have yelled:
- "De'il gie you colic, the wame o’ ye, fause thief; daur ye say Mass in my lug?" meaning "Devil cause you colic in your stomach, false thief: dare you say the Mass in my ear?".
David Leslie, 1st Lord Newark (c. 1600–1682) was a cavalry officer and General in the English Civil War and Scottish Civil Wars. A son of Patrick Leslie, 1st Lord Lindores, he fought for the Swedish army of Gustavus Adolphus as a professional soldier during the Thirty Years' War. He had entered Swedish service in 1630, serving as a captain in the regiment of Alexander Leslie (future Earl of Leven).
David Leslie was one of the Scots who transferred from Swedish to Russian service under Alexander Leslie of Auchintoul (not to be confused with Leven) in 1632 to participate in the Smolensk War and was mentioned by name in Auchintoul's testimonial.
Scottish history in particular is full of such colorful characters. George R.R. Martin's Red Wedding, for example, was inspired by the Black Dinner. Lots of crazy things have happened in Alba. And that's just one country. If you draw inspiration from many different countries, and then mix and match for your story, then you can come up with some wild stuff.
When I get around to writing my epic fantasy, I'm definitely going to have some characters inspired by the three I just mentioned. They're simply too good to not be borrowed from a little.
So look to history for some ideas. You'll find more than you know what to do with.