History on Courtesans- Famous Elite Courtesans World Wide18/12/2019
Elite Courtesans and International Travel Companions Internationally:
The Life of A Courtesan And Other Famous Courtesans in History:
What do you think of when you hear the term courtesan? I picture a room filled with red satin and lace. Plush pillows, a lush bed with curtains, dimly lit candles, and woman who knows all the ways to pleasure a man, and not just physically but mentally as well. The term originated around 1540, and meant literally a woman of the court. Why?
Because a courtesan is a glorified prostitute, a paramour to the royal, noble and wealthy men of society. She is much more educated and charming that a typical light-skirt walking the streets. Think of her as the European equivalent of a Japanese Geisha. She charges high dollar, and may have one sugar-daddy, ie, she’s the mistress to one man who houses her, clothes her, be-jewels her, and in return she provides him with companionship—at the same time she may be entertaining other men. A courtesan may even accompany a man to a social function, taking the place of his wife.
By the mid 18th century, courtesans were accepted on some level in society, but prior to this they were persecuted heavily at times. They could be accused of witchcraft, back-stab each other to get ahead, which happens at all times, but earlier on this could result in imprisonment and execution. Power struggles are something that will happen in any time period, but the repercussions are something that change drastically. In the 19th century it wasn’t unlikely to hear a courtesan’s name dragged through the gutter and then her lover’s name following it, tarnishing his reputation—and publicly humiliating her.
You must know that there is a difference between a mistress and a courtesan—and that is love. Courtesan sold herself, body and mind, as a career. A mistress gave away her love, and often had children with her lover. Now that’s not to say a courtesan couldn’t become a mistress, but then she wouldn’t be a courtesan anymore. A courtesan could seduce a man with her mind, her charms, and knew all the latest techniques in bed—sometimes being bold enough to use toys. Commonly a courtesan would go from one lover to the next. The most famous of courtesans came from France and were known as the demi-monde. However, they weren’t necessary born in France. France was much more open about women and sex, than anywhere else. When a courtesan came to England, it was a huge scandal. Of course most of them men were excited about it, and even some women were excited to learn some new techniques to entice their own men, or wanted to become a courtesan themselves.
So how does one get started as a courtesan? There were so many ways… The women came from all walks of life. Some grew up poor, and headed for a town where they learned to sell themselves—not just sex, but themselves. Others were actresses, who continued to perform both on stage and off. Widows, divorcees, women of the upper classes, you name it. She may start as an assistant or companion to another courtesan, learning the ways of the trade, or she could simply start out as a mistress to a wealthy man, and then moved on. But for most women they realized what they could gain by being a courtesan—freedom. She was free to make her own decisions and not reliant on a husband to tell her what to do. Sure her clients might make demands, but if it became too much she wiped him from her list.
A very successful courtesan could be disgustingly rich—and some even gambled all their money away, or simply lived beyond their means. Because they were so wealthy and had mounds upon mounds of jewels, they often had a body guard or more than one to protect them and their possessions. A courtesan would have her own suite of apartments or a grand house that she entertained in. And she wouldn’t just entertain clients—she would hold grand parties too. When she began to reach an age where she was no longer a beautiful sight to see, some women still maintained a high volume of clientele, because they were intelligent and engaging. Others didn’t have so much luck and withered into the background. If she didn’t save any money, or had no family to look after her, she would often fall to dire straights, dying poor and sick. Some died in opulence, and even more so ended their careers by getting married.
You will find that some of the famous courtesans of the day wrote memoirs, here’s a list that I enjoyed reading: The Naked Truth:
Courtesans in Real Life vs. Fiction DIANE GASTON Courtesan’s Kiss by Mary Blayney In both my The Wagering Widow and Mary Blayney’s Courtesan’s Kiss, the heroines believe that the life of a courtesan offers a woman the most independence, the most control over her own life, and the most wealth. The heroes of those books knew that the truth of a courtesan’s life was not so rosy. In today’s Historical Romance (not to mention A Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man, the upcoming historical/contemporary hybrid with an exclusive excerpt featured here), the courtesan has become a popular figure. From Claudia Dain’s match-making ex-courtesan in her Courtesan Chronicles to Anna Campbell’s sensuous and controversial Claiming the Courtesan, the fantasy that the courtesan could gain wealth, and power by selling their favors to select men continues. But what was the truth of this unconventional life choice? London’s Sinful Secret by Dan Cruikshank London’s Sinful Secret by Dan Cruikshank The answer can be found in a fascinating book, London’s Sinful Secret: The Bawdy History and Very Public Passions of London’s Georgian Age by Dan Cruikshank. Though focusing primarily on the 18th century Cruikshank makes it clear that the “Very Public Passions” continued into the Regency and Victorian eras, the ones most popular in Historical Romance. Cruikshank uses William Hogarth’s series of paintings, The Harlot’s Progress, to illuminate the reality of a courtesan’s life. The Harlot’s Progress depicts the story of one young woman from her arrival in London to her death. It was based on the life of Kate Hack about, a famous courtesan of the 18th century. The original paintings were lost in a fire, but Hogarth’s engravings tell the story. Elite Luxury Courtesan in San Diego Calamity Jane – Legal Prostitute Worked at Fort Laramie Three-Mile Hog Ranch Nell Gwyn – Mistress of King Charles II of England Princess Clara – Courtesan Barbara Payton – Prostitute, 1940s film starlet Jeanne Antoinette Poisson – aka Madame de Pompadour, Mistress of King Louis XV Rahab – Jericho’s Prostitute Inn-keeper Josephine Earp – Licensed Prostitute – aka Shady Sadie, Wyatt Earp’s life partner Theodora – Prostitute / Mistress married Emperor Justinian I Naamah – Angel of Prostitution, Mother of Divination, Mate of Samael Lilith – Angel of Prostitution, Mother of Winds and Disease, Mate of Samael. Mary Boyleyn – Legendary Prostitute, King Francis I most favorite Tamar – Sacred Prostitute risked death by fire, to fulfill a biblical Leverite mandate Mata Hari – Courtesan, Enemy Spy Eliza Rosanna Gilbert – Courtesan of King Ludwig I of Bavaria & Countess of Landsfeld Veronica Franco – Italian Poet, Courtesan Sydney Biddle Barrows – Mayflower Madame High Society American ran Elite Escort Service Cora Pearl – A 19th century French Demimonde, Pre-eminent Mistress of the Aristrocracy 高尾のll Takao II – A tayū – Courtesan of the Yoshiwara highly esteemed favorite in Japan’s Edo period Perdita – Favorite Mistress of George IV, A Poet and Novelist, known as the English Sappho Rebecca Krudener-Williams – Had a love child with an English Nobelman Pearl Polly Adler – Immigrant owner-Madam of upscale brothels catering to gangsters and the fashionable upper classes. Heidi Fleiss – Classy Madame to high-class $1,500-a-night to celebrity clients in L.A.