A Gentleman and a Rogue

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Historical Overview of Courtesans

Diane de Poiters, courtesan to Henry II of France

Prior to the Renaissance, the courtesan did not have such a romantic reputation. The word had very simple origins – a woman who attends the court of a monarch. In the feudal society, the court of the monarch mixed the political and social life of the monarch and government. It was a courtesan's job to deliver information to visiting dignitaries.

During renaissance Europe, royal couples began leading separate lives. They married to secure bloodlines and for political gain – rarely did the couple love each other. The courtesan, with their easy wit, common sense, and companionship skills, offered something the "other" woman did not – genuine concern and care which often led to love.

EXPECTATIONS

It was often expected the courtesan would offer their benefactor sex. Courtesans might come from wealthy or non-wealthy backgrounds. They might be married even. In those cases, their husbands usually knew of the arrangements and approved; money being the mitigating factor involved. For many women, they saw their life as a courtesan as a job, and it was primarily expected of them that they would be the consummate companion.

Truly, the courtesan could be the force behind the man. Many lasted for as long as they proved witty and charming companions and good in bed. They've been romanticized throughout the years with much literature being written about them. What makes the courtesan a romantic historical figure is something we can all identify with – love. After all, it's very easy to fall in love with a warm hearted companion who is witty and charming, well educated, and talented in the finer arts.

One such story which I found interesting is that of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. (That's a mouthful.) He built Altenau Palace in 1606 as a token of love for his favored courtesan. Salome Alt bore him fifteen children. Sadly, in 1612, he was forced to abdicate. Altenau Palace was renamed Mirabell Gardens. The Mirabell Garden and its beauty were prominently featured in the movie "The Sound of Music."


Leave a comment and one lucky poster will win a PDF copy of my free read, Moonlight Sonata. Winner annouced here tomorrow on my blog so make sure you leave a good email.

Smiles
Steph

7 comments:

  1. 15 children???? I'm exhausted just thinking about it! Goodness me. I always thought (like many probably do) that a courtesan was a fancy word for whore or mistress. Wow was I wrong!

    cmselfridge@gmail.com

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  2. Yep - 15 kids. You know who else have 15 children by the same woman? (She was pooped, let me tell you!!) George III of England.

    I think as our society looks back at the word "courtesan" it's easy to see to where it can be trivialized as whore and/or mistress because of the sexual aspect of their job, but so much more was expected of them. Amazing, really.

    Steph

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  3. Hi teph, if Mirabelle Castle is in Romania, I'll send you a picture soon. As for courtesan, one of the most famous in history is Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV. When he contracted a venerial disease, she got fed up of offering sex and created a finishing school for pretty society girls. The school provided her royal lover with pretty virgins to take to bed.

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  4. Mona, Mirabell Gardens are in Salzburg, Austria. I'd love to see your Romanian Castles though. Thanks so much for sharing the story about Madame de Pompadour. That's one way to protect yourself against venerial disease, but I wouldn't recommed it. lol!

    Smiles
    Steph

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  5. Steph,

    Salome has my everlasting awe and wonder. I can't imagine having 15 children. She must have spent most of her life in maternity clothes.

    I don't think I would have made a good courtesan. I'm much too mouthy. Still, you do what you must to survive.

    Wishing you all the best with your string of releases!

    Maggie
    www.maggietoussaint.com

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  6. Hi Steph,
    Wow great blog. I too thought of a courtesan in the sexual way i.e. a high class prostitute, so this was very enlightening.

    Regards

    Margaret

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  7. Thanks everyone for popping in! Congrats to Calisa - winner of the PDF of Moonlight Sonata. Amazing some of the women behind the men in history!

    Smiles
    Steph

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