Exploring the intriguing history of French courtesans reveals a society steeped in complexities. These women were more than just prostitutes, and were often intertwined with the very fabric of aristocratic life.
In a world where slaves were treated as commodities, courtesans served as more than just mistresses. They diversified their roles, from household chores to fixing appliances, inadvertently shaping the behavior of the entire household.
Public displays of affection reached astonishing levels, with erotic artwork adorning buildings and x-rated tombstones recounting their escapades in explicit detail. Their preferred methods of contraception, like blacksmith water and lead, were both unconventional and hazardous, contributing to their precarious health.
One of the darker aspects of courtesan culture was mass infanticide, a practice that shocks modern sensibilities. Unwanted pregnancies were disposed of callously, shedding light on a culture accustomed to violence.
These courtesans were not born, but made, beginning their training from a tender age under the tutelage of experienced mistresses. This unusual apprenticeship allowed them to excel in their profession from the outset, ensuring their longevity in the courts. The lives of French courtesans, far from glamorous, were a complex interplay of power, exploitation, and social influence.
- Marguerite Alibert: Courtesan, Murderess and Blackmailer of a King
- Virginia Oldoïni, the Most Photographed Woman in History
Top image: French courtesan. Source: Alex Shadrin / Adobe Stock.