Wikipedia defines ‘courtesans’ as “a courtier, who means a person who attends the court of a monarch or other powerful person.” Later “the verb to court originally meant “to be or reside at court”, and later came to mean “to behave as a courtier” and then “to pay amorous attention to somebody”. The most intimate companion of a ruler was called the favourite.” Check out the 6 enchanting courtesan from past.
6 Enchanting Courtesans From The Past
1. Yu Xuanji
Stage named Youwei, was a poet and courtesan of the Tang dynasty in China. She was a renowned poet of her time. At the age of 16 Yu was married as a concubine, later she had affairs and led a scandalously promiscuous life. Very little is known about her. Allegedly she was executed for having beaten her maid to death. But the sources are semi-legit. Many believe the maid being beaten to death is simply a legend about a woman who was strong-willed and sexually independent.
2. Cora Pearl
Pearl was a famous French courtesan during the period of the Second French Empire. After a brief visit to Paris, Emma Elizabeth Crouch changed her name to Cora Pearl was began leading a Bohemian life with the wealth collected for rich men. She had an affair with not just Prince Napoleon but also his half-brother Duke de Morny as well as his cousin Prince Napoleon. Eventually her charm and wealth ran out and she died in poverty and misery.
3. Virginia Olodini
A significant figure in the early history of photography Oldoini belonged on an aristocratic family. She was known for her beauty, her eccentricity, her vanity and her passion for photography. At the age of 16 she was the mistress of a man named Marquis Doria . Later she was married off to Francesco Verasis, conte di Castiglione who was 12 years her senior. She achieved notoriety by becoming the mistress of Napoleon III which led to her husband threatening divorce.
4. Liane De Pougy
The notorious Parisian courtesan was raised in a nunnery from which she escaped by marrying a naval officer. Her husband abused her and she found solace in an affair. After discovering the two in bed together, her husband allegedly shot her and she ended their marriage. Following this Pougy entered into a career of acting and prostitution and became a heavy user of both cocaine and opium. Later she led an affair with a woman writer from America and ultimately settled into marriage with a Romanian prince.
5. Mata Hari
Born as Margaretha Geertruida “Margreet” MacLeod, she was a exotic dance and courtesan. She was a Dutch and had married an abusive, unfaithful and alcoholic husband at the age of 18. The marriage was an obvious blunder and when Margreet divorced her husband she was left penniless. Sick of seeking refuge at her relative’s place she went to Paris to seek her fortune.
In 1905 she made her debut as an exotic dancer named ‘Mata Hari’ (meaning ‘eye of dawn’) at the Guimet Museum. She was highly successful and during this period she often sported scanty clothes and even appeared nude. She also gained reputation as a woman of pleasure. Evidently she was bohemian & gutsy. Later Mata Hari was convicted of being a spy and was executed by a firing squad.
6. La Paiva
She was originally known as Esther Lachmann and she was arguably the most popular courtesan of France in the 19th century. She was a ruthless sucker of wealth. Highly ambitious, deadly manipulative, a shrewd investor. Païva collected jewels and was also an architecture patron. She was born in Russia to a humble family and later rose in ranks of kept-mistress eventually becoming the wife of one of the richest man in Europe. Before which she had been mistress to a number of rich men whose wealth she collected and used. She even built herself a majestic palace that Napoleon thought was impressive.