lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

F is for Veronica Franco – Extraordinary Woman, #AtoZ Challenge

Veronica Franco by Tintoretto


Veronica Franco was born in  1546, in Venice, Italy, to a family of the ‘citizen’ class.

Her mother insisted that she was given the same education as her three older brothers. This helped her when, married in her mid-teens to a Doctor, she wanted a divorce. At that time in Italy it was possible for a woman to initiate divorce proceedings, but not to get any kind of monetary support afterwards.

Veronica had a young child. She had to earn a living – and she chose to become a courtesan, or cortigiana, an intellectual courtesan or mistress to wealthy men.

She was clever, good company and quickly rose through the ranks to consort with the leading notables of her day. She even had a brief liaison with Henry III, King of France. She was listed as one of the foremost courtesans of Venice, and supported her family in luxury.

Because of her mother’s insistence that she was well-educated, Veronica was able to indulge her tastes for literacy and poetry and herself wrote two volumes of poetry: Terze rime in 1575 and Lettere familiari a diversi in 1580. She also published books of letters and collected the works of other leading writers into anthologies.

She also founded a charity for courtesans and their children.

Sadly in 1575 an epidemic of the plague swept through Venice and she was forced to flee and leave behind her house and possessions, which were looted. When she returned in 1577 she was also charged with witchcraft, although the charges were dropped – probably thorough the intervention of her wealthy friends.

Her later life is poorly documented and it is likely that she died in obscurity and poverty.

However – her work lives on!

We danced our youth in a dreamed of city, Venice, paradise, proud and pretty, We lived for love and lust and beauty, Pleasure then our only duty. Floating them twixt heaven and Earth And drank on plenties blessed mirth We thought ourselves eternal then, Our glory sealed by God’s own pen. But paradise, we found is always frail, Against man’s fear will always fail. ~Veronica Franco


If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book!







  1. I know thisnpainting and always found her striking…if this is her real image and not softened by the pint brush. What an interesting woman who figured out how to remain independent


    • She’s lovely isn’t she – looks interesting.


  2. Thea O'Brian

    Now she had quite a life!


  3. Indeed she’d achieve a lot in those old times when woman don’t get support from society
    Thanks for sharing
    Dr bushra
    Do visit mine
    F-Feasible Quinoa – Switch to Good Health with Quinoa


    • I will – have problems with internet till Sunday when will be mended, hopefully, will be visiting all then! going in and out….


  4. Sounds like she had a really mixed set of fortunes. I wonder what the witchcraft charge was about – possibly brought by people who resented her achievements and were trying to kick her while she was down?


    • Apparently it was a common charge against courtesans, so probably some sort of petty jealousy among courtesans or other classes.


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