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!
- Posted in: A-Z Challenge 2017 ♦ Authors ♦ Extraordinary Women ♦ Liz Brownlee ♦ Poems ♦ Reaching the Stars ♦ Reaching the Stars Poems
- Tagged: Courtesan, Extraordinary Women, Jan Dean, Liz Brownlee, Michaela Morgan, Poems about extraordinary women and girls, poetry, Reaching the Stars, Venice, Veronica Franco