Though! She was born to circumstances not unlike the ones detailed in Dangerous Beauty. That is to say, her mother was a courtesan, though not one who looked exactly like Jacqueline Bisset. It’s interesting to note that during the 15th century in Venice there were two kinds of courtesans – the cortigiana onesta and the cortigiana di lume (which translate to “honest courtesans” and “courtesans light” which is like Coca Cola and Diet Coke, really).Â Â Interestingly, the word cortigiana is the female version of “courtier” and was originally supposed to mean “the ruler’s mistress.”While cortigiana di lume were still viewed as a class above the average prostitute, the cortigiana onesta were considered essentially on par with noblewomen of the period.
Cortigiana onesta were generally treated very well – there wasn’t any OMG SHUNNING, maybe because Venice wasn’t a place founded by puritans. I mean, people were not attempting to cover up their lust with zumba classes. Many courtesans were even married, though often to men less well off than their patrons. This was considered to be professionally advantageous to some of those husbands (again, it was not like Madame Pompadour’s husband who despaired of having to divorce her when she went off with Louis. Being a courtesan was an okay thing to be).
Rather than living on the fringes of society because of her wild ways, Veronica’s mother, Paola, was married to a well-to-do citizen of Venice. Being a citizen was a favored class which was important at a time when the class you belonged to dictated the parts of the city you could visit, or the area of a church that you were allowed to sit in. So – Veronica and her family were doing okay. Veronica had three brothers and, perhaps because she had been an educated courtesan herself, Veronica’s mother insisted that Veronica be taught alongside them.
And then, at 18, Veronica got married.