Like all courtesans Veronica expects compensation for her favors but I think she’s wildly different than most of the mistresses we’ve considered up until this point. Not only because I truly believe that Madame Pompadour loved King Louis XV (I think Madame du Barry at least felt a kind of gratitude that was probably very similar to love) but also because Veronica Franco was not reliant on one man. I mean, if kings left their mistresses, or somehow turned against them, the mistresses were doomed to a miserable life of poverty. You could rise very quickly by aligning yourself with a powerful man, but it could also be a very dramatic fall.
Veronica Franco is unique in terms of women we’ve looked at up to this point as, while she had to rely on men in general, she didn’t have to depend on one in particular. Even Henri III – whom she certainly liked. She did compare him to a God, though, writing in one poem that it was:
“”As from heaven down to a humble roof
Beneficent Jove descends to us here below
But she didn’t need him.
She could write letters about how she wanted to be compensated and the conditional nature of her affections that Madame Pompadour and du Barry really, really couldn’t.
In that way, she’s probably one of the earliest un-aristocratic (here I am, strangely, thinking of Elizabeth Bathory) who had any significant degree of independence.
And yet, a single man was able to take her down.