The history of courtesans is rich and delightful – and that of escorts even more bizarre. Escorts are easy; they were once simply ladies and gentlemen available as chaperones to dances and dinners, when one’s date was unavailable for some reason. As some prostitutes aimed to disguise their true profession, or to give a nicer image to their tasks, they began to refer to themselves as escorts. As such, today the word escort has two meanings; the dinner date/ social escort, and the by-the-hour type who is really only there for one reason….We’ll move on from that!

Courtesans however go back centuries, Veronica Franco being one of the most famous. A courtesan was an educated, accomplished woman, who rarely married, and who was allowed into areas where most women were not allowed in those days, particularly the courts. She would advise on legal matters, and coach the vip gentlemen of the time in their fields; somewhat of a muse and confidante in one. And she was rewarded handsomely, both financially and with gifts.

While she may have begun relationships with any of these men at any time, this was not the point of her presence. Just like a lawyer could choose to begin a relationship with any of her clients; but that doesn’t mean that’s what she ‘does’…

The same applies today, where high end gentlemen offer high payment and gifts to the elite ladies of knowledge and life experience, in order to enjoy her counsel, her sense of humor and intelligence, and of course her beauty. Much like the Geisha, she is there to serve and entertain, not to have sex. She is there to connect with this man on a deeper level, to bring emotional pleasure and intellectual stimulation.

She may accompany him to dances (knowing her classic dances), advise him on wines and art, play musical instruments, and remind him objectively of things he may have overlooked in his business conduct. She will be an invaluable companion to an elite executive, dignitary or tasteful celebrity.

A wonderful piece written on the history of courtesans can be found here.


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