Alessandra Grazia della Scala the Courtesan

The affectionate life of a 16th century Venetian Cortigiana Onesta as told through the letters to friends, lovers, aquaintances and rivals.

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A misplaced Letter

Bonjour and Felicitous greeting to Mon Monsieur Gillet de Gullach, does Madame du Pont send with Joyous anticipation.

In a fortnight, we may once again see one another face to face.  My commitment to Lord Phelippe de Caux has come to an end for now.  Many correspondences were written by my hand.  I must say, learning to scribe in the nunnery has much advanced my station in this gracious life of mine.  I have even been awarded a southern chamber from which I can read and stayn silk standards most of the morn.  Out my large windows, my chamber overlooks the flower garden of blooming roses, a pome orchard and a field.  No better way to awaken each day.

I will be coming by carriage to Paris to shoppe and visit the clan of my Mama on the outskirts of town.  I look forward to hearing of their travels and dancing around the campfires.  Six days I will spend before returning to my duties with my Lord and my Lady and their children at the Manor.

All of My Lord's five children are a dellight to be around.  I am especially fond of little Leon and Symonne.  We have such gaiety in the summer garden.  The girls are very attentive to the stories of Greek and Roman antiquity.  A new song, "Sur le Pont dAvignon," we sing and dance to constantly.

In my personal readings, I have taken to heart the published poem of Queen Elizabeth of England on 'Monsieur's Departure', about the Duc d'Anjou.  The first lines are, "I grieve, and dare not show my discontent.  I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate."  It is quite moving and I shall recite it to thee when next we meet.

It has been a most interesting summer in that I have learned many new ways to handle hounds.  They can even be taught to do amusing tricks.  I have learned my hound lessons from Johan, Papa of the stable boy.l  Having my own hound makes my evenings not as lonesome.  It is as if I have someone to keep company with in my chambers at night and one to eagerly greet me with the morning sun.

Howbeit, i wish it were thee to awaken me with thy verse and thy wit, that has taken my heart captive.  I must be content to meet thee when fate allows.  

Coming to town to see thee in Paris lifts my heart to unknown realms.  The moon wanes and time goes slow as I have waited to see the sparkle in thine eyes once more.  As I fall to sleep, I see thy face most gentle and the soft curls of thy chestnut hair and dream sweet dreams. "O, wretched spite, that keeps apart those who should unite."

At the highest point of the sun, I shall see thee at le manor de Duc du Luxembourg, my most favorite garden in all of Paris to take a stroll.  Francois is expecting us.  I also wish to visit Notre Dame.  Every time I am there I notice something new and inspiring.  The singing of the choir fills the cathedral with inspiration from mon Dieu above.

May our hearts be enriched by the approaching days.  I bid thee a fond farewell and wish thee bonne chance in all that thou doth.  We will have more time together as the harvesting months end, when thou are able to come to the country and watch winter pass.

Adieu, adieu, til again I am with thee.
Madame du Pont

Letter to a soon-to-be novice

My dear child,

You're plight does indeed seem extremely vexing. Sadly it is the duty of a daughter to do as her father dictates.

As it seems your young lord has no chance to impress or change the mind of your father and his brothers you may be left with only the most desperate of measures.

I fear an elopement and travel to another land may be your only hope. Perhaps your lord could find a better situation for himself? Has he an education?

There is another idea that isn't as extreme but would take your poor lord to call upon a few favors and strike a boon. Is he a cittadini originari? You say he's a noble, perhaps it is time he went into government. With some influence of his peers and aquaintances he would be accepted and his new status would certainly cause your countrymen to see him in a new light.

Better to wed a Senator than a secretary.

However, heed my warning. If this man is what you desire then be ready for that which having him brings. Your heart may soar today but upon your marriage bed it may have it's wings broken.

Your future shall be in my prayers,


Letter from a desperate stranger

La Bella Donna, 

Scuzzi for my intrusion but I am quite without hope and you are the only one that can break the dark chains of dispair that encase my soul. My serving woman is an acquaintance of a woman in your household. She has recommended that I send you my query hoping you'll be able to provide a solution to what I fear is an inevitable situation. 

You see, I have been blessed with a gracious station in life and a good family. My problem is that my father and uncles cannot agree on the man I am to marry. None have the stature or wealth equal to our own to make the marriage a worthy venture.  

Upon my own, I have fallen deeply in love with a fiercely handsome man of nobility with barely a soldi to his name. My father refuses to allow us to wed. If I could only begin to describe just how much my heart aches with longing when I hear his voice. He makes his living in service to a local lawyer. Which is how we met, they came to my home at my father's bequest. Our eyes met and my heart soared. I scarce believe my feet touched the ground the whole evening.  

The reason my father doesn't wish us to marry is that while he is a noble, his lack of money or prospects cannot be endured.

I recently overheard my father speaking with my uncle saying that if I don't marry soon I am to be sent off to a horrible nunnery in the next quarter. I have never been away from my home and I am to be sent to a horrible house run by a strict Mother Superior. 

My dear courtesan, I ask for your help with my situation. I need to find a lord to marry, can you teach me the ways to entice a man? I implore you to see favorably upon my plight and offer any assistance that you can. 

I thank you and pray your answer is swift and helpful.

A father's daughter x

Reply to Andre's letter, February 1559

Cher Monsieur Thomsone,

Merci pour votre lettre et le cadeau.

Nicolo has spoken nothing save the meeting with you since his return. You have indeed made an impression on him and I with both your actions and this gift.

While I have never personally laid eyes upon the great Duke Francis, Anna d'Este has oft been an inspiration and a divine woman to call my friend. Her knowledge of the fine arts is second to very few. She is gifted with a natural talent of singing and dance. She would have been one of the more elegant and enthusiastic of dancers at the ball.

How is the young Duke Henry? I hear he is strong with a youthful grace and charm.

The wine has been placed in a safe place for a special occasion, for it would be a sin to waste such a fine vintage on a mere average day. And as for how you obtained it, A man with passion and skill such as yourself would only secure such a treasured gift in honorable fashion.

I am flattered that my lyrics were able to assist you in winning the attention of your intended. As one whose live is focused on attraction and love I am always pleased to hear when love succeeds.

Pray tell my lord, what is your profession? I would guess poets for you have a heart of a poet but it seems your muse outshines your inspiration and has turned your words pale in comparison to her beauty. This is a great frustration for one that must rely on his wit or quill for his supper.

I hear reports of political chaos abroad and fear for many. The many tensions between our two great nations are calming down and it sounds as though it is a perfect time to travel. Nicolo reports nothing but safe passage through from the Holy City.

Let me extend an invitation to yourself and the lovely Nicolette to come to Venice, La Serenissima, and stay in my home. We have more than enough rooms and Nicolo would cherish the opportunity to see you again. I for my part would be honored to make your acquaintance in person and to truly set eyes upon the beauty that your lady possesses.

I admit this offer is a bit selfish on my part for I so long for new friends with new verse or views. The city is stagnant at the moment and longs for an influx of anything new.

Your new friend,
Alessandra Grazia

Letter from Andrè Thomsonè

February 22 in the year of our lord 1559

Lady Alessandra Grazia della Scala,

My lady, we have never met, yet I am moved to pen this to accompany the gift I have arranged to have delivered to your home in Venice with the return of your trusted companion, the good physician Nicolo Brun.

The young doctor and I attended a fabulous ball in honor of the Henry, the first son of the Duke of Guise. Shamelessly abusing the generosity of the Duke at this time, I was smitten by one of the Duchesses ladies. Knowing that I needed something spectacular to win the good lady's attention, I began musing out loud when your friend, the doctor over-heard me and suggested a rather beautiful song that he claimed was one of your creations.

This song did indeed win me the attention of my fair Nicolette, and with the Duchess' blessing I am permitted to court this angel of mystery. If only I were able to describe her auburn and golden ringlets, her luminous green eyes that sparkle like multifaceted jewels, how her voice carries the tones of an angel to the humble earthly plains of my soul. My muddled words don't do justice to the beauty I'm trying to describe.

Please accept my humble offering as without your lyrics I would not be so privileged as to know the smile of such a one as she. I can only guess that your own beauty would be commensurate with hers.

If you might think that the wine is of dubious source, please be assured that it is from the very vaults of the Duke himself. I afforded these through some well placed guesses, but not dishonestly, so please have no reservations on the quality or source.

It is my fondest hope that one day I will be able to travel with my Nicolette to meet you and your family in person, the doctor tells me so much of Venice, and with the troubles getting more and more deadly of late, one can only hope to move away to a quieter locale.

It has been my honor to be able to thank you in this manner,


Andrè Thomsonè.