Venetian Concubines

The following is an extract, published in 1730, from Thomas Salmon’s Modern History. It describes what might be termed the “genteel” stratum of prostitution in Venice, way below the grandeur of the celebrated courtesans, but nonetheless a long way up from the gutter.

The use of Concubines is so much countenanc’d in Venice, that the Wife generally lives in a good correspondence with them. The Ladies are so indulgent to their Sons, that as soon as they observe in any of them an Inclination for the Fair Sex, they bargain with some of their poor Neighbours for one of their Daughters to be his Bedfellow: whereby they prevent his marrying to disadvantage, or contracting a nauseous Distemper by cohabiting with common Women. The Friends and Relations of the Girl who is to be the young Gentleman’s Mistress, come frequently to wish her Joy upon the occasion, as if she was really married to him. They contract for a Month, a Year, or more, as they can agree; and you shall hear a Mother swear by God, and upon her Salvation, that the can’t afford to take less for her Daughter than she asks. This Commerce is taken to be so little criminal here, that they scarce ever mention it in Confession; and if they do, the Priest tells them he will not be troubled with such Trifles. A late Writer adds, that those who cannot afford to keep a Miss for their particular use, join with two or three Friends, and have one in common amongst them.

2 thoughts on “Venetian Concubines

  1. From one of the books you’ve highlighted on this site: “The writer of the present work is one of the rapidly growing number of thinking persons who believe that the time has come to educate the race concerning the importance of sane instruction concerning the functions of sex. He, and those who think as he does, believe that the time has come to “Turn on the Light!” They believe that the importance of the subject will be realized by all intelligent persons, once that their attention is directed to the subject, and once they have considered it apart from the old prejudices and distorted customs. When public opinion on this subject is reformed, then will the taboo fall away from the body of truth; then will the subject take its place among the “respectable” topics which may be considered, discussed, and taught, without loss of caste or prestige.”

    I often wonder what would have happened if I’d been born and never exposed to teachings on sex. How would things have evolved naturally? Would I have then created my own list of taboos, solely based on my personal preferences?

    Liked by 1 person

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