What is a Courtesan?

Historically in plain terms, a courtesan is a kind of high status prostitute, a beautiful, highly educated, richly appointed, symbol of wealth and luxury. Many of the cultures we portray in the SCA have some version or near-equivalent. In our modern SCA the courtesan persona is somewhat different but still enchanting. The analogy I always use is this: We in the Society for Creative Anachronism idealize warriors in all their forms. We admire them for their skills, their sportsmanship, and their style. Not one of them actually kills people. Of course some people deserve it, but we would never betray our beloved Dream with something so sordid as actual felonies!

So it is with the Society’s Courtesan. They are lovely, well dressed, educated, charming, and the social butterfly you hope to liven up your gathering or an evening in good company…but as members of the KWC, they will not have sex with you for money.

Society Courtesans are, however, a bounty of knowledge, charm and talent.

We teach classes on a variety of subjects, our cultures, our clothing, our art. Many of us specialize in teaching more “adult” topics related to sexuality in history. Some of us sing, dance, or play an instrument. We host parties and salons throughout the Known World. We also assist others with their parties, adding to the atmosphere, keeping the guests edified, and organizing entertainments. Some of us are available as companions for events. We make excellent liaisons for visiting dignitaries who need a gracious and attentive tour guide. We, like the courtesans of old, specialize in creating a world of opulence and beauty, and opportunities for pleasure and relaxation.

So what do you do if you have the good fortune to capture the attention of these rare and elegant flowers?

Some Advice for Interacting with Courtesans in the KWC:

Be Brave. Courtesans love to socialize. Think of them as your opportunity to flirt without fear.
Be Charming and Gracious and you will receive Charm and Graciousness!
Don’t touch them unless they touch you first.
Respect is an absolute necessity in all successful social interactions. Practice it and good things will happen.
Courtesans are individuals with their own sets of interests, talents and preferences. Treat them respectively as the unique and singular individuals that they are.
Discretion is the better part of valor.
It’s a game! Games are meant to be fun. Games are also not real life, so keep that in mind.

Written as an introduction to the Atlantian
Roman Bacchanal Pennsic XLVI by
Mistress Magdalena la Sanguigni

Leave a Reply