Franco, Veronica (1546–1591)

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Franco, Veronica (15461591)

A famous courtesan and poet of Venice. Trained in her profession by her mother, she married a physician while still a teenager, but on the breakup of her marriage she became a courtesan, highly regarded among the nobility of Venice and renowned throughout Europe for her intelligence, witty conversation, and gift as a writer. She walked in the city's literary circles and wrote Terza Rime and Lettere Familiari a Diversi, two books of poetry, as well as anthologies of the works of other writers and poets. She also founded a charity for courtesans. Franco survived an outbreak of plague that struck Venice in 1575, although her house was ransacked and she lost nearly all of her possessions. In 1577 she was accused and tried for witchcraft, but won an acquittal through an impassioned defense. Her books have survived as eloquent witness to the social life of Venice and her personal battles in support of women and the poor.