Famous Mistresses in the History of Seduction
"Well-Behaved Women don't make History" ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Men are secretly drawn to wanton and adventurous women who make them feel alive and challenged.They want to chase after a goddess and see if they can win and also keep her.
Witty,intelligent,vibrant and fiercely independent.These famous mistresses were well verse in the art of seduction. Relying on courage,ambition and opportunism,they use their sexuality to procure power and great wealth in a world were men held all the cards.
Not all mistresses prefer to stay in the background and anonymity. Although the whispered words in-between lovemaking in the bedroom or boudoir should not be underestimated, some of the mistresses in this article not only had great influence on the men in their lives but because of their romantic dalliances have also affected the lives of entire nations.
The poems I have written and included tells in verse what some lovers of these mistresses of the art of seduction must have felt and gone through.:)
The attraction begins with a certain allure,the courtship of the eyes...her body language,manner of speech,charisma......
CLEOPATRA (69-30 BC)
Beautiful and charismatic queen of Egypt; mistress of Julius Caesar and later of Mark Antony; killed herself to avoid capture by Octavian
How did Cleopatra seduce Julius Caesar,a jaded man who could have his choice of any woman or man? According to the Greek biographer Plutarch, Cleopatra was not really beautiful.But she was a brilliant woman.It is said that the 18 year old Cleopatra was happiest in a library.
From the moment she rolled out of the rug in the presence of Caesar she was able to enthrall him with her magnificent erudition. Conversing in perfect Latin then Greek, she carried on a stream of delightful conversation telling him jokes and stories. Caesar who had never encountered a woman like her was so charmed he made Cleopatra his mistress that very night.
she held my gaze
A slow dance
her body moves
With every gesture
a spell is cast
into her world
chained and bound
my former existence
.....As she close her eyes, the hint of a smile
LA BELLE OTERO (1868-1965)
Born Augustina Iglesias Otero in the village of Valga,Galicia,Spain.Daughter of a Gypsy prostitute and an unknown father,possibly a Greek noble.Did not attend school but spoke French and English.Married at 15(divorced).Also known as Countess Carolina de Otero(She took the name of her older sister who died as a child)
She flourished in Paris "Golden Age" as a courtesan and dancer at the Follies Bergeres.Her career also took her to dozens of other world capitals.
She was rumored to be the lover of no less than six crowned-heads of state – including King Edward of England and Czar Nicholas of Russia.The kings of Spain and Serbia, the Grand Duke Peter, and the Duke of Westminster. At least two men fought a duel over her, and another committed suicide because she rejected his advances.
Legend has it that La Belle Otero's breasts became the inspiration for the two cupolas on the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France.
She acquired and squandered several fortune.Never bashful when spending her money,she enjoyed the casinos of Monte Carlo.Retiring shortly after World War1.She paid nine million francs ( $15,000,000 in US dollars of today) for her home in the south of France.
She died in 1965 at the age of 97 penniless.
WALLIS SIMPSON aka Bessie Wallis Warfield (1896-1986)
American woman who came from a poor family in Baltimore.First married off at a very young age to an abusive alcoholic then she divorced him and married a shipping executive who took her to London and introduced her to high society.
Became the mistress of King Edward VIII when he was the Prince of Wales.
The British establishment have never forgotten nor forgiven her.She was the woman who "killed" King George VI by bringing about the abdication of his elder brother,forcing the stammering George (Bertie) to take up a role for which he was far too frail.
The "American slut" who made Edward VIII shake hands with Hitler.She drew to the surface many of the bigotries and snobbery of that age.
Rumors flew about her private life. Her romances and liaisons with such men as Joachim Von Ribbentrop, the Nazi confident of Adolf Hitler.
The time she spend in the orient where she was alleged to have learn dark sexual arts in brothels. One of her lovers said making love to Wallis was like going to bed with a drunk sailor.
She understood the passions of men and what it took to seduce when seduction was needed.
She who is said to have coined the statement"You can't be too rich or too thin", was stigmatized in the press as being "too ambitious, too ruthless, too greedy, too mannish, too sexual, too cruel, too divorced, too pro-German and too American".
But Wallis was willing to give up Edward VIII. When the news broke out in the press, she begged the king to tell his people he was giving her up.
Before leaving for France she scribbled a note to him.."tell the country I am lost to you" and later her solicitor Theodore Goddard called Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to say that his client was willing to "do anything to prevent the King from abdicating" even offering to disappear to China.
It was Edward's intransigence,not hers that led to the abdication.What he found in Wallis Simpson was a woman who not only gave him sexual satisfaction but also a motherly domestic kind of love he had never known. She gave him a life of serenity and comfort that was worth giving up a crown.
An article describes her as "born plain" which distorted the truth. She had a remarkable kind of violet-eyed beauty which played a part in her ability to overcome the poverty fate had inflicted on her.
In her dealings with men, her legendary"ruthlessness" could also be viewed as honesty and courage.
Wallis Simpson's secret lover ?
British Special Branch surveillance revealed that Wallis Simpson was carrying on a secret affair with a man name Guy Marcus Trundle during the 1936 abdication crisis.
They portrayed him as a roguish character with good looks, who boasted "that every woman falls for him" and said that he was happy to accept money and gifts from Mrs Simpson.
The report also add "He meets Mrs Simpson quite openly at informal social gatherings as a personal friend, but secret meetings are made by appointment when intimate relations take place".
The Gilded Cage
Like a bird in a cage
the memories of flight
have long been forgotten
A beguiling lure
of perfumed deception
beneath the inviting blue azure
Laughter and gaity
beyond the golden bars
I hear faintly
with tender embraces
A prisoner of love
beholden for each morsel
you choose to give me
But what is freedom
in the wide open skies
EVA PERON (1919 - 1952 )
The youngest of five offspring,Maria Eva Duarte was born in Los Toldos, Argentina on May 17,1919.
Her mother was the mistress of a wealthy man from a neighboring village. From her mother Eva learned her most valuable life lesson: " A man was her natural enemy or a fool that a clever girl could exploit"
At the age of 15,she met Agustin Magaldi,a tango dancer.Together they leave her childhood pueblo towards Buenos Aires where she began to take on a series of romantic affairs to enhance her lifestyle and move further away from the memories of her early life in the slums of Argentina.
She was seduced and raped as she tried to earn a living.But instead of being victimized by the system, she learn to use sex and a brilliant mind to get ahead. Maria Eva Duarte parlayed a relationship with the military strongman, Juan Peron into a conjugal dictatorship of Argentina.
During Eva Peron's time, The political system in Argentina was dominated by the oligarchy of less than 2000. They owned all the land in a nation of almost 3 million impoverished landless who had little if any rights.The rich never forgave her for instilling in the poor their right to own a part of the country's wealth. She committed the unpardonable sin of trying to change the attitude of the poor."You must want !" she would say."You have the right to ask!" "You must desire".
Her husband Juan and she probably embezzled millions but she initiated and carried out generous welfare reforms,giving millions of dollars of goods to the poor. As Argentina's First Lady she worked to give the workers a better future. Government subsidies were provided for poor communities. Numerous hospitals and housing projects were constructed solely for workers and their families. Social reforms were also initiated throughout the country.
In 1946,in a nation which paid superficial homage to propriety the Catholic Church's Cardinal Caggiano objected to Evita's orders to abolish the term "illegitimate" on birth certificates. Evita who was born illegitimate stated simply "You have one of two choices, do as I say,or we write on the father's documents: "illegitimate father".
Women's battle for suffrage in Argentina started in September 1900, when the first female doctor in the country,Cecilia Grierson founded the Women Council after discovering that the law prevented her from practicing her profession. It was only in September 1947 under Evita's reign that a bill granting Argentina's women their civil rights and the power to vote passed and was enacted into law.
Three years after her death from cervical cancer her husband was overthrown and fled into exile.Every trace of Evita in the capital was destroyed. Her monuments were ruined, her books and pictures burned and her body disappeared for sixteen years.
The rich and landed gentry hated her not only because she took away their exclusive rights and privileges but also because "she was a woman in a position of great power"in a society where women were considered inferior to men.
While hatred toward her exist today,so does love from her supporters.Old ladies in black who were young when she gave them hope still leave flowers on her grave and pray to their Santos Evita.
LADY WU ZETIAN (625-705)
The only woman emperor in chinese history.
She established the Zhou dynasty which existed for 15 years.
Song Qingling, the second wife of the Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan), praised her as the most outstanding woman politician in Chinese feudal society.
Born into a rich and noble family,she was taught to play music,write and read the Chinese classics.Known for her wit,intelligence and beauty she entered the court of the emperor Tai'Tsung at the age of 13 as a 5th grade concubine.She soon became one of his favorite concubine.But she also had eyes for his son, Kao Tsung.
When the Emperor died and his son Kao Tsung ascended the throne. Wu, now 27 years old became a consort to the new emperor giving him the sons he wanted. As mother to the future emperor of China she grew in power.
Empress Wang's fatal error
When the Emperor Tai'tsung died, all his childless concubines were expected to enter the monastry to spend the rest of their life as Buddhist nuns.
Empress Wang wanted another beautiful concubine to divert Emperor Kao tsung who succeeded his father from favoring another rival consort with whom she was having a desperate struggle.She had lady Wu brought back to the palace and made a consort of Kao tsung.
Wu then proceeded to methodically plot for the downfall of both Empress Wang and the rival consort Xiao and win the emperor's trust and affection. She succeeded in their removal from the palace and from the emperor's favor. She also had them executed.
Her rise to power did not come without a price.
Historians credits her with killing her own baby girl at birth in order to pin the killing on the empress Wang who stood in her way for the emperor's affection.When this failed to eliminate her rival,she found a way to frame the empress of plotting with another rival court lady to poison the Emperor.
Once these unfortunate women were thrown into prison, she leisurely took her time to kill them. She ordered them flogged mercilessly by the executioners,their hands and feet chopped off,before they were flung into a brewing vat and finally cutting them into pieces when they died.
In order to maintain her grip on power
she is believed to have poison her sister,her niece and one of her own sons, and obliging another son to hang himself, with having three grandsons and one granddaughter whipped to death, with ordering the execution of two step-sons and their entire families.Starving to death one daughter in law and three others by other imaginative means.
In addition, she had fifty recalcitrant princes killed (ensuring in 19 instances that all their kin were wiped out with them).She exterminated thirty-six ministers and generals (three of whom had suppressed rebellions for her).and altogether arranged for three thousand families to be slaughtered. Actions that both Sun Tzu and Machiavelli would have approved and Cesare Borgia would have been in awe.The mistress in the art of seduction was also a master in the art of ruling and the use of power.
During the fifty years that she ruled the empire, first through her weak husband, then as Dowager empress to her son and finally as woman emperor, China enjoyed an unaccustomed measure of peace and prosperity.
Military spending was reduced by downsizing the army and removing the influence of military men from the aristocracy, She encouraged farming and commerce by being fair to the peasants,lowering oppressive taxes,raising agricultural production and strengthening public works.
She ran the country with consummate skill and ability. Sacking the incompetent and corrupt. Promoting and advancing men of merit,including on occasion her own critics.Anyone vying for government positions had to take the civil service exams.And she never granted positions of power to any of her relatives.
In 705,old and in ill-health, she was finally pressured to give up the throne in favor of her third son. Wu Zetian died peacefully at age eighty the same year.
Empress Wu promoted Buddhism over Confucianism and Taoism as the favored state religion in order to counter strongly held Confucian belief against female rule.
She build numerous representations of the Buddha.The most spectacular are the stone temples and statues chiseled into grottoes at Longmen,near her capital.Carved into limestone the colossal statue is reputed to have been carved in Wu's own likeness.
Ninon de L'Enclos quotes ~
"A woman who has loved but one man, will never know love."
“Feminine virtue is nothing but a convenient masculine invention.”
“It is strange that modesty is the rule for women when what they most value in men is boldness.”
“The resistance of a woman is not always a proof of her virtue, but more frequently of her experience”
"A woman who is through with a man will give him up for anything except another woman
ANNE (Ninon) DE L'ENCLOS (1620-1705)
Courtesan,Libertine,Author,Philosopher and patron of the arts
"The joy of the mind is the measure of it's strength"
Louis XIV "the Sun King" was known to ignore the advice and views of his peers and advisers but whenever he wanted a second opinion, he was known to ask "What would Ninon do?"
Ninon de L'Enclos was one of the most influential figures in 17th century France.Near the end of her life at age 85 she was already considered a national treasure.
Perceiving the inequalities between the sexes. At age 20 she declared to her friends "I notice that the most frivolous things are charge up to the account of women, and that men have reserved to themselves the right to all the essential qualities, from this moment I will be a man"
Until her death more than seventy years later, she maintained the character assumed by her,exercised all the rights and privileges claimed by the male sex and created for herself "a place in the ranks of illustrious men, while preserving all the grace of her own sex".
Her independent behavior and unconventional way of living was influenced by her father who was a libertine and an avowed follower of Epicurean philosophy.
When she lost both parents at a tender age, Ninon had few choices in life.Either to marry,enter a convent, take a position as a governess or become a courtesan. Determined to live a life of pleasure,both physical and intellectual, she choose the life of a courtesan.
Known as "The Queen of Courtesans" She attracted thousands of admirers not only for her beauty and charm but also for her extremely bold and unique way of thinking
Ninon once said,"If anyone had proposed a life of chastity to me, I should hanged myself"
Instead of waiting to be wooed,Ninon was not afraid to be the pursuer.If she saw someone she fancied,she would proposition them with bilets-doux
She had many lovers over the years and she enjoyed sex, but her seductions were intellectual as much as physical
Amongst her lovers were not only the rich and wealthy men of Paris but also many nobles including royalty. Even Cardinal Richelieu was not unaffected by her influence offering 50,000 crowns for a night in her bed. Ninon took the money and sent a friend instead.
Mindful of her liberty,Ninon maintained only short term relations with these individuals.She classed them as either a "player,a martyr or a favorite" the last one obviously got to see her bedroom.
Women dominated French cultural life in the 17th century.It was french women intellectuals who created the idea of a salon where free flowing thoughts could be discussed and entertained.
In her lifetime, Ninon's own drawing rooms saw some of the greatest and brightest minds in France,including Racine,Corneille, de Francois,duc de la Rochefoucauld and Moliere,who tried out all his plays on her first.
she was an active philosopher in the skeptical and Epicurean movement of the time
In 1659, Ninon wrote La coquette vengée (‘The Flirt Avenged’), a riposte to Félix de Juvenel’s unflattering Portrait de la Coquette. In this work, she controversially defended the living of a morally ‘good’ life without religion.
At her salon,there was no card playing or loud chatter. Abstaining from alcohol herself,she permitted no drunkards.no arguments and absolutely no discussion of religion or politics. She kept things light and easy with an emphasis on music and art.
Ninon de L'Enclos quotes....
"Talk to your woman continually about herself and seldom about yourself"
"It is all very well to keep food for another day, but pleasure should be taken as it comes,
“A sensible woman should be guided by her head when taking a husband, and by her heart when taking a lover.”
“A man is given the choice between loving women and understanding them”
“Men lose more conquests by their own awkwardness than by any virtue in the woman.”
Entering her forties,she retired from being a courtesan and decided to open an academy where she taught the arts of love to the sons and daughters of the aristocracy.
Stressing the importance of refinement and good sense in sexual conduct.Ninon's school was an immediate success.
After her death, she was eulogized as a sex icon, the subject of numerous plays, books, and myths.
Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon, the noted soldier and diplomat, wrote that her life had been "A shining example of the triumph of vice, when directed with intelligence and redeemed by a little virtue’.
A Dying Ghost
Did you feel the stab of pain
beyond my tears
on that cold brutal night
when the word "goodbye"
told me you were leaving
Yet in scented dreams
I still embrace
promises that turn to shards
bloodied flesh,torn tendons
my only recompense
Into twilight dimly a heart beat
as life ebbs into the dark
bereft of any light
beneath the living catacombs
in angst it grieves in silence
Nights of tormenting madness
as mem'ries rush out in gleeful torture
guttered sounds of bitter laughter
twisted beyond human articulation
echoes my unending sorrow
Graveside flowers my only memorial
hiding behind a veneer of falsehood
on a bed of fragile bliss I lay upon
slaying the past with drunken revelry
the pathos of a forlorn cause reaching out
....for a love that never was