The Most Famous Courtesan: A Ranking of Historical Figures

Choose the Courtesan you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Oct 2, 2023 10:54
Step right into the captivating world of history's most alluring and influential courtesans! At StrawPoll, we've curated an enthralling ranking of these enchanting women who've left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of the high and mighty throughout the ages. We invite you to immerse yourself in their stories, as you explore and vote for the most famous courtesan who captured your imagination. From the mesmerizing charm of La Païva to the irresistible enigma of Mata Hari, our list is filled with intrigue, romance, and scandal. And, if you feel a name is missing, don't hesitate to suggest an entrancing addition. Let the voting begin and uncover the ultimate femme fatale that reigned supreme in this beguiling realm of seduction and power.

Who Is the Most Famous Courtesan? (October 2023)

  1. 1
    Louis le Grand · Public domain


    The Lumineers
    Cleopatra was a famous queen of Egypt who was known for her beauty and intelligence. She was also known to have had many lovers, including Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
    Cleopatra is a song by the American folk rock band The Lumineers. It was released in 2016 as the title track of their second studio album, 'Cleopatra'. The song tells a poignant story of a woman reflecting on her life as she looks back on her journey and the choices she has made. The lyrics are introspective and evocative, accompanied by the band's signature acoustic sound.
    • Album: Cleopatra
    • Release Year: 2016
    • Genre: Folk rock
    • Length: 3:23
    • Label: Dualtone Music Group
    Cleopatra in other rankings
  2. 2
    Madame de Pompadour
    François Boucher · Public domain
    Madame de Pompadour was the official chief mistress of King Louis XV of France. She was known for her beauty, intelligence, and political influence.
    Madame de Pompadour in other rankings
  3. 3
    Nell Gwyn
    After Peter Lely · Public domain
    Nell Gwyn was a famous courtesan and actress in 17th century England. She was known for her wit and charm, and she became the mistress of King Charles II.
  4. 4
    Veronica Franco was a famous courtesan in 16th century Venice. She was known for her beauty, intelligence, and literary talent.
  5. 5
    La Belle Otero
    Jean Reutlinger · Public domain
    La Belle Otero was a famous courtesan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was known for her beauty and charm, and she had many high-profile lovers, including Prince Albert I of Monaco.
  6. 6
    Cora Pearl was a famous courtesan in 19th century Paris. She was known for her beauty and extravagance, and she had many wealthy and influential lovers.
  7. 7
    Liane de Pougy
    Paul César Helleu · Public domain
    Liane de Pougy was a famous courtesan and dancer in 19th century Paris. She was known for her beauty and charm, and she had many wealthy and influential lovers.
  8. 8

    Mata Hari

    François Nars
    Mata Hari was a famous courtesan and dancer in early 20th century Europe. She was known for her exotic beauty and her alleged espionage activities during World War I.
    NARS Mata Hari is a highly coveted blush shade known for its beautiful matte finish and stunning pink hue. It is named after the famous Indian dancer. Mata Hari blush provides a bright and cheerful pop of color to the cheeks, offering a natural flush that suits a variety of skin tones. The ultra-fine powder formulation ensures easy application and seamless blending.
    • Finish: Matte
    • Color: Pink
    • Pigmentation: Highly pigmented
    • Skin Tones: Suitable for various skin tones
    • Texture: Ultra-fine powder
    Mata Hari in other rankings
  9. 9
    Diane de Poitiers was a famous courtesan and mistress to King Henry II of France. She was known for her beauty, intelligence, and political influence.
  10. 10
    Harriette Wilson was a famous courtesan in 19th century England. She was known for her beauty and wit, and she had many high-profile lovers, including the Duke of Wellington.

Missing your favorite Courtesan?


Ranking factors for famous courtesan

  1. Historical significance
    Was the courtesan a notable figure in history or did they have a significant impact on society or culture during their time?
  2. Beauty and charm
    Was the courtesan known for their physical beauty and charm, which made them stand out from other courtesans of their time?
  3. Wealth and luxury
    Did the courtesan enjoy a lavish lifestyle, with access to the finest clothing, jewelry, and other luxury goods?
  4. Influence and power
    Did the courtesan wield significant influence and power, either through their connections with influential figures or their ability to sway public opinion?
  5. Notoriety and scandal
    Did the courtesan become famous for their scandalous behavior or for being involved in controversial events?
  6. Artistic or literary contributions
    Did the courtesan make significant contributions to the arts or literature during their lifetime?
  7. Enduring fame
    Has the courtesan's fame endured over time, continuing to capture the public's imagination and inspire films, books, or other creative works?

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous courtesan. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or your favorite Courtesan is missing from the list, feel free to help us improve the ranking.


  • 197 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Courtesan once every 24 hours. The rank of each Courtesan is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous courtesan

Courtesans, often referred to as "professional mistresses," were women who provided companionship and entertainment to wealthy men in exchange for financial support. These women were often well-educated, charming, and skilled in various arts, including music and dance. Throughout history, there have been many famous courtesans, including Veronica Franco, Marie Duplessis, and Catherine Walters. These women were known for their beauty, wit, and ability to captivate their patrons, making them some of the most sought-after women of their time. Despite their controversial profession, courtesans played a significant role in shaping the cultural and social landscape of their respective eras. Today, their legacy lives on through literature, art, and popular culture.