A rollicking, rumbunctious dramatic rendering of the lives of great courtesans is begging Netflix for a long running season or several. Not all women through the ages were caged house pets. Some rose to great prominence and glided easily through the corridors of power.
Harriet Howard was one. The daughter of a bootmaker, she ran away from home at 15 to go on stage, lived in style with a famous jockey, moved on at 18 to a fabulously wealthy married major, who made her rich for life after she bore him a son. They lived together in London and entertained the cream of society. Which was where she met Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, recently escaped from prison and pretender to a throne of his uncle, Napoleon I, that no longer existed. At 23 she left her married lover and devoted her fortune, which she took with her, to the Napoleonic cause. His family name and her money got him elected as president in 1848. Four years later after a coup manufactured by him, paid for by her, he stepped up to become emperor, naming himself Napoleon III. Having pawned all she owned to hoist him to glory, she got the title of the Comtesse de Beauregard for her trouble and was then cast aside as he married and moved on to other mistresses.
Born 13 August 1823 in Brighton, England, she was a Sun Mercury in Leo as befits a lady who aimed for a five star lifestyle and it squared Saturn opposition a Scorpio Moon – passionate, obsessive and ego-centric. She also had a super-charged Cardinal Grand Cross giving her initiative by the shed load and a restless temperament – with Venus in Libra in a seductively charming and manipulative opposition to Pluto square slippery and highly-strung Neptune Uranus in Capricorn in an ever-optimistic opposition to Jupiter.
In modern times Pamela Harriman described as “the greatest courtesan of the 20th century” by one onlooker and “a world expert on rich men’s bedroom ceilings” by another” galloped through an astonishing number of marriages and affairs and still ended up a highly respected figure in political circles.
She was born 20 March 1920 4.30am Farnborough, England, into a wealthier background than Harriet Howard but like her was an accomplished horsewoman growing up. She married Randolph Churchill, who had an illustrious name but a serious gambling habit. She went on to marry a Broadway producer and have affairs with Edward R. Murrow, Prince Aly Khan, Alfonso de Portago, Gianni Agnelli, and Baron Elie de Rothschild amongst others. Latterly she married W. Averell Harriman, a former lover and Democratic politician, then 79 years old and recently widowed, moved to Washington DC and started her political career.
She had a final degree Pisces Sun conjunct Moon; and like Harriet Howard a highlighted Venus. Her Venus in Pisces was conjunct changeable Uranus and in a Water Grand Trine to a seductive Pluto trine a determined Mars in Scorpio and her Venus was opposition Saturn. Her calculating charm would be her talent. She also had a strong Jupiter Neptune as did Howard, in her case conjunct and trine Sun square Mars. Jupiter Neptune has a tendency towards scandal, is a dreamer, eternally optimistic and good at glossing over unpleasantness.
Though she did have legal problems with Harriman’s children after the inheritance after he died.
Lady Jane Digby, 3 April 1807, London, the daughter of wealthy Admiral, was married first to an earl, thence through affairs with a first cousin and Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg. After a scandalous divorce which ruined her family, she moved to Germany became the lover of Ludwig I of Bavaria but married a German baron, before finding a new lover in a Greek Count followed by Greece’s King Otto and then a Thessalian general. Finally she travelled to the Middle East and fell in love with a Sheik 20 years her junior. Their marriage was a happy one and they lived together in a tent until her death 28 years later. She had four children, three of whom died young.
She was a Sun Aries, again with a super-charged Venus in Taurus. It opposed Saturn in Scorpio, which isn’t as damped down as it sounds since it often coincides with ‘sex addiction’. That opposition which includes a constantly-changing Uranus squared onto Jupiter in broad-minded Aquarius and was in a passionate trine to Mars. Her Mars was in a determined and courageous opposition to Pluto widely square Neptune. A wildly impulsive, none-too-stable personality who headed straight for hat she wanted. Tr Pluto in Taurus was crossing her Venus when she met the Sheik who finally settled her down.
I must confess to having a sneaking admiration for women like these who threw caution to the winds and took what they wanted. Though their adventuring ways did cause a great deal of grief along the way. The goddess Venus ever was a fickle creature.