Veronica Franco was a 16th century Italian courtesan and poetess who was celebrated both for her beauty as well as her intellect. An independent-minded woman who took to the life of a courtesan to support herself and her infant son, she soon rose to become one of the most prominent Venetian courtesans. Consorting with the rich and the powerful of Europe gave her access to intellectual and political circles and she used the power this gave her to make her voice heard. Franco was a feminist and an activist much before the words were coined. In her writings, she furiously defends women who were victims of physical and verbal abuse by men. She rallied for the cause of the so-called “fallen” women so that they could get an education and make a living. She donated to shelters for helpless women and gave dowries to young girls getting married. In her independence and boldness, she was an anomaly in her day and age where women’s lives were to be led by the rules set by men.