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"You too must learn to blend like us: seen, but unseen."
―Paola, the madame of La Rosa Colta, teaching Ezio Auditore to hide in plain sight, 1476.[src]-[m]

A courtesan was a woman who attended royal courts, providing entertainment and intimate companionship to nobles in exchange for wealth and status. Because of the often sexual nature of their profession, the term became a common euphemism for prostitutes of all classes during the Italian Renaissance.

The term was especially preferred by the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins, who employed organized societies of courtesans for espionage as part of a tripartite system of allies which also utilized thieves and mercenaries. The Templar Order hired their own courtesans, such as Fiora Cavazza, for covert affairs that included assassinations.

Courtesans have a long history in human civilizations with upper-class hetairai such as Aspasia becoming highly influential on the intellectual and cultural development of Athens. In China, this role was largely served by the imperial concubines.


Classical Antiquity

In ancient Greece, the polis of Korinth was known for its hetairai, who were considered as one of the principal sources of revenue for the city. During the Peloponnesian War, the misthios Kassandra sought out Anthousa, the leader of the hetairai of Korinth for information about her mother's whereabouts.[1]


Though courtesans were mainly based in brothels within a city, many were known to stand along the streets – usually in groups of four – to entice customers. Each possessed a standard style of dress and hairstyle, as was deemed appropriate for those in their profession at the time.[2]

After the execution of Giovanni, Federico and Petruccio, Ezio Auditore da Firenze sought sanctuary with Paola and her courtesans, who taught him how to conceal himself in a crowd, pick pockets, and be "seen, but unseen" as they were.[2]

Afterwards, Ezio hired courtesans to distract the guards and allow his remaining family to escape the city, and would continue to use their services from then on, usually instructing them to seduce a group of nearby guards in order to allow him to slip past unseen. Alternatively, they would follow Ezio along the streets, concealing him among them by walking around him in a diamond formation, in a similar manner to how Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad blended with scholars.[2]

Upon traveling to Rome, Ezio aided the courtesans by funding the renovations for their main brothel, the Rosa in Fiore, as well as renovating smaller brothels throughout the city. After his sister took over Rosa in Fiore's administration, he volunteered to teach the girls several skills.[3]

Golden Age of Piracy

During the 18th century, courtesans were referred to as "dancers" who commonly worked at taverns and streets. They operated in a similar process as courtesans of the Renaissance by working as groups of four.[4]

La Dame en Rose

The pirate-turned-Assassin Edward Kenway hired dancer groups for a handful of coin, using them to distract guards and interfere with fights. By walking between them, Edward would be incognito. He also constructed a brothel near his manor in the Great Inagua to provide services for himself and the Jackdaw crew.[4]

Prior to the beginning of the 18th century, La Dame en Rose, a brothel in Port-au-Prince was constructed. It became a prosperous business. Sometime later, Madame Bastienne Josèphe took over the brothel and increased its financial affairs two-fold, with a portion of the profits used to purchase freedom of the slaves in the place. In addition, Bastienne used the courtesans to gather information from clients to solicit favors.[5]

Revolutionary Age

Prostitution and brothels were still popular by the mid and late 18th century. Women were sold in taverns or kidnapped to entertain rooms and even ships.[6][7]

In 1757, Edward Kenway's daughter, Jennifer Scott, was kidnapped by mercenaries. The Templar Reginald Birch sold her to Turkish slavers and became a concubine in the Topkapı Palace. The palace included the Harem for raising and educating wives of future royalty. She was then transported to Damascus to serve under the Ottoman governor in charge, As'ad Pasha al-Azm. By her mid-40's, Jennifer worked as a servant for the concubines due to her age. Ultimately, her half-brother Haytham and a friend, Jim Holden, infiltrated the palace to find and rescue her.[6]

By 1788, the Templar Élise de la Serre and a young girl named Hélène were saved from becoming prostitutes of the Middle Man by Byron Jackson, an English ship captain.[7]

In Paris, prostitutes were at all layers of society, from the poorest in the Cour des Miracles to the richest in the Palais-Royal. Théroigne de Méricourt with the help of the Assassin Arno Dorian recruited prostitutes to form a women troop for the French Army. When the Marquis de Sade took control of the Cour des Miracles, he tasked Arno to kill the procurer Grignon to take the control of his brothels. Sade was later accused of the murder of the prostitute Suzanna. Arno investigated and discovered the true murderer. Marguerite Brunet, also known as Mademoiselle de Montansier, ran a ring of "actresses" in the high society, uncovering secrets from influential men. Pierre Beaumarchais sent Arno recovered the book where Montansier kept the information collected.[8]

Victorian London

A brothel existing in Victorian London

Due to poverty and the lack of jobs, many turned to prostitution as a way to earn a living. After assassinating Crawford Starrick and his Templar control over London, the twin Assassins Jacob and Evie Frye recruited initiates from child labor, orphans and prostitutes. Some female initiates took upon the identity of courtesans who worked in the Whitechapel brothels owned by Olwyn Owers as undercover agents.[9]

During the Whitechapel murders, the Assassin turncoat and serial killer Jack the Ripper murdered several of these initiates. During her investigations, Evie could hire prostitutes to distract Jack's minions. [9]


A group of courtesans in Venice

Courtesans could not perform any sort of freerunning, and were usually unarmed, though in the cases where they were, they carried knives and bladed fans. Should they be discovered aiding Ezio in an attempt to infiltrate a guarded area, the courtesans were usually attacked mercilessly, and killed very quickly in the fight.[2][3]

If Ezio or Edward encountered a group of guards while walking with the courtesans, two of them would leave the group to distract them, while the other two stayed with the Assassin, in order to maintain the blend and help keep him anonymous. This behavior was very helpful in assassination missions where the target walked among civilians.[2]

The courtesans in Rome acted much as they did in other cities, however, after Ezio had allied himself to their guild for some time, the girls he hired were able to poison any enemies they were instructed to distract.[3]

Examples of courtesans


Main article: La Rosa Colta
  • Paola[2] - Madame of La Rosa Colta and an Assassin


Main article: La Rosa della Virtù
  • Teodora Contanto[2] - Madame of La Rosa della Virtù and an Assassin
  • Lucia[2] - A courtesan who was attacked and robbed just outside her brothel


Main article: Rosa in Fiore
  • Madonna Solari[3][10] - Former Madame of the Rosa in Fiore, killed by slave traders working for the Borgia
  • Fiora Cavazza[10] - A courtesan working for the Solari, who eventually entered the service of Cesare Borgia
  • Giuletta[3] - A traitorous courtesan who traded information about the Assassins to a Borgia contact
  • Lucia[3] - A courtesan who accompanied Fiora and Santino Solari on one of his business outings, who was also kidnapped by slave traders alongside madonna Solari. She was sent back to alert the other girls of the ransom for Solari
  • Mina[3] - A victim of the Templar Malfatto, a rogue doctor that preyed on courtesans. Ezio Auditore found her being mourned by her friend in a back alley of Rome
  • Agnella[11]
  • Sarghina[11]



Main article: La Dame en Rose


  • Théroigne de Méricourt[8] - Belgian singer who became an important figure of the French Revolution
  • Suzanna[8] - Prostitute killed during the French Revolution. Arno Dorian solved her murder
  • Anna[8] - Suzanna's co-worker
  • Micheline[8] - Suzanna's co-worker
  • Jacqueline[8] - "Actresse" who worked for Mademoiselle Montansier



  • The "Red Light Addict" achievement could be gained by spending 5,000 florins on hiring courtesans. As one group of courtesans cost 150 florins to hire, it means that approximately 34 groups must be hired.
  • A courtesan's appearance had five randomly generated options: hair, face, dress color, necklace and sleeves.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, if Ezio hired a courtesan group and then immediately attacked guards, the courtesans may draw weapons and fight the guards alongside him.
  • Should a courtesan in a group fall into water, the remaining three would continue to activate the blending effect without her, indicating that the death of one courtesan was similar to when two left the group to distract passing guards.
    • Despite this, a glitch could be encountered with a group of hired courtesans outside of Forlì, where if one of them became stuck and separated from the rest of the group, the remaining three would not activate any blending effects until Ezio approached the lost courtesan's perimeter and enter into the middle of the group.
  • Courtesans could not be killed or grabbed by Ezio.
    • The only exception to this rule could be seen in the Assassin's Creed II memory "Fitting In", being the only one where Ezio could beat up, pickpocket and grab courtesans.
  • During the memory "Carnevale", courtesans appeared in the streets wearing masks.
  • In Monteriggioni, after renovating the brothel, random courtesans appeared to walk in the streets. However, Ezio was unable to hire them.
    • They no longer appeared during the early scenes of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, except for one who appeared behind Ezio as he was leaving the hidden tunnel from Monteriggioni.
  • In Brotherhood, if a civilian Ezio stole from prepared to have a fistfight with him, courtesans that he had hired would sometimes go and fight them instead, knocking the civilian out with only two punches.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, courtesans were replaced by the Romani, as prostitution was not officially accepted in Ottoman-Byzantine society.
  • Courtesans were visible in Assassin's Creed: Unity; however, they could not be hired or interacted with, as they were civilians.
  • In Jack the Ripper, the hired prostitutes could be sent to distract the male members of the Rooks, but at a risk: sometimes said men killed the women.