By the standards of his time, Casanova would not have been regarded as an overly aggressive man. He would not, for example, physically coerce a woman into having sex. If she resisted and he could not persuade her to change her mind then he would not persevere. This was very different to the attitudes of other men who believed that women enjoyed being forcibly subdued for sex. On the other hand, he himself had been the victim of abuse. He was forced to have sex by a woman when he was travelling on foot from Ancona to Rome. She had used a dog to terrorise the eighteen-year-old and make him submissive. Yet although Casanova detested cruelty, if he felt he was being insulted, swindled or threatened he would willingly resort to force. He was certainly prepared to kill. While a prisoner in the fortress of Sant Andrea, he engineered an ingenious escape and alibi in order to revenge himself upon a man called Razzetta. He cudgelled him, threw him in a canal and fled back to the prison. Similarly, a couple of years later, he left a man stretched out on the ground and covered in blood for having passed himself off as a high-ranking nobleman and publicly insulted him. On one occasion when he was staying at an inn, he struck, kicked and threw downstairs a young serving boy, the nephew of the innkeeper, who had innocently addressed him as the husband of a woman who was the mistress of another man. Neither was he below hiring others to do his dirty work. He paid his Spanish manservant Leduc to beat up a Jewish impresario for breaking his word to him. The above are just a couple of the many violent incidents in which he was directly involved. He fought at least eight duels and, twice, plots were hatched to assassinate him. He avoided one and fought off the other, killing one of his attackers in the process.
Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.
27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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