At nineteen, in Rome, Casanova’s career in the Church still seemed to be on track. However, it became known that he had had an affair with a woman called Anna Maria d’Antoni Vallati and Cardinal Acquaviva, his protector in Rome, advised that it would be in his interests to leave the Eternal City. Asked where he would like to go, Acquaviva looking to provide him with letters of introduction, he rather surprisingly chose Constantinople. On his journey from Rome to Constantinople via Venice, more affairs ensued and Casanova decided that perhaps he wasn’t suited for the priesthood after all. He chose now, instead, to pursue a new career as a soldier.
His approach to this new career was characteristically Casanovan, i.e. he designed his own uniform and pretended that he was a military officer. Given the range of militias and paid mercenaries that circulated around Europe and the Italian peninsular, in all variety of official and customised uniforms, Casanova’s strategy wasn’t as far-fetched as it might first appear, particularly given his degree of self-confidence and penchant for role-playing. In Venice, he acquired letters of introduction from his guardians, the Grimani brothers, and continued on his way to Constantinople in his guise of military officer where his cultured intelligence and education impressed all those around him, to the extent that one wealthy Turk, Yussuf Ali, offered Casanova his fifteen-year-old daughter in marriage, which he reluctantly declined. His sexual education continued apace, including one homosexual encounter with a man called Ismail. He discovered that within this otherwise orthodox Muslim society the members of certain social circles enjoyed a freedom of sexual license that matched Venice.
Unfortunately, despite the favourable impression he made, Constantinople did little to enhance his fortune and en route back to Venice he ended up dissipating many of the gifts he had received from Yusuf Ali and Ismail, arriving home pretty much broke (gambling away what he had left pretty soon after). He was now twenty and had to resort to earning his living as a lowly fiddler in the theatre orchestra of San Samuele. There is also some suggestion that he sold sexual favours
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 and 2 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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