Veronica Franco is an poet whos family livesoff of a modest income in 16th Century Venice, Italy. She falls in love with her wealthy best friends older brother Marco, but due to her lack of a dowry and social/political stature, Veronica's true love Marco is betrothed to marry another woman. Veronica's mother in turn teaches her to be a Courtizan. Courtizans are the only women of their time who are able to study literature, history, language, etc. and attend functions where they can partake in political discussions and other current events. (Courtizans also served as prostitutes, but were considered to be the most beautiful women in all of Venice). Veronica becomes a very successful Courtizan and popular amongst her society. Marco is married now, but is still in love with Veronica, although now she refuses to take him on as a client. Suddenly a war breaks out between Italy and Greece. The country calls upon King Henry of England to lend them ships to fight the war.