Giacomo Casanova: The Love of Women and Gambling


Posted: May 28, 2020

Updated: May 10, 2023

Everyone knows about Giacomo Casanova and his exploits with the opposite sex. This is due to his own writings, "The Story of my Life". The 3,500 pages are filled with his conquest, but also act as a social commentary on the customs and normative s of 18th century Europe. As well as being known as a womanizer, he spent a great deal of his like as a gambler.

Image source: Attributed to Anton Raphael Mengs via Wikimedia Commons

Casanova and Women

Casanova was obsessed with women. As he said so himself, “Feeling that I was born for the sex opposite of mine, I have always loved it and done all that I could to make myself loved by it.” Always looking for the next lover, he pushed the limits of romantic conquest to new limits. He saw himself as the hero, in a stage performance of his own life. To that end, he developed a successful formula for courting the young ladies of society. While he was attracted to women of beauty and intelligence, he always sought out those women who found themselves in an unhappy predicament. After becoming acquainted, he would assist the lady.

Of course, by now he would ensure that she had become emotionally dependent on him and would use this factor to his own advantage. He would love online gambling sites in Italy just like the dating ones.

Unhealthy Fetish

Once the passion was gone from the relationship, Casanova would always attempt to match the woman with a suitable partner. In this way, he avoided behaving in a caddish manner and was able to remain friends with all of his conquest. But he had a fetish for young girls. In fact, by today’s standards, he would be considered a pedophile. In his own memoirs, he boasts of purchasing a young Russian girl as well as regularly bedding a nine-year-old girl, who was the daughter of one of his many lovers.

Giacomo Casanova: Studied Law

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was born in 1725 and was the eldest of 6 children. After the death of his father, his mother packed him off to boarding school, though he was to later leave this institution and study under a priest, Abbe Gozzi. It was here, at the age of 11, he had his first sexual experience with the priest’s daughter. Later still, he was enrolled at the University of Padua where he obtained a degree in law. It was during this period that he developed a love of gambling. In fact, it was his mounting debts from gambling, that caused him to return to Venice to live with his grandmother.

Giacomo Casanova
The Portrait of the Troublemaker – Image source: Kelly Galbraith / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

There, he began to practice law as well as study to be a clergyman. But the call of gambling was too strong and he set out to become a professional gambler. No sooner had this career change taken place, than he found himself once again straddled with gambling debts. And so he became a violinist for a while and then found a job as the personal assistant to a noble gentleman. This much older man took the young Casanova under his wing. He taught the assistant the ways of high society, culture, and the arts.

Sentenced to Five Years in Solitary Confinement

With his love of gambling, womanizing, and dueling, Casanova quickly drew the attention of the authorities. With his outstanding gambling debts, it wasn’t long before he found himself arrested and sentenced to 5 years in solitary confinement. But, he, along with another prisoner was able to escape. He then fled to France. From this point forwards, as a wanted man back in Italy, his life was marked by travels and adventures. He was to play cards and attend dinners with Dukes, Kings, Popes, and all the celebrities of the day. Nowadays he could be the champion of the tournaments at the online casinos in Italy.

Giacomo Casanova: Become a Castle Librarian

Giacomo Casanova was finally given permission to return to Italy in the 1770s. He published a translation of Homer’s Illiad to Tuscan, though it was poorly received. Also, his lifestyle was starting to take a negative effect on his health. Then just a few years later, he was again banished from the city of Venice for poking fun at the local aristocracy via some self-published pamphlets. After a stint in Vienna working with the Venetian ambassador, he took his final job as the librarian of Dux castle in what was Bohemia, though now called the Czech Republic.

With his failing health, he directed his energies toward writing the story of his life. This resulted in the twelve volumes we have today. On the 4th of June, 1798, the famous lover and socialite Casanova passed away. He was 73 years of age. His final recorded words were, “I have lived as a philosopher, and I die as a Christian.”

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Casanova the Gambler

You don’t have to delve into his autobiography very deeply to discover his love of gambling. All his life was spent gambling. Playing such games of chance as Faro, whist, quinze, Biribi, primero, piquet, lotteries, and basset. He would have been fascinated and probably a great fan of poker. But he was 100 years too early as the game was only introduced in the following century. It was at the young age of 20 that he first decided to become a professional gambler. And though he sought out and paid for the teachings and classes given by successful gamblers, he was never to become one himself. The problem was one of temperament.

Giacomo Casanova
A scene from a movie about Casanova – Image source: utente:Vabbè via Wikimedia Commons

Giacomo Casanova: Not Really Much of a Gambler

As such, he himself admits that he didn’t possess the right temperament for gambling. Many times when he lost, he would fly into a rage. And with other losses, he would jump up and immediately challenge his opponent to a duel. As he said, “I had neither prudence enough to leave off when fortune was adverse nor sufficient control over myself when I had won.”

Casanova probably wasn’t a very skilled player. But thanks to his quick wit, luck, and charm, he was always able to stay afloat. May of the debts he would run up were to be paid off by one of his lovers. As he once recalled, “I played on the martingale, but with such bad luck that I soon left without a sequin. I was obliged to tell [the lady] of my losses, and it was at her request that I sold all her diamonds, losing what I got for them. I still gamed, but for small stakes, waiting for the slow return of good luck.”

French State Lottery

Thanks to his gift of moving seamlessly through upper society, he even set up a state lottery with the King of France, King Louis XV. The idea was to raise enough money for a military school, thus saving the King from having to increase taxes. And, it goes without saying that both the King and Casanova had an eye on getting extremely wealthy from the scheme as well. It proved to be a great success. “The total receipts [from the first day of the nation’s lottery] amounted to two million, and the administration made a profit of 600,000 francs, of which Paris alone had contributed 100,000 francs. This was well enough for a first attempt.”

And this is the modus operandi of Giacomo Casanova. Extraordinary rich for a period, and then suffering in abject poverty. His cards playing skills were no doubt poor. We can see a man to whom immediacy is everything. Hence the large swings in his fortunes. But he certainly lived life to the fullest.

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