Behind every great man, there’s a great woman. Or so the saying goes. However, some of the most famous men in history were never satisfied with one woman. Or even two, or three or four. Some had insatiable appetites, using their fame, wealth, power or even their natural charms to seduce dozens, if not hundreds, of ladies. Sometimes, they were great romantics, or sometimes they were more sinister in their motives. And sometimes their womanizing ways were almost inevitable given their own childhoods and formative years.
Of course, throughout history, countless notable men, especially those in positions of power, have enjoyed playing the field. Stalin and Fidel Castro, for example, both had insatiable sexual appetites though they satisfied themselves more through coercion or fear than through the art of seduction, so such men aren’t featured here. Rather, here are ten of the biggest womanizers in human history, whom women flocked to willingly despite – or perhaps because of – their reputations.
Any list of history’s greatest lotharios must surely kick off with the Italian aristocrat who gave his name to men who love women as much as they love adventure. Indeed, though he may not have had as many notches on his bedpost as other womanizers, Casanova has gone down in history as being a great seducer, a man with a huge appetite for the finer things in life. What’s more, his diaries aren’t just kiss-and-tell books. Rather, through his written work, Casanova has helped us gain an understanding of the customs and social norms of 18th century Europe – the naughty tales hidden in them are just a nice bonus for the historian!
So, how was this legendary lover? Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was born in the Republic of Venice in the year 1725. The son of a dancer and an actor, he was actually raised by first his grandmother and then by priests. It was while staying at a religious orders boarding house that he had his sexual awakening at the age of just 11. While not distracted by his female companions, the young Casanova was highly intelligent and relatively diligent. He won a place at the University of Padua to study law and, upon graduation, he started a career in the legal sector.
However, law was not the only thing Casanova was trained in. As a young man, an elderly Venetian senator by the name of Alvise Gasparo Malipiero took him under his wing and taught the younger man all about good food, good wine and the art of seduction. Shockingly, Casanova put what he learned into practice and ended up seducing the object of his mentor’s affections. He was cast out of his native Venice, and so began one of the most colorful lives ever lived. Over the years, Casanova served as a military officer, a spy, and a writer. His many adventures are told in The Story of My Life, written when he was an old man. Around one-third of the huge volume is dedicated to Casanova’s affairs of the heart.
In all, Casanova recalled around 120 flings and affairs. Traveling right across Europe, from Moscow to Madrid, he bedded countesses but also milkmaids, and seduced innocent virginal teens as well as high-class and low-class prostitutes. But, for his fans, Casanova was no cad. Rather, he was a great admirer of women and could even be regarded as an early-day feminist. He made an effort to help out all his lovers, and he loved mental connections as well as physical ones – so much so that he had no fondness for English prostitutes since he could not have a proper conversation with them! Casanova died in 1798, aged 73, but only really became famous with the publication of his memoirs several decades later – and even then, it has been his sexual prowess that has been remembered above all else.