The Virgin Courtesan tells the story of a young woman name Brianna Caiazzo, whose adventure towards self-discovery and freedom takes place during the early Renaissance in Venice. The daughter of one of the wealthiest merchants in the Republic, she is promised in marriage to the nobleman Signore Roberto D’Este. However, on the very day she is introduced to her betrothed, she meets a young Angelo Valeriani, who captures her heart in a fleeting instant. As she is unable to explore her love for Angelo, and refusing to accept an arranged marriage, Brianna runs away to become a cloistered nun. Years in the convent pass and Brianna boldly asks a university-educated priest to help broaden her mind beyond the teachings of the Church. Over time, Brianna develops feelings for Father Mario, her tutor. However, when the priest is about to be discovered in a sexually compromising situation with another man, Brianna quickly substitutes herself for Mario’s lover. While the priest is merely reprimanded, Brianna is expelled from the convent, branded a whore, and finds herself denied by even her own family. Signore Roberto D’Este, who once counted on the Caiazzo family fortune to sustain himself, has since become very successful as the manager of a company of Venice’s most famous courtesans. Upon learning of Brianna’s disgrace, D’Este seeks out the woman who spurned him, and finds her in a seedy brothel where she works as a tavern wench. He proposes to bring Brianna fame and fortune if she will finally surrender to his control as one of his company of Honoured Ladies. When she refuses the offer, the nobleman-pimp threatens the very lives of Brianna’s loved ones. Reluctantly, Brianna agrees to D’Este’s deadly terms, and the bargain is sealed with a kiss. Though secretly she is still a virgin, Brianna will become the most celebrated courtesan in all of Venice.
Signore Roberto D’Este makes good his promise to make Brianna famous. Before she has taken a single client into her bedchamber, Brianna is known all over as The Virgin Courtesan of Venice, whose beauty is said to rival that of the Queen of Heaven. Mario, meanwhile, has left the priesthood and is searching to right the damage he feels he is responsible for bringing upon Brianna. Angelo Valeriani, likewise, has remained true to Brianna and seeks her out with the help of her greatest friend and cousin, Nina. This trio of Brianna’s devoted friends bond and resolve to save her before the much-anticipated Queen of the Canals Pageant, an event of the annual Carnival, after which the celebrated Virgin Courtesan, and likely Queen of the Canals, is expected to finally be pressed into service. On the day of the pageant, Roberto D’Este discovers Mario, disguised in his old priest’s vestments, lurking near Brianna’s balcony. Despite Mario’s protestations that he is merely in Carnival costume, D’Este is convinced that Mario is a real priest, and forces him to hear his confession. The nobleman brags to God that he will destroy Brianna this very night, so that no other man can have her. Meanwhile, Angelo and Nina come away from a frustrating meeting with Brianna’s parents, where their cause is met with antipathy by her father, Pietro Caiazzo. Angelo is now desperate and seems resolved to murder Roberto D’Este if it will save Brianna from a life of sex-slavery. Later, Brianna’s parents argue. Her father is finally won over by his wife’s devotion, and he agrees to seek out and reclaim their daughter. All characters converge at The Queen of the Canals, where Brianna is being adored by the gathered crowds. Brianna’s father and Angelo both try to bargain with D’Este to pay off whatever debts Brianna’s training cost. They double and triple the money they offer, but are rebuffed and ridiculed by D’Este. The argument becomes heated, almost to the point of violence on the part of Angelo. When the subject of Brianna’s virtue is raised, Nina arrives too late to intervene in the argument, and Angelo passionately divulges that the woman he loves his still pure. This unexpected revelation just stokes D’Este’s heated lust for Brianna even more. Just then, Mario arrives, convincingly and provocatively costumed as a courtesan named Leda. In this disguise he is able to lure D’Este away to a nearby alcove where he submits to the nobleman’s lust. Revealing himself to be a man, Mario demands that D’Este sign a contract guaranteeing Brianna’s freedom, or he will scream and bring down a crowd of witnesses that will ruin D’Este’s proud reputation as a man. D’Este draws a dagger and tries to kill Mario. Wounded, Mario does call down a crowd to witness D’Este’s attempt to kill him. Nina’s abusive husband Paolo, a henchman of D’Este’s, steps in to hold Mario for the death-blow. Angelo pulls Mario to safety just as the blade is plunged into Paolo’s heart instead. Signore Roberto D’Este is arrested for murder, witnessed by a great crowd of onlookers. Brianna is now reconciled with her family and