Beatrice's Spell: The Enduring Legend of Beatrice Cenci by Belinda Jack - review by Carole Seymour-Jones

Carole Seymour-Jones

Fatal Attraction

Beatrice's Spell: The Enduring Legend of Beatrice Cenci


Chatto & Windus 196pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

ON 11 SEPTEMBER 1599 sixteen-year-old Beatrice Cenci was executed in Rome. Her crime was the murder of her father, Francesco, a wealthy aristocrat who had imprisoned his beautiful daughter in a castle in the Abruzzi Mountains, north-east of Rome, and raped her. Beatrice conspired with her stepmother and brothers, also abused by Francesco, to have him murdered. There was, she said, 'no other remedy'.

At her trial for parricide no mention was made of the 'unspeakable and unnatural vices' for which Francesco had already been tried and sentenced. Beatrice was tortured and found guilty. After her execution her severed head was placed on a silver platter beside the body, and she was buried in

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