sant' angelo bridge

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Beatrice Cenzi was born in 1577, an Italian noblewoman with the unfortunate luck of having Francesco Cenzi as her father. They were aristocrats in the Italian nobility, however everyone knew of Francesco’s violent temper and behavior. He was known to beat his children and was eventually arrested for it. According to legend, Francesco abused his wife his sons and had reached the near point of committing incest, forcing himself upon his daughter Beatrice. He was arrested once for other crimes, but thanks to his aristocratic nobility was released shortly after. Beatrice tried to tell the authorities about the abuse however nothing became of it. Francesco found out Beatrice had gone to the cops and sent her and his second wife Lucrezia to a family castle in the country. While in exile Beatrice along with her siblings, older brother Giacomo, and younger brother Bernardo as well as Lucrezia, began plotting Francesco’s demise. In 1598 there was an attempt on Francesco’s life however he survived. As the poison did not work Beatrice and her stepmother then to bludgeoned him to death with a hammer. They threw his body off the balcony to make it look like an accident, but nobody believed it. Even though he was a scumbag he was nobility, the papal police took notice of his death and started an investigation. One of the would be assassins that failed to kill Francesco with poison was arrested and unmasked as the lover of Beatrice. He was tortured and died without revealing the truth. The other would be assassin was himself assassinated, under the orders of a family friend who knew of the murder. Eventually though the plot was discovered and the four members of the Cenzi family were arrested, found guilty and sentenced to death. On September 11th 1599, they were taken to the Sant Angelo Bridge at dawn. They were brought there by carts in which Giacomo was constantly tortured . Once they reached the scaffold at the bridge Giacomo was, and this is where it gets gruesome, killed by having his head smashed with a mallet. His body was then quartered. The the execution continued with Beatrice and Lucrezia, who were both beheaded with a sword. Only 12 year old Bernardo was spared death that day, however he was forced to watch his family be killed. For the people of Rome Beatrice became a symbol of resistance against the aristocracy and soon a legend arose: every year on the night before her death she would come back to the bridge carrying her severed head. Pictured above are some paintings of Beatrice. Source Wikipedia