Count Francesco Cenci

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Count Francesco Cenci was a Renaissance-era Italian count. Widely known and hated for his brutality, he was known to have starved his servants until a papal court ordered him to feed them. He was also alleged to have thrown a party after two of his sons died in battle. Most notorious was his sexual perversion; he was infamous for having beaten his mistress to within an inch of her life after she refused to satisfy him, forcing her to perform unnatural sexual acts on him. For this, he was convicted of "unnatural vice" but only received a small fine.

After abusing his first wife so badly that she died, Francesco moved on to a second wife, named Lucretia. According to his servants, he flogged her regularly, and continued to force her to perform depraved sexual acts. He also constantly raped his daughters, Beatrice and Antonina, although Antonina was able to escape by marrying. Francesco prevented Beatrice from doing this by imprisoning his remaining immediate family in La Rocca, his fortress. Beatrice reported that Francesco was raping her to the authorities but they ignored her. It was also claimed that he would force her to massage his genitals.

Francesco was imprisoned at one point after admitting to sodomizing several young boys, but was soon released thanks to the intervention of other aristocrats. However, soon after Beatrice and Lucrezia decided to kill him with the help of Beatrice's surviving brothers. They hired two assassins, one of whom was also Beatrice's lover, and drugged Francesco with a sleeping draught before letting them in. While Francesco was unconscious, one of the assassins drove a metal spike through his eye. His corpse was then thrown from the balcony. All of the Cencis were executed for his murder at the insistence of Pope Clement VIII.


Contemporary image of Count Cenci being murdered.
Count Cenci as portrayed in Percy Shelley's The Cenci.
Count Cenci as portrayed by Georges Wilson in the 1969 horror film Beatrice Cenci.