Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cenci, the name of a Roman family made partly famous and partly infamous by the tragic story of Beatrice Cenci, commemorated in the beautiful portrait, said to be the work of Guido Reni, and by the tragedy of The Cenci, written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Francesco Cenci (1527-1598) was one of those characters sometimes produced by high material civilisation, who are gods to themselves, and permit themselves unbounded licence, and who are as free from all moral rule as the old Greek gods themselves. He was rich, brave, and intellectual, and these three qualifications saved him often from the consequences of his perverted sensuality. Among his vagaries was the conception of an intense hatred for the children of his first marriage, and he so persecuted his three sons that they petitioned the Pope to make an end of their father. But Francesco's money saved him. Of his two daughters, the elder petitioned the Pope to let her retire to a convent; and the Pope was so far moved with pity that he provided her with a husband, and forced her father to give her a large dowry. Furious at this, the father shut up Beatrice, who was then 14; and during this confinement he is said to have fallen in love with her, and to have outraged her. But a Cardinal Guerra had also fallen in love with Beatrice, and consulted with Beatrice and her stepmother Lucrezia, and the survivor of the three brothers - Giacomo - how they should dispose of this model father, since a new petition to the Pope had no effect. At last it was arranged that the old villain should receive an opiate, and while he was under the influence of this, Beatrice introduced two assassins into his room, who drove a couple of nails, one through the sleeper's eye into the brain, and the other through the throat. The daughter and stepmother withdrew the nails, and dragged the body to a gallery, and threw it into the branches of a tree, so that it should appear that the old man had accidentally fallen from the gallery. It was some time before suspicion was aroused, and the clues followed up which revealed the deed and the doers. The Pope had found it easy to deal gently with the criminal father, but felt compelled to resist all prayers for pardon for the two maddened women. Beatrice and her stepcnother were beheaded, Giacomo was killed with a club, and Bernardo, the youngest biother, was put into a monastery.