In the Italian Renaissance, man emerged from the darkness of the Middle Ages and freed himself from the bonds that tradition and religion imposed on him. However, some freed themselves from all inhibitions. Political opponents were murdered, popes poisoned their opponents and had sex with their daughters, and a woman from Naples made it her business to help unhappy wives become widows. Some of the women wanted to get rid of their husbands and lead a good life with the help of the inherited money; others may have sought a way out of domestic violence through poisoning. Because divorce was practically impossible back then.

Giulia Tofana helped poison more than 600 men using a special poison elixir called Aqua Tofana. This would actually make her the greatest serial killer in history, but she was always in the shadow of dark contemporaries such as the child murderer and sorcerer Gilles de Rais or the cruel Blood Countess Elisabeth Báthory because she did not administer the poison herself.

Officially, Giulia Tofana sold cosmetics in southern Italy in the mid-16th century – first in Salerno, then in Naples and finally in Rome. But their real innovation was the poison Aqua Tofana. Tofana must have been very careful when selling her sensitive goods. For 50 years no one discovered the poisoner. From which one can conclude that no one was suspicious of all the deaths and none of her customers were prosecuted. If one of the murderers had been caught, she would certainly have betrayed the supplier under the torture that was usual at the time.

Only four drops of the poison could kill a person. The drug could be administered to the victim over a period of weeks. The first drop weakened a man and produced symptoms not unlike a nasty cold. The poison left no trace in the bloodstream or organs. One of the autopsies that was possible back then would not have shown any signs of poisoning. The recipe was a mixture of arsenic, lead and belladonna. Aqua Tofana was tasteless, odorless and colorless. An ideal poison that could simply be added to a glass of wine. As long as it wasn’t overdosed, it was suitable for the perfect murder back then.

On top of that, Tofana camouflaged the poisonous mixture by putting it in inconspicuous containers. From the outside, the poison looked like a cosmetic powder or skin lotion. She also sold small bottles with the image of Saint Nicholas of Bari, the saint’s “manna” then looked like a healing ointment. So the poison was sent across Europe because customs and authorities didn’t want to open the holy miracle bottles. It is believed that her mother Thofania d’Adamo was also a poisoner, she was executed in Palermo, Sicily in 1633 for the murder of her husband.

Giulia Tofana’s fate was sealed when she sold the poison in Rome to a woman who had scruples at the last moment. The woman had already bought the poison and stirred it into her husband’s soup. But when he wanted to eat the food, she felt remorseful and took the bowl away. Now the man became suspicious and investigated until she confessed to the assassination attempt and named Giulia Tofana as the source of the poison.

The poisoner avoided the threat of arrest by fleeing to a house of worship. The holders of secular power were not allowed to enter the church, but a rumor spread on the streets that Tofana had poisoned the wells and water. An angry mob dragged her out of the church.

Under torture, she finally confessed to having poisoned over 600 men between 1633 and 1651. In July 1659, Giulia Tofana was executed in Campo de’ Fiori in Rome along with her daughter Girolama Spera and three workers. Her confession also put her clients in trouble – some of them were also sentenced to death.

Quelle: Ranker, Blast from the Past

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