The True Story Of The 17th-Century Cosmetician Who Helped More Than 600 Women Murder Their Husbands

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Image: Evelyn De Morgan

It’s suppertime in an Italian household in the late 1650s. A wife has prepared a special bowl of soup for her husband. He, however, is blissfully unaware that it could be his last, thanks to a deadly secret ingredient.

Image: Mark Freeth

In the 1650s Italy was at the tail-end of the period known as the Renaissance. Between the 14th and 17th centuries, the country experienced a cultural rebirth. It produced some of the world’s greatest art, and embraced science and philosophy.

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Image: Gerard van Honthorst

As culturally progressive as Italian society had become, however, its attitude towards woman was still repressive. Women were often considered to be the property of men. Furthermore, their marriages were often prearranged and aligned with a family’s financial interests. Once married, wives had no recourse if their husbands mistreated them in some way.

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