Giulia Tofana: Medieval Serial Killer
Giulia Tofana was a professional poisoner from the middle ages (Medieval Times) and was so notorious, they named a poison after her.
Tofana’s weapon of destruction was a poison called Aqua Tofana. The exact ingredients used have not been shared, but according to writings of her career, the poison was likely some form of arsenic. She earned her fame by selling poison to women who wanted to murder their husbands.
Guilia Tofana was possibly the daughter of Thofania d’Adamo, who was executed in Palermo on 12 July 1633, after being accused of having murdered her husband, Francis, although, this could be inaccurate as Tofana’s background is not common knowledge. What is known about Tofana is limited and often prone to conjecture. Some claim that she was the daughter of a murderess, hanged for the crime of matricide, but others assert that she and her helpers ran a school for poisoners out of their home base in the Sicilian city of Palermo.
However, we do know she was Italian and the majority of her murders took place in Rome, Italy, but also spread to Naples. She had created a “good” business distributing her poison, a business which spanned over many decades.
It is said her poison was responsible for the death of over 600 men in Rome alone, between 1633 and 1651, although this can not be confirmed as this number was admitted by her during her torture.
In July 1659, she was executed, along with her daughter (Girolama Spera, known as “Astrologa della Lungara”) and three other people she ran her business with. After her execution, her body was thrown over the wall of the church which had provided her with sanctuary. Some of the users and purveyors of her infamous Aqua Tofana poison were also arrested and executed, while other accomplices were bricked into the dungeons of the Palazzo Pucci.
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