Beatrice Cenci, a beautiful Roman girl, born about 1583, executed in September, 1599. She was the daughter of Francesco Cenci, who inherited great wealth from his father, the treasurer or minister of finance of Pius V. Francesco was a man of bad character and dissolute habits, but was able through his large fortune to escape the punishment of his crimes. Of the children by his first wife two were murdered. Beatrice was the eldest of the three who survived. His second wife, Lucrezia Pe-troni, and Beatrice were taken by Francesco to Petrella, a desolate castle among the Sabine hills near the Neapolitan frontier. There Beatrice and her stepmother were subjected to every species of ignominy and insult. It was said that Beatrice was forced by her father to submit to incestuous intercourse. She vainly appealed to Pope Clement VIII. for protection, and then she and her mother resolved to rid themselves of their persecutor. Monsignore Guerra, who afterward became Beatrice's lover, united with them, and they employed two assassins to waylay and kill Francesco as he was returning to Petrella. But the attempt failed. Beatrice and hey mother afterward, on Sept. 9, 1598, drugged Francesco, and Beatrice introduced assassins into his room, and he was killed while asleep.

One of the murderers made a confession, and Beatrice, her stepmother, and her two brothers were charged with the instigation of the crime and subjected to torture. Lucrezia and the elder brother, Giacomo, admitted their guilt; but Beatrice, though but a girl of 16, long persisted in maintaining her innocence. The Cenci family were connected with the most illustrious houses of Rome, and strong intercessions were made on behalf of the accused. The great advocate Farinacci was heard in their defence. He urged in extenuation of their course the vices and crimes of the murdered man. He succeeded in obtaining the acquittal of the younger brother, Bernardo, his guilt not having been proved; but while the fate of the others remained undecided, the princess of Santa Croce was murdered by her son, and the pope resolved to make an example of Beatrice, Lucrezia, and Giacomo. They were all executed, Beatrice displaying the most heroic courage to the end. In her last will she directed that her property should be appropriated for furnishing dowries to young girls.

Her remains were interred at Montorio in the church of San Pietro. The vast estates of the family, including the celebrated villa Borghese, were confiscated and bestowed upon members of the Aldobrandini and Borghese families, relatives of Pope Clement VIII. and the future Paul V. The youth and beauty of Beatrice were so great that her execution sent a thrill of horror through Rome. The people would not believe that she had been guilty, and charged the government with having condemned her in order to obtain possession of the estates of the Cenci family. The indignation was so strong and so lasting that these estates were finally in part restored to the heirs of Giacomo Cenci. The family assumed the name of Bolognetti in addition to that of Cenci, and for a long time were involved in lawsuits with the Borghese family in regard to the Cenci estates. Muratori's " Annals" is one of the authorities in regard to Beatrice Cenci. Her story is told in an article in the "Quarterly Review" (1858) as derived from a contemporary manuscript; and in the Storia di Beatrice Cenci, by Carlo Tito Dalbo-no (Naples, 1804), the original documents and judicial proceedings which relate to it are cited. I)e Custine has founded a drama, Guer-razzi a novel, and Shelley a tragedy upon the story.

II processo crirninale delta Beatrice Cenci, by Antonio Torrignani, in refutation of Guerrazzi's historical romance Beatrice Cenci, was published at Florence in 1873. The celebrated portrait of Beatrice, which is said to have been painted by Guido Reni immediately before her execution, is in the Barberini palace at Rome. Its authenticity is doubtful.