Italy

Composer murders wife, her lover, his infant son, and nanny in jealousy (1590)

October 16, 1590
Naples, Italy
Composer Carlos Gesualdo kills his wife, her lover, his infant son, and a nanny in jealous revenge

After fathering several children, Gesualdo apparently lost interest in sex but his wife did not. She took a paramour and Gesualdo, wanting to catch the two in the act, pretended to leave to allow his wife’s lover to visit.

Historic accounts of the crime are inconsistent, with some claiming Gesualdo killed the two while others report he hired some local thugs to do the deed. Regardless, the couple was tortured, shot, mutilated, and disemboweled. Gesualdo then grabbed his infant son and bashed the child against a wall because he was unsure of the child’s true parentage. In an attempt to kill his oldest son, a nanny tried to intervene and was killed in his place. Gesualdo was restrained by servants and calmed down before he could kill any more.

Due to his status and his apparent right to slaughter his cheating wife and her lover, he was not arrested or even looked poorly upon by his peers. In later years he remarried (his second wife complained of his abusive nature and would stay with family rather than with Gesualdo), began the practice of self-flagellation, and died in isolation.

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