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Carlo Gesualdo Bewitched: Report of the Baronial Judge and Related Correspondence between the office of the Episcopal Inquisition and the Viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples: 1603



1. Baronial Judge Staibano to the Viceroy

Most illustrious and excellent Lord,

Dr. Cesare Staibano is here relating for Your Excellences records how, having for the most part obtained the information entrusted to him about the sorceries and love potions made and given to the Prince of Venosa, and how two women were tortured by means of the rope, they being the defendants in the aforementioned crimes. The Bishop of Avellino ordered an expedited hearing [fulminatorio] against him [Staibano] by which he orders him sub pena excommunicationis latae sententiae [with the pain of excommunication in anticipation of your being found guilty] and orders him to transmit the prisoners, together with the trial records to you within six days. Nevertheless, you, Most Excellent, even though you responded to the Bishop, the supplicant [Staibano] remains under threat of excommunication. For that the supplicant prays to you, Your Most Excellency, to intervene for himself and for the safeguarding of the jurisdiction. Ad gratiam to Your Excellency. Ut Deus.


2 From Judge Staibano to the Viceroy


The vicar of the Bishop of Avellino ordered an expedited hearing, claiming that the facts of this proceeding pertain to the Holy Inquisition; I gave him due reply and I am sending you a copy of it together with the copies of the depositions given under torture and confirmed. I did not give him the deadline for the confessions and their defenses, followed by the legitimizing of the procedures before the deadline given to me by Your Excellence, so that I can carry out what I am instructed to do as well as how to behave with the Bishop. With all humility, I kiss the feet of Your Excellence,

Gesualdo 8 August 1603


3 From Cesare Staibano to the Secretary of the Kingdom

On the 10th of the current month of August I was delivered Your Excellence's letter dated August 7, together with the recollections of his Lordship, the Prince of Venosa, and the orders from Your Excellence, and when I understood what was asked of me, I immediately resumed the investigations which had been started regarding the case, and I began to proceed according to the above-mentioned order, up to the present. We proceeded to torture two women and they confessed in large part. I will continue clarifying the acts up to the established deadline and then I will send the authenticated copy of the entire trial to Your Excellence together with the related forms. And, in order to gain His graces for myself, Your Lordship will relate all that I am writing now. The Vicar of the Bishop of Avellino ordered an expedited hearing, claiming that the facts under some of the headings pertain to the Holy Inquisition, so I am informing both Your Excellence and Signor Regent Constanzo [a representative of the government] by sending a copy of the confessions of the women under torture and corroborated in the expedited hearing, with the response provided as well as a summary of the trial; and I will not proceed; everything will be done according to the instructions I am given by Your Excellence and Your Lordship

I humbly kiss your hands and express my reverence.

Gesualdo, August 18 1603

Your most devoted servant, Cesare Staibano


4 Order of the Viceroy [in Spanish]


Order him to send the information and the prisoners soon to Andrea Salazar, Secretary of the Kingdom of His Majesty. They can be put in the castle for just cause.


5 From the Bishop of Avellino to Judge Staibano

Thomas Vanninius Sac, Theologia, Doctor Dei, et Apostolicae sedis gratia Frequentinensis et Abellinensis.

Cum ad aures nostras pervenerit per officiales Curiae terrae Iesualdi seu alios, , et proprie per U.I.D. [Utroque Iure Doctorem] Cesarem Staibanum fuisse captam informationem contra quasdam Lellam de Henrico, ac Polisandram Pezzellam de nonnullis delictis spectantibus ad Sanctum Ufficium Inquisitionis, ipsasque in Carceribus dictae Curiae detineri, Propteria dictum U.I.D. Cesarem Staibanum, et alios officialis ad penam excomunicationis latae sententiae, et aliarum penarum iuxta sacras Pontificum Constitutiones monemus, quatenus infra sex dies a presentium notificationi consignet Nobis, et Curiae Nostri episcopali processus factus contra predictas, et alios quoscumque in predictis causis, ut iuxta sacros Canones et S.as Pontificum Contitutiones de Iustitia procedere, ac omnino sacrosanctae Congregationi S.me Inquisitionis si opus fuerit deferre ac significari possimus, et insuper dictas Mulieris nomini dicti S.ti officij detineantur in carcere tuto, et securo a quo non possint aufugere nec ipsi ulterius in dictis causis ad Sanctum Inquisitionis Officium pertinentibus ullo modo se intromictant alias.

Datum Avellini die 14 Augusti 1603

Thomas Episcopus Frequentinen et Avellinen

Carpenterius Notarius, et attuarius locus sigilli.


6 Report of the trial from Staibano to the Viceroy

Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Lord, my revered patron

On the order of your Excellency, an investigation has been carried out against Aurelia dErrico from Gesualdo because of the love potions she gave to His Lordship, the Prince of Venosa for him to drink, as well as other sorceries carried out against him; it has been proven against the aforementioned via the evidentiary proofs below:

--That the aforementioned Aurelia had been involved with the aforementioned Prince for ten years is proven by several witnesses and by the deposition of the defendant.

--That for the past five years, since he married the Princess, he stopped frequenting the aforementioned Aurelia is established through the deposition of the defendant and by several witnesses.

--That the aforementioned Aurelia, seeing herself forsaken by the Prince, frequently lamented it, is evident from the testimony of five witnesses at the hearing and because of the complaints of the defendant. Some of the witnesses add that when she lamented, she used to say The Prince has left me, I will do something to him so that he will have to keep me eternally, and if he will not be with me, I dont want him to be with other women

--That the aforementioned Aurelia made the Prince drink her menstruating blood as a purgative is established by four witnesses to extrajudicial confessions by the defendant.

--That menstruating blood is a kind of poison which, if not treated immediately, will eventually lead, little by little, to a person's death is established through the depositions of four physicians who also say that they judged the Princes indisposition to be supernatural, caused by harmful drinks and other sorceries, because many natural remedies that were used were of no avail, thereby indicating the supernatural nature of the poison.

--That Polisandra Piezella from Gesualdo went to the home of the aforementioned Aurelia and spoke to her in secret, and after the aforementioned Polisandra left, when the aforementioned Aurelia was asked by Bionda from Enea--who was in the home of the aforementioned Aurelia--what they had secretly spoken about, Aurelia declared that the aforementioned Polisandra had told her that if she would take a slice of bread and place it inside her nature and after it was saturated with her own seed, she would give it to the Prince to eat with sauce, is established through the deposition of the aforementioned Bionda through an extrajudicial confession by the defendant and also through the deposition of the selfsame Aurelia given intra-judicially and without torture.

And when examined under oath, Polisandra testifies that she brought the slice of bread to Aurelia, like the one given to her by Don Antonio Paulella from Montemarano, and who had told her to bring it to the aforementioned Aurelia, and that after she had slept with the Prince [literally: "had to do with the Prince"], she would place it inside her "nature" and, soaked with the seed of them both, she would then give it to eat to the Prince in a sauce.

--It is established through the doctors deposition that the seed is harmful

--That the aforementioned Aurelia more than once said that He wants me to be a Princess, my Prince will be mine from the waist down, and from the waist up the Princesss, so that she can only have kisses is established through three witnesses.

--That the aforementioned Aurelia met with Antonio Paulella of Montemarano repeatedly in secret over two or three days, and that he is known to all in Gesualdo and Montemarano and neighboring places as a sorcerer is established through several witnesses.

--Through three witnesses it is established that the defendant would say that the Prince could not get well unless he went back to her; she said this when she heard that the Prince was sick.

--It is established through Aurelias extrajudicial confessions to three witnesses that she would say that even though she had given him the menstruating blood and done other sorceries to him so that he would love her, she did not do it to hurt him.

--That the aforementioned Don Antonio from Montemarano had several people who were traveling between Montemarano and Gesualdo and back that he would send her what she had promised, and that she knew what he had done, is established through several witnesses.

It is established through several witnesses that four different sorceries were found, including two small statues pierced by nails and with cords tied around their bodies, and two others, including a lock found buried outside a castle door through which the Prince often passed, and another, consisting of two iron pieces with some small lead coins placed into a hole in the castle wall; inside the lock were hair, nails of dead people, and other sorceries.

--By the power of the preeminence of the Great Court given by Your Excellency, I tortured the aforementioned Aurelia, and she confessed to having given the menstruating blood to drink and the slice of bread soaked in the seed to eat, in the way described above, and done all the above mentioned sorceries through the aforementioned Polisandra; and of her own accord, she said that Polisandra had brought her a vessel full of water treated with wax which had been sent by the above-mentioned Don Antonio of Montemarano, saying that a spirit was inside it, and that the aforementioned Polisandra spoke to it inside the chamber to find out what the Prince was doing, and Aurelia heard from outside the chamber that the spirit replied in a voice that sounded Greek, that she could not understand and she confessed to more things spontaneously that together with a woman called Totia she buried a small bronze crucifix with a large loaf of bread under the ground for the effect described in her deposition, and the aforementioned Totia, the accomplice, has fled, fearful of such confessions.

--I tortured Polisandra as well, by the power of the confession of the aforesaid Aurelia, and of Polisandras own spontaneous confession about the slice of bread she brought to Aurelia, as was said above, and she confessed to having done all the things described above, both to having given the menstruating blood to drink and given the bread in the sauce to eat, as well as the sorceries found along the way which were included in her deposition under torture, in agreement with the deposition of the aforementioned Aurelia and by her order she put the slice of bread in the sauce when she pulverized with a preservative-like coagulated material, for the reason described in her deposition and also that she spoke with the spirit, consistent with Aurelias deposition, thereby reaffirming their depositions given under torture.

--It is furthermore established through eight witnesses that Polisandra is believed to be a witch by the general public, and that she is the daughter of a sorcerer priest and that she always led a wicked life, always being friendly with priests with whom she bore children, and having her tongue pierced for speaking blasphemy.


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