The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

Categories: Europe | History | Society

At the beginning of the winter of 1791 in In Vienna, in his apartment at Rauensteingasse 970, the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was dying painfully. The healers, one by one changing at the bedside of the patient, just threw up their hands. The patient complained of weakness, he was shaken by vomiting attacks, and his arms and legs swelled to an alarming size. The dying man was irritated by any sounds and he even asked to take out the cage with his beloved canary. Each aesculapius made his own diagnosis, but the genius was sure that he was poisoned. He convinced everyone that he had been given an aqua tophana - the sinister invention of the medieval poisoner Julia Tophana.

The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

We still do not know the cause of Mozart's death, and his poisoning by the envious Salieri is just one of the hypotheses. It is possible that the composer was still added to the wine or food aquafana. Before he died, he was ill for more than two months, gradually weakening and getting more and more new symptoms. It was very similar to the action of the legendary composition. Its peculiarity was that the poisoner could arrange the death of the victim within a few days, giving her strictly dosed portions of poison for months.

The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

Aquafana was distinguished from other popular poisons by its complete transparency and lack of taste. In other words, it was simply impossible to recognize the poison. It is believed that her recipe is based on arsenic, a poisonous metal widely distributed on our planet. The invention of the poison is attributed to the Italian Julia Tofane, who lived in the early 17th century.

Tofana was engaged in the manufacture of cosmetics and succeeded in this business. But she soon realized that she could solve more serious problems than wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. The woman offered her clients, who complained about the disgusted spouses, "magic" water. Using it strictly according to Tophana's instructions, it was possible to become a widow without much trouble and without arousing suspicion.

Mrs. Tophana's remedy was so versatile that it could kill both in one day and in a year! It all depended on the dose and the state of health of the victim. Husbands fell ill, at first experiencing only a slight weakness. Gradually they got worse and worse, which was very similar to the natural course of the disease. After death, the body did not look good, but it did not have the characteristic signs of poisoning: a specific smell or color change. Therefore, it was possible to expose the poisoner only by catching him by the hand.

The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

In the Middle Ages, poisoners were not particularly ceremonious and executed them with hunting and imagination. In order not to end up on the scaffold, Julia Tofana pointed out on the vials of poison that the oil inside was flowing from the bones of St. Nicholas in the basilica of the city of Bari. This miraculous product was in the homes of many Italians and its sale did not arouse suspicion.

The popular science magazine Chambers's Journal in 1890 conducted its own investigation and found out something about aquatofana:

The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

It is believed that for several years of the existence of her business, Tofana helped to send at least 600 men to the next world. It is impossible to say exactly how much aqua-tophana killed, since over time many people learned the recipe for the poison and produced it in almost every pharmaceutical shop in Venice, Florence and Rome.

If everything is more or less clear with the effect of the poison, then the motives for its use are not obvious to everyone. Why was it so massively poisoning husbands? To begin with, the modern institution of marriage is strikingly different from the medieval one. In general, women began to choose a life partner on their own relatively recently. At the time of Tophana and much later, parents entered into marriages, choosing a noble and wealthy couple for their children.

The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

At the same time, few people were interested in human qualities, appearance and age — "it will be tolerated — it will be loved." Because of this, a young and beautiful girl could turn out to be the wife of a disgusting old drunkard. In some houses, it was generally considered a rule of good form to beat up his wife and offspring. Women were much lower in the hierarchy of society than men, and there was no one to complain to.

That is why the flow of clients from Tophana has never dried up. One was bored with a drunkard and a gambler, the other hated her husband for cheating, the third just met her love and wanted to throw off the marriage bonds — there could be many reasons. For all women's sorrows, the good Tophana prescribed only one transparent medicine, with the image of St. Nicholas on the label.

The very person of Mrs. Tofana still remains semi-mythical. We don't even know exactly which part of Italy she lived in. Most historians still consider her to be a real person who lived on the island of Sicily. Someone even found records of her death in 1651. By the way, if you believe this version, the lady died a natural death in bed. For a poisoner of that era, this was nonsense.

The story of Julia Tofana, the legendary poisoner, who has 600 victims on her account

Another hypothesis says that Julia Tophana faked her death, and she went to a monastery to atone for her sins. In this case, there are two versions of her demise. According to one, she died of old age at the end of the 17th century. According to another, she was still found by the authorities, tortured and executed. It is believed that in terms of the number of victims, Tophana was bypassed only by the one who lived in In ancient Rome, the poisoner Lukusta.

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