Cover image for Murder and Madness on Trial: A Tale of True Crime from Early Modern Bologna By Mònica Calabritto

Murder and Madness on Trial

A Tale of True Crime from Early Modern Bologna

Mònica Calabritto

COMING IN JUNE

$114.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09508-0
Coming in June

$29.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09509-7
Coming in June

176 pages
6" × 9"
5 b&w illustrations/1 map
2023

Interactions in the Early Modern Age

Murder and Madness on Trial

A Tale of True Crime from Early Modern Bologna

Mònica Calabritto

Murder and Madness on Trial, in dialogue with both historians of medicine and social and legal historians, paints a complex and rich picture of early modern madness. Thanks to the unusual abundance of the documentation of the case—legal, medical, literary—Calabritto describes in detail a nuanced case of murder, illness, and conflict of expertise, interpretation, and political cultures.”

 

  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Subjects
On October 24, 1588, Paolo Barbieri murdered his wife, Isabella Caccianemici, stabbing her to death with his sword. Later, Pablo would claim to have acted in a fit of madness—but was he criminally insane or merely pretending to be? In this riveting book, Mònica Calabritto addresses this controversy by reconstructing Paolo’s life, prosecution, and medical diagnoses.

Skillfully combining archival documents unearthed throughout Italy, Calabritto brings to light the case of one person and his family as insanity ravaged their financial security, honor, and reputation. The very notion of insanity is as much on trial in Paolo’s case as the defendant himself. A case study in the diagnosis of insanity in the early modern era, Barbieri’s story reveals discrepancies between medical and legal definitions of a person’s mental state at the time of a crime. Murder and Madness on Trial bridges the micro-historical dimensions of Paolo’s murder case and the macro-historical perspectives on medical and legal evidence used to identify intermittent madness.

A tragic and gripping tale, Murder and Madness on Trial allows readers to look “through a glass darkly” at early modern violence, madness, criminal justice, medical and legal expertise, and the construction and circulation of news. This erudite and engaging book will appeal to early modern historians and true crime fans alike.

Murder and Madness on Trial, in dialogue with both historians of medicine and social and legal historians, paints a complex and rich picture of early modern madness. Thanks to the unusual abundance of the documentation of the case—legal, medical, literary—Calabritto describes in detail a nuanced case of murder, illness, and conflict of expertise, interpretation, and political cultures.”
“By discussing jurists’ and physicians’ expertise, the social and cultural expectations of lay witnesses and contemporary accounts of the events, Murder and Madness on Trial creates an original and multiperspectival history that adds to current work on early modern perceptions of insanity.”

Mònica Calabritto is Associate Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center.