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Celebrated Crimes by Alexandre Dumas

Celebrated Crimes

by Alexandre Dumas, Alexandre Dumas, père

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Gutenberg link to the text here. (Text in Kindle version may be centered, or it could just be me. Also the letter "a" seems to replace the letter "o" a lot. But hey, it's free, I accept flaws.)

This book is Dumas' retelling of historical and (in)famous crimes. Think of this as True Crime History, because the love for tabloidy crime stories isn't new - and like the tabloids much of this probably shouldn't be thought of as fact or unbiased. This was originally an eight volume work, but here is combined into a single book (and much easier to manage that way!). Specifically, here are the various topics in order that the book covers them (with wikipedia links for those who want some immediate history gratification):

[will be filling in some links as I read, some of these may be my guesses before reading til I correct them]

The Borgias (mainly the family of Pope Alexander VI)
The Cenci - 1598 (Beatrice Cenci)
Massacres Of The South - 1551-1815 (French Wars of Religion)
Mary Stuart - 1587 (Mary Queen of Scots)
Karl Ludwig Sand - 1819 (wikipedia)
Urbain Grandier - 1634 (wikipedia)
Nisida - 1825 (wikipedia?)
La Constantin - 1660
Joan Of Naples - 1343-1382 (Joanna I of Naples?)
The Man In The Iron Mask [An Essay] (wikipedia)
Martin Guerre (wikipedia)
Ali Pacha
The Countess De Saint-Geran - 1639
Murat - 1815
The Marquise De Brinvilliers (Madame de Brinvilliers)
The Marquise De Ganges - 1657

[As always, when this is on the Currently Reading shelf (or the Still Writing Review shelf) I'm not done and will continue adding bits to this review. Also I may start off saying something about a book and then change my mind before I get to the end - and then I'll edit this. So until I remove this blurb take none of this as final!]

Note: if you're only interested in a part of this, check out the names of the individual volumes and then search for ebooks that way. Many are available as separate books.

Chapter 3, Massacres Of The South
It seems a problem that many of the people Dumas cites as historical figures in this chapter/book are ones I can't seem to find any further information on: Maurice Secenat (missionary from Cevennes, burned at stake), Pierre de Lavau (hanged), Dominique Deyron (doctor of theology, converted by de Lavau, escaped hanging). This may be due to spellings of the names, or the lack of French history documents being easily googlable in English? Maybe? Add these names to the list: Captain Bouillargues, Guillaume Moget, Bishop Bernard d'Elbene, Guillaume Calviere, etc. At this point I gave up making notes. Try googling any of those and you'll just find links to Dumas' book.

There was a reference to St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572):"He [King Charles IX] then left for Paris, where a short time after he concluded a treaty with the Calvinists, which the people with its gift of prophecy called "The halting peace of unsure seat," and which in the end led to the massacre of St. Bartholomew."

Quotes to ponder:

Borgia section, Chapter 8:"...The Archbishop of Cosenza knew the men he was dealing with; he knew that to save their own ends they would hesitate at nothing; he knew they had a poison like sugar to the taste and to the smell, impossible to discover in food—a poison that would kill slowly or quickly as the poisoner willed and would leave no trace behind; he knew the secret of the poisoned key that lay always on the pope's mantelpiece, so that when His Holiness wished to destroy some one of his intimates, he bade him open a certain cupboard: on the handle of the key there was a little spike, and as the lock of the cupboard turned stiffly the hand would naturally press, the lock would yield, and nothing would have come of it but a trifling scratch: the scratch was mortal. He knew, too, that Caesar wore a ring made like two lions' heads, and that he would turn the stone on the inside when he was shaking hands with a friend. Then the lions' teeth became the teeth of a viper, and the friend died cursing Borgia."

10% in, still with the Borgias - So Caesar (Pope Borgia's son) has his soldiers kidnap a young woman who'd caught his eye, and who just happens to be the fiance of Gian Carracciuola, general of the Venetians. And although there's a huge resulting kerfuffle over her kidnapping no one can find her, and even the house that witnesses said she was taken to disappears. As in, the entire house is gone. And the girl isn't found for months. That's the set up - here's the conclusion:"...The conditions were faithfully kept so far as the inhabitants were concerned; but Caesar, when he had seen Astor, whom he did not know before, was seized by a strange passion for this beautiful youth, who was like a woman: he kept him by his side in his own army, showing him honours befitting a young prince, and evincing before the eyes of all the strongest affection for him: one day Astor disappeared, just as Caracciuolo's bride had disappeared, and no one knew what had become of him; Caesar himself appeared very uneasy, saying that he had no doubt made his escape somewhere, and in order to give credence to this story, he sent out couriers to seek him in all directions.

A year after this double disappearance, there was picked up in the Tiber, a little below the Castle Sant' Angelo, the body of a beautiful young woman, her hands bound together behind her back, and also the corpse of a handsome youth with the bowstring he had been strangled with tied round his neck. The girl was Caracciuolo's bride, the young man was Astor.

During the last year both had been the slaves of Caesar's pleasures; now, tired of them, he had had them thrown into the Tiber."
  bookishbat | Sep 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alexandre Dumasprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dumas, Alexandre, pèremain authorall editionsconfirmed
Burnham, I.G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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