17th Century Domestic Violence

The Tailor’s Lamentation – 1685

A tailor with a young and beautiful wife has a weakness for whores. Then, one dark night, he  has dallied with a doxy and is left stripped of clothes and money and must go back to his wife to explain…

…When she came in, she rang me a peal,

Ay, and her fist she forc’d me to feel…

There with her fist my face she did maul,

till at length I was forc’d to fall

Down on my knees, her love to obtain,

vowing I’d ne’er offend her again.

‘Rascal! (said she) I’ll pardon thee now!

If that this day you solemnly vow

To be obedient still to your wife.’

‘Yes, if you please to spare but my life.’

Ever since then she bears such a sway,

that I am forc’d her Laws to obey,

She is the Cock and I am the Hen:

this is my case, Oh! pity me then.

Cavalier Song Writer ~ Thomas Carew



READ in these roses the sad story

Of my hard fate and your own glory.

In the white you may discover

The paleness of a fainting lover ;

In the red the flames still feeding

On my heart, with fresh wounds bleeding.

The white will tell you how I languish,

And the red express my anguish ;

The white my innocence displaying,

The red my martyrdom betraying.

The frowns that on your brow resided,

Have those roses thus divided.

Oh ! let your smiles but clear the weather,

And then they both shall grow together.

Thomas Carew(pronounced Carey) 1594-1640

Carew's poems, at their best, are brilliant lyrics of the purely sensuous order. They open to us, in his own phrase, "a mine of rich and pregnant fancy."

Carew's poems, at their best, are brilliant lyrics of the purely sensuous order. They open to us, in his own phrase, "a mine of rich and pregnant fancy."

17th Century Secret Female Pope

In September 1644, a new pope ascended the throne of St Peter. He was 72 year old Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphili otherwise known as Pope Innocent X.

But Innocent did not wear the triple crown alone. He shared it with his intelligent, scheming, greedy sister in law Olimpia Maidalchini.

Donna Olimpia Maidalchini

Donna Olimpia Maidalchini

During the first three years of Innocent’s papacy, Olimpia restricted her advice to matters concerning political issues of minor importance. But in 1647, with a shift of Vatican employees, Olimpia found herself in a position to influence the powerful and secret arm of the Vatican known as The Holy Alliance.

At this time in history, relations between the Vatican and France were at an all-time low. After many years in Italy courting Donna Olimpia, the most powerful man in France was Guilio Mazarini, now refashioned as Cardinal Jules Mazarin.

Mazarin knew Olimpia and her role well and cleverly insinuated a force of French agents inside the Vatican to spy on her, and to inform him of all the Pope’s intended manoeuvres against France.

Jules Mazarin

Jules Mazarin

Clever Olimpia countermanded this move by setting in place a counter-espionage arm of the Holy Alliance called The Black Order, the members of which were to find Mazarin’s spies and execute them on the spot.

The Black Order had eleven members, handpicked by Olimpia. Each one carried a pontifical seal engraved in silver with the image of a female in a toga holding a sword in one hand and a cross in the other.

Mazarin’s best spy was a Genovese priest named Alberto Mercati and, between 1647 and 1650, many important papal documents relating to France came through his hands, all of them duly copied and forwarded to Mazarin. In one such secret message came the outline of a plot by an organisation called the Fronde to overthrow the First Minister and his mistress, Anne of Austria.

This coded message was given to a French member of the Pope’s Swiss Guard who promised to get it to Paris with all possible speed. The next day his body was found hanging from a bridge with both hands cut off and a small strip of black cloth with two red stripes attached to his clothes – the sign of The Black Order.

The message was brought to Olimpia and destroyed and France embarked on the series of brutal civil wars known as The Fronde.

The Fronde

The Fronde

On September 6th 1652, Mercati was found hanged in his rooms in Rome with, inside his mouth, a small strip of black cloth with two red stripes.