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  • Naisha Bhambri

Guilia Tofana : The Pretty Poison


In 17th-century Italy, a hidden network of poisoners killed 600 men and nearly got away with it.

Tofana made it her duty — and her business — to assist aspiring widows in executing their husbands. During the Renaissance, when arranged marriages made divorce impossible, the only way out of an unpleasant marriage was death. Once married, husbands held ultimate control over their spouses, leaving women largely defenseless. Husbands could unfortunately beat their wives without consequence or subject them to a variety of brutal practices.

Poison was one of the quickest and easiest methods for a woman to get rid of her spouse. If poison is a woman's weapon, no one has used it more effectively than Giulia Tofana - the lady who was the mother of Renaissance Italy's most efficient and traceless poison, 'Aqua Tofana.'

Giulia dispensed the poison as cosmetic powder. Nobody would have questioned makeup that appeared that saintly back then.





Aqua Tofana was odorless, colorless, and undetectable in the 17th century––making it the perfect poison.

The way Giulia's poison killed its victims was one of the things that made it so expertly deceptive. Diluting the initial dose with a drink would result in physical weakness and weariness. Vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach aches would accompany the second dose. The remaining dosage would be covered by the third or fourth dose. Because of the slow-burning nature of the poison and how it was administered, medical professionals and investigators concluded that a straightforward illness or other unidentified condition was the cause of death.

To Tofana and her customers, death was a necessary evil to free women from their abusive and unhappy marriages.


This secret lasted for years between women, however on one unfortunate day, they were ratted out.

In 1650, a bowl of soup landed Giulia Tofana on the chopping block. One of Tofana's clients dosed her husband's soup with aqua tofana. But she cried out as he raised a spoonful to his mouth. The suspicious husband turned on his wife, abusing her until she confessed that she'd poisoned the food. The woman then pointed the finger at Giulia Tofana, who was later publicly executed.

Although Giulia had passed away, her legacy lived on. Thanks to her, Aqua Tofana stayed in circulation for years, putting fear into any abusive man who abused his wife.


"Well-behaved women seldom make history." — Laurel Thatcher Ulrich


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8 Comments


Yanna Dhamu
Yanna Dhamu
Dec 20, 2023

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vivaan.salvi
Dec 19, 2023

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Ahana Bhambri
Ahana Bhambri
Dec 19, 2023

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Ahana Bhambri
Ahana Bhambri
Dec 19, 2023

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yogeshdhanbir28
Dec 19, 2023

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