Henri Martin, Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Hell with Dante and Virgil, 1883

Francesca da Rimini was a contemporary of Dante Alighieri and he used her as a character in his book The Divine Comedy. The Lord of Rimini was at war with Francesca’s father Guido I da Polenta of Ravenna, and so to broker peace between the two families, Francesca was married to the Lord’s cripple son Giovanni Malatesta. It wasn’t a match made in heaven. Francesca ended up having a long-standing affair with Giovanni’s brother Paolo, who was also married. That all ended when Giovanni walked in on Francesca and Paolo and killed them both. In The Divine Comedy, Dante and Virgil enter the second circle of hell (the circle for the lustful) to find Francesca and Paolo swirling in a whirlwind for all time.⁠⠀

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