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Additional info for The Novelist and the Archivist: Fiction and History in Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed
He mentioned in particular a widow and her daughter, who he suspected were among his main accusers. The priest had acted out of rancour and jealously: It was well known in the village, Orgiano claimed, that he kept the widow in his house in order to satisfy his desires and hoped to do the same with her younger and more attractive daughter. Paolo Orgiano’s own version of the rape described by Fiore Bertola defies credulity: “This Fiore was brought to my house at night, at that hour I was already in bed with a friend, a certain Zuanne Castegnaro, and she was brought by Battista Granciero and Ambroso of Verona, Mio Salgaro and by Signor Tiberto, son of Signor Settimio Fracanzan, who brought her to my bedroom, where I was sleeping ...
He had also made an explicit invitation to one of the parties he organised in his palace, a clear sign of the determination of a man who was known to make good on his threats. Her mother, servant to Fra Ludovico, never left her alone out of fear that she might run into the same troubles that many other young girls in the village had encountered, and in the end Fiore decided to marry her fiancé, a young man from nearby Sossano, prior to the agreed-upon date, a move suggested by the priest. With her new husband she moved to a run-down farmhouse, but during the winter before the trial, a stranger had appeared at the door, asking directions to a nearby village.
15 During this period Orgiano himself was placed under arrest, and his victims and other witnesses presented their version of the facts. The arrest took place at night at Orgiano’s palace, at the end of a feast attended by numerous guests. 17 After several interrogations of the accused and the examination of the witnesses in his defence, the decision of the court was handed down in the autumn of 1607. 18 Let us consider the facts as they are presented to us in the roughly hundred depositions given during the preliminary stage in September 1605.