Legend has it that when Camilla Compelli de Laureto was pregnant with her last child in 1550, she had a dream about that child’s future. She saw her son as an adult, wearing an emblem of a cross on his chest, leading other men wearing the same cross. That dream troubled her greatly; it stayed with her, in fact, for the rest of her life. That’s because in sixteenth-century Italy, the only time someone wore a cross like that was when he or she was headed for the gallows to be hanged. Camilla’s dream did come true, but not in the way she thought it would.
A Teenage Bully. Camilla’s son, Camillus, grew to an astounding height for his era: by the time he was only sixteen, he stood...
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