A Venetian noblewoman, Vittoria Corombona, and the Duke of Bracciano have fallen madly in love… in spite of their marriages to other people. Upon learning of their feelings, Vittoria’s brother, Flamineo, sees an opportunity to advance his career. He plots for the two to meet up alone in order to gain a higher standing for himself as Bracciano’s secretary. When the meeting finally occurs, Vittoria and Flamineo’s mother, Cornelia, happens upon the rendez-vous and, mortified, curses them and demands an end to the illicit relationship. This only increases Bracciano’s lust for Vittoria and he schemes with Flamineo to have his wife, Isabella, and Vittoria’s husband, Camillo, murdered. Quite suspiciously, Isabella is soon poisoned and Camillo’s neck broken, yet Vittoria is the one sent to court as the suspect. The Cardinal Monticelso and Francisco de Medici, the Great Duke of Florence and Isabella’s brother, sentence her to live her days out in a house of convertites (i.e. prostitutes). Although Bracciano attends the court hearing, he does not take responsibility for his actions. Meanwhile, Flamineo starts an affair with Zanche, Vittoria’s chambermaid, and his older brother, Marcello, becomes quite suspicious of all the goings on, so Flamineo, catching wind of this, kills him off. This is the last straw for Cornelia who finally goes mad with grief. Francisco then finds out that Bracciano had a hand in plotting Isabella’s death and enlists the banished count, Lodovico, and his friend, Gasparo, to kill Bracciano. They are successful, and Flamineo sets out to determine the extent of Vittoria and Zanche’s loyalty. At the climax of the action a double pistol shootout takes place. Vittoria and Zanche try to kill Flamineo, but the bullets in the guns turn out to be blanks. Flamineo, finding out their true intentions, then attempts to kill them, but just as he raises his daggers, Gasparo and Lodovico appear and kill Flamineo, Vittoria, and Zanche. At the end of this bloody Jacobean tragedy, hardly anyone left to witness the madness that has occurred.
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