By: Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873)
The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) presents a kaleidoscope of individual stories, which are all tied together by the story of Lucia and Renzo, two young persons of humble origin that are deeply in love with one another. However, despite their great attachment, they are prevented from marrying by the cruel Don Rodrigo, who has himself cast an eye on the beautiful and pious Lucia. Don Rodrigo menaces the priest who was to perform the wedding ceremony, who then refuses to do his duty. Thus threatened and prevented from being married, the couple is separated, and the narration follows each of them on their struggle to unite again.
Set in the years 1628-1630, the main story is accompanied by a rich and most accurate description of the historical background -- the warfaring cities, the plague, and the oppressive Spanish rule over Northern Italy during that time. The narration also includes many smaller subplots which allow the reader glimpses into the lives of the other characters involved.
Alessandro Manzoni is regarded as one of the most important authors of Italian literature, and this particular work is counted to the overall most important literary works of the 19th century.