(Italian) form of Frances, now widely used in the English-speaking world. Originally a vocabulary word meaning ‘French’, it was bestowed from the 13th century onwards in honour of St Francis of Assisi. It has also been used independently as an English name. Its most famous bearer was Francesca di Rimini, daughter of Giovanni da Polenta, Count of Ravenna. A legendary beauty, she was betrothed by her father to the misshapen Giovanni Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, in return for military support. Malatesta's good-looking younger brother, Paolo, acted as his proxy in the betrothal, but Francesca and he fell in love. They were discovered, and put to death by Malatesta in 1289. Their tragedy is enshrined in the Fifth Canto of Dante's Inferno, as well as in several other works of literature and in a symphonic fantasy by Tchaikovsky.