This eBook has been formatted to the highest digital standards and adjusted for readability on all devices. The Castle of Otranto is generally regarded as the first gothic novel. It tells the story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family. On the wedding-day of his sickly son Conrad and princess Isabella, Conrad is crushed to death by a gigantic helmet that falls on him from above. This inexplicable event is particularly ominous in light of an ancient prophecy. Manfred, terrified that Conrad's death signals the beginning of the end for his line, resolves to avert destruction by marrying Isabella himself while divorcing his current wife Hippolita, whom he feels has failed to bear him a proper heir. The novel merged medievalism and terror in a style that has endured ever since. The aesthetics of the book shaped modern-day gothic books, films, art, music and the Goth subculture.