Leonardo da Vinci, son of a slave, would only be half Italian

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Leonardo da Vinci, son of a slave, would only be half Italian

Presumed self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci (1499-1500) on display at the Uffizi Museum in Florence.

Leonardo da Vinci, author of the Mona Lisa and symbol of the Renaissance, was not in fact only half-Italian, a prominent academic claimed in Florence on Tuesday, that the genius's mother was a Circassian slave.

While until now Leonardo da Vinci's mother was presented as the daughter of a Tuscan peasant, a Renaissance specialist and professor at the University of Naples, Carlo Vecce, concluded from his research in the archives of the city of Florence that this one had a much more tormented history.

“C' was a woman who was abducted from her country of origin in the Caucasus mountains, sold and resold several times in Constantinople and then in Venice, and she finally arrived in Florence, where she met a young notary, Pierre de vinci. »

— Carlo Vecce, University of Naples

Their son is named Léonard, cowardly with a smile the one who was inspired by this extraordinary journey to write a novel recounting the odyssey of this hitherto unknown woman, entitled Le smile of Catherine – Leonardo da Vinci's mother.

The discoveries of this academic who has been tracking for years everything related to Leonardo da Vinci sheds new light on this archetype of the universal genius born in 1452 who traveled throughout Italy throughout his life and who ended up dying in France. , in Amboise, in 1519, at the court of François 1er.

This theory also promises to make noise in the small world of specialists of the Italian Renaissance, who will not fail to examine it with a magnifying glass.

But Carlo Vecce bases his assertions on a whole series of historical documents that he has patiently collected from the archives. The most important is a document written by Pierre da Vinci in person, the father of Leonardo: it is about the act of emancipation of Catherine, a notarial act which allows the latter to recover her freedom and his dignity as a human being.

This precious document dating from 1452 was presented Tuesday during a press conference at the headquarters of the Florentine publishing house Giunti, in front of an audience of international media. Professor Vecce does not fail to point out that it was therefore the man who loved Catherine when she was still a slave and who had a child with her who helped her find freedom.

A radical change of perspective since, until now, Leonardo was considered to be the fruit of an illegitimate love affair between Pierre da Vinci and a young Tuscan peasant girl named Caterina di Meo Lippi.

For Carlo Vecce, the tribulations of his slave and migrant mother obviously had an impact on the work of the brilliant Leonardo, to whom Catherine left an important legacy and above all the spirit of freedom that inspires all his scientific work. and intellectual.

Leonardo da Vinci is indeed one of the artists of his time called polymaths: he masters several disciplines such as sculpture, drawing, music and painting, which he places at the top of the arts, and of course the sciences. In the field of scientific research, nothing stops her, comments Professor Vecce.

The story of the mother of this totem of universal culture such as told by this academic enthusiast seems almost too good to be true.

And yet this theory is by far the most convincing, says Paolo Galluzzi, a historian specializing in Leonardo da Vinci and member of the dei Lincei scientific academy in Rome, interviewed by AFP in Florence and who highlights the quality of the documents provided by his colleague.

“There is of course a minimum of doubt, because we cannot prove [this theory] by DNA examination. »

— Paolo Galluzzi, Scientific Academy dei Lincei

Even if he himself is not so surprised: this historical period marks the beginning of modernity , exchanges between peoples, cultures and civilizations that gave birth to the modern world.

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