Leonardo da Vinci is known to have been the illegitimate son of Piero da Vinci and a woman named Caterina. Evidence has emerged that Caterina was not a run-of-the-mill peasant girl, as was previously thought.
Now, 30-year-old research conducted by the late director of the Leonardo Library, published by his son Francesco, suggests a completely different scenario.
"Archival research has shown that there isn't any Caterina in Vinci or nearby villages that can be linked to Ser Piero. The only Caterina in Piero's life seems to be a slave girl who lived in the house of his wealthy friend Vanni di Niccolo di Ser Vanni," Cianchi wrote.
The claim is supported by recent research suggesting the Italian genius was of Arabic descent, following analysis of his fingerprint.
"It was common in Renaissance Florence to own slaves from the Middle East and the Balkans. At the time of Leonardo's birth there were more than 550 slaves in Florence, meaning that all the wealthy families had slaves in their houses. The girls were baptized and renamed. The most popular names were Maria, Marta and Caterina," Agnese Sabato said. [Link]