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Not wholly and hugely certain of this

Prof Vecce, from the University of Naples L’Orientale, believes she was kidnapped from Circassia, possibly by Tartars, and then shipped across the Black Sea to Constantinople and from there to Venice.

She was then acquired by a family in Florence for whom she worked as a wet nurse.

It was there that she was made pregnant by Leonardo’s father, Ser Piero da Vinci, in the summer of 1451.

Once the baby was born Caterina was swiftly married off, with a generous dowry, to a local smallholder with whom she went on to have five children.

Slaves from there in medieval Italy? Sure.

Worrying about the marital status of a wet nurse? Don’t think so. By definition she had – to be a wet nurse – to be a mother of at least one already.

The general story is entirely possible. That one detail not so much.

4 thoughts on “Not wholly and hugely certain of this”

  1. Cue instant distortions.
    – da Vinci was mixed-race!
    – he was descended from a slave!
    – slaves are black, right?, so he was African!
    – all his art is of African origin !
    – etc, etc.

  2. El Draque: sorry to disillusion you but Circassians are the very epitome of Caucasian that being their original homeland until the Russians exiled and massacred them in the 19th century

  3. Of course there’s another yarn saying Leo’s mother was a 15 year old orphan, Caterina di Meo Lippi, seduced by Leo’s father.

    Damifino what the truth is.

  4. Only thing we know for sure Leo was acknowledged and adopted into the family before his father officially married.

    Leonardo’s case wasn’t unheard of in Better Circles either. What mattered was who the father was, not the mother. They, and all too often the children tended to die a lot. People had become.. quite pragmatic.. about such things.

    And farming off the actual mother to a not-too-fussy husband with a generous dowry was the Decent Thing To Do. And beneficial to the woman as well..
    Try getting a “decent” husband as an affirmed non-virgin without a sizeable dowry in that day and age…

    Diff’rent times…

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