Fourteen Living Descendants of Leonardo da Vinci Identified in Study

Two Italian historians have announced they have found the “lost descendants” of Leonardo da Vinci after a 10-year-long quest into the family tree of the famous polymath, inventor, and artist.

Italian historians, Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato, are Leonardo da Vinci experts. Together, they dug deep and followed the family tree of the Renaissance-era Italian polymath. The bloodline of the famous inventor and artist has been charted over 690 years, and 21 generations, and it was discovered that his blood lives on today in 14 living male relations. And some of them still live near his birthplace of Vinci in Tuscany, Italy!

Climbing Up Leonardo da Vinci’s Family Tree

Historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato spent a decade piecing together the male blood line of the  Leonardo da Vinci  family tree. A release from  Human Evolution  explains that the researchers began their quest with the family progenitor “Michele,” who was born in 1331 AD. The  historians followed 5 branches including the one into which Michele’s great-great-great grandson Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452. This path led to the identification of 14 living men including “farmers, office workers, an upholsterer, porcelain seller and even an artist.”

The researchers say that while having no children himself, the great artist had 22 half-brothers. They traced the five branches of his family tree from Leonardo da Vinci’s father, ser Piero, and one of his half-brothers, Domenico. An article in  Daily Mail  explains that 15 generations of Leonardo da Vinci’s family data was collected, which revealed “more than 225 different individuals making up the da Vinci family tree.”

Italian historians, Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato, are Leonardo da Vinci experts. And they collaborated on the latest study on this great man and who he might be related to today. ( Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci )

Speaking With Leonardo da Vinci’s Relatives

Dr Sabato said none of the living descendants currently lives in Vinci, the  Tuscan town  where Leonardo came from. However, some do reside in various Tuscan municipalities including Montelupo Fiorentino to Lastra a Signa and Versilia. The researchers described Leonardo’s descendants as, “the elderly are retired, the youngest are employed and one of those they found is currently working as a freelancer.” One of families is now known as “Vinci” and 85-year-old Paulo Vinci told Italian journalists that the news came as a surprise and that the news was a “source of great pride.” 

Paulo Vinci told the researchers, “about 60 years ago, at the age of 25, on the occasion of a visit to the Vinci museum, I was told my family descended directly from that of  Leonardo.” The idea faded and now, after half a century historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato have shared their research which shows his connection to Leonardo “was certain.”

Mr Vinci was asked if perhaps his family had any old papers or documents tucked away about his famous, and until now unknown family lineage, but the aging Italian man explained that the topic of the  great artist  was “never dealt with in my family.”

The birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci is believed to be this house in the town of Vinci in Tuscany, Italy, and a few of his 14 living male relatives still live in and around this town. (Roland Arhelger /  CC BY-SA 4.0 )

A Study Based on Deep Historical Forensics and DNA

This new research essentially demonstrates the continuity in the direct male line, from father to son, of the da Vinci family. The researchers say the new study “corrects” the previously suggested da Vinci family trees. Unlike all studies up to now the connections presented in the new research are not based on spurious relationships, but on  surnamesand histories taken from registry records. Then, these data were married with biological history along separate da Vinci lineages.

Getting technical, the paper explains that the present  genealogy spans almost seven hundred years, and it can be used to “verify, by means of the most innovative technologies of molecular biology,” the unbroken transmission of the Y chromosome (through the living descendants and ancient tombs, even if with some small variations due to time) with a view to confirming the recovery of Leonardo s Y marker.” 

What this means, is that useful new research elements will now be available for the scientific search for the roots of Leonardo’s genius. Understanding this further will bring scientists closer to assessing Leonardo’s “physical prowess and on his possibly precocious ageing, on his being left-handed and his health and possible hereditary sicknesses, and to explain certain peculiar sensory perceptions, like his extraordinary visual quality and synesthesia,” according to the paper.

In a nutshell, the pair of researchers explained that their new paper “fills gaps and corrects errors into previous genealogical work around the da Vinci family” and they believe it may inform future studies of Leonardo’s  DNA.

Top image: A statue of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, Italy. Inset; Verso a tree sketch by da Vinci,            Source:  ArTo/ Adobe Stock (Inset,  CC BY-SA 4.0 )

By Ashley Cowie


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