Cracking Da Vinci's code: Study claims mother was a slave

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London, Apr 12 (UNI) The seemingly far fetched theory that ''Renaissance man'' Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest painters of all time, was of Arab descent has been backed by a new study that claims his mother was a slave.

It has been known that Da Vinci was the illegitimate son of a Florentino notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant girl, Caterina.

In a tax record dating from 1457, five years after the Italian polymath's birth, it is described that Caterina was married to a man from the Tuscan town of Vinci.

It was assumed she was a local woman. However, according to author Francesco Cianchi, ''There is no Caterina in Vinci or nearby villages who 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 Vann.'' In his will, the Florentine banker left Caterina to his wife. But on his death in 1451, his house went to his friend and executor, Ser Piero.

The fact that the banker's widow continued to live in the house, soon hiring a new servant, forms the basis for the theory that Ser Piero allowed her to stay in return for freeing Caterina, the Guardian quoted Mr Cianchi as stating.

The slave woman disappears from the Florence records thereafter.

The study casts light on slavery in Renaissance Italy. At the research's launch, Alessandro Vezzosi, a Da Vinci scholar and founder of the Museo Ideale at Vinci, said: ''A lot of well-to-do and prominent families bought women from eastern Europe and the West Asia. The young girls were then baptised. The most common names were Maria, Marta and 'Caterina'.'' Last year, a study by an Italian academic of a fingerprint left by the Da Vinci found that it included a configuration normally only found among Arabs.

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