The Tombs Of The Medici


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002
They are always fidning interesting things and some fine mummies - this also sounds fascinating:

Medici dig turns into riddle of lost body

July 9, 2004

A long-rumoured secret crypt of Italy's mighty Medici family has been discovered by scientists after a hunt reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie.

The vaulted chamber was found under a stone floor behind the main altar of the Medici chapels in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. Under the gaze of sculptures by Michelangelo and his pupils, researchers lifted a stone slab to find seven steps leading down to the hidden crypt's entrance.

Since last month a team of paleopathologists from US and Italian universities have been digging up the bodies of 49 members of the Medici family - who held power in Florence and much of Tuscany for more than three centuries - buried in the church of San Lorenzo. They aim to carry out tests on the bodies to build a picture of the lives - and deaths - of the Medicis.

On Tuesday, researchers opened the tomb of the last of the dynasty, the grand duke Gian Gastone de' Medici, and were astonished to find it empty.

Gino Fornaciari, of Pisa University, said: "Behind a first marble panel we expected to find a second stone slab. Instead we found a wall."

In trying to locate the final resting place of Gian Gastone, who died in 1737, they stumbled on the secret crypt.

It was known that some of the Medici family's remains were moved from their original burial places in 1857. And, according to the early 20th-century British historian G.F.Young, the coffins of Gian Gastone and his grandfather had been moved to a secret crypt accessible only down hidden stairs. Until Tuesday's discovery, his account had been dismissed as baseless rumour.

However, inside the crypt, there were another eight bodies, one of an adult and the remaining seven of children.

Most of the remains were in an advanced state of decomposition, but one of the children had been expertly embalmed, and vestiges of clothing remained on the body.

The researchers are convinced the family was not afflicted with gout, as previously believed, but with a severe form of arthritis.

Historians also hope they will be able to clear up some of the puzzles about the Medicis, including the death in 1587 of Prince Francesco I, who was said to have died of malaria but is long suspected to have been poisoned.


Aug 7, 2002
Just came across the identical story here:

And wondered - has anything else been found? And after a quick look, it seems so:,12576,1442285,00.html
Tales from the crypt that bury Medici history in ever deeper mystery

John Hooper in Rome
Monday March 21, 2005
The Guardian

Donatella Lippi calls it a "terrible problem". She and other researchers who have spent the past 10 months prising open the tombs of one of Europe's most illustrious families, the Medicis of Florence, have got more than they bargained for.

They have found the remains of eight children they cannot place on the family tree. Worse still, some of the bodies appear to have been switched around or muddled up over the centuries.

The resulting confusion is making yet more difficult an already immense and challenging undertaking that is shining light into the recesses of the Renaissance. The aim of the project, which reached the end of its first phase last week, is to build up a picture of the lives, and deaths, of the members of a family that ruled Florence for more than 300 years and funded many of Italy's greatest artists.

Dr Lippi, a lecturer at the University of Florence, said it could be decades before the last conclusions were wrung from the evidence being discovered. Last week team members received their latest shock when they opened the tomb of Filippino, son of Grand Duke Francesco I, who ruled Florence from 1574 until 1587.

"We know, from historic evidence, that Filippino was four years and nine months old when he died," said the leader of the project, Gino Fornaciari. "But what we found were the remains of a one-year-old child. Now, there is a margin of error. But it is only plus or minus four months. So, clearly, it was not the body of Filippino." But who is, or was, it? The same question can be asked of bones found in another eight tombs, most of them in a previously secret crypt discovered below the Church of San Lorenzo last July.

"It cannot be ruled out that at least some of these children were illegitimate," said Dr Lippi, the team's historian.

Dr Fornaciari, a lecturer at the University of Pisa, said he expected that some of the mysteries surrounding the crypt would be cleared up when the team created a "DNA map" of the Medicis at a later stage in the project. "It was always going to be done, but now it has become even more important," he said. But Dr Lippi was sceptical that DNA tests could provide all the answers. They might be able to show which children were born of which parents, but they could not distinguish between siblings without documentary evidence which, in some cases, might not exist.

"You have to remember that, in earlier times, the rate of infant mortality was extremely high," she said. Visual and radiological examination of the remains has shown some of the apparently hard facts about the Medicis to be untrue.

Francesco's predecessor, Cosimo, was said by his doctors - and thus by historians - to have been crippled by gout. In fact, Dr Fornaciari and his fellow paleopathologists have established that he suffered from a form of arthritis called diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis, or Forestier's disease. Two of Cosimo's children were rumoured to have met violent ends. Yet no trace of a violent death was found on the remains of either.

Another legend, yet to be disproved, has it that Francesco and his second wife, who died within a short time of each other, were poisoned by his brother and successor, Cardinal Ferdinando.

But the wife, a Florentine noblewoman called Bianca Cappello, does not have a tomb in the church of San Lorenzo and, according to some versions, her body was thrown into a common grave. As for Francesco himself, according Dr Lippi, an earlier researcher threw away the most vital clue.

"His body was exhumed in 1947 by an anthropologist. Being an anthropologist, what interested him was the shape of the skull. So what did he do? He took away the scalp.

"Arsenic residues end up in the nails and hair. But it would be difficult to find any in the four hairs we found left in Francesco's tomb." One of the most tantalising puzzles of Florence's history looked like remaining a mystery forever. But, just in the past few days, Dr Lippi said, she had found a document that could help to solve it.

"This document suggests that Bianca Cappello was not buried in the Medici chapels, nor in a common grave. And it is trustworthy." It indicates that, until the 19th century, a tomb elsewhere - for obvious reasons, Dr Lippi will not say where - bore a plaque with Bianca Cappello's name.

"It could be that she still has her hair," she said.

The making of a Florentine dynasty

· The Medici family held power in Florence and much of Tuscany for more than three centuries. Florence, the capital of Tuscany, was one of the greatest cities in Europe from the 11th to the 16th centuries, and birthplace of the Renaissance.

· Coming from an obscure background, the Medicis slowly gathered immense wealth as merchants and bankers, and through marriage they established unions with the major houses of Europe. The genealogy of the clan is complex owing to many offspring and the random brutality with which members disposed of each other by assassination.

· The family produced three popes (Leo X, Clement VII, and Leo XI), two queens of France (Catherine de' Medici and Marie de' Medici), and several cardinals of the Catholic church.

· Though a republic, Florence was in reality a tight-knit oligarchy with Lorenzo (Cosimo's grandson) as its uncrowned head. In 1469, at the age of 20, Lorenzo (Lorenzo il Magnifico) became head of the Medici clan. Under his control, Florence prospered, becoming the most important city-state in Italy and reputedly the most beautiful city in all of Europe.

· Florence's cultural blooming was accompanied by great economic prosperity and expansion, reaching a climax in the 16th century.

· Under the Medici family in the 15th century, many of the greatest names in Italian art flourished, including Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Donatello and Brunelleschi and, in the 16th century, Leonardo da Vinci.
Aug 19, 2003
Heres something related:

Scientists May Have Found Medici Murder

Undated photo released Wednesday Jan. 3, 2007 by Prof. Donatella Lippi of the University of Florence, shows materials, viscera (remains of human liver) and two crucifixes, found in the Santa Maria Bonistallo church crypt, in Poggio a Caiano near Florence, central Italy. Scientists in Italy believe they have uncovered a 400-year-old murder. Historians have long suspected that Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife Bianca Cappello did not die of malaria but were poisoned -- probably by Francesco's brother, Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, who was vying for the title -- but that theory was never proven. Now, forensic and toxicology experts at the University of Florence believe they have found evidence of murder, according to their study, which was published in the British Medical Journal on Dec. 21. (AP Photo/University of Florence)
(AP) -- Scientists in Italy believe they have uncovered a murder - 400 years after it is thought to have taken place. Historians have long suspected that Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife, Bianca Cappello, did not die of malaria but were poisoned - by Francesco's brother, Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, who was vying for the dukedom. For four centuries that theory remained just that - a theory.

But following a study into the affair, forensic and toxicology experts at the University of Florence believe they have uncovered clear evidence of murder by poisoning.

Francesco's "was a lethal dose, but progressive, and the symptoms were compatible with arsenic poisoning" Donatella Lippi, a professor of history of medicine and a co-author of the study, published in the British Medical Journal on Dec. 21, told The Associated Press.

As rulers, art connoisseurs and financiers of kings, the Medici flourished for centuries in the rough and tumble alliances of old Europe, ruling first the city of Florence then Tuscany from 1430 to 1737.

Francesco ruled from 1574 until his death Oct. 17, 1587, at age 46, 11 days after first taking to his bed and a few hours before his wife.

Scientists Francesco Mari, Aldo Polettini, Elisabetta Bertol and Lippi collected and tested beard hairs from Francesco's grave in the Medici chapels in Florence, as well as other remains found in clay jars in a crypt about 12 miles west of Florence. Bianca's grave was never found.

Tests on the beard hairs proved inconclusive - but samples of Francesco's liver taken from the crypt showed levels of arsenic that were "significantly higher" than those normally found in humans, the scientists said.

But if Francesco was murdered, who did it?

Experts say that, though there is no proof, Ferdinando was the only person with an obvious motive. He wanted his brother's dukedom and his behavior at the time was suspicious - for example, he took charge of his brother's illness, compiling the medical bulletins and minimizing the gravity of Francesco's illness in dispatches to the Holy See.

After their deaths, he ordered immediate autopsies - an unusual step which could have been designed to cover up evidence.

"These important findings, in addition to the historical data collected on the events before and after the almost simultaneous deaths of the grand-ducal couple, allow us to rewrite the historical reconstruction of those events," the study said.

"It sounds pretty reasonable," said Richard J. Hamilton, a medical toxicologist who is Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Drexel University, Philadelphia.

"They've established what they have, they've done an efficient job of matching the DNA," said Hamilton, who read the study but was not affiliated with it. He added that the results were consistent with poisoning.

The only surprising aspect is that Francesco - who had an interest in alchemy and chemistry and was suspected of having poisoned his first wife - could have been poisoned so easily and so quickly, Hamilton said.

However, Angelo Moretto, a clinical and experimental toxicologist with the International Center for Pesticides in Milan, is not entirely convinced.

"They make accusations that are quite strong," he said. "I would have been more low key about it."


Gone But Not Forgotten
Feb 25, 2004
Ok, super, dead bodies and a mystery. Get cracking on that guys. Meanwhile...

I'm just taking these old Michaelangelo's to go and get cleaned, seriously... you don't want them cluttering up your murder site do you?
Aug 19, 2003
Medici documents found by Corkonian tomb raiders.

Friday, July 19, 2019 - 03:23 PM

University College Cork researchers have unearthed some 200 volumes of centuries-old newsletters that shine a light on 16th and 17th-century life in Europe. The papers have been discovered in the vast vaults of the Medici family in Florence in a project led by Brendan Dooley, Professor of Renaissance Studies at UCC.

The manuscripts have been untouched for four centuries and reveal a detailed information network from Florence to Warsaw, Paris to Madrid, the Netherlands to Britain, Ireland and the American colonies. At the time, news was primarily hand-written and exchanged across the continent in what Professor Dooley describes as "a lucrative and powerful network".