18 Facts About Da Vinci’s Demons: How Real Is It ?

When Starz Network announced they are producing a TV show about Leonardo Da Vinci it caused a lot of anticipation. Da Vinci’s Demons came as a historical fantasy fiction series (emphasis on “fiction” here) picturing the younger years of the maestro, one of the greatest minds ever lived.

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Da Vinci’s Demons caused a lot of confusion as it did twist the truth by adding a lot of fantasy elements to the actual story of Leonardo Da Vinci. Book of Leaves, Sons of Mithras, mesmerizing beauty of Lucrezia Donati, the maestro’s friendship with Lorenzo de Medici, how much of it is real? How does it all fit into the real story of Leonardo? Here are all the answers you need.

1. Dracula/Vlad the Impaler

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Vlad the Impaler did actually exist and he did impale the Ottoman soldiers. According to the legend, he drank the blood of his enemies hence the reason behind all these “He was a vampire!” talk.

Did Vlad the Impaler/Dracula and Leonardo Da Vinci Meet?

That is pure fantasy added to spice up the show. Not only they lived far away from each other and had very different lifestyles but also there was no reason for any meeting at all.

2. Vlad’s Brother

Not real. Vlad’s brother was not Gedik Ahmet Pasha as shown in the show. Radu, his brother, served the Ottomans but not in the way Da Vinci’s Demons shows it.

3. Lorenzo De Medici and Leonardo Da Vinci

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Along with Andrea Del Verrocchio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the important artists that joined the court of the Medici family. According to the accounts, Da Vinci lived with Medicis for a while. Was he a friend of Lorenzo De Medici? There is no proof of that but he could have been

4. Giuliano Medici

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Yes, Giuliano Medici was a real life figure. Was he really assassinated by the Pazzis? He surely was. Bernardo Bandi and Francesco de Pazzi stabbed Giuliano many times in Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in 1478 during an attempt to kill both Medici brothers. Lorenzo was saved by Agnolo Poliziano, a friend of his, not Da Vinci. Most of the conspirators including some members of the Pazzi family were caught and punished. This triggered a chain of events as Pope Sixtus IV ordered King of Naples, Ferdinand I to attack Florence after that.

Did Giuliano Have an Illegitimate Son ?

Yes, he did. But not as shown on the show. Giuliano had a mistress, Fioretta Gorini and he had a son with her. The child, who was born after Giuliano’s assassination later became Pope Clement VII in 1523.

5. Clarice Orsini

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She was also real and was actually married to Lorenzo de Medici. She was a strictly religious person unlike the character in the show.

6. Carlo de Medici

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Carlo de Medici was also a real life figure. He was Cosimo de Medici’s illegitimate child from one of his slaves named Maddelena, an African woman. Carlo was a pious clergy man in real life.

7. Lucrezia Donati

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Lucrezia Donati’s character was also based on a real life historical figure. As for the difference between the series and real life, Lucrezia Donati was married to a cardinal of Italian Roman Catholic Church named Niccolo Ardinghelli.

There were rumors saying Lucrezia Donati was Lorenzo de Medici’s mistress but there is no actual evidence or record to make it more believable.

Lucrezia Donati and Leonardo da Vinci

The love between these two characters was essential to the show. Unfortunately, there absolutely is no proof of a relationship between Lucrezia Donati and Leonardo Da Vinci. Not even anything that suggests these two ever met.

8. Andrea Del Verrocchio

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He was also real. As one of the important artists of the times, he tutored significant names of Renaissance in his workshop in Florence. Leonardo was one of them.

9. Amerigo Vespucci

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He was a famous Italian cartographer and explorer. Both Amerigo Vespucci and Leonardo da Vinci worked under Medicis’ employment and lived in their court. There is a good chance these two were friends.

10. Niccolò Machiavelli

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Niccolò Machiavelli, who is a famous strategist, politician and writer known as “the father of politics”, and Leonardo Da Vinci were friends and worked together on some things one of which was depicted in Fortune Is a River: Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli’s Magnificent Dream Change Course Florenti.

11. Zoroaster da Peretola

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The character named Zoroaster in Da Vinci’s Demons was based on a real life figure who was also known as Tommaso Masini. He was a friend of Leonardo’s and worked together with him in many things. He is also known as the first man to fly in history in one of the machines Leonardo invented.

12. Caterina – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mother

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Caterina was known to be a peasant woman with whom Leonardo’s father Piero da Vinci had an affair. She was in no way related to cults or the Ottomans. A research into Da Vinci’s fingerprints suggested that his mother could have been from the Middle East.

13. Girolamo Riario

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He was also real. He worked with his uncle Pope Sixtus IV as a captain of the church. He also played an important part in the Pazzi Conspiracy that killed Giuliano Medici. He was killed by the Orsi family later because of a financial argument he had with them. There is no proof of a rivalry, hatred or friendship between Girolamo Riario and Leonardo Da Vinci.

14. King Ferrante

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King Ferrante was also real and he actually joined Pope Sixtus IV in his fight against the Medicis and Florence. He also mummified his enemies and showed these mummies to his guests as shown in the show. Unlike it is shown in the series, he died of a disease.

15. Prince Alfonso – King Ferrante’s Son

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Prince Alfonso was a real life historical figure but he did not partake in his father’s fight against the Medicis, at least not as actively as shown in the show.

16. Leonardo Da Vinci and the Ottoman Empire

Leonardo’s masterful plan to defend the lands of Italy from the Ottoman Empire is pure fiction added to the show to spice it up.

The only time he got involved with the Ottoman Empire was when he was summoned by the sultan as one of the artists who could be employed to build a bridge for the Ottoman Empire. His plans for this work could not be employed as they were considered too expensive for such a project.

17. Book of Leaves

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Book of Leaves is also purely fiction. Although there are different books in different mythologies throughout the world. There absolutely is no record of Leonardo ever chasing something like this. Moreover, it is not mentioned in any record of the times.

18. Sons of Mithras

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The cult named Sons of Mithras in the TV series is also fictional. There is an ancient religion, a system of belief named Mithraism but there is no mention of a cult named Sons of Mithras in historical records.

8 thoughts on “18 Facts About Da Vinci’s Demons: How Real Is It ?”

    • I was wondering the same thing!
      I have been searching for answers however; it’s hard to know what or whom to believe. But GREAT series

  1. many thanks to you, as I’m re-watching the show I start digging info about the a lot of details here and there and your blog covered a lot.

  2. Thank you for the facts. I enjoy the show.. I am really interested in what truly is historical. I know we can’t possibly know what is based on truth because the proof just isn’t totally there. Great Creativity and character development. I was hoping to learn of the factual inventions by da Vinci. I will be bing watching as much as i can fit into my schedule.


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