Leonardo Da Vinci – The Facts and Myths
What or, rather, who do we all remember when we hear the word “Renaissance”? Undoubtedly, Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the names that come to mind first. As one of the most significant artists of the age, Da Vinci surely etched his name in golden letters on the leaves of history books.
In spite of primarily being known as a painter, the hand behind the masterpiece “Mona Lisa”, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was simply much, much more than that.
He was not only engaged in other kinds of arts such as writing, sculpture and music but he was also an inventor, engineer, mathematician, architect, anatomist, botanist, geologist and cartographer.
He had the mind of a genius and most often was described as a man with an unending curiosity, who was open-minded to pursue his interest to create, to invent passionately at any chance.
As a man of science with a unique mind, his perception of the world and the events happening around him was shaped through the perspective of logic.
The ways and empirical methods he used in his scientific and artistic endeavors were beyond the grasp of many people for the time he lived as one of the many reasons why he carries on to amaze people almost 500 years after his death.
Da Vinci’s life and deeds were used as a theme for many literary works, TV and movie productions throughout the history. But how much of it should we choose to believe or to give the benefit of the doubt?
In this article, we examine Da Vinci’s portrayal in Da Vinci’s Demons of Starz TV network and answer any questions that our readers might have in mind relating to the life and death of the genius, his pursuits, the Book of Leaves, the Vault of Heaven, Sons of Mithras, whether or not he had an encounter with the Ottomans or his designs were used by them, his mother and other people like members of the Medici family who might or might not have come into his life.
Here are the facts and myths about the characters and elements as they are depicted in the TV show:
NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS regarding the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seasons of the TV show.
Leonardo Da Vinci and the Ottomans:
In season 3 of Da Vinci’s Demons (SPOILER) Leonardo is seen trying to defend Otranto against the Ottoman Empire and witnesses that they are using his designs to attack and capture the city.
The show added many things to the story of Leonardo’s life to make the scenario more intriguing and colorful and this, his designs being used by the Ottomans, is one of the most significant “additions” made to the series as a twist.
It was merely used as an element of fantasy as it can be understood when, later in the 2nd episode of the 3rd season, Al-Rahim kind of confesses Leonardo that he stole his designs by using magic when he was in Leonardo’s mind.
As for the weapons used during the attack on Otranto, at that time, the Ottomans already had large and very powerful supercannons that can shoot from a long distance.
These were designed by Orban, a Hungarian engineer of the time, in three months for the siege of Constantinople (the modern day Istanbul) which caught the Byzantine Empire off-guard with the range they had. These were 8.2 m long cannons with the ability to shoot a 272 kg rock over 1.6 km (a mile).
At this point, it would be good to remember that we should all perceive the show as a form of entertainment and a work of historical “fantasy”.
In order to add some spice to the show and highlight Leonardo’s inner emotional conflicts, the producers much exaggarated the tension between both sides of the war, of the invasion, to be more accurate.
As a person with a sufficient level of knowledge about European and Middle Eastern history, the things I would like to clarify with sound information here are as follows; Pope Sixtus never did strip Bayezid naked (the Sultan’s son) or even met him.
The invasion was calculated and planned ahead and, according to some sources, the only reason it started at the time it did was because the Ottoman navy was forced to the shores of Otranto by some unexpected winds.
Lorenzo de Medici most definitely did not take part in defending Otranto, so he was never captured by or had such conflicts with the Turks – he is told to have been in Florence at the time with Da Vinci.
The Ottomans never killed elderly or weak people while capturing a city as shown in the TV series (as harsh as this is, I think it was added to the scenario as a part of the cleansing that the Sons of Mithras so hopefully expect to realize) as it would not be the way of an effective ruler and such things would be impossible to be done without the approval of the Sultan.
In fact what they did was far from it; the historical accounts tell us that they used to take “able men who are capable of fighting” as prisoners of war to join their cause.
Although many people died defending Otranto, the manner of these deaths was a subject of speculation as the only resources giving gory details were the accounts of Italian historians.
The Christian historiography was largely criticised by modern historians later and scholars suggested the remains to be seen in the Cathedral of Otranto might be of the soldiers defending the city.
On the subject of forced conversion as of the time, the Ottomans did control Balkans for a long time, yet, only a minor part of Balkans converted.
It would be appropriate to say, although they were fiercely loyal to their cause, the Ottomans did not follow such strict policy about conversion which in turn became one of the actual reasons for the disintegration and fall of the Empire ruling over three continents.
On a side note, according to the historical accounts, during the siege and capture of the city, Leonardo da Vinci was living in the Garden of the Piazza San Marco, Florence with the Medici family working on some of his paintings.
As to the fall of Otranto, the Ottomans conquered the city but most definitely not as shown in the TV series and not for the reasons specified.
It was a possible start to try and capture Rome almost three decades after they conquered Constantinople, which was known as the most heavily-fortified city of the time.
After one year of controlling the city, the Ottoman forces needed reinforcements, however, the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II the Conqueror caught a disease and mysteriously died shortly after on an expedition (for another part of Europe).
There is some speculation about his death but it is mostly believed that he was slowly poisoned by one of his doctors – no one has a solid theory about who gave the order for this killing. T
his caused a crisis of succession in the Empire and the Ottomans withdrew their army to Albania after some negotiations made with the Christian forces formed mostly of Neapolitans and aided by some Hungarian forces which answered the 2nd call made by Pope Sixtus IV for a crusade fearing that Rome might share Constantinople’s fate.
However, as specified by Ludwig H. Heydenreich in his book, Leonardo the Inventor, Leonardo did encounter the Ottoman Sultan once when he visited Rome in 1502 to hire civil engineers to build a bridge over the Golden Horn in Istanbul.
The Sultan had to reject Da Vinci’s project as he considered it impossible to be realized. This was the only time the Maestro and the Ottomans met each other.
Many centuries later, inspired by that very same design, an artist named Vebjorn Sand built a bridge over a highway in Norway which is a monument to the Maestro’s genius.
Please kindly read the section below to learn about Leonardo’s mother, Caterina and her possible connections.
Vlad the Impaler – Dracula
Vlad the Voivode of Wallachia (“voivode” means both “prince” and “warlord” in Romanian language) and his brother Radu were given to the Ottoman Empire as “political hostages” by their father, Vlad II Dracul, who was dethroned as the ruler of Wallachia, in order to secure Ottomans’ support in regaining control of Wallachia and to prove he would remain loyal to them.
Vlad spent six years (1442-1448) with the Turks living together with the princes of the Empire. Both he and his brother were educated in logic, religion (teachings of Quran) and languages (It is said that Vlad knew Turkish language well).
On the contrary to his brother, who liked to live with the Ottomans in their court, Vlad rebelled most of the time and was constantly punished for his bad behaviour. This is assumed to be one of the reasons behind his sadistic acts later on his life.
In 1448, Vlad tried to gain control of Wallachia with the help of Ottomans. He was, however, beaten and sent on exile by Vladislav the 2nd, the ruler of Wallachia back then.
Later, John Hunyadi, the Voivode of Transylvania, gave some men under Vlad’s command to defend Belgrade against the Ottomans, Vlad used this opportunity to attack Vladislav the 2nd and regained control of Wallachia.
Fueled by his hatred against the Ottomans, Vlad refused to pay tribute/tax to the Empire in 1459 and nailed the emissaries’ heads to their turbans.
A few years later, he allied with the Kingdom of Hungary and went on an expedition which resulted in killing 23,884 Turks and Bulgarians (as he himself told at the time).
It is said that he impaled around 20,000 Ottoman war prisoners at the time and some Ottoman soldiers stated they saw “forests of impaled people” while marching around Wallachia. That is why he was later called “Kazikli Voyvoda” (Vlad the Impaler – the literal translation is ” the Warlord with Pales”) in Turkish language.
He is the source of inspiration for the infamous Dracula. The name Dracula is a patronymic (Drăculea) derived from his father’s name, Vlad II Dracul. It was also rumored that he kept his victims’ blood in barrels and drank it like wine, hence the myth about him being a vampire.
As for any possible encounters between Da Vinci and Vlad the Impaler, there are no records telling of that and it seems highly unlikely, given many differences between the characters and lifestyles of these two important historical figures as well as the lack of any reason for such meeting.
Although the exact date of his death is not known, it was assumed that Vlad died at the age of 44 or 45. For a very important side note regarding his brother, please read below.
Vlad’s Brother – NOT the Ottoman Commander and/or Gedik Ahmed Pasha
Vlad the Impaler had a brother named Radu and he lived with the Ottomans for a long time in their court as a well-respected man.
He was assigned to act as the ruler of Wallachia at two different times by the Ottomans. However, he was most definitely NOT Gedik Ahmed Pasha, the Ottoman commander as it was depicted in the TV show.
This is a huge twist of the facts since Gedik Ahmed Pasha was a renowned admiral and grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire who was not even remotely related to Radu, Vlad’s brother.
Lorenzo de Medici (the Magnificent/il Magnifico):
Lorenzo de Medici (1449-1492) is portrayed as the ruler of Florence in Da Vinci’s Demons as a wealthy banker who is married to a woman from another noble family, Clarice Orsini. Both of these are very accurate reflections of the historical facts.
Lorenzo Medici was the ruler of the Florentine Republic as he inherited the task from his father, Piero di Cosimo de Medici (the Gouty). Lorenzo married Clarice Orsini, the daughter of Giacomo Orsini, Lord of Bracciano and Monterotondo. They had 10 children one of whom, Piero di Lorenzo de Medici (the Unfortunate) ruled Florence after Lorenzo’s death.
It can be said that the accounts regarding Leonardo Da Vinci’s relationship with Lorenzo Medici do not comply with the portrayal of these two important historical figures in the show.
Some historians stated that Da Vinci was one of the significant artists in the court of Medici family such as Andrea Del Verrocchio, Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Domenico Ghirlandaio. However, Lorenzo and Da Vinci were most probably not as close friends (with a brotherly relationship) as the TV show depicted.
Other accounts suggest that Leonardo was sent by Lorenzo Medici as an emissary to Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza with a lyre that Da Vinci crafted himself, being a skillful musician and crafter he was.
In short, Da Vinci was a valued artist in the Medici court but there are no detailed accounts picturing him to be that much involved with the Medici family.
(Scroll down to read about other characters with whom Lorenzo Medici has had dealings with in the show such as Duke of Urbino, King Ferrante and King Ferrante’s son, Alfonso II of Naples.)
Giuliano Medici (1453-1478)
Giuliano Medici is depicted as the younger brother of Lorenzo Medici in Da Vinci’s Demons. He is killed in a chapel as a result of an evil scheme conspired by the Pazzi family.
Just like it is shown in the TV production, Giuliano de Medici was murdered in the Florence Cathedral, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Il Duomo Di Firenze) on 26th of April 1478. This historical event is known as the Pazzi Conspiracy, a devious attempt of the Pazzi family to gain control of Florence by assassinating Lorenzo and Giuliano Medici.
While Giuliano was stabbed by Bernardo Bandi and Francesco de Pazzi numerous times and killed by a sword wound on his head, Lorenzo de Medici survived this attack (on the contrary to the TV show where Da Vinci saves Lorenzo, this rescue was the doing of Agnolo Poliziano, a scholar and a friend of Lorenzo, who locked him in a secure place).
Conspirator Jacopo de Pazzi was caught and killed by the Florentines by being thrown out of a window while another conspirator Archbishop Salviati was hanged resulting in Pope Sixtus IV banning the execution of mass and communion in Florence and assigning King of Naples, Ferdinand I to be ready to attack Florence.
As a very interesting fact; accounts never mentioned Giuliano Medici had an affair with a girl named Vanessa as shown in the TV show, but, Giuliano’s illegitimate son from Fioretta Gorini, his mistress, who was born just one month after his father was killed, became Pope Clement VII in 1523.
Clarice Orsini was the wife of Lorenzo Medici, the daughter of Jacopo Giacomo Orsini and mother of Pope Leo X (their second oldest son with Lorenzo).
Although she is portrayed in Da Vinci’s Demons as a woman of strong will and free thought, the real Clarice Orsini was a woman of faith known for her strict opinion of religion, which resulted in her becoming unpopular among the people of Florence. No affairs of hers were mentioned in any record as another contradiction of her being with Carlo de Medici in the show.
Carlo de Medici:
Carlo de Medici was the illegitimate child of Cosimo de Medici from a slave named Maddelena rumored to be an African slave (some accounts state his mother might have been a Circassian woman).
Unlike the portrayal of the character on TV, Carlo was a man of religion and an important clergyman abiding by his father’s wishes for him to serve the church. He died in Florence in 1492 around the age of 60.
Da Vinci’s Friends and Inner Circle
One of the most important characters in Da Vinci’s Demons is Lucrezia Donati, a beautiful woman who happens to be Da Vinci’s lover and who is depicted as Lorenzo Medici’s mistress and the daughter of the real Pope Sixtus IV.
According to historical accounts, Lucrezia Donati was married to Niccolo Ardinghelli, a cardinal of Italian Roman Catholic Church. There are some rumors regarding Lucrezia being the mistress of Lorenzo Medici while no certain accounts suggest that such relationship ever existed.
However, records of the time stated that Lorenzo admired, fell in a platonic kind of love with and wrote many poems to Lucrezia. Lorenzo even had Andrea Verrocchio draw a portrait of Lucrezia Donati.
As far as her relationship with Leonardo Da Vinci goes, there is no evidence of Lucrezia and Leonardo got together as it is shown in the show.
Andrea Del Verrocchio:
Andrea Del Verrocchio (Andrea di Michele di Franceso de Cioni) was a painter, goldsmith and sculptor who tutored many important names such as Leonardo da Vinci, Francesco Botticini, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzo di Credi and Domenico Ghirlandaio in his workshop in Florence.
He did many works for the Medici family, both as paintings and sculptures and he died in Venice in 1488 (aged 53), unlike it is shown in the TV show (as being murdered by Carlo Medici).
Zoroaster (da Peretola)/Tommaso Masini:
A fan favorite character with his great, timely jokes and witty comments, Zoroaster, is also adapted from a real life figure. He is actually Zoroaster da Peretola, also known as Tommaso Masini. The son of a gardener, he claimed to be an illegitimate son of Lorenzo di Medici’s brother-in-law, Bernardo Rucellai.
He was a companion of da Vinci and was employed at the court of the Sforzas as a mechanic and a magician and goes down in history as the first man to fly – in one of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines (it did, however, crash and he was left with a broken leg). In some accounts, it was also mentioned that he was interested in occult sciences, in other words, magic.
He died in Rome of cholera, apparently outliving all the other historical figures on the show.
The character named Nico (Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli ) in Da Vinci’s Demons was adapted from a real life person who was actually a very important historical figure from Florence.
Niccolo Machiavelli was a diplomat, military strategist, historian, humanist, politician and a writer who is considered to be the father of modern political science and political ethics.
He also wrote plays (mostly comedies) and poetry. His masterpiece, The Princeexpresses Machiavelli’s thoughts on how a ruler should act in a way that inspired harsh criticism as it seemed like “teaching an evil and conniving way to be a real ruler” although he only used such manner of writing to draw readers’ interest to evil and immoral ways of politicians.
On account of Italian city-states’ lack of ability to unite thus rendering them vulnerable against enemies, Machiavelli stated in his masterpiece that only a strong-minded and decisive leader, who did not fear to do what was right regardless of the consequences, could overcome all problems.
As for Machiavelli’s relationship with “the maestro”, their lives actually did coincide in spite of an age difference of 17 years between them.
Although there is no record of Machiavelli being mentored by Da Vinci in the way that is shown in “Da Vinci’s Demons”, Leonardo and Niccolo worked together on some things, the most prominent one being the project to divert the course of Arno River in order to connect Florence, a city which was landlocked, to the sea as it is told in the book Fortune Is a River: Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli’s Magnificent Dream Change Course Florenti authored by Roger D. Masters.
Despite the timeline and events (including the ones related to Niccolo Machiavelli’s youth) being not fully accurate most of the time, the series hinted at Machiavelli’s brilliant mind for politics and legal matters a few times. By forging her signature, Nico did make Vanessa (who gave birth to the late Giuliano Medici’s son) the ruler of the House of Medici in the absence of Lorenzo Medici and his wife, Clarice.
In the 10th episode of season 2 named “The Sins of Daedalus“, we saw the young Nico Machiavelli at work once again when he stopped Clarice from forcing Vanessa to come back to the palace saying “You cannot force her back there. Florence is a republic, it is her right, as a citizen, to choose how and where she wants to live”.
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian navigator, explorer and cartographer who worked for the Medici family, Portuguese and Spanish navies, respectively. He was a Florentine who was assumed to be friends with Leonardo Da Vinci according to many historical accounts. He made several voyages to the America continent.
Indeed, the name of the continent was derived from Vespucci’s first name. Vespucci did not think that the lands Columbus discovered on his voyages were the eastern coasts of India and Asia (as Columbus stated to be) but a separate continent. Later, the continent was named after Vespucci to honor him when a new world map was drawn in 1507. This is known to be the first use of the word “America” in the history.
No records mention Leonardo’s voyage with Amerigo Vespucci in search for the Book of Leaves or anything close to that, yet, these two were most probably friends working under the employment of the Medici court.
Caterina, Da Vinci’s mother:
Da Vinci’s mother is assumed to be peasant woman in most of the accounts, with whom his father, Piero da Vinci, had an affair. However, studies conducted by reconstructing and examining Leonardo da Vinci’s fingerprints stated Caterina might have been of Middle Eastern origin.
Using dermatoglyphics discipline, through which a person’s origin might be analyzed and attributed to a certain race or population, some Italian scientists suggested the idea that Caterina might be a slave woman from Africa who was already rumored by some historians to have worked as a servant in the house of Piero da Vinci.
She, as shown in the show in a rather misleading manner, was not related to the Ottoman Empire in any way and did not join them during their attack on Otranto.
Her relation with or pursuit for the Book of Leaves is also fiction.
Other Important Characters:
Pope Sixtus IV
Born on 21 July 1414 as Francesco della Rovere, Pope Sixtus IV acted as the head of the Catholic Church between 9 August 1471 and 12 August 1484, the day he died.
He is known as the pope who had Sistine Chapel and Sistine Bridge built. He also carried on his predecessor Pope Nicholas V’s work regarding the creation of a public library in Vatican which later would be named Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, The Vatican Apostolic Library and include the Vatican Secret Archives.
On the contrary to his portrayal in Da Vinci’s Demons, Pope Sixtus IV never had a face to face meeting with the heir of the Ottoman Sultan. That being said, he clashed with the Turkish forces when he renewed a declaration of holy crusade against the Ottomans and conquered Smyrna.
After the conquest, he tried to reconcile with Greek and Orthodox churches but he could not succeed in his efforts.
Pope Sixtus IV was also known for his nepotism. According to Rome tour guide Erturk Durmus, an expert on the history of Rome, Pope Sixtus IV surrounded himself with relatives (especially his nephews from della Rovere and Riario families) and friends by assigning them to powerful positions.
As you remember from the show, favored and supported by his uncle, Girolamo Riario served Pope Sixtus IV and tried to eliminate the threats against him. One of those threats were, of course, the Medici family who were actually the victims of the Pazzi conspiracy.
Just like in the show, the Medici brothers were attacked by the conspirators, Bernardo Bandi and Francesco de’ Pazzi during High Mass in Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower/The Cathedral of Florence).
Lorenzo de’ Medici was wounded but escaped while Giuliano de’ Medici died as a result of being stabbed 19 times. This attack was planned by Girolamo Riario, Francesco Salviati (who is from also from the Riario family) and Francesco de’ Pazzi and supported by Pope Sixtus IV.
Sixtus was a cunning person, so he made a careful statement saying he could not sanctify killing in his holy position but also suggested that anyone who removed the Medicis from their power in Florence would be doing a big favour to the Catholic Church and fully supported these men in their efforts.
Sixtus IV is depicted as a pope with an affection for young boys in Da Vinci’s Demons. This is a subject detailed in Diary of the City of Rome by Stefano Infessura as he stated that he was actually a love of boys and sodomites.
There are other works suggesting he was involved in such affairs, however, all of these accusations were rebutted as propaganda against the Catholic Church.
Did Sixtus IV have a twin ? He most definitely did not. His twin brother was included to the show merely to spice things up.
Portrayed as the antagonist of Leonardo in Da Vinci’s Demons, Girolamo Riario is another character fans are very curious about. The real Girolamo also served Pope Sixtus IV, his uncle as the Captain General of the Church.
He was the Lord of Imola and Forli. The Lordship of Imola was granted to him as the dowry of his wife Catherina Sforza, who was the daughter of Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza.
During his lifetime he made many attempts against Florence supported by Pope Sixtus IV, yet, he never succeeded. He also partook in the Pazzi Conspiracy, another unsuccessful attempt to dethrone the Medicis as rulers of Florence. He was killed by 9 assassins from the Orsi family in 1488 (Aged 45) over a financial dispute he had with them.
He might have met Da Vinci since they lived in the same age and might have had some kind of an encounter as both were important figures in Florence’s history.
But, there is absolutely no evidence suggesting Girolamo Riario and Leonardo Da Vinci set on a sail together, let alone being friendly as depicted in the show. Most probably, Girolamo was not a man on the way to his redemption either.
Duke of Urbino:
Duke of Urbino is also a portrayal from a real life figure, Federico da Montefeltro, who was the Lord of Urbino between 1444 and 1482. He was an important warlord (condottiero) of the age and fought many battles, some under the service for Florence, some under the service of Naples against Florence. Depicted as a man with a blind eye in the TV show, he lost his right eye in a tournament.
Unlike it is shown in the show (killed by Clarice Orsini) he died out of sickness in Ferrara.
King Ferrante in Da Vinci’s Demons is the portrayal of King Ferdinand I of Naples (also known as Don Ferrante) who acted as the King of Naples between 1458 and 1494.
He actually joined forces with Pope Sixtus IV against Florence and Lorenzo de Medici as it is shown in the TV show. He held Lorenzo Medici, who came to negotiate with him and gain his alliance against Pope Sixtus IV, as a prisoner for 3 months.
But, in the end, Lorenzo convinced him and Naples became an ally of Florence. On the contrary to the TV show, where he was depicted to have been assassinated by Pope Sixtus IV and his son, King Ferrante died of cancer (as a study conducted on his mummy showed in 2006). He did, however, keep his enemies in his prison and embalm some of them. Being a cruel man, who is known to be afraid of no one, he showed his mummies to his guests sometimes.
Price Alfonso, Alfonso II of Naples, was the son of King Ferrante and the husband of Ippolita Maria Sforza. He was a warlord (a condotierro) who fought in War of Ferrara and reigned as the King of Naples between 1494 and 1495, until he died in Messina when fleeing from the King Charles VIII of France.
The Book of Leaves and the Vault of Heaven
The Book of Leaves, a mysterious book, which Leonardo thinks that might change the history and for which he and his friends set on a challenging journey and face many dangers in the TV show did not exist in real life. Nor did the Vault of Heaven. There are no records suggesting the existence of these two important elements of the show.
Sons of Mithras, the Cult:
Sons of Mithras is also a fictional cult created for the production although some actual elements of Mithraism belief were used while doing so.
This is the summary of facts and myths regarding the Renaissance genius, Leonardo Da Vinci, and how he and other important historical figures are depicted in the TV series called Da Vinci’s Demons. I, for one, am a big fan of the show.
It is cinematically astounding and on its way to be masterpiece in the historical fantasy genre. So, I thought learning about the real stories of those characters would be not only interesting but also enlightening.
75 thoughts on “Da Vinci’s Demons, Facts, Myths & Sons of Mithras”
Thanks. This is a great article. Really helped filter out the reality from fiction – since the show mostly is fiction.
You are most welcome MK. True, it is mostly fiction and I thought fans of the show would like to know what was real and what was fiction. Thanks for your kind appreciation.
What a good read. kudos to you.
Made me love the show even more.
Great article. 🙂
Hi there Waffles =)) This took a lot of research indeed as it was not so easy to verify the existence of some characters and whether or not they were connected to Leonardo da Vinci in the way that was told in the show “Da Vinci’s Demons”. Glad you liked it and thank you for your kind appreciation.
Hi, Enjoyed the info imparted above, but you left out one very important character: Pope Sixtus IV. Is there any truth to his being a false Pope who imprisoned his brother, the true Pope?
I’ve researched about this in detail with no concrete results suggesting he had a sibling, let alone a twin brother he imprisoned. Only that, despite being from a poor family, he was a determined character and owing to his ambition, he made some unpopular moves at the time, very similar to the fake Pope Sixtus IV displayed in the TV show. Thanks for the reminder, though, I appreciate the feedback.
What a wonderful read! Absolutely fascinating! I was surprised to learn that Nico is based on Machiavelli. Superb! Thank you so much. I am new to the show and now I am hooked. Thank you, again.
You’re most welcome Bruce 🙂 Yes, Nico in Da Vinci’s Demons is based on Machiavelli. I am also a fan, thanks for the kind appreciation 😉
does the book of leaves really exists??
Hi Sabin, no, it does not there is no record or mention of anything like “the Book of Leaves” in relation to Da Vinci’s life.
thankyou for the information met_ozer 🙂
i was really inspired by the show and was getting ready to find book of leaves lol 😀
You’re welcome Sabin 😉 I was very curious about the Book of Leaves, too, when I first watched the TV series. That shows how interesting Da Vinci’s Demons is although most things are fictional. Season 3 premiere is less than a week away ( unfortunately, this will be the final season). So we’ll all see how the Maestro’s journey will end 🙂
I started watching the series this past weekend, having just been to Tuscany last month, I binged through the first two seasons seeing so many familiar sights. Your work here adds so much to the series, outstanding research, thank you. I do wish the Book of Leaves was real.
Hi there C_Kru, oh Tuscany, one of the first places I will visit at the first chance I have. It must be great to be familiar with those sights you mention 🙂 Season 3 of Da Vinci’s Demons start tonite, the last season unfortunately. And big thanks for your kind appreciation. It is kind people like you who inspire me to research and write. I’ll keep writing about TV-related mythology articles whenever I find the opportunity. First one will probably about Uhtred of Bebbanburg from the TV series “the Last Kingdom”, a character inspired from a real life figure. Join us on Facebook and keep following the site please. Have a good weekend!
On the subject of the “final season”, I have a feeling we’re all being played. Some of the things Goyer has said make me think after a big write-in, the show comes back “by popular demand”.
Hi there formwiz. First of all, thanks a lot for the info about Zoroaster da Peretola/Tommaso Masini. I included it to the article. Secondly, I thought the show would continue for at least one more season but, I think, the main storyline came to the end and the show’s ratings were not enough to make them consider a 4th season. Whether or not they still want to “milk” it more, we will see about that – I did not exactly follow Goyer’s statements. Sometimes a really good show gets cancelled and it truly hurts the viewers – like “the 4400“ and me 🙂 – and sometimes very low quality productions go on for 7 seasons (As a matter of courtesy, I will not name names 😉 ) Thanks again for your kind help and insight. Hope you keep following the blog, have a nice day.
Good job! Could you — or someone else — also say a bit about the Labyrinth, and its competition with the Sons of Mithras. The shows writers seem to have had a lot of fun with us (the audience) first making us think that one of these two groups is completely good and the other completely bad, only to show us that (apparently) neither is all good or all bad. But it’s a bit confusing — although interesting — trying to figure out if either is “ultimately good” or “ultimately bad.”
For example, in one of the last episodes of season 3, a leader of the Sons of Mithras, Aslan Al-Rahim, “The Turk” — played by Alexander Siddig, whose complete name has 14 components (look it up!) — tells Leonardo that he wants the same thing that Leonardo wants (a world that is free, etc.) and that he (and the Sons of Mithras) are only using the Ottoman Empire, the Italian City States, and the wars between them to accomplish this goal. But one wonders why such terrible things are necessary to create a better world of this sort. I suppose it’s expecting too much for the series to explain this in detail but I wish they would!
Thanks again for your excellent article.
Hi Rodney (btw, this is one of my favourite names thanks to David Hewlett’s character in Stargate Atlantis 😉 ), yes of course I would like to state my opinion about that. First off, although I am a fan of fantasy genre and this show in particular, it started to seem like, yes, we are being played a bit too much. First we all thought “whoaa the Book of Leaves and it has many wonders that will save the world, il magnifico!”. I think, just like me, many other people assumed that those “wonders” would be some kind of innovations or things that would advance humanity – some technologies maybe, some things that would be extraordinary for that age or even our age. Most of us, I believe, were much inclined to think like this. Now, I watched the 4th and 5th episodes of the show’s 3rd season and I do not want to spoil it for anyone, but I will say characters in the show expect something much different than wonders from the Book of Leaves. This has been a particular dissapointment for me. I will leave it at that to not to ruin it for you 😉 At this point, I am thinking “yes, I guess it was time for the show to end if that was the story they planned from the beginning. Even now there are many inconsistencies, ups and downs”. As to the fight between the Labyrinth and the Sons of Mithras, it is quite common to deceive viewers like that showing a character (or group(s) in this case) as bad, building the storyline and making the viewers like them. However, I do not think we have time for any of that “progression” to fully comprehend and like/dislike anything and to tell the truth, things are already happening a bit too fast in the show right now; the haste is pretty clear in the 3rd season – the need to wrap things up obviously caused some haste. Yes, it is kind of interesting, but both parties are serving only themselves and the absolute truths they believe in. In my opinion, it is not possible to call something “ultimate good” or “ultimate bad” if it is even partially based on belief – something which is built on abstract concepts and which is very personal. What I mean to say is since we have no concrete criteria to measure the existence of the things we believe in, there can not be an argument like “My God is better than yours” like in the case between the Sons of Mithras and the Labyrinth. For me, belief or disbelief is personal and I think there cannot be an “absolute something something” unless I can hold it in my hands or see it with my eyes. There is only a universal truth; every living thing is valuable and nothing that is even remotely related to any kind of enlightenment can come from the death of the living (Al-Rahim tells us of an enlightened world to emerge from the ashes in the future after the Ottomans and the Italians destroy each other). It really does not take a Buddhist to understand that enlightenment starts from realizing we are, in fact, trivial existences in the grand scheme of things. Understanding “all lives are equal and valuable” comes right after that – the selflessness is imprinted in one’s soul and he/she begins to have a much wider understanding of things around, here begins the enlightenment. So, no, such terrible things are not necessary and can only be the products of sick and twisted minds. A world where even one life is considered inferior to another – which is kind of the case Al-Rahim makes – cannot be a better, free and enlightened one. Oh yeah, I knew about Siddig’s name 🙂 Those African & Arabic names can be like that sometimes; I think it is meant to say “Siddig who is the son of bla who is the son of bla bla the son of bla bla bla ..who is from the city of (maybe) …” 🙂 (“al” in Arabic equals “the” in English).
This is a wonderful explanation, and I applaud you for it. This TV show became one of my favorites, and although it saddens me that no more seasons are going to be made, maybe it is better this way and there is no way I will ever be disappointed by it. It combined fantasy history, arcane sciences, really complex characters (especially the character of Girolamo Riario), the pure characters (everyone almost, mostly Zoroaster for me) and so much more.
On a side note, it reminded me to read Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche, book I bought quite some time ago now, but kept putting it off. This was a really good incentive.
Thank you again for this amazing, well-put together article.
Hi there Andie. First off, it is far from being a silly question, if anything, it is the opposite of it 😉 And I am more than willing to inform people who are open to widen their horizons with knowledge. Luckily for you, I know a great deal about Vlad and now I included all I know to the article since he came back as an important figure in season 3. Yeah, although much fictional and twisted from facts at most times, the show delivered something special. But, it was getting ridiculous in the 3rd reason, so I think it was time they ended it (if the Book of Leaves storyline was ONLY about what they showed us in the 3rd season – it was so shallow, I am a bit dissapointed about how they handled it). That book by Nietzsche, now you made me wonder about it, I will have a look 😉 And thanks for your kind appreciation Andie, I’m glad to be of help.
Thank you for including Vlad and Radu. (I actually liked Vlad’s character in the TV series, although it was obviously far-fetched, but intriguingly funny)
As for the Sons of Mithras, I always thought that they were the people from Persia, modern-day Iran, where Zoroastrianism was founded, based on the teachings of Zarathustra, hence my connecting it with the book by Nietzsche. And Mithra, from Wikipedia: “Mithra is the Zoroastrian angelic Divinity (yazata) of Covenant and Oath. In addition to being the Divinity of Contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing Protector of Truth, and the Guardian of Cattle, the Harvest and of The Waters.” It made me think if there really was such a cult, because I can see the ideology behind it.
And thank you for your quick response and kind words, keep up the good work 🙂
You’re welcome Andy and thanks for reminding me about Vlad – the article is better now with him in the mix. Yeah, I had mythology and religious history classes at college and know about Mithraism and its origins (as well as the similarities between the stories of Mithra and Jesus). I should educate myself more about Zoroastrianism though, I am planning to add much more content to this blog, mostly about “less famous” mythologies and beliefs. Thank you for your kind words also, oh I will keep on writing when I have more time, it has been a while since I added something to the blog. So, please follow the blog on Facebook if you are not already, it is at https://www.facebook.com/MythologianNet/
Hi! I’m fascinated with this show but I was getting total confused between fiction and reality. Thank you!
Hi, you are most welcome :). Yes, we all love it but the show and especially the 3rd season is a production of fantasy fiction. I am glad I could help everyone have a sound understanding and knowledge about the characters and parties in the TV series; history is something we should learn as accurately as possible. I will keep updating the article according to the events depicted in season 3 of Da Vinci’s Demons.
Hi, First off, nice work! I have 3 questions which the show in the end did not answer.
a) What happened to the book of leaves?
b) How did Vlad come back to life?
c) What is the significance of the coin which Al-rahim tossed while dying which Da vinci later found!
I would be extremely delighted if you have any insight!
Hello Raag, sorry for replying so late.
a) I also have no idea about it, it all went a bit too blurry at the end, the rush to end the show was felt deeply, unfortunately.
b) Vlad was kinda used as a means to give it “some kind of meaning”, I do not think the writers had him in mind at first before they heard about this would be the show’s last season. As for “how”, well, have not seen any vampire die too easy on any vampire shows. Again, lousy job on this end.
c) The coin might simply be about the state of trance/travel that Al Rahim, Leonardo and others go on from time to time. Catarina, Da Vinci’s mother in the TV show, used a coin to let Lucrezia “travel” and meet Leonardo if you remember. In that scene coin is turning and turning just like in a teaser video of 15 seconds, a turning coin was pictured (before or during the 3rd season I guess) while Da Vinci says “It’s a mystery, I will solve it” – talking about those travels or maybe the Book of Leaves. Coin is surely a Sons of Mithras thing though. That scene might have been placed there to give the message “part of Leo will always be a Son of Mithra”. I hope I could shed some light on that. Thanks for reading!
WOW! just WOW..!!!
Fantastic read Mr. Met_Ozer. You have done quite a research I must say. I was with the series from its very beginning and also had much curiosity about its connection to reality. I searched bits and pieces for all these 2 years or so and couldn’t correlate things. What you have done here is absolutely amazing. A work of a Maestro I’ll say. Thank you very much.
Hello Sabbir. First of all, thank you for all your kind words. Was not ane asy job to dig that deep into this since there were not many resources to clarify things. Oh I can only wish I had 10% of the Maestro’s genius 😉
This is certainly a great article for both fans and haters of Da Vinci’s Demons, or those who are just curious about it. Grazie!
Hey there Jatzi. Did the best I could mate. I’m glad it was useful, thanks for your kind appreciation. 🙂
Nice job. You have indeed differentiated reality from fiction.
Hello there Patricia. I tried my best. Thank you for your kind appreciation 🙂
Thank you. A very nice clarification. After finishing the last season, this was exactly what I wanted to read/know. I can now stop asking myself certain questions I still had. 🙂
Hey there RC. Yeah, tell me about it, we all were a lot dazzled I think ;). I am glad I could help, thanks for your kind appreciation.
Awesome article! I’ve been looking for something like this. Maybe silly question, but can you write about Vlad, the Impaler and his possible connection, if any?
I forgot to say that I’ve read something about him and if I remember correctly, he had a brother and for a while they were in Turkey, but the reason for that escapes me.
Wonderful article. Thank you!
Hey there Rich, you are most welcome and thank you for your kind appreciation 🙂
Nice article liked the vlad part..
Season 3 left more questions than answers
Who is sophia s father
What did Caterina do with book of leaves
What happened to the real pope
What was Riariobeing a messenger supposed to mean
During his trance in new world Da vinci sees Al rahim amongst the dead but he was alive
Where did Arxhitect go in the end
I watched this series all at once when I have my university exam in 3 days time and season 3 totally spoiled the show in the ending.. I need answers
Hello Adil, yes, totally agree about Season 3. I believe, as it was implied a few times in the show, Sophia’s father was Al-Rahim. Riario being a messenger simply meant he was supposed to carry the Labyrinth’s /their God’s message, I believe. I do not exactly remember that scene but if Al-Rahim was dead in the vision (trance) it would only be logical since the Labyrinth took control of the world in that scenario. Your other questions, well, I have no answers for them unfrotunately as the writers did not feel the need to give us a clue about those.
My sincerest gratitude for providing such provocative commentary on the series…I just finished season 3 and (as is my pattern) immediately began searching for reviews and discussions…couldn’t find any credible sources until I stumbled through a backdoor and found your article…I’m now satisfied and can move on to the next amusing pop-culture treat…
Hi there Maggie. About the pattern – yeah, I’m like that too, believe me 🙂 Yeah, unfortunately, this blog does not appear that much in search results owing to the fact that I am competing with giants like Wikipedia and Brittanica about most of the articles I wrote (the situation will improve greatly once I find chances to write more articles). However, in rare cases like this article about Da Vinci’s Demons, I can get a Google search result ranking and find a chance to be found by amazing people like you guys. Thanks for your appreciation and dropping a few lines. And oh, very well-put – “pop-culture treat” 😉 As recommendations, “The Last Kingdom” seems just okay, but the new sci-fi show “the Expanse” might be very good – personally, I am a big fan of sci-fi.
Thank you for such a wonderful article. I am a big fan of this series as I just binge watch all 3 seasons in 2 weeks. I did not know the 3rd season took that long to come out until after I finished it, I still however felt like it was not as well put together and logical like the first 2 seasons. Many details were overlooked and mysteries left unsolved. However it is a wonderful series. I really liked Lorenzo in the first 2 seasons and looked forward to see his friendship with Da Vinci really take off in the 3rd season but sadly it did not happen. Same goes with the Da Vinci – Riario relationship. How they created Riario’s story for season 3 was very strange. Did they do that to make it more history accurate? Did he kill Sixtus?
I think after season 2 the show had many potential story leads but failed to carry out most of them. Still, I love it. The whole experience watching this show was very enjoyable. Thank you again for clearing up a lot of questions I have regarding the historical accuracy of the show.
Hi there Audrey. Yes, the writers had to wrap it up all in a hurry I guess since a lot of things went unanswered and both the storyline and the ending was rushed to a great extent. Lorenzo character had some depth just like Riario and he is also a favourite of mine because of his support for art and science during Renaissance. He was a very important figure for Renaissance movement. About Riario’s real story, no he did not kill Pope Sixtus IV so it was not placed there to make it more accurate. Pope Sixtus IV’s cause of death was an illness and he died at the age of 70. I totally agree with you about the potential storylines but they (producers) just could not deliver it. I know the show was really loved by many people, so it was kind of a dissapointment to hear it would end with Season 3. You are welcome and thank you for dropping a few lines and showing your kind appreciation 😉
you have remarkably elucidated the characters in the show. I am wondering if Da Vinci in reality had any siblings, portrayed as Sophie in the show.
Hi Maitri, yes Da Vinci had siblings- many of them, in fact. He had a total number of 17 sisters and brothers all of whom were his half-siblings. He was the only child fathered by Piero and mothered by Catarina. Thanks for dropping by 😉
The book 1453 By Roger Crowley describes in detail how Orban cast, transported and used the supercannons at Constantinople.
Hello Bob, thank you for your input. That definitely is worth a look.
What a fabulous revelation! My husband and I were avid viewers and we’re sorry to see it end.
It left us with curiosity that your work satisfied as to what was fact and what fiction.
Thank you for all your work! We loved it!
Hey Margaret 🙂 Da Vinci’s Demons was a really interesting TV show even with all its faulty sides and story being forced to end so soon. I was invested from the very beginning and thought everyone would like to know what is real and what is not. Please say hi to you husband for me, I’m glad you guys liked it and people are making use of the article this much. Thank you for showing your kind appreciation.
Thank you so much for this!!!!!
Hi Lina, you are welcome, glad you liked it 🙂
very nice article. it helped with a lot of questions. i would love to believe that all of these characters did in fact intertwine with each other, but alas, that is the fantasy of it all. now with the series completed do you have any final thoughts of the sum total of the fact vs. fiction elements of the show? do we now suspect that the mona lisa was a portrait of lorenzo’s mistress? as the final episode aired, i decided to start over from the beginning and binge the entire series without the years of production time in the way. i would love to see a show about nicco and how he grows into the real life poltical genius. i hated to see the series end and the friend’s part ways. Starz is committed to other shows at this point but i did so enjoy the cast on demons. bravo on your article. keep the research coming.
Hi Hilary, first off, thanks for your kind words, I will, as long as it is required in the TV world, continue the research and keep writing on this blog. Secondly, it is nice to see some people who know about TV shows, which brings me to your comment about Starz being committed to other shows. That was really painful to see, Starz did not want to pick this one for another season while it picked Black Sails – which I also like very much. If that one was picked why not this one, right? I am guessing Da Vinci’s Demons had similar ratings to, if not better than, Black Sails’ ratings. Yeah, it would be a great drama series if they made Niccolo Machiavelli’s life into a TV series, I’d totally watch that. About Mona Lisa, no one knows who she is or where the landscape in the painting is. If, as dreamers, we are to fulfill the fantasy of Da Vinci’s Demons, I’d end the story in my mind with Lucretia being Mona Lisa 🙂 However, in reality, there is only a very slight chance that these two could have even encountered (considering even Lorenzo might have had no chance to be with her unlike depicted in the TV series). On a side note, I have recently read that some historians discovered a bridge hidden in the painting and two numbers on it, 7 and 2, all of which was considered as a clue about the landscape in the painting; the village of Bobbio to the south of Piacenza. All in all Leonardo was a real genius, much ahead of his time and, as fictional and flawed as it was, I’m glad some TV show brought his life to us. Thanks for your nice words and input, keep following the blog please. I have a Facebook page for that -> Mythologian.Net on Facebook
Thank You , Do you think that there was anything similar to son of mythras or enemy of man and something similar?
What about the secret archives?
And did da vinci ever constructed canons?
Hi Anon, there are many cults and somewhat secret organizations throughout history with similar agendas. “Purification through destruction” is a very sick reasoning, however, even now there are many people who very very unfortunately have thoughts like killing people of certain nationalities and races would purify the world. About your second question, yes, Vatican had very large secret archives, but the word “secret” means to say “private archive of the Pope” rather than a place where all the secrets of the world was hidden. They are opened for visitors since the end of the 19th century. About Da Vinci and cannons, yes, he invented a triple barrel cannon as a war engineer. It is considered to eb a forerunner to modern-day machine guns. Also, the tank design we all saw on Da Vinci’s Demons is an actual invention of his, too. Thank you for reading and your kind input.
Just a little something else about some historical fantasy in this show. Pope Sixtus IV died in 1484. Therefore, the voyage to the “New World” that DaVinci supposedly made had to have been before that. Well, to my knowledge, other than the Vikings, Columbus was the first European to visit the Americas and that wasn’t until 1492. Also, the Native Americans depicted on the show were supposed to be the Incas. The vast Incan empire was on the western side of the continent! From where DaVinci’s ship would probably have landed, they would have had to walked hundreds, if not thousands of miles and crossed the Andes to reach the Incas. Doubtful!
Hi Rich, good catch(es)! I have not focused on Sixtus’ date of death and the natives. Yeah, more than doubtful I’d say 🙂 Thanks for your input.
Amazingly done. Perfectly vivid article about all the doubts & questions of the fans. Thanks you so much 🙂
Glad you like the article and thank you also for showing your appreciation and kindness to drop a few lines 🙂
Hi. Really,does the Book of Leaves exist?
Hi Eli, no it does not, it is something made up for the purposes of the TV show.
i love this article!
what about his inventions? weapon, submarine, flying stuff and the others? we know da vinci designed them but did they really work?
Hi Gun. Glad you liked it. Oh, he did make a lot of inventions, however, only some of them saw the light of the day and it is too comprehensive to fit into this article here. Maybe, I will write on them in the future though.
will be another great article.
Thank you.. I’ll be waiting, Met.
My pleasure Gun and thank you for kind appreciation.
Comment…brilliant article, thanks for sharing some light. now i can saperate favy from fiction. just got this series a few weeks ago and i got hooked(well im from South Africa and we dont have Starz…) its
one of the best series iv ever watched…probably my second favourite series after Game of Thrones…im currently watching 3rd season episode 4. LOVE Riario..is there any way we as fans can get Starz or who ever is in charge to return the show?
Hey Bryan, first off I am not living in USA either so I can relate to your situation about not being able to have Starz 😉 I will not give you spoilers since you are only at the 4th episode of the 3rd season, however, they (producers) kind of wrapped up the story so I do not think anyone can do anything to revive it. Studios do not bring back shows usually although there are some exceptions for that. Riario was one of my favorite characters also, conflicted and deeper than most of the others. I might recommend some other TV shows to you, for example, Battlestar Galactica is my most favorite TV show of all times, if you are into science fiction it is a great show in every aspect. It includes some mythology also. Thanks for dropping a few lines 😉
You just spoiled the excitement of the show! Kidding! I know that it was just great series to watch. I just wonder why you have focused yourself on the persons in the show rather then to his inventions? What is true and and what is not about that issue? What is your knowledge about it please?
Hi Danijela 🙂 Well, the intention of the article was to first separate fiction from facts and for that, I had to start with people/characters. There were a lot of controversies even at the beginning of the show which kinda urged me to examine everything in detail and write about it. I am glad to have done that since it seems to have guided people really well about the factuality of the events depicted in the show. Da Vinci’s inventions? Well, that will take a lot of articles to even start with 🙂 He was a brilliant mind, one of those actual geniuses to have blessed us with their existence. I write on this blog when I have time, maybeif my day job allows it, I will write all about Da Vinci’s inventions as it is something I am also interested in.
Thanks a lot
This article will be so help full for me
Thank you for clarifying the facts from fiction & your time & energy to do so
Hi Diane, you are most welcome and thank you for showing your kind appreciation 🙂
Thanks for the filtration of fictional and non-fictional elements from the show …..looking forward to your other blogs on various other TV shows like genius and movies also…..😊
You’re welcome Mohd. Have not watched “Genius” yet, but when I do, I might write on it, too, who knows 😉
Comments are closed.