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Florence

Researchers open 16th-century tomb of Giovanni de' Medici

19/11/2012

Researchers aim to understand what killed legendary war leader

Researchers open 16th-century tomb of Giovanni de' Medici

Florence, November 19 - Researchers pried open the tomb of Giovanni de' Medici and his wife on Monday in their quest to better understand the life and death of the 16th-century warrior. The tombs of Giovanni - known as "dalle Bande Nere" for the black bands of mourning he wore for Pope Leo X - and Maria Salviati were opened in the Medici Chapels in Florence. Giovanni, whose son was Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, died of septicemia on November 30, 1526, after he was shot during battle. Researchers now want to better understand what kind of surgery and treatments he had before death. The Medici tombs were damaged in the major flood of 1966 in Florence, so authorities also want to carefully inspect the condition of the tombs, and plan restorations. The research, building on an earlier inspection in 1945 by Gaetano Pieraccini, is funded by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Pisa and led by Gino Fornaciari. Monday morning, a "large rock that covered the burial chamber" of the family was raised to reveal the bones of the married couple, according to authorities. Fornaciari and his team are expected to "conduct a thorough analysis" including medical, palaeopathological and anthropological studies of the remains over the coming 10 days. Judging by photos of the remains taken in 1945, it is believed that Giovanni's right leg was partially amputated before his death. Giovanni dalle Bande Nere is regarded as the last of the great Italian 'condottieri' (war leaders). His lasting reputation rests on the writings of Pietro Aretino, the Renaissance author, satirist, playwright and "scourge of the princes", who was Giovanni's close friend and accompanied him on some of his exploits. Giovanni's last days inspired Ermanno Olmi's 2001 film Il mestiere delle armi (The Profession of Arms). photo: Hristo Jivkov as Giovanni dalle Bande Nere in Olmi's film