Dear, Ser Piero
On the last of the past month I had the letter you wrote to me which in a brief space caused me pleasure and also sorrow. I was pleased at learning from it that you were in good health, for which God be praised. I was filled with sorrow at hearing of your discomfort.”
This is a letter from Leonardo to his father Ser Piero. Leo wasn’t able to use his father’s last name since his parents didn’t marry. Da Vinci in Italian means “From the city of Vinci” so he technically doesn’t have a last name. It’s also interesting to note that Leo was treated almost as a legitimate son despite the aversion to illegitimate children at the time.
A significant reason for this was that his father’s first wife was unable to become pregnant which made little Leo an only child (at least on his father’s side) for many years. Eventually Ser Piero remarried and da Vinci has over 10 step brothers and sisters.
After his father’s death there was a legal battle between Leo and his “legitimate” brothers and sisters over their will.
It’s also interesting to note his inclusion of “God be praised” as Leo was not a religious man and spoke very little of religion other than in mockery or distain. This is not surprising due to the level of corruption of the Church at the time he lived.
Technically and according to "art historians" it is incorrect to refer to Leonardo da Vinci as - da Vinci - especially not Da Vinci. I am aware of this but will still use da Vinci or even Da Vinci instead of Leonardo to both avoid repetition and to embrace "Da Vinci" as his title - since there are many Leonardo's but only one "Da Vinci." I would even go as far as using DaVinci -gasp- He is definitely worthy of having a single name like Rihanna or Madonna, Elvis. etc.
Not only that but in modern culture he is referred to as "Da Vinci" and if someone is googling him they will use Da Vinci more than Leonardo. I also use "Discovering Da Vinci's Daughter" for it's alliteration, which I am quite fond of.
I've actually received emails from people specifically telling me that by using Da Vinci it is wrong. Seeing as Leonardo referred to himself and signed things as "Lionardo" and "Da Vinci" - I don't think he would be offended. Actually - I think people debating not only the way your name "should" be written, and even the capitalization of certain letters in your name - 500 years later - is an accomplishment in itself.
"Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory." - Da Vinci
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