Renaissance genius Rafael‘s death at 37,500 years ago was caused by a medical error that compounded pneumonia, according to new research from the University of Milan. “His fever has worsened due to excessive use of leeches,” said a study by the University of Milan-Bicocca.
Earlier, syphilis, typhus, and malaria were mentioned as one of the possible causes of death of the Urbino-born artistic miracle and the “Divine painter”. The new study, based on direct and indirect testimony from the time of the great artists, excludes all three. “Raphael was killed by pneumonia exacerbated by medical error,” said a report published in “Internal and Emergency Medicine,” a review of the Italian Society of Internal Medicine (SIMI). One source, art historian Giorgio Vasari, said that Rafael’s death was caused by excessive sex at night.
Milan researchers compared information from Vasari’s “Artists Lives” with the testimony of contemporary Rafael present in Rome at the time of his death, including Alfons Paolucci, Prince Ferrara’s ambassador, Alfons I d’Este. They also used documents discovered in the 19th century by art historian Giuseppe Campori. “The progression of the disease along with other symptoms would lead to the conclusion that it was a case of pneumonia,” said Michele Augusto Riva, a researcher at the University of Bicocca medicine. “We cannot state with certainty, nor can we hypothesize whether it was viral like the current COVID-19, but one possible reason is the one that best suits the evidence.
“It was an acute, but not the immediate case, and the lack of loss of consciousness, the lack of gastroenteritis symptoms, and the constant fever are causing us to get pneumonia. “So the leech practice was absolutely not helpful in cases of pneumonia, and even probably killed Rafael.” Vasari “tells us that the painter hid from his doctors the fact that he often spent the previous nights in love classes,” Riva continued. “The doctors, because they were unaware of the patient’s behavior and were unable to get a better picture of the source of the fever, made a serious mistake in insisting on leeches.”