Wednesday 15 December 2021

It Looks Like Ludovico Lies in Loches

Many people know that Leonardo da Vinci died at Amboise, but very few people realise that his great patron of seventeen years, the Duke of Milan, also died in the Loire Valley.

In January this year archaeologists finished digging up the floor of the church of Saint Ours in Loches, looking for graves. It seems they probably found what they were looking for ie the grave of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and former patron of Leonardo da Vinci, who was held prisoner and died in Loches in 1508.

Wall paintings by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, Donjon de Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Wall paintings done by Ludovico Sforza in his prison cell in the Donjon de Loches.

During two dig campaigns in 2019 and 2021, bones and teeth from two skeletons were found. The archaeologists thought there was a possibility that they belonged to Ludovico Sforza and the Baron de Lescouet, Capitain of the Chateau of Loches, who died in 1467.

Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, depicted on a chest, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Ludovico Sforza depicted on a painted wooden chest in the collection of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan.

The skeletons were Carbon14 dated and an estimate of age at death was made. For one of the skeletons there was nothing to exclude Ludovico Sforza, but of course nothing that proved it was. Now that the isotopic analysis of the teeth has been done, the archaeologists are saying that there is a 90% chance that the skeleton is that of Ludovico Sforza.

Graves under the floor of Saint Ours, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The presumed graves of Ludovica Sforza and the Baron Lescouet during the archaeological dig.

The archaeologists are hoping that a DNA sequencing of the remains will be possible, but the bones are in a very poor state of preservation, so it may not work. The other problem is that they have yet to find a descendant that they can match the DNA to. Ludovico had two sons, but they did not have surviving children.

The magnificent tomb he had built for himself at Pavia remains empty.


chm said...

Susan, it is thanks to one of your earlier posts that I learned that Ludovico Sforza died in Loches. I didn’t even know he was a prisonner there.
If the bones are proven to be those of the Duke of Milan, I hope they will be sent to Pavie where they belong.

Susan said...

chm: I think the Loches authorities have asked the Pavia authorities if they want the remains of Ludovico Sforza, but I have a feeling the decision has been to leave him where he is. I can't remember the details for sure though.

Post a Comment