10 Things You Didn’t Know About Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo was a man of mystery and even today, we know less about him than we do about Lady Gaga. However, through his art and the remaining notebooks that have been discovered and rediscover we get a picture of a man with a protean genius and an insatiable curiosity about the world. Today you are about to learn 10 little know facts about this man who was called the “Universal Man” and the “Renaissance Man” that you might not be aware of.

It is with the hope your curiosity will be aroused and you will seek out more information about the man, the artist, and the thinker to help you look at the world with new eyes and a child’s curiosity once more.

1) Leonardo was raised by his father.

Leonardo’s father never married his mother and though Leonardo lived with her until he was 5 years old, he was never really that close with her. After 5 years, he went to live with his father who raised him and got him his apprenticeship to Andrea Del Verrocchio in 1467. Verrocchio was the official sculpture to the Medici family and this would allow Leonardo his first taste of what an artist’s life was like. Apprenticeship was a common way to teach a trade to an illegitimate child who could never hope to inherit and it allowed one to earn a living and perhaps gain station in life though barred from the aristocracy of the time because of paternity.

2) Leonardo received no formal schooling.

Much has been made of the fact Leonardo had no formal education. However, it should be remembered at this time home education often trumped formal education as the rich hired tutors of the best quality. Leonardo’s talents in art allowed him also to be apprenticed to one of the best artists in Italy at the time.

Yet the apprentice system was probably one of the finest ways to hone one’s skills as you lived and breathed the work often 24 hours a day as compared to our multi-topical system of today where scant hours are Spent covering a range of topics and only to the extent of passing an exam. Then the knowledge is conveniently forgotten to make room for the next test.

In Leonardo’s time, mastery was the only criteria and you stayed with a lesson until it was done to the master’s often-grudging approval.

3) Leonardo’s writings were never published during his lifetime.

The thousands of pages of Leonardo’s documents, sketches, and writings were never for public consumption. He wrote mostly for himself rather than posterity. After his death, they were sold off and scattered to the four winds and only later was an effort made to recover them and put them in some kind of order.

A large amount of Leonardo’s work is lost still and is perhaps still to be found in some forgotten cubbyhole in a dusty Libra somewhere in Europe or in a private family collection.

Who knows what treasures and secrets are still waiting to be discovered?

4) None of his amazing inventions were ever built

For all Leonardo’s understanding and creativity, almost all of his inventions were never built or displayed.

One recorded instance of a mechanical garden created by Leonardo for his patrons amusement is one of the only recorded instances where his ingenuity was made into reality. However recently it has come to light through a newly discovered codex of drawings and notes that Leonardo may have created some of the first robots. This was in the form of a knight in armor and could stand and move its arms. This was all done to amuse another patron in 1495. Discovered in the 1950s these plans and drawings were used to build a replica and it worked exactly as described. Leonardo’s inventions were conceptually far ahead of his time and if he had a power source the world would be much different from what it is today.

5) Leonardo gained notoriety as a musician first instead of an artist.

Most people do not know that Leonardo was also a gifted artist and his first exposure to court life in Renaissance Italy was not for his paintings, sculpture, and mechanical acumen, but for his ability with the lyre of which it is said he could play like an angel. This is high praise indeed, as the Church controlled much of the wealth in Europe and getting commissions for art, music, and sculpture from the clergy was how many of the great artists survived to ply their art.

6) Bill Gates shelled out big bucks for the only non-European codex of his papers.

In 1994, Microsoft Billionaire Bill Gates purchased Leonardo’s Codex Leicester for over $30 million dollars. This book has the distinction of being the highest priced book every sold. It is probably the most important of the 30 Leonardo collections as it details much of his scientific observations and writings, written shortly after finishing the Mona Lisa when Leonardo was in his 50s it shows his genius at the peak of his career and artistic ability around 1508.

7) Leonardo left Florence after he was accused of sodomy.

Leonardo was brought up on sodomy charges in 1476 by anonymous sources. While many believe, it was done by jealous artist angered at Leonardo’s sudden rise to fame. Others believe it was an attempt to discredit the Medici family who were Leonardo’s patrons at the time. Machiavelli himself was a close personal friend of Leonardo.

This is reminiscent of the current Bill Cosby scandal where women have come forth to accuse Mr. Cosby of sexual impropriety. In Mr. Cosby’s case, much of his good works are being forgotten and even the Cosby show, which has been a hallmark in Black Entertainment, has now been tarnished and is being pulled from Public viewing.

However, in Renaissance Florence charges of sexual proclivity if proven true resulted in the death penalty. Something Mr. Cosby does not have to fear.

Though nothing was proven against Leonard, it was enough of a traumatic experience to haunt him and he left Florence for Milan to start his life over there.

8) Some believe one of the Apostils in the Last supper is Leonardo himself.

A news story broke in the Daily Mail from Oct 18 poses the theory that the Renaissance Master used himself as the model for not one but two of the apostles seated with Jesus in his masterpiece the “Last Supper.”

As reported in the Daily Mail gleaned from the original source is that Dr. Ross King a noted Art Historian believes that Leonardo’s face is that of Thomas and James the lesser based on his long study of Leonardo’s art and eccentricities. One of which is the raised finger pointing skyward which is thought to be a hidden signature of Leonardo’s. The other is that the face of Thomas bears a striking resemblance to a red Chalk drawing of the master himself.

9) Leonardo was a procrastinator and many of his works were never finished.

Many of Leonardo’s famous works were in fact never finished. His famous Bronze Horse and Rider were never completed due to war and Leonardo’s cost over-runs. St. Jerome in the Wilderness was also never completed.

However one of the greatest of his achievements the “Virgin on The Rocks” was never completed and like the Mona Lisa the artist keep it with him until he died.

However, while many accuse Leonardo of being slow and a procrastinator, this writer believes he was much smarter than that. In the Renaissance, you live on the patronage of others. So, it behooved you to keep your client happy and yet stretch out the time to complete a project as you had money, room, and board and lived well as long as you were doing the patron’s bidding.

This today is being duplicated by many an independent contractor or consultant.

10) Leonardo was secretly a Heretic.

You only have to look through his writings and drawing to see that much of what Leonardo believed ran contra to the religious Tennant’s of the time. If his books were to have been made public, he might well have been burned at the stake along with all his papers and artwork.

This has also raised questions about his possible membership in the Rosicrucian Order and some even suggest he was a driving force behind it.

Today it is known that the order embraces Leonardo as one of its luminaries. Leonardo was also linked with the Illuminati and that has even been portrayed in books and movies as well.

But he did get away with a lot. He performed human dissections when it was a crime to do so and very harshly punished one at that. So, he was able to advance our knowledge in spite of the times and that in itself is the mark of one who embraces the Rosicrucian ideals and Illuminati creed.

You be the judge and see for yourself.

Final words

Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the greatest geniuses ever and his fertile mind was only con trained by the technology of the time. It is hoped by reading about this fascinating man you will be insured to look at the world as he did and who know you too might have your notebooks sold at Christie’s for $30 million dollars some day.

10 of Leonardo da Vinci’s Greatest Inventions

Leonardo da Vinci was the greatest inventive mind of the Renaissance. Not only was a master painter and sculptor he was a mechanical genius and we now know he could and probably did create automatons capable of simple actions that mimic the human in both form and function. Today, you will become acquainted with 10 of his greatest inventions.

Some of these have only seen the light of day in the last few years and further examination of the existing and known papers hint at even more marvels yet to be discovered.

When you have finished reading this article, you’ll be amazed at the breadth and width of his genius and perhaps there are even more surprises in store as more and more da Vinci materials are being unearthed.

Remember that the majority of da Vinci’s notebooks and papers have never been located and they may still waiting to be discovered in some forgotten corner of a used bookshop or forgotten library in Europe.

1) Helicopter

Properly speaking this would be called an “Air Screw” as it would be built using a screw shaped airfield to drive air downward and thereby creating lift. There is no record of his device being made. However, copies of his manned glider have been flown successfully. Both as models and as full sized versions as well.

2) Parachute

Along with his designs for gliders and ornithopters, he also designed equipment to escape or “bail out” of them and his parachute was the result. It was recreated in the year 200 and it worked as advertised. The daredevil who build and tested it landed safely and said that it gave a better ride down than conventional designs now in use. Again almost 500 years later da Vinci is vindicated.

This leads one to ask what are hidden in the many thousands of missing papers and notebooks still waiting to be rediscovered.

3) Diving Suit

While da Vinci is mostly noted for his studies of birds and his war inventions, he, however, was fascinated by water and all things connected with it. His underwater suits either used bladder filled with air or a bell that performed the same function. The unusual addition was a special mechanism to allow the divers to urinate while underwater allowing them to say down potential as long as needed. The suits may have been created as invaders that these suits were created to fight, by drilling holes in the attacking vessels hulls. The entire issue was rendered moot when the invaders were defeated by the Venetian navy.

4) Tank

General George Patton and Erwin Rommel the “Desert Fox” brought the concept of tank warfare to a high art. However, Leonardo Da Vinci foresaw the use of tanks and armored fighting vehicles. He even worked out the use of infantry supporting the vehicle as it made its way across the battlefield. This was done in 1487 over 450 years before America’s entry into World War II.

5) Machine Gun

During WW I, the Machine Gun became the king of the battlefield and even today most armies build their military strategies around the use of crew served weapons and the use of automated machine guns were created to protect forward firebases in Vietnam and even today high-security areas have more advanced variants of these weapons. As of this writing,  S.W.O.R.D. robots are being deployed to world trouble spots to test new generations of machine guns.

Da Vinci designed an 8-barrel machine gun of his own. However, the design was rejected as it was considered a cruel and dishonorable way to wage war.

Sadly, the world has changed its mind since then and weapons of area killing have become the rule rather than the exception.

6) Leonardo’s Robots

Found in a dusty corner of a library stuffed in with some old papers were some lost diagrams of what appeared to be a mechanical man. This created shockwaves worldwide, as after they were integrated with the scattered pieces of Leonardo’s other notebooks by an NASA Engineer was the mystery was finally solved. Later in Berlin, a fully working model was reconstructed. It could sit, stand, and even raise its visor with its hand, this lead credence to the many stories of Leonardo’s genius with all things mechanical. Since then many of his other automata have been duplicated and all are fully functional as described in the many surviving eyewitness documents. So, Isaac Asimov may have to step down as the father of robotics in history books of speculative fiction.

7) Ball Bearing

While this may not sound like much. However, the entire world would grind to a halt without this simple device. Germany’s war machine was stopped when the allies bombed their ball bearing plants as this integral part of virtually ever thing from cars, aircraft, and rocketry production ground to a halt. Leonardo thought the idea up between 1498 and 1500. If any had followed up on this or any of Leonardo’s other inventions where would we be now?!? But remember every thing Leonardo invented except for select items were kept a deep dark secret until many years after his death.

8) Viola Organista

Many are unaware that Leonardo was a consummate musician and some feel if he had not been apprenticed to Verrocchio he might have become a famous musical talent instead that of an artist. One of his more unusual musical instruments was his Viola Organista, which combine many instruments into one instrument, which could be considered the forerunner of the music synthesizer. A replica was constructed and played in concert in Poland in 2013. This again shows that Leonardo was not only just a painter but also a Polymath Artist who knew no limits for music, art, and science.

9) Leonardo’s Lion

With the discovery of Leonardo’s Robot sparked interest in other forms of Leonardo’s Automata one of the most interesting was his mechanical lion that walked wagged its tail and opened up to display the fleurs-de-lis of France at King Francois I’s pageant celebrating his coronation. The Lion Symbol of Florence and the flower symbolized France.

It was recreated 500 years later

This has opened up speculation about other of Da Vinci’s mechanical marvels such as flying birds and singing animals that once inhabited a menagerie, he supposedly created for his patron’s amusement were, in fact, real also. The lion was recreated in France in 2009 at the Château du Clos Lucé and PARC where Leonardo spent his last years of his life. This and his other inventions showed that Da Vinci could not only work wonders in science and the arts but also blend them together as well for the enjoyment of all.

10) Keeping Time

Leonardo also was fascinated with the concept of time and if one thinks of all the inventions he created, he himself could be the “Traveler” talked about in H.G. Wells book “The Time Machine.” Perhaps Wells had met Leonardo as he was passing through the 19th century and later was stranded in the 1500’s. Many people have speculated that Leonardo was a man out of place and could very well be a shipwrecked space traveler or Time Traveler. Some interesting speculative fiction stories have explored this concept.

However, Leonardo designed a timepiece that used two separate mechanisms, one for the hours and one for minutes that used an unusual and complicated system to get them to synchronize and work together. It might be noted that Leonardo’s clock was far beyond anything currently in use during the 15th century. It even rivals timepieces made today by the Swiss. It used diamonds and other minerals to allow the various gears and springs to move with almost no friction.

Parting thoughts

Leonardo was the definition of the Renaissance Man, an ideal that is almost forgotten in this age of specialization and pigeonholing of people. The clock is now a harsh taskmaster instead of an aid to help one keep track of time. Many of his inventions are now in common use and if you look at the results, they have wrought in today’s world. Perhaps he was wiser than we are, by hiding them for over 500 years. Look around you and decide for yourself if the world is a better place or not with all of the inventions that he created 500 years ago.

10 Quotes by Leonardo da Vinci Quotes

Leonardo da Vinci is probably one of the most influential people in the history of humankind.  He left his art and his thoughts as his incredible legacy, and people quote da Vinci to this day.  He was so far ahead of his time in every way.  Here are ten quotes from da Vinci that show his incredible mind, spirit, and progressive thinking.

“Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight which are: Darkness and Light, Solidity and Color, Form and Position, Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest.”
“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

(Once Da Vinci started to really learn, he soared.)
“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.”

Da Vinci was so passionate and feeling.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.”

Da Vinci has such a thirst for knowledge.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Think of The Mona Lisa, how seemingly simple, but so complex she is- this embodies da Vinci’s work.

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

A life’s lesson we all still strive for!

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”

“You can have no dominion great or less than that over yourself.”

Another thing we all strive toward.

“Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?”

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

Da Vinci realized that people were in need of open minds to grow- incredible!

The quotes above all show what an intelligent, progressive thinker da Vinci was.  His works will live on forever through his art and his writings.  We are so fortunate to have had him lead by example in history.

5 Life Lessons You Should Take Away From da Vinci’s Life

Mona Lisa, The Vitruvian Man and The Last Supper, do these words ring any bells in your mind? Genius, inventor, engineer, mapmaker and botanist among others describe an individual whom the current world has come to behold for his greatness.

Among the first three words, a few people may recognize the Vitruvian Man but many have heard of the famous paintings, Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. If you are aware of these paintings, then you know about Leornardo da Vinci.  Below are 5 lessons you should take away from Da Vinci’s life.

1) Have passionate curiosity.

There is curiosity…and passionate curiosity. Every one is curious not only about what happen in their immediate surroundings but of the unknown too. Curious people are just curious but those who have passionate curiosity go the extra mile to understand why things happen and how they affect people.

People who are passionate have an open mind, ask questions in order to understand something and have a thirst to fulfill their curiosity.

2) Creativity opens new possibilities.

Creativity can be said to be the mother of all inventions. The renaissance era experienced a burst of knowledge that covered different fields such as music, sculpting, majestic architecture and superb paintings and techniques. Much of this can be attributed to Leornado da Vinci.

3) Solitude breeds creativity

People are social which means they do interact with others not only to share stories but ideas too. In order to generate ideas, you need to make solitude your friend, just like da Vinci did. According to history, da Vinci took himself away from others for long periods and this enabled him to hone his creative juices.

4) Be an independent thinker.

It is important to know that diversity is critical for creativity and innovation. In order to be an independent thinker, you need to seek the view of others. As you grow, you don’t need to assume that your opinion matters only, you need to take some time and listen to others too.

This can provide you with a different perspective therefore helping you to come up with varied answers.

5) Balance your logic and imagination.

In order to be successful, you need to learn how to balance logic and imagination. While many people may say that both don’t go together, with practice, you will be able to accomplish it. The brain is made of two hemispheres which have different functions. The right hemisphere is synonymous with creativity, imagination, and intuition while the left is associated with logic, analysis, and linear thinking.

To balance logic and imagination means that you need to find a way of organizing ideas which integrate logic and imagination. This’ll help you to generate several ideas in no time.

I’m a vegetarian. So was Leonardo.

That Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian isn’t something that is widely known to most, as during his lifetime this type of lifestyle wasn’t thought about in the Renaissance Era.  Either you had food or you were hungry and voluntary restriction of one’s diet was considered abnormal.

However, da Vinci was a practicing vegetarian and his notebooks have many passages that support this practice along with various letters from people who were personally acquainted with Leonardo.

He was known for some antics, such as  his buying birds at the market and then freeing them to fly away.  He was also obviously no weakling as he was noted for his great strength as stories of his ability to straighten horseshoes for fun.  As a joke da Vinci actually removed the curve from a blacksmith’s entire stock of horseshoes, which made for an unhappy blacksmith!

How did being a vegetarian affect Leonardo’s creativity?

Hi vegetarianism may have had much more of an effect than many might think. Since his body was not spending time attempting to break down the complex proteins of meat, his body would have had more energy for other activities.

It’s fair to say that just the fact that he was able to think differently about food showed that he had a different way of thinking altogether.  Today, vegetarianism is much more common, but it seems to be quite a bit more factionized – now there are degrees of vegetarianism (veganism is hard!) and meat eaters really seem to enjoy their meat. I like to think that his out of the box thinking in all aspects of his life affected everything he did.

He was also undoubtedly healthy as he lived to the ripe old age of 67 in a time when making it to 30 years was consider quite a feat of longevity.


Along with his creativity his mathematical skills were extraordinary

If Leonardo were not a consummate artist, he might have become known as one of the foremost mathematicians of the age. As it was, his grasp of mathematical concepts was far beyond most, even to this day. He, however, preferred to express his discoveries in graphical form as he himself would say,

Writing about something confuses, but a picture makes things perfectly clear.

Da Vinci was one of those special few that can transcend words – he took images in his mind and transferred them directly into a picture that created that same concept in the mind of the observer.

He could only do this if his mind was functioning clearly and not being clouded by meat toxins loading down his liver and kidneys as they attempted to filter his blood.

As he was left-handed, meant his dominate side of his brain was the right side he had to have an  unimpaired access to both hemispheres as the language center in men is predominately on the left side even in the case of left-handers. This allowed him the ability to communicate himself clearly using words, mathematical formula as his optical observations show.

This requires a high degree of integration of both the left and right side of the brain and this can only be done if everything is running at optimum or in the “Zone” or a state of “Flow.” This has been shown to occur predominately with individuals who follow a vegetarian type diet and lifestyle.

Mental discipline

Meat is undeniably tasty.  I’d imagine that it was tough for da Vinci to give it up since food probably wasn’t as good during the Renaissance as it is now.  I think those of us that have gone from a meat diet to a vegetarian diet know how hard it is to give up meat, and that it requires a substantial amount of self-discipline at times.  But if you can have clearer mental states and be more creative, I think it’s worth it.