By Samantha Hughes-Johnson.

On this day in 1487, the Florentine diarist Luca Landucci recorded how, on 12 November, a Florentine citizen was killed by one of the lions, which were kept caged within a menagerie, located in the city’s main piazza. 

The day prior to the incident, Luca had recorded that “a tall giraffe, beautiful and graceful… a large lion, a goat and some very strange wethers” had arrived in the urban centre, having been gifted to the city by “some good friends of Florence.”

On the day of the 12th November however, Luca also recalls that, “there was an attendant who looked after the lions, and with whom they were quite tame, so that he could go into their cages and touch them, especially one of them: and just lately, a boy of about fourteen, son of one of the Giuntini, a Florentine citizen, wished to enter the lions’ cage with this tamer. But after he had been inside a little while, this lion threw himself upon him, seizing him by the back of his head: and it was only with difficulty, by shouting at the beast, that the tamer got him away. But the lion had so torn and mauled the boy, that he died in a few days.”

References: Luca Landucci, A Florentine Diary from 1450-1516, J.M. Dent & Sons, London, 1927, p. 44. 

Images: Leonardo da Vinci, Sketch of a Roaring Lion, 16th century ?, red chalk on paper, Musee Bonnat Bayonne France. Artstack Free Art.

Dragon Striking Down a Lion, 16th century ?, red chalk on paper, Private Collection. Artstack Free Art.

Francesco Bacchiacca, Detail from The Gathering of Manna, c.1440-1455, oil on panel, Samuel H. Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Public Domain. 

Giorgio Vasari and Marco da Faenza, Ambassadors Pay Homage to Lorenzo the Magnificent, 1556-58,  fresco, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. 

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