A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Caravaggio ‘ was killed by the Knights of Malta’ – Telegraph

In Nonsense on April 2, 2012 at 14:26

 'Judith beheading Holofernes' by Caravaggio

Caravaggio ‘ was killed by the Knights of Malta’ 

Now an intriguing new theory has been put forward for the demise of the rabble-rousing Renaissance artist Caravaggio – that he was killed in cold blood on the orders of the Knights of Malta to avenge an attack on one of their members.

The chivalric order, which was formed during the Crusades, hunted down the painter because he had seriously wounded a knight during a fight, according to Vincenzo Pacelli, an Italian historian and expert on Caravaggio.The death of Caravaggio, who earned notoriety during his lifetime for his quick temper and hell-raising ways, has long been shrouded in mystery.

Some historians believe that he died of malaria in the Tuscan coastal town of Porto Ercole in 1610 and that he was buried there.

But Prof Pacelli, of the University of Naples, has unearthed documents from the Vatican Secret Archives and from archives in Rome which suggest that the artist was instead murdered by the Knights of Malta, who then threw his body in the sea at Palo, near Civitavecchia north of Rome.

If true, it was a violent end that Caravaggio himself foretold in one of his most famous works, David with the Head of Goliath (1610), in which he painted his own face onto the severed head of the slain giant.

The “state-sponsored assassination” was carried out with the secret approval of the Vatican, Prof Pacelli claims in a forthcoming book, Caravaggio – Between Art and Science.

“It was commissioned and organised by the Knights of Malta, with the tacit assent of the Roman Curia” – the governing body of the Holy See – because of the grave offence Caravaggio had caused by attacking a high-ranking knight, he said.

 

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