January 3, 2007
Debris, human remains, and a pair of crucifixes from the Santa Maria Bonistallo church crypt, located near Florence, Italy, may shed new light on one of the world's oldest cold cases.
Forensic and toxicology experts say an analysis of the evidence confirms the long-held suspicion that Francesco de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany, and his second wife, Bianca Cappello, were poisoned with arsenic instead of dying from malaria in 1587. The influential Medici family, famed as art connoisseurs and financial backers to many a king, ruled Florence and then Tuscany for several hundred years.
But as in most noble families in the turbulent Europe of the times, intrigue and infighting were constant for the Medicis. Many have assumed that Francesco's brother Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, who was vying for Francesco's title, had committed murder—but until now there was no clear evidence.
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Photograph from University of Florence/AP Photo