The results on the exhumation of the bones of Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano were published on 7 February 2008. They were both poisoned by arsenic. This was always suspected to be the case with Pico, but it is new knowledge for Poliziano (at least for scientists – this novelist got there first). I trust it will put paid once and for all to the character assassination that has been going on for four hundred years, begun by those responsible for his murder.

What I had never imagined, although I saw him as short,  is that Poliziano was only five feet tall. Still, he was four inches taller than Ficino: that must have helped.

There is more to come on this story since the find of Poliziano’s bones (and therefore his height) is strange given that the previous exhumation in the 1940s, which Harold Bodman attended, found that, while Pico remained intact, Poliziano had turned to dust. This earlier exhumation seems much more scientific than the recent ‘for TV’ one. I wrote to the professor in charge but he chose not to reply, so my confidence in this latest interference with the dead is not great.

Bodman said that Pico’s body was not only intact, but so were his clothes, and they were brocade. This starkly contradicts Savonarola’s claim to have buried both scholars as Dominican friars and is a major plot-point in The Rebirth of Venus.

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