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The Times supplemented for The Japan News's May 29 issue  carried a top story, with a headline: The mystery of Ma Vince is solved:  historians track down Leonard's mother.

It reports about the identity of Leonard da Vinci's mother. All that is known is that she was called Caterina, and gave birth to her illegitimate son after she was secured by a lawyer at the age of 15. There has even been speculation in recent years that she was a slave.

Archival research has now revealed her full name. Caterina di Meo Lippi. She as a poor peasant, probably an orphan, living with her grandmother in a decrepit farmhouse about a mile from Vinci in the Tuscan hills.

An Oxford University historian said that the name had emerged from previously overlooked archives in Florence and Vinci.

He said that her  father was a "ne'er-do-well" called Bartholomeo Lippi, who disappeared when Catenna was young, leaving her to be brought up by an uncle and aunt.

In 1451, when she was 15, she became pregnant by Ser Piero da Vinci, 25, a lawyer working in Florence. Documents show that he took a break in July 1451, "exactly the right weeks for her impregnation," said the professor.

Ser Perro was due to get married and Catrina was duly married off to Antonio di Pero Buti, a farmer. Leonard was born on April 14, 1452, and brought up in the house of Ser Piero's father.