A Massacre of Family Members

Object Details


A Massacre of Family Members


Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Italian, 1405 - 1464)




France (Place Created)


about 1460–1470


Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 68, fol. 21


Leaf: 17.6 × 11.4 cm (6 15/16 × 4 1/2 in.)

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This miniature shows one of the possible harsh realities of court life: family members being killed in a struggle for power. With a remarkable flair for drama, the artist repeated the horror of murder using three different means. Freshly beheaded corpses lie in a gruesome heap in the foreground. Another man, probably the brother of the slain, is being blindfolded in preparation for his turn on the chopping block. From the window above the executioner and the men who ordered the killings observe the grisly scene. A man about to be drowned at the left and an unfortunate man hanging from the gallows in the background illustrate other means of execution.

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