Simonetta Vespucci: Miss Universe, 1475

Simonetta Vespucci: Miss Universe, 1475
Isabel del Rio
The birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli

The birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli

Miss Universe, 1475

Today, they are choosing the next USA candidate for Miss Universe. 50 current girls, in swimsuit, with perfect teeth thanks to their modern brakes, and with a perfect figure thanks to a balanced diet.

Miss Universe Contest started in 1952 and today it belongs to NBC and Donald Trump. Therefore, we have had 61 queens of beauty in recent times and tomorrow, we will have the 62. But before, what happened in old times?

Simonetta Cattaneo de Candia (Simonetta Vespucci after being married) was named Miss Universe in Italy, in the Renaissance, and she was portrayed by Sandro Botticelli, as Cleopatra and as Venus (writers of those times said she was born in Portovenere, Liguria, in the same place where Venus, the goddess of Beauty, was born).

She was of noble birth and married at 15. His husband was Marco Vespucci (a distant relative of the famous cartographer, Americus Vespucci, who named to America). Marco was not a jealous man; on the contrary, she was proud of Simonetta’s beauty and she was showcased at parties. They lived in Florence, and every man in Florence was in love with her.

Florence was ruled by two brothers: Lorenzo de Medici and Giuliano de Medici, bankers and patrons of the arts. In 1475, in La Giostra (a tournament), Giuliano decided to be bold to get the attention of Simonetta. He ordered Botticelli to paint a banner with Simonetta posing as Athena, with helmet and shield, and a French motto ‘La Sans Pareille’ (The unmatched).

Simonetta Vespucci

Simonetta Vespucci

Giuliano entered in the tournament with this banner, Simonetta’s husband smiled, people clapped, she stood up… Standing ovation! Cry of the people: ‘you are the most beautiful woman of the Universe’. Giuliano felt sure and named her the first Miss Universe. In the end, he was also the winner of the tournament and the future lover of Simonetta.

Marvelous story which didn’t last long. One year later, Simonetta died of consumption, Marco Vespucci married very soon and Giuliano had a son with Fioretta (this son will be the Pope Clemente VII).

Life is difficult, full of good and bad moments, of ascents and falls.

Simonetta Vespucci, Miss Universe, died vomiting blood in a dark room of a wet palace. Her husband and lover forgot her very soon, people in Florence too. However, the artist remembered her forever. ‘The birth of Venus’, by Sandro Botticelli, was painted nine years after Simonetta’s death, and Venus is her, as every woman in Botticelli’s paintings because, in fact, the artist was the only one in true love with her.

Giuliano’s end was also tragic. He died two years later going out of the cathedral of Florence (St Maria di Fiori) with his brother Lorenzo. Members of an enemy family, the Pazzi, attacked them with knives. Lorenzo was saved but Giuliano died inmmediately. They said he was wounded 19 times.

I don’t know how beautiful it will be the new Miss Universe 2012, chosen this night in Las Vegas. I imagine very beautiful but look Simonetta, it was normal for everybody to fall in love with her!!!

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Isabel del Rio

Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine. Author of ‘Ariza’ (2008) and ‘The Girls of Oil’ (2010)

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