Marina Gamba

Marina Gamba

Marina Gamba (1570 – August 21, 1612?[1]) of Venice was the mother of three of Galileo Galilei's illegitimate children.

Marina Gamba was born around 1570 in Venice.

During one of his frequent trips to Venice, Galileo met a young woman named Marina di Andrea Gamba, with whom he entered into a relationship. Marina Gamba moved into Galileo's house in Padua and bore him three children, Virginia (August 16, 1600–1634), later Sister Maria Celeste; Livia (1601–1659), later Sister Arcangela; and Vincenzo (1606–1649). In none of the three baptismal records is Galileo named as the father. In the case of Virginia, she was described as "daughter by fornication of Marina of Venice," with no mention of the father; on Livia's baptismal record the name of the father was left blank; and on Vincenzo's baptismal record "father uncertain" ("Galileo's Daughter" 24, Dava Sobel, 1999). Galileo's position as a professor and his many friendships among the Venetian nobility probably made it unwise for him to figure officially as the father of the three children.

When Galileo left Padua for good to take up his position at the Medici court in Florence, in 1610, he took the two daughters with him but left Marina Gamba behind with Vincenzo, who was then only four years old. Vincenzo joined Galileo in Florence a few years later. She is often confused with Marina Bartoluzzi, in whose care Galileo had placed little Vincenzo while he was getting settled in Florence, resorting to the sale of a lute to pay for her services, and was long believed to have remarried a certain Giovanni Bartoluzzi. It has been ascertained instead that they were two different persons. Marina Gamba is probably the "Venetian Marina, 42 years of age" who was said to have died on August 21, 1612, "in the parish of San Daniele"

With Marina no longer in the family, Galileo put his two daughters in a convent where they were to become nuns and therefore would not get married. He managed to have Vincenzo legitimated by the Grand Duke of Tuscany.In his request for the legitimization of his son Vincenzo in 1619, Galileo declared that Marina, at the time of their cohabitation, "had never been married" and was "already dead" at the drawing up of the act. His son studied law and later became a lutenist like his namesake grandfather. Vincenzo died in 1649.[2]


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