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Lazarus & Joannes Baptista, A True Story of The ‘Conjoined Colloredo Brothers’

Lazarus Colloredo and also Joannes Baptista Colloredo were actually Italian conjoined twins who toured freak shows in 17th-century Europe. They were born in Genoa, Italy. The upper body and the left leg of Joannes Baptista stuck out of his mobile brother that is Lazarus. He did not speak at all, kept his eyes closed and mouth open all the time.

Lazarus toured Europe exhibiting his brother. The upper body of Baptista and his left leg stuck out of his mobile brother Lazarus. According to a later account by Copenhagen anatomist Thomas Bartholinus, if someone pushed the breast of Joannes Baptista, he would move his hands, ears, and lips. The parasitic twins Lazarus and John Baptista Colloredo were apparently on tour in ‘many parts of Christendom’ and even Turkey for the better part of ten years.

Contemporary accounts described Lazarus as courteous, handsome, and intelligent, whose deportment was always that of a gentleman. When Lazarus was not exhibiting himself, he covered his brother with his cloak to avoid unnecessary attention. He employed two assistants as well-dressed as himself, one of whom would sound a trumpet to indicate the start of the viewing, the other to collect money from spectators.

While in France, Lazarus was accosted by a drunken man, who grew abusive and violent. Lazarus defended himself, apparently by cracking a bottle of wine over the man’s head. The offended succumbed to his injuries and Lazarus was placed on trial for murder, a capital crime. Although a case of self-defense was raised, the court refused the petition. The dead man had no weapon and Lazarus used the bottle to strike him and a death sentence was pronounced. It was then that a greater question arose. If Lazarus was put to death, it would also execute his conjoined twin. This would result in the killing of an innocent man.

Lazarus was able to produce the baptismal records dating to 1617 for himself and his brother. As one who was baptized, the court had to accept that John Baptista had a soul in the eyes of the Church and accepted the argument. Lazarus and John Baptista were freed. Later accounts claim that Lazarus married and had several children. The brothers’ exact date of death is unknown. They are last mentioned in 1646.

Sources: Italian Tribune.

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