Lazarus and Joannes Baptista Colloredo

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Lazarus and his brother Joannes Baptista in a contemporary etching.
Lazarus and his brother Joannes Baptista in a contemporary etching.

Lazarus Colloredo and Joannes Baptista Colloredo (1617 – after 1646) were Italian conjoined twins who toured freak shows in 17th-century Europe. They were born in Genoa, Italy.

Physical condition[edit]

The upper body and left leg of Joannes Baptista (named after John the Baptist) stuck out of his mobile brother, Lazarus. He did not speak, kept his eyes closed and mouth open all the time, and was a parasitic twin. According to a later account by Copenhagen anatomist Thomas Bartholinus, if someone pushed the breast of Joannes Baptista, he moved his hands, ears, and lips.

The brothers' exact date of death is unknown. They are last mentioned c. 1646.

Entertainment career[edit]

To make a living, Lazarus toured around Europe and visited at least Basel, Switzerland, and Copenhagen, Denmark, before he arrived in Scotland in 1642 and later visited the court of Charles I of England.

He also visited Danzig (Gdańsk), the Ottoman Empire, and toured Germany and Italy in 1646.[1]

Private life[edit]

Contemporary accounts described Lazarus as courteous and handsome, but for his brother who just dangled before him. When Lazarus was not exhibiting himself, he covered his brother with his cloak to avoid unnecessary attention.

Later accounts claim that Lazarus married and sired several children, none with his condition. His engraved portrait depicts him in a costume of a courtier of the period.

Sentenced to death[edit]

As reported by Henri Sauval, Lazarus was sentenced to death for killing a man, but averted the execution by pointing out that this would also kill his innocent twin brother.[2][3]


  1. ^ Bondeson, Jan. (2000) The Two-Headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels ISBN 978-0-8014-3767-0
  2. ^ "The Extraordinary Conjoined Twins: Lazarus and Joannes Baptista Colloredo". 2019-03-18. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
  3. ^ Engber, Daniel (2010-01-06). "A Siamese twin commits murder: the Explainer's 2009 question of the year". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2021-07-19.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gould, George M. & Pyle, and Walter L. (1896) Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine. Retrieved July 5, 2007.
  • "Lazarus and Johannes Baptista Colloredo." (n.d.). Retrieved July 5, 2007.
  • Baratta Luca (2016), «A Marvellous and Strange Event». Racconti di nascite mostruose nell’Inghilterra della prima età moderna, Firenze, Firenze University Press, pp. 182-201 [ISBN 978-88-6453-344-5].
  • Baratta Luca (2017), The Age of Monsters. Nascite prodigiose nell’Inghilterra della prima età moderna: storia, testi, immagini (1550-1715), prefazione di Maurizio Ascari, Roma, Aracne, 2017, pp. 351-386 [ISBN 978-88-2550-957-1].
  • Baratta Luca (2018), ‘Due idee del mostruoso, due idee di nazione. I gemelli Colloredo a Londra (1637) in due ballate di Robert Milbourne e Martin Parker’, Rivista di Letterature Moderne e Comparate, 70(2), pp. 109-131 [ISSN 0391-2108].