The Real Reason Leonardo Da Vinci Liked To Write In Reverse

There's a reason Leonardo da Vinci has been called a "Renaissance Man" for several centuries. The first and most obvious is the fact that he lived and worked during the Renaissance — the High Renaissance, as historians call it. Beyond that, however, he was proficient in multiple fields, including art, engineering, optics, and others, according to National Geographic.

Over the centuries, a mystique has developed around da Vinci as well. This almost certainly is due, at least in part, to the 2003 novel "The Da Vinci Code," and the 2006 movie of the same name, both of which suggest that some of his paintings revealed coded messages that could upend the very foundations of history and of modern religious institutions.

As it turns out, da Vinci did at least one thing that has led to the aura of secrecy and mystery surrounding him: He sometimes wrote backward, according to Mental Floss. Although the reason he did so had less to do with codes and secrecy and more to do with practicality.

Leonardo da Vinci didn't want to smear the page

If you were to take a look at any of Leonardo da Vinci's written words that he himself put to the page, they would be inscrutable to the modern reader, principally because they're in 15th-century Italian. As it turns out, however, at least some of his writings, according to Mental Floss, were difficult for his contemporaries to make out as well. Specifically, they were written in reverse and could only be read if held to a mirror — another factoid about da Vinci that suggests he was hiding something.

In fact, there was a much more practical reason da Vinci wrote in reverse: he wrote left-handed. Writing with one's left hand is difficult even with modern writing implements, considering that this is a right-handed person's world. Considering the crudeness of 15th-century writing tools, things were even worse for lefties in those days. And da Vinci wrote in chalk, which is prone to smearing or even being accidentally erased. However, he was able to overcome those problems by simply writing in reverse.