April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici

April Blood: Florence & the Plot Against the Medici
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An Analysis of the Plot against the Medicis in April Blood, a Book by Lauro Martines

Florence: Istituto Papirologico 'G. Vitelli', It took Il Magnifico a decade to complete the vendetta, but as Martines remarks, the dish of revenge is best eaten cold. The Medici were a ruthless, Machiavellian clan Machiavelli, an inveterate republican, loathed them and was loathed by them in return.

They already had a reputation in the 14th century for crudity, violence and ambition; they eliminated the crudity on their way to the top, while retaining the ambition and capacity for violence intact. Martines portrays this remarkable Florentine dynasty in their cruelty as well as their culture.

This alliance of violence and refinement was hardly unique to the Medici: it was endemic to the culture of the Italian Renaissance. Three of the Pazzi conspirators, he writes,. Mounted on the so-called wheel, one of the most agonising of all the instruments of death, each was torn in half from groin to neck while still alive — not the sort of detail which historians like to ponder, though it says something about the morality of the age, about attitudes toward the body, justice and the sense of sin.

The Medici Family

In a later chapter, he considers the Pazzi executions, and many others, as well as several instances of cannibalism, and concludes that in the Italian 15th century. The gladiatorial combats and staged hunts that ancient Rome adopted from the Etruscans come to mind here.

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One of the world's leading historians of Renaissance Italy brings to life here the vibrant-and violent-society of fifteenth-century Florence. His disturbing narrative. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. One April Sunday in , assassins -with the support of a member of the Pazzi, one of Florence's leading.

This willingness to suggest rather than declare is what lends April Blood its flair. Martines has always been a splendid writer, but here he writes with particular relish. Italian city states, like the poleis of ancient Greece, seem to have been breeding grounds for competition, chicanery and treachery of every kind, as well as crucibles for great art and compelling ideas about human liberty. As Martines observes, humanism did not necessarily humanise the humanists, or the powerful magnates who sponsored their studies.

Those handsome young men in velvet doublets and striped hose who strike coy, cocky poses in Renaissance paintings were quick with their knives and labile in their allegiances, close relatives of Romeo, Mercutio and — most of all — Tybalt. The blank, downcast gazes of the young women sculpted by Francesco Laurana and Verrocchio cannot entirely hide the arrogant curl of their lips.

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Not surprisingly in a society so conscious of physical beauty, surface was everything, from the face and figure of a prospective bride, to the gorgeous pageants staged on feast days, to the gruesome punishment of criminals and the empty flattery of sycophants, ambassadors and candidates. April Blood recounts both or, better, all sides of the Pazzi Conspiracy with equal detachment, yet is written with passion. The most striking point of his discussion, however, is the way he connects it back to Lorenzo:. Here again Martines shows that he has absorbed a vast amount of recent scholarship, in this case on women, marriage and the family, but he has shifted the focus of these discussions, eliminated their commonplaces of thought and vocabulary, avoiding academic jargon.

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Like all the best historians, he makes no attempt to hide his passion for a good story, and April Blood revolves insistently around the individuals whose desires and hatreds went into the forging of the Pazzi Conspiracy. He punctuates his account with extended biographical profiles of three important players in the drama of Giannozzo Manetti, Tommaso Soderini and Alamanno Rinuccini, whose lives serve to illustrate the tangle of motives, personal, financial and political, that drove the Pazzi to rebel against the Medici.

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But the main protagonist of the story is always Lorenzo, the survivor of the Pazzi attack who turns that close encounter with death into the means of prevailing over it. In his new book, April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici , the highly respected historian of the Italian Renaissance Lauro Martines sets out to find justifications for the Pazzi. Though he draws no analogies with modern or other times, the larger issue of the morality of political assassination is inevitably made present to the reader.


Only twenty when he came to power, Lorenzo was the third Medici to dominate Florence. The regime began with his grandfather, Cosimo, in and was thus thirty-five years old when his father, Piero, died of gout in What was it that had to be kept secret and why? The Florentine constitution worked, or was supposed to work, like this.