April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici

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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 opens up an entire culture, revealing the dark side of Renaissance man and politician Lorenzo de' Medici.

On a Sunday in April 1478, assassins attacked Lorenzo and his brother as they attended Mass in the cathedral of Florence. Lorenzo scrambled to safety as Giuliano bled to death on the cathedral floor. April Blood moves outward in time and space from that murderous event, unfolding a story of tangled passions, ambition, treachery, and revenge. The conspiracy was led by one of the city's most noble clans, the Pazzi, financiers who feared and resented the Medici's swaggering new role as political bosses—but the web of intrigue spread through all of Italy. Bankers, mercenaries, the Duke of Urbino, the King of Naples, and Pope Sixtus IV entered secretly into the plot. Florence was plunged into a peninsular war, and Lorenzo was soon fighting for his own and his family's survival.

The failed assassination doomed the Pazzi. Medici revenge was swift and brutal—plotters were hanged or beheaded, innocents were hacked to pieces, and bodies were put out to dangle from the windows of the government palace. All remaining members of the larger Pazzi clan were forced to change their surname, and every public sign or symbol of the family was expunged or destroyed.
April Blood offers us a fresh portrait of Renaissance Florence, where dazzling artistic achievements went side by side with violence, craft, and bare-knuckle politics. At the center of the canvas is the figure of Lorenzo the Magnificent—poet, statesman, connoisseur, patron of the arts, and ruthless "boss of bosses." This extraordinarily vivid account of a turning point in the Italian Renaissance is bound to become a lasting work of history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fascinating.... Martines is a master researcher and, like a collector showing off his treasures, his delight in his findings sparkles on every page."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"Just the sort of historical mystery that should appeal to fans of, say, Charles Nicholl's The Reckoning (about the murder of Christopher Marlowe) or Josephine Tey's classic The Daughter of Time."—Washington Post

"An intriguing book.... Every situation and character Martines presents to usis of marvelous complexity."—The New York Review of Books

"A quietly subversive, elegant counterbalance to centuries of Medici adulation. His narrative is enthralling, his irony devastating, his conclusions unsettling."—Financial Times

"A spine-chilling political drama of conspiracy, murder at High Mass, and bloody revenge."—The Times (London)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195176094
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/16/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 285,234
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauro Martines, former Professor of European History at the University of California, Los Angeles, is renowned for his books on the Italian Renaissance. The author of Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy, and most recently of Strong Words: Writing and Social Strain in the Italian Renaissance, he reviews for The Times Literary Supplement and lives in London with his wife, novelist Julia O'Faolain.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi
Illustrations xiii
Genealogies xiv
Personaggi xvii
Prologue 1
1 Conspiracy 7
2 Social Climbers 25
3 Profile: Manetti 54
4 The Pazzi Family 62
5 Profile: Soderini 83
6 Enter Lorenzo 88
7 April Blood 111
8 Assaulting the Body: 'Cannibalism' 138
9 A Soldier Confesses 150
10 Raging: Pope and Citizen 174
11 The Pazzi Cursed 197
12 Profile: Rinuccini 214
13 Lorenzo: Lord and Citizen 221
14 The Bottom Line 251
Notes 263
Bibliography 282
Index 293
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    A reviewer

    First and foremost, I absolutely love Italian Renaissance. In my college Humanities class, when talking about Dante Alighieri and his Commedia, the teacher proposed the idea of furthering our understanding of Italian culture throughout the years [antediluvian through 15th century]. Intrigued, I sped to Barnes and Noble and bought this book. I was ridiculously elated at how in depth Lauro Martines is in his research of the Italian Renaissance. The brutality between the warring factions is unbelievable! Martines is a genius in engaging his audience and his words flow unblemished. Even if you're not a fan of Italian Renaissance, this book is still an excellent read for its malicious accounts of historical figures in Italy. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a unstoppable perusal!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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