Florence, Italy: MURDER in the Duomo!
Giuliano de' Medici
If you love Florence and the Renaissance...
Modern Day Florence and the Duomo
Lorenzo de' Medici
Easter 2016 marks the 538th anniversary of a brutal murder that took place within the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral.
April 26, 1478: Try to picture yourself as a Florentine attending Easter Mass on bright Sunday morning. The cathedral is packed with worshipers and the moment has arrived for the holy act of transubstantiation. People bow their heads in respect just as the priest raises the wine-filled chalice towards heaven.
In that precise moment, Giuliano de’ Medici is viciously attacked by two assassins. Using razor-sharp daggers, they repeatedly stab the 25 year old man with such ferocity that poor Giuliano is dead even before he collapses onto the floor in pool of his own blood.
Lorenzo manages to escape the deadly blade of an assassin's knife with little more than a scratch to the neck, and flees into the south sacristy where his guards smuggle him home.
Imagine the confusion in the streets as the good citizens of Florence gather around the Palazzo Medici on Via Larga. They know Giuliano is dead, but what about his older brother, Lorenzo? Who will rule the city?
When Lorenzo finally appears in a window, someone in the street shouts, “There he is!” and a sigh of relief echoes through the crowd. Florence’s most beloved son is alive! As if on cue, the people chant, “Palle! Palle! Palle!” in reference to the familiar balls on the Medici coat of arms.
What happens next is right out of a mafia movie. When Lorenzo learns that Jacopo dei Pazzi, the patriarch of a rival family, conspired with the pope and Archbishop Salviati of Pisa to overthrow the Medici rulers, he executes a brilliant vendetta.
Lorenzo and his men storm the Signoria, taking the usurpers by surprise. Those who conspired with the Pazzi family were put to death in a most gruesome manner: defenestration (from the highest windows).
The loyalty of the Florentines is nothing short of impressive as they aid Lorenzo in bringing the conspirators to justice. Some tried to flee, but they were apprehended and dragged back to Florence to face severe punishment.
The corpses of the main perpetrators were strung up and publicly displayed outside the Signoria for several days. Their bloated, rotting bodies served as a clear warning to anyone who dared lift a hand against the Medici.
About eighty people died as a direct result of what later came to be known as the infamous Pazzi Conspiracy. The incident and its consequences had a profound effect on Lorenzo. Historical accounts tell us that he became withdrawn, serious, and overly suspicious. It was as if a shadow had fallen over Florence. The series of remarkable events that happen afterward earns him the title of "il Magnifico."
In my historical fiction novel, SABINA, the entire story of the Pazzi Conspiracy (and its consequences) unfolds in a manner that entertains and educates readers. Available on Amazon.com- or if you're in Italy: www.cealiberti.it. As always, thank you for reading.
C. De Melo
Author & Artist
Map of Renaissance Florence
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