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Cover

April Blood

Florence and the Plot against the Medici

Lauro Martines

Publication Date - December 2004

ISBN: 9780195176094

320 pages
Paperback
5-1/16 x 8-1/8 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $19.99

A new portrait of Renaissance Italy and the plot to murder its most remarkable political personality, Lorenzo the Magnificent

Description

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.

Features

  • A new portrait of Renaissance Italy and the plot to murder its most remarkable political personality, Lorenzo the Magnificent
  • 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.

About the Author(s)

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.

Reviews

"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)

"In April Blood, one can follow the Renaissance plot to murder Lorenzo de Medici...like one of those works of true-crime reporting that frequently make the best-seller list....This is 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, in which her fictional detective reopens the case of Richard III's involvement in the murder of the princes in the Tower."--Washington Post

"Elegant and insightful."--Library Journal

"A finely researched picture of Florentine life dominated by politics and business rather than by the arts. For tourist and scholar alike, it renders that city, at once so radiant and so grim, in a larger whole."--Colin Walters, Washington Times

"His debunking of the overly sunny, refulgently cultured 'Florence of the Renaissance' is long overdue. This portrait of Renaissance Florence is a good deal darker and more menacing than most; but, with its shadows and chiaroscuro, it is a picture that seems convincingly real."--John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph

"Elegant and incisive....Posing the classic 'what if?' question, Martines concludes that the longer term interests of Florentine republicanism might have been better served if the charismatic Lorenzo had indeed been killed on that April morning."--The Sunday Times

"Lauro Martines expertly places the sensational plot to murder Lorenzo de' Medici in its wider social and political contexts, untangling the motives and intrigues of numerous unsavoury personalities. A fascinatingly gruesome portrait of an age when politics was more apt to be conducted with daggers and poisons than by courtiers and diplomats."--Ross King, author of the New York Times bestseller, Brunelleschi's Dome

"A vivid, dramatic account of conspiracy and murder in 15th-century Florence....Martines tells the story with a breathless enthusiasm that is infectious. He has walked the Florentine streets and buildings many times, conveying the agreeable impression of a personal tour....History as it should be: informative but also lively, thrilling, and hugely entertaining."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Historical fashions change as arbitrarily as any other, so it is pleasing to see that some old favorites have been revisited. Lauro Martines returns to the Pazzi conspiracy in Florence in April Blood, a book which may pull off the trick of combining classic storytelling with impeccable scholarship."--Observer

"The story of the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici is one of the most thrilling in the history of the Italian Renaissance. Lauro Martines has come up with a wealth of new material and has produced a rivetting book."--John Julius Norwich, author of A History of Venice and Byzantium

"In retelling the story of the Pazzi conspiracy, Lauro Martines has gone back to that Florentine world he first explored a half-century ago. He has written the most comprehensive account to date of that blood-drenched affair, describing the motivations of the conspirators, the role of contingency in the botched implementation of the plot, and the ferocity of the Mediceans in their reprisals against the Pazzi and their allies. He uses the conspiracy to identify characteristic features of the political, social, and cultural environment of late Quattrocento Italy, most notably, the networks that linked together Italian elites. His vivid account underscores a point made long ago by Jacob Burckhardt: for the upper echelons of Italian society, their patria was a very dangerous place."--Gene Brucker, Professor Emeritus, University of California Berkeley, author of Renaissance Florence and Florence: The Golden Age