Pazzi Conspiracy

   Conspiracy intended to end Medici political control of Florence by assassinating the brothers Lorenzo and Giu-liano de'Medici and staging a coup d'état that would bring control of the city into the hands of a number of exiled families, led by the Pazzi, a clan of wealthy bankers. Since the Medici brothers were heavily guarded, the conspirators planned the assassination to take place as they attended mass on Easter Sunday, 26 April 1478. Fortu-nately for the intended victims, the professional assassin hired to stab the brothers to death refused to commit such a sacrilegious act in a holy place, so that the attack was carried out by two priests who were probably less proficient at murder. Giuliano was killed, but Lorenzo was only wounded. Part of the plot was to have the archbishop of Pisa, Francesco Salviati, whom Lorenzo had prevented from taking office because of his ties to anti-Medicean factions, seize control of the city by force. The citizens overwhelmed the armed conspirators and lynched several of their leaders on the spot, including the arch-bishop himself, whose body was hung by the neck from a window of the Palazzo.
   Although local political rivalries motivated the Pazzi family, the main cause of the plot was hostility between Lorenzo and Pope Six-tus IV over Florentine foreign policy. The pope had intended to make his favorite nephew, Girolamo Riario, lord of the city of Imola, a semi-independent town lying within the Papal States. The Floren-tines had always opposed the creation of principalities for papal kins-men in territories lying close to their borders, and Lorenzo had re-fused to support the pope's plan financially, a decision that cost the Medici trading company its position as official papal bank. The Pazzi received the banking position and provided the money for the troops needed to seize control of Imola. A conflict over Sixtus' appointment of Salviati deepened the hostility. Archbishop Salviati, the pope's nephew Riario, and the heads of the Pazzi family were the planners of the conspiracy; whether the pope himself was involved in the plot remains a debated question. Because of the lynching of the arch-bishop by the pro-Medici mob, the pope excommunicated Lorenzo and laid Tuscany under an interdict. He then declared war on Flo-rence, gaining military help from the king of Naples. The defeat of the conspiracy left Florence in a dangerous situation, but eventually Lorenzo succeeded in detaching Naples from the alliance and forcing the pope to make peace.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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