The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $26.00
  • Save: $2.92 (11%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 8 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 3, 2008


See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover, Deckle Edge
"Please retry"
$23.08
$4.33 $0.01
Paperback
"Please retry"

Frequently Bought Together

The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded + The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall
Price for both: $37.88

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385524684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385524681
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #694,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In Florence, on April 26, 1478, Lorenzo de Medici, soon to be dubbed “the Magnificent,” and his brother, Giuliano, were set upon by assassins during Sunday mass. Giuliano died, but Lorenzo survived and became one of the most accomplished of Renaissance figures as a patron of the arts and a skillful leader of the Florentine Republic. The assassination attempt, generally called “the Pazzi conspiracy,” was immediately blamed on a rival Florentine family, the Pazzi. Simonetta, a professor of Italian history and literature, has uncovered another layer of the plot. Aided by a recently decoded letter found in an archive in Urbino, Simonetta indicts Frederico de Montefeltro, the widely admired Duke of Urbino. Montefeltro, often referred to as “the Light of Italy,” was a classics scholar, a humanist, and a supposed friend of the Medici family. He was also a tough, ruthless mercenary quite at home in the cutthroat milieu of fifteenth-century Italian politics. This is a tense, absorbing book that works well as a historical inquiry and a real-life detective story. --Jay Freeman

Review

Reviews and Praise for The Montefeltro Conspiracy
Booklist
– Advanced Review
In Florence, on April 26, 1478, Lorenzo de Medici, soon to be dubbed "the Magnificent," and his brother, Giuliano, were set upon by assassins during Sunday mass. Giuliano died, but Lorenzo survived and became one of the most accomplished of Renaissance figures as a patron of the arts and a skillful leader of the Florentine Republic. The assassination attempt, generally called "the Pazzi conspiracy," was immediately blamed on a rival Florentine family, the Pazzi. Simonetta, a professor of Italian history and literature, has uncovered another layer of the plot. Aided by a recently decoded letter found in an archive in Urbino, Simonetta indicts Frederico de Montefeltro, the widely admired Duke of Urbino. Montefeltro, often referred to as "the Light of Italy," was a classics scholar, a humanist, and a supposed friend of the Medici family. He was also a tough, ruthless mercenary quite at home in the cutthroat milieu of fifteenth-century Italian politics. This is a tense, absorbing book that works well as a historical inquiry and a real-life detective story.
Library Journal
The work by Simonetta (Italian & medieval studies, Wesleyan Univ.) is a bird of another feather, more brightly plumed. In a previously closed archive, he unearthed a ciphered letter from Federigo de Montefeltro, the famed humanist and condotierre duke of Urbino, to Pope Sixtus, written shortly before the Pazzi conspiracy of 1478. Drawing on a contemporary book on ciphers written by his own ancestor, Simonetta broke the letter's code. In a stunning act of historical sleuthing (moving the topic into greater depth and focus than Lauro Martines's April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici), he has unearthed solid evidence linking Montefeltro and the pope directly to the conspirators in a plot to assassinate the Medicis and end their rule of Florence. Simonetta concludes with intriguing speculation on why Botticelli, though a Medici loyalist, accepted a commission from Sixtus to paint the interior walls of the Sistine chapel in Rome, and he speculates on the political significance of Botticelli's most famous paintings, The Birth of Venus and Primavera. Both books are warmly recommended for large public libraries, and academic collections will want Simonetta.
Fredericksburg News
Simonetta's "The Montefeltro Conspiracy" is a concise book, handsomely produced and clearly written, and it will appeal to history buffs, visitors to Italy, students of art, and more adventurous general readers.
Times Literary Supplement
Simonetta inhabits the time and place of his subject and examines the evidence in its original context. The book is beautifully structured [...] Vividly written and impressively researched, The Montefeltro Conspiracy is a real contribution to Italian history.
Washington Post
Marcello Simonetta's "The Montefeltro Conspiracy," while also focusing on the conspiracy against Lorenzo, differs not only in being written by a scholar using original archival sources, but also in its idiosyncratic perspective. Simonetta claims descent from Cicco Simonetta, the duke of Milan's right-hand man, who, following the duke's assassination in 1476, became regent for the duke's child heir. The book's title refers to Federico da Montefeltro, who was among the most prominent of the aristocrats ruling over small domains (in his case in central Italy) but whose real influence derived from their employment as military leaders by more powerful patrons. "The Montefeltro Conspiracy" is the result of the author's discovery in an Italian archive of a coded letter sent by Federico to Sixtus IV, urging the pope to push ahead in the conspiracy against Lorenzo. The author was able to decipher the letter thanks to a guidebook to codemaking written by his ancestor Cicco. This is a fascinating tale of historical detective work, although Simonetta's claim that his work has "radically changed the perception of a turning point in Italian history" is overdrawn. More interesting are his speculations regarding a different kind of battle, over the decoration of the Sistine Chapel. Here, as throughout his short book, Simonetta makes excellent use of reproductions of the art of the time. Sixtus, who commissioned the chapel's construction and for whom it is named, "had it obsessively decorated with the symbol of his family coat of arms." Following his death, Lorenzo persuaded (one might say bribed) the new pope to name Lorenzo's son Giovanni a cardinal, although the boy was only 13. By 38, Giovanni had become Pope Leo X and in turn made his cousin Giulio a cardinal. In 1523, Giulio--whose father had been murdered in the Duomo--became Pope Clement VII. Although Clement endured many crises, including the sack of Rome in 1527, he at least had the satisfaction of replacing Sixtus's designs on the Sistine Chapel's altar wall with Michelangelo's fresco of the Last Judgment, which Simonetta calls "a double-edged way of sending a late pope to hell." Lorenzo finally had his revenge.


Advance Praise for The Montefeltro Conspiracy

“Conspiracies, assassinations, Botticelli frescoes, a coded letter—Marcello Simonetta encapsulates both the glory and the violence of the Italian Renaissance in this remarkable book. He has also made a truly astonishing discovery of the kind that most writers can only dream about. The history of one of the most thrilling episodes in the history of the Renaissance will never be seen in the same way again.”

--Ross King, author of New York Times bestseller Brunelleschi’s Dome

The Montefeltro Conspiracy is narrative history at its best. Simonetta tells a terrific story that illuminates the dark side of the Renaissance. Readers will look at Piero della Francesco’s famous portrait of Federico da Montefeltro with new eyes.”

--Robert Hellenga, author of The Sixteen Pleasures

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Related Media


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
5 star
9
4 star
6
3 star
1
2 star
0
1 star
2
See all 18 customer reviews
This is one of the best historical books I have read.
In Reality
Simonetta's book takes care of the Sforza blank in my knowledge by describing the life and death of Galeazzo Maria Sforza.
Boyd Hone
Simonetta's research is impressive and his book is completely brilliant (and readable!).
lwoodville

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Williams on October 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"The Montefeltro Conspiracy" is an attempt, only partially successful, to turn a scholarly discovery of genuine importance within the field of Renaissance history into a sprawling pop-history book for lay readers. In 2001, the author, Marcello Simonetta, a professor at Wesleyan, discovered an encrypted document in an Italian archive that he was able to decipher with the aid of a fifteenth-century code book written by one of his own ancestors, Cicco Simonetta, an advisor to the powerful Sforza family. The document in question implicated the Duke of Urbino -- Federico da Montefeltro, an important allay of the Papacy -- as a primary mover in the so-called "Pazzi conspiracy," a well-known historical episode in which the Pazzi family of Florence attempted to supplant the Medici as the de facto rulers of that city-state. The Pazzi conspirators arranged for the murder of Guiliano de' Medici but did not succeed in finishing off his brother Lorenzo. With hundreds of troops under Montefeltro's command waiting outside the city to aid the Pazzi conspirators, the coup fizzled, and the main conspirators were executed. Florence remained under Medici rule, and Montefeltro's troops never entered the city proper.

This story is certainly interesting, but Simonetta attempts to turn his discovery into something that it isn't: a document that fundamentally alters the world's understanding of the Pazzi conspiracy. Simonetta is actually at his best when narrating the established rendition of events, which he does with elegance and skill. When he veers off into arguing for the centrality of his own academic work -- which is certainly interesting, but not earth-shattering -- he becomes quite tedious.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Poliphilus on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Those familiar with the Italian Renaissance know the events of April 26, 1478 like they know the fingers on their right hand. It is a well-worn story: we learn in college seminar rooms, through books and on banners unfurled on museum facades that the Medici were early modern Italy's beloved bankers, and primary patrons of the arts. We read that in dramatic and violent fashion, the Pazzi family (with support from Pope Sixtus IV) attempted to murder their banking rivals at high mass in Florence's cathedral - killing Giuliano, and injuring Lorenzo, who escaped with the humanist Angelo Poliziano. We discover that the murder plot's imperfect execution inspired the Medici's vicious retaliation, in the form of the total extermination of the Pazzi surname. This story has become so central in histories of the Renaissance that we feel we can re-tell it with absolute certainty.
Prepare to be shocked. Dr. Simonetta, a noted authority on Early Modern Italy, provides crucial archival evidence and exhaustive research that deeply implicates Federico da Montefeltro (the Duke of Urbino) in the Pazzi assassination plot, a discovery that will stir the pot for years to come. As Simonetta's story unfolds, other well-known Renaissance figures become embroiled in the conspiracy to oust the Florentine despot, which the author illustrates in clear prose, and using the interpretative tools appropriate to his guild (he is an historian at Wesleyan University, although the excitement here rivals that of any good detective whodunit).
Throughout, Simonetta demonstrates to be true the maxim that art is never far from politics.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Lopez on October 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When a beautifully written, highly accesible, and abundantly informative book like 'The Montefeltro Conspiracy' manages to elicit a chorus of pedantic sniping from jealous academics, you know it has to be a truly great piece of work. Marcello Simonetta is the real deal: a rigorous scholar who isn't afraid to reach beyond the narrow confines of academe and address a general audience. He writes thrilling narrative prose such as few historians working today could hope to rival, and his insights into Renaissance history, though provocative and revisionist, are so clearly presented that readers will feel smarter, better informed, and intellectually energized after finishing this treasure of a book. Frankly, after reading 'The Montefeltro Conspiracy,' I was left aching with a wish that I had written it myself.

--Jonathan Lopez, author of 'The Man Who Made Vermeers'
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
25 of 33 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Katz on September 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Marcello Simonetta's 'The Montefeltro Conspiracy' is a vain attempt to create a mountain out of a molehill. The author, a student of Renaissance history and paleography, has discovered an obscure 15th century letter of Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, which he has deciphered and introduced into the historical record. So far so good. One of the most obvious problems with Simonetta's presentation, however, which revolves around this discovery, is that it sheds only marginal light on a situation which has not only long been known, but thoroughly understood. The new letter is indeed an authentic historical document, but the problem is that it does no more than marginally reinforce the widely known facts of the Pazzi Conspiracy, fully understood by contemporaneous Italians of the time (1478) and by everyone else since. The author's main claim to fame, and the main raison d'etre of the book, is that he has definately linked Federigo to the Conspiracy, but Federigo has always been linked to the event. What Simonetta has done is to give Federigo an increased importance in the Conspiracy, having the Urbino ruler replace the pope as the main mover. It is a minor point, at best. Or would be if he had made his point. But nothing he produces does this as an historical fact. He merely documents Federigo's thoughts and involvement, but in no way displaces Pope Sixtus IV's traditional position as the real power behind the event. In his afterword (p.214) the author states his "surprise. . .(that) there were no immediate reactions from scholars" when he published his findings in an Italian historical journal in 2003. Quelle surprise! There is nothing new here! There is no "Montefeltro Conspiracy".Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search