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April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici Paperback – December 16, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One April Sunday in 1478, assassins-with the support of a member of the Pazzi, one of Florence's leading families-killed a member of the ruling family of Florence, Giuliano de Medici, and wounded his brother, Lorenzo. In the hands of Martines, a professor emeritus of European history at UCLA, the rebellion and Lorenzo's ensuing crackdown becomes a prism through which to view Renaissance Florence. He details the many people involved, from bankers to the king of Naples and even Pope Sixtus. Long seen as a "Renaissance man," Lorenzo was a poet and a patron of the arts. But Martines turns the story on its head. He sees the plot as a reaction to the corruption in Medici rule and the crackdown-which included hangings and prohibitions against marrying female members of the Pazzi family-as overly harsh: "[I]t required war or a successful act of terrorism to overthrow Lorenzo, his cronies, and his creatures." While the crackdown temporarily saved the Medici rule, Martines argues that Lorenzo's ruthlessness eventually turned much of Florence against his family and foretold the end of Medici rule in the city. During the past few decades, historians have increasingly placed social, cultural and women's history at the center of European history. But not here. Drawing upon a lifetime of scholarship, Martines has created a book that places governmental politics at Renaissance Florence's center. And along the way, he has written a book as lively as its subject.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"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

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019517609X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195176094
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.9 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was astonished to see that somebody gave this book such a low review; I'm a professional historian and can firmly say this is the best history book I've read this year. In this work, Martines has performed a very important service: he has to some extent "debunked" the myth of the Medici as sweet, kind, gentle art patrons who rule by love over their equals. By focussing on the Pazzi conspiracy to murder the two leading Medici in 1478, Martines has addressed head-on the question of why so many people wanted to murder them, and how Lorenzo consolidated his position in the wake of the assassination plot. It's a dark, bloody, and very convincing Renaissance that Martines portrays, interweaving the Medici family with the Florentine and Italian political world of the time. The book is brilliantly written; after reading a library copy, I went and bought my own because I know I'll be visiting it again and again.
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Format: Hardcover
This book tells the story of the 1478 plot to assassinate the Medici brothers in Renaissance Florence in what was essentially a failed coup d'etat. After the first chapter summarizes the key facts, the balance of the book is spent providing the context surrounding the event. In so doing, the author describes the politics of Florence, its economy, and its place in Italy and southern Europe. He details how the wealthiest families interacted, formed alliances through marriage and competed for power. He describes the conspirators in Florence, as well as in the surrounding city-states and the highest levels of the Catholic Church. While this should make a fascinating story, this book fails to tell it. So many extraneous and incidental facts and characters are detailed after the best parts of the story have already been revealed that I had difficulty sustaining interest and labored to finish the book.

The Renaissance in Florence was the pinnacle of one of the great cities of the World. Lorenzo di Medici was the central figure of the time. He employed Leonardo di Vinci, he adopted Michelangelo, his son and nephew became pope, and his family ruled in and around Tuscany for over two hundred years. If you are looking for this incredible story, look elsewhere--you will not find it in April Blood.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the story about the Pazzi Conspiracy against the Medici dictatorship in renaissance Florence. The story is riveting, full of facts, and, on the whole, well told. The author gives a brief history of the families involved and of the florentine political system to give us a background to the conspiracy. The assault in the cathedral and the following bloodbath is told in clear and vivid detail. So far the book is great, just great. Then it is as if the author ran out of time! The Pazzi War and what happened to the Pazzi family members that did not die is described in an almost perfunctory way. The lives of Lorenzo's sons, daughters, and other surviving relatives are dealt with in just a few lines. Maybe the author expects the reader to get that information in more general histories of the Italian Rennaisance.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book immensely. It's interesting to read a detailed account of a specific historical incident, and have it put in greater perspective.

However, the book did tend to drag at times, in particular with the complex accounting of who was being awarded what by whom for what political purpose, etc. The account of the attempted assassination of the of two Medici brothers - successful in the case of the younger brother Giuliano - was detailed enough without going into further specific two or three times removed from the events.

All in all, though a very interesting read.
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Format: Paperback
I had read a little about Lorenzo and a lot about the Medici, so it was nice to come upon a book that focuses on the Medici and how Lorenzo the Magnificent ruled. Martines has done a superb job in portraying the facts behind the Pazzi Conspiracy.

It starts off a little slow, leaving the reader to wonder when the author would ever get to the actual conspiracy, but when he does everything comes together. By the time the book ends you are left with both sympathy and hatred for both the Pazzi and the Medici. Sympathy because of the savage way they were attacked, following up with the nod of approval of the reprisals Lorenzo took (although they were a bit extreme). And hatred for the tyranny that Lorenzo and his house brought down upon the republic of Florence. The same for the Pazzi, for they were suppressed, and thus sympathy was on their side, but the savage destruction they wrought upon their own family and others in order to satisfy their lust for power leaves a distaste in their wake.

There is some "filler", it would seem at a quick glance, but when delved in deeper it is evident that these "filler" chapters do in fact help our understanding of why and how the Pazzi Conspiracy happened. The profile chapters, although they don't touch upon the conspiracy directly, add weight to the notion and feeling that went behind the affronted patricians of Florentine society. The political chapters added substance and understanding to the why and how of the reasons behind the conspiracy. So the "filler" chapters do in fact add a lot to the telling of this dramatic time in history.

All sides were represented, which makes this a very well rounded history book.
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