April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici
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April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  384 ratings  ·  44 reviews
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 c...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 16th 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,103)
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El
I finished April Blood a couple hours ago. I was all prepared to write the review but realized the bigger-than-my-head daiquiri I had with dinner hadn't worn off yet and I wasn't prepared to write one of those intoxicated reviews. So I watched Lifetime movies instead. And a Queen concert on one of those VH1 channels. (Queen is cool.)

Actually I was waiting on the proper review because I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars and I thought the only fair thing I could do is wait until morning to see if...more
Heather Stein
Martines’ April Blood uses the Pazzi conspiracy as a nexus from which to analyse the volatile political and economic situation in late Quattrocento Florence. Beginning with the consolidation of power by Cosimo de’ Medici, this monograph examines rising discontent among the political elite in Florence as well as conflict among other Italian polities to shed light on the motives for and consequences of the April 21, 1478 assassination attempts. After the Pazzi revolt, overt opposition to the Medic...more
Michael
So, this is book number 2 in my epic quest to learn as much as possible about life in the fifteenth century. (I'm broadening my goals: Italy won't be the only place I research.) If you have any recommendations, please shoot them my way.

"April Blood" is the story about the political climate, and the political fallout, surrounding the attempted double murder of Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici that happened on Easter Sunday, 1478. The subject is fascinating because Lorenzo was essentially pulling...more
Laura
Mar 23, 2007 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
Shelves: history
It's rare to find a history book which is accepted by academia and interesting to the general public, but this is one of them. Martines is a well-respected authority on the Medici, so there's really no way that professors could turn their noses up at this book just because - gasp - it reads well and is exciting (although a few did). It is interesting to read his introduction, where he apologizes profusely for having written something so entertaining. I am in a weird profession. At any rate, this...more
Katie
I really appreciate Lauro Martines, because he is one of the few academic historians out there who genuinely seems to care about making history interesting, exciting, and accessible. This should be done more often because history is not boring, despite desperate attempts from many to make it so. And so while I would normally make fun of a book a little bit for calling itself something like APRIL BLOOD, I won't this time because hey! if it gets someone to pick up the book who normally wouldn't, a...more
Chandi
Martines perhaps wanted to simply have fun with this book, after having already established himself as a serious scholar. April Blood lacks the rigor of his earlier works. However, the non-scholar will find it laborious to wade through the chapter on the Pazzi’s business practices and tiresome lists of their tax accounts. Additionally, while serious scholars tend to enjoy long letters from archives describing a bashful girl’s breeding and potential as a marriage partner, such as are found in the...more
Chris
This book details the plot to kill the Medici that resulted in the death of one intended target. Martines does a good job of giving background to the story and providing the reader with nice character sketches. At times the prose is a little dry, but, hey that happens.

What I found interesting was the role of women in the history, they lack power but have power.
Diane
In April 1478, assassins attacked Lorenzo the Magnificent and his younger brother Giuliano. Amazingly, the attack took place in the great cathedral of Florence. Giuliano died, but Lorenzo survived - which proved fateful for the conspirators. The conspiracy was led by one of Florence's leading families, the Pazzi, but also included powerful non-Florentines like the Duke of Urbino, the King of Naples, and even the pope, Sixtus IV. The actual attack on Lorenzo and the murder of his beloved younger...more
Alec Shipley
Excellent read if you are into historical texts. I found it all the more interesting since I was reading it in Florence!
Coleen--Marie Hanson


A close friend of mine wrote his dissertation on the Pazzi Conspiracy and, as I was writing my own dissertation on posthumous jurisprudence, we often exchanged ideas, research and resources. I was very impressed by the chapter on the fate of the Pazzi family, their so-called co-conspirators and Martines' grasp of Roman law as employed by the Medici clan. Martines' choice of employing "April Blood" as a title rather than the more standard Pazzi Conspiracy is an intriguing one, chosen to demonstr...more
Shari
Martines holds back nothing when discussing the violence of Lorenzo's reprisals after the Pazzi Conspiracy. He gives an excellent explanation of the financial strength of both the Pazzi's and the Medici's prior to the conspiracy, and there is a fine picture drawn of Pope Sixtus IV, a man no better than the rest. I found the bib notes immensely helpful.

While Lorenzo is never shortchanged when being lauded for political astuteness and an uncanny understanding of what it takes to get something acco...more
Marty Manjak
Apr 29, 2007 Marty Manjak rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Criminal Justice students, historians, renaissance buffs
Shelves: history
This is the dramatic story of an assassination attempt on Lorenzo and Giuliano De'Medici which was carried out in the great cathedral of Florence in April, 1478.

The conspiracy to kill the two brothers, one of which died in the attack, united a rival Florentine banking family, the Pazzi, with the desire of Pope Sixtus IV to rid Florence of the Medici.

The author, Martines, does an expert job of providing the reader with the social, economic, and political background of the plot. What's more, he s...more
KV Taylor
Martines's thesis is that the Pazzi Conspiracy was a turning point, or perhaps the point of no return, for the Medici. The do-or-die moment, handled brilliantly by a young Lorenzo the Magnificent, though perhaps not in Florence's best interest, depending on your views on renaissance republics and princely states. I thought this point well made, and it'd be hard not to grab my attention with such fascinating historical subject matter. A great read, and not just because I'm on vacation in the city...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
May 17, 2008 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in Renaissance history or in fiction set during this period
The politics of the 15th century Italian states was complex, confusing and in a state of constant flux. Trade, envy, dynastic alliances and associated power all had a part to play. Against this backdrop, a plot to murder the Medici brothers was hatched. In attempting to make the complex machinations less confusing, Professor Martines has included a wealth of detail about the setting, the times, and the key players.

In summary, on 26 April 1478 in the cathedral of Florence, a plan to assassinate L...more
Brian
I made the mistake of reading this toward the end of my trip to Italy – after I’d been through the Duomo (where the Pazzis nearly assassinated Lorenzo de Medici), after I’d stared up at the Palazzo Vecchio (where the conspirators’ bodies were left to hang). I’d recommend reading up on the whole episode before you get to the city. Just note this book, April Blood, might be too dense. All the amazing research ends up muting an incredibly exciting chapter in history. In any case, the author exposes...more
Melisende d'Outremer
This book focuses on the plot by the Pazzi family of Florence to remove the Medici - namely Lorenzo and his brother Guiliano - from power in 1478. It is not light reading.

The author delves deeply into the psychi of medieval Florentine politics - which differs greatly from the politics of today - and into the social and political structure of this city and its ruling families. Customs - social, political and judicial - and the banking industry of medieval Italy are all seriously explored. The pl...more
coffeealias
An academic read, though casual enough to entertain. The assassination attempt on Lorenzo de Medici and his brither Giuliano in April 1478 is simply a vehicle for explaining the rise of the Medici powerbase in 14th-15th century Florence. It's notable that the murder is explained in chapter 7, precisely midway through this narrative. The last half of the book explains the subsequent fall of the powerful conspirators' families and even that of the Medici themselves. No reader can complete this boo...more
Aaron
May 15, 2007 Aaron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Renassaince buffs.
April Blood is a very well done history of the Plot against Lorenzo De Medici, quite possibly one of the most powerful men of his day. The way that it illuminates how the byzantine politics of Florence in the 15th Century is fascinating. Just the scope of the plot is amazing. It's as if The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Archbishop of Canterbury and one of the richer moguls of the UK got together and decided that they wanted to off Tony Blair. That's about the same level of political power the...more
Larry
Renaissance Italy was a chancy place, even for rulers. ("Horror waits on princes," Webster wrote.) The Medicis, bankers-turned-rulers, a reflection of the general trend in late Medieval/early modern Italian politics, were challenged by a rival banking family, the Pazzis. The Pazzis were in league with the pope in an attempt to assassinate the heads of the Medici family. They succeeded in killing one of the Medici brothers, at mass, but failed to kill thwe other, unleashing a spectacular and comp...more
Sabrina
Excellent! On my To Read Again list.
Laura
A clear, readable explanation of the plot to murder the Medici. However, the book suffers from poor editing, resulting in repetition of information at various places, and the chapter about the April plot itself seems like it was written before the rest of the book and then just slotted into the middle. There are also some uses of exclamation marks at the end of some sentences, lowering the tone somewhat for a serious non-fiction book. If the editing had been better, then I would have awarded it...more
Jim Berkin
A very interesting exploration of the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medicis back in good ol' Renaissance Italy, which nicely connects the murderous intrigue of Suetonious' stories of Rome with the modern day work of Coppola & Scorcese. I love Italy - the food, the wine, the art, the most beautiful women I've ever seen anywhere & of course, the history, laden with endless inter and intra family violence. I read this before a trip to Rome & Florence and it really got me in the mood.
Tony
I quit on this book after 65 pages. I expected a fast flowing story about a conspiracy, it's failure and the Medici's revenge. Instead, this book is an incredibly detailed portrait of the upper stratum of renaissance Florentine society. The portion I read included, among other things, detailed information on marriage customs and the organization of Florence's government. By the time, I got to (literally) detailed tax returns of the conspirators, I had had enough.
Katia
I did the unthinkable. I read half and skimmed the rest. This is how low I have sunk. The book was too much a historian's account. Too many direct quotes of elaborately worded Renaissance letters later, all I remember is the gruesome accounts of revenge Renaissance-style, which involved heads on spikes, dismemberment, berserker crowds, and bodies hanging out courthouse windows.
Ari
The topic is a good one: The Pazzi conspiracy, a failed attempt to overthrow the Medici in Florence in the late 15th century. Unfortunately, the book is mostly background on Florentine history and society. It feels padded, and much of it plods. Machiavelli is probably a better source, and he discusses the conspiracy at length in both the Florentine Histories and the Discourses.
Amy
I read this for a Renaissance history class and ended up writing a paper that argued Lorenzo de Medici engineered the assassination of his own brother. All of the bits of evidence are there, though trying to find the smoking gun academically would be nearly impossible. This is a fascinating read by a terrific Renaissance scholar very knowledgeable in his subject.
Alex
Jul 25, 2010 Alex rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alex by: axmilr@yahoo.com
This book was too heavy for me. Not enough of a storyline, too much a dry history. It does seem like an interesting story but without some character development I can't finish it. It is interesting to read about the arranged marriages that society used at that time to forge alliances. So if you are a Italian history student, this may be the book for you.
Richard
The plot to assassinate the Medici in Florence in 1478. The Pazzi murdered his from Giuliano but failed to get Lorenzo the Magnificent. The Pazzi War followed, and the plotters were killed or exiled. Brutal stuff, and lots of political and diplomatic intrigue.
Starliam
Anche in questo caso, una lettura molto interessante, che analizza le possibili cause che hanno portato alla Congiura dei Pazzi. Contrariamente a quello che si può pensare, la lettura è molto scorrevole e vi si possono trovare dei dati interessanti.
Ken
A well written book about the machinations of the Medici & Pazzi families. Quite relevant in a strange way with the present banking crisis.
I actually had some sympathy for the Popes including the good and the bad who had to survive through all this
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From Oxford Press:

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 w...more
More about Lauro Martines...
Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for Renaissance Florence Furies: War in Europe 1450-1700 Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy Loredana: A Venetian Tale Lawyers and Statecraft in Renaissance Florence

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