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April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  700 Ratings  ·  65 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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 24th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2003)
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Mar 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2000s, history
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
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
Heather Stein
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Mar 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melisende d'Outremer
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"And as he worked to make Florentine public authority the possession of the Medici,his constant claim was that the good of Florence and the good of the Medici family were one and the same. he even came to believe it".
While harsh on the exploits of the Medici as duly acknowledged by the author, this exposition on the Florentine republic and Lorenzo's rise to power is a success. I was looking for an introduction to the fascinating Pazzi conspiracy and this did not disappoint. The social, economic,
Jul 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Donald Luther
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was teaching AP European History, the course started at the Italian Renaissance and, of course, it was necessary to cover Florence and the Medici. The reading I had done made Cosimo much more a favorite, but Lorenzo was critically important to what we were doing. Martines appeared in one of the videos I used, and I was anxious to read his treatment of this early period.

This is the third of Martines' books I've read, and I have to admit that I am constantly impressed. His canvas is broad,
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, favorites
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
Nov 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-italy
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.
M. Shipley
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read if you are into historical texts. I found it all the more interesting since I was reading it in Florence!
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
April Blood centers on the Pazzi conspiracy of April 1478 to kill Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici and free Florence, Italy from a perceived politically tyrannical family. Martines admirably gives the reader a glimpse of what it was like to live in Florence, Italy in the 15th century by delving into how members of the community worked to climb the social ladder and obtain political office, thus opening the doors to better business contacts, higher office and marriage into noble families.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book

This book provides a different interpretation of the April plot to assassinate Lorenzo de Medici and his brother Guiliano. It focuses solely on the political lives and maneuvering of the Medici family and therefore the picture presented is not the usual paean to the family and especially Lorenzo. It portrays Lorenzo, and to a lesser extent Cosimo and Piero, as a tyrant who consistently chips away at the underpinnings of the Republic of Florence. It also portrays the conspirators
Federica Bosio
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La congiura dei Pazzi è un evento cardine nella storia di Firenze e del Rinascimento italiano. Questo libro racconta con precisione storica le cause della congiura e le sue conseguenze portando anche gli esempi di Milano e Roma. Da amante della storia lo consiglio a tutti. La famiglia Pazzi con il suo agire ha cambiato per sempre la storia di Firenze e di Lorenzo de' Medici.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, history
Lauro Martines makes complicated Florentine politics of the renaissance easy to understand.
Sara Howard
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book! I first read this in high school after I read about the Pazzi Conspiracy in school. This book definitely increased my knowledge and whetted my appetite for more.
Emma Iadanza
I really did enjoy this book. It was very analytical and to the point, and quite readable as well. Unlike Marcello Simonetta's approach, of putting together a bunch of before unconnected details, this book gathers all the known information and presents it in a neat little package. I love learning the little fun things about history, such as Lorenzo telling the Duke of Milan "I am your thing" and also him and Giuliano going to read poetry to someone when they were 10 and 5, respectively. In any c ...more
Coleen--Marie Hanson
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

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
KV Taylor
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Marty Manjak
Apr 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Rafael Cejas
I wanted to read this book for years, until a good friend of mine finally found it in a library and shared it with me.

I was willing to know more about the Médici family and about the Pazzi attempt to assassinate Lorenzo and Giuliano, but to my surprise the whole conspiracy issue is just a minor part of the book: it relies too much on the description of the political structures of Florence and on the finantial and business affairs of both families.

Another aspect that I didn't like about the book
Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Beatrice Cattaneo
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Martines è uno storico e un autore molto apprezzabile, principalmente perchè è capace di rendere un argomento molto specifico, come può essere in questo caso la congiura dei Pazzi, fruibile a molti. Ha uno stile scorrevole, comprensibile, non lascia nulla al caso e non da nulla per scontato. Il libro è pieno di note, per chi avesse qualche lacuna o volesse approfondire determinati concetti. Interessante, oltretutto, è il suo modo di porsi nei confronti dell'argomento, senza dare valutazioni sogg ...more
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
Even though parts of this book were difficult to read, it was still interesting. I liked how the author went into depth about the Pazzi Plot and what happened to the family afterwards. He didn't show Lorenzo il Magnifico as this caring, loving grandfather of Florence. That man was as brutal as any one else and did what he had to do for power. True, he was a patron to the arts, but he made sure Florence was his alone. It was a real Game of Thrones in the Renaissance.

This is a great book if you ar
Chesapeake Bae
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
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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, noveli ...more
More about Lauro Martines...

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