Showing posts with label Pazzi Conspiracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pazzi Conspiracy. Show all posts

28 January 2023

Francesco de’ Pazzi - banker

Medici rival at heart of Pazzi Conspiracy

The moment at which Giuliano de' Medici is killed, imagined by 19th century painter Stefano Ussi.
The moment at which Giuliano de' Medici is killed,
imagined by 19th century painter Stefano Ussi
The banker Francesco de’ Pazzi, a central figure in the Pazzi Conspiracy that sought to overthrow the Medici family as the rulers of Florence, was born on this day in 1444.

De’ Pazzi killed Giuliano de’ Medici, stabbing him to death during mass at the Florence Duomo as the conspirators attempted to seize control.

But Giuliano’s brother, Lorenzo the Magnificent, with whom he was joint ruler, escaped with only minor wounds.

Simultaneously, other conspirators rode into the Piazza della Signoria declaring themselves the liberators of the city. But the people of Florence were loyal to the Medicis and attacked them.

Within hours, despite Lorenzo appealing for calm, an angry mob determined to exact revenge had hunted down and killed more than 30 conspirators or suspected conspirators, including Francesco.

One of nine children born to Antonio de’ Pazzi and Nicolosa, daughter of Alessandro degli Alessandri, Francesco was an important figure in the Pazzi banking business, having been appointed papal treasurer.

Sandro Botticelli's portrait of the ill-fated Giuliano de' Medici
Sandro Botticelli's portrait of the
ill-fated Giuliano de' Medici

This in itself made for a tense relationship between the Medici and the Pazzi, even though they were actually related thanks to the marriage of Guglielmo de' Pazzi and Bianca de' Medici, Lorenzo’s elder sister.

The administration of the papal finances was a coveted prize for any banking family and Pope Sixtus IV’s decision to take responsibility away from the Medici Bank in favour of the Pazzi antagonised Lorenzo in particular.

Sixtus IV, from a poor bacground originally, was determined to enrich both his own Della Rovere family and their cousins, the Riario family. He had designs on the rich Florentine territories for the benefit of his nephews, including the nobleman Girolamo Riario, and also to finance the expensive works undertaken by him in Rome.

The rift between Rome and the Medicis occurred when Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the Duke of Milan, changed his mind about selling the town of Imola, which occupied a strategic position on the trade route between Florence and Venice, to Lorenzo de’ Medici in favour of a deal with Sixtus IV, provided that Sixtus agreed to the marriage of his daughter, Caterina Sforza, to Girolamo Riario.

Lorenzo, as Sforza’s banker, refused to finance the deal, not wishing to see an extension of the papal states, at which Sixtus turned to the Pazzis and handed the contract for the papal treasury to them.

There were suspicions that the Pazzi Conspiracy was actually conceived in Rome but the Pazzi had reasons of their own to turn against the Medici, not least the decision of Lorenzo to introduce a law that prevented a considerable sum of money flowing into the Pazzi coffers with the death of Giovanni Borromei, the very wealthy father in law of Giovanni de’ Pazzi, another of Francesco’s brothers.

Da Vinci's drawing of Bandini's hanging
Da Vinci's drawing of
Bandini's hanging
Borromei’s fortune should have passed to Beatrice Borromei, Giovanni de’ Pazzi’s wife. But Lorenzo changed the law so that daughters could not inherit in the absence of any brothers, and that in those circumstances any legacy would pass instead to male cousins.

A further source of friction between Lorenzo and the Pazzi was his appointment of Lorenzo's brother-in-law Rinaldo Orsini as Archbishop of Florence in succession to the late Pietro Riario in 1474. The candidates overlooked included Francesco Salviati, a relative of the Pazzi family and friend of Francesco.

Whatever its origins, it is generally accepted that the chief conspirators in the Pazzi Conspiracy were Girolamo Riario, Francesco de' Pazzi and Francesco Salviati, the trio who attacked Lorenzo and Giuliano in the Florence duomo, the magnificent Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, on the morning of April 26, 1478.

Giuliano was assassinated by Francesco de' Pazzi together with Bernardo Bandini di Baroncelli, suffering a sword wound to the head as well as being stabbed 19 times.  Lorenzo was attacked by two of Jacopo Pazzi's men, but managed to escape.

Salviati then took a number of Jacopo Pazzi's men to the Piazza della Signoria hoping to be received by the Florentine populace as liberators. Instead, they were attacked. Along with Francesco de' Pazzi and several others, Salviati was hanged from the windows of the Palazzo Vecchio.

More than 30 suspected conspirators were caught and killed within hours of the attack and over the course of the next eight months some 50 more were captured and executed, including Bandini dei Baroncelli, who had escaped to Constantinople but was arrested and returned, to be hanged from a window of the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo while still dressed in Turkish clothing. 

Jacopo de' Pazzi, head of the family, escaped from Florence but was caught and brought back to be tortured and then hanged from the Palazzo della Signoria next to the decomposing corpse of Salviati. 

All other members of the Pazzi family were banished from Florence, and their lands and property confiscated. The family name was erased from public registers, while all buildings and streets carrying it were renamed. Anyone named Pazzi had to take a new name; anyone married to a Pazzi was barred from public office.

The Palazzo Vecchio guards  over Piazza della Signoria
The Palazzo Vecchio guards 
over Piazza della Signoria
Travel tip:

The Piazza della Signoria has been the focal point of the city of Florence since the 14th century. Overlooked by the imposing Palazzo Vecchio, it was the scene of the triumphant return of the Medici family in 1530, three and a half decades after they had been driven from the city by the supporters of the fanatical priest, Girolamo Savonarola. The controversial cleric's famous bonfires of the vanities were built in the middle of the square.  The piazza della Signoria contains several important sculptures and statues, including a copy of Michelangelo's David - the original is in the Galleria dell'Accademia - Baccio Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus, Bartolomeo Ammannati’s Fontana del Nettuno and Benvenuto Cellini’s statue of Perseo holding Medusa's head.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the  dominant feature of the Florence skyline
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the 
dominant feature of the Florence skyline
Travel tip:

The Florence duomo - the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore - with its enormous dome by Filippo Brunelleschi and campanile by Giotto, is one of Italy's most recognisable and most photographed sights, towering above the city and the dominant feature of almost every cityscape. From groundbreaking to consecration, the project took 140 years to complete and involved a series of architects. Arnolfo di Cambio, who also designed the church of Santa Croce and the Palazzo Vecchio, was the original architect.  When he died in 1410, 14 years after the first stone was laid, he was succeeded by Giotto, who himself died in 1337, after which his assistant Andrea Pisano took up the project.  Pisano died in 1348, as the Black Death swept Europe, and a succession of architects followed, culminating in Brunelleschi, who won a competition to build the dome, which remains the largest brick-built dome ever constructed.

Also on this day:

1453: The birth of Renaissance beauty Simonetta Vespucci

1608: The birth of physiologist and physicist Giovanni Alfonso Borelli

1813: The birth of scientist Paolo Gorini

1969: The birth of world champion swimmer Giorgio Lamberti

1978: The birth of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon


8 April 2018

Lorenzo the Magnificent - Renaissance ruler

Patron of the arts who sponsored Michelangelo and Botticelli

A portrait of Lorenzo the Magnificent by the Florentine artist Agnolo Bronzino
A portrait of Lorenzo the Magnificent by the
Florentine artist Agnolo Bronzino
Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence usually known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, died on this day in 1492 in the Medici villa at Careggi, just to the north of the city.

He was only 43 and is thought to have developed gangrene as a result of an inherited genetic condition.  He had survived an assassination attempt 14 years earlier in what became known as the Pazzi Conspiracy, in which his brother, Giuliano, was killed.

The grandson of Cosimo de’ Medici, Lorenzo was a strict ruler but history has judged him as a benevolent despot, whose reign coincided with a period of stability and peace in relations between the Italian states.

He helped maintain the Peace of Lodi, a treaty agreed in 1454 between Milan, Naples and Florence which was signed by his grandfather.

However, he is most remembered as an enthusiastic patron of Renaissance culture, providing support for poets, scholars and artists, notably Michelangelo and Botticelli.

He contributed more than anyone to the flowering of Florentine genius during the second half of the 15th century. Respected himself for his poetry, he held lavish parties for his artistic friends at the Careggi villa and was the protector of artists such as Giuliano da Sangallo, Botticelli, Andrea del Verrocchio, and Verrocchio’s pupil Leonardo da Vinci.

A young Lorenzo as he appeared in Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi
A young Lorenzo as he appeared in
Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi
Lorenzo opened a school of sculpture, at which he noticed the great talent of a 15-year-old pupil called Michelangelo Buonarroti, whom he took under his wing and brought up like a son.

Sandro Botticelli repaid his patronage by using Medici family members as models in some of his most famous religious paintings. In his Madonna of the Magnificat, for example, one of the figures is Lorenzo, while the Madonna is his mother, Lucrezia Tornabuoni. Lorenzo also appears in Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi, while Mars in his Mars and Venus is Lorenzo’s brother, Giuliano.

In addition to his patronage of artists, Lorenzo also expanded the collection of books begun by Cosimo, which became the Medici Library. He retrieved large numbers of classical works from the East, which he had copied and shared with other countries across Europe. He also supported philosophers such as Marsilio Ficino, Poliziano and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.

Although the assets of the Medici bank were diminished during Lorenzo’s rule, partly through the family focussing more on power than the actual source of their power, i.e. money, they were still not short of jealous rivals and the Pazzi family fell into this category.

With the support of Pope Sixtus IV, Francesco Pazzi conspired with Girolamo Riario, the Lord of Imola, and Francesco Salviati, the archbishop of Pisa, to attack Lorenzo and Giuliano, who were joint rulers of Florence at the time, during High Mass at the Duomo.

The goal was to kill both and seize power, but while Giuliano was being stabbed to death Lorenzo escaped into the sacristy, where he hid from the assassins. The coup d’état therefore failed and it is estimated that around 80 people, either conspirators or their associates, were captured and executed in the months that followed.

Controversially, it was Lorenzo de’ Medici, taking advice from his friend, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who was responsible for the return to Florence of the firebrand priest Girolamo Savonarola, who had left his position at the Convent of San Marco some years earlier after proposing sweeping reforms to the Catholic Church.  Savonarola’s preaching, in which he railed against despotic rulers and the exploitation of the poor, and persuaded people that works of art and literature were sinful and should be destroyed, would eventually provoke the overthrowing of the Medici family.

The Palazzo Pitti was acquired by the Medici family from the Florentine banker Luca Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti was acquired by the Medici family
from the Florentine banker Luca Pitti
Travel tip:

Florence has a wealth of preserved antiquity, but one of the finest examples of true Renaissance architecture is the Palazzo Pitti - the Pitti Palace - which was originally commissioned in 1458 as a house for the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, a friend and supporter of Cosimo de’ Medici. Designed by Luca Fancelli, a pupil of Filippo Brunelleschi, it is characterised by a strong, symmetrical structure, wide arches and rusticated stone pillars and walls. It was later sold to Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I de Medici (not to be confused with Cosimo de’ Medici, who came from a different branch of the family) , and remained in the Medici family for centuries. Today it houses the biggest museum in Florence and a number of art galleries, and looks out across the Boboli Gardens, created on land Eleonora bought from the wealthy Boboli family.

The Villa Careggi, where Lorenzo died in 1492
The Villa Careggi, where Lorenzo died in 1492
Travel tip:

In common with his grandfather, Cosimo, Lorenzo died at the Villa Careggi, originally a working farm acquired in 1417 by Cosimo’s father to make his family self-sufficient. Cosimo employed the architect Michelozzo to remodel it around a central courtyard overlooked by loggias. Lorenzo extended the terraced garden and the shaded woodland area. Careggi, which is not far from Florence’s airport, is nowadays a suburb of the city, about 8km (5 miles) northwest of the centre.

More reading:

Cosimo de' Medici - founder of the Medici banking dynasty

Girolamo Riario - the papal military leader murdered after failed Pazzi plot

The rival in the court of Lorenzo who broke Michelangelo's nose

Also on this day:

1848: The death of the composer Gaetano Donizetti

1868: The birth of equestrian pioneer Federico Caprilli, who revolutionised jumping technique


3 May 2017

Raffaele Riario – Cardinal

Patron of arts linked with murder conspiracies

Raffaele Riario captured in Raphael's 1512 painting of Mass at Bolsena
Raffaele Riario captured in Raphael's 1512
painting of Mass at Bolsena
Renaissance Cardinal Raffaele Riario was born Raffaele Sansoni Galeoti Riario on this day in 1461 in Savona.

A patron of the arts, he is remembered for inviting Michelangelo to Rome and commissioning Palazzo della Cancelleria to be built. He was also embroiled in murder conspiracies which nearly cost him his life.

Although Riario was born in poverty, his mother was a niece of Francesco della Rovere, who became Pope Sixtus IV in 1471.

As a relative of the Pope he was created a Cardinal in 1477 and was named administrator of several dioceses, which gave him a good income at the age of 16, while he was studying canon law at the University of Pisa.

On his way to Rome in 1478, Riario stopped off in Florence, where he became a witness to the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici. The Pazzi family wanted to replace the Medici as rulers of Florence. They attempted to assassinate Lorenzo, who was wounded but survived, and his brother Giuliano, who was killed, while they were attending mass in the Duomo. The conspirators were caught and executed and Riario was also arrested because he was related to Girolamo Riario, his uncle, who was one of the masterminds behind the plot. However, Lorenzo arranged for him to be released a few weeks later.

Sandro Botticelli's portrait of Giuliano de' Medici, murdered in the Pazzi conspiracy
Sandro Botticelli's portrait of Giuliano de'
Medici, murdered in the Pazzi conspiracy
In 1480 Riario was ordained a priest and received the entitlement of San Lorenzo in Damaso. He commissioned a palace to be built next to the church for his personal residence.

Riario became involved in the war between the Orsini family and the Colonna family four years later. He tried in vain to save the life of one of his friends, who was charged with murdering one of the Orsini, but the friend was executed on the orders of Pope Sixtus IV.

In the Conclave of 1492 he voted for Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, and was rewarded with a lucrative bishopric for his support. He went on to gain distinction as a diplomat during the Borgia pope’s reign.

A lover of art and sculpture, Riario’s large palace was influenced by Florentine architecture. He noticed the talent of the young Michelangelo and invited him to Rome, where Michelangelo was to work on the major pieces of his career.

In 1517 there was a conspiracy to murder Pope Leo X and although Riario did not participate in it, he is believed to have been aware of it and done nothing to prevent it.

Leo arrested the conspirators and ordered their execution but Riario saved himself by giving his palace next to San Lorenzo in Damaso to the pope.

It became the seat of the Apostolic Chancery and was known thereafter as Palazzo della Cancelleria.

Riario died in Naples at the age of 60 and was buried in a tomb in Basilica dei Santi Apostoli in Rome.

The Palazzo della Cancelleria is believed to be the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome
The Palazzo della Cancelleria is believed to be the
earliest Renaissance palace in Rome
Travel tip:

The Palazzo della Cancelleria, the Papal Chancellery, is believed to be the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. It was designed by Donato Bramante and built between 1489 and 1513 as a palace for Cardinal Raffaele Riario. The rumour was that the funds for the build came from a single night’s gambling winnings. The palace is now a property of the Holy See and has been designated a World Heritage Site. Just to the south of the square named after the palace, Piazza della Cancelleria, is the Campo dè Fiori, the site of a market in Rome for centuries, which has plenty of bars and restaurants and is a popular nightspot when the markets stalls have all been packed away.

Savona's baroque Cattedrale di Nostra Signora Assunta
Savona's baroque Cattedrale di Nostra
Signora Assunta
Travel tip:

Savona is the third largest city in Liguria and the fifth largest port in Italy yet its reputation as a sprawling industrial zone is unfair. It has an attractive medieval centre, with an elegant baroque Cattedrale di Nostra Signora Assunta, behind which is Italy’s other Sistine Chapel, like the Rome version erected by Pope Sixtus IV. Fishing boats share the harbour with expensive yachts and there is a good beach within walking distance of the centre. In between the beach and the harbour is the 16th century Priamar fortress, which served as a prison during most of the 19th century.

More reading:

Girolamo Riario and the plot to overthrow the Medicis

How Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo's greatest work

Why the Renaissance pope Leo X supported the arts

Also on this day:

1469: The birth of statesman and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli