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Chapter 51



State of the family of the Medici at Florence--Enmity of Sixtus
IV. toward Florence--Differences between the family of the Pazzi
and that of the Medici--Beginning of the conspiracy of the Pazzi--
Arrangements to effect the design of the conspiracy--Giovanni
Batista da Montesecco is sent to Florence--The pope joins the
conspiracy--The king of Naples becomes a party to it--Names of the
conspirators--The conspirators make many ineffectual attempts to
kill Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici--The final arrangement--Order
of the conspiracy.

This book, commencing between two conspiracies, the one at Milan
already narrated, the other yet to be recorded, it would seem
appropriate, and in accordance with our usual custom, were we to treat
of the nature and importance of these terrible demonstrations. This we
should willingly do had we not discussed the matter elsewhere, or
could it be comprised in few words. But requiring much consideration,
and being already noticed in another place, it will be omitted, and we
shall proceed with our narrative. The government of the Medici having
subdued all its avowed enemies in order to obtain for that family
undivided authority, and distinguish them from other citizens in their
relation to the rest, found it necessary to subdue those who secretly
plotted against them. While Medici contended with other families,
their equals in authority and reputation, those who envied their power
were able to oppose them openly without danger of being suppressed at
the first demonstration of hostility; for the magistrates being free,
neither party had occasion to fear, till one or other of them was
overcome. But after the victory of 1466, the government became so
entirely centred in the Medici, and they acquired so much authority,
that discontented spirits were obliged either to suffer in silence,
or, if desirous to destroy them, to attempt it in secrecy, and by
clandestine means; which plots rarely succeed and most commonly
involve the ruin of those concerned in them, while they frequently
contribute to the aggrandizement of those against whom they are
directed. Thus the prince of a city attacked by a conspiracy, if not
slain like the duke of Milan (which seldom happens), almost always
attains to a greater degree of power, and very often has his good
disposition perverted to evil. The proceedings of his enemies give him
cause for fear; fear suggests the necessity of providing for his own
safety, which involves the injury of others; and hence arise
animosities, and not unfrequently his ruin. Thus these conspiracies
quickly occasion the destruction of their contrivers, and, in time,
inevitably injure their primary object.

Italy, as we have seen above, was divided into two factions; the pope
and the king on one side; on the other, the Venetians, the duke, and
the Florentines. Although the flames of war had not yet broken out,
every day gave rise to some new occasion for rekindling them; and the
pope, in particular, in all his plans endeavored to annoy the
Florentine government. Thus Filippo de' Medici, archbishop of Pisa,
being dead, Francesco Salviati, a declared enemy of the Medici, was
appointed his successor, contrary to the wish of the Signory of
Florence, who being unwilling to give him possession, there arose
between them and the pope many fresh grounds of offense, before the
matter was settled. Besides this, he conferred, at Rome, many favors
upon the family of the Pazzi, and opposed that of the Medici, whenever
an opportunity offered. The Pazzi were at this time, both on account
of nobility of birth and their great wealth, the most brilliant in
France. The head of this family was Jacopo, whom the people, on
account of his distinguished pre-eminence, had made a knight. He had
no children, except one natural daughter, but many nephews, sons of
his brothers Piero and Antonio, the first of whom were Guglielmo,
Francesco, Rinato, Giovanni, and then, Andrea, Niccolo, and Galeotto.
Cosmo de' Medici, noticing the riches and rank of this family, had
given his granddaughter, Bianca, to Guglielmo, hoping by this marriage
to unite the houses, and obviate those enmities and dissensions so
frequently occasioned by jealousy. However (so uncertain and
fallacious are our expectations), very different feelings were thus
originated; for Lorenzo's advisers pointed out to him how dangerous it
was, and how injurious to his authority, to unite in the same
individuals so much wealth and power. In consequence, neither Jacopo
nor his nephews obtained those degrees of honor, which in the opinion
of other citizens were their due. This gave rise to anger in the
Pazzi, and fear on the part of the Medici; as the former of these
increased, so did the latter; and upon all occasions, when the Pazzi
came in competition with other citizens, their claims to distinction,
however strong, were set aside by the magistracy. Francesco de' Pazzi,
being at Rome, the Council of Eight, upon some trivial occasion,
compelled him to return, without treating him with the respect usually
observed toward great citizens, so that the Pazzi everywhere bitterly
complained of the ill usage they experienced, and thus excited
suspicion in others, and brought down greater evils upon themselves.
Giovanni de' Pazzi had married the daughter of Giovanni Buonromei, a
very wealthy man, whose riches on his decease, without other children,
came to his daughter. His nephew, Carlo, however, took possession of
part, and the question being litigated, a law was passed, by virtue of
which the wife of Giovanni de' Pazzi was robbed of her inheritance,
and it was given to Carlo. In this piece of injustice the Pazzi at
once recognized the influence of the Medici. Giuliano de' Medici often
complained to his brother Lorenzo of the affair, saying he was afraid
that by grasping at too much they would lose all.

Lorenzo, flushed with youth and power, would assume the direction of
everything, and resolved that all transactions should bear an impress
of his influence. The Pazzi, with their nobility and wealth unable to
endure so many affronts, began to devise some means of vengeance. The
first who spoke of any attempt against the Medici, was Francesco, who,
being more sensitive and resolute than the others, determined either
to obtain what was withheld from him, or lose what he still possessed.
As the government of Florence gave him great offense, he resided
almost constantly at Rome, where, like other Florentine merchants, he
conducted extensive commercial operations; and being a most intimate
friend of Count Girolamo, they frequently complained to each other of
the conduct of the Medici. After a while they began to think that for
the count to retain his estates, or the Pazzi their rights in the
city, it would be necessary to change the government of Florence; and
this they considered could not be done without the death of Giuliano
and Lorenzo. They imagined the pope and the king would be easily
induced to consent, because each could be convinced of the facility of
the enterprise. Having acquired these ideas, they communicated them to
Francesco Salviati, archbishop of Pisa, who, being ambitious and
recently offended by the Medici, willingly adopted their views.
Considering their next step, they resolved, in order to facilitate the
design, to obtain the consent of Jacopo de' Pazzi, without whose
concurrence they feared it would be impracticable. With this view, it
was resolved that Francesco de' Pazzi should go to Florence, while the
archbishop and the count were to remain at Rome, to be ready to
communicate with the pope when a suitable opportunity occurred.
Francesco found Jacopo de' Pazzi more cautious and difficult to
persuade than he could have wished, and on imparting this to his
friends at Rome, it was thought he desired the sanction of some
greater authority to induce him to adopt their views. Upon this, the
archbishop and the count communicated the whole affair to Giovanni
Batista da Montesecco, a leader of the papal forces, possessing
military reputation, and under obligations to the pope and the count.
To him the affair seemed difficult and dangerous, while the archbishop
endeavored to obviate his objections by showing how much assistance
the pope and the king would lend to the enterprise; the hatred of the
Florentines toward the Medici, the numerous friends the Salviati and
the Pazzi would bring with them, the readiness with which the young
men might be slain, on account of their going about the city
unaccompanied and without suspicion, and the facility with which the
government might then be changed. These things Giovanni Batista did
not in reality believe, for he had heard from many Florentines quite
contrary statements.

While occupied with these deliberations, Carlo, lord of Faenza, was
taken ill, and tears were entertained for his life. This circumstance
seemed to the archbishop and the count to offer an opportunity for
sending Giovanni Batista to Florence, and thence to Romagna, under
pretence of recovering certain territories belonging to the latter, of
which the lord of Faenza had taken possession. The count therefore
commissioned Giovanni Batista to have an interview with Lorenzo de'
Medici, and on his part request his advice how to proceed with respect
to the affair of Romagna; that he should then see Francesco de' Pazzi,
and in conjunction with him endeavor to induce his uncle Jacopo to
adopt their ideas. To render the pope's authority available in their
behalf, Giovanni Batista was ordered, before his departure, to
communicate with the pontiff, who offered every means at his disposal
in favor of their enterprise. Giovanni Batista, having arrived at
Florence, obtained an interview with Lorenzo, by whom he was most
graciously received; and with regard to the advice he was commissioned
to ask, obtained a wise and friendly answer; so that he was astonished
at finding him quite a different character from what he had been
represented, and considered him to possess great sagacity, an
affectionate heart, and most amicably disposed toward the count. He
found Francesco de' Pazzi had gone to Lucca, and spoke to Jacopo, who
was at first quite opposed to their design, but before they parted the
pope's authority seemed to have influenced him; for he told Giovanni
Batista, that he might go to Romagna, and that before his return
Francesco would be with him, and they would then consult more
particularly upon the subject. Giovanni Batista proceeded to Romagna,
and soon returned to Florence. After a pretended consultation with
Lorenzo, upon the count's affairs, he obtained an interview with
Francesco and Jacopo de' Pazzi, when the latter gave his consent to
their enterprise. They then discussed the means of carrying it into
effect. Jacopo de' Pazzi was of opinion that it could not be effected
while both the brothers remained at Florence; and therefore it would
be better to wait till Lorenzo went to Rome, whither it was reported
he had an intention of going; for then their object would be more
easily attained. Francesco de' Pazzi had no objection to Lorenzo being
at Rome, but if he were to forego the journey, he thought that both
the brothers might be slain, either at a marriage, or at a play, or in
a church. With regard to foreign assistance, he supposed the pope
might assemble forces for the conquest of the fortress of Montone,
being justified in taking it from Count Carlo, who had caused the
tumults already spoken of in Sienna and Perugia.

Still no definite arrangement was made; but it was resolved that
Giovanni Batista and Francesco de' Pazzi should go to Rome and settle
everything with the pontiff. The matter was again debated at Rome; and
at length it was concluded that besides an expedition against Montone,
Giovan Francesco da Tolentino, a leader of the papal troops, should go
into Romagna, and Lorenzo da Castello to the Val di Tavere; that each,
with the forces of the country, should hold himself in readiness to
perform the commands of the archbishop de' Salviati and Francesco de
Pazzi, both of whom were to come to Florence, and provide for the
execution of their design, with the assistance of Giovanni Batista da
Montesecco. King Ferrando promised, by his ambassador, to contribute
all in his power to the success of their undertaking. Francesco de'
Pazzi and the archbishop having arrived at Florence, prevailed upon
Jacopo di Poggio, a well educated youth, but ambitious and very
desirous of change, to join them, and two others, each of the name of
Jacopo Salviati, one a brother, the other a kinsman, of the
archbishop. They also gained over Bernardo Bandini and Napoleone
Franzeni, two bold young men, under great obligations to the family of
the Pazzi. Besides those already mentioned, they were joined by
Antonio da Volterra and a priest named Stefano, who taught Latin to
the daughter of Jacopo de' Pazzi. Rinato de' Pazzi, a grave and
prudent man, being quite aware of the evils resulting from such
undertakings, refused all participation in the conspiracy; he held it
in abhorrence, and as much as possible, without betraying his kinsmen,
endeavored to counteract it.

The pope had sent Raffaello di Riario, a nephew of Count Girolamo, to
the college of Pisa, to study canon law, and while there, had advanced
him to the dignity of a cardinal. The conspirators determined to bring
this cardinal to Florence, as they would thus be better able to
conceal their design, since any persons requisite to be introduced
into the city might easily be made to appear as a part of his retinue,
and his arrival might facilitate the completion of their enterprise.
The cardinal came, and was received by Jacopo de' Pazzi at his villa
of Montughi, near Florence. By his means it was also intended to bring
together Giuliano and Lorenzo, and whenever this happened, to put them
both to death. They therefore invited them to meet the cardinal at
their villa of Fiesole; but Giuliano, either intentionally or through
some preventing cause, did not attend; and this design having failed,
they thought that if asked to an entertainment at Florence, both
brothers would certainly be present. With this intention they
appointed Sunday, the twenty-sixth of April, 1478, to give a great
feast; and, resolving to assassinate them at table, the conspirators
met on the Saturday evening to arrange all proceedings for the
following day. In the morning it was intimated to Francesco that
Giuliano would be absent; on which the conspirators again assembled
and finding they could no longer defer the execution of their design,
since it would be impossible among so many to preserve secrecy, they
determined to complete it in the cathedral church of Santa Reparata,
where the cardinal attending, the two brothers would be present as
usual. They wished Giovanni Batista da Montesecco to undertake the
murder of Lorenzo, while that of Giuliano was assigned to Francesco
de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini. Giovanni Batista refused, either
because his familiarity with Lorenzo had created feelings in his
favor, or from some other reason, saying he should not have resolution
sufficient to commit such a deed in a church, and thus add sacrilege
to treachery. This caused the failure of their undertaking; for time
pressing, they were compelled to substitute Antonio da Volterra and
Stefano, the priest, two men, who, from nature and habit, were the
most unsuitable of any; for if firmness and resolution joined with
experience in bloodshed be necessary upon any occasion, it is on such
as these; and it often happens that those who are expert in arms, and
have faced death in all forms on the field of battle, still fail in an
affair like this. Having now decided upon the time, they resolved that
the signal for the attack should be the moment when the priest who
celebrated high mass should partake of the sacrament, and that, in the
meantime, the Archbishop de' Salviati, with his followers, and Jacopo
di Poggio, should take possession of the palace, in order that the
Signory, after the young men's death, should voluntarily, or by force,
contribute to their assistance.

Niccolo Machiavelli