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Chapter 52


Giuliano de' Medici slain--Lorenzo escapes--The archbishop
Salviati endeavors to seize the palace of the Signory--He is taken
and hanged--The enterprise of the conspirators entirely fails--
Manifestations of the Florentines in favor of Lorenzo de' Medici--
The conspirators punished--The funeral of Giuliano--The pope and
the king of Naples make war upon the Florentines--Florence
excommunicated--Speech of Lorenzo de' Medici to the citizens of

The conspirators proceeded to Santa Reparata, where the cardinal and
Lorenzo had already arrived. The church was crowded, and divine
service commenced before Giuliano's arrival. Francesco de' Pazzi and
Bernardo Bandini, who were appointed to be his murderers, went to his
house, and finding him, they, by earnest entreaties, prevailed upon
him to accompany them. It is surprising that such intense hatred, and
designs so full of horror as those of Francesco and Bernardo, could be
so perfectly concealed; for while conducting him to the church, and
after they had reached it, they amused him with jests and playful
discourse. Nor did Francesco forget, under pretense of endearment, to
press him in his arms, so as to ascertain whether under his apparel he
wore a cuirass or other means of defense. Giuliano and Lorenzo were
both aware of the animosity of the Pazzi, and their desire to deprive
them of the government; but they felt assured that any design would be
attempted openly, and in conjunction with the civil authority. Thus
being free from apprehension for their personal safety both affected
to be on friendly terms with them. The murderers being ready, each in
his appointed station, which they could retain without suspicion, on
account of the vast numbers assembled in the church, the preconcerted
moment arrived, and Bernardo Bandini, with a short dagger provided for
the purpose, struck Giuliano in the breast, who, after a few steps,
fell to the earth. Francesco de' Pazzi threw himself upon the body and
covered him with wounds; while, as if blinded by rage, he inflicted a
deep incision upon his own leg. Antonio and Stefano, the priest,
attacked Lorenzo, and after dealing many blows, effected only a slight
incision in the throat; for either their want of resolution, the
activity of Lorenzo, who, finding himself attacked, used his arms in
his own defense, or the assistance of those by whom he was surrounded,
rendered all attempts futile. They fled and concealed themselves, but
being subsequently discovered, were put to death in the most
ignominious manner, and their bodies dragged about the city. Lorenzo,
with the friends he had about him, took refuge in the sacristy of the
church. Bernardo Bandini, after Giuliano's death, also slew Francesco
Nori, a most intimate friend of the Medici, either from some previous
hatred or for having endeavored to render assistance to Giuliano; and
not content with these murders, he ran in pursuit of Lorenzo,
intending, by his own promptitude, to make up for the weakness and
inefficiency of the others; but finding he had taken refuge in the
vestry, he was prevented.

In the midst of these violent and fearful deeds, during which the
uproar was so terrible, that it seemed almost sufficient to bring the
church down upon its inmates, the cardinal Riario remained close to
the altar, where he was with difficulty kept in safety by the priests,
until the Signory, upon the abatement of the disturbance, could
conduct him to their palace, where he remained in the utmost terror
till he was set at liberty.

There were at this time in Florence some people of Perugia, whom party
feuds had compelled to leave their homes; and the Pazzi, by promising
to restore them to their country, obtained their assistance. The
Archbishop de' Salviati, going to seize the palace, together with
Jacopo di Poggio, and the Salviati, his friends, took these Perugini
with him. Having arrived, he left part of his people below, with
orders that when they heard a noise they should make themselves
masters of the entrance, while himself, with the greater part of the
Perugini, proceeded above, and finding the Signory at dinner (for it
was now late), was admitted after a short delay, by Cesare Petrucci,
the Gonfalonier of Justice. He entered with only a few of his
followers, the greater part of them being shut up in the cancelleria
into which they had gone, whose doors were so contrived, that upon
closing they could not be opened from either side, without the key.
The archbishop being with the gonfalonier, under pretense of having
something to communicate on the part of the pope, addressed him in
such an incoherent and hesitating manner, that the gonfalonier at once
suspected him, and rushing out of the chamber to call assistance,
found Jacopo di Poggio, whom he seized by the hair of the head, and
gave into the custody of his attendants. The Signory hearing the
tumult, snatched such arms as they could at the moment obtain, and all
who had gone up with the archbishop, part of them being shut up, and
part overcome with terror, were immediately slain or thrown alive out
of the windows of the palace, at which the archbishop, the two Jacopi
Salviati, and Jacopodi Poggio were hanged. Those whom the archbishop
left below, having mastered the guard and taken possession of the
entrance occupied all the lower floors, so that the citizens, who in
the uproar, hastened to the palace, were unable to give either advice
or assistance to the Signory.

Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, perceiving Lorenzo's escape,
and the principal agent in the enterprise seriously wounded, became
immediately conscious of the imminent peril of their position.
Bernardo, using the same energy in his own behalf that had served him
against the Medici, finding all lost, saved himself by flight.
Francesco, wounded as he was, got to his house, and endeavored to get
on horseback, for it had been arranged they should ride through the
city and call the people to arms and liberty; but he found himself
unable, from the nature of his wound, and, throwing himself naked upon
his bed, begged Jacopo de' Pazzi to perform the part for which he was
himself incapacitated. Jacopo, though old and unaccustomed to such
business, by way of making a last effort, mounted his horse, and, with
about a hundred armed followers, collected without previous
preparation, hastened to the piazza of the palace, and endeavored to
assemble adherents by cries of "people," and "liberty"; but the
former, having been rendered deaf by the fortune and liberty of the
Medici, the latter was unknown in Florence, and he found no followers.
The signors, who held the upper part of the palace, saluted him with
stones and threats. Jacopo, while hesitating, was met by Giovanni
Seristori, his brother-in-law, who upbraided him with the troubles he
had occasioned, and then advised him to go home, for the people and
liberty were as dear to other citizens as to himself. Thus deprived of
every hope, Lorenzo being alive, Francesco seriously wounded, and none
disposed to follow him, not knowing what to do, he resolved, if
possible, to escape by flight; and, accompanied by those whom he had
led into the piazza, left Florence with the intention of going into

In the meantime the whole city was roused to arms, and Lorenzo de'
Medici, accompanied by a numerous escort, returned to his house. The
palace was recovered from its assailants, all of whom were either
slain or made prisoners. The name of the Medici echoed everywhere, and
portions of dead bodies were seen borne on spears and scattered
through the streets; while everyone was transported with rage against
the Pazzi, and pursued them with relentless cruelty. The people took
possession of their houses, and Francesco, naked as they found him,
was led to the palace, and hanged beside the archbishop and the rest.
He could not be induced, by any injurious words or deeds, to utter a
syllable, but regarding those around with a steady look, he silently
sighed. Guglielmo de' Pazzi, brother-in-law to Lorenzo, fled to the
latter's house, and by his innocence and the intercession of his wife,
Bianca, he escaped death. There was not a citizen of any rank whatever
who did not, upon this occasion, wait upon Lorenzo with an offer of
his services; so great were the popularity and good fortune which this
family had acquired by their liberality and prudence. Rinato de' Pazzi
was at his villa when the event took place, and on being informed of
it, he endeavored to escape in disguise, but was arrested upon the
road and brought to Florence. Jacopo de' Pazzi was taken while
crossing the mountains of Romagna, for the inhabitants of these parts
having heard what had occurred, and seeing him in flight, attacked and
brought him back to the city; nor could he, though he frequently
endeavored, prevail with them to put him to death upon the road.
Jacopo and Rinato were condemned within four days after the murder of
Giuliano. And though so many deaths had been inflicted that the roads
were covered with fragments of human bodies, not one excited a feeling
of regret, except that of Rinato; for he was considered a wise and
good man, and possessed none of the pride for which the rest of his
family were notorious. As if to mark the event by some extraordinary
circumstance, Jacopo de' Pazzi, after having been buried in the tomb
of his ancestors, was disinterred like an excommunicated person, and
thrown into a hole at the outside of the city walls; from this grave
he was taken, and with the halter in which he had been hanged, his
body was dragged naked through the city, and, as if unfit for
sepulture on earth, thrown by the populace into the Arno, whose waters
were then very high. It was an awful instance of the instability of
fortune, to see so wealthy a man, possessing the utmost earthly
felicity, brought down to such a depth of misery, such utter ruin and
extreme degradation. It is said he had vices, among which were gaming
and profane swearing, to which he was very much addicted; but these
seem more than balanced by his numerous charities, for he relieved
many in distress, and bestowed much money for pious uses. It may also
be recorded in his favor, that upon the Saturday preceding the death
of Giuliano, in order that none might suffer from his misfortunes, he
discharged all his debts; and whatever property he possessed belonging
to others, either in his own house or his place of business, he was
particularly careful to return to its owners. Giovanni Batista da
Montesecco, after a long examination, was beheaded; Napoleone Franzesi
escaped punishment by flight; Giulielmo de' Pazzi was banished, and
such of his cousins as remained alive were imprisoned in the fortress
of Volterra. The disturbances being over, and the conspirators
punished, the funeral obsequies of Giuliano were performed amid
universal lamentation; for he possessed all the liberality and
humanity that could be wished for in one of his high station. He left
a natural son, born some months after his death, named Giulio, who was
endowed with that virtue and felicity with which the whole world is
now acquainted; and of which we shall speak at length when we come to
our own times, if God spare us. The people who had assembled in favor
of the Pazzi under Lorenzo da Castello in the Val di Tavere, and under
Giovan Francesco da Tolentino in Romagna, approached Florence, but
having heard of the failure of the conspiracy, they returned home.

The changes desired by the pope and the king in the government of
Florence, not having taken place, they determined to effect by war
what they had failed to accomplish by treachery; and both assembled
forces with all speed to attack the Florentine states; publicly
declaring that they only wished the citizens to remove Lorenzo de'
Medici, who alone of all the Florentines was their enemy. The king's
forces had already passed the Tronto, and the pope's were in Perugia;
and that the citizens might feel the effect of spiritual as well as
temporal weapons, the pontiff excommunicated and anathematized them.
Finding themselves attacked by so many armies, the Florentines
prepared for their defense with the utmost care. Lorenzo de' Medici,
as the enemy's operations were said to be directed against himself
alone, resolved first of all to assemble the Signory, and the most
influential citizens, in the palace, to whom, being above three
hundred in number, he spoke as follows:--"Most excellent signors, and
you, magnificent citizens, I know not whether I have more occasion to
weep with you for the events which have recently occurred, or to
rejoice in the circumstances with which they have been attended.
Certainly, when I think with what virulence of united deceit and
hatred I have been attacked, and my brother murdered, I cannot but
mourn and grieve from my heart, from my very soul. Yet when I consider
with what promptitude, anxiety, love, and unanimity of the whole city
my brother has been avenged and myself defended, I am not only
compelled to rejoice, but feel myself honored and exalted; for if
experience has shown me that I had more enemies than I apprehended, it
has also proved that I possess more warm and resolute friends than I
could ever have hoped for. I must therefore grieve with you for the
injuries others have suffered, and rejoice in the attachment you have
exhibited toward myself; but I feel more aggrieved by the injuries
committed, since they are so unusual, so unexampled, and (as I trust
you believe) so undeserved on our part. Think, magnificent citizens,
to what a dreadful point ill fortune has reduced our family, when
among friends, amidst our own relatives, nay, in God's holy temple, we
have found our greatest foes. Those who are in danger turn to their
friends for assistance; they call upon their relatives for aid; but we
found ours armed, and resolved on our destruction. Those who are
persecuted, either from public or private motives, flee for refuge to
the altars; but where others are safe, we are assassinated; where
parricides and assassins are secure, the Medici find their murderers.
But God, who has not hitherto abandoned our house, again saved us, and
has undertaken the defense of our just cause. What injury have we done
to justify so intense desire of our destruction? Certainly those who
have shown themselves so much our enemies, never received any private
wrong from us; for, had we wished to injure them, they would not have
had an opportunity of injuring us. If they attribute public grievances
to ourselves (supposing any had been done to them), they do the
greater injustices to you, to this palace, to the majesty of this
government, by assuming that on our account you would act unfairly to
any of your citizens; and such a supposition, as we all know, is
contradicted by every view of the circumstances; for we, had we been
able, and you, had we wished it, would never have contributed to so
abominable a design. Whoever inquires into the truth of these matters,
will find that our family has always been exalted by you, and from
this sole cause, that we have endeavored by kindness, liberality, and
beneficence, to do good to all; and if we have honored strangers, when
did we ever injure our relatives? If our enemies' conduct has been
adopted, to gratify their desire for power (as would seem to be the
case from their having taken possession of the palace and brought an
armed force into the piazza), the infamous, ambitious, and detestable
motive is at once disclosed. If they were actuated by envy and hatred
of our authority, they offend you rather than us; for from you we have
derived all the influence we possess. Certainly usurped power deserves
to be detested; but not distinctions conceded for acts of kindness,
generosity, and magnificence. And you all know that our family never
attained any rank to which this palace and your united consent did not
raise it. Cosmo, my grandfather, did not return from exile with arms
and violence, but by your unanimous desire and approbation. It was not
my father, old and inform, who defended the government against so many
enemies, but yourselves by your authority and benevolence defended
him; neither could I, after his death, being then a boy, have
maintained the position of my house except by your favor and advice.
Nor should we ever be able to conduct the affairs of this republic, if
you did not contribute to our support. Therefore, I know not the
reason of their hatred toward us, or what just cause they have of
envy. Let them direct their enmity against their own ancestors, who,
by their pride and avarice, lost the reputation which ours, by very
opposite conduct, were enabled to acquire. But let it be granted we
have greatly injured them, and that they are justified in seeking our
ruin; why do they come and take possession of the palace? Why enter
into league with the pope and the king, against the liberties of this
republic? Why break the long-continued peace of Italy? They have no
excuse for this; they ought to confine their vengeance to those who do
them wrong, and not confound private animosities with public
grievances. Hence it is that since their defeat our misfortune is the
greater; for on their account the pope and the king make war upon us,
and this war, they say, is directed against my family and myself. And
would to God that this were true; then the remedy would be sure and
unfailing, for I would not be so base a citizen as to prefer my own
safety to yours; I would at once resolve to ensure your security, even
though my own destruction were the immediate and inevitable
consequence. But as the wrongs committed by princes are usually
concealed under some less offensive covering, they have adopted this
plea to hide their more abominable purpose. If, however, you think
otherwise, I am in your hands; it is with you to do with me what you
please. You are my fathers, my protectors, and whatever you command me
to do I will perform most willingly; nor will I ever refuse, when you
find occasion to require it, to close the war with my own blood which
was commenced with that of my brother." While Lorenzo spoke, the
citizens were unable to refrain from tears, and the sympathy with
which he had been heard was extended to their reply, delivered by one
of them in the name of the rest, who said that the city acknowledged
many advantages derived from the good qualities of himself and his
family; and encouraged them to hope that with as much promptitude as
they had used in his defense, and in avenging his brother's death,
they would secure to him his influence in the government, which he
should never lose while they retained possession of the country. And
that their deeds might correspond with their words, they immediately
appointed a number of armed men, as a guard for the security of his
person against domestic enemies.

Niccolo Machiavelli