Cosmus, Duke of Florence, was wont to say of perfidious friends, that “We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.” – two studies from Lauro Martines to the point.


April blood : Florence and the plot against the Medici  Lauro Martines Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003  Florence (Italy) History 1421-1737 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xviii, 302 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 282-292) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

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 cathedral of Florence. Lorenzo scrambled to safety as Giuliano bled to death on the cathedral floor.

April Blood moves outward in time and space from that murderous event, unfolding a story of tangled passions, ambition, treachery, and revenge. The conspiracy was led by one of the city’s most noble clans, the Pazzi, financiers who feared and resented the Medici’s swaggering new role as political bosses – but the web of intrigue spread through all of Italy. Bankers, mercenaries, the Duke of Urbino, the King of Naples, and Pope Sixtus IV entered secretly into the plot.

Florence was plunged into a peninsular war, and Lorenzo was soon fighting for his own and his family’s survival. The failed assassination doomed the Pazzi. Medici revenge was swift and brutal – plotters were hanged or beheaded, innocents were hacked to pieces, and bodies were put out to dangle from the windows of the government palace. All remaining members of the larger Pazzi clan were forced to change their surname, and every public sign or symbol of the family was expunged or destroyed.

April Blood offers us a fresh portrait of Renaissance Florence, where dazzling artistic achievements went side by side with violence, craft, and bare-knuckle politics. At the center of the canvas is the figure of Lorenzo the Magnificent – poet, statesman, connoisseur, patron of the arts, and ruthless “boss of bosses.” This extraordinarily vivid account of a turning point in the Italian Renaissance is bound to become a lasting work of history.

Fire in the city : Savonarola and the struggle for Renaissance Florence      Lauro Martines  Florence (Italy) Politics and government 1421-1737, Savonarola, Girolamo, 1452-1498  Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2006 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvi, 336 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 313-321) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A gripping and beautifully written narrative, Fire in the City presents a compelling account of a key moment in the history of the Renaissance, illuminating the remarkable man who dominated the period, the charismatic Savonarola.

Lauro Martines, whose decades of scholarship have made him one of the most admired historians of Renaissance Italy, here provides a remarkably fresh perspective on Girolamo Savonarola, the preacher and agitator who flamed like a comet through late fifteenth-century Florence. The Dominican friar
has long been portrayed as a dour, puritanical demagogue who urged his followers to burn their worldly goods in “the bonfire of the vanities.” But as Martines shows, this is a caricature of the truth – the version propagated by the wealthy and powerful who feared the political reforms he represented.

In fact, Savonarola emerges as a complex and subtle man: compassionate, wise, a poet and scholar, and even, at critical moments, a force for moderation. The friar, a mesmerizing preacher, set the city afire with his message of Christian charity wedded to republican ideals.

It is this reality – of Savonarola as both religious and civic leader -that Martines captures in all its complexity, showing how he inspired an outpouring of political debate in a city newly freed from the tyranny of the Medici. In the end, the volatile passions he unleashed – and the powerful families he threatened – sent the friar to his own fiery death.

The fusion of morality and politics that he represented would leave a lasting mark on Renaissance Florence. For the many readers fascinated by histories of Renaissance Italy – such as Brunelleschi’s Dome or Galileo’s Daughter, and Martines’s acclaimed April Blood – Fire in the City offers a vivid portrait of one of the most memorable characters from that dazzling era.

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