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The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decodedby Marcello Simonetta
Synopses & Reviews
A brutal murder, a nefarious plot, a coded letter. After five hundred years, the most notorious mystery of the Renaissance is finally solved.
The Italian Renaissance is remembered as much for intrigue as it is for art, with papal politics and infighting among Italy’s many city-states providing the grist for Machiavelli’s classic work on take-no-prisoners politics, The Prince. The attempted assassination of the Medici brothers in the Duomo in Florence in 1478 is one of the best-known examples of the machinations endemic to the age. While the assailants were the Medici’s rivals, the Pazzi family, questions have always lingered about who really orchestrated the attack, which has come to be known as the Pazzi Conspiracy.
More than five hundred years later, Marcello Simonetta, working in a private archive in Italy, stumbled upon a coded letter written by Federico da Montefeltro, the Duke of Urbino, to Pope Sixtus IV. Using a codebook written by his own ancestor to crack its secrets, Simonetta unearthed proof of an all-out power grab by the Pope for control of Florence. Montefeltro, long believed to be a close friend of Lorenzo de Medici, was in fact conspiring with the Pope to unseat the Medici and put the more malleable Pazzi in their place.
In The Montefeltro Conspiracy, Simonetta unravels this plot, showing not only how the plot came together but how its failure (only one of the Medici brothers, Giuliano, was killed; Lorenzo survived) changed the course of Italian and papal history for generations. In the course of his gripping narrative, we encounter the period’s most colorful characters, relive its tumultuous politics, and discover that two famous paintings, including one in the Sistine Chapel, contain the Medici’s astounding revenge.
A critical study of the attempted assassination of the Medici brothers in the Duomo of Florence by members of the Pazzi family draws on a Renaissance letter and family archives to reveal that Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and Pope Sixtus IV were the true conspirators behind the crime, examining the plot, the Machiavellian politics involved, and the Medicis' revenge. 30,000 first printing.
The attempted assassination of the Medici brothers in the Duomo in Florence is one of the best-known events of the Renaissance. While the assailants were the Medicis' rivals, the Pazzi family, questions have always lingered about who orchestrated the attack. In THE MONTEFELTRO CONSPIRACY, Marcello Simonetta reveals a smoking gun: a coded letter that outlines the involvement of Montefeltro, the Duke of Urbino, and Pope Sixtus IV himself.
In 2001, Simonetta discovered the letter in a private archive and, using a book written by his own ancestor, Cicco Simonetta, to crack its code, he unearthed proof of an all-out power grab by the Pope for control of Florence, with Montefeltro as his enforcer and coconspirator. In THE MONTEFELTRO CONSPIRACY, Simonetta lays out this nefarious plot, and in the course of his gripping narrative, we encounter the period's most colorful characters, relive its Machiavellian politics, and discover that two famous paintings contain the Medici's astounding revenge.
Illustrated throughout with art and letters, this masterful piece of historical detective work is sure to attract history buffs of every stripe.
About the Author
MARCELLO SIMONETTA, Ph. D., received his doctorate in Renaissance Studies from Yale and has taught at Wesleyan University. He has been featured on The History Channel, and in 2007 he curated an exhibition on Federico da Montefeltro’s library at the Morgan Library & Museum. He lives in New York.
Table of Contents
Milan is for murder — Overly cautious — Nothing unsaid — The invisible hands — Eliminate them! — Florence is for fear — Extreme measures — Lives at stake — Traveling south — Resting in peace — Ominous ends.
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