Today on April 26, 1478, the Pazzi Conspiracy to assassinate two members of the Medici Family is foiled at the Cathedral of Florence.
The House of Medici was one of the most influential dynasties of the Italian Renaissance in Florence. The family first began accumulating power and wealth during the thirteenth century after setting up various commerce and banking ventures. In 1434, the Medicis seized control over the Florentine Government under Cosimo de Medici. Forty years later, the Pazzi Family decided to challenge their rule and plotted to murder the leading Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano. The Pazzi family had long been rivals of the Medicis and gained support from other political factions. Even Pope Sixtus IV and his nephew Girolamo Riario resented the brothers and decided to support the plot.
The Pazzi Conspiracy involved ambushing the brothers while they were attending mass at the Cathedral of Florence. Lorenzo managed to defend himself and escape with only minor injuries. However, Francesco Pazzi indeed managed to kill Giuliano. Other conspirators simultaneously tried to take control of the government but failed. The Pazzis severely underestimated the people’s support and love for the Medici family. The people ultimately rallied behind Lorenzo and mercilessly hunted down the conspirators, including the archbishop of Pisa.
Following the attack, the Medici family launched a war against the Papal States that lasted for two years. The fight was costly for both sides and almost resulted in the downfall of Florence. In the end, Lorenzo managed to secure his grip on power by eliminating all of his political enemies. The Medici Family ruled over Florence for almost three centuries until 1737 when the last ruler died without an heir. They played an essential role in promoting Italian arts and culture. The family produced four Catholic Popes and married into prominent royal houses across Europe.