The Pazzi Family Conspires To Assassinate The Medici Brothers

Today on April 26, 1478, a plan to assassinate members of the Medici Family, known as the Pazzi Conspiracy, was foiled at the Cathedral of Florence.

The Pazzi Conspiracy was one of the most dramatic events of the Italian renaissance. By the late 1400s, the House of Medici had become the most powerful and influential family in Florence. During the thirteenth century, Medici began accumulating wealth after setting up several commerce and banking ventures. In 1434, the family seized total control over the government in Florence under their first leader, Cosimo de Medici (posthumously nicknamed "Father of the Fatherland").

Forty years later, a coalition led by the Pazzi family — another well-established banking dynasty in Florence — moved to challenge their grip on power. The two families had long been political rivals and truly despised each other. The Pazzis gained support from other local factions, including the Salviati family (the Papal bankers in Florence). Even Pope Sixtus IV and his nephew Girolamo Riario detested the Medici family and joined the plot. While the Pope would not openly sanction killing, he did clearly state his desire to remove the Medici and his willingness to work with anyone who replaced them.

The Pazzi Conspiracy centered on murdering the two leading Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano. The plan hinged on ambushing the brothers while they were attending a Sunday mass at the Cathedral of Florence (known as the Duomo). On the morning of April 26, 1478, the conspirators suddenly attacked the Medici while they were standing in front of a crowd of 10,000 people. Giuliano de' Medici was stabbed 19 times before Francesco de' Pazzi struck him in the head with his sword. While his brother bled out on the cathedral floor, Lorenzo managed to escape the scene with severe but not life-threatening wounds.

Other conspirators simultaneously tried to take control of key government offices across the city but failed to do so. The Pazzi conspirators severely underestimated the people's support and love for the Medici family. Most citizens of Florence rallied behind Lorenzo and helped him mercilessly hunt down his enemies, including the Archbishop of Pisa. Within hours the coup d'état had miserably failed.

Following the attack, Lorenzo de' Medici launched a war against the Papal States that lasted for another two years. The fight was costly for both sides and nearly led to the downfall of Florence. In the end, the Medici family survived and secured total control by eliminating all political resistance. They continued to rule over Florence for almost three centuries. In 1737, the dynasty ended when Gian Gastone died without a male heir. The Medici played a pivotal role in cultivating arts and culture during the renaissance. The family produced four Catholic Popes and married into several other prominent royal houses across Europe.

Fact check!

We strive to provide the most accurate information.
Please contact us if you spot any errors or misrepresentations.


Similar Topics


Mussolini’s Blackshirts March on Rome Seizing Total Control

Today on October 28, 1922, Benito Mussolini’s Blackshirts infamously March on Rome, seizing total control over the Italian government. The March on Rome marke

Galileo Galilei Publishes The Two Chief World Systems

Today on February 22, 1632, Galileo published his most influential book — A Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Galileo Galilei was an Italian bo

Renaissance-Man Leonardo da Vinci Born In Tuscany

Today on April 15, 1452, Leonardo da Vinci, the Father of the Italian Renaissance, was born in Tuscany. Few figures in history can even come close to comparing