The Montefeltro Conspiracy by Marcello Simonetta
A Renaissance Mystery Decoded

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Marcello Simonetta

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Marcello Simonetta has a PhD in Italian literature and history from Yale. His first book, The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded, solves one of the most scandalous crimes of the Renaissance: the attempted assassination of the celebrated Medici brothers. He lives in New York. Noga Arikha has a PhD in history and philosophy from the Warburg Institute. She has taught at Bard College and the Bard Graduate Center. Her first book, Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours, was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and one of the The Washington Post's Best Nonfiction Books of 2007. She lives in New York.
 
Published June 3, 2008 by Doubleday. 272 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

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During Ascension Sunday Mass in the Duomo, the two powerful leaders of the Florentine state, Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici, were attacked.

Jun 03 2008 | Read Full Review of The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A...

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