April 26, 1478: the Pazzi conspiracy
The members of the Medici family were as much loved by the people as they were hated by the rival families who aimed to take their place in power. Among these we find the Pazzi, also bankers, who harbored a visceral hatred for Lorenzo the Magnificent and Giuliano, his brother.
So with the support of Pope Sixtus IV, who wanted control over the rich Florentine territories, the Pazzi managed to organize a conspiracy against the Medici.
The plan was to poison Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici during a banquet organized on April 25, 1478, to celebrate the young Raffaele Riario, nephew of Sixtus IV, who had just become cardinal.
However, they decide to move to plan B when Giuliano does not show up at the party for health reasons.
This new plan will be implemented the following day during mass in Santa Maria del Fiore.
Giuliano is still unwell, but the Pazzi cannot miss another chance. So he is personally accompanied to mass by Francesco de Pazzi and the hit man Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli, who greet him with a big hug to check that Giuliano is not wearing a chain mail under his clothes.
During mass, when the priest raises the consecrated host and everyone’s kneeling with their heads bowed, all hell breaks loose.
Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli throws himself on Giuliano, who has become an easy target, and stabs him in the chest, then runs towards Lorenzo while Francesco de Pazzi rages on Giuliano's body with a knife. Lorenzo is wounded but manages to defend himself and take refuge in the sacristy with his friend Angelo Poliziano and his squires Andrea and Lorenzo Cavalcanti.
The conspiracy has now been thwarted, Lorenzo and his companions have no choice but to wait until the church is emptied and sneak away safely.
Meanwhile, Jacopo De Pazzi, arrives triumphant in Piazza della Signoria, shouting "Freedom!", But the response of the Florentine people is not what he expected, and he is attacked by the crowd, loyal to the de Medici family.
The real triumphal entry will be made by Lorenzo the Magnificent, whom the Florentines see returning safe and sound and begin to acclaim loudly.
The Pazzi were all arrested or exiled, their property confiscated and all the family crests were obliterated from the city.
Francesco de Pazzi is hanged from the windows of Palazzo Vecchio together with his allies; Jacopo, who managed to escape, is captured while trying to cross the Apennines and savagely beaten to death; but the one who could not hope to be spared was Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli, responsible of Giuliano's death: months after the conspiracy, he is captured in Constantinople, where he had taken refuge, and taken back to Florence to be hanged from a window of the Bargello.
The Pazzi’s conspiracy had absolutely the desired outcome, on the contrary; the episode ended up consolidating the power of the Medici lordship, supported and loved by the people like never before.