In April 1478, a plot to murder the two heads of the powerful Medici family dramatically miscarried. The younger of the two brothers was killed, but Lorenzo the Magnificent, the brilliant poet and connoisseur escaped. A bloodbath followed and all of Italy was at once affected as it emerged that the Pope, the King of Naples, and the Duke of Urbino were deeply implicated in the plot, and that binding treaties required Milan and Venice to assist Florence.
If the conspirators had succeeded and Lorenzo had been killed the future of the Medici family and, indeed, of the Florentine state would have been utterly transformed.
One of the world's foremost authorities on the Italian Renaissance, Lauro Martines was born in Chicago, has a Ph.D. from Harvard University, but has been living in London since 1970. Until recently he communted to Los Angeles, where he was Professor of European History at the University of California. He and his wife, the novelist Julia O'Faolain, lived for some years in Florence. His best known books include Lawyers and Statecraft in Renaissance Florence (1968), Society and History in English Renaissance Verse (1985), An Italian Renaissance Sextet: Six Tales in Historical Context (1994), Strong Words: Writing and Social Strain in the Italian Renaissance (2001), and Power and Imagination, now available in Pimlico.