The Duke's Assassin

Exile and Death of Lorenzino de' Medici

Stefano Dall'Aglio; Translated by Donald Weinstein

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July 20, 2015
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
13 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300189780
Cloth

Stefano Dall’Aglio sheds new light on the notorious Florentine Lorenzino de’ Medici (also known as Lorenzaccio) and on two of the most infamous assassinations of Italian Renaissance history. In 1537 Lorenzino changed the course of history by murdering Alessandro de’ Medici, first duke of Florence, and paving the way for the accession of the new duke, Cosimo I. In 1548 Lorenzino was killed in Venice in revenge for the assassination he had committed. Basing his work on extensive research in the historical archives of Florence and Simancas, Dall’Aglio reconstructs the events surrounding these murders and involving the Medici, their loyalists, the Florentine republican exiles, and some of the most powerful sovereigns of the time. The first publication in a century, and the first work in English, to examine the life of Lorenzino de’ Medici, this fascinating revisionist history is as gripping as a detective novel, as Dall’Aglio unravels a 500-year-old mystery, revealing that behind the bloody death of the duke’s assassin there was the Emperor Charles V.

Stefano Dall’Aglio is a research fellow at the University of Leeds, UK. He has published several books on the political and religious history of Renaissance Florence and Italy. Donald Weinstein is professor emeritus, University of Arizona. He is the author of several books on Italian history and is a world authority on Savonarola and the Italian Renaissance.

“In a vivid, engaging manner, Dall’Aglio reveals that the underbelly of Renaissance politics was exactly as we always secretly hoped it was: a dark world inhabited by spies, secret agents, scheming diplomats, and assassins-for-hire.”—Nicholas Scott Baker, Macquarie University, author of The Fruit of Liberty: Political Culture in the Florentine Renaissance, 1480–1550

“Secret codes, lies, spies, and two assassinations--one for liberty and the other for revenge--make Stefano Dall’Aglio’s book a compelling read, but his archival detective work makes it an even more gripping work of historical revision.  Abandoning centuries of pro-Medici propaganda and the parochial concerns of historians of Florence, Dall’Aglio divulges how the two murders supplied a subplot in international diplomacy and exposes the commanding hand of the most powerful man in Europe. This elegant translation animates the conflicting ideals, rivalries, and personalities of the European Renaissance.”—Edward Muir, Northwestern University

"This brilliant new research into two infamous political assassinations in Florence in 1537 and Venice in 1548, rendered into strikingly clear English, overturns long-accepted narratives about the murderers and their motivations."—Kate Lowe, Queen Mary, University of London

“A deeply researched and skillfully translated account of the Medici tyrannicide by two experts in the field, Stefano Dall’Aglio and Donald Weinstein. The gripping narrative rewrites eleven years of international history, revealing Lorenzino as an active player in a Levantine world of exiles, spies and counter-spies, his avenger not his cousin but his victim’s father-in-law, the emperor Charles V.”—Alison Brown, Royal Holloway, University of London

“[A] thoroughly researched book that offers a fresh perspective on a crucial moment of sixteenth-century Florentine history, and it will constitute important reading for historians of Renaissance Italy and any scholar working on early modern Europe.”—Diego Pirillo, H-Net Reviews

“What makes Dall’Aglio’s work extraordinary is above all the quality of the documents he uses and his ability to interpret them with scientific rigor.”—Marco Albertoni, Sixteenth Century Journal

“This is a tightly constructed narrative of importance to both the field of Florentine history and to the wider field of early modern political and diplomatic history.”—Gregory Murry, Journal of Modern History

“An excellent demonstration of how long-entrenched interpretations of significant episodes can be definitively overturned by skillful archival research.”—Christine Shaw, Renaissance Quarterly
 

"An engaging, readable narrative of spies, intrigues, and assassins. The translation is lively, and the book is not only accessible to but also enjoyable for students and scholars. Highly recommended."—Choice

Winner of the 2016 Helen & Howard R. Marraro Prize given by the American Historical Association.
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