State of the family of the Medici at Florence—Enmity of Sixtus IV. toward Florence—Differences between the family of the Pazzi and that of the Medici—Beginning of the conspiracy of the Pazzi—Arrangements to effect the design of the conspiracy—Giovanni Batista da Montesecco is sent to Florence—The pope joins the conspiracy—The king of Naples becomes a party to it—Names of the conspirators—The conspirators make many ineffectual attempts to kill Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici—The final arrangement—Order of the conspiracy.
This book, commencing between two conspiracies, the one at Milan already narrated, the other yet to be recorded, it would seem appropriate, and in accordance with our usual custom, were we to treat of the nature and importance of these terrible demonstrations. This we should willingly do had we not discussed the matter elsewhere, or could it be comprised in few words. But requiring much consideration, and being already noticed in another place, it will be omitted, and we shall proceed with our narrative. The government of the Medici having subdued all its avowed enemies in order to obtain for that family undivided authority, and distinguish them from other citizens in their relation to the rest, found it necessary to subdue those who secretly plotted against them. While Medici contended with other families, their equals in authority and reputation, those who envied their power were able to oppose them openly without danger of being suppressed at the first demonstration of hostility; for the magistrates being free, neither party had occasion to fear, till one or other of them was overcome. But after the victory of 1466, the government became so entirely centred in the Medici, and they acquired so much authority, that discontented spirits were obliged either to suffer in silence, or, if desirous to destroy them, to attempt it in secrecy, and by clandestine means; which plots rarely succeed and most commonly involve the ruin of those concerned in them, while they frequently contribute to the aggrandizement of those against whom they are directed. Thus the prince of a city attacked by a conspiracy, if not slain like the duke of Milan (which seldom happens), almost always attains to a greater degree of power, and very often has his good disposition perverted to evil. The proceedings of his enemies give him cause for fear; fear suggests the necessity of providing for his own safety, which involves the injury of others; and hence arise animosities, and not unfrequently his ruin. Thus these conspiracies quickly occasion the destruction of their contrivers, and, in time, inevitably injure their primary object.