Writing the wrongs of the past: vengeance, humanism, and the assassination of Alessandro de' Medici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

On the night of 6 January 1537 Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici killed his cousin, the first Duke of Florence, Alessandro de' Medici. In an Apologia, written around three years after the assassination, Lorenzo claimed that he had killed Alessandro in order to restore Florence to republican liberty. Historians have interpreted this text as a self-justificatory and self-aggrandizing piece. This article argues that the Apologia is better understood as an example of revenge humanism, and that its purpose was not to justify the assassination of Alessandro, but to defend Lorenzo's own name. The narrative of the Apologia presented Lorenzo as the defender of Florence's republican and civic traditions, but it did so within the culture and etiquette of sixteenth-century court society. Lorenzo was fighting a verbal duel with the contemporary critics who accused him of lacking honor, courage, and integrity.

LanguageEnglish
Pages307-327
Number of pages21
JournalThe Sixteenth Century Journal
Volume38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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humanism
retaliation
accused
sixteenth century
honor
integrity
historian
critic
narrative
Society
Medici
Assassination
Humanism
Florence
Apologia
Vengeance
Republican

Cite this

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abstract = "On the night of 6 January 1537 Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici killed his cousin, the first Duke of Florence, Alessandro de' Medici. In an Apologia, written around three years after the assassination, Lorenzo claimed that he had killed Alessandro in order to restore Florence to republican liberty. Historians have interpreted this text as a self-justificatory and self-aggrandizing piece. This article argues that the Apologia is better understood as an example of revenge humanism, and that its purpose was not to justify the assassination of Alessandro, but to defend Lorenzo's own name. The narrative of the Apologia presented Lorenzo as the defender of Florence's republican and civic traditions, but it did so within the culture and etiquette of sixteenth-century court society. Lorenzo was fighting a verbal duel with the contemporary critics who accused him of lacking honor, courage, and integrity.",
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Writing the wrongs of the past : vengeance, humanism, and the assassination of Alessandro de' Medici. / Baker, Nicholas Scott.

In: The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2007, p. 307-327.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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