Confessions of a Murderer in the Pazzi Conspiracy

The written confession of Antonio Maffei da Volterra, the would-be assassin who attempted the murder of Lorenzo de’ Medici, was recently discovered in the State Archives of Florence by Marcello Simonetta, New York University professor of history. On the 545th anniversary of the confession, May 3, 2023, the confession will be exhibited and presented by Professor Simonetta at Archivio di Stato di Firenze, (State Archives) Viale della Giovine Italia 6 at 11:30 am.  The event is free and open to the public.

On April 26, 1478, an elaborate plan instigated by the rival Pazzi family to overthrow the ruling Medici family took place at Easter High Mass in the Florence Duomo.  An assailant approached Lorenzo with a knife aimed at his carotid artery, but he swung around shouting, “Ah traitor” receiving the blow instead on his shoulder.  Thus, with the aid of his men, Lorenzo took refuge in the sacristy and escaped through a back passage.  His brother Giuliano, not so lucky, suffered 19 stab wounds inflicted by Francesco de’ Pazzi, dying at the scene.

Maffei’s confession followed his arrest on May 3, 1478, at the Badia Fiorentina, where he hid after failing to stab Lorenzo to death.  Previously the poet Poliziano, who was present at the mass, recounted Maffei’s immediate death and Niccolo Machiavelli, then only nine years old, stated the conspirator had been immediately lynched by the crowd.  With the recent discovery, it appears after lengthy interrogation and torture, including his nose and ears being cut off, Maffei was hanged 10 days later.

The Pazzi conspirators mistakenly believed the citizens of Florence would applaud the demise of the Medici, but, on the contrary, the Florentines chased down and brutally executed 80 people.  Loyal followers of the Medici pursued the schemers, including the archbishop of Pisa, who was caught and hanged from a window in the Palazzo Vecchio or city hall. (rita kungel)