Many mysteries still surround the murder of Alessandro de’ Medici, first duke of Florence, which occurred in January 1537. In reconstructing the events, almost all previous scholars have relied on the narrative written by the Florentine historian Benedetto Varchi, who claimed to have received a detailed account from both assassins. By means of a thorough analysis of many other sources—including chronicles, literary works, diplomatic and private letters and judicial records—this chapter sheds new light on what happened. Many aspects of Varchi’s narrative will be questioned, including the sequence of the events, the name of one of the assassins, the presumed unplanned nature of the murder, and the date on which it was committed. All these aspects were uncritically accepted by later historians and incorporated into the narratives of the murder written until now. This essay also questions the criteria according to which Varchi’s version has always been blindly believed, thus transforming a flawed story, told by biased and untrustworthy witnesses and never critically verified, into the canonical version of the event.

Truths and Lies of a Renaissance Murder. Duke Alessandro de' Medici's Death between History, Narrative, and Memory

DALL'AGLIO Stefano
2017

Abstract

Many mysteries still surround the murder of Alessandro de’ Medici, first duke of Florence, which occurred in January 1537. In reconstructing the events, almost all previous scholars have relied on the narrative written by the Florentine historian Benedetto Varchi, who claimed to have received a detailed account from both assassins. By means of a thorough analysis of many other sources—including chronicles, literary works, diplomatic and private letters and judicial records—this chapter sheds new light on what happened. Many aspects of Varchi’s narrative will be questioned, including the sequence of the events, the name of one of the assassins, the presumed unplanned nature of the murder, and the date on which it was committed. All these aspects were uncritically accepted by later historians and incorporated into the narratives of the murder written until now. This essay also questions the criteria according to which Varchi’s version has always been blindly believed, thus transforming a flawed story, told by biased and untrustworthy witnesses and never critically verified, into the canonical version of the event.
Murder in Renaissance Italy
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3712870
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