Pazzi were a noble Florentine family in the Middle Ages. In 1342
they gave up their titles of nobility so that members could be elected
to public office. Their main trade during the 15th
century was banking. In the aftermath of the
Pazzi conspiracy in 1477,
the family was banished from Florence and their property was
confiscated; anyone named
Pazzi had to take a new name.
1 History of the family
3 Palaces of the
Pazzi family in Florence
5 Cultural depictions
History of the family
The traditional story is that the family was founded by Pazzo di
Ranieri, first man over the walls during the Siege of Jerusalem of
1099, during the First Crusade, who returned to Florence with flints
supposedly from the Holy Sepulchre, which were kept at Santi Apostoli
and used on
Holy Saturday to re-kindle fire in the city.:131 The
historical basis of this legend has been in question since the work of
Luigi Passerini Orsini de' Rilli (it) in the mid-nineteenth
The first apparently historical figure in the family is the Jacopo de'
Pazzi (it) who was a captain of the Florentine (Guelph) cavalry
at the battle of Montaperti on 4 September 1260, and whose hand was
treacherously severed by Bocca degli Abati (it), causing the
standard to fall.
Pazzi was the patron of the chapter-house for the
Franciscan community at the
Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence
Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence and
commissioned construction of the
His son Jacopo de'
Pazzi became head of the family in 1464.:131
Pazzi married Bianca de' Medici, sister of Lorenzo de'
Medici, in 1460.
Pazzi was one of the instigators of the
in 1477–78. He, Jacopo de'
Pazzi and Jacopo's brother Renato de'
Pazzi were executed after the plot failed.:141
Maddalena de' Pazzi
Maddalena de' Pazzi (1566–1607) was a
Carmelite nun and
mystic;:218 she was canonised in 1669.:149
Interior of the
Pazzi Chapel was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Construction
began in 1442 in a cloister of the
Franciscan church of Santa Croce.
The High-Renaissance design is restrained and sober, using pietra
serena and white plaster in geometric designs, generally unrelieved by
colour, and capped with a hemispherical dome, completed after
Brunelleschi's death according to his plans.
Palaces of the
Pazzi family in Florence
Palazzo Pazzi, showing the yellow-ochre sandstone pietra forte and
Pazzi (Palazzo Pazzi-Quaratesi): The main seat of the family,
at canto Pazzi, where Borgo degli Albizi crosses via del Proconsolo,
was commissioned by Jacopo de' Pazzi, and built circa 1462–72 to
designs by Giuliano da Maiano. Above its traditionally rusticated
ground floor of the yellow-ochre sandstone, it had a then-novel
stuccoed first and second floor, with delicate designs in the windows
influenced by Brunelleschi. The central court is surrounded on three
sides by round-headed arcading, with circular bosses in the spandrels.
Pazzi Ammannati (it): a smaller palace in the Borgo degli
Albizi (it), between Palazzo Ramirez de Montalvo and the Palazzo
Nonfinito. It houses a section of the Museum of Natural History of
Florence, and hosts temporary exhibitions. The façade is attributed
to Bartolomeo Ammannati.
Early in 1477 Francesco de' Pazzi, manager in Rome of the
plotted with Girolamo Riario, nephew and protegé of the pope, Sixtus
IV, and with Francesco Salviati, whom Sixtus had made archbishop of
Pisa, to assassinate
Lorenzo de' Medici
Lorenzo de' Medici and his brother Giuliano to
oust the Medici family as rulers of Florence.:131 Sixtus gave tacit
support to the conspirators.:254 The assassination attempt was made
during mass in the
Duomo of Florence
Duomo of Florence on 26 April 1478. Giuliano was
killed; Lorenzo was wounded but escaped.:254–255 Salviati, with
mercenaries from Perugia, tried but failed to take over the Palazzo
della Signoria.:138 Most of the conspirators were soon caught and
summarily executed; five, including Francesco de' Pazzi, were hanged
from the windows of the Palazzo della Signoria.:140 Jacopo de'
Pazzi, head of the family, escaped from Florence but was caught and
brought back. He was tortured, then hanged from the Palazzo della
Signoria next to the decomposing corpse of Salviati. He was buried at
Santa Croce, but the body was dug up and thrown into a ditch. It was
then dragged through the streets and propped up at the door of Palazzo
Pazzi, where the rotting head was mockingly used as a door-knocker.
From there it was thrown into the Arno; children fished it out and
hung it from a willow tree, flogged it, and then threw it back into
Pazzi were banished from Florence, and their lands and property
confiscated. Their name and their coat of arms were perpetually
suppressed. The name was erased from public registers, and all
buildings and streets carrying it were renamed. Their shield with its
dolphins was obliterated. Anyone named
Pazzi had to take a new name;
anyone married to a
Pazzi was barred from public office.:142
Guglielmo de' Pazzi, husband of Lorenzo's sister Bianca, was merely
placed under house arrest.:141
After the overthrow of Piero de' Medici in 1494, the
Pazzi family, and
many other political exiles, returned briefly to Florence to
participate in the restored republic.
The conspiracy is the subject of La congiura de' Pazzi, a play by
Vittorio Alfieri first performed in 1787 and published in 1789, and of
a historical novel by Lorenzo Antonini from 1877 with the same title.
The conspiracy is central to Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera I Medici,
first performed on 9 November 1893.
^ a b Arnaldo D'Addario (1970).
Pazzi (in Italian). Enciclopedia
Dantesca. Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed October
^ a b c d e f g h i Christopher Hibbert (1979 ). The Rise and
Fall of the House of Medici. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin.
^ a b Claudia Tripodi (2015). Pazzi, Guglielmo de' (in Italian).
Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, volume 82. Rome: Istituto
dell'Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed October 2015.
^ Clare Copeland (2016). Maria Maddalena De' Pazzi: The Making of a
Counter-Reformation Saint. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
^ Joseph Hammond (2012). An Old Altarpiece for a New Saint: The
Canonization of Santa Maria
Maddalena de' Pazzi
Maddalena de' Pazzi and the Decoration of
Santa Maria dei Carmini in Venice. Explorations in Renaissance Culture
38 (1-2): 149–169. doi:10.1163/23526963-90000431.
ISSN 0098-2474. (subscription required).
^ a b Vincent Cronin (1992 ). The Florentine Renaissance.
London: Pimlico. ISBN 0712698744.
^ Michele Girardi. Medici, I. In: Stanley Sadie (ed.) The New Grove
Dictionary of Opera. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford
University Press. Accessed May 2015. (subscription required).