araldica di firenze: the pazzi


Family: the Pazzi
Dates to: 1099
Meaningful shapes, colors and symbols: Two golden fish and
five golden crosses on a blue background
Where to find it: Palazzo Pazzi, not far from the Duomo

The story of the Pazzi is perhaps best summarized by translating their name: crazy. The first noteworthy mention of the family is an event which gave them their name. During the first crusade, a man who became known as Pazzo or Pazzino was the leader of the Florentine forces at the Siege of Jerusalem. Pazzo was the first man over the city's walls and planted the flag of the Crusaders.

The next mention of the family, though historians say this is a different branch of the family, is in Dante's Divine Comedy. Dante places two members in the circle of traitors in hell for killing a Bishop. Less honorable than the family's first round of notoriety, but no less crazy.

Without a doubt, the most famous act of any of the Pazzi has to be the murder of Giuliano Medici and the attempted murder of Lorenzo Medici on Easter Sunday, 1478. Giuliano was stabbed 19 times during mass, in front of a crowd of 10,000 who were gathered in Santa Maria del Fiore. The assassination was done in the name of liberty for the city, but in fact the people of Florence turned on the conspirators. Those involved were thrown from windows, dragged through the streets, hung and thrown in the Arno. The Pazzi Conspiracy, as it is now known, was not an unorganized coup attempt. In fact the conspirators had the full backing of the Pope at the time.