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Speaker Series: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded

June 22, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

A brutal murder, a nefarious plot, a coded letter. After five hundred years, the most notorious mystery of the Renaissance is finally solved. 

On June 22, at 6:00 PM, we are thrilled to host the esteemed scholar and author, Marcello Simonetta, to discuss how he unraveled a centuries-old conspiracy to reveal the man and machinations behind the drama.

Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for guests. Click here, or call 843.579.9922, to reserve your seats today.

Box office hours close at 3PM on the day of the event, but you may also purchase tickets at the door if/while they are available.

Special thanks to our friends at the Dante Alighieri Society for their collaboration on this incredible program.

About the Book

The Italian Renaissance is remembered as much for intrigue as it is for art, with papal politics and infighting among Italy’s many city-states providing the grist for Machiavelli’s classic work on take-no-prisoners politics, The Prince. The attempted assassination of the Medici brothers in the Duomo in Florence in 1478 is one of the best-known examples of the machinations endemic to the age. While the assailants were the Medici’s rivals, the Pazzi family, questions have always lingered about who really orchestrated the attack.

More than five hundred years later, while working in a private archive in Italy, the Renaissance scholar Marcello Simonetta stumbled upon a coded letter written by Federico da Montefeltro, the Duke of Urbino, to Pope Sixtus IV. Using a codebook written by his own ancestor to crack the letter’s secrets, Mr. Simonetta unearthed proof of an all-out power grab by papal authorities for control of Florence. Montefeltro, long believed to be a close friend of Lorenzo de Medici, was in fact conspiring with the Pope to unseat the Medici and put the more malleable Pazzi in their place.

In The Montefeltro Conspiracy, Simonetta unravels this plot, showing not only how the plot came together but how its failure—only one of the Medici brothers, Giuliano, was killed; Lorenzo survived—changed the course of Italian and papal history for generations. In the course of his gripping narrative, we encounter the period’s most colorful characters, relive its tumultuous politics, and discover that two famous paintings, including one in the Sistine Chapel, contain the Medici’s astounding revenge.

About the Author

Marcello Simonetta earned his laurea at Sapienza in Rome and his Ph.D. at Yale University. He has authored several books, including his Medici trilogy: The Montefeltro Conspiracy (Doubleday, New York: 2007, translated in ten languages); Volpi e Leoni, MediciMachiavelli e la rovina d’Italia (Bompiani, Milan: 2014, translated in 4 languages); and Caterina de’ Medici. Storia segreta di una faida famigliare (Rizzoli, Milan: 2018, translated in four languages). Mr. Simonetta is currently a Senior Scholar at The Medici Archive Project in Florence, and also teaches at New York University and Syracuse–Florence.


June 22, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Charleston Library Society
164 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401 United States
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