Here I am poking around in the last half of the fifteenth century again, making another attempt to cobble an actual plot out of the interesting bits and pieces I keep collecting, and constantly banging my head against History. Because my favorite interesting bits, which might come together into a story, obstinately refuse to have happened in the right order. They’re too early, or too late, or something that wants to be near the end of the story precedes the opening scenes, or… well, you all know the sort of thing. And ok, it’s a fantasy novel, and I’m not opposed to inventing characters and even fortified cities as need be, but the real people and happenings of Florence and Venice and the Ottomans in the 1470’s and 80’s are so interesting that I keep getting drawn back to them.
I know that plenty of novelists and scriptwriters take a pretty free hand with history. Heck, the First Reader and I just watched the three seasons of The Medici and if I hadn’t had my head stuck in 15th century Florence for months, I wouldn’t have been bouncing up and down and yelling, “But that’s not how it happened!” nearly so much. They start with a poisoning that almost certainly never happened, but what the heck; everybody was poisoning everybody else throughout Italy in this century. They show Lorenzo arranging his sister Bianca’s marriage – well, he was ten years old when she married; I don’t think anybody asked his opinion! And so forth and so on.
So I’m wondering just what I can get away with in the course of wrestling History to the ground in the interests of Story, and I’d like to get the opinions of the sort of sophisticated, educated readers who frequent this blog. How do you feel about the following propositions?
- The Neroni family were exiled from Florence for their part in the conspiracy against Piero the Gouty in 1466.
- Bartolomeo Colleone died in 1475 and his army of condottieri dispersed to take service with other masters.
- After the Pazzi Conspiracy, Lorenzo de’ Medici made several attempts to get Girolamo Riario assassinated for his part in the conspiracy.
- Girolamo de Riario was assassinated in 1480, not by the Medici but by local citizens for his mismanagement of Forli, leaving behind a minor son and a widow.
- Sultan Mehmet II conquered Otranto in 1480 and proceeded to menace the entire peninsula.
- Mehmet II was poisoned by a Venetian prisoner of war in 1482.
Let me know how those assertions go over with an educated audience. How many of you were jumping up and down and screaming by the time I finished?