Day of the Assassins: A History of Political Murder by Michael Burleigh

Never mind the Borgias — the biggest murderers of the Italian Renaissance, it seems, were the leaders of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Between 1415 and 1525 the worthies of its Council of Ten successfully commissioned an average of two assassinations a year.

It was lucrative work if you could get it. In 1513 a Brother John of Ragusa informed the Council of his rates for the job. He would do in “the Grand Turk” for 500 ducats, 150 ducats would see the end of the King of Spain, and a mere 100 would spell doom for the Pope. Poisoning was the favored method. Now that would make a TV series.

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