Friday, July 30, 2010

The Chigi Family

Team 7: Sarah Boone, Maggie Liu, Carmen Kwan, Kate Bridges-Lyman

The Rise of the Chigi and the Connections with the Della Rovere Papacy

The Chigi family was one of the most influential noble families in Rome during two distinct time frames: the renaissance and baroque periods. Before the Chigi family rose within the aristocratic ranks of Roman society, they were a prominent family in Siena. Originally the family had made some advances in wealth through the alum mining industry, hence the six mounds of the Chigi crest. As the family became involved in politics and continued to amass their wealth, they attained the status of nobility in Siena, each generation seeing increases in the family status.
The first peak of the Chigi followed the life of Agostino Chigi, born in 1466. Agostino was an incredibly successful banker who did more than any other toward filling the family coffers, and establishing the Chigi presence in Rome. At the time when Agostino moved to Rome he aided Pope Julius II, financing his papal campaign. After election, Julius II gave the papal banking commission to Agostino, and in thanks for his generous funding, allowed Chigi to formally integrate into the Della Rovere papal family. From this point on, the Chigi coat of arms would be quartered with the Della Rovere oak. Agostino’s relationship to Julius II also included his financing of several military operations, on which the banker travelled personally alongside the pontiff. This was just one example of his high regard.

In very little time, Agostino was Rome’s wealthiest man, which made him an important ally for the papacy. Julius II loved to commission grand artworks (we may recall here the plans for his personal tomb) and so required many loans from his friend Chigi. It is said that at one time, Agostino even held the papal tiara as collateral to assure repayment of some large loans.
The connection of the Chigi with the Della Rovere is an incredibly important political turn of events, as it provided the Chigi with a way to establish themselves permanently in Rome. By building family chapels in both the Santa Maria Del Popolo and the Santa Maria Della Pace, both of which were prominent Della Rovere institutions, the Chigi family would be sure to live on in Roman memory.

Il Magnifico: Agostino Chigi

Agostino Chigi, later known as “Il Magnifico,” was born on November 29, 1466 in Siena. When he was young, he began his studies in the family business of… business. Unlike his younger brothers or most other merchants of the time, Agostino did not take to learning literature or languages. Ironically, he barely understood Latin, the main language of business contracts at the time. However, Chigi learned his trade shrewdly and at a young age was able to establish himself as an influential merchant and banker in Rome. He had his own bank, port, and fleet of ships. Chigi quickly amassed a large amount of wealth and clout in Rome.
The main source of this power was the connection he built with the Vatican. By 1501, Agostino obtained control of the Vatican’s alum mines in Tolfa. Alum, a sulphate, was important in the cloth industry. In a prime display of Agostino’s ambition, after a year he managed to effectively control the rest of the alum mines in Italy. His next goal was to have a monopoly on the entire alum industry in Europe, and although he never achieved this, he still created a great fortune for himself and his family.

Unlike cardinal nephews, tossed out of favor by the death of the current pope, Agostino was shielded in his role as papal banker. He served a succession of popes, including Alexander VI, Julius II and Leo X. In particular he was great friends with Julius II. Agostino stayed by Julius when he was sick and helped to finance his wars (e.g. against Venice). In return, the pope excommunicated Chigi’s enemies, and actually adopted both Agostino and his younger brother into the della Rovere family in 1509. Julius also made Agostino the treasurer of the Curia.
Chigi was able to stay in favor under so many different popes in part because of his amassed wealth and reputation, and in part because of his patronage of the arts. Agostino loved to display his wealth and status, and he brought many famous artists from his hometown of Siena to Rome, including Peruzzi and Sodoma. Peruzzi designed and helped to decorate Agostino’s Villa Chigi (now the Villa Farnesina) from 1506 to 1511.

Agostino Chigi died in 1520, leaving the world the works he commissioned, four illegitimate children (who had been ‘legitimized’) he had had with Francesca Ordeaschi, and an impressive business reputation. Among his legacy were also the various poems written for him by admiring poets during his life; many made connections between Chigi and Caesar Augustus, adding to Il Magnifico’s legacy of magnificence. Eventually, Agostino’s successors were able to raise the family fortunes again, but many things had to be sold first, including his famous villa.

Pope Alexander VII (born Fabio Chigi) reigned 1655-1667

After the fall of the first important member of the Chigi family, the great grandnephew of Agostino, Fabio Chigi, brought the resurgence of the Chigi family in the Baroque period of the 17th century. He graduated from the University of Siena in 1626 with degrees in law, theology and philosophy. Fabio pursued an ecclesiastical career and quickly moved up the hierarchy. As he was deeply involved in the interests of the Catholic Church he desperately tried to change the terms of the Treaty at Wesphalia, which ended the 40 Years War, but was unsuccessful. Eventually in 1656 he became a cardinal. After the death of Pope Innocent X, who was notorious for rampant nepotism, the committee was in search of a candidate of good moral standing. After an exhausting four months of political stunts by the French and Spanish, Fabio Chigi was unanimously voted in as the next Pope, renamed Alexander VII.

Pope Alexander VII did his best to stop nepotism within the Church. He was known to have said that, “as Fabio Chigi, I had a family. As Alexander VII I have none” (Chadwick, 304). For one year Pope Alexander forbade his family to come to Rome, in fear of being accused of favoring family members. However after an agreement with the cardinals, it was decided that nepotism would be allowed as long as there was a limit placed on the amount of property and titles Alexander’s family could inherit. Pope Alexander VII’s brother and nephews were then invited to Rome and given titles.

In reality Pope Alexander VII was known to have cared more about architecture and the urban aesthetics. He had a wooden model of Rome in his apartments, and was always thinking of new ways to widen streets, straighten buildings, and commission new renovations and reconstructions. Pope Alexander VII’s favorite artist to commission was Bernini, who designed the famous and very unique Piazza San Pietro. On the other hand all the construction throughout Rome meant high taxes, and the people were not pleased with the amount of money spent.

Alexander VII’s Religious Role

In looking back on his pontificate, Alexander VII’s impact on religious life and the Catholic Church is often understated. Although Alexander VII was technically Pope after the official Counter-Reformation, he made efforts towards reform of the Catholic Church in the same areas: ecclesiastical and structural reconfiguration, religious orders, spiritual moments, political dimensions. Alexander VII was initially well known for his piety, which helped him get elected, in that he claimed not to involve himself with nepotistic practices. He stressed the importance of his own family’s morality and even dismissed officials because of improper behavior. In addition, Alexander VII made more regulations and requirements for entering positions in the Church hierarchy.

In regard to theological interpretation, Alexander VII stressed a kind of middle-ground theology. Alexander VII was greatly influenced by the French writer François de Sales who applied the Renaissance ideals of equality to Catholic theology, particularly in his more liberal stance towards salvation and the possibility of achieving grace. This school of thought contrasted the other major strain of Catholic thought represented by the Jansenists in France. Alexander VII did not agree with the Jansenists’ harsh interpretation of St. Augustine, which caused a rift between the Jansenists and the Catholic Church (which continued until his death). Alexander VII generally favored the Jesuits, however, by supporting their missionary activities around the world. Nevertheless, he found some of their theology to be too morally lax and encouraged internal reform within the Jesuit Order.

Alexander VII also took an interest in the spiritual lives of the common people and regularly visited the churches of Rome, as he saw the communities were ripe for reform. Finally, Alexander VII signed a papal bull that finalized the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, or the belief that the Virgin Mary was without Original Sin since her conception in her mother’s womb, that she was an exception by Divine Will to be an adequate vessel for Jesus, the Son of God (meaning, her Original Sin could not taint the body of Jesus).

Fall of The Chigi Family

Pope Alexander VII’s nephew Agostino became Captain of Castel Sant’ Angelo, and married a Borghese which increased the family fortune by 200,000 scudi. Through various other marriages within the family, the Chigi family became even more powerful by aligning themselves with the Aldrobranini, the Pamphili, and the Borghese.
With this wealth the Chigi family showed their power by purchasing more property, such as the town of Farnese. However with the crash of the Bank of Italy in 1891, the Chigi family had to sell a significant amount of their property to the government. Today the Chigi Palace along Via del Corso belongs to the Italian government, and the family lives in Rome at the Villa Castelfusano, with less money than before.


Bigot, Charles. Raphael and the Villa Farnesina. London: 1884. Print.

Chadwick, Owen. The Popes and European Revolution. Oxford: Clarendon, 1981. Print.

Magnuson, Torgil. Rome in the Age of Bernini. New Jersey: Humanities, 1987. Print.

Majanlahti, Anthony. “The Chigi,” selections from The Families Who Made Rome. London, 2005. Print.

Rowland, Ingrid D. “Render Unto Caesar the Things Which are Caesar's: Humanism and the Arts in the Patronage of Agostino Chigi.” Renaissance Quarterly, 39 (1986): 673-730.

Rowland, Ingrid D. “Some Panegyrics to Agostino Chigi.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 47 (1984): 194-199.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Pamphili Family

Team 6: Bryan Dosono, Molly Gasperini, and Rebecca Hodges

Before they were known for their papal reign, the Pamphili family hailed from Gubbio in Umbria, a region in central Italy. They were descendents of Amanzio Pamphili, a man who arrived in Italy in the ninth century as a follower of Charlemagne. They asserted that their family coat of arms—a dove with an olive branch in its beak, as well as three fleurs-de-lis—was actually granted from Charlemagne himself (Majanlahti 277-278).

The Pamphili family’s ascent to respectable nobility really began with Antonio Pamphili, who was appointed as the fiscal procurator for the Papal States by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere. This position of trust, respect, and significant income was their first real step up the hierarchy of power. Moreover, Antonio Pamphili married a rich Roman noblewoman, which furthered the family’s rise to nobility. Although the Pamphili family continued a long pattern of marrying into powerful members of the aristocracy, they did not achieve world fame and power until one of their very own succeeded the papal throne.

Pope Innocent X

Upon the death of Urban VIII, the conclave gathered to choose a new pope. For some days after Urban VIII's death, the situation in Rome was extremely critical. Crime increased alarmingly within the streets, as always when the papal throne was unoccupied. During this time, a rivalry was brewing between the Spanish and the French factions who could not agree on a successor. It was not until a month later that both parties reached a compromise for Giambattista Pamphili, who was a previous cardinal under Urban VIII (Majanlahti 276). By then, the new pope, renamed Innocent X, was 70 years old.

Giambattista Pamphili was born in Rome on May 1574. As a young man, he entered the service of the church, first as an officer in the papal army and later as a diplomat (Encyclopædia Britannica). Having studied law at the Jesuit Collegio Romano, he worked as an auditor before he was selected as an ambassador to Naples. Under the pontificate of Urban VIII, Pamphili was appointed to become a priest, then bishop, and later cardinal. Although he was generally recognized as an upright man of justice, Innocent also had the reputation for being cross-grained and stern during his pontificate. This is how he is portrayed in his painting in 1650: suspicious, opposing, and morose (refer to the Presentation Handout).

During his career as pope, the influence of the papacy started to wane in European politics. Any attempt at restoring the papal finances, which had become severely depleted at the time of Urban VIII's pontificate, was bound to fail. During times of food shortage, grain prices soared, so the pope started a new penny tax on salt and meat. There were often protests in front of his commissioned monuments, like the Four Rivers Fountain in his Piazza Navona, which were accompanied with pasquinades—satirical rhymes. The common people adamantly stated that they would rather spend their tax money on bread than on obelisks and fountainheads (Morrissey 210). Furthermore, the pope’s relationships with his relatives were questionable, for he was guilty of nepotism, and much of his pontificate was dominated by his greedy sister-in-law, Olimpia Maidalchini.

La Papessa: The “She-Pope”

Olimpia Maidalchini married young to a rich family, but at the early death of her baby and husband, was left a wealthy widow at the age of 21. At this point she was not really educated or powerful, but very intelligent and intent on escaping her home in Viterbese. In order to escape, she needed political power, and used the most common methods of the time: gaining status in the church, or marrying into a rich family. Olimpia pursued both tracks, and in 1612 married Pamphilio Pamphili, the elder brother of the future Pope Innocent X (Magnuson). Their marriage was based upon his need for her wealth, and her desire for his power.

Combining that wealth and power, she gained influence over the future Pope Innocent X by supporting him financially in the early years of his diplomatic career. The cardinals that finally elected Innocent knew this, and warned the new pope not to let his sister-in-law have too much control. This, however, did nothing to lessen Olimpia’s influence. A few examples of Olimpia’s excessive power are as follows: she made many of the decisions in the construction of Palazzo Pamphili; arranged marriages to secure her family in political power; and plotted to have her son Camillo in command of the papal armies. She was, however, thwarted in this scheme, and instead of a general, Camillo Pamphili was made into the cardinal nephew. He was much loved in this position, but grew tired of it when he realized he had very little influence over Pope Innocent X in comparison to his mother Olimpia. In addition to this dissatisfaction, he fell in love with Olimpia Aldobrandini, a wealthy widow of Paolo Borghese. Thus, Camillo left both the cardinalate and his uncle Innocent to the mercy of Olimpia.

By about 1647, Olimpia was the only person close to the temperamental pope who could advise him (Magnuson). Anyone who wanted anything from the pope would first have to turn to Olimpia; meaning, they would first have to pay her off. She loved bribes and monetary gain, and was known as di nauseante ingordigia, or “disgustingly greedy.” The pope rarely did anything without first asking Olimpia. Aside from her company, the pope spent his final years alone.

A lot of the misfortunate things that Pope Innocent did were blamed on Olimpia. The mark of the Italians’ hatred for her is seen long after her reign. For example, Olimpia was a common pseudonym for prostitutes for hundreds of years. As a lasting tribute, Donna Olimpia was remembered through ghost stories. In one of tales, she can be found under the full moon in a black carriage—pulled by a black horse with flaming eyes—as she rides from the Ponte Sisto to Piazza Navona, and finally into the gates of Palazzo Pamphili.

The Property of the Pamphili

While the Pamphili family used both the arrangement of strategic marriages as well as the church in their attempts to improve their social status in Rome, they also asserted their prominence through the real estate market and the development of their properties. Although the Pamphili family had previously resided in an aristocratic neighborhood in Gubbio, their old status meant nothing in Rome, and they had to start from scratch (Majanlahti 287). This is why Antonio Pamphili wanted to establish an impressive family house in a prominent area of Rome. This ambition eventually led to the purchase of property in the neighborhood of Rione Parione in 1470—which then stretched from the southern part of what is now Piazza Navona to Campo di’ Fiori (Leone 3). Over the years, he was able to expand his property by purchasing surrounding houses and incorporating them into the Pamphili estate. The generations following Antonio continued this campaign to expand the Pamphili property—a trend that reflected the family’s continual attempts to assert their importance in a central area of Rome (Leone 9). At that time, Rione Parione was a fairly prestigious and heavily populated neighborhood as its popularity increased even more after Sixtus IV’s campaign to improve the streets of Rome.

The Pamphili’s property ambitions were also aided by the decision of Julius III to align dell’Anima and Palazzo Pasquina. Although part of the Pamphili property had to be torn down in order to achieve the pope’s goal, they were heavily compensated and benefited significantly from the situation. They received two new houses in return for the damages, and were then able to expand up to piazza Navona—the neighborhood in which many of the most important families of the time resided (Leone 9). However, this meant that to live up to the status and grandness of the families that surrounded them, the Pamphili needed to construct a more elaborate Palazzo (Leone-Palazzo 3). This sparked an intense campaign by the Pamphili to renovate their family casa, especially after Giambattista was elected into the Sacred College and awarded the cardinal’s hat in 1630. With the trend of building an elaborate Palace after reaching the status of cardinal having long been established—as with Maffeo Barberini —there was more pressure to build a more socially acceptable family residence. In 1636 Giambattista commissioned Peperelli to go about the task of collectively joining the Pamphili properties into one coherent structure. The Palazzo was built from 1636 to 1638, and was constructed in order to live up to the contemporary social code that regulated how best to set up a proper family Palazzo—spelled out in a popular etiquette book (Leone 23).

By the time Giambattista became Pope Innocent X in 1644, six years after the Palazzo was finished, it was again thought to be inadequate considering the Pamphili’s new elevated status. This second campaign eventually led to the renovations that shaped the current structure evident in Piazza Navona today. The Pamphili had established themselves in this central area of Rome for over 150 years by the time Giambattista became pope—having successfully implanted their family into the social hierarchy of Rome.

Death and Legacy

Eventually the male line of the Pamphili died out, and only continued on through Camillo’s daughter Anna Pamphili. Anna married into the Cenoese family of the Doria Landi. During his lifetime, Camillo Pamphili had been a huge supporter and commissioner of the arts, and had managed to acquire a very impressive art collection. This collection cannot be separated from Camillo’s estate, and is currently maintained by the Doria Landi in Palazzo Doria-Pamphili (Majanlahti 288). The Pamphili family’s property campaign is still evident in Rome to this very day due to their influential presence and history in Piazza Navona, as well as their expansive and influential art collection.

Critical Questions for the Audience

1. What Latin expression refers to the vacancy of the Pope or the Episcopal See?
(Answer: sede vacante)
2. What were the main ways to gain power in Rome during this time period?
(Answer: [1] marriage to powerful families, [2] promotion within the church)
3. Besides strategic marriages and associations with the Pope, what additional ways could families could assert their prominence in Roman society?
(Answer: through the acquisition of property)


"Innocent X." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. July 12, 2010
"Cardinal Pamphilj Builds a Palace: Self-Representation and Familial Ambition in Seventeenth-
Century Rome." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. 2004. Web. July 6,
2010. .
Leone, Stephanie C. The Palazzo Pamphilj in Piazza Navona: Constructing Identity in Early
Modern Rome. Harvey Miller Publishers, 2008.
Magnuson, Torgil. Rome in the Age of Bernini: From the Election of Innocent X to the Death of
Innocent XI v. 2. New Jersey: Humanities, 1987. Print.
Majanlahti, Anthony, “The Pamphili,” selection from Chapter 7 in The Families Who Made
Rome. London, 2005.
Morrissey, Jake. The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry that
Transformed Rome. New York: William Morrow, 2005. 202-214. Print.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Barberini Family

Team 5 - Sydney Gordon, Emilio Garza, Bennett Ng, and Daniel Chiang

I. Rise

In the early eleventh century, the Barberini family settled in Florentine territory of Val d’Elsa (Elsa Valley). Their family named derived their surname from the Castel of Barbarino. Before they were known as the Barberinis, their surname was Tafani, which literally translates into “the Horsefly.” This insect graced their family crest until Pope Urban VIII’s (Maffeo Barberini) changed it to the bee, which was a much more honorable choice because it was believed to represent wisdom. Early in the family’s history they gained wealth and prominence through the sale of textiles and intermarriage with other noble merchant families in Florence.

One of the first prominent members of the Barberini family was Francesco di Antonio Barberini. He was responsible for building the family’s Florentine palace at Santa Croce. Francesco di Antonio did a particularly astute job at building up the family textile business. He organized trade with the eastern cities of Rangusa (also known of Dubrovnik, located in southern Croatia) and Ancona (located on the north-eastern coast of the Italian peninsula). Francesco di Antonio even opened a branch of the family business near Istanbul, in the town of Pera.

The early political years of the Barberini were marked with conflict with another famously powerful Italian family, the Medicis. In the 16th century the Medicis were the most powerful family in Florence. This was the result of the Medicis overthrowing the Republic of Florence and installing themselves as rulers in 1530. The Barberini’s helped in the defense of the city, putting them in bad favor with the Medicis. As a result of this, Francesco’s two sons were forced to leave the city. Nicolo went to Ancona, while Antonio fled to Rome. However, this quarrel would follow Antonio to Rome as he was stabbed at the hands of the Medici in the streets of Rome in 1559.

Before Antonio’s death however, he summoned his nephew Francesco di Carlo Barberini (1528-1600) to Rome in 1555. Francesco di Carlo quickly associated himself with the church and rose in prominence at similar speed. He was given the clerical rank of monsignor (one below a cardinal) and the titles of papal treasurer and the apostolic protonary, an important legal position. He used these titles to accumulate huge sums of wealth for his family. He was also active in promoting the clerical career of his nephew Maffeo Barberini, to whom he would bequeath his wealth through circumventing traditional church processes. Maffeo would then use this wealth and status to his advantage, eventually being elected as Pope, taking the title of Urban VIII.

II. Pope Urban VIII

Born in 1568 in Florence, Maffeo Barberini grew up in the home of his wealthy uncle Monsignor Francesco di Carlo Barberini. He attended a Jesuit college, graduating in 1588 with a law degree. Monsignor Francesco utilized his riches to advance Maffeo’s ecclesiastical career, leading him to become papal legate of Bologna from 1611-1614, and the bishop of Spoleto. He left his position as bishop in 1617 when he realized his destiny to hold a career in the papal courts.

When Pope Gregory XV Ludovisi died in 1623, the cardinals were split between choosing between two different papal nephews for the new papacy. After days of debating within the conclave, the heat of the Roman summer began to take its toll. Eight out of the 54 cardinals died from malaria, and the cardinals knew they urgently needed to elect a new pope. Out of compromise, they settled for Maffeo. Only 53 of the 54 votes were counted, so Maffeo demanded a revote, and won again. Elected twice, Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII at the “young” age of 55.

Pope Urban loved the arts. He changed the Barberini horsefly emblem to a bee, based on a stanza in Horace’s Odes, and also added Apollo’s sun and laurel to his crest to represent the wisdom of Christ. A lover of expensive extravagance, he commissioned over 10,000 Barberini bees painted and engraved all over the Papal States. Throughout his life, he collected valuable paintings and books for the Barberini library, and revamped the old Sforza palace to make the magnificent Palazzo Barberini. The famous artist Gianlorenzo Bernini had the luck to be a close friend of Maffeo Barberini. As pope, Urban put Bernini in charge of myriads of artistic works, like rebuilding the church of Santa Bibiana. Urban was a prolific poet, even writing inscriptions for sculptures such as Bernini’s celebrated Daphne and Apollo. Controversially, the Pope put Bernini in control of revamping the ancient St. Peter’s. The artist took bronze from the portico of the beloved Pantheon to construct the high altar in St. Peter’s, and then attempted to build two bell towers on either side of the Pantheon as recompense. One cracked, leading the people to satirically dub them “the ass-ears of Bernini.”

Urban VIII focused much of his energy on expanding the Papal territories. He convinced the Duke of Urbino to join the Papal States in 1626, and was the last pope to increase the size of the papal realm. Previously, only Jesuits had sent missions abroad, but Urban decided to spread the church to China and Japan. Closer to home, he built the College of the Propagation of the Faith on the Piazza di Spagna. Throughout his career, he was stuck awkwardly compromising in the Thirty Years War between Catholic southern Europe and Protestant northern Europe. As a Catholic he was devoted to the south, but as a friend of France, who supported the Protestants, he was devoted to the north. France even helped Italy’s papacy to gain independence of Spain. Later, Urban disastrously attempted to overtake the duchy of Castro in the first war of Castro, leading to a depletion of the papal fortune and a mortifying strike against the Barberini’s honor. The death of Pope Urban VIII in 1644 occurred in the aftermath of this catastrophic war, and thus the former Maffeo Barberini left our world a rather unpopular man, buried in a tomb behind the high altar of St. Peter’s.

III. Nepotism

The reign of Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family was characterized by an extravagant level of nepotism. Urban appointed three of his relatives as cardinals, and piled positions, rank, and wealth upon each. He handed out important roles within the Vatican, the Inquisition, and the Roman Army, as well as roles in foreign diplomacy to his relatives with aplomb.

The first familial cardinal nominated by Pope Urban VIII was his nephew Francesco Barberini. Francesco studied at the University of Pisa with Barberini family friend Galileo Galilei, and became a cardinal in October 1623, at the age of 26. Francesco was made papal legate to Avignon, and special legate to Paris and Spain. Unfortunately, however, Francesco was not a very skilled negotiator, and his efforts in these roles produced no notable achievements. In 1633, Francesco was given the position of Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition. He was notably one of only three inquisitors to refuse to condemn Galileo during the trials concerning Copernicanism in Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems. Francesco was a significant patron of the arts, and he was responsible for acquiring the land upon which the Palazzo Barberini was constructed. He amassed a significant library, and contributed to the restoration of a number of churches in various locations.

The second familial cardinal nominated by Pope Urban VIII was his brother Antonio Marcello Barberini, known as Antonio the Elder. Antonio was A devout Capuchin friar, Antonio was appointed cardinal in 1624. He served as Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition prior to Francesco Barberini, and served as the Vatican Librarian. Antonio was a more capable negotiator than his nephew Francesco, and he successfully managed his position as Bishop of Senigallia. Antonio was most notable for supporting the construction of many churches throughout Rome, including Santa Maria della Concezione.

The third familial cardinal nominated by Pope Urban VIII was his nephew Antonio Barberini, known as Antonio the Younger. Antonio was given legate positions in Urbino (1631) and Avignon (1633), and was later appointed as Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (1638). Antonio also served as a leader of the Papal Army during the Wars of Castro.

Taddeo Barberini, another of Pope Urban VIII’s nephews, was given significant roles in the secular arena. Between his uncle’s generosity, his wife Anna Colonna’s family prestige, and his father Don Carlo Barberini’s estate, Taddeo found himself immersed in wealth and importance. He was made commander of the Papal Army (despite his apparent lack of skill and experience), and led Urban’s forces in the Wars of Castro. Through his wife’s family, Taddeo was also made the Prince of Palestrina. He also gained the position of Prefect of Rome.

The three nephews, Francesco, Antonio, and Taddeo were fiercely competitive with one another. This led to egregious spending and corruption, which Pope Urban VIII facilitated. After the fall of the Urban papacy, Pope Leo X took critical action against the Barberinis. The nephews had to flee the country in disguise to escape prosecution. At the conclusion of Leo X’s investigation into the Barberini papacy, it was discovered that the extreme nepotism of Pope Urban VIII gave the Barberini family a quantity of wealth some twelve times larger than the annual income of the papacy.

IV. Decline

The decline of the Barberini family began with the growing unpopularity of Pope Urban VIII. During his pontificate, he spent much of the papacy treasury on inconsequential thing that did not necessarily benefit the people. For example, at the very beginning of his pontificate, Urban VIII spent an exorbitant amount of money on the baldacchino of St. Peter’s Basilica, which aimed mainly at advancing the papal throne. Additionally, there was a lot of speculation about Urban VIII’s extreme nepotism and his gifting of large amounts of money to his nephews and other relatives. Urban VIII inherited 16 million scudi of debt at the beginning of his pontificate, but by 1640, he had raised the debt to 35 million scudi. Eventually, 80 percent of annual papal income was used for interest repayments.

The final major event during Pope Urban VIII’s pontificate was the War of Castro, which ended up further embarrassing the pope. Some of Urban VIII’s nephews got into a quarrel with Duke Odoardo Farnese who lived in Castro. The angered nephews went to Urban VIII and asked him to punish Odoardo. So, in 1639, Urban VIII banned the export of grain from Castro, which was Odoardo’s major source of income. Since Odoardo had no money left, he could not pay off his debts to the Roman debtors. Thus, the debtors sought Urban VIII to punish Odoardo as well. Finally, in 1641, Urban VIII sent an army to take over Castro. He sent Luigi Mattei to command 12,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry, which completely overwhelmed the city. Once the city was captured, Urban VIII excommunicated Odoardo immediately.

Odoardo, in response, formed an alliance with the Republic of Venice, Modena, and Tuscany to create an army to invade the Papal States. The army was so large that it had the possibility of taking over Rome itself. Urban VIII thus became anxious and began increasing taxes and raising additional forces. During the next two to three years, ongoing fighting led to little result. However, both sides spent significant amounts of money during the war.

Finally, in 1643, the papal forces lost a crucial battle at the Battle of Lagoscuro, and they were forced to surrender. A peace treaty was signed in Ferrera, and Odoardo’s power and status was completely restored. The defeat of the papal forces was a huge disgrace to Urban VIII, as it not only exacerbated his reputation of spending money, but it also signified his military weakness. Pope Urban VIII died a few months after the peace treaty was signed. The people were so enraged that, as soon as he died, they quickly destroyed the bust of Urban VIII on the Capitoline Hill.

The next pope that was elected was Pope Innocent X from the Pamphili family. As soon as he was elected, he began an investigation of the Barberini family to see how much money and land Urban VIII’s nephews received. After the investigation, it was reported that the Barberini family had accumulated an astounding amount of 30 million ducats, around twelve times the annual income of the entire Papal States. After hearing the news, three of the nephews, Antonio the Younger, Francesco, and Taddeo Barberini, quickly and secretly fled Rome for France where they were under the protection of King Louis XIV of France.

After several years, Taddeo’s son ended up marrying the niece of Innocent X, and the runaway nephews were allowed to return to Rome in 1653. However, the Barberini family was never able to return to power like the days during Urban VIII.


Barberini Family. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:

History and Tourism in Umbria. (n.d.). Olive University. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from

Wars of Castro - First War of Castro. (n.d.). Wars of Castro. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from

Duffy, E. (2006). Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes; Third Edition (Yale Nota Bene) (3 ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Ernesta Chinazzi, Sede Vacante per la morte del Papa Urbano VIII Barberini e conclave di Innocenzo X Pamfili, Rome, 1904, 13.

Majanlahti, Anthony. “The Barberini,” selections from ch. 6 in The Families Who Made Rome. London, 2005.

Miranda, S. (2010). The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church - Biographical Dictionary - Consistory of August 30, 1627. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from

Parker, G., & Adams, S. (1997). The Thirty Years' War (2 ed.). New York: Routledge.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Borghese Family

Team 4: Roman Camarda, Emily Hollenbeck

Unlike other papal families of Reniassance Rome, the Borghese family was not an old, aristocratic noble Roman family. Originating in Siena as far back at the 13th century, they were a middle class family, educated in the law, and holding positions in government and diplomacy. In fact, the Borghese did not enter Rome until the middle of the 16th century.
The Borghese’s first ties to Rome came when Marcantonio Borghese I became the Sienese ambassador to the pope. Both the overtake of Siena by the Medici family of Florence (causing many families to leave Siena), and Marcantonio’s marriage to a member of a noble Roman family, Flaminia Astalli, cemented his place in Rome. Already having ties to one of the noble families, when Marcantonio’s son Camillo became pope in 1605, the Borghese family entered the aristocracy of Rome.

Camillo Borghese, born in Rome in 1552, followed family tradition and was educated in the law, but soon entered the church. With his accomplishments in the church, and after a successful diplomatic mission to Spain, he was made cardinal under Clement VIII. In 1605, after the death of the twenty-six-day pope Leo XI, a stalemate occurred in selecting the new pope, and Camillo was seen as a possible compromise candidate. One of the favored cardinals involved in the stalemate, Pietro Aldobrandini (nephew of Clement VIII), decided to back Camillo, as he believed Camillo would carry on principles of the papacy important to the Aldobrandini family; the Aldobrandini family had also left Florence due to their hatred of the Medici, much in the same way the Borghese had left Siena. Pietro’s support helped Camillo to become pope, and he took the name Paul V. Despite Peitro’s influence in his election, Paul V instead saw it as an intervention of the Holy Spirit, himself being divinely appointed, and would not acknowledge Peitro’s help. This attitude earned Paul V the nickname “The Grand Ingrate,” and set the tone for much of his papal reign.

Along with the belief of his divine appointment, Paul V was seen as opinionated, strict, and inflexible. During his time as pope, he roused several conflicts, and fueled the flames of several others, due to his unyielding attitude. One of the most notable conflicts occurred when he placed Venice in excommunication for new Venetian laws restricting the power of the clergy, and almost used military force against Venice. He finally came to a compromise with Venice out of fear that they would turn to Protestant forces for help, not wanting any kind of Catholic-Protestant alliance to form. Other issues occurred in England, when Paul V forbade English Catholics to take an oath of allegiance required by Parliament in the midst of Catholic-Protestant tensions, and in France, when Paul V condemned the Gallican Church over a dispute of whether the king’s power came directly from god or was mediated by the pope. Paul V’s role in all of these conflicts reflected poorly on the papacy and the church.

Despite these negative attributes, Paul V was highly involved in the reconstruction and restoration of the city of Rome. He closely followed the precedent of urban renewal set by Sixtus V, continuing his work on St. Peter’s, building a funerary chapel similar to one that Sixtus had commissioned, and restoring an ancient aqueduct, just as Sixtus had. Although following Sixtus’ pattern, Paul V made sure that everything he constructed was larger and grander than the counterexample by Sixtus. Meant to restore the city of Rome, both for its citizens and to display its grandeur to the rest of the world, these works commissioned by Paul V were especially meant to restore the image of the papacy and the church, displaying its wealth and power.
Although Paul V was unlike many of his predecessors in that he did not favor nepotism, the appointment of family members to seats of power, he did choose to promote two of his direct nephews to seats of power. The first, Marcantonio II, was granted the title of prince of Sulmona. The second, son of Paul V’s sister Ortensia named Scipione, was named a cardinal.

Scipione Caffarelli Borghese, as his name indicates, was the product of a family alliance between the Caffarelli and Borghese families. As the son of two prominent noble families, Scipione was raised in a very rich cultural environment, and as a result quickly gained a great appreciation for the arts. Once raised to the title of cardinal, Scipione used every ounce of his positional power to collect and commission some of the finest works of art in Rome. Scipione desired works of art from ancient, Renaissance, and contemporary times that he believed might inspire a new golden age. One of the cardinal’s favorite contemporary sculptors was a young Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who the cardinal commissioned not only to create new works of art, but also to restore old ones. Along with sculptures, Scipione also commissioned and collected paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Raphael, and Lavinia Fontana. With all of this art in his possession, Scipione needed a place to house it, and as a result had the Villa Borghese built in 1612. Besides holding the title of cardinal, before retiring from public life after the death of Paul V in 1621, Scipione had also been appointed Archbishop of Bologna, Archpriest of St. Peter’s, Protector of Flanders of Germany, and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church among many other titles.

After the death of Scipione in 1633, his money, art, and property were all left in the hands of his cousin Marcantonio II, who subsequently became the richest man in Rome and one of the richest men in Italy. The family continued on as a secure fixture of Roman aristocratic society for many years, and of the remaining lineage the members of most interest are Marcantonio IV, born in 1730, and his son Camillo, born in 1775. Marcantonio IV was responsible for many alterations to the Villa Borghese, and due to his alliance with France and the Treaty of Tolentino, was forced to send some of the Villa’s best paintings to France. Camillo served as an even stronger ally to France after being married to Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister Pauline. Just as his father before him, Camillo’s alliance ended up costing him some of the Villa Borghese’s most priceless works of art, this time 344 pieces from the Villa’s archeological collection that to this day constitute the “Borghese Collection” in the Louvre. The rest of the Borghese lineage continued on in the tradition of linking the Borghese family with other noble families through marriage, and until 1902 the Villa Borghese remained under the ownership Borghese family, Paolo Borghese having to sell it and all of the wonderful the art within to the state due to the financial crash of the Bank of Italy in 1891.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Farnese Family

TEAM 3: Melissa Winstanley, Zinnia Xu, Brandon Skyles

The Farnese family rose from relative obscurity to Italian prominence in a short few generations, mostly through the success of its most famous member, Alessandro Farnese or Pope Paul III. During Paul III’s long pontificate of fifteen years (1534-1549), the papacy experienced a period of resurgence and revival following the Sack of Rome in 1527, hailed as a renovatio urbis or urban renovation. Paul III initiated large-scale building projects, called the Council of Trent to reconsider Catholicism in light of the Protestant Reformation, and used his power as pope to place his descendants in positions of power, most notably the duchy of Parma and Piacenza. His grandson Alessandro II joined the cardinalate at the age of fifteen, and although he never became pope, his overwhelming generosity, skill as a diplomat, and intelligence made him the most important and best-loved cardinal in Rome. Cardinal Alessandro’s nephew, also named Alessandro, was the most noted Farnese duke of Parma and Piacenza, serving as a military soldier and commander extending Spanish control in Europe. After three centuries of success, the family became extinct in 1731.

I. Family Origins
Although the family was not particularly remarkable until the fifteenth century, the Farneses were landholders from northern Lazio, near Orvieto, from the early twelfth century. They extended their lands and power primarily through military service: Ranuccio the Elder (1390-1450), the first significant Farnese, was a papal military captain. For his support, Ranuccio was rewarded with a position as a senator by Pope Martin V and with extensive feudalities by Pope Eugene IV. Ranuccio also constructed the family tomb on an island in Lake Bolsena, near Orvieto, thereby solidifying Farnese family ties. His children made marriages into distinguished families, including the Colonna, Orsini, and Caetani, signaling a rise of Farnese power.

Alessandro Farnese (1468-1549), grandson of Ranuccio, departed from the paths of his forefathers and pursued a career in the church instead of the military. He went to Rome and received a scholarly humanist education. Alessandro became cardinal at the young age of twenty-five, probably with help from his sister Giulia, the mistress of Pope Alexander VI Borgia. He spent the next forty years as a cardinal, waiting for his chance at the papacy. During that time, he began the advancement of his family with the legitimization of his children by Julius II and Leo X, including Pier Luigi, through whom Cardinal Alessandro II and Duke Alessandro arose. He also began to perpetuate myths about the Farnese family’s origins, exaggerating their military careers and successes and assuming more prestigious ancestors.
Alessandro’s period in the cardinalate was a tumultuous time. He witnessed the pontificates of six popes, as well as invasion by the French, the 1527 Sack of Rome, and stagnation during the reign of Clement VII. He expanded his power with political skill and flexibility, and after two papal elections in which he was defeated (1521 and 1523), his age and experience, as well as his persona as a native Roman – not a foreigner – rewarded him with the papal throne in 1534 at the age of sixty-six. He chose the name Paul, and spent the next fifteen years empowering the papacy and the Farnese family.

II. Pope Paul III
During Pope Paul III’s pontificate, Europe was in the middle of a Christian reform movement known as the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation started in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the door of All Saints’ Church at Wittenberg. The movement began as an attempt to reform the Catholic Church because its members believed that that the sale of indulgences and other practices of the Catholic Church were ecclesiastic malpractice due to corruption of the Church’s hierarchy. One of the first things Paul III did to address the criticisms posed by the new Protestant churches in Germany was to convene the Council of Trent. The council met for twenty-five sessions over three periods, the first of which was under Pope Paul III. The main purpose of the council was to condemn Protestant heresies, redefine Catholic belief and practice on disputed points, and initiate a Counter-Reformation movement (also known as Catholic Reformation or Catholic Revival). This movement included the proper training of priests and new spiritual movements that focused on a personal relationship with Christ.

Paul III also approved formation of the Jesuit order, a new militant section of the Catholic Church, and allowed them to be ordained as priests, putting Catholic reformers in positions of authority and power. The Jesuits were known colloquially as “God’s marines” and were engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry: they concentrated on founding schools, sending out missionaries, and stopping the spread of Protestantism.
In 1542, Paul III instituted the Roman Inquisition, a system of tribunals responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of heresy-related crimes such as sorcery, immorality, blasphemy, Judaizing, and witchcraft. This system was also designed to combat the spread of Protestantism in Italy.

Although Paul III attempted to acknowledge and respond to the threat of Protestantism, he also funneled wealth into the pockets of his grandsons. Paul III’s policies were full of contradictions. He tried to claim papal neutrality in the war against France while simultaneously attempting to carve out a Farnese estate in North-Central Italy. By the end of his reign as Pope, these contrasts created mixed feelings about his success as a Pope.

In the Papal states, Paul III also helped initiate a period of resurgence and revival (following the Sack of Rome) known as the urban renovation, renovatio urbis, by constructing many large-scale building projects and rebuilding entire cities. In 1536, Paul decided to move the ancient statue of Marcus Aurelius to the Capitoline piazza, the sight of his summer palace as well as the historic civic center of Rome. He ordered Michelangelo to design a pedestal for the statue, and subsequently a new piazza to surround it. Although this project was not completed in his lifetime, it adequately expresses the ambitiousness of urban planning during the Farnese pontificate.

Paul III appointed Michelangelo as the head of the Fabbrica of St. Peter’s, the office in charge of the construction of the basilica, and confirmed the commission for Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. Paul III also ordered the construction of the papal audience hall and a fortified wall around the Vatican palace to protect against any possible subsequent attacks. All this reconstruction was intended to revive the city after the Sack of Rome. Paul III’s interest in the remains of Ancient Rome led to the revival of the office of the Commissioner of Antiquities, whose job was to protect ancient monuments. However, due to the massive need for building materials during this time, the office was unable to protect the monuments from being pillaged. Paul III, despite what appeared to be good intentions, ended up doing more destruction and harm to the ancient monuments when he gave the Fabbrica of St. Peter a monopoly on the profits of despoiling ancient buildings. Much of the destruction we see in the Roman Forum today was from Pope Paul’s men during the sixteenth century and not barbarians during the dark ages.

In 1549, Pope Paul III died, but not before placing his children and grandchildren into the European aristocracy.

III. Duchy to Decline: The Fall of House Farnese
If ever there was a time when the Catholic Church needed a leader, it was at the outbreak of the Protestant Reformation and after the 1527 Sack of Rome. Whether or not the leadership of Pope Paul III was outstanding, he was certainly remembered for getting the job done. Through his leadership, the Catholic Church reasserted its power and authority and was able to launch a Counter Reformation. After his death, however, Paul III left many unfinished projects. The first and foremost was repairing what would be centuries of damage to the Church’s success by Protestantism. But Paul III also left the papacy without fully ensuring the Farnese family’s legacy and political status. Pope Paul had worked for nearly ten years to secure the duchy of Castro for his ill-mannered and unscrupulous illegitimate son, Pierluigi Farnese, in addition to the duchy of Parma-Piacenza. Pierluigi, the black sheep, certainly left something to be desired: he was rumored to be a homosexual who raped and murdered a bishop. He was even rumored to be depicted as the “lost soul” in Michelangelo’s Last Judgement. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for the Farnese, Pierluigi died in 1547 shortly before Pope Paul III.

After the passing of the one and only Farnese pope, the family was left with two main patriarchs: Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III, and Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma-Piacenza and nephew of Cardinal Alessandro. Both the Cardinal and the Duke became important international political figures and helped preserve a legacy for the Farnese family and the papacy of Paul III. From the beginning of his career, Cardinal Alessandro was one of the most important and influential cardinals, occupying a position of power similar to that of a prime minister to Pope Paul III. This position would later become known as cardinale nipote, or cardinal nephew/grandson. He also continued Paul III’s precedent for church leadership by seeing the end of the Council of Trent and continued reforms in the Church.

Cardinal Alessandro was well-liked and philanthropic. This worked to his advantage during the papacy of Julius III Del Monte, when his diplomatic skills helped alleviate growing pressure on the family to cede their holdings as nobles. Eventually, intermarriage between the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V and Ottavio Farnese created a blood bond that protected the Farnese from papal interference. By 1556, Phillip II of Spain had assumed the throne and cast a watchful but friendly eye over the Farnese duchy. In Rome, Cardinal Alessandro promoted the Farnese family through generous donations and the acquisition or development of properties such as Villa Chigi, Farnese Gardens, and, of course, Palazzo Farnese. He also funded the building of Il Gesù, the flagship church of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit religious order approved by Paul III as a means to fight the Protestant Reformation). At his passing in 1589, the whole city of Rome participated in the funeral services due his status as a prominent civic figure and his financial contributions to the lay people.

Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma-Pacienza and Castro, was also an important leader during the latter half of the 16th century. He became an important military leader for Phillip II of Spain (who was his uncle through his mother, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V). Leading military campaigns throughout Europe, he was noted for his efforts in the Netherlands and Turkey. He died three years after Cardinal Alessandro in 1592. This worked in the favor of Phillip II, who had become worried about Duke Alessandro’s political ambitions.

After the more influential Farnese passed away at the end of the 16th century, the last of the Farnese dynasty died in 1731. Most of the family left Rome in the 17th century, bringing their art collections with them. The last resident of Palazzo Farnese died in 1642, and the last Farnese cardinal died in 1668.

IV. Bibliography
Gamrath, Helge. Farnese: Pomp, Power and Politics in Renaissance Italy. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2007.
Majanlahti, Anthony. “The Farnese.” The Families Who Made Rome: A History and a Guide. London: Chatto & Windus, 2005.
Williams, George L. Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes. Jefferson: McFarland, 1998. 76.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Della Rovere Family

Team 2: Mauna Edrozo, Katie Saunders, Erik Scheer

In the 15th century the Della Rovere family emerged from general anonymity to take a position of high power within the upper echelons of the city of Rome. Francesco della Rovere (1414-1484) is credited as the first of his family to achieve upwards mobility. The Della Rovere family worked as minor merchants and landowners in Savona, a region in Northwestern Italy, until Francesco brought the family to prominence in Rome. Francesco was groomed from a young age to join the Franciscan order of the Church. As a young adult, Francesco moved to attend the university in Perugia, where he studied theology and philosophy. His religious writings brought him to the attention of Pope Paul II who later appointed Francesco as cardinal of San Pietro in Vincoli, one of the most prestigious and sacred churches of Rome. After Pope Paul II’s death in 1471, Francesco was elected to the papal position and chose to take the name of Sixtus IV.

During his thirteen years as pope, Sixtus IV transformed the papacy, advertised himself as an urban renovator, and revived Rome as a center of art and culture. At the beginning of his papacy Rome was described as a cadaver of its historical glory, but through extensive civic restoration projects Sixtus IV was able to revive Rome’s past and modernize the urban space. Sixtus IV expanded the papal power into areas that were traditionally governed by municipal authorities. He had new roads built and old ones renovated, and he extended the aqueduct system to reach more people. Under his direction new churches were constructed, including the Santa Maria della Pace, the Santa Maria del Popolo, and the Sistine Chapel. He opened the Vatican Library and appointed Platina as the first head librarian. The Ponte Sisto Bridge was built to facilitate pilgrimage traffic and the Santo Spirito Hospital was modernized. He also contributed to the Capitoline Museum, the first public collection of antiquities in all of Europe. Through his papacy Sixtus IV encouraged the sponsorship of artists such as Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Signorelli, and Roselli, creating a Rome that could compete with the burgeoning art scene in Florence.

Despite Pope Sixtus IV’s accomplishments, he was and still is an extremely controversial
character in Roman history. His career as pope is marked by nepotism, murky alliances, and scandals. He used his position as pope to establish a niche for the Della Rovere family within Rome—six of his nephews were awarded prominent political positions, one of whom would later be elected to the papal position as well—and create a legacy of papal authority that would continue well into the future. However, Sixtus IV’s life marked the beginning of a new era in which Rome would rediscover its grandeur as the Eternal City.

The next della Rovere to take on the papal mantle was Julius II. Born Giuliano della Rovere, Pope Julius II came to power in 1503. A Franciscan, he was the son of Sixtus IV’s brother, and had in 1471 become a cardinal thanks to Sixtus, and soon developed an impressive collection of benefices, or paid ecclesiastical offices. He succeeded Pius III, who had only lived for about a month following his succession of Alexander VI. Julius’ election had previously been halted when several Spanish cardinals appointed by Alexander VI, who belonged to the Borgia family, refused to vote in his favor due to their preexisting alliance with the Borgia. Prior to his election, Julius also had to contend with competition from his brother Pietro and his cousin, amongst other family members who had benefited from the nepotism of Sixtus, which was thus a double-edged sword of sorts. He had also engaged in military and diplomatic missions on behalf of the papacy, playing an instrumental role in the entrance of France into Italy to advance his position at the expense of then-pope Alexander VI.

Upon the death of the ailing Pius III, Julius must not have been entirely displeased when he found himself again in line to become pope after so short an interval of time. This time around, he pledged his support for Cesare Borgia, Alexander’s son, as Duke of the Romagna, amongst other concessions limiting papal authority to the benefit of the cardinals. He was elected the next day with the overwhelming support of all the cardinals. He also worked to ensure his victory by distributing his multiple benefices in exchange for support. Seeking to solidify control of the papal states and papal primacy in Italy, he made a dramatic about-face and expelled Cesare Borgia, as well as personally leading a series of military campaigns seeking mostly to undermine the French influence, not just in the papal states but actually throughout Italy. He was famous for his temper, which led to his nickname, “il papa terrible,” which means literally the terrible pope – terrible, however, not in the sense of incompetence or moral depravity, but rather in the sense of inspiring awe. By the end of his time as pope he had become very popular with the people, and massive crowds turned out to mourn his death in 1513.

On the one hand, Julius II’s holding of multiple benefices and his military campaigns, as well as his well-known sexual relationships with various youths and his fathering of illegitimate children could be seen – and were seen by some – as continuing the type of papal corruption that Dante would later decry in his Inferno. On the other hand, however, he was notable for the relatively modest degree to which he favored family members for important positions – the contrast between him and his predecessor Alexander VI when it came to the practice of nepotism led Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt to call him the “saviour of the papacy.” Julius II also heard mass regularly and held it frequently, and helped expand the church in the new world, as well as taking measures to combat various types of corruption in the church, including the practice of simony, or the selling of positions of wealth and influence in the church.

His legacy can be seen today mostly in the large amount of art he commissioned. He commissioned great works by Michelangelo and Rafael, including Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, frescos by Rafael in the Vatican, and Michelangelo’s now-famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. He also undertook projects of urban development and ambitious construction projects designed by architects Donato Bramante and Guiliano de Sangallo.

After the death of Julius II, the Della Rovere family continued to be an important force within Rome and the surrounding states despite loosing control over the papacy.
Raffaele Riario Sansoni, a vice chancellor at the time, rose to become the most powerful member of the once glorious family. He had a massive palace attached to the church of San Lorenzo also known as the Cancelleria. Sansoni is also known to have introduced Michelangelo to Rome. However, his power began to fade when wee was discovered to have been involved in a plot against Julius’ successor Leo X de’Medici.

Then the Riario Sforza branch of the family took power in Bologna as nobles and also being dukes in the Kingdom of Naples.

Another branch of the family, the Della Rovere of Urbino, followed the successes of the Riario Sforza and in fact even eclipsed them in fortune. Although Francesco Maria I was unseated from his duchy, he was reinstated and founded a new line of dukes that would last through the next century. Guidobaldo II and Francesco Maria II, son and grandson respectively, administered territories more or less independent of the pope. Furthermore, Francesco Maria II’s grandaughter, Vitorria Feltria della Rovere was engaged to the duke of Tuscany. What they managed to preserve of their family legacy now fills the Pitti and Uffizi galleries.

The family survives even today. Francesco Maria I’s granddaughter married into the Lante family and remain roman nobles to this day. They have even infiltrated a new sector, the film industry, through the work Lucrezia Lante della Rovere, a film star. Additionally, another branch integrated themselves into the nobility of Genoa.

The Roman Imperial Families

Team 1: Christine Shiao, David Bergsman, Shurui Sun, Catherine Hennessey, Kristin DeVleming, Yuting Ma

The Imperial Families of Rome are, in reality, not a family in the truest sense of the word. Most of the emperors that ruled Rome were not related by blood, and the ones that were related were so only very distantly (with a few notable exceptions). Politics and key adoptions became far more important than blood relation. The Imperial Families as a whole are an amalgam of different families, grouped either by bloodline or the time that they reigned.

That being said, the first family to lead the Roman Empire was the Julio-Claudian family. This family encompasses all the emperors of Rome that could relate themselves directly to Julius Caesar.

Gaius Octavius Caesar, otherwise known as emperor Augustus, was the first of the Julio-Claudian emperors. His claim to power came from the fact that he was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar died in 44 B.C., Augustus inherited all of Caesar's properties and wealth. Augustus himself was a brilliant politician, using his mastery of propoganda to propel himself to the forefront of Roman life. He ended the Roman Senate system with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, the Second Triumverate, eventually defeating those two to make himself the emperor in 27 B.C.

As emperor, Augustus was incredibly effective. He commissioned many temples, roads, and various public buildings. In addition, Augustus ended much of the corruption that occurred during the Roman Senate. He appointed just and fair politicians to various spots in the republic. During his reign, Rome was also at peace - a period is known as the Pax Augustus.

Augustus died peacefully in 14 A.D. Following him were Emperors Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius, all of which I must omit because of time limitations. They were all emperors that did not measure up to Augustus, each ruling over a declining Roman Empire.

The very last of the Julio-Claudian family is Nero. Nero, in his short reign of 14 years, did many things that marked the final end of the already weakened Roman Empire (compared to the time of Augustus). For example, Nero executed his mother and brother. This also affected the people of Rome, for he fancied himself to be a great actor and singer and forced people to fill amphitheaters and listen to him under the threat of death. He was even rumored to have set Rome on fire to make way for his Golden Palace - the saying states that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. And last, but not least, Nero was one of the earliest prosecutors of the Christians. After Nero was declared a public enemy by the Roman senate, he committed suicide, ending the Julio-Claudian family and plummeting Rome into a period of darkness.

Vespasian was the 9th emperor who ruled from AD 69-79. He gained his reputation as a successful military commander who led the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43. Joining forces with the governor of Syria, Vespasian gained control over Egypt while the governor led Flavian forces against Vitellius (previous emperor in 69). Vitellius was then defeated, leading the Roman Senate to declare Vespasian as emperor.

The kind, older emperor belonged to a plebian family so he was able to better understand the needs and wants of the common people. Vespasian was unlike previous rulers in that chose to have himself depicted not as idealized, but rather more naturalistic. Therefore, art and literature were influenced to return back to realistic styles from the past.

Emperor Vespasian made a great decision in 71 AD to begin the Templum Pacis - a large, multifunction monumental complex that was erected in the center of Rome. Additionally, this was believed to have been on the site of the Republican Macellum which was most likely destroyed in the Neronian fire of 64. The Templum Pacis consisted of a large square with water canals connecting to fountains and a set of rectangular rooms along the southeastern end of the square. It housed a number of famous works from the Greeks and displayed a Marble Plan of the city of Rome. The building played a role in the urban administration of Rome and was also employed as a private bank. It served an important cultural function by having a place where people could engage with the ideals of Greek culture; they were able to experience a specific kind of leisure with emphasis on the culture. All of this allowed Vespasian to connect himself to Augustus, the “good” emperor by dedicating it to pax (peace) and situating the building such that it was facing the Forum Augustum.

All in all, Vespasian’s way of subtly contrasting himself with Nero was done by giving to the public. Rather than using the imperial land of Nero’s Golden House, Vespasian built the Amphitheatre Flavium on part of its site for his people of Rome. This way, he had symbolically turned over the land that Nero had taken away from people back to the Populus Romanus.

After Emperor Vespasian died, his son, Titus, took his place as emperor in 79 AD. Titus, born in 39 AD, was also a military general like his father, and together, they began the seige of Jerusalem in 66 AD, which Titus eventually finished in 70 AD.
Despite his relatively short reign as emperor, Titus was well received by the Senate. He was the first emperor to hold gladiatorial games in the Colosseum, which was finished in 80 AD, and when Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering Pompeii, Titus provided a significant amount of relief to the victims of this eruption, much of the funding coming from his own coffers.
Two years after becoming emperor, Titus died a premature death in 81 AD. The causes of this death are still in question. Some sources believe that Titus had a brain tumor. Other sources suggest that Domitian, his brother, poisoned him in order to take his place as ruler. Another account, perhaps the most farfetched, suggets that a bug began eating away at his brain, eventually reaching the size of a bird before killing him. Regardless, Titus died fairly quickly after becoming Emperor, leaving his brother, Domitian, the throne.

Trajan was named one of the Five Great Emperors. Each of these emperors was known as being moderate, less oppressive rulers who had earned the respect of the Roman people. Additionally, the emperor preceding each of Five Great Emperors had adopted them, such that the current emperor could choose their successor.
Emperor Nerva (who ruled after Domitian) adopted Trajan in AD 97, making Trajan, who was born in Spain, the first emperor not of Italian descent. The adoption was a wise political move for Nerva because he did not have the loyalty of the Roman Army. Trajan, on the other hand, had earned this respect as he had formerly been an army commander and senator, and was currently Governor of Upper Germany.
Trajan’s most well-know works of commissioned art include the Forum, Market and Column of Trajan, as well as Trajan’s Bridge, which extends across the Danube River. Additionally, Trajan also put forth an impressive building program, which built roads, aqueducts and bridges throughout the Roman Empire, not just in the city of Rome. This showed a dedication to the empire as a whole.
Trajan died in AD 117 from a stroke on the way back to Rome from the outer boundaries of the Roman Empire. On his deathbed, Trajan adopted Hadrian so that he could choose his successor. To some, this was expected as they were distantly relayed by blood; Trajan’s cousin was Hadrian’s father.

Hadrian became emperor in 117 AD, the adopted heir of Trajan and the next in the line of the Five Great Emperors. There is some speculation as to the legitimacy of his adoption by Trajan as it was Trajan’s wife, not Trajan himself, that announced the official adoption. Regardless of the circumstances, Hadrian accepted his new position and, despite spending about a year in Syria before returning to Rome (initially raising concerns in the Roman people), proved to be a fair and moderate emperor.

He was very well educated with a mild obsession for Greek culture. This is evident in his rebuilding of the Pantheon, fusing Greek and Roman architectural styles to create one of the most iconic buildings in the world. His intensive building program also focused on cultural pursuits, such as libraries and bath houses. Hadrian didn’t just build these in Rome, either, but spent most of his time as emperor traveling throughout the empire, initiating building projects in more underdeveloped parts of it.
One of his main focuses as emperor was controlling his Empire and centering it in Rome. He built walls in Britain and fortified the Danube and Rhine rivers. He even gave the land that Trajan had worked so hard to conquer back to the Dacians because he didn’t know if he could control it all. He didn’t focus on expanding the Empire but rather controlling and improving what he already had.

During his reign, Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius to be his successor but also wanted to ensure the empire would move in the direction he wanted it to. Thus, he forced Antoninus Pius to adopt Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius to be his successors. They continued the reign of the Five Great Emperors, focusing on controlling the Empire instead of expanding it. After this period, the Roman Empire, which had its greatest span under Trajan, began its slow decline.

After Hadrian, the Roman Empire moved into a relatively depressive period without notable progressions for nearly 150 years. During this period, the empire suffered from the Crisis of the Third Century (235 -284 AD), in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under pressures from invasions, civil war, plague and economic depression. It was not until Diocletian who ended the depression by establishing the largest and the most bureaucratic government in the Roman history. However, he also conducted the last, largest and the bloodiest persecution to Christians, which was finally reversed by Constantine.

Constantine was the son of the emperor and tetrarch, Constantius Chlorus, born on 274 AD. Constantine became the tetrarch after his father in 306 AD and took over the city Rome Bridge. Additionally, Constantine centralized his power by conquering the co-emperor Linicius during the year 324 AD.

Constantine was best known as the first Christian Roman emperor, though he didn’t prohibit paganism when he first came to power. Constantine’s most remarkable achievement was the Edict of Milan on 313 AD, which not only reversed the continuous persecution to Christians but also proclaimed religious tolerance throughout the empire. Constantine was ingenious with regards to this religious inclination, which enabled the empire transformed for ancient beliefs to Christianity gradually in avoid of any revolutionary manners.

Constantine was a historically important figure because he also constructed the new Roman capital over the thousand-year-old Greek colony of Byzantium, renaming it as “Constantinople”, which, in modern Turkish, is “Istanbul.” This new city remained the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for another one