Orsini family

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The Orsini family was one of the most celebrated princely families in medieval Italy and renaissance Rome. Members of the Orsini include popes Celestine III (1191–1198), Nicholas III (1277–1280), and Benedict XIII (1724–1730), 34 Cardinals of the Roman Church and numerous condottieri and other significant political and religious figures.

Contents

Origins

According to their family legend, the Orsini are descended from the Julio-Claudian family of ancient Rome. This is fanciful, as is the alleged connection to the German families of Anhalt, Baden and Bohemian Rosenberg sporting the same name. The Orsini also carried on a political feud with the Colonna family until it was stopped by Papal Bull in 1511; in 1571 the Chiefs of both families married the nieces of Pope Sixtus V.

The Orsini were related to the Boboni family existing in Rome in the 11th century. The first members always used the surname of Boboni-Orsini. The first known family member is one Bobone, in the early 11th century, father of Pietro, in turn father of Giacinto dei Boboni (1110–1198), who in 1191 became pope as Celestine III. One of the first great nepotist popes, he made two of his nephews cardinals and allowed his cousin Giovanni Gaetano (Giangaetano, died 1232) to buy the fiefs of Vicovaro, Licenza, Roccagiovine and Nettuno, which formed the nucleus of the future territorial power of the family. The Boboni surname was lost with his children, who were called de domo filiorum Ursi. Two of them, Napoleone and Matteo Rosso the Great (1178–1246) considerably increased the prestige of the family. The former was the founder of the first southern line, which disappeared with Camillo Pardo in 1553. He obtained the city of Manoppello, later a countship, and was gonfaloniere of the Papal States. Matteo Rosso, called the Great, was the effective lord of Rome from 1241, when he defeated the Imperial troops, to 1243, holding the title of Senator. Two of his sons and Napoleone were also Senators. Matteo ousted the traditional rivals, the Colonna, from Rome and extended the Orsini territories southwards up to Avellino and northwards to Pitigliano. During his life the family entered firmly in the Guelph party. He had some ten sons, which divided the fiefs after his deaths: Gentile (died 1246) originated the Pitigliano line and the second southern line. Rinaldo that of Monterotondo, Napoleone (died 1267) that of Bracciano and another Matteo Rosso that of Montegiordano, from the name of the district in Rome housing the family's fortress. The most distinguished of his sons was however Giovanni Gaetano (died 1280): elected pope as Nicholas III, he named the nephew Bertoldo (died 1289) as count of Romagna and had two nephews and a brother created cardinals.

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