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The Aleramici were a medieval family of Italian nobility which ruled various northwestern counties and marches from the tenth to the fourteenth century. The founder of the family was William I of Montferrat, a Frank, who came over to Italy in 888 or 889 to aid his fellow Frank Guy III of Spoleto in a quest for the Iron Crown of Lombardy. His son Aleram was the first to carry the title marchio or margrave. By the twelfth century, the Aleramici were one of the most considerable in Piedmont, related to the Capetians and the Hohenstaufen. Members of the family participated frequently in the Crusades, and became kings and queens of Jerusalem. They also married into the Byzantine imperial families of Comnenus, Angelus, and Palaeologus and, as a result of the Fourth Crusade, founded the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonica. At the end of the 11th century the family was split into two main branches: one ruled Montferrat until 1305; the other (Del Vasto) ruled the south of Piedmont and western Liguria. In the middle of XII century the Del Vasto family branched again into several lines, governing smaller marquisates, such as Saluzzo (from 1135 to 1548), Finale (ruled by the Del Carretto from 1135 to 1602), Ceva, Busca and Clavesana. The Del Carretto had many collateral lines in Piedmont, in Sicily and apparently even in France (de la Charrette). On the other hand the Lancia are a branch of tha marquesses of Busca.


Region Turin (carrier Otto II also Otho, Ottone, or Oddone; c. 1015)


Date 1080+


Traits + authority (likely to rule)






The Della Rovere from Savona, Liguria, in the late period the family rose to prominence through nepotism and ambitious marriages arranged by two Della Rovere popes, the most successful match established a line of dukes of Urbino


Region Genoa


Date 1400+


Traits Guelph, + influence, + piety




The Manfredi held the lordship of Faenza from the beginning of the 14th century that was to last for two centuries. The peak of splendour was reached under Carlo II Manfredi, in the second half of the century, when the city centre was renewed. In 1488 Galeotto Manfredi was assassinated by his wife: his son Astorre III succeeded him, but was in turn killed in Rome as a prisoner of Cesare Borgia, who had captured Faenza in 1501.


Region Ravenna


Date 1300+


Traits Guelph, + authority (likely to rule), prone to assassination, disloyal




The Ordelaffi were a family of Italian condottieri and rulers of Forlì in the Late Middle Ages


Region Ravenna


Date 1300+


Traits Ghibelline, + command, + authority (likely to rule)




The House of Malatesta was an Italian family that ruled over Rimini from 1295 until 1500, as well as (in different periods) other lands and towns in Romagna. Malatesta da Verucchio (d. 1312), a Guelph leader, became podestà (chief magistrate) of Rimini in 1239 and made himself sole master of the city after the expulsion of the family's Ghibelline rivals, the Parcitadi, in 1295. His hunchback son Giovanni Malatesta is chiefly famous because of the 1285 tragedy, recorded in Dante's Inferno, when he killed his wife Francesca da Polenta and his younger brother Paolo, having discovered them in adultery. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Malatesta ruled over a number of cities in the Romagna and the Marche, including Pesaro, Fano, Cesena, Fossombrone and Cervia. Several Malatesta were condottieri at the service of various Italian states. The most famous was Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, who was engaged in conflict with the papacy over territorial claims. His grandson Pandolfo was eventually expelled from Rimini in 1500 by Cesare Borgia.


Region Ravenna


Date 1215+


Traits + command, + authority (likely to rule), - piety




Este or Azzo originated in the early period. During 1080 Alberto Azzo II was the main patriarch, Margrave of Milan, and Liguria, Count of Gavello and Padua, Rovigo, Lunigiana, Monselice, and Montagnana. Thereafter the house split into two branches; the elder is known as the House of Welf-Este or House of Welf, the younger, as the House of Fulc-Este or later simply as the House of Este. The elder branch of the House of Este, the House of Welf, produced dukes of Bavaria (1070–1139, 1156–1180), dukes of Saxony (1138–1139, 1142–1180), a German king (1198–1218), and most impactful upon history, the dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg (1208–1918)—who were later styled the "Electors of Hanover". The younger branch of the House of Este included rulers of Ferrara (1240–1597), and Modena and Reggio (1288–1796).


Region Milan


Date 1080+


Traits + fertility, + authority




The Colonna family was a powerful noble family in medieval Rome, supplying one Pope and many other leaders. Their family is notable for their bitter feud with the Orsini family over influence in Rome until it was stopped by Papal Bull in 1511. According to tradition, the Colonna are a branch of the Counts of Tusculum — by Peter (1099-1151) son of Gregory III, called Peter "de Columna" from his property, the Columna Castle, in Colonna, Alban Hills. The first cardinal from the family was appointed in 1206 when Giovanni Colonna di Carbognano was made Cardinal Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano. In 1297, Cardinal Jacopo disinherited his brothers Ottone, Matteo, and Landolfo of their lands. The latter three appealed to Pope Boniface VIII, who ordered Jacopo to return the land, and furthermore hand over the family's strongholds of Colonna, Palestrina, and other towns to the Papacy. Jacopo refused; in May, Boniface removed him from the College of Cardinals and excommunicated him and his followers for four generations. The Colonna family (aside from the three brothers allied with the Pope) declared that Boniface had been elected illegally after the unprecedented abdication of Pope Celestine V three years previously. The dispute lead to open warfare, and in September Boniface appointed Landolfo to the command of his army, to put down the revolt of Landolfo's own relatives. This he did, and by the end of 1298 Colonna, Palestrina, and other towns had been captured and razed to the ground. The family's lands were distributed among Landolfo and his loyal brothers; the rest of the family fled Italy. In the 1300s, the family sponsored the decoration of the Church of San Giovanni, most notably the floor mosaics.


Region Rome


Date 1080+


Traits + influence, - piety,




Montefeltro Ruled Urbino and Rimini. The family's reign began in 1267 when Buonconte I da Montefeltro was elected podestà of Urbino. He and his descendants were leaders of the Ghibellines of the Marche and the Romagna. Bonconte was succeeded by Montefeltrano (1214-55), and Guido I (1255-1286 and 1293-1296), who was captain of Forlì during wars with the French and papal armies. Pope Boniface VIII absolved him from censures for his actions in those wars, and employed him against Palestrina and the Colonna. Guido's successor, Federico I (1296-1322), increased his domains by taking Fano, Osimo, Recanati, Gubbio, Spoleto, and Assisi from the Holy See. He was murdered after levying high taxes, and Urbino fell under papal control. In 1323, however, Frederico's son Nolfo (1323-1359) was proclaimed lord of Urbino. In 1355, as a papal legate, Cardinal Albornoz, travelled through Italy restoring papal authority, Urbino once more came under the control of the Holy See. Nolfo's son Federico was left without any authority, but his son, Antonio (1377-1403), took advantage of the rebellion of the Marche and Umbria against the Holy See (1375) to restore his authority in Urbino. Guidantonio (1403-1443) was appointed ruler of the Duchy of Spoleto by Pope Martin V (1419) and carried on war against Braccio da Montone with varying fortune. His son, Oddo Antonio, was assassinated after only a few months in power. The Urbinese then offered the lordship to Federico III (1444-1482), the illegitimate son of Guidantonio, a pupil of Vittorino da Feltre's school and a lover of art. Under him Urbino became a cultural center of the Renaissance. He was implicated in the wars against Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, the pope, René of Anjou, and Florence. Pope Sixtus IV conferred on him the title of Duke of Urbino (1474). Guidobaldo I (1492-1508) was forced to flee Urbino to escape the armies of Cesare Borgia. He adopted Francesco Maria della Rovere (1508-38), his sister's child, thus uniting the signoria of Sinigaglia with Urbino.


Region Ravenna


Date 1200


Traits Ghibelline, + authority (likely to rule), + tax, prone to assassination




The Orseolos were a Venetian family, three members of which filled the office of doge and one which became de facto ruler of Hungary. Pietro I Orseolo (c. 928–997) acted as ambassador to the emperor Otto I before he was elected doge in August 976. Just previous to this event part of Venice had been burned down and Pietro began the rebuilding of St. Mark's Basilica and the ducal palace. He is chiefly celebrated, however, for his piety and his generosity, and after holding office for two years he left Venice secretly and retired to a monastery in Aquitaine, where he passed his remaining days. Pietro II Orseolo (died 1009), a son of the previous doge, was himself elected to this office in 991. He was a great builder, but his chief work was to crush the pirates of the Adriatic Sea and to bring a long stretch of the Dalmatian coast under the rule of Venice, thus relieving the commerce of the republic from a great and pressing danger. The fleet which achieved this result was led by the doge in person; it sailed on Ascension Day, 9 May 1000, and its progress was attended with uninterrupted success. In honor of this victory the Venetians instituted the ceremony which afterwards grew into the sposalizio del mar, or Marriage of the Sea, and which was celebrated each year on Ascension Day, while the doge added to his title that of duke of Dalmatia. In many other ways Pietro's services to the state were considerable, and he may be said to be one of the chief founders of the commercial greatness of Venice. The doge was on very friendly terms with the emperor Otto III and also with the emperors at Constantinople, and in 1003 he sailed against the Saracens and compelled them to raise the siege of Bari. In 1003 his son Giovanni was associated with him in the dogeship, and on Giovanni's death in 1007 another son, Ottone, succeeded to this position. Otto Orseolo (died 1032), whose godfather was the emperor Otto III, became sole doge on his father's death in 1009. He married a sister of Stephen I of Hungary, and under his rule Venice was powerful and prosperous. One of his brothers, Orso, was patriarch of Grado; another, Vitalis, was bishop of Torcello, but the growing wealth and influence of the Orseolo family soon filled the Venetians with alarm. About 1024 Ottone and Orso were driven from Venice, but when Orso's rival, Poppo, Patriarch of Aquileia, seized Grado, the exiled doge and his brother was recalled and Grado was recovered. In 1026 Ottone was banished; he found a refuge in Constantinople, where he remained until his death, although in 1030 an embassy invited him to return to Venice, where his brother Orso acted as agent for fourteen months. Orso remained patriarch of Grado until his death in 1045, and another member of the Orseolo family, Domenico, was doge for a single day in 1031. After the fall of the Orseoli the Venetians decreed that no doge should name his successor, or associate any one with him in the dogeship. Ottone's son, Pietro, was king of Hungary for some time after the death of his uncle, St. Stephen, in 1038.


Region Venice


Date 1080


Traits Ghibelline, + authority (likely to rule), + influence, + piety, + building reduction cost, + trade bonus




The House of Welf is the older branch of the House of Este, a dynasty whose oldest known members lived in Lombardy in the 9th century. For this reason, it is sometimes also called Welf-Este. The first member of this branch was Welf IV; he inherited the property of the Elder House of Welf when his maternal uncle Welf, Duke of Carinthia, died in 1055. In 1070, Welf IV became duke of Bavaria. Welf V married Countess Matilda of Tuscany who died childless and left him her possessions, including Tuscany, Ferrara, Modena, Mantua, and Reggio, which played a role in the Investiture controversy. Since the Welf dynasty sided with the Pope in this controversy, partisans of the Pope came to be known in Italy as "Guelphs". Henry the Black, duke of Bavaria from 1120–1126, was the first of the three dukes of the Welf dynasty carrying the same name. His son, Henry the Proud, duke of Bavaria and also of Saxony, was the favoured candidate in the imperial election against Conrad III of the Hohenstaufen. Henry lost the election, as the other princes feared his power and temperament, and was dispossessed of his duchies by Conrad III. Henry the Lion recovered his father's two duchies, Saxony in 1142, Bavaria in 1156. In 1158 he married Matilda (1156–1189), the daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and sister of Richard Lionheart. Dispossessed of his duchies after the Battle of Legnano in 1176 by Emperor Frederick I and the other princes of the German Empire eager to claim parts of his vast territories, he was exiled to the court of his father-in-law Henry II in Normandy in 1180, but returned to Germany three years later. Henry died in 1195. His son Otto of Brunswick was elected king and crowned emperor as Otto IV. His grandson Otto the Child became 1235 the duke of a part of Saxony, the new so-called Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and died there in 1252. The Welf dynasty of Brunswick-Lüneburg would continue to rule in Hanover for centuries.


  • Note Only Welf son of Alberto Azzo carries this family name, all other sons of Alberto Azzo carry the Azzo name.


Region Milan


Date 1080


Traits Guelph, + authority (likely to rule), + influence, + fertility




Scaligeri were a noble family of the German Scaliger, becoming Scaligeri or della Scala, they were Lords of Verona. When Ezzelino III was elected podestà of the commune in 1226, he was able to convert the office into a permanent lordship. Upon his death the Great Council elected as podestà Mastino I, who succeeded in converting the signoria (seigniory) into a family inheritance, governing at first with the acquiescence of the commune, then, when they failed to re-elect him in 1262, he effected a coup d'état and was acclaimed capitano del popolo ("people's captain"), at the head of the commune's troops. In 1272 Mastino was killed by a faction of the nobles. The reign of his son Alberto as capitano (1277-1302) was one incessant war against the counts of San Bonifacio, who were aided by the House of Este. Of his three sons, Cangrande I inherited the podestà position in 1308, only the last shared the government (1308) and made a name as warrior, prince and patron of Dante, Petrarch and Giotto. By war or treaty he brought under his control the cities of Padua (1328), Treviso (1329), and Vicenza. Cangrande I was succeeded by his nephews Mastino II (1329-51) and Alberto. Mastino, the richest and most powerful prince of his generation in Italy, continued his uncle's policy, conquering Brescia in 1332 and carrying his power beyond the Po. He purchased Parma (1335) and Lucca (1339). But a powerful league was formed against him in 1337: Florence, Venice, the Visconti, the Este and the Gonzaga all joined, and after a three years war, the Scaliger dominions were reduced to Verona and Vicenza. His son Cangrande II (1351-59) was a cruel and suspicious tyrant; not trusting his own subjects, he surrounded himself with German mercenaries but was killed by his brother Cansignorio (1359-75), who beautified Verona with palaces, provided it with aqueducts and bridges, and founded the state treasury. He too killed his other brother, Paolo Alboino and Antonio (1375-87), Cansignorio's natural brother, slew his brother Bartolomeo, all of which aroused the indignation of the people, who deserted him when Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan made war on him. Having exhausted all his resources, he fled from Verona at midnight (October 19, 1387), thus putting an end to the Scaliger domination. His son Can Francesco attempted fruitlessly to recover Verona (1390). Guglielmo (1404), natural son of Cangrande II, was more fortunate; with the support of the people, he drove out the Milanese, but he died ten days after, and Verona then submitted to Venice (1405). The last representatives of the Scaligeri lived at the imperial court and repeatedly attempted to recover Verona by the aid of popular risings. After the Scaligeri had been ousted, a member of the family, Giulio Cesare della Scala, made a reputation as a humanist poet. The church of Santa Maria Antica in Verona is surrounded with the tombs (arche) of the Scaligeri in the form of Gothic shrines, or tempietti, enclosing their sarcophagi: Cangrande della Scala is memorialized with an equestrian statue; Cansignorio by a marble Gothic monument by Bonino da Campione, 1374.


Region Verona


Date 1200+


Traits + authority (likely to rule), + influence, - popularity, - disloyal




Visconti began in Pisa and may have stemmed a branch which resurged to assert control later in Milan. In total the family boasted 16 rulers of major cities during the Middle Ages, making them by far one of the most successful dynasties of their time. he first Visconti of note in Pisa was Alberto, who bore the title patrician. Alberto's son, Eldizio, bore the titles patrician and consul from 1184 to 1185. It was Eldizio's sons, Lamberto and Ubaldo I, who brought the family to the height of its influence in Pisa and Sardinia. Both of them carried the title of patrician and each served a term as podestà. In 1212, there was complete anarchy in Pisa as various factions, pro- and anti-Visconti, warred over the political authority. In mid-January 1213, William I of Cagliari led a coalition of anti-Visconti forces to victory in battle near Massa over the combined forces of Lucca and the Visconti under Ubaldo. Afterwards, Pisa divided power between four rectores, one of which was a Visconti. The Visconti of Sardinia continued to take a part in Pisan politics to the end of the century, but their influence there was greatly diminished after 1213.In Sardinia Eldizio had married a daughter of Torchitorio III of Cagliari, who became the mother of Lamberto and Ubaldo. In 1207, Lamberto married Elena, the heiress of Barisone II of Gallura, thus securing control over the northeastern corner of Sardinia with his capital at Civita. In 1215, he and Ubaldo established their hegemony over the Giudicato of Cagliari in the south of the island as well. Through advantageous marriages, Lamberto's son, Ubaldo II, even secured power in Logudoro for a time. By mid century, Pisan authority was unopposed in Sardinia thanks to the Visconti, who were allied by marriage with the other great families of Pisa (Gherardeschi and Capraia) and Sardinia (Lacon and Bas-Serra). The effectual founder of the Visconti of Milan, Ottone, wrested control of the city from the rival Della Torre family in 1277. The family, once risen to power, loved to claim legendary versions about its origins. Fancy genealogies were en vogue at the time, while established facts reflect quite sober and almost humble beginnings in the lesser nobility. The branch of the Visconti family that came to rule Milan was originally entrusted with the lordship of Massino (nowadays Massino Visconti), a hamlet in lovely position over Lago Maggiore, where they were in charge since the twelfth century as archiepiscopal vassals. It is thought that the Milanese Visconti had their origins in a family of capitanei whom archbishop Landulf of Milan (978-998) had granted certain feudal holdings known as caput plebis (at the head, likely in geographical and not hierarchical sense, of the pieve, an ecclesiastical lesser subdivision). A document from the year 1157 says the Visconti were holders of the captaincy of Marliano (today Mariano Comense); late chronicler Galvano Fiamma confirms this version. Decades before that, surely before 1070, they had gained the public office of viscount, to be later inherited down the male line (Biscaro, ASL, "I maggiori dei Visconti di Milano"). Soon the family dispersed into several branches, some of which were entrusted fiefs far off from the Lombard metropolis; the one which gave the Medieval lords of Milan is said to be descended from Umberto (d. in the first half of the 12th century). The Visconti ruled Milan until the early Renaissance, first as Lords, then, from 1395, with the mighty Gian Galeazzo who almost managed to unify Northern Italy and Tuscany, as Dukes. Visconti rule in Milan ended with the death of Filippo Maria Visconti in 1447. He was succeeded, after a short-lived republic, by his son-in-law Francesco I Sforza, who established the reign of the House of Sforza.


Region Pisa, Milan


Date 1150+


Traits ++ authority (likely to rule), ++ influence, + fertility




The Sforza dynasty was founded by Muzio Attendolo (1369-1424), called Sforza (from sforzare, to exert or force), a condottiero from Romagna serving the Angevin kings of Naples. He was the most successful dynast of the condottieri. His son Francesco I Sforza ruled Milan for the first half of the Renaissance era, acquiring the title of Duke of Milan from the extinct Visconti family in 1447. Rising from peasant origins, the Sforzas became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics. Under their rule the city-state flourished and expanded. Similar to the Medici in their use of personal power, the Sforzas differed in that they were warriors, not bankers. The family also held the seigniory of Pesaro, starting from Muzio Attendolo's second son, Alessandro (1409-1473). The Sforza held Pesaro until 1519, with the death of Galeazzo. Muzio's third son, Bosio (1411-1476), founded the branch of Santa Fiora, who held the title of count of Cotignola; the Sforza ruled the small county of Santa Fiora in southern Tuscany until 1624.


Region Milan


Date 1370+


Traits + command, + authority, + influence




The Adorno family was a patrician family in Genoa, Italy, of the Ghibelline party, several of whom were Doges of the republic. When the old aristocracy was exiled and new families seized power, the Adorno were first in line with branches of the family becoming prominent in Flanders and Spain. They acceded to real power in the 14th century when a revolution ended the rule of the old nobility in Genoa and eventually inaugurated that of two families, the Adorno and the Fregoso, who contended for the office of doge for a century and a half. The Adorno contributed six doges to the Republic of Genoa.


Region Genoa


Date 1340


Traits Ghibelline, + authority




The Borgias or Borjas were a Spanish-Italian noble family who became prominent during the Renaissance. They are remembered today for their corrupt rule when one of them was Pope. The Borgias have been accused of many different crimes, generally on considerable evidence, including adultery, simony, theft, rape, bribery, incest, and murder (especially murder by poison). Rodrigo, a cunning intriguer, was elected Pope in 1492, taking the name Alexander VI. He had several acknowledged children, of which Lucrezia and Cesare were best known. Cesare, with his father's backing, tried to become the ruler of Italy, managing to operate successfully as condottiero, lord, politician, and cardinal. But in 1503, Pope Alexander died suddenly. (It was said that he and Cesare accidentally drank a bottle of their own poisoned wine.) Cesare's intrigues collapsed, and he went off to Spain. Lucrezia Borgia is perhaps the most notarious member of the family, she was married to Giovanni Sforza (Lord of Pesaro), Alfonso of Aragon (Duke of Bisceglie), and Alfonso d'Este (Duke of Ferrara).


Region Rome


Date 1450


Traits - disloyal, - piety, + dread,




The Acciaioli family name is also written Acciainoli, or Accioly and Accioli -a line from one Gugliarello Acciaioli in the 12th century; who migrated from Brescia to Florence in 1160 because he was Guelph and fled Barbarossa's invasion of Northern Italy. The Acciaioli founded a powerful bank in the 13th century (Compagna di Ser Leone degli Acciaioli e de' suoi consorti) which had branches from Greece to Western Europe. Bishop Angiolo Acciaioli briefly ruled Florence in the mid-14th century after the deposition of Gauthier de Brienne. Later they associated themselves to the Albizzi and then to the elder Medici, in the 15th century. From about 1390 to 1460 they ruled the Duchy of Athens and kept close ties with the younger branch of the Medici through the marriage of Laudomia Acciaioli to Pierfrancesco de' Medici, from which the later Grand Dukes of Tuscany are descended, as well as several royal houses.


Region Florence


Date 1160


Traits Guelph, + trade, + authority




The presence of the Bentivoglio family is first recorded in the city of Bologna in 1323. Originally from the castle of that name in the neighborhood of Bologna, the family claimed descent from Enzio, King of Sardinia, an illegitimate son of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. During the fourteenth century, the family belonged to one of the workingmen's guilds at Bologna, and the family had gained power as pro-papist Guelph leaders in the fourteenth century. Amid the faction-conflicts of the commune Giovanni I Bentivoglio, with the help of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, declared himself signore and Gonfaloniere di Giustizia on March 14, 1401. When the Visconti turned hostile, Giovanni was defeated and killed on June 26, 1402 at the Battle of Casalecchio and was interred in the church of San Giacomo Maggiore. During the next few decades, the city's political status -and the family's fortunes- remained unpredictable. The son of Giovanni I, Anton Galeazzo (or Antongaleazzo, c. 1385-1435), was a lecturer in civil law who assumed power in Bologna in 1420, but was quickly overthrown. Anton Galeazzo became a condottiero, and was assassinated by papal officials on December 23, 1435 due to fears over his growing power (he had returned to Bologna on December 4). During his reign the Bentivoglio received the fief of Castel Bolognese. Annibale I, a putative son of Anton Galeazzo (his mother, Lina Canigiani, was said to be uncertain of the boy's paternity and the matter was decided by dice)[1], led a city revolt against the Papacy in 1438. He tried to make peace with the Visconti family and to convince the Pope not to place Bologna under his dominion. In 1442, the Visconti condottiere Niccolò Piccinino imprisoned Annibale and his supporters at Varano; Annibale was freed by Galeazzo Marescotti in 1443. When Annibale returned to Bologna, the powers of government were confirmed upon him, a sign that the city recognized the family’s political importance. Annibale, however, was assassinated by his rival Battista Canneschi, with the support of Pope Eugene IV, on June 24, 1445. He was succeeded by Sante I (1426-1463), also of uncertain paternity and origin, but alleged to be a son of Ercole Bentivoglio, a cousin of Annibale I. Originally an apprentice of the wool guild of Florence, Sante ruled as signore of Bologna from 1443. Sponsored by Cosimo de' Medici, Sante Bentivoglio ushered in a brief period of political tranquility. Always technically under papal control, the city obtained some actual autonomy and recreates a regime of the feudal type, creating a communal senate composed of the landowning nobility, the new rich, and the papal nobility. Bologna also strengthened its relations with Venice, Milan, and Florence. Sante was succeeded by Giovanni II (1443-1508), who ruled as virtual tyrant of Bologna. He was expelled by Pope Julius II in 1506. A son of Giovanni II, Annibale II (1469-1540), married Lucrezia d'Este, an illegitimate daughter of Duke Ercole I of Ferrara, in 1487. He served as a condottiero. In rebellion against Julius II, he reentered Bologna in 1511 with the help of the French and ruled for only a year. He was hated by other rival families, such as the Ghisilieri and the Canetoli, and was subsequently assassinated.


Region Bologna


Date 1323


Traits Guelph, ++ influence, + authority, + diplomacy




The Carafa were along with their relatives the Caracciolo a famous Neapolitan family of Italian nobles, clergy, and men of arts.


Region Naples


Date 1400


Traits + piety, + influence




Cavalcanti were wealthy members of the Guelph faction of Florentine aristocrats. Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti was a merchant banker who, with others, lent money under usurious conditions during the crusades with the consent and support of the papacy. In 1257 Cavalcanti served as Podestà (chief magistrate) of the Umbrian city Gubbio. Following the 1260 victory of the Ghibellines over Florentine Guelphs in the Battle of Montaperti, Calvancanti went into exile in the Tuscan city Lucca. He returned from exile in 1266 and married his son Guido to the daughter of Farinata degli Uberti, a prominent Ghibelline. Despite Cavalcanti's alignment with the papacy-supporting Guelphs, he was denounced as a heretic. It is possible that he was an atheist, like his son a Florentine poet, as well as an intellectual influence on his best friend, Dante.


Region Florence


Date 1230


Traits Guelph, Influenced by Heresy, + trade + tax




The Correggio were an Italian feudal family who were lords of Correggio, near Reggio Emilia, from the 11th to the 17th century. During the 13th century, as leaders of the Guelfs, they came to dominate the politics of Parma; and in 1303 Ghiberto da Correggio was acclaimed lord of the city, which he ruled until 1316. In 1341 his son Azzo, a friend of Petrarch, who dedicated to him the De remediis utriusque fortunae, recovered control of Parma, only to sell it again three years later to the Este family of Ferrara.


Region Reggio Emilia


Date 1080+


Traits Guelph, + influence, + authority




The Carraresi (or da Carrara) were an important family of northern Italy in the period 12th-15th centuries. As signori of Padua, their overwhelming power and patronage placed them in an isolated position far outshining any other single family. Their extensive land holdings in the Paduan contado were supplemented by extensive property within the commune itself, and their political prominence made them comparable to the Scaligeri of contemporary Verona, or the Visconti of Milan. In its period of domination in Padua from 1337 to 1405 the house of Carrara sustained a singular chapter in the history of patronage. Francesco il Vecchio, son of Giacomo, a close friend of Petrarch in his early years, was a noted patron of Petrarch himself and commissioned frescoes (destroyed) illustrating Petrarch's De viris illustribus in the palazzo, ca 1367-79, employing Guariento and others; Petrarch's retirement years were spent at Arquà, a Carrara fief, and he bequeathed to Francesco his picture of the Virgin by Giotto. Coming from Carrara Santo Stefano, near Padua, the family had their origin in a certain Gamberto/Gumberto, of Lombard origin, to judge from his name and that of his son Luitolfo, founder of the abbey of Carrara in 1027; Gumberto was signore of castrum Carrariae, the Castello of Carrara San Giorgio. Faithful to the Emperors generation after generation, after becoming lords of Pernumia, in 1338 they ousted the Veronese della Scala from Padua and became the lords of that city. In 1388 a coalition of Milanese and Venetian forced forced Francesco il Vecchio to abdicate in favor of his son The Venetians invested Paduan as Venetian territory in 1405. The elder Cararrese line was extinguished with the murders of Francesco Novello da Carrara and all his sons but Marsilio and bishop Stefano in a Venetian prison in 1406; Marsilio died soon after, and Stefano fled to Rome, where he lived until 1448; all Paduan bishops to the end of the Venetian Republic (1797), with two exceptions, were Venetian nobles. The Baptistery at Padua, which was under Carrarese patronage and served as their mortuary chapels, reverted to the bishop and the cathedral chapter; its Carrarese tombs were removed when the floor level was raised. Part of their palace in Padua is still standing. Notable parts are the Loggia and the Sala dei Giganti. They erected the important Abbazia di Santo Stefano abbey in the locality Carrara Santo Stefano, between the modern Due Carrare and Padua. The abbey's church, dedicated to Saint Stephen, is still standing today and contains, among others, the tomb of Marsilio da Carrara. In the 15th century the Carraresi were represented in the cadet male line of the two descended from 13th-century brothers Marsilio (the elder) and Jacopino (the younger). The imprese of the family coat of arms is a four-wheeled cart (carro), and the family colors are red and white, in a checkerboard arrangement.


Region Verona


Date 1080+


Traits + influence, + authority




The Da Polenta, or Polentani, were an old noble Italian family whose name derives from the Castle of Polenta near Bertinoro in Romagna. The founder of the house is said to have been Guido, surnamed l'Antico or the Elder, who wielded great authority in Ravenna in the 13th century. His grandson Guido Novello upheld the power of the house and was also capitano del popolo at Bologna; he was overthrown in 1322. His chief claim to renown lies in the fact that in 1321 he gave hospitality to the poet Dante, who immortalized the tragic history of Guido the Elder's daughter Francesca da Rimini, unhappily married to Giovanni Malatesta, lord of Rimini, in an episode of The Inferno. Guido's kinsman Ostasio I was lord of Cervia and Ravenna from 1322 to 1329. After being recognized as a vassal of the Holy See, he again became independent and went over to the house of Este, whom he served faithfully in their struggles with the Church until his death in 1346. His son Bernardino, who succeeded him as lord of Ravenna in 1346, was deposed in 1347 by his brothers, Pandolfo and Lamberto II, but was reinstated a few months later and ruled until his death in 1359; he was famous for his profligacy and cruelty. His son Guido III ruled more mildly and died in 1390. Then followed Ostasio II (died 1396), Bernandino (died 1400), Obizzo (died 1431), Pietro (died 1404), Aldobrandino (d. 1406), all sons of Guido III. Ostasio III (or V), son of Obizzo, was at first allied with the Venetians; later he went over to the Milanese, and, although he again joined the Venetians, the latter never forgave his intrigue with their enemies, and in 1441 they deprived him of his dominions. He died in a monastery in 1447.


Region Ravenna


Date 1280


Traits + influence, + dread, - disloyal




d'Appiano also known as Appiani were a dynasty in late Pisa, some were Princes of Piombino under the Holy Roman Empire, the last vestiges of that rule around Lucca. Iacopo I Appiani, appeared around 1350 with three sons one of whom was lord of Pisa from 1398 until 1399, obtaining the lordship of Piombino in 1398 in exchange of Pisa, sold to Gian Galeazzo Visconti for 200,000 florins. In 1396 he married Paola Colonna, daughter of Agapito Colonna, and sister of future Pope Martin V. Iacopo IV was a condottiero born in Piombino, of whom he continued the traditional alliance with the Aragonese court of Naples. He was captain of the Neapolitan Army (1479-1483), of the Este army (1483-1485) and of the army of the Republics of Siena (1495-1498) and Florence (1498-1501). Later he served the king of France and Ferdinand II of Aragon.


Region Pisa


Date 1350


Traits + command, + authority, + loyalty




The House of Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (1360-1429) was an Italian banker, the first historically relevant member of Medici family of Florence, and the founder of the Medici bank. He was the father of Cosimo de' Medici (Pater Patriae), and great-grandfather of Lorenzo de Medici (the Magnificent). The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence though officially they remained simply citizens, rather than monarchs. The Medici produced four Popes of the Catholic Church and in 1531 the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence.


Region Florence


Date 1360


Traits + tax, + trade, ++ influence




The last member of the de' Bardi house was Contessina de Bardi (1390-1473), and although the family had been exceptionally rich for some time, following the collapse of the family bank in 1343, its importance was considerably reduced. The bank collapse occurred when King Edward III of England defaulted on loans. The family managed to maintain a high standard of living by making several acquisitions, mainly in the form of land, castles and fortified towns. These were located in strategic places to the north of the Republic of Florence, such as the collar of Vernio. They enjoyed some fame as suzerains and condiotorie. The Medici called on them in this guise, on certain occasions, for armed support of the Medici's political hegemony. Contessina de' Bardi married Cosimo de' Medici in 1414.


Region Florence


Date 1300


Traits + trade, + tax, + income, + influence




The Pazzi or de Pazzi family were Tuscan nobles who were bankers in Florence in the 15th century. They are now best known for the "Pazzi conspiracy" to murder Lorenzo de' Medici and Giuliano de' Medici on 26 April 1478 (Lorenzo escaped). Andrea de' Pazzi was also the patron for the chapter house for the Franciscan community at Florence's Santa Croce church, often known as the Pazzi Chapel. After the conspiracy, the remaining Pazzi were rehabilitated and returned to Florence. The family stemmed from Pazzo ("the madman"), one of the first soldiers over the walls in the Siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, who brought away with him and returned to Florence a stone from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. A member of the Pazzi family was accorded the privilege of striking a light from this stone on Holy Saturday when all fires in the city were extinguished, from which the altar light of the Duomo would be annually rekindled, and from it all the hearth fires of Florence.


Region Florence


Date 1120


Traits + trade, + tax, + income, + influence


Farnese the family could trace its origins back to around AD 984 and took their name from one of their oldest feudal possessions - Castrum Farneti. There has been some debate as to the origins of the name Farnesti/Farnese. Some suggest that it derives from the vernacular name for an oak found in the region, the Farnia (Quercus robur), but others have held that the name owes its origins to the Fara, a term of Lombard origin used to denote a particular social group. In the 12th century, they are recorded as minor feudataries in the areas of Tuscania and Orvieto, several members holding political positions in the latter commune. One Pietro defeated the Tuscan Ghibellines in 1110 and, most likely, fought against the Italo-Normans in 1134. His son Prudenzio was consul in Orvieto and defeated the Orvieto Ghibellines backed by Siena; another Pietro defended the town against Emperor Henry VI. In 1254, one Ranuccio defeated Todi's troops and fought for Pope Urban IV against Manfred of Sicily. His son Niccolò was in the Guelph army in the Battle of Benevento (1266). The Farnese returned to Tuscia (southern Tuscany-northern Lazio) in 1319, when they acquired Farnese, Ischia di Castro, and the castles of Sala and San Savino. In 1354, Cardinal Albornoz, in return for the family's help in the war against the Papal riotous barons, gave them the territory of Valentano. In this period they fought against the fierce Papal rivals, the Prefetti di Vico. In 1362, Pietro Farnese was commander-in-chief of the Florentine army against Pisa in the war for Volterra. Six years later Niccolò Farnese saved Pope Urban V from the attack of Giovanni di Vico, first in the castle of Viterbo and then in that of Montefiascone. The loyalty to the Papal cause meant that the Farnese were granted confirmation of their possessions in the northern Lazio and given a series of privileges which raised them to the same level as more ancient and powerful Roman barons of the time, such as the Savelli, Orsini, Monaldeschi and Sforza of Santa Fiora. When Giulia Farnese was mistress of Pope Alexander VI her kinsman Pier Luigi Farnese became first Duke of Parma in 1503, which would keep the family in power for over 250 years.


Region Florence


Date 1100


Traits + command, Guelph,




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) and Nicholas III (1277–1280), as well as numerous condottieri and other significant political and religious figures. Matteo Rosso the Great (1178–1246) considerably increased the prestige of the family. He obtained the city of Manoppello, later a countship, and was gonfaloniere of the Papal. He 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 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. Rinaldo Orsini (died 1450) was an Italian condottiero, and perhaps the last member of the Orsini family. In 1426 he fought for the Pope against the Colonna family. In 1442 he was hired by the Republic of Siena, and in 1445 he became lord of Piombino and Isola d'Elba through his marriage with Caterina Appiani. In 1447, attacked by Alfonso V of Aragon, King of Naples, he defended it with the help of a Florentine army. He was therefore named captain of the Republic of Florence and, in 1450, moved against Alfonso's troops which were besieging Castiglione della Pescaia, but without effect. He died the same year by plague.


Region Rome


Date 1150


Traits Guelph, + piety, + command, + fertility






The Monaldeschi were one of the powerful noble families of Orvieto, central Italy, members of the Guelph party who contested with murders and violence the Ghibelline Filippeschi for control of the commune of Orvieto and the castelli of Umbria. One branch especially, the Monaldeschi della Cervara, dominated the life and politics of Orvieto, resisting Papal power from the 13th-15th centuries. According to the family's history, the Monaldeschi had descended from Monaldo, a 9th century Lombard feudatory of Charlemagne, whose three brothers were the progenitors of several Florentine and Sienese nobles including the Cavalcanti. The Monaldeschi appear in Orvieto documents from 1157. Their conflict with the Filippeschi surfaced in 1212. The central stronghold in the network of castelli that the Monaldeschi controlled was Torre Alfina, where tradition connected the central tower with Desiderius, the last king of the Lombards. Aside from a brief period 1314-16 when the Filippeschi seized it, Torre Alfina was the symbolic center of Montaldeschi power. At Castiglione the fortress of the Monaldeschi was built in the fourteenth century with the rubble of the Castle of Paterno destroyed by Gerardo di Corrado Monaldeschi. The Monaldeschi towerhouse that rises above the rooftops of Civitella d'Agliano, overtopping the campanile of the church, still evokes the feudal power of the Monaldeschi at the limits of Umbria, on the banks of the Tiber; they were dislodged from Agliano by the Papacy in 1415, following the distracting Western Schism that had served to protract the Monaldeschi's medieval power.The most famous of the family was Ermanno di Corrado of the Cervara branch, who between 1334 and his death in 1337 was the absolute Signore of Orvieto, where he suppressed civic liberties but demonstrated diplomatic and organizational finesse. At his death, however, the family's internecine quarrels broke the civic peace; the Monaldeschi ruptured along four lines


Region Florence


Date 1150


Traits Guelph, + command, + authority




The Turco, Turchi, Turci or sometimes Turco dei De Castello family's rise to prominence originated in 12th century Asti, Italy. They are considered one of the "Casane Astigiane", the major familial banking "houses" that powered the economy of medieval Asti. Their ascension to noble status can be traced to their increased wealth through banking, lending and property investment.They were renowned as Ghibelline supporters throughout the Middle Ages. The noted historian Napione relates the family to the birth of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, affirming that Gherardo Turco, signore of Tonco, was among the founders of the order in 1084. In 1189 Riccardo Turco became the successor to the first English Prior of the Knights Hospitaller.United in hospitium as "De Castello" with the influential Ghibelline Isnardi and Guttuari families, they became one of Asti's major patrician families. By the early 12th C., Turco family members became lords (signori) of Serralunga, Malamorte, Neive, Barbaresco, Monfalcone, Sarmatorio and Manzano. By the end of the 12th C., they also became lords of Tonco and Frinco. The family's first renowned individual was Giovanni Turco, who in 1278 appears as the lieutenant (luogotenente) to the podestà Mellano Solaro. Of note was also Guglielmo Turco, who in 1300 reportedly murdered Emanuele Solaro, to vindicate the Guelf government, starting a new phase of the civil war. Once peace was restored in 1309, Guglielmo was sent off in exile. The first member of notable economic activity was Palmerone Turco, who established banks in Savoy (Thonon and Sembrancher) between 1335 and 1363. Giovanni Turco, son of Antonio, became the General Capitain of the March of Montferrat, but he was accused of cowardliness and was hanged in Moncalvo in 1430.


Region Turin


Date 1085


Traits Ghibelline, + command, + tax, + trade


The Fieschi were a noble family from Genoa, Italy, from whom descend the Fieschi Ravaschieri Princes of Belmonte. They held the fief of Lavagna under the Holy Roman Emperors. As Counts of Lavagna the Fieschi represented the Emperor of the West in Liguria from the earliest years of the C11th. In 1010 the investiture of the Fieschi took place at Genoa: the family were created Counts of Lavagna and Imperial Vicars General (ie Viceroys) of the whole of Tuscany and of the coast of Genoa. In the words of Henry the Holy, King of Italy since 1004 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1014 and the last of the Ottonian dynasty, 'Ordiniamo il predominato Fieschi vicario generale di essa città con ampio potere.' ('We appoint the pre-eminent Fieschi to be Vicars General of this city-state with broad powers'). The Imperial Houses of Hohenstaufen, Luxembourg and later Habsburg each in turn confirmed the Counts in the rank of Count Palatine. Males of the Fieschi— all of them styled Conte di Lavagna— played major roles as Guelph partisans in the governance and military history of medieval Genoa, ever in conflict with the Republic and always retaining their connection with their holdings here. In 1138, in an agreement between the Fieschi and the commune of Genoa, the Fieschi agreed to spend part of the year in the city. They earned great riches from trading and financial activities, and later developed in numerous different branches. Apart from Liguria, they possessed fiefs in Piedmont, Lombardy, Umbria and in the Kingdom of Naples. Sinibaldo de' Fieschi, Count of Lavagna, became pope as Innocent IV in 1243, and his nephew Ottobuono was elected pope to succeed Adrian V on July 12, 1276, but died at Viterbo on August 18. In the Fieschi conspiracy of 1547, Giovanni Luigi Fieschi and the nobles unsuccessfully attempted to recapture the dogate from Andrea Doria, and the power of the Fieschi was broken.


Region Genoa


Date 1080


Traits Guelph, + trade, + influence, + piety




Caetani, or Gaetani, is the name of a Pisan noble family and a Roman princely family which played a great part in the history of Pisa - one of the four main historical Marine Republics of Italy (Repubbliche Marinare) - and of the papacy. In the late eleventh century, a descendant of his, Crescentius, was duke. This Crescentius was the father of two illustrious people: his successor, Marinus, and his son John (called Gaetanus or Coniulo) from Pisa, who was Pope Gelasius II. Marinus was succeeded by his son Crescentius, who defended his uncle the pope resolutely from imperialist attacks. Nevertheless, the family had no more great importance in Rome until the election of Benedetto Caetani to the papacy as Pope Boniface VIII in 1294, when they at once became the most notable in the city. The pope conferred on them the fiefs of Sermoneta, Bassiano, Ninfa and San Donato (1297, 300), and the marquisate of Ancona in 1300, while Charles II of Anjou created the popes brother count of Caserta.Giordano Loffredo Caetani by his marriage with Giovanna dell'Aquila, heiress of the counts of Fondi and Traetto, in 1297 added the name of Aquila to his own, and his grandson Giacomo acquired the lordships of Piedimonte and Gioia. The Caetani proved brave warriors and formed a bodyguard to protect Boniface VIII from his many foes. During the 14th and 15th centuries their feuds with the Colonna caused frequent disturbances in Rome and the Campagna, sometimes amounting to civil war. They also played an important role as Neapolitan nobles. In 1500 Pope Alexander VI, in his attempt to crush the great Roman feudal nobility, confiscated the Caetani fiefs and gave them to his daughter Lucrezia Borgia; but they afterwards regained them.


Region Pisa


Date 1080


Traits + Piety, + authority, + command, + loyalty




Giustiniani is the name of a prominent Italian family which originally belonged to Venice, but also established itself subsequently in Genoa, and at various times had representatives in Naples, Corsica and several of the islands of the Archipelago. Notable members include: Saint Lorenzo Giustiniani (1381-1456) Bishop and first Patriarch of Venice and


Giovanni Giustiniani (died 1453) a general. He personally financed and led 700 men to the defence of Constantinople against the final Ottoman siege of 1453. Gravely wounded in the hand and chest during the fall of the city, he died shortly after.


Region Venice


Date 1380


Traits + piety, + command




The Salviati were a prominent Florentine-Roman family who in the 15th century were bankers to Pope Sixtus IV. They were among those involved in the Pazzi Conspiracy of 1478, a plot to murder the leading members of the Medici family in Florence. One member of the Salviati, the archbishop of Pisa Francesco Salviati, was known to be involved in the plot.


Region Florence


Date 1420


Traits + trade, + tax, - disloyal, - dread




The Spinola were a leading political family in Genoa in the 13th and 14th centuries.


Guido Spinola was one of the first important members of the family. He served as Consul of Genoa in 1102. The Spinola were generally Ghibellines and in league with the Doria Family.


The next Spinola to come to prominence after Guido was Oberto. In 1266 Oberto lead the Genoese fleets in a victory against the Venetians. In 1271 he joined forces with Oberto Doria to drive the foreign Podestà of Genoa from power and reform the government. They managed to have the Podestà removed and replaced by two captains of the people, elected for 22 years, with Oberto Spinola and Oberto Doria being the first two elected to this office. However, Tommaso Spinola was a leading admiral in the Genoese war with Pisa. In about 1289 Corrado Spinola became the captain of the people in place of his father Oberto. In 1301 Corrado Spinola resigned the office of Captain of the people, as did Lamba Doria. This office was then replaced with a foreign podestà and an abbot of the people. The next phase of Spinola involvement was by Opicino Spinola. Galeotto Spinola was appointed Captain of the people in 1335 along with Raffaele Doria. They overthrew the power of Robert of Naples in Genoa. In 1432 Francesco Spinola was successful at the Battle of Gaeta in the war over the control of Naples. Shortly later Francesco lead a revolt that ended the rule of a Visconti based in Milan over Genoa.


Region Genoa


Date 1080


Traits Ghibelline, + command, + authority




Documentary evidence refers to two members of the Doria family, Martino and Genuardo, in 1110; as filii Auriae (the sons or children of Oria). The Doria had fiefs in Sardinia from the 12th to the 15th centuries, and also in Dolceacqua, Oneglia and Portofino, in the Riviera to the west of Genoa. Simon Doria lived in the late 12th century and was an admiral of the Genoese in the crusader's assault against Saint Jean d'Acre. Percivalle Doria, who died in 1275 fighting for the Ghibelline, was an infamous warlord and a well-known Provençal poet. Also a poet, Simon Doria was podestà of Savona and Albenga. The brothers Oberto Doria and Lamba Doria were naval commanders and politicians: Oberto was Captain of the People in Genoa and led its naval forces in the victory of La Meloria against Pisa in 1284 while Lamba won a major battle against Venetian Andrea Dandolo at Curzola in 1298. Tedisio Doria (or Teodosio) financed the expedition of Vadino and Ugolino Vivaldi in 1291. Branca Doria is mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy because of his treacherous murder of Michele Zanche, his father-in-law, in 1275. Brancaleone Doria ruled the Giudicato of Arborea and nearly conquered the whole of Sardinia in the late fourteenth century. The most remarkable member of the family is Admiral Andrea Doria, Prince of Melfi (1466-1560), who re-established the Genoese Republic. The family had relationships with political entities both in and out of Europe. During the attempts by the Mongol ilkhanate ruler Abaqa to form a Franco-Mongol alliance, his strategy included a strengthening of ties with the Genoese. Many male children of the Doria family were named after foreign rulers, such as Abaga (Abaqa Khan), Casano (Ghazan Khan), and Aitone, named after Hayton, or Hethum I, king of Cilician Armenia.


Region Genoa


Date 1110


Traits Ghibelline, + command, + influence




Florentine mercantile and banking family, prominent from the 13th to the mid-16th centuries. By the early 15th century the wealth and political standing of the family made them the principal rivals of the Medici family. The humanist Palla Strozzi was one of those banished by Cosimo de' Medici ‘Il Vecchio’ in 1434. Palla played an important part in the public life of Florence, and founded the first public library in Florence in the monastery of Santa Trinita. Filippo Strozzi (1428 -91) returned from banishment in 1466 and became an adviser to Lorenzo de' Medici; in 1489 Filippo commissioned the family's Florentine palace, the Palazzo Strozzi, which was the work of Benedetto da Maiano and Il Cronaca.


Region Florence


Date 1250


Traits + tax, + trade, + loyalty






The Piccolominis provided Catholicism with a number of Popes during the 1400s. The family had powerful connections variously in Ancona, Amalfi, Umbria and Siena. Pope Pius II, "whose character reflects almost every tendency of the age in which he lived", was born at Corsignano in Sienese territory to the family. His longest and most enduring work is the story of his life, Commentaries, which is the only autobiography ever written by a reigning Pope. Both Pius and other family members travelled widely across the Holy Roman Empire and even in England and Scotland.


Region Rome


Date 1400


Traits + piety, + influence




The Contarini were an illustrious Venetian family, which furnished eight Doges to the Republic of Venice, as well as an array of eminent figures of the Church, statecraft, generalship, art, and letters.


Region Venice


Date 1080


Traits + authority




The Grimaldi family descends from Grimaldo, a Genovese statesman at the time of the early Crusades. He was the son of Otto Canella, a Consul of Genoa in 1133, and in turn Grimaldo became a Consul in 1160, 1170 and again in 1184. His numerous grandsons and their children led maritime expeditions throughout the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and soon the North Sea, and quickly became one of the most powerful families of Genoa. The Grimaldis feared that the head of a rival Genoese family could break the fragile balance of power in a political coup and become lord of Genoa, as had happened in other Italian cities. They entered into a Guelphic alliance with the Fieschi family and defended their interests with the sword. The Guelfs however were banned from the City in 1271, and found refuge in their castles of Liguria and in Provence. They signed a treaty with Charles of Anjou, King of Naples and Count of Provence, to retake control of Genoa, and generally to provide mutual assistance. In 1276, they accepted a peace under the auspices of the Pope, which however did not put an end to the civil war. Not all the Grimaldis chose to return to Genoa, as they preferred to settle in their fiefdoms, where they could raise armies. In 1299, the Grimaldis and their allies launched a few galleys to attack the port of Genoa before taking refuge on the Western Riviera. During the following years, the Grimaldis were going to enter into different alliances that would allow them to come back in force. This time, it was the turn of their rivals, the Spinola family, to be banned from the City. During all that period, both Guelfs and Ghibellines took and abandoned the castle of Monaco, which was ideally located to launch political and military operations against Genoa. In the early 14th century, the Catalans from Spain raided the shores of Provence and Liguria, challenging Genoa and King Robert of Provence. In 1353, the combined fleet of eighty Venetian and Catalonian galleys gathered in Sardinia to meet the fleet of sixty galleys under the command of Anthony Grimaldi. Only nineteen Genoese vessels survived the battle. Fearing an invasion, Genoa rushed to request the protection of the lord of Milan. Several of the oldest feudal branches of the House of Grimaldi appeared during those unrests, such as the branches of Antibes, Beuil, Nice, Puget, and Sicily. In 1395, the Grimaldis took advantage of the discords in Genoa to take possession of Monaco, which they then ruled as a condominium.


Region Genoa


Date 1100


Traits + command, + influence, + naval command

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