The nobles

of Rome.



feudal tyranny, alike oppressive to the sovereign and the people. The rights of hunan nature were vindicated by her numerous republics, who soon extended their liberty and dominion ur barons from the city to the adjacent country. The sword of the nobles was broken ; their slaves were enfranchised ; their castles were demolished; they assumed the habits of society and obedience; their ambition was confined to municipal honours; and in the proudest aristocracy of Venice or Genoa, each patrician was subject to the laws." But the feeble and disorderly government of Rome was unequal to the task of curbing her rebellious sons, who scorned the authority of the magistrate within and without the walls. It was no longer a civil contention between the nobles and plebeians for the government of the state: the barons asserted in arms their personal independence; their palaces and castles were fortified against a siege ; and their prirate quarrels were maintained by the nuinbers of their vassals and retainers. In origin and affection they were aliens to their country : 9 and a genuine Roman, could such have been produced, might have renounced these haughty strangers, who disdained the appellation of citizens, and proudly styled themselves the princes of Rome. After a dark series of revolutions all records of pedigree were lost ; the distinction of surnames was abolished; the blood of the nations was mingled in a thousand channels; and the Goths and Lombards, the Greeks and Franks, the Germans and Normans, had obtained the fairest possessions by royal bounty, or the prerogative of valour. These examples might be readily presumed; but the elevation of a Hebrew race to the rank of senators and consuls is an event without a parallel in the long captivity of these miserable exiles. In the time of Leo the Ninth a wealthy and learned Jew was converted to Christianity; and honoured at his baptism with the name of his godfather, the reigning pope. The zeal and courage of Peter Family of the son of Leo were signalised in the cause of Gregory the Leo the Jew.

91 Muratori (Dissert. xlvii.) alleges the Annals of Florence, Padua, Genoa, &c., the analogy of the rest, the evidence of Otho of Frisingen (de Gest. Fred. I. 1. i. c. 13), and the submission of the marquis of Este.

*2 As early as the year 824 the emperor Lothaire I. found it expedient to interro. gate the Roman people, to learn from each individual by what national law he chose to be governed (Muratori, Dissert. xxii.).

as Petrarch attacks these foreigners, the tyrants of Rome, in a declamation or epistle, full of bold truths and absurd pedantry, in which he applies the maxims and even prejudices of the old republic to the state of the xivth century (Mémoires, tom. iii. p. 157-169).

96 The origin and adventures of this Jewish family are noticed by Pagi (Critica, tom. iv. p. 435, A.D. 1124, No. 3, 4), who draws his information from the Chrono. graphus Maurigniacensis, and Arnulphus Sagiensis de Schismate (in Muratori, Script. ital. tom. iii. P. i. p. 423-432). The fact must in some degree be true; yet I could wish that it had been coolly related before it was turned into a reproach against the mtipopes

Seventh, who intrusted his faithful adherent with the government of Hadrian's mole, the tower of Crescentius, or, as it is now called, the castle of St. Angelo. Both the father and the son were the parents of a numerous progeny: their riches, the fruits of usury, were shared with the noblest families of the city; and so extensive was their alliance, that the grandson of the proselyte was exalted by the weight of his kindred to the throne of St. Peter. A majority of the clergy and people supported his cause: he reigned several years in the Vatican; and it is only the eloquence of St. Bernard, and the final triumph of Innocent the Second, that has branded Anacletus with the epithet of antipope. After his defeat and death the posterity of Leo is no longer conspicuous; and none will be found of the modern nobles ambitious of descending from a Jewish stock. It is not my design to enumerate the Roman families which have failed at different periods, or those which are continued in different degrees of splendour to the present time. The old consular line of the Frangipani discover their name in the generous act of breaking or dividing bread in a time of famine ; and such benevolence is more truly glorious than to have enclosed, with their allies the Corsi, a spacious quarter of the city in the chains of their fortifications; the Savelli, as it should seem a Sabine race, have maintained their original dignity; the obsolete surname of the Capizucchi is inscribed on the coins of the first senators ; the Conti preserve the honour, without the estate, of the counts of Signia; and the Annibaldi must have been very ignorant, or very modest, if they had not descended from the Carthaginian hero."

But among, perhaps above, the peers and princes of the city, I

95 Muratori has given two dissertations (xli. and xlii.) to the names, surnames, and families of Italy. Some nobles, who glory in their domestic fables, may be offended with his firm and temperate criticism; yet surely some ounces of pure gold are of more value than many pounds of base metal.

* The cardinal of St. George, in his poetical, or rather metrical, history of the election and coronation of Boniface VIII. (Muratori, Script. Ital. tom. iii. P. i. p. 6+1, &c.), describes the state and families of Rome at the coronation of Boniface VIIL (A.D. 1295):

Interea titulis redimiti sanguine et armis
Illustresque viri Romanâ a stirpe trahentes
Nomen in emeritos tantæ virtutis honores
Intulerant sese medios festumque colebant
Auratâ fulgentes togå sociante caterva.
Ex ipsis devota domus præstantis ab Ursa
Ecclesiæ, vultumque gerens demissius altum
Festa Columna jocis, necnon Sabellia mitis;
Stephanides senior, Comites, Annibalica proles,
Præfectusque urbis magnum sine viribus nomen.

(1. ii. o. 5, 100, p. 647, 648.) The ancient statutes of Rome (1. iii. c. 59, p. 174, 175) distinguish eleven families of burons, who are obliged to swear in concilio communi, before the senator, that they would not harbour or protect any malefactors, outlaws, &c.—a feeble security!

The Colonna,

distinguish the rival houses of COLONNA and URSINI, whose private story is an essential part of the annals of modern Rome. I. The name and arms of Colonna 97 have been the theme of much doubtful etymology; nor have the orators and antiquarians overlooked either Trajan's pillar, or the columns of Hercules, or the pillar of Christ's flagellation, or the luminous column that guided the Israelites in the desert. Their first historical appearance in the year eleven hundred and four attests the power and antiquity, while it explains the simple meaning, of the name. By the usurpation of Cavæ the Colonna provoked the arms of Paschal the Second ; but they lawfully held in the Campagna of Rome the hereditary fiefs of Zagarola and Colonna ; and the latter of these towns was probao.y adorned with some lofty pillar, the relic of a villa or temple. 98 They likewise possessed one moiety of the neighbouring city of Tusculum ; a strong presumption of their descent from the counts of Tusculum, who in the tenth century were the tyrants of the apostolic see. According to their own and the public opinion, the primitive and remote source was derived from the banks of the Rhine;

99 and the sovereigns of Germany were not ashamed of a real or fabulous affinity with noble race,

which in the revolutions of seven hundred years has been often illustrated by merit and always by fortune. 100 About the end of the thirteenth century the most powerful branch was composed of an uncle and six brothers, all conspicuous in arms or in the honours of the church. Of these, Peter was elected senator of Rome, introduced to the Capitol in a triumphant car, and hailed in some vain acclamations with the title of Cæsar; while John and Stephen were declared marquis of Ancona and count of Romagna, by Nicholas the Fourth, a patron so partial to their family, that he has been delineated in satirical portraits, imprisoned as it were in a hollow


» It is pity that the Colonna themselves have not favoured the world with a complete and critical history of their illustrious house. I adhere to Muratori (Dissert. xlii. tom. iii. p. 647, 648).

so Pandulph. Pisan. in Vit. Paschal. II. in Muratori, Script. Ital. tom. iii. P. i. p. 335. The family has still great possessions in the Campagna of Rome; but they have alienated to the Rospigliosi this original fief of Colonna (Eschinard, p. 258, 259).

* Te longinqua dodit tellus et pascua Rheni, Bays Petrarch; and in 1417 a duke of Guelders and Juliers acknowledges (Lenfant, Hist. du Concile de Constance, tom. ii. p. 539) his descent from the ancestors of Martin V. (Otho Colonna): but the royal author of the Memoirs of Brandenburg observes that the sceptre in his arms has been confounded with the column. To maintain the Roman origin of the Colonna it was ingeniously supposed (Diario di Monaldeschi, in the Script. Ital. tom. xii. p. 533) that a cousin of the emperor Nero escaped from the city and founded Mentz in Germany.

100 I cannot overlook the Roman triumph or ovation of Marco Antonio Colonna who had commanded the pope's galleys at the naval victory of Lepanto (Thuan. Hint. 1. 7, tom. iii. p. 55, 56; Muret. Oratio r. Opp. tom. i. p. 180-190).

pillar.101 After his decease their haughty behaviour provoked the displeasure of the most implacable of mankind. The two cardinals, the uncle and the nephew, denied the election of Boniface the Eighth ; and the Colonna were oppressed for a moment by his temporal and spiritual arms 102

He proclaimed a crusade against his personai enemies; their estates were confiscated; their fortresses on either side of the Tiber were besieged by the troops of St. Peter and those of the rival nobles; and after the ruin of Palestrina or Præneste, their principal seat, the ground was marked with a ploughshare, the emblem of perpetual desolation. Degraded, banished, proscribed, the six brothers, in disguise and danger, wandered over Europe without renouncing the hope of deliverance and revenge. In this double hope the French court was their surest asylum : they prompted and directed the enterprise of Philip; and I should praise their magnanimity had they respected the misfortune and courage of the captive tyrant. His civil acts were annulled by the Roman people, who restored the honours and possessions of the Colonna ; and some estimate may be formed of their wealth by their losses, of their losses by the damages of one hundred thousand gold florins which were granted them against the accomplices and heirs of the deceased pope. All the spiritual censures and disqualifications were abolished 103 by his prudent successors; and the fortune of the house was more firmly established by this transient hurricane. The boldness of Sciarra Colonna was signalised in the captivity of Boniface, and long afterwards in the coronation of Lewis of Bavaria ; and by the gratitude of the emperor the pillar in their arms was encircled with a royal crown. But the first of the family in fame and merit was the elder Stephen, whom Petrarch loved and esteemed as a hero superior to his own times and not unworthy of ancient Rome. Persecution and exile displayed to the nations his abilities in peace and war; in his distress he was an object, not of pity but of reverence; the aspect of danger provoked him to avow his name and country; and when he was asked, “Where is now “your fortress ? ” he laid his hand on his heart, and answered,

101 Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. x. p. 216, 220.

102 Potrarch's attachment to the Colonna has authorised the abbé de Sade to expatiate on the state of the family in the fourteenth century, the persecution of Boniface VIII., the character of Stephen and his sons, their quarrels with the Ursini, &c. (Mémoires sur Pétrarque, tom. i. p. 98-110, 146-148, 174-176, 222-230, 275-280.) His criticism often rectifies the hearsay stories of Villani, and the errors of the less diligent moderne. I understand the branch of Stephen to be now extinct.

103 Alexander III, had declared the Colonna who adhered to the emperor Frederic I. incapable of holding any ecclesiastical benefice (Villani, l. v. c. 1); and the last stains of annual excommunication were purified by Sixtus V. (Vita di Sisto V. tom. iii. p. 416). Treason, sacrilege, and proscription are often the best titles of Ancient Bobility,

and Unsini.

“Here.” He supported with the same virtue the 'eturn of prosperity. and, till the ruin of his declining age, the ancestors, the character, and the children of Stephen Colonna exalted his dignity in the Roman republic and at the court of Avignon. II. The Ursini migrated from Spoleto ; 104 the sons of Ursus, as they are styled in the twelfth century, from some eminent person who is only known as the father of their race. But they were soon distinguished among the nobles of Rome by the number and bravery of their kinsmen, the strength of their towers, the honours of the senate and sacred college, and the elevation of two popes, Celestin the Third and Nicholas the Third, of their name and lineage.105

Their riches may be accused as an early abuse of nepotism : the estates of St. Peter were alienated in their favour by the liberal Celestin ;:06 and Nicholas was ambitious for their sake to solicit the alliance of monarchs; to found new kingdoms in Lombardy and Tuscany; and to invest them with the perpetual office of senators of Rome. All that has been observed of the greatness of the Colonna will likewise redound to the glory of the Ursini, their constant and equal antagonists in the long hereditary feud which distracted above two hundred and fifty years the ecclesiastical state. The jealousy of pre-eminence and Their heredipower was the true ground of their quarrel; but as a specious tary sends. badge of distinction, the Colonna embraced the name of Ghibelines and the party of the empire ; the Ursini espoused the title of Guelphs and the cause of the church. The eagle and the keys were displayed in their adverse banners; and the two factions of Italy most furiously raged when the origin and nature of the dispute were long since for

After the retreat of the popes to Avignon they disputed

gotten. 107


Vallis te proxima misit,
Appenuinigenæ qua prata virentia sylve

Spoletana metunt armenta gregesque protervi. Monaldeschi (tom. xii. Script. Ital. p. 533) gives the Ursini a French origin, which may be remotely true.

1ồs In the metrical life of Celestin V. by the Cardinal of St. George (Muratori, tom. iii. P. i. p. 613, &c.) we find a luminous and not inelegant passage (1. i. c. 3, p. 203, &c.);

genuit quem nobilis Ursæ (Ursi?)
Progenies, Romana domus, veterataque magnis
Fascibus in clero, pompasque experta senatus,
Bellorumque mana grandi stipata parentum
Cardineos apices necnon fastigia dudum

Papatūs iterata tenens.
Muratori (Dissert. xlii. tom. iii.) observes that the first Ursini pontificate of Celestin
III. was unknown : he is inclined to read Ursi progenies.

108 Filii Ursi, quondam Cælestini papæ nepotes, de bonis ecclesiæ Romanæ ditati (Vit. Innocent. III. in Muratori, Script. tom. ii. P. i.). The partial prodigality of Nicholas III. is moro conspicuous in Villani and Muratori. Yet the Ursini would disdain the nephews of a modern pope.

107 In his ofty-first Dissertation on the Italian Antiquities Muratori explains the factions of the Guelphs and Ghibelines,

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