Showing posts with label Pietro Aldobrandini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pietro Aldobrandini. Show all posts

10 July 2023

Ludovico Chigi – Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Roman with many titles had powerful ancestors

Ludovico Chigi, pictured in his ceremonial uniform
Ludovico Chigi, pictured in
his ceremonial uniform
Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere was born on this day in 1866 in Ariccia, a town in the Alban Hills to the southeast of Rome.

Chigi was the son of Imperial Prince Mario Chigi della Rovere-Albani and his wife, Princess Antoinette zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn. His father’s family, the Chigi, was one of the most prominent noble Roman families and they were descended from the rich and powerful banker, Agostino Chigi.

Another of their ancestors was Pope Alexander VII, who in the 17th century had conferred upon his nephew, Agostino Chigi, the hereditary princedoms of Farnese and Campagnano and the dukedoms of Ariccia and Formello. Chigi made his money in Siena but moved to Rome, taking his vast wealth with him, and he lent considerable sums of money to his uncle, the Pope.

For all the descendants of the Chigi male line, Pope Alexander VII had procured the title of Imperial Prince and Princess from the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I.

Agostino Chigi had also helped Pope Julius II financially and had been made treasury and notary of the Apostolic Camera. Julius II had authorised the Chigi family to augment their name and arms with his own, Della Rovere, and he had become their relative through lines of descent from his illegitimate daughter, Felice della Rovere.

Ludovico married Donna Anna Aldobrandini, the daughter of Pietro, Prince Aldobrandini, in 1893. They had two children, Prince Sigismondo and Princess Laura Maria Caterina.

In 1914, Ludovico succeeded his father and became eighth Prince of Farnese and Campagnano and inherited many other titles.

He was responsible for three papal conclaves and became an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Agostino Chigi, the banker who founded the Chigi dynasty
Agostino Chigi, the banker who
founded the Chigi dynasty
In 1931, Ludovico was elected Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Both of his parents had been members of the Order.

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, to give it its full name, is a Roman Catholic organisation based in Rome with about 13,000 members worldwide. 

It was founded in 1048 by merchants from Amalfi, who were in Jerusalem as a monastic order and ran a hospital to tend to Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.

At the height of its power, the Order was also tasked by Rome with the additional military function of defending Christians from the local Muslim population.

The Knights of St. John were just one of the Christian military orders founded during this period.

When the Sultan of Egypt retook Jerusalem in 1291, the Knights of St. John went into exile, settling in Rhodes 20 years later. In 1523, they were forced from Rhodes by the Sultan’s forces and settled in Malta, which they ruled until they were dislodged by Napoleon’s army in 1798. 

It is for that reason that the organisation began to be known as the Order of Malta or Knights of Malta.

After the defeat by the French, the Order then settled in Rome in the mid-19th century, where it remains to this day.

The Knights have had no military function since leaving Malta and have since sponsored medical missions in more than 120 countries. Under Ludovico’s leadership during World War II, the Order conducted hospital and charity work on a large scale.

In 1947, Ludovico was appointed president of an international committee to oversee the rebuilding of the Abbey of Monte Cassino.

Ludovico died in 1951 in Rome at the age of 85.  

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta is a feature of the town of Ariccia
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Collegiata di Santa Maria
Assunta is a feature of the town of Ariccia
Travel tip:

Ariccia, where Ludovico was born, is one of the Castelli Romani towns, situated in the Parco Regionale dei Castelli Romani. Some 25km (15.5 miles) from Rome, Ariccia has become famous for its porchetta, which is cooked slowly with wild fennel. The Sagra della Porchetta festival takes place every year during the first weekend of September, when the town celebrates with music, dancing, stalls and exhibitions. This festival began in 1950 and is one of the most traditional festivals in the Lazio region, which helps to promote porchetta to other parts of Italy and the world.  As part of the Castelli Romani, the town is also known for its wine production. Ariccia's main church, the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, completed in 1664, was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

The Chigi family's legacy in Rome includes the
Palazzo Chigi, the prime minister's official residence 
Travel tip:

The 16th-century Palazzo Chigi, which overlooks the Via del Corso in Rome, was completed by Carlo Maderno in 1580 for the Aldobrandini family. It was in the ownership of the Chigi family from 1659 until the 19th century. After a period as the residence of the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Italy, it was bought by the Italian state in 1916. It was used first as the residence of the Minister for Colonial Affairs and later the Minister of Foreign Affairs before, in 1961, becoming the official meeting place of the Council of Ministers, whose president is the head of the Italian government - the prime minister - and can now use the palace as his official residence.

Also on this day:

138: The death of the Roman emperor, Hadrian

1510: The death of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus

1954: The death of Mafia chieftain Calogero Vizzini


25 March 2023

Giambattista Marino – poet

The colourful life of an influential literary figure

A portrait of Giambattista Marino by Caravaggio, painted in about 1600
A portrait of Giambattista Marino by
Caravaggio, painted in about 1600
Controversial poet Giambattista Marino, who founded the school of Marinism that dominated 17th century Italian poetry, died on this day in 1625 in Naples.

Marino’s poetry was translated into other languages and many other poets imitated his use of complicated wordplay, elaborate conceits and metaphors.

But although Marino’s work was praised throughout Europe, he led a chaotic life, was frequently short of money and at times arrested and imprisoned for alleged immorality.

Marino, sometimes referred to as Marini, was born in Naples in 1569. He trained for the law, under pressure from his parents, but later rebelled and refused to practise his profession.

From 1590 onwards, he spent his time travelling in Italy and France and enjoying the success of his poetry. His work was circulated in manuscript form to great acclaim and later in his life he managed to get some of it published, despite censorship.

In 1596 he wrote La Sampogna (The Syrinx), a series of sensual verses, but he was unable to publish them until 1620.

While working as secretary to a Neapolitan prince he was arrested in both 1598 and 1600 on charges of immorality, but on both occasions his admirers managed to secure his release from prison. One of his arrests was for procuring an abortion for the daughter of the Mayor of Naples and the other for forging episcopal bulls to save the life of a friend who had been involved in a duel.

Some of his defenders and some of his detractors have claimed that Marino himself had homosexual tendencies, but this practice was persecuted during the Counter Reformation and so Marino would not have been open about it.

The front cover of an edition of Marino's Adone, dated 1623
The front cover of an edition of
Marino's Adone, dated 1623
After moving to Rome, Marino attached himself to Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, a nephew of Pope Clement VIII, and they travelled round Italy together. Marino tried to get some of his poetry published while they were in Parma but was prevented by the Inquisition.

But in 1602 he was able to publish some of his early poetry as Le rime (The Rhymes) and La lira (The Lyre).

While living in Turin between 1608 and 1615, he enjoyed the patronage of the Duke of Savoy, but he was the victim of an assassination attempt by a rival poet and he was imprisoned yet again after writing satirical poems.

After friends had managed to secure his release, Marino went to Paris, where he lived until 1623 under the patronage of Marie de’ Medici and her son, Louis XIII.

While in Paris, Marino published his most important work, Adone, an epic poem of 45,000 lines that tells the love story of Venus and Adonis. This was dedicated to Louis XIII. Although critics have praised some of its brilliant passages, they have also criticised the poet’s excessive use of wordplay and metaphors in it.

Marino returned to Italy in 1623 and lived in Naples until his death. He is buried in the Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli in Naples.

Marinism, also sometimes referred to as Secentismo, 17th century style, is a reaction against classicism and uses extravagant metaphors and hyperbole to tell stories with the intention of startling the reader. Marino’s imitators carried this style to such excess that by the end of the 17th century the term marinism began to be used in a pejorative way.

However, after World War II, there was a revival of interest in this style of poetry and a reassessment of the merits of Marino and Marinism.

The Cambridge History of Italian Literature judged Marino to be one of the greatest Italian poets of all time.

The western facade of the Royal Palace, overlooking Piazza del Plebiscito
The western facade of the Royal Palace,
overlooking Piazza del Plebiscito
Travel tip:

Giambattista Marino would have been able to admire the newly built Royal Palace in Naples when he returned from France to live in the city again in 1623.  The palace, which opens on to the Piazza del Plebiscito, was completed in 1620 to designs by the architect Domenico Fontana. In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. Additions have been made over the years, including the connecting Teatro San Carlo, which opened in 1737 and is now the oldest working opera house in the world.  The series of niche statues on the western facade, the one that faces the piazza, were added in 1888, commissioned by King Umberto I of Savoy.

The nave of the church of Santi Apostoli in Naples, where Marino is buried
The nave of the church of Santi Apostoli
in Naples, where Marino is buried
Travel tip:

Marino’s tomb is in the Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli in Via Anticaglia in Naples, not far from the historic centre of the city. The Baroque church was built on the site of a Roman temple and given to the Theatine Order in 1570. A cloister and monastery was added in 1590 and early in the 17th century, the church was reconstructed by Giacomo Conforti. Inside, visitors can admire a large fresco depicting Paradise (1684) by Giovanni Battista Benasca in the cupola and works by other painters including Marco da Siena, Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena. 

Also on this day:

1347: The birth of Saint Catherine of Siena

1541: The birth of Francesco I, Grand Duke of Tuscany

1546: The birth of poet and courtesan Veronica Franco

1927: The birth of politician Tina Anselmi, Italy’s first female minister

1940: The birth of pop megastar Mina