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Orsini family coat of arms

The Orsini are a widely ramified Roman noble family that was originally known as the Bobonen and played a significant role in Italian history between 1100 and 1900 . From the Orsini family came three popes , 24 cardinals and numerous other high ecclesiastical dignitaries as well as secular princes. The family still exists today and is part of the European nobility .

coat of arms

The blazon of the family coat of arms reads: “Five times divided diagonally by silver and red, topped with a raised, on the head of the shield, inside a gold-studded, green-tipped red rose , adjoining, golden bar, inside a blue snake. - On the silver, silver-red bewulsteten pot helmet with red-silver covers a growing rotgezungter, gold reinforced, black bear , in his raised right paw said Rose, green stalked with two leaves. "- motto : " Senza rimproveri "-" Without Reproaches "


The Bobonen are first mentioned with Romano Bobone , who in 928 under Pope Leo VI. Became cardinal. After the year 1000 they are mentioned more often than important landowners in Rome and the Sabina ; they made influential men in the Roman Senate and in the Curia. An Ursus (Italian: Orso di Bobone, German: the bear) is mentioned in the late 12th century; his descendants called themselves filii Ursi (sons of Ursus) in the 13th century and the family name Orsini or Orsini-Bobone first came into use in the 14th century . They belonged to the most important Roman families of the papal nobility .

Since the pontificate of Hyacinto Bobo as Celestine III. (1191–1198) the Bobonen family, as representatives of the Guelph Party, fought bitterly with the Ghibelline Colonna for the ruling position in Rome for a long time . Celestine III. practiced nepotism , he appointed two nephews as cardinals and granted his cousin Giangaetano (Johannes Gaitanus) the purchase of the papal fiefs Vicovaro , Licenza , Roccagiovine and Nettuno . His son Napoleone dei Ursi acquired an area on a hill opposite the Castel Sant'Angelo , Monte Giordano, in 1246 and built a castle palace ( built over by the Palazzo Taverna in the 19th century ). His brother Matteo Rosso Orsini (1178-1246) acquired large estates between Rome and Siena, which formed the core of the family estates of Mugnano, Bracciano and Monterotondo . He left in his office as Senator of Rome in 1241 after the death of Pope Gregory IX. include the cardinals to elect the successor in the Septasolium , so that this election became the first conclave in a papal election . In the Roman district of Campo Marzio , the Orsini lived in numerous palaces piled on top of ancient monuments.

In the 12./13. In the 19th century, the Orsini were close to the Franciscan order . Matteo Rosso Orsini was friends with Francis of Assisi and became a Franciscan tertiary . His son Giovanni Gaetano Orsini was a cardinal from 1263 until his election as Pope in 1275 , when Nicholas III was the protector of the Franciscan order . he gave an interpretation of the Franciscan poverty rule usus pauper , which was controversial. A nephew of Matteo Rosso Orsini, Cardinal Matteo Rubeo Orsini , was also a protector of the Franciscans.

In the wake of the Fourth Crusade , members of the family also acquired possessions in Greece. With the help of the Venetians, they founded the Palatinate County of Kefalonia . In 1318 Nicola Orsini was able to gain control of the despotate Epirus , which, of course, was already much smaller .

Princely coat of arms of the Orsini di Gravina

From the second son of Matteo Rosso II. Orsini († after 1282), Napoleone, Lord of Pitigliano, all later main lines of this family descended. A Giovanni Orsini was with Sciarra Colonna after Cola di Rienzo's overthrow, senator of Rome; his fourth son, Francesco Orsini, was count since 1417 and since 1436 duke of Gravina , a fief that he had inherited from the Gravina family ; since then the Orsini have held this title.

From 1500 to 1958, the Orsini shared with the Colonna the dignity of Assistant Prince of the Papal See (principe assistente al soglio pontificio), which had been hereditary since 1735. In the 16th century they made some marriage alliances with the family of Pope Paul III, the Farnese .

The line of the Lords of Bracciano received the papal title of Duke in 1560 in the person of Paolo Giordano I and ended with Flavio Orsini, the fifth Duke, who was also Prince of Nerola, Duke of San Gemini, Marchese of Anguillara and Grandee of Spain first class as well Was imperial prince in April 1698. He had previously been forced to sell the most important of his estates because of his exorbitant debts.

The Orsini became imperial prince with Paolo Giordano II von Bracciano in 1625 with the title Illustrissimus and the right to mint. After this line became extinct, Ferdinando Bernaldo Filippo, 14th Duke of Gravina, 5th Prince of Solofra and 2nd Prince of Vallata, was reigned in 1724 by Emperor Charles VI. appointed imperial prince with the title Celsissimus .

Since 1854, the firstborn of the Gravina line carried the title of Principe Romano with the inherited privilege of assisting in the papal mass as “secular assistant to the throne”.


Three popes came from the Orsini family:

  • Celestine III. (* around 1106 as Giacinto Bobone, Jacinto Bobo or Hyacinto Bobo; † 1198), Pope from 1191 to 1198
  • Nicholas III (born Giovanni Gaetano Orsini; * between 1210 and 1220; † 1280), Pope from 1277 to 1280
  • Benedict XIII. (Birth name Pietro Francesco Orsini; * 1649; † 1730), Pope from 1724 to 1730. He had previously been 12th Duke of Gravina and 3rd Prince of Solofra and Galluccio in secular life until his resignation in 1668.

There were also several cardinals and some saints from the family.

The Orsini, along with their historical rivals from the Colonna family , as well as the Aldobrandini , Borghese , Barberini , Caetani , Chigi , Doria , Lante della Rovere , Massimo , Odescalchi , Pallavicini , Riario Sforza , Ruspoli and Torlonia families , are still among the best known today existing royal houses of the urban Roman nobility .

Count Palatine of Kephalonia and Despots of Epirus

Kastro Agiou Georgiou Castle on Kefalonia

Princes of Taranto

The kings of Naples temporarily made members of the Orsini del Balzo family princes of Taranto :

Family tree of the Dukes of Gravina

Mausoleum of Angela Kastrioti († 1518), wife of Ferdinando Orsini, 5th Duke of Gravina in Puglia
Giovanni Orsini (oder Ursinus) († 1439), römischer Ratsherr ⚭ Bartholomea Spinelli, Tochter von Nicola, 1. Conte von Gioia
|--> Francesco  Orsini († 1456), 1. Conte di Gravina seit 1417 und Conte von Campagna und Conversano ecc., seit 1436 Duca di Gravina ⚭ 1. Margareta della Marra, ⚭ 2. Maria Scillata
     |-->  Giacomo Orsini, genannt Jacobello († 1472), ab 1460 2. Duca di Gravina, Conte di Campagna, ecc., Schwiegervater von Lorenzo il Magnifico ⚭ Maria Piccolominea, Tochter von Antonio, Duca von Amalfi
     |--> Raimondo Orsini († ca. 1488), 3. Duca di Gravina, Conte von Campagna ecc. ⚭ Giustiniana Orsini, Tochter von Lorenzo, Signori di Monterotondo
              |--> Francesco Orsini, 4. Duca di Gravina, ecc. (von Cesare Borgia am 18. Januar 1503 erdrosselt) ⚭ Maria Todeschini Piccolomini d’Aragona, Tochter von Antonio, 1. Duca d’Amalfi und di Maria d’Aragona (* ca. 1460)
                     |--> Don Ferdinando I. (auch: Ferrante) Orsini († 1549), 5. Duca di Gravina ⚭ 1. Angela Castriota (aus der Nebenlinie des albanischen Nationalhelden Skanderbeg), Tochter von Giovanni, Duca di Ferrandina und Conte di Copertino und Giovanna Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona († 1518) der Duchi di Traetto; ⚭ 2. Beatrix Ferillo, Erbin Alfonsi, Grafen von Muro
                          |--> Don Antonio Orsini († 1553), 6. Duca di Gravina ⚭ Felicia Sanseverino
                               |--> Don Ferdinando II. Orsini (1538–1583), 7. Duca di Gravina ⚭ 1. Costanza Gesualda, ⚭ 2. Virginia de Rovere
                                    |--> Don Michele Antonio I Orsini († 1627 ohne Erben), 8. Duca di Gravina ⚭ Beatrix Ursina; Nachfolger wurde seine Schwester
|--> Donna Felice Maria Orsini († 1647 ohne Erben), 9. Duchessa di Gravina ⚭ Petrus, Duca von Sermoneta; Nachfolger wurde der Onkel
|--> Don Pietro Francesco detto “Ducapatre” Orsini († vor 14. März 1641), 10. Duca di Gravina seit 1635 und 1. Fürst von Solofra seit 1620 ecc. ⚭ (1617) Dorothea Orsina (Cousine von Pietro Orsini), Erbin von Solofra e Muro Lucano, Tochter von Don Flaminio
     |--> Ferdinando III. (auch: Ferrante) Orsini (1623–1658), 11. Duca di Gravina, 2. Fürst von Solofra und Conte von Muro Lucano ecc. ⚭ (1647) Giovanna Frangipani della Tolfa, Tochter von Don Carlo, 2. Duca di Grumo
          |--> Don Pietro Francesco Orsini (* Februar 1649; † 1730), 12. Duca di Gravina etc.; war Dominikaner unter dem Namen Vincenzo Maria, danach Kardinal (22. Februar 1672) und ab 19. Mai 1724 Papst Benedikt XIII.; Nachfolger wurde sein Bruder
|--> Don Domenico I. Orsini (1652–1705), 13. Duca di Gravina seit 1667, etc. ⚭ (1671) 1. Luigia Altieri († 1678), Tochter von Don Angelo Albertoni Altieri, 2. ⚭ (1683) Ippolita di Tocco, Tochter von Don Leonardo VI
     |--> Don Bernualdo Filippo Orsini (1685–1734), 14. Duca di Gravina, 5. Fürst von Solofra, ab 1724 Fürst von Roccagorga, ab 24. August 1724 Reichsfürst des Heiligen Römischen Reiches mit dem Prädikat Durchlaucht („Celsissimus“) ecc. ⚭ 1. (1711) Giovanna Caracciolo, Tochter von Don Giuseppe, 3. Fürst di Torella, ⚭ 2. (1718) Giacinta Marescotti Ruspoli († 1722), Tochter von Don Francesco, 1. Fürst von Cerveteri
          |--> Don Domenico II. Orsini (1719–1789), 15. Duca di Gravina, 6. Fürst von Solofra etc.; ⚭ (1738) Anna Paola Flaminia Odescalchi († 1742), Tochter von Fürst Don Baldassarre, Duca di Bracciano; er trat 1743 in den geistlichen Stand und verzichtete deshalb 1760 auf Titel und Herrschaft zugunsten seines Sohnes
               |--> Don Filippo Bernualdo (getauft Amadeo) Orsini (1742–1824), 16. Duca di Gravina, 7. Fürst von Solofra ecc. ⚭ (17. April 1762) Donna Maria Teresa Caracciolo, Tochter des Fürsten Don Marino Francesco, 7. Fürst von Avellino. Da sein Sohn Domenico Orsini (* 1765) schon 1790 verstarb, folgte ihm sein Enkel
                    |--> Don Domenico Orsini (postum 1790–1874), als 17. Duca di Gravina, seit 1854 römischer Fürst (Principe romano) ecc. ⚭ (6. Februar 1823) Maria Luisa Torlonia (1804–1883), Tochter von Don Giovanni, Duca di Poli und Guadagnolo
                         |--> Don Filippo Orsini (1842–1924), 18. Duca di Gravina, 6. römischer Fürst ecc. ⚭ (17. Oktober 1865 in Wien) Giulia Gräfin von Hoyos-Wenckheim (1847–1909), Tochter des Conte Enrico
                              |--> Don Domenico Napoleone Orsini (1868–1947), 19. Duca di Gravina, 10. Principe di Solofra, 9. Principe di Vallata, 6. Principe di Roccagorga ecc. ⚭ 1. (1891) Domenica Varo (1867–1919), Tochter des Conte Senatore Domenico, ⚭ 2. (9. Juni in Deauville) Laura Schwarz (* 1883 in Los Angeles; † USA)
                                   |--> Virginio Orsini (1892–1972), 20. Duca di Gravina etc. ⚭ (27. Mai 1919 in Mailand) Adele Pensa (1896–1979)
                                        |--> Filippo Orsini (1920–1984), 21. Duca di Gravina etc. ⚭ (21. Oktober 1946 in Pernumia) Francesca Romana Bonacossi, Marquise di San Michele Arcangelo, Tochter des Marquis Taino Conte di Costa Bissara
                                             |--> Domenico Napoleone Orsini (* 1948), 22. Duca di Gravina, 13. Principe di Solofra, 12. Principe di Vallata, 9. Principe di Roccagorga ecc. ⚭ (21. Februar 1977) Martine Bernheim, Tochter des Bankiers Antoine Bernheim

Dukes of Bracciano

The line was extinguished with his death.

Other family members

In chronological order:


  • Johann Huebner: Genealogical tables: In addition to the related genealogical questions, for the explanation of political history, fourth part . Leipzig 1733, p. 1111 ( online version in Google Book Search).
  • Raffaello Morghen : Orsini. In: Enciclopedia Italiana. Volume 25. Rome 1935, online at treccani.it .
  • Johann Peter KirschOrsini . In: Catholic Encyclopedia , Volume 11, Robert Appleton Company, New York 1911.
  • Gustavo Brigante Colonna: Gli Orsini. Milan 1955.
  • Michael Packe: Orsini. Boston 1957.
  • Giuseppe Marchetti-Longhi: I Boveschi e gli Orsini. Rome 1960.
  • Vincenzo Celletti: Gli Orsini di Bracciano. Rome 1963.
  • Anna Cavallaro et al. a. (Ed.): Bracciano e gli Orsini nel '400. Rome 1981.
  • Horst Bredekamp: Vicino Orsini and the sacred forest of Bomarzo. Worms 1985, ISBN 3-88462-026-6 .
  • Marco Venditelli: Orsini. In: Volker Reinhardt (ed.): The great families of Italy (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 485). Kröner, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-520-48501-X , pp. 389-401.
  • Franca Allegrezza: Organizazione del potere e dinamiche familiari. Gli Orsini dal Duecento agli inizi del Quattrocento. Rome 1998.
  • Benedetto Vetere: Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo. Il principe e la corte alla vigilia della “congiura” (1463); il Registro 244 della Camera della Sommaria. Rome 2011, ISBN 978-88-89190-83-8 .
  • Orietta Filippini: Benedetto XIII (1724-1730). Un papa del settecento seconco il giudizio dei contemporanei. Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-7772-1211-1 .
  • Barbara Furlotti: A Renaissance Baron and His Possessions. Paolo Giordano I Orsini, Duke of Bracciano (1541-1585). Turnhout 2012, ISBN 978-2-503-53474-9 .
  • Luciana Petracca, Benedetto Vetere (ed.): Un principato territoriale nel regno di Napoli? Gli Orsini del Balzo principi di Taranto (1399-1463). Rome 2013, ISBN 978-88-98079-03-2 .
  • Pierre de Filippis: Bomarzo. Il sacro bosco. Paris 2014, ISBN 978-2-84138-704-5 .

Web links

Commons : Orsini  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Johann Huebner: Genealogical tables: In addition to the related genealogical questions, to explain the political history, fourth part . Leipzig 1733, p. 1111 ( online version in Google Book Search).
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Genealogia della dinastia Orsini, dalle origini ad oggi. Solofrastorica.it, accessed March 15, 2017 (Italian).
  3. ^ Domenico Orsini D'Aragona. Treccani.it, accessed March 15, 2017 (Italian).