Key to Umbria: Perugia

Braccio Fortebraccio (1368-1424)

Andrea (Braccio) Fortebraccio was born into a noble family at Montone, outside Perugia.  When his family was exiled from Perugia (along with other noble families), he became a condottierem serving with Alberico da Barbiano and Muzio Attendolo Sforza.  He fought for Pope Boniface IX in his war against Perugia in 1398.

In 1400, Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan was able to take Perugia under his wing with the consent of its citizens (but to the horror of Florence and the other major powers in Italy).  Assisi, Nocera and Spoleto soon followed Perugia.  When, Gian Galeazzo Visconti died suddenly in 1402, and the Raspanti had no alternative but to submit to Boniface IX.  However, they successfully resisted papal efforts to facilitate the return of the exiled nobles.

Braccio therefore returned to serve under Alberico da Barbiano  against Faenza and the Papal States.  He was implicated in a plot against Alberico in 1406 and forced to flee.  He entered the service of King Ladislas of Naples in 1408 and harassed Perugia, but the Raspanti  pre-empted him offering their submission to Ladislas  provided that he would execute Braccio.  Ladislas accepted, but Braccio wisely declined an invitation to visit him, and he took power without honouring the pre-condition.  Pope Gregory XII was so impoverished by this point that he actually sold the Papal States, including Rome to Ladislas for a trivial sum.

Braccio now went to work for Ladislas' enemy, Florence before moving on to serve the papacy.   The antipope John XXIII assigned him the fiefdom of Montone and the governorship of Bologna.  Braccio took advantage of his position to extort huge sums of money from the cities of Romagna. 

Braccio’s chance to take Perugia came when Ladislas died in 1414, and when the decision of the Council of Constance a year later to depose all three aspirant popes was followed by a two-year interregnum.  At this time, Braccio was serving as papal governor of Bologna and he was able to extort a bribe from the Bolognese in return for leaving them in peace.  With this, he financed an expedition of condottieri and exiled nobles (including Malatesta Baglioni, the orphaned son of Pandolfo) against Perugia.  In desperation, the Raspanti submitted to Carlo Malatesta.  However, after the hard-fought Battle of Sant’ Egidio (1416), Braccio took power in his native city and was formally designated as its Lord.

The papal schism finally ended in 1417 with the election of Pope Martin V.  He was obliged to reside in Florence, since Rome was in uproar, but he was determined to reassert papal control of central Italy.  He had never been reconciled to Braccio's rule of Perugia, but the Florentines initially acted as mediator.  Thus, in 1420, Braccio entered Florence in his finery to be confirmed as papal vicar of Perugia, Assisi and Orvieto.

Braccio met his death in 1424 outside Aquila in Southern Italy, during the interminable war for the succession to the crown of Naples.   Martin V denied him burial on sacred ground. 

After Braccio’s death, Martin V quickly took control of Perugia, and Malatesta Baglioni wisely accepted nominal papal suzerainty in return for the retention of many of Perugia's ancient privileges.  Martin V rewarded Malatesta by making him Lord of Spello and Bettona. 

Martin V died in 1431.  Braccio’s nephew Nicolò della Stella Fortebracci and two Perugian ambassadors, Francesco Coppoli and Giovanni di Petruccio Montesperelli managed to retrieve his remains in the following year, and he was buried in the choir of San Francesco al Prato.

Bishop Andrea Giovanni Baglioni

Pope Eugenius IV appointed Andrea Giovanni Baglioni (from the Fortera branch of the family) as Bishop of Perugia in 1435.  His astute actions mobilised the finances needed to revive the project of rebuilding the Duomo.  He was a reforming bishop:

  1. It was probably at his instigation that Eugenius IV ordered the transfer of the decadent Abbazia di San Pietro to the Cassinese Congregation (a reformed Benedictine congregation) in 1436.  

  2. He also established reformed communities at Sant’ Agostino. 

  3. In 1444, Eugenius IV removed the Cistercians of San Fiorenzo at the behest of the reforming Cardinal Domenico Capranica, and gave the complex to the Servite Observants. 

Bishop Baglioni died in 1449: his funerary monument in survives in the Duomo. 

Braccio I Baglioni

When Malatesta Baglioni died in 1437, the control of Spello was contested between his brother, Nello and his son, Braccio I.  Pope Eugenius IV supported Nello, who prevailed. 

In 1438, the Perugian condottiere Nicolò Piccinino threatened Perugia, but the citizens were able to bribe him to change his plans.

Pope Nicholas V planned to visit Perugia in 1449, to escape the plague in Rome.  However, news reached him at Spoleto that the disease had reached Perugia, and he diverted to Fabriano.  When Andrea Giovanni Baglioni died soon after, Nicholas V quickly invested his associate Jacopo Vagnucci as the new bishop.

When Nello Baglioni died in 1451, his sons Pandolfo and Galeotto suppressed the news for a few days in order to secure Spello against the threat from their cousin, Braccio.  They managrd to hold tha town until 1460 (see below).

Open warfare erupted between the Baglioni and the Oddi in Perugia in 1456. 

Pope Pius II spent two weeks in Perugia in early 1459.  It was during this stay that he consecrated San Domenico Nuovo.

In 1460, Braccio I became the Lord of Spello by arranging for Pandolfo and Galeotto to be murdered, together with Pandolfo’s son, Nicolò.   Pope Pius II confirmed his position in 1463.

The only survivor from the carnage inflicted on Nello’s descendants was Atalanta, Galeotto’s daughter.  Braccio I arranged her marriage to his son Grifone.   Grifone  was murdered in 1477, apparently in a political vendetta, and Braccio I followed him to the grave in 1479. 

[Santo Anello - war with Chiusi/Siena - 1473]

Guido and Ridolfo Baglioni

Braccio’s brothers, Guido and Ridolfo Baglioni, now took his place at the head of the family. 

Warfare erupted again between the Baglioni and the Oddi in 1482, and the Oddi were finally exiled in 1488.

Bishop Jacopo Vagnucci resigned in 1482 (after his appointment as Archbishop of Nicea), and was replaced by his nephew, Dionisio Vagnucci (1482-91).  He translated the relics of St Herculanus to the high altar of the new Duomo in 1487.

The Blessed Colomba arrived in Perugia from her native Rieti in 1488 and settled in what became a nunnery for Dominican tertiaries near San Domenico.

Cesare Borgia, the son of the future Pope Alexander VI (see below) arrived in Perugia to study at the Sapienza in 1489, when he was 14 years old.  He stayed for some 2 years, before transferring Pisa.

Federico, the posthumous son of Grifone, was effectively excluded from power albeit that he was immensely rich, having been the sole heir of his father and of his grandfather, Braccio I.  He adopted his father’s name in ca. 1489, as a sign of defiance, and was subsequently known as Grifonetto

GrifinettoBaglioni seems to have become a friend and fellow-student of Cesare Borgia in ca. 1489.  They both apparently witnessed a miracle performed by the Blessed Colomba in San Domenico.

Fabrizio degli Oddi led an army of exiles from their base at Gubbio in an attempt to take Perugia in June 1491.  They entered the city but the aging Guido Baglioni led the relief of his garrison in San Severo.  The exiles failed to arouse support within the city, and Fabrizio degli Oddi was killed.  Other suspected traitors were hanged.

Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503)

Alexander VI appointed one of his close advisors, Juan Lopez, as Bishop of Perugia in late 1492.  He was made a cardinal in 1496.  Although promoted to Archbishop of Capua in 1498, he retained links with Perugia until his death in 1501.

On 14 November 1492, the Fiumi of Assisi treacherously murdered most of the prominent members of the de’ Nepis clan, who were allies of the Baglioni.  Galeotto de’ Nepis managed to escape to the Baglioni fortress at Bastia, where he sought the assistance Gianpaolo and Carlo Baglioni.  They duly entered Assisi and sacked the upper town (the domain of the Fiumi, known as the Parte di Sotto), including the church and convent of San Francesco.  The mayhem ended after two days, when Alexander VI sent Nicolò Orsini di Pitigliano to restore order.  The Fiumi faction were exiled, and a bounty was placed on the heads of those held responsible for the murders.

Alexander VI included Assisi in the dowry of his daughter, Lucrezia Borgia when she married Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro in 1493. 

Alexander IV sold Gualdo Cattaneo (on the border between Todi, Foligno and Perugia) to Foligno in 1493.  This led to the voluntary exile of many citizens of Gualdo Cattaneo who were allied to the Baglioni of Perugia.  The Commune of Foligno soon built a fortress there (which still survives).  [An attempt by the Baglioni and the exiles of Gualdo Cattaneo to take the fortress in August 1494 failed.]

In June 1494, as the Baglioni brothers were distracted by the military opportunities arising from the expected invasion of Italy by King Charles VIII of France, the castellan of Assisi (an employee of Giovanni Sforza) enabled Jacopo Fiumi to return to the city.  Astorre, Morgante and Gianpaolo Baglioni used this as an excuse to besiege the city and devastate its contado.  According to tradition, a statue of the Virgin in San Rufino wept at this resumption of violence and devastation, and became known as the Madonna del Pianto.  A truce of sorts was subsequently agreed and the Baglioni dispersed to the armies of their respective clients. 

[Baglioni support for the Atti of Todi against the Chiaravalle in 1494]

Later in 1494, Perugia itself was threatened: exiles from the Oddi faction assembled at Castiglione and Fratta Todina; and the French army seemed likely to enter Perugian territory as it marched on Rome.  Astorre Bagliani returned to Perugia in early 1495, and slowed the progress of the exiles. 

Perugia offered sanctuary to Alexander VI and  Cesare Borgia for some 16 days in 1495 as Charles VIII marched back across Italy during his return to France after his conquest of Naples.  The chronicler Francesco Matarazzo recorded that his soldiers behaved badly during this stay, and that he “left the city in a worse condition than when he came”.  The papal entourage apparently departed among the curses of the citizens. 

Alexander VI had had no success in his efforts to mediate between the Baglioni on the one hand and the exiles from Perugia and the Fiumi of Assisi on the other.  The enemies of the Baglioni were further encouraged when Astorre and Gianpaolo Baglioni entered the service of Charles VIII of France and were taken prisoner at the Battle of Fornova (June 1495). 

These enemies included Foligno, who employed the mercenaries Antonio and Troilo Savelli (September 1495).  While the Baglioni laid siege to la Fratta, the Perugian exile Ludovico degli Ermanni persuaded the Savelli to invade Perugia itself through Porta di Sant’ Andrea (del Piscinello).  This attack almost succeeded, but the Baglioni managed to regroup.  Ludovico degli Ermanni was killed and Troilo Savelli was captured.  Those Perugian exiles that managed to escape evacuated their erstwhile strongholds in the contado. 

The victorious Perugians marched on Foligno and devastated its contado, before laying siege to Gualdo Cattaneo.  The fortress managed to withstand this attack: the Baglioni seem to have blamed their ally Virginio Orsini, whom they thought had been bribed by Foligno.

The future Cardinal Juan Borgia the Younger was appointed as papal governor of Perugia in 1495.

Alexander VI appointed Alfano Alfani as vice-treasurer of the Apostolic Province of Umbria in 1499.  Alfani, who was greatly respected for his probity, and kept this position for some 40 years.

Cardinal Juan Borgia the Younger became papal legate of Perugia and Umbria in 1497.

Cardinal Raimondo Perauld (Raymund Pérault) became legate to Perugia and Todi in 1499.

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History of Perugia: 15th century

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