Key to Umbria: Perugia

Baglioni Massacre (1500)

Grifonetto Baglioni, with his allies, Girolamo della Penna and Carlo Baglioni, seized power in Perugia in July 1500 during the wedding of his cousin, Astorre (which became known as the Wedding of Blood).   Astorre himself, his father Guido, his brother Gismondo and his cousin Simonetto (a son of Ridolfo) were all murdered.

Gianpaolo Baglioni escaped and managed to join forces with three relatives who had already left the wedding: his brother Troilo, and his cousins (other sons of Guido): Gentile and Adriano I (known as Morgante), who had been at Spello.  They joined their ally, the mercenary captain Vitellozzo Vitelli of Città di Castello, who was at Marciano, not far from Perugia.  They were able to recruit an army and retake Perugia.  Grifonetto paid for his treachery with his life, and his accomplices became known as the new exiles (to distinguish them from the Oddi faction).

Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503: continued)

Gianpaolo Baglioni began his service under Cesare Borgia in 1500, when the latter mounted a concerted operation to put an end to the bloodthirsty activities of the Charavallesi exiles of Todi.  The Charavallesi found refuge at Acquasparta, where Cesare’s captains (who included Gianpaolo Baglioni, Vitellozzo Vitelli, Paolo Orsini and Bartolomeo d’ Alviano) besieged them.   The fortress fell, and Girolamo Chiaravalle and many of his allies from Todi, Terni and Narni were beheaded.  Altobello da Canale initially escaped, but he was captured and torn to pieces.  The fortress at Acquasparta was completely destroyed, along with the power of the Chiaravalle.

Gianpaolo served under Cesare Borgia in the fight against the Colonnas and at the assault of Faenza in 1500.

In the winter of 1500, Cesare Borgia allowed Gianpaolo Baglioni to return to Perugia when the new exiles threatened to return by force.  He captured Metello Crispolti, and discovered by torturing him that  Carlo Baglioni and Girolamo dalla Penna, Gianpaolo’s principle enemies, were waiting for him at Bettona.  He attacked them there but they managed to escape.  The priors of Bettona agreed not to shelter his enemies, including the Crispolti, in future, but this seems to have had little impact upon the position of the Crisploti in Bettona.

When Cesare Borgia was called to Naples in 1501 to honour his obligation to King Louis XII of France, he left Vitellozzo Vitelli and Gianpaolo Baglioni to continue the siege of Piombino on the Tuscan coast.  Piombino duly fell in 1502.  Vitellozzo Vitelli and Gianpaolo Baglioni then ravaged the Val di Chiana (summer 1502), apparently intent upon restoring Piero de’ Medici to power in Florence.  It is not clear whether Cesare Borgia was in control of this operation: Vitellozzo Vitello nursed a deep hatred for the Florentine Republic following its execution of his brother.

When Cesare treacherously seized Urbino from his erstwhile ally, Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro in 1502, Gianpaolo Baglioni and a number of Cesare’s other captains feared similar treatment.  These fears were heightened when Cesare threatened to take Città di Castello if Vitellozzo Vitelli continued to ignore his orders.

Gianpaolo Baglioni attended a meeting of rebellious Borgia captains at a palace belonging to Cardinal Giambattista Orsini at La Magione on 9th October, 1502.  Others attending included: Francesco Orsini, Duke of Gravina and Paolo Orsini; Ermes Bentivoglio of Bologna; Oliverotto da Fermo; and representatives of Pandolfo Petrucci of Siena and the recently-deposed Guidobaldo da Montefeltro.

When the allies met at Chianciano at the end of November, many of them were terrified of what Cesare would do when reinforcements promised by Louis XII arrived.  The Orsinis, Ermes Bentivoglio and Pandolfo Petrucci advocated reconciliation, but Gianpaolo Baglioni and Vitellozzo Vitelli disagreed.  Thus, as Cesare had probably calculated, the alliance fell apart.

Cesare finally left Imola in December 1502 for Cesena.  Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermi and Paolo,Francesco and Roberto Orsini demonstrated their apparent repentance by taking Senigallia (which still held for the duke of Urbino) in his name.  Cesare arrived at that town, decoyed the unsuspecting captains into his house, and had them all arrested (December 31, 1502).  Gianpaolo Baglioni anticipated the trap and sensibly failed to attend.  Vitellozzo Vitelli and Oliverotto da Fermo were immediately strangled, and Cesare conducted the three Orsini prisoners towards Rome.  News that his father, Pope Alexander IV had imprisoned Cardinal Giambattista Orsini in Castel Sant’ Angelo reached him at Città della Pieve, at which point he had his own Orsini prisoners strangled.  Cardinal Orsini died in prison a few months later (February 1503).

When Cesare Borgia duly marched on Perugia in 1502, Gianpaolo fled.  Alexander IV deposed his brother, Bishop Troilo Baglioni, (although Pope Julius II reinstated him in 1503).  Cesare appointed Agapito Geraldini as his representative in Perugia, and installed the renegade Carlo Baglioni as nominal ruler of the city. 

Gianpaolo found refuge with Pandolfo Petrucci in Siena.  He then entered the service of Florence in its war against Pisa.

As soon as Gianpaolo heard of the death of Alexander VI in 1503, he joined up with Gentile Baglioni, Bartolomeo d’ Alviano and Ludovico degli Atti and marched on Perugia.  It was now Carlo's turn to flee into exile.  Gianpaolo Baglioni and Bartolomeo d’ Alviano then helped Lodovico degli Atti to retake Todi. 

Pope Julius II (1503-13)

Pope Julius II had studied law in Perugia, at San Francesco al Prato , probably in the late 1460s, and was ordained as a priest here.  He was not particularly hostile to the Baglioni family: for example, he  reinstated Troilo Baglioni as Bishop of Perugia in 1503 (albeit that Trolio’s role was now nominal, while Cardinal Francisco de Remolins administered the see) and appointed Gentile Baglioni as nominal bishop of Orvieto in 1505.

Nevertheless, Julius II was intent upon reducing Baglioni power in the city.  His first move was to agree to the return of the Perugian exiles in 1504.  In 1505, Gianpaolo Baglioni made a formal submission to him at Orvieto and agreed to the appointment of a new papal governor of Perugia.  Cardinal Antonio Ferreri was duly appointed, and Gianpaolo raised no objections when he replaced the member of the Dieci  dell’ Arbitrio (the main organ of government of the city) with his own candidates soon after. 

When Julius II marched on Perugia in 1506, en route for an attack on Bologna, Gianpaolo surrendered the city.  Julius II famously entered it without waiting for his soldiers to arrive, causing Machiavelli to wonder aloud that Gianpaolo had failed to take this opportunity to kill him!   Perhaps more wisely, Gianpaolo joined Julius' forces as a condottiere in the battle to expel the Bentivoglio from Bologna, leaving his sons Malatesta and Orazio as papal hostages for a period.  He managed to persuade Julius II to allow only the “old” exiles to return, while those who had been involved in the massacre of 1500 remained excluded.  Julius II presided over the formal reconciliation of the factions at San Francesco al Prato, where he had “begun [his] life in the Church”.

Cardinal Ferreri had been instrumental in forging this peaceful outcome, and his efforts were much appreciated by the Perugians.  When Troilo Baglioni died in 1506, Cardinal Ferreri took over the position and retained it after his period as legate ended in 1507.   However, he was accused of plotting to assassinate Julius II, who imprisoned him in Castel Sant’ Angelo in 1508 and had him executed.

Julius II allowed Gentile Baglioni to renounce the position as bishop of Orvieto in 1511 in favour of his nephew, the illegitimate Ercole.  This was necessary because Gentile was the only surviving legitimate son of Guido, and this branch of the family might otherwise have expired.

Julius II had forbidden Gianpaolo Baglioni from accepting a condotta from Venice during the period of hostilities between Venice and the papacy.  However, when they became allied against the French in 1511, Gianpaolo was now free to accept the Venetian offer.

Gentile married Giulia Vitelli of Città di Castello in 1513, as he approached his 50th birthday, and began his campaign to produce sons.  He seems to have continued as Prior of San Lorenzo, Spello despite his marital status.

When Julius II died 1513, Gianpaolo and Gentile returned to Perugia.

Pope Leo X (1513 -21)

Giovanni Medici was elected as Pope Leo X in 1513. 

In 1516 Gianpaolo fought for the papal nephew, Lorenzo de' Medici in the war against Duke Francesco Maria delle Rovere of Urbino, taking Gubbio in March 1516.  Leo X named Gianpaolo and Gentile as Counts of Bettona, and they were also elected to the “Dieci dell' Arbitrio” (ruling body) of Perugia two months later. 

The fortifications of Perugia were improved at this time because of the continuing threat from Francesco Maria delle Rovere.  Gianpaolo went to Rome to seek help from Leo X, an while there he escaped an assassination attempt by Carlo Baglioni.  Francesco Maria delle Rovere appeared with his army (which included Carlo Baglioni and other exiles) outside Porta Sole in May 1517.   Gianpaolo was able to call on substantial reinforcement from his allies, but he narrowly escaped the treachery of some of his young relatives, and the city was also hit by plague.  He finally paid a large bribe in order to persuade Francesco Maria della Rovere to withdraw.  Lorenzi de’ Medici had already cast aspersions on his devotion to the papal cause, and Leo X suspected betrayal.  Francesco Maria Rovere was able to retake Urbino in September 1517.

Gentile and Gianpaolo became estranged in 1520.  Gianpaolo subsequently obeyed a summons from Leo X to Rome under a safe conduct.  He was imprisoned in Castel Sant'Angelo without ever seeing Leo X and decapitated.  Leo X installed Gentile as the puppet ruler of Perugia.

When Leo X died in 1521, Gianpaolo's sons, Malatesta and Orazio took Perugia with the help of Francesco Maria delle Rovere and Vitello Vitelli of Città di Castello.  Gentile Baglioni was forced to flee from the city. 

Pope Clement VII (1523-34)

The new Medici pope reconciled Malatesta and Orazio to Gentile in 1523, but they were soon once more at loggerheads.  Cardinal Silvio Passerini, the papal legate, exiled Orazio (to Spello) and Gentile (to Lake Trasimeno) in order to put an end to factional violence in the city.  Clement VII imprisoned Orazio and Gentile in Castel Sant’ Angelo in 1523.  Gentile was soon released, but Orazio remained in prison until 1527, when troops of the Emperor Charles V threatened Rome. 

Francesco Maria delle Rovere, who was nominally in papal service, failed to rush to the defense of Rome, instead taking the time to expel Gentile Baglioni from Perugia.  Orazio, however, entered papal service and fought valiantly during the subsequent sack.  He then took advantage of the weak position of Clement VII consolidate his hold over Perugia.  After another feigned reconciliation, he arranged the murder of Gentile and other members of his branch of the family  He also killed Perotto and Pietro Crispolti, along with their sons and followers at Bettona. 

Orazio continued to fight for Clement VII, becoming the captain of the Bande Nere, and died fighting near Naples in 1528.  He was buried in San Lorenzo, Spello.  (Followers of Gentile disinterred his body and threw it from the walls near San Ventura, but it was recovered and reburied).  Malatesta was now the sole ruler of Perugia.  

When Cardinal Silvio Passerini died in April 1529, Clement VII appointed his nephew, Cardinal Ippolito dei Medici, as legate of Perugia.  In June 1529, he made his peace with Charles V, and secured imperial support for his plan to regain Florence for the Medici.  Malatesta, who felt threatened by the papal/imperial alliance, resumed his condotta from the Republic of Florence.   When papal forces captured an army that the French had sent to reinforce  Florence, Malatesta somewhat impetuously invaded Perugia and captured the vice-legate, Bishop Ennio Filonardi of Veroli and the Provincial Apostolic Treasurer, Alfano Alfani.  Clement VII sent an army under forces of Philibert di Chalons, prince of Orange into Umbria.  Braccio II Baglioni (the son of Grifonetto and thus an enemy of Malatesta), who defected to the imperial side in June 1527, duly joined this expedition. 

The Prince of Orange quickly took Bevagna, Montefalco and Assisi.  He then marched on Spello, where Leone Baglioni (the illegitimate son of Gianpaolo Baglioni, who was Prior of San Lorenzo from 1528 until 1539) led the brave but unsuccessful defense.  Malatesta managed to negotiate an honorable withdrawal from Perugia, and secured a promise from  the Prince of Orange that Braccio II and the other exiles would not be allowed to return.

The papal/imperial army then marched on Florence in 1530.  Seeing that all was lost, Malatesta famously changed sides and delivered Florence to Clement VII.  As a reward, he received the rights to Chiusi and the lordship of Bettona, Bevagna, Limignana and Castelbono.  He was confirmed as ruler of Perugia and returned there in triumph.  He was seriously ill with syphilis by this time, and died at his palace in Bettona in 1531. 

Orazio’s body was disinterred once more so that both brothers could be given a solemn funeral in Santa Maria di Monteluce, before being buried in San Domenico.  The tomb was later removed on the orders of [Pope Paul V].

In 1532, Clement VII confiscated the goods of Ridolfo, the son of Malatesta and those of Gianpaolo, the son of Orazio and banned them from returning to Perugia.  He also exiled Monaldesca, the widow of Malatesta and mother of Ridolfo, from Bettona.

Pope Paul III (1534-49)

On the death of Clement VII in 1534, Ridolfo Baglioni marched on Perugia.  He was repulsed at Fontenova but tried again, this time with his cousin Gianpaolo.  They found Porta San Pietro open and easily took the city and imprisoned the governor, Cinzio Filonardi.  He was tortured in order to reveal the whereabouts of his money and then murdered when the Baglioni set fire to the Apostolic palace. Ridolfo could not hold Perugia: the new legate Marino Grimani exiled the Baglioni and confiscated their property. 

Ridolfo therefore accepted a condotta from Florence.

When Pope Paul III had increased the tax on salt in 1540, Perugia declared itself a "city of Christ", and confided its keys to the care of a crucifix that still exists on the facade of theDuomo.   The Commune called on Ridolfo Baglioni, and (with the permission of Duke Cosimo de’ Medici) he entered the city, taking up residence in Palazzo Vescovile.   However, he surrendered to Girolamo Orsini and once more went into exile, having stolen a considerable sum of money from the citizens of Perugia.

On 5 July, Perugia surrendered to the troops of Pierluigi Farnese and lost its freedom.  Bishop Bernardino Castellario of Casale (who was known as Monsignor della Barba) was appointed as Papal Governor.  The Priors were replaced by a body of twenty papal appointees known as the Conservatori dell' Ecclesiastica Obedienza

Paul III finally entered the defeated city in September 1541.

The Rocca Paolina was begun Antonio da Sangallo i Giovane for the papal administration on the ruins of Baglioni quarter of the city.  This was originally conceived as a palace, but the plans later changed, and the new structure was transformed into a forbidding fortress.  Galeazzo Alessi replaced  Antonio da Sangallo in 1542 , when a new Papal Legate, [Cardinale di Rimini]  It is unlikely that Alessi played any part in designing the new fortifications.  He seems to have been employed to design the new residential quarters (which included a loggia) on the site of the palace of Gentile Baglioni.

The papal legate Tiberio Crispo (1545-8) further consolidated the papal grip on the city.  He employed Tommaso Bernabei, il Papacello to execute the frescoes of the Sala della Congregazione in the Palazzo dei Priori (now room 18 of the Galleria Nazionale) with a frieze depicting the rise and fall of Braccio Fortebraccio.  [Other projects]

Pope Julius III (1550-5)

When Paul III died in 1549, Ridolfo Baglioni once more threatened Perugia.  However, the Medici brokered an agreement with Pope Julius III, under which Ridolfo regained his confiscated possessions.  He died while fighting for Florence in 1554.

Julius III restored the cherished privileges of the Perugians, at last nominally, in 1553.

Julius III created the Marquisate of Castiglione del Lago and Chiugi for his sister Giacoma, the wife of Francesco della Corgna, and their heirs “until the third generation”.  They had two sons:

  1. Ascanio della Corgna, a soldier, diplomat and military engineer, became the first Marchese di Castiglione del Lago e Chiugi.

  2. Fulvio della Corgna was appointed as Bishop of Perugia and Governor of Norcia in 1550 and was made a cardinal in the following year.  He resigned in 1553 when he was appointed administrator of Spoleto at the request of Duke Cosimo de' Medici of Florence, to quell the violent disturbances that had broken out in that city.

The post of bishop now passed to the Cardinal’s cousin, Ippolito della Corgna, who was also the Archpriest of San Lorenzo.  In 1555, Julius III gave him permission to call three Dominican nuns from San Paolo, Orvieto to reform the nunnery of San Tommaso, which he then placed under the spiritual guidance of San Domenico.   He died in 1562.

Pope Paul IV (1555-9)

Soon after his election, Pope Paul IV deprived Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna of his post at Spoleto.  In 1556, he ordered the arrest of Ascanio della Corgna, who had been secretly in communication with agents of King Philip II of Spain.  When the Cardinal warned Ascanio, he managed to escape, but the Cardinal was himself arrested and imprisoned in Castel Sant'Angelo (July 1556).  Soon, however, Spanish victories in the Roman vicinity required that Paul IV control his hatred of the Spanish king and reach an accommodation with the new reality of Spanish power.  Cardinal della Corgna was freed and resumed his offices, although he was fined sixty thousand scudi

Pope Pius IV (1559-65) 

In 1559, Pope Pius IV restored Spello and Bastia Umbra to Adriano II (died 1574) and Astorre Baglioni.

Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna was appointed as Governor of Città della Pieve in 1560.

Bishop Giulio Oradini (1562-4) resigned in order to continue his successful career in Rome.  When he died in 1573, his executors:

  1. completed the Cappella dello Spirito Santo (1557-76) of the Duomo and commissioned its altarpiece (which includes a portrait of the deceased, from Cesare Nebbia); and

  2. endowed a new college for priests, the Sapienza Oradina (1572-82).

Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna was then re-appointed as Bishop of Perugia (September 6, 1564).  He was an enthusiast for the newly-published decrees of the Council of Trent, in line with which, he:

  1. reformed the diocesan statutes;

  2. commissioned the new Chiesa del Gesù (1562) of the Jesuits, who had settled in Perugia in 1552 during his first term as bishop;

  3. gave the site of the site of the abandoned Benedictine nunnery of Santa Cecilia Santa to the Capuchins from Montemalbe in 1570 for their new church and convent of Santa Maria della Pace (named for the papal victory against the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571);

  4. took possession (with the consent of Pius IV) of the ruins of the ruined ex-Palazzo del Governatore and used the site for new Palazzo Vescovile (to facilitate compliance with the rule that bishops should reside in their dioceses); and

  5. built the episcopal seminary (1564-8) and gave it the nearby church of the Maestà delle Volte.

Ascanio della Corgna survived the Battle of Lepanto (1571) but died soon after in Rome. Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna resigned as bishop of Perugia, this time definitively, in 1574, but remained Cardinal Protector of Perugia until his death in 1583.

The Milanese Francesco Bossi, who was similarly enthusiastic about the Tridentine reforms, became Papal Governor of Perugia in 1564-5.  He commissioned Hendrik van den Broeck (Arrigo Fiammingo da Malines) to restore the frescoes by Benedetto Bonfigli in what was by that time the ex-Cappella dei Priori (now part of the Galleria Nazionale).  This artist is also usually credited with the fresco of the Crucifixion with SS Francis and Herculanus that was painted on what would have been a blank space on the back wall of the chapel after the removal of the Decemviri Altarpiece (by Perugino).   The praying figure shown half-length on the bottom right is probably a portrait of Francesco Bossi. 


In 1566, Pope Pius V issued the bull Circa Pastoralis, which decreed that tertiary nuns other non-cloistered female communities should take solemn vows and adopt clausura.  In an apostolic visitation of 1571, Monsignor Paolo Maria della Rovere, Bishop of Cagli in 1571 found a number of nunneries where the bull was being ignored.  He imposed clausura on the nunnery of the Blessed Colomba and on San Tommaso.  He expelled the recalcitrant nuns from sant’ Antonio da Padova, and they were only allowed to return when they apologised and promised to comply with the papal stricture in the following year.

Following the resignation of Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna in 1574, Francesco Bossi returned to Perugia as its bishop.  He called the Minims of San Francesco di Paola in that year and gave them the site on which they built the new church of Santo Spirito two years later. 

When Francesco Bossi resigned in 1579, his replacement was the Dominican Bishop Vincenzo Ercolani (1579-86).   He called the hospitaller Order of St John of God to Perugia in 1584.   They financed their operations largely by voluntary donations, and were known colloquially as the Fatebenefratelli from their plea for alms from passers-by: “fate bene fratelli” (do good brothers).  The hospital behind their new church (San Nicolò degli Incurabili) was opened with a procession of the brothers and their first patients in 1585.  It became known as the Ospedale di San Nicolò degli Incurabili because it specialised for a period in the treatment (such as it was) of syphilis. 

Cardinal Bishop Antonio Maria Gallo (1586-91) reconsecrated the high altar of the Duomo in 1587.  He also carried out improvements to Palazzo Vescovile.

Bishop Napoleone Comitoli (1591-1624)

Bishop Napoleone Comitoli invited seven new religious orders to Perugia, including the Barnabites in 1607;  and the Oratarians in 1614.

In 1582, the Commune transferred the houses that surrounded the site of the demolished upper church of Sant’ Ercolano and others in Via Sant' Ercolano to the family of Bishop Comitoli.  He gave this property to a community of Barnabites from Milan, whom he invited to take custody of the lower church in 1607.  They adapted the properties to form their monastery and remodelled the church.  In 1612, Bishop Comitoli translated some of the relics of St Charles Borromeo (died 1584, canonised 1610) from Milan to a new chapel in the new chruch that he had commissioned to receive them.  

Bishop Comitoli invited the Oratarians to Perugia in 1614.  They settled for a short time in the Case della Parrocchia of the recently-suppressed parish of San Bartolomeo (later the Chiesa della SS Annunziata).  However, Bishop Comitoli soon gave them a large piece of land bounded by Via dei Priori, Via della Stella, Via Antonio Fratti and Via Ritorta, on which they built the church of Santa Maria Nuova

The Monastero delle Bartolelle (1604) in Via Torcoletti was established under the terms of the will of Giovanni Antonio Bartolelli and under the auspices of Bishop Comitoli.  (It was demolished in ca. 1870 to make way for a new women’s prison.)

In 1605, Bishop Comitoli achieved papal permission for continuation of the local cult of “St” Bevignate.  In 1609, he arranged for the simultaneous translation of the relics of three saints:

  1. those of St Herculanus from the Duomo to Sant’ Ercolano;

  2. those of St Peter Abbot from the sacristy to the high altar of San Pietro; and

  3. those of “St” Bevignate from San Bevignate to the Duomo.

The orphanage known as the Conservatorio delle Derelitte in Via del Grillo was originally administered by the Confraternita di San Tommaso d' Aquino, but Bishop Comitoli transferred it to the care of the Barnabites in 1622.  (It later moved to Borgo XX Giugno).

In 1609, he arranged for the translation of part of the relics of SS Ercolanus, Peter and Bevignatus to their respective churches.  [Tomb in the Duomo, portrait in the Museo della Città of Todi]

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