Key to Umbria: Spoleto

Spoleto in the 15th Century

Umbria:  Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact 


Spoleto:  Home    History    Art    Saints    Walks    Drives    Monuments    Museums 

Marino Tomacelli

Pope Boniface IX appointed his brother, Marino Tomacelli as papal governor, a position that he held for 24 years (1392 – 1416).  Under his rule, Spoleto repulsed attacks by:

  1. Biondo Michelotti of Perugia (1390s);

  2. King Ladislas of Naples (1414); and

  3. Braccio Fortebracci (1419). 

On the last occasion, Braccio was welcomed by the people and lodged his soldiers at SS Simone e Giuda while he laid siege to the Rocca.  However, he was wounded in the leg and forced to retire, leaving a garrison in the city.  He returned after a month and managed to take the Torre di San Marco (later called the Torre di Braccio - see Walk ??) in the outer circuit of the city walls.  However, he ultimately failed to take the Rocca.

Marino Tomacelli managed to survive the anarchy of the period following the Council of Pisa (1409), during which there were three popes:

  1. Pope Gregory XII, head of the Roman obedience;

  2. Pope Benedict XIII, head of the Avignon obedience; and

  3. Pope Alexander V (died 1410) and Pope John XXIII, successively head of the so-called Pisan obedience. 

Bishop Giacomo Palladini (1410 - 17) was a partisan of Pope John XXIII.  When he died, the clergy wished to proceed to the election of a successor.  However, the people prevented them, proclaiming as bishop the nominee of Pope Gregory XII, Bishop Nicolò Vivari (1417- 19).  His election was later approved by Pope Martin V, whose own election in 1417 marked the end of the papal schism. 

Pirro Tomacelli 

Pope Eugenius IV appointed Pirro Tomacelli, the Abbot of Monte Cassino, as papal governor of Spoleto in 1433.  Tomacelli was hated to such an extent that the people besieged him in the Rocca in 1437.  He summoned help from Corrado Trinci and Francesco Piccinino, and when they were unable to break the siege, they contented themselves by sacking the city. 

Eugenius IV realised his mistake and sent forces to remove Tomacelli by force.  The action was halted when Tomacelli reached an accord with the Spoletini and with the papal representative, Amoretto Condulmer.  Francisco Piccinino withdrew to sack the contado of Assisi, but hostilities resumed when he returned with troops from Norcia, Bevagna and Montefalco.  He subjected Spoleto to savage reprisals and then returned it to Pirro Tomacelli, while some 400 prisoners and extensive booty were taken to Foligno.

This spurred Pope Eugenius IV into action.  His legate Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi defeated Corrado Trinci and took Foligno in 1439, before turning his attention to Spoleto.  Tomacelli, who was now devoid of allies, held out in the Rocca for a few months and then offered to leave in return for money.  However, he showed bad faith and the Rocca was finally taken by force.  Tomacelli was captured and taken to Rome, where he died.  His sister and other women who had been with him when the Rocca fell were left in the hands of the victorious soldiers. 

Popes Nicholas V

Cardinal Filippo Calandrini, the half brother of Pope Nicholas V, was castellan of the Rocca from 1477.   Andreola Tomeo dei Bosi, their mother died here in 1451 and was buried in the Duomo. 

Pope Nicholas V, who stayed with his family here in 1449 during an outbreak of plague in Rome, employed Bernardo Rossellino to enlarge and strengthen the Rocca. 

Pope Sixtus IV

Pope Sixtus IV requested Cardinal Bishop Berardo Eroli (1448 – 74) to make way for his nephew, Bishop Costantino Eroli (1474 - 1500) in order that Berardo himself could concentrate on his post as papal legate to Umbria. 

Spoleto joined a rebellion against Sixtus IV 1474.  The pope sent his nephew, Giuliano della Rovere (later Pope Julius II) to quell an uprising.  He duly took Todi and Spoleto before moving on to the successful siege of Città di Castello.

In 1478, Pope Sixtus IV appointed Domenico Gentile Riccio, the husband of his niece, Violantina Riario, as as  papal governor of Spoleto, Amelia and the Terre Arnolfe. The couple arrived in Spoleto with their daughter Bianca to the delight of the people.  Bianca died in 1481 and Violantina in 1483, and both were buried in the Duomo.  Domenico lost his post when Sixtus IV died in 1484.

Return to the page on the History of Spoleto.