Pier Luigi Farnese, Duke of Parma


Pier Luigi Farnese, Duke of Parma

Pier Luigi Farnese (november 19, 1503 - September 10, 1547) was the first Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Castro, from 1545 to 1547. Born in Rome, Pier Luigi was the illegitimate son of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (who later became Pope Paul III). He became a soldier and participated in the sack of Rome in 1527.

Youth

Pier Luigi Alexander Farnese was born in 1503 from the union between Cardinal Alexander Farnese (future Pope Paul III) and probably Silvia Ruffini - a Roman noblewoman who also gave birth with Alexander to three other sons: Costanza, Paul and Ranuccio. His illegitimacy tormented Pier Luigi all his life, and doubtless contributed to the formation of his character. The nobility of Piacenza was frequently known to insult him as "the bastard son of the Pope". As the eldest and beloved son he was legitimised along with his brother Paul at the age of two in 1505 by Julius II. He was given a famous humanist tutor, Baldassarre Malosso di Casalmaggiore, nicknamed Tranquillus; and quickly developed a love of war and fortifications. Alexander was, however, keen to make Pier Luigi the true head of the Farnese family and so arranged a favourable marriage alliance with Gerolama Orsini, daughter of Lodovico, Count of Pitigliano. In 1513 the engagement contract was drawn up, and in 1519 the wedding celebrated. Despite a loveless marriage, Gerolama remained a faithful devoted wife, tolerating Pier Luigi's excesses, brutality, and extravagances with dignity. Delays in the construction at the palace in Gradoli, meant the young couple had to lodge in the Castle at Valentano. The following year their first son Alexander was born. However, Pier Luigi quickly began to tire of quiet palace life [Giovanni Drei, "I Farnese", Parma, 1950] .

Military career

Pier Luigi did not always fight on the traditional side of the papacy; reversing the pro-Guelph sentiments of the Farnese. He was nevertheless the stereotype of a mercenary soldier - wild, primeval and amoral. He lack neither courage nor daring, and was strong and audacious yet brutal enough to offend many commentators. In 1520, at the age of seventeen, he and his brother Ranuccio were already employed as mercenaries in the pay of Venice. In this way Pier Luigi passed under the standard of Charles V - remaining with the emperor until 1527 and the Sack of Rome; in which he himself took part. While Ranuccio withdrew to Castel Sant'Angelo to defend the Pope, Pier Luigi crossed the Tiber quartered in the family palace; thus saving it from destruction. Critics accused the Farnese of backing both sides, but Pope Clement refused to heed. After plague hit the city, the imperial troops withdrew. Pier Luigi retired to the Roman countryside, taxing it without mercy and permitting a climate of theft and homicide. The Pope, tired of this behaviour, eventually threatened excommunication. Cardinal Alexander tried diplomatically to reconcile his son with Clement. In 1528 Pier Luigi, still under imperial pay, fought in Puglia against the French army. On this occasion he distinguished himself in the defense of Manfredonia.

Captain General of the Church

When his father was elevated to the papacy in 1534, Pier Luigi was named Captain General of the Church. His father later made him Duke of Parma and Piacenza, properties that had previously been a part of the Papal States. Pier Luigi and his son, Ottavio, declared they would have paid 9,000 golden ducati every year to the Popes, and, in exchange, they gave back the Duchies of Camerino and Nepi. Pier Luigi was also in possession of the Duchy of Castro and the county of Ronciglione, in the Lazio.

Pier Luigi took possession of his new states on September 23, 1546. During his life he had gained a fame on cruelty, ruthlessness and luxury. He was also accused of homosexual acts, with scandal erupting in 1537 when he was accused in what became known as the 'rape of Fano' where he allegedly raped the young bishop of the city, Cosimo Gheri, while marching with his troops (Gheri subsequently died). Letters also exist from his father, Paul III, reproaching him for taking male lovers when on an official mission to the court of the emperor; and another from the chancellor of the Florentine embassy detailing a manhunt Farnese had mounted in Rome to search for a youth who had refused his advances. Much of this was later used in protestant polemic against the catholic church [G. Dall'Orto, 'Un avo poco presentabile', "Babilonia", 162, January 1998] .

His firm rule and his taxes gained him the enmities of the cities, which were used to the fair authority of the Popes. The aristocracy, in particular, was supported against him by emperor Charles V, who aimed to unite Parma and Piacenza to the Duchy of Milan.In 1547 a conspiracy was arranged against him by counts Francesco Anguissola and Agostino Landi and the marquises Giovan Luigi Confalonieri and Girolamo and Alessandro Pallavicini. After Anguissola and others had stabbed him to death, the conspirators hung his body from a window of his palace in Piacenza. Charles V's vicar Ferrante Gonzaga captured the Duchy soon after; although subsequent events led to the return of the duchy to Pier-Luigi's son, Ottavio.

Family and children

Pier Luigi Farnese had married Girolama Orsini, daughter of Luigi Orsini and wife and first cousin Giulia Conti and paternal granddaughter of the 6th Counts of Pitigliano. They had four children:
*Ottavio, Pier Luigi's successor as Duke of Parma
*Alessandro, bishop of Parma and Roman Catholic Cardinal
*Ranuccio, Roman Catholic Cardinal
*Vittoria, who married Guidubaldo II, duke of Urbino

He also had an illegitimate son, Orazio, who married Diane, Duchesse d'Angoulême and daughter of Henry II of France.

Notes

ee also

*Farnese

External links

* [http://www.onlipix.com/kings/italy/farnese.htm Farnese family tree] from about 1390 to 1766.


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