Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma

Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma

Ranuccio I Farnese (March 28, 1569 – March 5, 1622) was the fourth Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1592 until his death. He was the son of Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, and Maria of Portugal.

His great-uncle Henry I of Portugal's death triggered the struggle for the throne of Portugal when Ranuccio was 11 years old. As the son of the late elder daughter of Edward, Duke of Guimaraes, the only son of King Manuel I whose legitimate descendants survived at that time, Ranuccio was according to the feudal custom the first heir to the throne of Portugal. However his father was an ally and even a subject of the Spanish king, another contender, so Ranuccio's rights were not very forcibly claimed. Instead, Ranuccio's mother's younger sister Catherine, Duchess of Braganza, claimed the throne, very ambitiously, but failed.

Under Ranuccio I's rule, the dukedom annexed the territories of Colorno, Sala Baganza, and Montechiarugolo. He guided a cultural renewal in the city of Parma, supporting the arts and constructing the 4,500 seat Farnese Theater. Numerous improvements and monuments in Parma were constructed under Ranuccio I at his behest, including a revitalization of the University of Parma and the final expansion of the city walls. Construction of the Palazzo della Pilotta, the court palace of the Farnese family, was completed in 1620.

Ranuccio I is also remembered for his cruelty, one infamous example being the public execution of over 100 Parma residents suspected of conspiring against him.

He was succeeded by his son Odoardo, initially under the regency of Ranuccio's brother, Odoardo Cardinal Farnese.



*http://www.comune.piacenza.it/english/history/Ifarnese.htm (Retrieved January 23, 2005)
*http://www.settorecrociato.it/ranuccio%20farnese.htm (Retrieved January 23, 2005)
*http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/99/maya/parma.html (Retrieved January 23, 2005)

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