Raffaello de’ Girolami


Florence, 8 March 1472


Pisa, 22-24 November 1532

Raffaello de’ Girolami

The scion of an ancient and wealthy Florentine dynasty, Raffaello inherited from his father the “banco”, that is to say the family's banking-financial and trading enterprise (where Francesco Ferrucci trained for some time as a teenager). Despite the change in regime, between the second (1494) and third time the Medicis were overthrown (in 1527) he held several political posts. He played a major role in the history of the last Florentine Republic: more specifically, he enlisted Ercole d'Este and Malatesta Baglioni, as well as serving as ambassador for Charles V in Genoa. Following the failure of negotiations to safeguard the independence of Florence, he encouraged his fellow citizens to resist as long as necessary. This gained him a large political consensus, and on 1 Januiary 1530 he was appointed Gonfaloniere (the highest political post in the Republic). This meant that, when Florence capitulated, de' Girolami was at the peak of his power. His position would have allowed him to flee, using the immunity granted by his status, and beg for pardon from the Pope; nevertheless, he refused and - after being deposed - he was imprisoned; his life was spared following an order by the Imperial Commander Ferrante Gonzaga (legend has it that de' Girolami had lent Ferrante Gonzaga a family relic, the ring of San Zanobi, so that the saint may heal a sick son of his). He was transferred first to the fortress of Volterra and then to Pisa; de' Girolami died in prison, possibly poisoned by Medici affiliates, before Gonzaga could once again plead for him with the Pope.

Bibliography and sources:

Vanna Arrighi, Girolami, Raffaello, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, 56, 2001, s.v.

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