Historical Notes Covering Plate Four

These notes are taken from the Genealogy and History of the Guadagni family by Luigi Passerini, and translated from Italian by Francesco Carloni. Revised and updated by Antonio, Isabella, and Vieri Guadagni.

The number before the name refers to the number on the family tree

Please click here to view plate four.

1. Donato Maria

Donato Maria, son of Tommaso, was born on December 19, 1641. He started his life at the court of the Grand Duke, when he was quite young. As a teenager, he was page of Ferdinando II. Then he was promoted to Squire of the Grand Duke. In 1670, he became Steward of the Grand Duchess Vittoria. In 1683, he was promoted Lord-in-waiting of the same. At the death of his brother Francesco, Donato Maria was invested with the Marquisate of San Leolino by Grand Duke Cosimo III. Pierantonio Guadagni, an older brother of his, opposed it, but without success, because the Grand Duke remained faithful to the provisions of Francesco’s will.

In 1683, Donato Maria bought the ancient and grandiose palace of the Dei family, whose line had died out a few years before, from the Buonomini of San Martino. The palace is located in piazza Santo Spirito. Donato Maria restored the old palace and decorated it in a noble fashion.

Of all the Guadagni palaces, this is the most famous. Ironically, it is the only one the Guadagni did not build. They bought it almost two centuries after it was built. Many beautiful and well-known Florentine palaces, like those of the Medici, the Rucellai, the Gondi, the Pazzi or the Strozzi, remained unique types. It was as if no other Florentine wealthy family or famous architect was able or wanted to imitate their style. On the other hand, the Guadagni palace of piazza Santo Spirito was copied by many Florentine houses and palaces. We can find copies of the façade or of parts of the palace, like the famous windows, or front-door or lamp-post, all around the city. Its style was typical of the rich Florentine merchant class: a search for beauty in simplicity and sobriety, without the grandeur and ostentation that would provoke the neighbor’s jealousy and envy. Its influence on Florentine architecture of the following centuries was outstanding. “No other important and famous palace of the late fifteenth century had as much influence in Florentine architecture as the Guadagni palace, “ states Leonardo Ginori Lisci in his work “I Palazzi di Firenze nella Storia e nell’Arte” (The Florentine Palaces in History and in Art).

About 1713, Donato Maria enlarged and embellished the villa della Luna, situated near San Domenico, in Fiesole. Before him, this villa once belonged to Bartolommeo Scala. Donato Maria died on August 7, 1718.


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2. Bernardo(Also known as Giovanni Antonio)

Bernardo, son of Donato Maria, was born on September 14, 1674. His father saw that Bernardo had a vocation for the religious life, so he sent him to Rome to be educated by the Jesuits. Donato Maria obtained a canonry from Grand Duke Cosimo III for his son, in the Archdiocese of Florence, in 1693.

Even though he was busy at the Canonry, Bernardo continued to pursue his studies and obtained a doctorate in Civil and Canon Law at the University of Pisa. Then he returned to Rome, to improve his knowledge of the Canon Law. He remained there until 1697.

However, Bernardo had a great desire to live a holy life, so he went secretly to Arezzo, in 1699, and became a Discalced Carmelite. He adopted the name of Brother Giovanni Antonio of S. Bernardo. In all Church documents or even encyclopedias, Bernardo Guadagni is listed as Giovanni Antonio Guadagni.

Very soon, his zeal and his perfect observance of the rule were an example to the other monks. Therefore, he obtained many promotions in the order. I will mention only that he was Prior of San Paolino, in Florence, and Provincial Director for all of Tuscany. Bernardo founded a convent of his order in Pisa. He was chosen to inaugurate it and to become its first Superior. Under his guidance, the convent soon attracted many vocations and was venerated by the whole city as a center of holiness.

On December 20, 1724, Bernardo was appointed Bishop of Arezzo. He was reluctant to accept but the Pope forced him to. He performed his new duties with zeal and enthusiasm. An example of this was the synod he held in 1729 to reform the loose discipline of the clergy. He published it in Massa in 1730. That same year he received the privilege of the Pallium and became an Archbishop.

Bernardo’s uncle, Lorenzo Corsini, was elected Pope with the name of Clement XII. Pope Clement had a special liking for Bernardo. After having made him Archbishop, on September 24, 1731, the Pope appointed Bernardo Cardinal Priest, with the title of San Martino in Monti. However, the Pope had to insist repeatedly and take advantage of his right to be obeyed, in order to overcome the obstinate humility of his nephew, who did not want such an honor. Bernardo was the first cardinal from the Order of the Discalced Carmelites.

When Cardinal Marefoschi died, the Pope gave Bernardo the Vicariate of Rome, in 1732. At that point, Bernardo resigned as Bishop of Arezzo. First, however, he made sure a good successor was elected, and this was Monsignor Paolo Francesco of the family of the Guidi Counts.

However, Bernardo was now deprived of the rich incomes of the Bishopric of Arezzo. Pope Clement insured his nephew a dignified income by giving him the Abbeys of Farfa, of Grottaferrata and of S. Maria di Petroio in the Diocese of Citta’ di Castello.

Bernardo was Vicar of Rome until his death, in 1759. During three pontificates he served as Secretary to the Consistory. In 1737, Bernardo was appointed Prefect of the Congregation on the discipline of the regular priests and on the residence of the bishops. Now and again he was assigned to the congregations of the Holy Office (Inquisition), of the Council of Trent, of the Bishops and Priests, of the Liturgy, of the Ecclesiastical Immunities, of the Indulgences, of the Tribunal of the Holy See, of the Apostolic Visit, and of the Forbidden Books.

We must remember an act he did as Vicar of the Pope in 1736. In an important step toward a more enlightened justice, Cardinal Guadagni made it more difficult and demanded more proofs for young women to uphold they were raped. These young women would, in those days, require atonement in money from the “ravisher”. It had become a custom among poor women in Rome, to accuse rich young men of raping their daughters, and then obtain a dowry for the latter as atonement. However, the devout did not understand the purpose of Bernardo’s restrictions, and the poor people disliked it very much. Their practice had been a way of getting even with the rich, and now Bernardo had made it more difficult. So, many people criticized Cardinal Guadagni, in satires, poems, and songs. Some of these lampoons can still be found today.

On Monday September 5, 1740, Cardinal Guadagni and other prelates went to venerate and officially acknowledge the very ancient image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, called Madonna of the Divine Love, painted on the wall of the demolished castle of Leva, nine miles out of Saint Sebastian Door. Night and day, huge crowds of people went to pray to it with great devotion.

In 1750, Bernardo was promoted to Cardinal Bishop of Tuscolo. In 1756, he exchanged his seat with the one of Porto. He was sub-dean of the Holy College when he died, on January 15, 1759. The poor people lamented his death very much, because Bernardo had always been very generous with them. Lorenzo Cardella, biographer of the cardinals, recounts that Bernardo led a very poor and frugal life, so that he could spare more money to help the poor. More than once, Cardella continues, Cardinal Guadagni would take off his own clothes to give them to the poor and cover their naked bodies.

Bernardo was buried in the choir of Santa Maria della Scala, church of his religious order. He chose to be buried in a humble tomb, which he had prepared for himself while he was alive. His body lies under a simple stone, with his name carved on it.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia (Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 1981) recounts of him: “He was a man of eminent virtue, devoted to the reform of morals and the care of the poor. His cause for beatification was introduced in 1761 and 1763.”


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3. Neri Andrea

Neri Andrea, son of Donato Maria, was born on April 13, 1673. Under the protection of his father, Neri Andrea was admitted to the court of the Grand Duke when he was very young. He had a very pleasant personality, and he soon became one of the sovereign’s favorite Gentlemen-in-waiting.

In August 1705, Neri Andrea was sent as an Extraordinary Ambassador to Vienna, to the Austrian Emperor Joseph, to lament the death of the monarch’s father, and to congratulate him on his succession to the throne. He remained in the Tuscan embassy in Vienna for eights months. He had to deal with the request of enormous financial contributions the Emperor made on Tuscany, often in a threatening and violent way. It seems the Emperor liked him however, because he asked him to become resident ambassador at the Imperial Court.

Neri Andrea remained in Vienna as resident ambassador from 1708 to 1713. He always had to fight with the government of the Emperor over monetary contributions continuously demanded of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Another problem was the neutrality of Tuscany in the above mentioned War of Spanish Succession. The Emperor wanted Tuscany to join the Austrian and German troops in their conflict against the French, and to recognize the Austrian pretender, the Archduke Charles, as the legitimate King of Spain.

Another problem that was arising at that time was that of the succession of the Medici in Florence. Anna Maria Ludovica de’ Medici was the last ruler of that family; she was not married and had no children. Who was going to rule over Florence and Tuscany at her death? Each of the great European powers wanted to put its own prince at the head of the wealthy and peaceful Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Ambassador Guadagni was ordered by the Florentine government to listen and to relate, but in no way to discuss the matter or to make decisions.

On November 1, 1712, Neri Andrea became Knight of Santo Stefano. In the general Chapter of the Knights held in Pisa in 1725, he was elected Great Constable of the Order.

In 1718, at the death of his father, he became Marquis of San Leolino. However, he did not dedicate much of his time to the administration of his fief. He delegated the management to a vicar. Many feudal lords of that time acted like him. They did not want to remain in their castles, often located in far away and isolated places, on barren mountain tops or secluded valleys. They preferred to live in their palaces, in the large towns, close to the glamour of the court.

Neri Andrea was appointed Master of the Gentlemen-in-waiting of the Grand Duchess in 1723. When the last Medici died, on 2/18/1743, Neri Andrea was one of the four executors of her will. The other three were Marquis Rinuccini, Count Serristori, and Marquis Bardi. In her will, Anna Maria Ludovica de’ Medici left Marquis Guadagni an allowance and many silver gifts. The long relationship between the Medici and the Guadagni families lasted over three centuries. They started as bitter enemies, but they ended up as friends. Neri Andrea died a few years later, on January 16, 1748.


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4. Donato

Donato, son of Neri Andrea, was born on September 14, 1719. He was Knight of Santo Stefano and Chamberlain of the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo. At the death of Anna Maria Ludovica de’ Medici, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was taken over by the Austrians. A Prince of the Hapsburgs, the Austrian ruling family, became Grand Duke of Tuscany. Except for a few years after the French revolution, when Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi, was the ruler of Tuscany, the Hapsburg princes reigned over the Grand Duchy until 1860.

In 1748, at the death of his father, Donato became the fourth Marquis of San Leolino. He was invested of the Marquisate by the Grand Duke of Tuscany and Emperor of Austria Francesco of Lorraine. In 1768, he renewed his oath of allegiance to the new Grand Duke, Pietro Leopoldo.

New laws were proclaimed at that time by the Austrian Emperor. The power and the privileges of feudal lords were, at first, greatly diminished. Later, they were abolished. So Marquis Donato was left with his honorific title of nobility, but lost all legal power over his fief of San Leolino and its inhabitants. He died on January 16, 1797.

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5. Luigi

Luigi, son of Donato, was born on December 22, 1751. When he was twenty years old he began his military career. As was the custom, he bought the rank of Lieutenant in the Royal Brigade of Tuscany, at the service of the Grand Duke. Soon he resigned, however, because he was able to enroll in the Royal Guards.

Luigi was promoted Captain of the Royal Guards in 1780. He led his military life without risks, because at that time, the Grand Duchy was at peace with everyone. He died on January 21, 1799.


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