Historical Notes Covering Plate Three

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 three.

1. Simone

Simone was born on April 25, 1411. He was Vieri’s son and Bernardo’s nephew. In 1434, he went into exile with the other members of his family. For some time he lived in Turin, Northern Italy, then went to Lyon France. There, through trade, he became very wealthy. In 1463, he was granted safe return to Florence. From then on, he lived in Florence, dedicated to his business. He died around 1480. * [The Catasto of 1469 indicates that Simone had already died by that year: editor’s note].


New biography of Simone Guadagni, written by contemporary historian Raffaella Zaccaria for the Biographical Dictionary of the Italians of Treccani Encyclopedia followed by information on Migliore’s nephew, Filippo Guadagni, and Filippo’s close relatives, Caterina, Guadagno, Filippo and Francesco Guadagni, from Historian Passerini.

Please click here for new biography.


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2. Tommaso

Tommaso was Simone’s son. He was born in Savoy, on August 27, 1454. His father took him to Florence in 1463. However, a little while later, Tommaso was sent to France to do his apprenticeship in the rich bank of the Pazzi family in Lyon. The Pazzi were another Florentine family, enemy of the Medici. Tommaso learned his trade so well that, when he started banking on his own he soon became one of the wealthiest bankers in Europe. Tommaso was so immensely rich that the name of “Tommasino” (affectionate nickname for Tommaso) Guadagni became notorious in France. If somebody was very wealthy, they used to say:”Riche comme Gadagne” (As rich as Guadagni). “No other foreign family has ever accumulated in Lyon as large a fortune as the Guadagni have.” [Says Father Louis Vignon in his book, “Annales d’un village de France CHARLY-VERNAISON EN LYONNAIS”(Annals of a French Village named Charly-Vernaison in the region of Lyon) Volume I, (CHARLY, 69390 VERNAISON, FRANCE, 1981).] In his book, “Quand la cour de France vivait a Lyon” (When the King of France and his court lived in Lyon), the French historian Louis Bourgeois defines the Guadagni family as the richest family of all Europe. And if we think that in that historical period, Europe was the most developed continent of the world, we can say that maybe for a while the Guadagni were the richest family of the world. Rabelais, a classic French author of that period, in the fourth book of Pantagruel, says:”The inhabitants of Geneva don’t care about their health, they only care about their wealth, about how to become as rich as Gadagne…”

 It is interesting to note that in terms of wealth, in Lyon, second to the Guadagni were the Albizzi. The foes of the Medici prospered abroad!

Tommaso’s wealth was followed by honors. In 1505, he was appointed Consul of Florence. In 1521, the King of France, Francis I, made him his counselor. During his war against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Francis I was taken prisoner by his foe in the battle of Pavia. “I lost everything, except my honor and my life” the King of France wrote his mother. The Emperor asked the French government a huge ransom to let Francis I free. The Queen Mother began to collect money for her son’s ransom but she was unable to find such a large sum of money until Tommaso Guadagni gave her 50,000 ducats and that was enough to free the King. In 1522, Tommaso lent the King another 22,000 ducats, for the defense of the Kingdom. The King rewarded Tommaso by appointing him “magister domus (Lord of the House)”, a very special honorific title, and councilor of the City of Lyon, in 1526.

Tommaso, Passerini states, was also able to make good use of his money. He was Municipal Councilor of Lyon in 1536 and 1537. The people of Lyon still bless his memory, for his having built, at his own expense, the grandiose hospital of S. Lorenzo for people infected with plague. Tradition has it that when the architect showed Tommaso the plans for the hospital, the proud Guadagni said: ”This hospital is too small for a Guadagni. Make it bigger!” At that, the architect replied: ”If the hospital is for the people infected with the plague, it is even too large! However, if the building is intended to lodge all the people you have ruined with your banking, it is way too small!”

However, Carloni disagrees with Passerini’s assertion that the hospital was built by Tommaso I Guadagni. Carloni tends to believe that the hospital was built by Tommaso II. In Plate III, Passerini himself says that Tommaso Guadagni died in 1533. How could he have built a hospital in 1536? In his book “Annales d’un village de France, Charly-Vernaison en Lyonnais, Volume I, 1150-1610, the French historian Louis Vignon,asserts on page 263 that “about the year 1536, Tommaso II Guadagni (husband of Peronetta Berti and nephew of Tommaso I, see Pate VIII), the wealthy Florentine banker living in Lyon, had a hospital built in the district of the Quarantaine for the people infected with plague, at his own expense”.

“Tommaso I,” continues Vignon, “son of Ulivieri Guadagni and Oretta Giovanni, was Municipal Councilor in Lyon in that year 1536…The Dominican Father Sante Pagnino, expert of Eastern Languages and well known preacher from Lucca, Italy, convinced him to build that hospital for the victims of the plague (Pricaud, 1536, page 58). Thius hospital, called Saint-Laurent, was built after the design of an Italian architect, Salvador Salvadori. (City Archives, CC 802).”

In the meantime, Tommaso was building a noble chapel in the church of Our Lady of Comfort*.

*The chapel, called the “Chapel of the Guadagni Counts” was considered an architectural masterpiece. Its ceiling was dome-like, sustained by 4 arches. Six large columns and grey marble decorated it. Under the dome, the funerary monument was situated. It represented Tommaso Guadagni and his wife, Peronette Buatier, kneeling. Tommaso also placed in the chapel a painting by the Florentine artist Francesco Salviati, representing “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”. This painting is now in Paris, in the Louvre Museum.

In 1562, the Huguenots (Protestants)desecrated the chapel. They removed the bronze ornaments and destroyed other precious decorations. In 1793, the chapel was destroyed by the French revolutionaries, shortly before the siege of Lyon. The marble of the chapel was used to build a house in Brotteaux. The tombstone, containing the inscription of Tommaso Guadagni, is now used as ceiling for the staircase of that house.

In 1817, while they were working on the site where the Guadagni chapel used to be, carpenters found three identical copper medals, in an iron box. One of the medals has, on one side, the bust of Tommaso Guadagni, in profile, dressed in a long robe of folded drape, with a hat, and the inscription: “DE GUADAGNIS CI.FLO.” (“Guadagni, Florentine Citizen”). On the reverse of the medal, we find another inscription, dedicated to the “Noble Thomas de Gadagne, citoyen Florentin” (“Noble Tommaso Guadagni, Florentine Citizen”). The box and the three medals were probably found in the cornerstone of the chapel, erected by Tommaso Guadagni in 1526. (Thesis of Nicolas-Francois Cochard at the Academy of Lyon, n.219, Et A.D. Rhone, Fonds Galle, n.57 And Jean Tricou, Medailles lyonnaises du XV au XVIII siècle, planche II, medaille n.12).

This church was later called the church of the Jacobins, because the Dominicans said Mass in it. Tommaso prepared a tomb for himself in the chapel. He buried his wife in it in 1521. The church was destroyed in 1817, to enlarge the square of the city hall. However, the arch that was leading to the Guadagni chapel was not destroyed. The Guadagni coat of arms can still be seen on it. This arch now decorates the entrance of a house in Sully street, in the district of Brotteaux.

When the church was demolished, the stone that was covering the tomb of Tommaso’s wife was lost. Tommaso wanted to be buried in the same tomb, but this did not happen because he died and was buried elsewhere. Nonetheless, the Latin inscription on the tombstone reads:


Translated in English, the inscription on the stone reads:


In the middle of the nineteenth century, two medals, struck in Tommaso’s honor, were found in the bowmen courtyard, close to the Dominican church. These medals are now kept in the city archives. It appears that after his wife’s death, Tommaso moved to Avignon, where he built another hospital. He died in that city on May 29, 1533.

Passerini also states that Tommaso Guadagni built for himself a grandiose palace in Lyon, located in the street named after his family “Rue de Gadagne” (Guadagni Street). Here too Carloni disagrees with Passerini. On the outside wall of the Guadagni Palace in Lyon there is a marble plate that reads: “HOTEL CONSTRUIT AU XVI SIECLE PAR NICOLAS DE PIERREVIVE, RECEVEUR DU DOMAINE A LYON, ACQUIS EN 1545 PAR LES FRERES TH. ET GUIL. DE GADAGNE, CE DERNIER LIEUT. G. DU LYONNAIS, FOREZ ET BEAUJOLAIS ET SA FEMME JEANNE DE SUGNY Y MOURURENT EN 1601.”

In English the plate reads: “Palace built in the 16th Century by Nicholas de Pierrevive, tax collector in Lyon, bought in 1545 by the brothers Tommaso and Guglielmo Guadagni. Guglielmo Guadagni, Lieutenant General of the Regions of Lyon, Forez, and Beaujolais, and his wife Jeanne de Sugny died in the palace in 1601.” The Tommaso who is mentioned in the plate, brother of Guglielmo, was Tommaso III, not Tommaso I, as can be seen in Plate VIII of this book.

At page 272 of his above-mentioned book, Louis Vignon affirms: “In 1545, the two brothers, Guillaume de Gadagne [Guglielmo Guadagni], husband of Jeanne de Sugny, and Thomas III de Gadagne [Tommaso III Guadagni], son of the noble Thomas II de Gadagne, nicknamed the Magnificent, and of Lady Pernette Berti, bought a grandiose palace, with an inner courtyard and a beautiful stone staircase, from Anthoyne de Pierrevive (Maitre d’Hostel and surveyor of the silver of the King) for the price of 16,750 pounds. The palace is located in Lyon, in the neighborhood of the Cathedral Saint-Jehan.”

“The palace, continues Vignon, “was built by the Pierrevive, Italian merchants who originated from Chieri, in Piedmont…The Guadagni enlarged it and it is now called the Hotel de Gadagne (Guadagni).”

Tommaso I, as he was called to distinguish him from three following Tommaso Guadagni, left all his fortune to his nephew Tommaso (Tommaso II). It included huge sums of money, and the castles and dominions of Saint-Victor-de-la-Cote, in Languedoc, Cher and Verdun, in Burgundy, Beauregard, close to Lyon, Lunel, Rochemaure, Saint-Jean-en-Forets, Amberieux-en-Dombes, Charly and Pravieulx in the province of Lyon.

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3. Ulivieri

Ulivieri, son of Simone, was born in France on April 7, 1452. When he was still a child, his father took him back to Florence. The expulsion of the Medici from Florence in 1494 allowed him to enter political life, because all the decrees of 1434 were annulled. One of those decrees numbered the Guadagni among the nobles and thus excluded them from public office. In 1499, Ulivieri was a Prior. In 1505, he was appointed General Commissary in the Lower Valdarno. He was granted great authority over the Florentine troops who were fighting against Pisa. The chronicles did not register, however, anything worthy of note in his activity during that period.

The return of the Medici in 1512, excluded him from public office again. However, the Medici were sent into exile a second time in 1527, and Ulivieri was able to return to public activity. He was a Prior in 1528. On December 1 of that same year, he was elected for six months to be one of the ten of the Committee of Peace and Freedom. When Florence was besieged by the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, he was unable to participate in the fight because of his old age. However, he greatly helped his fellow citizens with his advice. Giovambattista Busini recalls that during that terrible siege, when famous artist Michelangelo Buonarroti also helped his native Florence by building fortifications, Ulivieri “was among the best citizens of his time, loving liberty for its own sake and not for any advantage he could obtain from it.”

When Florence was conquered and the Medici regained their power, Ulivieri retired from public life. Even though the Medici asked him to accept a public office, Ulivieri refused. He died, very old, on October 11, 1541. From the Servite friars, he obtained the patronage of the churches of S. Gervasio in Lubaco, of S. Martino in Lubaco, of S. Donato in Colletrighe, and of S. Donato in Ricardetole. From Pope Alexander VI (Borgia), in 1496, he obtained the famous oratory of S. Maria del Sasso. He had to share it however with the Pazzi, the Catellini da Castiglione and the Cambini. These three families and the Guadagni together built a large church in that harsh and solitary place. The church was always provided for and patronized by Ulivieri’s descendants.


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4. Giovanna

Giovanna, daughter of Simone, and sister of Tommaso, Ulivieri and Francesco, was born on November 12, 1458. In 1480, she married Alessandro of Bartolommeo da Verrazzano. The rest of the chapter on Giovanna Guadagni is written by Francesco Carloni, the translator of Passerini’s book and author of the “Appendix” on the Guadagni of the twentieth century. Carloni firmly believes that Giovanna Guadagni was the mother of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the famous explorer of North America.

In his book “The European Discovery of America, The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600” (New York, Oxford University Press 1971), in Chapter IX, “The voyages of Verrazzano, 1524-1528,” Samuel Eliot Morison states that “A group of Italian bankers resident in Lyon, center of the French silk industry” thought that a strait to “the happy shores “of China could be found north of Florida, i.e. north of the Spanish and Portuguese Americas. The author continues: ”They anticipated high profits from a discovery which would greatly lower the freight on silk. With royal patronage and approval they appointed as commander a master mariner of their own group, Giovanni da Verrazzano. One of Lyon’s merchants, Bonaccorso Rucellai, was not only a relative of the sea-going Florentine, but the banker for Jean Ango, the leading merchant-ship-owner of Rouen and Dieppe. Another, named Guadagni, was father or brother to Verrazzano’s wife.”

According to Morison, it seems that the explorer married a Guadagni, since a Guadagni was his father-in-law or brother-in-law, but he does not specify the name. Passerini does not mention any Guadagni who married Giovanni da Verrazzano but he states that Giovanna Guadagni married Alessandro da Verrazzano in 1480.

“The Guadagni were a leading Florentine family, banished in 1434,” Morison continues. “They settled at Lyon and became immensely wealthy. These Florentine bankers and merchants of Lyon formed a syndicate and, in March 1523, sent sums of money to some of their friends in Rouen to outfit the overseas expedition. Verrazzano also had a commission from Francois-premier, King of France, but it has not survived”.

According to Morison, then, Giovanni da Verrazzano married a Guadagni, and his discovery of North America was financed by them. But there is more.

The author discusses about the Verrazzano castle, in Tuscany, and states: “Long has it been ‘comfortably accepted’ (to quote Dr. Lawrence C. Wroth) that our Giovanni was born here in 1485. A recent French biographer denies this, giving Giovanni a new pair of parents, Alessandro da Verrazzano and Giovanna ‘De Guadagni’ ( I.e. of the noble family of the Guadagni ) and a Lyon birthplace. This is indignantly denied by everyone in the Chianti country, and ascribed to French Chauvinism! Castello Verrazzano near Greve is indubitably the ancestral home, and as Giovanni and his brother were always referred to as Florentines, there is no sense quarreling whether they were born here or in the Florentine community of Lyon.”

Morison does not take sides. Was Giovanni da Verrazzano simply the husband of a Guadagni, or did Guadagni blood run in his veins? I tend to believe the latter, for the following reasons.

First, the French theory of Giovanni being the son of Alessandro da Verrazzano and Giovanna Guadagni corresponds to what Passerini says about Giovanna marrying Alessandro. The years correspond. The marriage took place in 1480 and Giovanni was born in 1485. As we saw by the inscriptions on their tombs, the French Guadagni considered themselves “Florentine citizens” so being the son of Giovanna Guadagni would not make the explorer less of a Florentine. The “Chianti faction”, on the other hand, does not specify Giovanni’s parents’ names. Dr. Lawrence C. Wroth wrote “The Voyages of Giovanni da Verrazzano 1524-1528”, which Morison cites. “His learned introduction on Verrazzano’s background, early life, geographical knowledge, etc. is far better than any existing biography of the explorer,” Morrison states. Nonetheless, Dr Wroth could only define Verrazzano’s birth in Tuscany as “comfortably accepted.”

The Chianti faction ascribes the theory of Verrazzano’s birth to a Guadagni, in Lyon, to French Chauvinism. However, Passerini, a Florentine author, who wrote more than a century ago, can certainly not be accused of French chauvinism for mentioning Giovanna Guadagni’s marriage to a da Verrazzano!

Second, Morison cites as a matter of fact that Giovanni’s brother-in-law or father-in-law was a Guadagni. He is not certain which and reports no names or dates, but he seems sure that a marriage took place between a Guadagni and a Verrazzano. On the other hand, Passerini, who consulted the French Guadagni descendants’ archives, gives us precise dates and names on all the Guadagni members and their marriages. He would certainly have noticed a marriage between Giovanni da Verrazzano and a Guadagni, if that had happened. But he did report the marriage of Giovanna Guadagni to Alessandro da Verrazzano.

Third, Morison says that the Florentine banker Rucellai was Verrazzano’s cousin. In his will, Giovanni da Verrazzano named his brother Girolamo his heir and made him co-executor with Rucellai, his banker cousin. How were Verrazzano and Rucellai related? We see in Plate II of our book, that Vieri Guadagni, Giovanna’s great-grandfather, in 1363, married Bernarda Rucellai, thus making the Guadagni and their descendants related to the Rucellai.

Giovanni da Verrazzano wrote in Italian. “If born in France,” Morison writes, “he was sent to Florence for his education, for the language of his letter on the voyage of discovery and its literary allusions indicate that he received an upper-class Renaissance education. It also reveals that he knew more mathematics than most gentlemen of his time or of ours.” We saw that the Guadagni and their families went back and forth from Lyon to Florence so this statement of the author does not prove one theory over the other.

Finally, while Tommaso lived and prospered in France, we saw that at least two of Giovanna Guadagni’s brothers, Ulivieri and Francesco, spent most of their life in Florence. Giovanna might have done the same and even given birth to her famous son in Florence and raised him there.

I do not have any other “sure” proof. However, on the basis of everything that I have mentioned above, I believe Giovanni da Verrazzano to be an “offshoot” of the Guadagni family, through his mother Giovanna.

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5. Francesco

Francesco, son of Simone, was born in Florence on September 5, 1464. When he was still a teenager, he was sent abroad to learn his trade. His father found him a job in the Capponi bank in Lyon. In 1494, when he heard that the Medici had been expelled and the anti-Guadagni decrees annulled, he returned to Florence. He was well considered by the government of Florence, who knew Francesco to be a man of wisdom and experience.

In 1495, he was sent as ambassador to Charles VIII, King of France, who had just conquered the Kingdom of Naples and was marching towards Milan. A period had begun in Italy during which its numerous and divided small states were being conquered, one by one, by their powerful neighbors: France, Austria (which was then at the head of the Holy Roman Empire) and Spain. Francesco’s official task was to pay homage to the King of France. In reality, as Francesco knew the King well, having lived so many years in France, he was supposed to remind the French sovereign of his often renewed promise to give the city of Pisa to the Florentine commissaries.

Francesco was sent again to the French king the following year. The king was in Lyon at that time. Francesco was to tell him how the Florentines were hated by everyone for their loyalty to the French king. He was also instructed to recount the threats against Florence by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian and the city of Milan. He asked Charles VIII to help the Republic with troops and to return the money he had borrowed from Florence. But the King instead asked for more money, even though he promised he would recruit a new army and return to Italy. Charles said he would tell his cabinet ministers to return and other towns, once subject to Florence, to the Florentines. He concluded by saying that his main reason for crossing the Alps was to return to Florence and annul the promise he had made in the Florentine Cathedral.

In December, Francesco returned to Florence and recounted what the King had told him. On December 11, he wrote a written report on it. In 1498, he was appointed Commander of the Tower that guards the city of Livorno. He must not have lived much longer, because we do not find his name mentioned in public or private documents after that.


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6. Iacopo

Iacopo, of Ulivieri, was born on August 8,1497. One day, while he was riding his horse he lost control of the animal. The horse started galloping and jumping wildly and ran over and killed an old man, who was passing by. Iacopo suffered the consequences of the Medici hostility towards his family. In spite of his declaration, confirmed by many eyewitnesses, that he had repeatedly yelled at the old man to get out of his way, on June 13, 1525, he was exiled for three years from all the territory of the Republic of Florence. When the Medici were forced to flee from Florence, in 1527, he returned to Florence and was immediately given an important position. He was appointed War Commissary for the province of Pisa.

He was one of the 12 “buonomimi” in 1529, but he was not very zealous in fighting for the freedom of Florence, during the famous siege. The historian Busini states that Iacopo Guadagni was numbered “among those, neither good nor evil, who would follow other people’s opinion, good or evil, influenced in their belief by a relative or a friend of theirs, without due reflection on it.”

When Florence was conquered by the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Medici regained power, Iacopo reacted differently from his father, Ulivieri. He accepted the yoke of the Medici, mostly after Cosino I de’ Medici became Grand Duke of Florence and all of Tuscany. He was given many positions by Cosimo. He was even assigned to the Magistrature of the Eight, which was very important at that time. He was a member of it in 1539, 1552, and 1563. In 1561, he was elected senator. He died in August 7, 1569.

The Guadagni family lost the patronage of the chapel of S. Martino inn the church of Santissima Annunziata in 1434, when their goods were confiscated by the angry Medici. The chapel was given to the Villani family. The Guadagni brothers, Iacopo and Filippo, wanted to regain the chapel to their family. The chapel was dear to them because of the remembrance of their ancestors. So they went to the Grand Duke and asked for it, but they were unable to obtain it.

Then they decided to opt for another chapel in the same church, close to the main altar. Giovambatista Del Tovaglia, thanks to a gift to his ancestors from Lodovico Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, was allowed the ownership of all the chapels around the choir, behind the main altar. From him, the two Guadagni obtained as a gift, the chapel of S. Sigismondo by an act of November 29, 1541, notarized by Ser Raffaello Baldesi. They immediately set out to have the chapel decorated in a noble fashion. They dedicated it to Saints Iacopo and Filippo. They had the famous artist, Agnolo Allori, paint a great painting behind the altar. However, Passerini says, it is not one of Allori’s best. [* ed. note: Agnolo Allori is better known as “il Bronzino.”]

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7. Paolantonio

Paolantonio, son of Ulivieri, was born in 1509. He died on April 28, 1566. He resided in Avignon, where he put his wealth to good use. He was loved and esteemed by everyone. His house hosted all the illustrious people who came to Avignon.

Most of his time, however, Paolantonio spent in Villeneuve, where he had built a grandiose villa for himself. He was buried in the church of S. Agricola, close to the main altar. On his tomb, we can read the Latin inscription:

D. O. M.


In English, the inscription would be:


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8. Piero

Piero Guadagni is Ulivieri’s second son. He is born in Florence in 1491 and spends his childhood there. When Ulivieri moves to Lyon, Piero goes with him and cooperates actively in the commercial and banking activities of the Guadagni Company. Since 1521, he is mentioned as merchant-banker. The following year, he owns properties in Saint-Genis-Laval (Cartellier J.Essai historique sur Saint-Genis-Laval avant la Revolution (“Historical Essay on Saint –Genis-Laval before the French Revolution”), Audin impr. Lyon, 1927, p.256).

In 1523, Piero marries Claudia Grollier, of a powerful family of Lyon. They have three children, Andrea, Tommaso and Lucrezia. Andrea and Tommaso die in childhood, Lucrezia marries Piero Antinori, of a rich family of Florentine merchant-bankers settled in Lyon.

On April 22, 1526, he buys the important estate of Beauregard in Saint-Genis-Laval for 50,000 gold crowns from the Chapter of the Church of Lyon, who has inherited it from the Canon-Count Pierre d’Amoncourt (Mathan N.,”Beauregard ou la metamorphose d’une maison forte en maison de plaisance”(“Beauregard or the transformation of a fortified castle into a country mansion”), Lyon, 1995. Rhone Department Archives, 10 G 111.

He must however own other properties, because from 1528 to 1529 he rents premises “near rue du Ganivet (Ganivet Street)” to a certain Claude Vincent.

As he has no male descendants, he leaves everything to his brother Tommaso II.


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9. Francesco

Francesco, son of Iacopo, was born on September 8, 1534. He was a fine gentleman, full of good qualities, admired and respected by all. He was mostly loved by the poor, with whom he was always very generous. The nobles esteemed his knowledge of the knightly code. Often, they would follow his opinion in matters of honor. He died on September 15, 1611.

He petitioned to regain the patronage of the church of S. Miniato a Pagnolle. The Guadagni family had lost it through the above mentioned confiscation of 1434. It was Cardinal Alessandro dei Medici who obtained it for him from Pope Clemente VIII. Francesco showed his gratitude by furnishing the church with precious sacred ornaments, by renovating the building, and by building a new house for the priest.

He also finished the construction of the villa delle Fonti, begun by his brother, Gino. He filled his Florentine house with precious paintings. Art historians number some works of Santi di Tito among them.


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10. Gino

Gino, son of Iacopo, was born on April 17, 1536. He lived with splendor, but kept himself out of trouble. He turned down any office he was offered. He loved art and protected artists. He preferred to live far from the bustle of the city. Therefore, he began to build a grandiose villa, near S. Miniato a Pagnolle, in a place called Le Fonti. He adorned it with a park, little woods, fountains and other ornaments, as was the custom at his time. However, he was not granted the joy of seeing the villa finished, because he died on January 7, 1593.


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11. Pierantonio

Pierantonio, son of Francesco, was born on September 30, 1579. He was a learned gentleman and a fond collector of paintings, statues and medals. He was the founder of the well known Guadagni art gallery, and of the famous Guadagni art museum, which constituted the glory of the family for many generations. Both have now disappeared The artistic masterpieces were divided among various members of the family, and many have been sold.

Pierantonio also began to put together a very precious collection of books. It contained manuscripts, a huge number of volumes, and some extremely rare editions. The poet Lodovico Adimari said that the Guadagni library was the most noteworthy and complete that could be found in the possession of any private citizen.

Grand Duke Cosimo II showed great friendship and esteem for Pierantonio. However, Pierantonio liked to live as a free man, without duties or obligations. He did not care for the life of a courtier. Only in 1630 did he accept to go as ambassador to Rome for the funerals of Don Carlo Barberini, Duke of M onterotondo, brother of Pope Urban VIII and father of Cardinal Francesco Barberini. That same year, he was one of the deputees for the road construction being carried out in the district of S. Ambrogio, because of the great plague which had befallen Florence. He accepted the assignment because it was a work of public charity, not out of courtliness.

In spite of the fact that Pierantonio stayed far from public offices and from the Grand Duke’s palace, Adimari states that the ruler of Florence would very often ask his advice on important public and private decisions. Thus, continues Adimari, many of these deliberations were greatly influenced by Pierantonio. He died on March 30, 1632, while he was riding in a carriage with a prince of the Medici family. The carriage turned over and crushed him under its weight. He was buried in the church of the Madonna des Sasso, near the tomb of his brother Tommaso. Their tombs, very well kept, each with the Guadagni crest and a marble plate recording the names of its occupants, can still be seen in the church of the Madonna del Sasso.

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12. Ortensia

In 1602, Ortensia, daughter of Francesco, married Filippo di Averardo Salviati, nephew of Pope Leo XI. In 1614 she was left a widow. In 1634 she was appointed main chambermaid (i.e. lady-in-waiting) of Vittoria della Rovere, Grand Duchess of Tuscany. She had supervised Vittoria’s education when the latter was a child. Her service was so dear to the Grand Dukes that, despite the fact she was a woman, she was assigned the Marquisate of San Leolino del Conte, with its town and parish, and the parishes of Sambucheta, Vierle, Bucigna, and Varena. It extended over an area with a circumference of eight miles, containing a total of 300 houses and 1,272 inhabitants. Ortensia had the duty of maintaining an army of 69 men, at the service of the Grand Duke.

On February 21, 1652, Ortensia obtained another favor from the Grand Duke. A certificate granted that, at her death, the marquisate would pass to her brother Tommaso, a senator, and then to his first born descendants. She died on April 12, 1659.

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13. Tommaso

Tommaso, son of Francesco, was born on November 28, 1582. From the time he was a child, Tommaso spent a lot of his time in the palace of the Grand Duke. He became a great friend of Prince Cosimo, eldest son of the Grand Duke Ferdinando I. When Paolo Giordano Orsini was sent as ambassador to Germany, to ask Archduchess Maria Maddalena of Austria, to marry Cosimo, the Medici prince wanted Tommaso to accompany him. Tommaso was an affectionate and trustworthy courtier. In 1645, he was elected senator. However, he was senator only for six years, because he died on March 3, 1652.

He was wealthy and magnificent. He used his great wealth to protect art and artists. He bought some houses in via S. Sebastiano. Those houses had been workshops to many famous artists of the time (like Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli, Girolamo Macchietti, Gregorio Pagani, Matteo Rosselli, Giovanni da S. Giovanni, and Baldassarre Franceschini). On the remnants of the houses, he built a palace designed by Gherardo Silvani. Later, his descendants sold the palace to the Dukes of S. Clemente.

In his will, he stipulated that a chapel, dedicated to Saint Thomas, be built in the cathedral of Fiesole. He asked his children to put an inscription in the chapel, to remind viewers that the Guadagni family originated from Fiesole. His children obeyed his will and they had Baldassarre Franceschini [ Ed. note: Franceschini is better known as “il Volterrano”] paint the great painting above the altar. In his will, Tommaso also ordered the building of the main altar in the church of S. Girolamo, near Fiesole. This request was satisfied in 1661. Furthermore, Tommaso ordered that a chapel be built in the garden of the friars of S. Domenico. His children satisfied that request also. They had the artist Lodovico Buti portray the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor in the chapel.

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14. Francesco

Francesco, son of Tommaso, was born on August 13, 1627. When he was twenty, he was appointed gentleman-in-waiting of the Grand Duke Ferdinando II. When his aunt, Ortensia Salviati, died, in 1659, he became second Marquis of S. Leolino (she was the first). However, he had to wait for the installation, because of quarrels between the vicar [ed. note: administrator] of his marquisate and the granducal vicar of Casentino. The quarrel was caused by problems of jurisdiction, and on both sides violence and abuses were committed.

The quarrels ended in 1671, and Francesco asked Cosimo III to be allowed to officially assume his marquisate. He was granted his request. He was also granted the request that at his death, the marquisate would be inherited by Donato Maria, his younger brother. He died on September 29, 1696.

Francesco was a great friend and patron of artists. He was always surrounded by many of them. He became a great friend of the painter Salvator Rosa. The famous Neapolitan artist gave him two great landscapes, which are among his best masterpieces: St. John the Baptist preaching, and the Baptism in the Jordan River. Rosa also painted six other paintings for Francesco. Even though they are smaller than the first two mentioned, they are not inferior in beauty and talent, and are done with great love.

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15. Vieri

Vieri, son of Tommaso, was born on October 30, 1631. In July 1662, he was sent to Modena, to lament the death of the Duke Alfonso IV. In 1666, he was appointed gentleman-in-waiting of the Grand Prince Cosimo. He accompanied the Prince on his famous journey of the following year. As soon as Cosimo became Grand Duke, he appointed Vieri chamber-gentleman, and always had him as his dear friend, until his death on November 10, 1708. Vieri was patron of the artist Baccio del Bianco, whom he had paint in fresco a room in his palace in via S. Sebastiano. However, Vieri’s best friend was the artist Baldassarre Franceschini, of Volterra. In the biography of Franceschini, it is recounted that Vieri had the artist make a portrait of him. Vieri also had Franceschini paint Saint Martin giving his coat to the beggar, and angels bringing the coat to Jesus, in the ceiling of a room on the first floor of his palace. Furthermore, he commissioned from the artist a painting representing Saint Mary Magdalen, a painting of Saint Agnes, which he gave to the ambassador of the king of England, and a painting of the head and bust of Jesus on the cross, praying for the people who crucified him. This last painting was similar to the one Franceschini had done for Donato Maria, Vieri’s brother.

From Franceschini, Vieri also bought many paintings of heads, which were studies the artist had used for his major works. Franceschini added the bust, and sometimes the hands, to these heads.

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16. Pierantonio

Pierantonio, son of Tommaso, was born on September 30, 1629. When his brother Francesco died, Pierantonio grieved over being excluded from the Marquisate of S. Leolino, which Francesco had left to his younger brother, Donato Maria. So Pierantonio bought the Marquisate of Montepescali, in Val di Bruna, from Marquis Lelio Tolomei of Siena, and was invested with it by Grand Duke Cosimo III.

Pierantonio was Gentleman-in-waiting of the golden key, i.e. Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Empoeror Leopold I. He obtained this honor because he was related to Piccolomini. He died on August 14, 1709.

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17. Enea Silvio

Enea Silvio, son of Pierantonio, was born in 1681. He was a clergyman, without being tied to the major religious orders. He was Knight of S. Stefano. He became second Marquis of Montepescali, invested by Cosimo III, in 1710. Enea Sivio died in Carrara, after a brief illness, on September 23, 1722. In the few moments he had to think about his salvation, he confessed he had performed many violent acts. One of them, done in the previous year, was wounding his cousin, Senator Giovambattista Guadagni, and slashing him in the face, near the Centauro. He did it to avenge himself, because his cousin, superintendants of the company of Bernardino in Santa Croce, forced him to pay the 6,000 “scudi” [scudi: gold coins] he owed the confraternity.

Cosimo III heard about the incident. However, since Enea Silvio was a Marquis and an Abbott, the Grand Duke sent him into exile to Carrara, where he could live freely, and punished a poor innocent man, called Bartolozzi. The Committee of Eight found Bartolozzi guilty of the crime he had not committed and sent him to the prison of Portoferraio.

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18. Ascanio

Ascanio, son of Pierantonio, was born on April 27, 1685. He decided to enter the military. In 1704, Ascanio went to Germany to enroll in the army of the Holy Roman Empire. The memory of his uncle, Field Marshall Piccolomini, was still vivid. Ascanio was sent to participate in the War of Spanish Succession. In 1705, he fought in the taking of Barcelona, which was followed by the capture of Lerida, Tarragona and other cities of Catalonia.

The following year, Ascanio had to defend the same city from the French army. The French besieged it, but were unable to conquer it. In the battle of Almanza, which was such a heavy defeat for the Austrian cause, Ascanio was wounded. (At that time, the Emperor of Austria was also Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which was reduced mostly to Germany. Therefore Austrians and Germans fought together against the French to put an Austrian prince on the throne of Spain, after the last King of Spain, who was originally from the ruling family of Austria, the Hapsburg, died without children. The French wanted a French prince to become King of Spain, and this had originated the War of Spanish Succession.)

In 1708, Ascanio was fighting again in the army of the Emperor. However, the imperial army did not do very well. Ascanio fought in Almenaro, and in the siege of Saragoza, in 1710. The Austrians won both battles, and occupied Saragoza. Nevertheless, the uncertain result of the battle of Villaviciosa forced the German army to retreat in a hurry.

The war went on slowly, until the signature of the peace treaty of Rastatt, on September 5, 1714. A French prince became King of Spain, but Austria got Northern Italy and the Netherlands. Guadagni could then return to Germany, where he was compensated for his campaign by being appointed captain. He did not remain idle long.

In 1716, under the command of Prince Eugene of Savoy, he went to Hungary, with the Austrian army, to fight against the Turks. The first battle against the enemy was at Petervaradino, on August 5. It was a brilliant victory for the Christian forces (The Turks being Muslim). On October 1, Temiswar was conquered and the Austrians were able to regain the whole region. Ascanio was wounded for the second time, in the famous battle in front of the walls of Belgrade. In that battle the powerful Turkish army was badly defeated and Turkey had to sign the humiliating peace treaty of Passarowitz, on June 27, 1718.

Ascanio then participated in the war against Spain, in Sicily and in the Kingdom of Naples. I do not know in which battles he participated. However, I know he must have distinguished himself because he was promoted to Field Commander. In 1730, Ascanio was General of the Cavalry. He was sent to Italy to oppose the treaty of Seville, which granted the succession to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and to the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, to a Spanish prince. He did not remain there long, because the dispute was settled peacefully.

The Italian campaign, which began in 1733, was much more serious. It was fought for the succession of Poland between France and Austria and other European countries. General Guadagni fought in 1734 for the defense of the Kingdom of Naples. However, the war was lost and Austria lost Naples forever. Peace was signed in 1735, and Ascanio returned to Vienna. In 1737, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Marshall.

He did not remain idle long this time either. He was sent to Hungary, where war was waged again against the Turks. In July 1738, he participated in the victory of Cornia and in the capture of Meadia. But the Muslims counterattacked. They gallantly stormed the walls of Meadia. The Italian troops resisted bravely, but it was of no use, because the German allies retreated. So the fortress of Meadia was recaptured by the Turks. The Imperial army was defeated over and over again and Serbia, Orsova and Imperial Valachia had to be ceded to the Turks.

Interesting information on Ascanio Guadagni sent by Marco Guadagni, son of Adriano, on September 18, 2013.


Asconia Guadagni

Lieutenant-Marshall Ascanio Guadagni leads the Austrian army against the Turks in the victory of Conia on July 1738.


Another important war was now beginning for the succession to the Holy Roman Empire. One of the pretenders to the imperial throne was Mary Theresa, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. As we remember, her father had been Emperor of both Austria and of the Holy Roman Empire. The other pretender was the German King of Bavaria, sustained by Louis XV, King of France, and Frederic II, King of Prussia. Guadagni gallantly fought for the outnumbered Empress of Austria. I cannot say which battles he fought in the wearisome war. I only know that, after the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, Ascanio was promoted to Field-Marshall in 1754. The rank of Field-Marshall of the Holy Roman Empire was the highest military rank existing in the Empire. It meant being the supreme commander of all of the armies of the Holy Roman Empire, responsible only to the Holy Roman Emperor himself and nobody else.

At this point, Ascanio had to retire from the army, due to the many wounds which made him unable to continue an active military life. He was named Governor of Southern Hungary and resided for some time in Eseck. Later, he was promoted to Military Commander for all the region of Tyrol. He died in Innsbruck, on February 17, 1759. His ashes were deposed in the church of the Servite fathers. His nephews erected a monument for him and put the following inscription on it:


Here rests the soul of the very excellent and famous Marquis Ascanio, of Pierantonio Guadagni, of Florentine family


Noteworthy for his noble ancestors, his own merits, his virtue and his work – very attached to the Catholic Religion and to the majesty of the Emperor of the Austrians BELLI HISPANICI ET UTRIUSQUE HUNGARICI PRAELIIS

He fought in the Spanish war and in both Hungarian wars


He was promoted through all the grades of the army


Until he became Chief Commander of all the cavalry and Field Marshall, he resigned


To be appointed Military Commander of all of Tyrol


He excelled in courage and military science


In advice and wisdom in civil matters


In religious practice and integrity of life


Fidelity to his sovereign, sanctity in family life


Love and patronizing of arts and literature


Authority and leadership mixed with understanding and sensitivity with everyone


When he was thinking of retiring to his hometown (Florence), such a great man died, after fifty four years of fighting in wars


On February 27, 1759, he lived 73 years, 10 months, and one day


He was buried with military honors, because of all his great virtues


Pier Antonio and Niccolo’, his brother’s sons, built this funerary monument to their beloved uncle.

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19. Pierantonio

Pierantonio, son of Ottavio, was born on October 10, 1727. From his childhood, he showed great inclination for studying, so his father sent him to the school of the Scolopi Fathers so he could learn Latin. Then Doctor Ceccherelli, well known public lawyer, taught him law. Lami was his teacher in Greek language and literature. Pierantonio also studied German, English, and French, until he was fluent in all three.

When his father died, Pierantonio started traveling, not for leisure, but to improve his knowledge. He went to Germany and Hungary, where he remained for some time. He collected Latin inscriptions.

When he returned to Florence, he started studying the history of his home town. Historians say that, in Pierantonio’s time, no one could be found who knew the history and monuments of Florence as well as Pierantonio did. He was also the most learned man of his time in the knowledge and interpretation of the Bible.

He considerably increased the family library, founded by another Pierantonio Guadagni. He bought mostly precious ancient manuscripts. He gave free access to their consultation to anybody who was interested. His house was the meeting place of all the learned and the scholars who were living in Florence at that time. He was generous in financially helping the poorer scholars who did not have the means to study or to publish their work.

Abbot Mehus was one of his dearest friends. Pierantonio helped him publish the letters of Ambrogio Traversari, and the learned preface in which he illustrated the history of Italian literature so well. Pierantonio himself was going to publish some of his own works, when he died, still very young, on the night of August 24, 1762, at Bagni of S. Casciano. His death was considered a public misfortune. All the literary gazettes wrote about him.

Even the Grand Duke lamented his death with many public declarations of the high esteem he held for Guadagni. Pierantonio would have obtained even more attention from critics and authorities, if he had cared for them at all. He avoided public office. He only worked in the department of Public Health. In 1755, he was lay alderman of the Inquisition. His task consisted in refrain the excessive zeal of the Inquisitors. He had their sentences suspended if they proved too harsh or against the civil rights.

Pierantonio had the title of Marquis, but no fief attached to it. One of his ancestors, Francesco, had left the fief of S. Leolino to a younger brother of his, skipping Pierantonio’s grandfather. The fief of Montepescali, instead, was transferred by the Grand Duke to another family. It happened at the death of Enea Silvio, in 1722. As may be recalled, Enea Silvio had confessed the crime of having wounded his cousin, Giovambattista Guadagni. As a punishment, Grand Duke Cosimo III declared that the Guadagni family lost the right to the title of Marquis of Montepescali, and gave it to a friend of his, Count Tommaso Federighi. Ottavio, Pierantonio’s father, opposed said decision immediately. A dispute started over who the Marquisate rightly belonged to. The Guadagni and Federighi children carried on this dispute, until Niccolo’ Guadagni saw it settled in 1768.

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20. Niccolo

Niccolo’, son of Ottavio, was born on January 25, 1730. When his brother Pierantonio died, he succeeded him to the title of Marquis of Montepescali. The dispute with the Federighi family over the fief finally ended in 1768, through friendly agreement. Niccolo’ was given the Marquisate back, and Cosimo III’s decision was considered nul. As soon as the Marquisate was returned to Niccolo’, the latter renounced any feudal rights over it, and only kept the honorific title for himself and his male descendants.

In 1786, Niccolo’ began another heraldic dispute. However, he did not have the courage to fight it to the end. The dispute concerned the Principality of Nakod, in Bohemia, which Emperor Leopold gave as a fief to Field Marshall Lorenzo Piccolomini, brother of Niccolo’s grandmother, Ottavia Benigna. Prince Lorenzo loved Ottavia more than his other sisters, so he obtained a promise from the Emperor that, at his death, his sister would inherit the principality. This was stated in a diploma of 1689. However, the diploma did not mention her descendants, perhaps because they were implied.

After the diploma was duly notarized, Prince Lorenzo got married, and had children. The last of his children, Ottavio Enea, died childless in 1758. Ottavio Enea Piccolomini bequeathed all his properties to Giuseppe Desfours, Count of Adienville, son of his sister Ludomilla. The Duchy of Amalfi and the Principality of Nakod were instead inherited by Pompeo Piccolomini, Prince of Valle, who belonged to another branch of the Piccolomini family. The Guadagni family did not contest it.

Pompeo Piccolomini’s branch died out in 1783. The only descendant was Anna, married to Ettore Pignatelli, Duke of Terranuova and of Monteleone. Niccolo’ Guadagni and Giuseppe Desfours opposed the Pignatelli decision to inherit the Principality of Nakod.

The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, sided with his subject Guadagni. He warmly took up the defense of Niccolo’ Guadagni’s right to the principality. He had judges of the Florentine Ruota (Bench) send legal statements on the matter to the Emperor. He also had the Supreme Magistrate of Florence, and another important magistrate (the Magistrate of the Pupils) do the same. At the Grand Duke’s request, the famous jurist, Migliorotto Maccioni, professor of law at the University of Pisa, sent a letter to the Emperor, defending Guadagni’s rights. The letter was approved and signed by all the law professors of the University.

However, the dispute was not carried further. Perhaps Niccolo’ did not dare to fight against such a powerful rival as the Duke of Monteleone. Emperor Giuseppe settled the matter by declaring that the family of Prince Lorenzo Piccolomini had died out and that the Principality of Nakod would return to the Emperor, who could bestow it on whomever he wanted. Niccolo’ died on March 11, 1805.

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