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Finding Aid for the Orsini Family Papers, ca. 1150-1950 (bulk 1500-1900)
902  
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Description
The Orsini are one of most important families in Italian history. At the height of their influence, in the late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, the Orsini were crucial players in Italian politics; they were closely allied to the Medici, with whom they were tied by several high-level marriages. The family produced three popes, about thirty cardinals and 62 senators of Rome, as well as several electors of Saxony and Brandenburg, and grand masters of the Knights of Malta. They were related to a number of royal houses of Europe. The papers consist mainly of material relating to the administration of property (including records of sales, leases, mortgages, loans, proxies, accounting, inventories and plans) and the administration of the family (including dowries and marriage contracts, donations, divisions of property, wills and fideicommissums). There is also a substantial amount of legal material, mostly produced by the many law-suits in which the family was involved, and correspondence, largely dating from the 18th century. Access to selected digital images of plans, maps and other materials in the Orsini Family papers is available on the UCLA Digital Library webpage .
Background
The Orsini are one of most important families in Italian history. At the height of their influence, in the late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, the Orsini were crucial players in Italian politics; they were closely allied to the Medici, with whom they were tied by several high-level marriages. The family produced three popes, about thirty cardinals and 62 senators of Rome, as well as several electors of Saxony and Brandenburg, and grand masters of the Knights of Malta. They were related to a number of royal houses of Europe. The papers consist mainly of material relating to the administration of property (including records of sales, leases, mortgages, loans, proxies, accounting, inventories and plans) and the administration of the family (including dowries and marriage contracts, donations, divisions of property, wills and fideicommissums). There is also a substantial amout of legal material, mostly produced by the many law-suits in which the family was involved, and correspondence, largely dating from the 18th century.The Orsini rose to power in Rome in the late 12th and 13th centuries, as a few families filled the gap created by the struggle between a weakened papacy and a fledgling communal government. During that time the family acquired scores of feudal lands in the Papal States and the Kingdom of Naples. In Rome their urban fortresses at Monte Giordano and Campo de' Fiori dominated the surrounding area, acting as strongholds in the battles which periodically broke out between Orsini supporters and the supporters of their enemies and rivals for supremacy in Rome, the Colonna. Over the following centuries, the Orsini's private armies and enormous wealth made them crucial players in the complicated power game of Italian politics. The family remained preeminent in Italian political and religious life into the 19th century, eventually producing three popes, about thirty cardinals and 62 senators of Rome, as well as several electors of Saxony and Brandenburg, and grand masters of the Knights of Malta. They were related to the royal houses of France, Spain, England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Poland.
Extent
560 boxes (280 linear ft.) 12 oversize boxes. 132 images of maps, plans, and other documents
Restrictions
Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Availability
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.