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Orsini, Pier Francesco, Duke of Bomarzo

Orsini, Pier Francesco, Duke of Bomarzo ( Pier Francesco Vicino Orsini, Duke of Bomarzo) (c.1513–84). Italian connoisseur. Like many others of his illustrious family, he was a patron of the arts. He commissioned the celebrated Parco dei Mostri at Bomarzo, near Viterbo (begun 1552), which he called sacro bosco (sacred wood or grove), implying that it was far more than a place of relaxation and pleasure. The garden contained a Classical Temple, a Leaning House, a Mouth of Hell, many garden-sculptures (some extraordinary, even by Mannerist standards), an exedra, a nymphaeum, a grotto, fountains, and inscriptions from Ariosto, Dante, and Petrarch. It was, like many Renaissance gardens, an intellectual construct encompassing all the arts, stimulating the mind and the senses, a place of freedom, balm for the soul and body, a source of moral instruction, and much else.

Bibliography

Journal of Garden History, i/4 (Jan.–Mar. 1984), whole issue;
Lazzaro (1990)

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Orsini

Orsini (ōrsē´nē), powerful Roman family that included three popes and numerous other churchmen, soldiers and statesmen. The eponymous ancestor was one Ursus. Giacinto Orsini, who became Pope Celestine III in 1191, founded the family's greatness. Matteo Rosso Orsini was elected a Roman senator in 1241, and in 1277 Giovanni Gaetano Orsini ascended the papal throne as Nicholas III. The long rivalry between the Guelph Orsini family (see Guelphs and Ghibellines) and the Ghibelline Colonna family lasted until the early 16th cent. and often plunged Rome into anarchy. The Orsini were made princes of the Holy Roman Empire in the 17th cent. Among the prominent members of the family were Lorenzo Orsini (d. 1536), who defended (1527) Rome and the Castel Sant' Angelo against the troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V; the princesse des Ursins; and Pietro Francesco Orsini, who became Pope Benedict XIII in 1724. Representatives of the family are still living.

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