Distinguished Italian family prominent in Vatican affairs in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Silvestro, jurist; b. Florence, 1499; d. 1558. Of old Florentine nobility, he studied law at Pisa under Filippo Decio and received his doctorate in 1521. Active politically against the Medici, he was forced into exile in 1531. His distinguished career as a jurist led him to Venice, to Faenza, and to Rome (1534), where Paul III appointed him to various legal and administrative offices. He then served the dukes of Ferrara and Urbino before being appointed consistorial advocate in 1548. Under Paul IV he rose with the influence of the Pope's nephew Cardinal Carafa and enthusiastically supported anti-Spanish policy. However, in 1557 he was disgraced and lost his position. His writings include Addizioni ai commentarii di Filippo Decio sulle Decretali (Lyons 1551) and Trattato dell'usura (Venice 1604).
By Silvestro's marriage with Lisa Deto he had one daughter, Julia, and six sons, four of whom held high positions in the Vatican. Tommaso (d. 1572) was secretary of briefs under Paul IV. Giovanni (d. 1573) became bishop of Imola under Pius V and was made cardinal in 1570. Pietro (d. 1587) was a distinguished jurist and succeeded his father as fiscal advocate in 1556. Ippolito became clement viii. During Clemment's pontificate, three of his nephews were raised to prominence.
Two of the nephews, Cinzio Passeri (b. Sinigaglia, 1551; d. Rome, Jan. 1, 1610), Julia's son, and Pietro (b. Rome, 1571; d. there, Feb. 21, 1621), son of Clement's brother Pietro, were made cardinals on Sept. 17, 1593, and were appointed to administer jointly the office of secretary of state. Although Cinzio was the elder and the earlier favored by Clement, Pietro soon established himself as the real authority in the office and the most powerful man in the Vatican next to the pope. He had the natural skills of a diplomat combined with prudence, zeal, and strength of mind. He was a man of affable disposition, deftly handling intricate political affairs and always retaining the close confidence of Clement. As legate a latere he received the annexation of the Duchy of Ferrara to the Papal States in 1598. He cultivated harmony with Henry IV of France, personally blessing Henry's marriage to Marie de' Medicis; in 1600 Pietro also secured peace between France and Savoy. Clement rewarded him by making him camerlengo and in 1604, archbishop of Ravenna. After the death of Clement, Pietro fell from papal favor and retired to Ravenna, where he effected important Church reforms.
A third nephew, Gian Francesco (1545–1601), also favored by Clement, was made general of the papal armies. He died while commanding troops against the Turks in Hungary. Of his many children, the eldest son, Silvestro (1587–1612), at the age of 16 years was made cardinal by Clement. Ippolito, the younger (1592–1638),
became cardinal under Gregory XV. The male line died out in 1638, but the granddaughter of Gian Francesco, Olympia, married Paolo Borghese in 1638, and the Aldobrandini fortunes thereby passed to the Borghese family.
Other distant relatives include Giacomo Aldobrandini (d. 1606), bishop of Troia and nuncio to Naples; Cardinal Baccio Aldobrandini (1613–1665), protégé of Ippolito, the younger; and Alessandro Aldobrandini (1667–1734), nephew of Baccio.
Bibliography: p. litta et al., Famiglie celebri italiane, 14 v. (Milan 1819–1923). p. e. visconti, Città e famiglie nobili e celebri dello stato pontificio, 3 v. in 4 (Rome 1847). p. richard, La Légation Aldobrandini et le traité de Lyon (Lyons 1903); et al., Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 2:55–60. l. passarini, Memorie intorno alla vita di Silvestro Aldobrandini (Rome 1878): l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages : from 1st German ed. Geschichte der Päpste seit dem Ausgang des Mittelalters (Freiburg 1885–1933; repr. 1955–) v.23 and 24, passim. f. bock, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 1:300–301.
[j. c. willke]