Impoverished noble family of Rome that achieved importance and wealth after 1400. When the family became extinct in 1686, four members had been cardinals and for nearly 200 years it had had hereditary right to the office of gonfalonier, flagbearer of the people. Giuliano, cardinal 1426 (d. Nov. 10, 1444), taught at the University of Padua (where he knew nicholas of cusa and Domenico capranica) and was nuncio in France and England before being created cardinal. Legate to the Council of basel, he served as its president until the extremists became radically antipapal (1437). At the Council of florence his work and exemplary character impressed his contemporaries. His successful mission in Hungary (1442), activated Pope eugene iv's crusade against the Turks. King Ladislaus III of Poland and John Hunyadi defeated the Turks in 1443 but were then overwhelmed by them at Varna (1444), where Ladislaus and Cardinal Cesarini were killed. For years historians believed the cardinal guilty of making Ladislaus break his oath to the Turks by renewing the war, but recent research has disproved this charge. Giuliano, cardinal 1493 (d.1510), set an example by opening his collection of antiquities to the public. Alessandro, cardinal 1517 (d. Feb. 13, 1542), served under Pope paul iii as legate to Emperor charles v, as legate to France, and as member of the commission preparing for the Council of trent.
Bibliography: v. da bisticci, Vite di uomini illustri del secolo XV, ed. p. d'ancona and e. aeschlimann (Milan 1951). p. litta et al., Famiglie celebri italiane, 14 v. (Milan 1819–1923) v.5. l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 v. (London-St. Louis 1938–61): v.1 6th ed.; v.3-6, 5th ed., 1:282–328; 4; 5. r. a. lanciani, The Golden Days of the Renaissance in Rome (Boston 1906). o. halecki, The Crusade of Varna (New York 1943). t. v. tuleja, "Eugenius IV and the Crusade of Varna," American Catholic Historical Review 35 (1949–50) 257–275. f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 258. r. mols, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 12:216–250.
[m. l. shay]