A Sienese noble family, of Roman origin according to tradition and legend. Documentary evidence of its residence in siena goes back to 1098, when a Martino Piccolomini is mentioned. The family early engaged in commerce. By the 13th century it had several banks in Italy, France, and England, and eventually invested its wealth in land. Traditionally Guelf, the Piccolomini family played a significant role in Sienese political life. In 1458 they were granted the title of counts palatine by Emperor Frederick III. Besides pius ii, his nephew, pius iii, and Cardinal Jacopo ammanati de' piccolomini, who had been adopted by Pius II, the family furnished many bishops of Siena and Pienza, and several cardinals. Other outstanding members of the family include the following.
Bl. Ambrogio, d. 1348, was one of the founders, and second superior, of the Olivetan benedictines.
Alessandro, humanist, theologian, and philosopher (b. Siena, June 13, 1508; d. Siena, March 12, 1578), was an author of sonnets and plays in his youth and later turned to philosophy and became professor of ethics in 1540. His works include translations of Ovid, Vergil, Aristotle's Poetics and Rhetoric, and several scientific and philosophical treatises. Made bishop of the nominal See of Patras in 1574, he was coadjutor of the archbishop of Siena during the last years of his life.
Francesco (b. Siena, 1582; d. Rome, 1651) was general of the jesuits from 1649 until his death. Celio, d. 1681, was made cardinal in 1664, and archbishop of Siena from 1671 until his death.
Octavio, military commander during the Thirty Years' War (b. Pisa, 1600; d. Vienna, 1656), had joined the Spanish army in Italy and had become imperial cavalry commander and imperial field marshal in 1648, before he was made a prince by the Emperor in 1649. Several branches of the family still exist.
Bibliography: a. lisini and a. liberati, Genealogia dei Piccolomini di Siena (Siena 1900). a. baldini, Enciclopedia Italiana di scienzi littere ed arti, 36 v. (Rome 1929–39) 27:156–157. v. spreti, Enciclopedia storico-nobiliare italiana, 8 v. (Milan 1928–35) 5:325–337. f. v. cerreta, Alessandro Piccolomini (Siena 1960).
[e. g. gleason]