One of the oldest, and from the late 12th century until it became extinct in 1712, one of the four most important noble families in rome. Outstanding members included Pope honorius iii whose father, Aimerico, was the first known Savelli; Pope honorius iv; and seven cardinals. The family built an early palace on the Aventine hill. In 1368 it acquired the theater of Marcellus and built there a palace that was replaced (1523–27) by a more splendid one. One of the Savelli villages, castel gandolfo, was sold to the papacy in 1596. In the guelf ghibelline struggle, the Savelli were sometimes Guelfs, but generally they supported the colonna against the papacy. Until the Savelli court was disbanded (1655), it could try cases for minor offenses. As a reward for Savelli support, Pope paul iii made the office of custodian of the conclave hereditary in the family. The seven cardinals, with dates of creation and death, were: Cencio, 1191–1218; Giovanni Battista, 1480–98; Giacomo, 1539–87; Silvio, 1596–99; Giulio, 1615–44; Fabrizio, 1647–59, nephew of Giulio; and Paolo, 1664–85. Giovanni Battista served as legate in Perugia and envoy in Geneva before he was a hostage (1482–83) in the Colon-na–papacy conflict during the pontificate of sixtus iv. Later, he was legate in Ancona, Spoleto, and Bologna. Giacomo had 20 years' experience in various dioceses. As vicar-general of Rome he effected there some of the reforms specified by the Council of trent. He was one of the learned and able cardinals of his day. The last of the line was a brother of Paolo, Giulio (d. 1712).
Bibliography: g. moroni, Dizionario de erudizione storicoecclesiastica 61:294–308. l. cÀllari, I palazzi di Roma (3d ed. Rome 1944).
[m. l. shay]