New from 1552: Ugo Boncompagni (=Pope Gregory XIII) confirms his paternity of son Giacomo

PreviewScreenSnapz002

Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

One of the most valuable items to emerge from the new archival finds from the Villa Aurora is an autograph declaration in Latin and Italian dated 22 December 1552 by Ugo Boncompagni (1502-1585, from 1572 Pope Gregory XIII). Here Ugo confirms his paternity of Giacomo (or Jacopo) Boncompagni (1548-1612) by Maddalena de’ Fucchinis, a servant in the employ of his sister-in-law Laura Ferro.

The future Pope explains in detail the circumstances of the boy’s conception, which took place in 1547 in Bologna, after the Council of Trent had moved to that city; his motive was to assure his inheritance rights following the death (in 1546) of his father Cristoforo Boncompagni.

PreviewScreenSnapz004

Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

Ugo, who had not yet taken holy orders, writes that he then arranged a dowry and marriage for Maddalena, with a mason Simone Scamni. The infant Giacomo was legitimated on 5 July 1548; by the mid-1570s he was one of the most powerful men in central Italy.

PreviewScreenSnapz005

Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

In an accompanying note from 1870, the Boncompagni Ludovisi family archivist Enrico Narducci explains the chance find of what he terms this “precious document”; accompanying the manuscript is a modern transcription of the texts (apparently by later archivist Giuseppe Felici, in the 1940s).

This autograph declaration is not unknown: see e.g., the 1889 Lapi Italian edition of Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Journal du voyage en Italie (orig., 1774) 223 n. 1 (alluding to its “existence” and summarizing its contents).

GraphicConverterScreenSnapz002Detail from portrait of Giacomo Boncompagni (1548-1612). Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

But no one has seen this document for at least 65 years—until now. (Full credit: it was Stéphanie Macarini Nadalo, FAAR’11, who first spotted it among the Boncompagni Ludovisi archival treasures.) The declaration sheds remarkable light on not just the fact of Giacomo’s descent from the future Pope Gregory XIII, but also precisely on the circumstances of his conception. And that makes this item unique, surely, in the annals of the Papacy.

PreviewScreenSnapz006

Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

Gregory_XIIIPortrait of Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1502-1572-1585) by Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614)

Trackbacks

  1. […] clear from an (unlabeled)  illustration in the book that the ceiling fresco to the left shows the direct ancestor of the Princes of Piombino, Pope Gregory XIII (= Ugo Boncompagni, 1502-1572-1585), greeting the four […]

  2. […] The origin of this distinction is not in doubt. It was Giacomo (Jacopo) Boncompagni (1548-1612), son of Pope Gregory XIII and 10th great-grandfather of Prince Nicolò, who was first in the family to be entered into the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: