The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644)
Consistory of October 2, 1623 (I)

(1) 1. BARBERINI, seniore, Francesco (1597-1679)

Birth. September 23, 1597, Florence. Son of Carlo Barberini and Costanza Magalotti. Brother of Taddeo Barberini, prince of Palestrina and prefect of Rome, and of Cardinal Antonio Barberini, iuniore, O.S.Io.Hieros. (1627). Nephew of Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644) and of Cardinals Antonio Barberini, seniore, O.F.M.Cap. (1624) and Lorenzo Magalotti (1624). Cousin of Cardinal Francesco Maria Macchiavelli (1641). Uncle of Cardinal Carlo Barberini (1653). Grand-uncle of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, iuniore (1690).

Education. Studied at the University of Pisa, where he earned a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law, in 1623. Called to Rome by the new Pope Urban VIII, his uncle. Referendary of the Tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace, August 9, 1623. Governor of Fermo, August 28, 1623 until 1644.

Sacred orders. (No information found).

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of October 2, 1623; received the red hat and the title of S. Onofrio, pro illa vice deaconry, November 20, 1623. Legate in Avignon, October 2, 1623 until 1633. Archpriest of the patriarchal Lateran basilica, Rome, 1623. Cardinal nipote, that is to say secretary of State; he had limited faculties because the pope exercised most of them himself. Prefect of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice, October 13, 1623 to March 18, 1628. Governor of Tivoli, May 9, 1624 until 1632. Opted for the deaconry of S. Agata in Suburra, November 13, 1624. Legate a latere to France, March 17 to December, 1625, to negotiate with Cardinal Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu the question of the Valtellina and to achieve an arrangement in the secular contention between France and Spain; both objectives failed. Legate a latere to Spain, February to October, 1626, to negotiate with the Count-Duke of Olivares; a pact between France and Spain was achieved but with minimal consideration to the papal diplomatic effort. Archpriest of the patriarchal Vatican basilica, 1625. Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, July 1, 1626 until December 13, 1633. Abbot commendatario of the abbeys Grottaferrata and Farfa, 1627. From 1628, was invested with full faculties in the charge of the foreign policy of the Papal State. He followed a policy of formal neutralism, actually with clear pro-French propensity, as dictated by the pope, in the second war for the succession of Monferrato and in the Thirty Years' War. Archpriest of the patriarchal Liberian basilica, Rome, 1629. Vice-chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, November 24, 1632 until his death. Opted for the title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, pro illa vice deaconry, proper of the vice-chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, November 24, 1632 until his death. Having resigned the legation of Avignon in 1633, was named legate in Urbino, February 21, 1633 until ca. December 18, 1645. In 1633 promoted a league between the Italian states which failed because of the pope's hostility towards the Republic of Venice and the interference of the European powers. Secretary of the Supreme S.C. of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, 1633-1679. One of ten judges in Galileo Galilei's trial; he led a faction of cardinals that sought lenient treatment for Galileo. Supported the War of Castro, conducted in fact by his brothers, which concluded in a disastrous failure. Participated in the conclave of 1644, which elected Pope Innocent X. Opted for the order of priests, November 14, 1644 and his pro illa vice deaconry was restored to title.

Episcopate. Opted for the order of bishops and the suburbicarian see of Sabina, retaining in commendam the title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, October 23, 1645. Consecrated, Sunday November 5, 1645, patriarchal Vatican basilica, by Cardinal Girolamo Colonna, assisted by Giovanni Battista Scannarolli, bishop of Sidon, and by Bernardino Panicola, bishop of Ravello. Implicated in the inquiries promoted by the new Pope Innocent X on the embezzlements perpetrated by the Barberinis, in 1646 he was forced to escape to France with his brother Taddeo on January 15, 1646, after a somewhat violent consistory; their brother Cardinal Antonio had left Rome on September 28, 1645; they all were under the protection of Cardinal Jules Mazarin. In 1648 the Barberinis obtained from the pope the pardon and the restitution of their confiscated assets and returned to the Roman palace in Quattro Fontane. From this moment the cardinal limited his public activity to the functions inherent to its charges. With his younger brother, Cardinal Antonio, he promoted an intense cultural activity, practicing a princely mecenatismo whether in private ways or within the academies of which he was protector. Particularly of note is the formation of a very rich library of which the curator was Luca Holstenio. He also gave generous hospitality to many intellectuals who visited Rome or lived in the city such as Naudé, Vossius, Morin, Heinsius, Milton, Ughelli, Bouchard, Castelli, Doni, and Allacci, who succeeded Holstenio as curator of the library. Among the artists, the predilect was Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He was also a strong supporter of the activities of the theater of palazzo Barberini which set the standards for the Roman melodrama and influenced the Venetian. Opted for the suburbicarian see of Porto e Santa Rufina, retaining in commendam the title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, September 23, 1652. Vice-dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Participated in the conclave of 1655, which elected Pope Alexander VII. Opted for the suburbicarian see of Ostia e Velletri, retaining in commendam the title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, October 11, 1666. Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Participated in the conclave of 1667, which elected Pope Clement IX. Participated in the conclave of 1669-1670, which elected Pope Clement X. Participated in the conclave of 1676, which elected Pope Innocent XI.

Death. December 10, 1679, near midnight, Rome. On December 13, 1679, his body was taken to the patriarchal Vatican basilica and buried the following day in the sepulchre of its canons.

Bibliography. I Barberini e la cultura Europea del seicento : atti del convego internazionale Palazzo Barberini alle Quattro Fontane, 7-11 dicembre 2004. Per cura di Lorenza Mochi Onori ... [et al.]. Roma : De Luca Editori D' Arte, 2007. Note: Papers from the International Conference on Barberini and the European Culture of the 17th Century, held at the Palazzo Barberini, December 7-11, 2004; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. 9 vols. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1793, VI, 238-243; Combaluzier, Fernand. "Sacres épiscopaux à Rome de 1565 à 1662. Analyse intégrale du Ms. «Miscellanea XIII, 33» des Archives Vaticanes." Sacris Eruduri, XVIII (1967-1968), p. 229.

Webgraphy. Biography by Alberto Merola, in Italian, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 6 (1964), Treccani; his engraving by G. Valet, Antiquariat Hille, Berlin; his engraving, The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, England; his portrait by Andrea Sacchi, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany; engravings, portraits and arms, Araldica Vaticana; his arms, engraving and prosopography, in German, Requiem Datenbank; his tomb, Requiem Datenbank.

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