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Virginio Orsini

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Title: Virginio Orsini  
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Subject: Orsini family, Papal conclave, 1669–70, Papal conclave, 1676, Orsini, 1497 deaths
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Virginio Orsini

Gentile Virginio Orsini (c. 1434 – 8 January 1497) was an Pope.


  • Genealogy and military career 1
  • Conflict with the Pope and Naples 2
  • Posterity 3
  • See also 4

Genealogy and military career

Gentile Virginio was the son of Napoleone II and Francesca Orsini. On the death of his uncle Carlo (1485), he obtained the reins of his prominent house, at the time an enemy to the King of Naples and an ally of the pontiff. Pope Sixtus IV appointed him general of his forces, which Virginio led to a victory over the Neapolitan army at the Battle of Campo Morto (1482). Almighty due to pontifical benefices, Virginio took advantage of the disorder which followed Sixtus’s death (1484) in order to exterminate the Roman house of Colonna, something he didn’t manage completely due to the Sacred College’s restoring the order. During the reign of Innocent VIII (1484–1492), the Orsini family reached the peak of its power and held significant influence over the Roman Curia through Virginio's cousin, Cardinal Giambattista Orsini of Monterotondo. The ascension of Alexander VI to the papal throne (August 1492) changed the status quo in the Roman politics.

Conflict with the Pope and Naples

Afraid of the new Pope’s intentions to curb the power of his audacious barons, Virginio approached King Ferdinand I of Naples, who was suspicious of Alexander’s relations to King Ferdinand II of Aragon, his formal overlord. It was with Neapolitan financial help that Virginio bought the Roman castles of Cerveteri and Anguillara from Franceschetto Cybo, the son of Pope Innocent VIII. It seems that Alexander VI had already reached an agreement with Cybo over the two fortresses and their unexpected purchase by his chief vassal with Neapolitan money (40,000 ducats) was considered by the Pope as an act of treason. Nevertheless, Alexander and Ferdinand were reconciled in the summer of 1493.

When Borgia family.


Virginio Orsini had two sons, Gian Giordano Orsini, later Prince Assistant to the Papal Throne, by his wife Isabella Orsini (of the Salerno line), and Carlo Orsini, an illegitimate.

See also

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