Barberini family

   Of Tuscan origin, the Barberini settled in Florence in the 11th century where they became part of the merchant class. In 1623, their prominence increased when Cardinal Maffeo Barberini ascended the papal throne as Pope Urban VIII and showered his family with favors. He elevated his brother Antonio and nephews Francesco and Antonio to the cardinalate, and his nephew Taddeo he appointed prefect of Rome and prince of Palestrina. The benefices amassed by these individuals enriched the family in great measure, allowing them to spend generously on the arts. In 1628-1633, Carlo Maderno designed for them a magnificent palazzo in Rome that in the early 1630s was frescoed by Andrea Sacchi, Pietro da Cortona, and others with impressive scenes that spoke of the family's sociopolitical eminence. When Urban was succeeded by Innocent X, the Barberini were accused of misappropriating public funds. Their possessions were seized and they were forced to leave Rome. They took refuge in France, where Cardinal Jules Mazarin, first minister to Louis XIV, offered them protection. Mazarin eventually persuaded Innocent to recant the accusations by threatening to invade the Papal States, and the Barberini were able to return to Rome, though they were never to regain the social position they enjoyed during Urban's reign.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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