Cola di Rienzi

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Rienzi, Cola di

 

(Rienzo; pseudonym of Niccolô di Lorenzo Gabrini). Born 1313 in Rome; died there Oct. 8, 1354. Italian political figure.

Cola di Rienzi dreamed of reviving Rome’s former greatness. In his public speeches he exposed the feudal magnates who had seized power in Rome during the Avignon captivity of the popes. In May 1347, Rienzi led an antifeudal uprising of the popular party, which resulted in the establishment of a Roman republic. He was proclaimed tribune of the people. Inspired by Petrarch, he forced the feudal lords to swear allegiance to the republic and to transfer their castles to the government; he set the tax system in order and abolished customs duties. He called on the other cities in Italy to join Rome. In December 1347 the feudal magnates headed by the Colonna family rose in revolt and reestablished their rule over Rome. Rienzi managed to escape. In 1350 he was arrested by the archbishop of Prague, where he had gone to try to win Emperor Charles IV’s support for the realization of the plans for the rebirth of the Roman republic. In 1352 he was transferred to the papal prison in Avignon as a heretic. The new pope, Innocent VI (Clement VI’s successor), decided to use Rienzi’s popularity to restore his own authority in the Papal States. Innocent therefore sent him to Italy in late 1353 with a political mission. Rienzi and a detachment of condottieri entered Rome in August 1354, where a republic was again proclaimed, headed by Rienzi. However, the increase in taxes that he implemented to pay the mercenary troops needed for the struggle with the feudal lords provoked an uprising of the Romans on Oct. 8, 1354, during which he was killed.

REFERENCES

Maksimovskii, V. N. Kola di Rientso. Moscow, 1936.
Mariani, M. “Cola di Rienzo. ... ” Studi romani, 1960, vol. 8, no. 6.

L. M. BRAGINA

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