|Black noble family|
|Ethnicity||Italian (Langobard ancestry)|
|Final ruler||Maria Teresa Cybo-Malaspina, Duchess of Massa|
The Malaspina was a noble Italian family of Longobard origin descending from Boniface I, Margrave of Tuscany through the Obertenghi line, which ruled Lunigiana from the 13th to the 14th century through many feuds and, since the 14th century, the marquisate of Massa and lordship of Carrara, then Duchy of Massa and Carrara, and latterly Principality of Massa and Marquisate of Carrara.
The founder of the Malaspina Family was Oberto I, he became the count of Luni in 945, Oberto I was appointed marquise of the March of Genoa under Italian king Berengario II in 951 and at last he became a count palatine in 953.
Oberto I had two children: Oberto II, who inherited from his father the title of count of Luni, and Adalberto I, whose offspring would give birth to the families of the Pallavicino and of the Cavalcabò. Oberto II had four children: Bertha of Milan, the spouse of the King of Italy Arduino; Ugo, count of Milan; Albert Azzo I, count of Luni, whose offspring would give birth to the Este family branches of Hannover and Brunswick; and at last Oberto Obizzo I, progenitor of the lineage of the Malaspinas.
In 1004 Oberto Obizzo I, fought beside his brother in law, King Arduino, against the Count Bishops of Luni: this would only be the first of many conflicts between the family and the governors of the roman-founded city. Oberto Obizzo I had a son: Albert I.
Albert I also had a son: Oberto Obizzo II (?-1090), father of Alberto Malaspina (?-1140), who was the first member of the family being called Malaspina (for this reason he is sometimes considered as the true founder of the family).
Regarding the origins of the surname, many theories have been hypothesized: some historians believe that the surname dates back to Ancus Marcius times (as some paintings in the halls of castle of Fosdinovo may suggest), some other historians believe that the surname might be generated from a legendary episode regarding the death of an enemy: King Merovingio Teodeberto I. The legend narrated on five sandstone tiles on the entry gate of the Malaspina castle of Godiasco, tells about how thanks to a huge thorn to the heart King Merovigno Theodoberto I was killed. Others believe that the name generated from the remarkably bad attitude of Albert Malaspina (or some of his relatives) held with others.
Albert Malaspina extended the family’s possessions towards the Apennine Mountains near Lunigiana, this started a conflict with Genoa and the Bishops of Luni. In the peace treaty of Lucca 1124, reference is made about the division of goods between the descendants of Oberto Obizzo I who in time, gave birth to several renowned European noble families: Brunswick, Estens, Pallavicino, and the marquises of Massa, Sardinia and Corsica as well as the Malaspinas.
Albert’s son, marquise Obizzo I Malaspina (?-1185), initially fought against Frederick Barbarossa (the holy roman emperor) supporting the rioting commoners, after the emperor took control of the conflict, Obizzo changed sides, supporting him in his fight against Milan (1157). The emperor rewarded Obizzo granting him the right to rule over the territories of Liguria, Lunigiana, Lombardy and Emilia. In 1176 Obizzo after escorting Barbarossa to Pavia, he surprised him by decided to ally with the Lombard league, attacking the Emperor’s armies. Because of Obizzo’s betrayal Frederick Barbarossa was defeated in the battle of Legnano. In the peace of costanza, Obizzo was forgiven by the emperor whom re-confirmed his right to rule over the land he was given. Both the battle of Legnano and the Peace of Costanza are represented in paintings conserved in the hall of the Fosdinovo castle and were realized by Gaetano Bianchi at the end of the 19th century.
Obizzo I had two sons: Obizzo II Malaspina (also known as Obizzone) and Moroello I Malaspina. The descendants of Obizzo II generated the Spino secco (dried thorn) branch of the family, whilst the descendants of Moroello I generated the Spino Fiorito (bloomed thorn) branch of the family (1221).
Obizzo II had a son called Conrad I Malaspina (defined by Dante Alighieri as “the Old or The Ancient” due to his fame and long living legacy), he is considered to be the first exponent of the Spino Secco brach, he obtained all of the territories over the right bank of the Magra river as well as the territories of Villafranca (located on the left bank of the Magra river). Conrad I Malaspina had four children: Manfredi Malaspina, Moroello Of Mulazzo, Frederick of Villafranca and Albert Malaspina.
Manfredi Malaspina had a son named Moroello “Vapor of Valdimagra”, a good friend of Dante Alighieri (because of his close friendship with Manfredi and the kindness he was demonstrated during his exile, Dante Alighieri decided to homage the Malaspina family in the Divine Comedy’s purgatory). Moroello had a son named Franceschino Malaspina, who took part in the wars between Guelfs and Ghibellines and is renowned to have hosted Dante Alighieri several times during his Exile in Lunigiana, nominating him his personal attorney in the difficult peace negotiations with the Bishop of Luni: Antonio Da Camilla. These negotiations would then result in the peace of Castelnuovo (1306). Frederick of Villafranca (Brother of Conrad Malaspina The Old) had two sons: Obizzino Malaspina and the famous Conrad Malaspina the Young, to whom Dante extends his gratitude for the Malaspina family in the 8th canto of the Purgatorio.
Moroello I Malaspina had a son named Guglielmo Malaspina, whose son Obizzino Malaspina is considered to be the true progenitor of the Spino Fiorito branch of the family, he received all the territories on the left bank of the Magra river. Obizzino married Caterina Cattaneo and had three heirs: Bernabò Malaspina, Isnardo Malaspina and Albert. Isnardo married Cubina D’este who gave birth to Gabriel I Malaspina and Azzolino Malaspina, whom had three children: Spinetta Malaspina, also known as The Great, who in 1340 purchased the feud of Fosdinovo without having any legitimate offspring; Isnardo; and Azzolino whose offspring would assume the title of Marquises of Fosdinovo (1355).
The division of the territories between the ever-increasing heirs brought about a shattering of the Dominion of the family into smaller feuds. The Malaspinas sometimes supported the Ghibelline faction and sometimes the Guelf faction. Whilst supporting the Guelfs, Obizzino took part in the conflicts of the Lombards against the Hohenstaufen. Obizzino alongside Morroello of the Malaspinas of Giovagallo commanded the Guelf army that defended Florence against Henry VII of Luxembourg. The Ghibelline faction defending emperor Henry VII was also lead by a household member: Spinetta Malaspina also known as the great.
The Malaspina family also had a strong grasp of the territories in the north of Genoa (around the four provinces area), in the valleys of the Trebbia and Staffora rivers. Both the lordships in the Lunigiana and in the north of Genoa (also called Lombarda), were soon fragmented due to the adoption of the Longobard Right, which required an equal division of assets between male sons, including feuds. Some members of the Malaspina family held a part of the Giudicato of Lugodoro (or Giudicato di Torres) in the XIII century and the XIV century but most relevantly from the XV century to the XVIII century, the branch of the Cybo-Malaspina governed the independent marquisette of Massa and the participate of Carrara (then known as the duchy of Massa and Carrara). The Sardinian possessions of the family were: the castle of Serravalle (Bosa) with the curation of Planargia and Costa De Addess; the castle of Osilo with the curation of Montes, Figulinas and Coros.
The members of the family also had the right to the title of princes of San Colombano.
La fama che la vostra casa onora,
grida i segnori e grida la contrada,
sì che ne sa chi non vi fu ancora; e io vi giuro, s’io di sopra vada,
che vostra gente onrata non si sfregia
del pregio de la borsa e de la spada.
(Divina Commedia, Purgatorio, Dante Alighieri, Canto 8, Vv. 121-129 )
“Oh!” said I then to him, “I ’ve never been
in your domains, but where throughout all Europe
dwelleth a man who knows them not? The fame
which honoreth your house, proclaims its lords,
proclaims its district, so that even he
knows of them, who hath never been there yet.
I swear to you, so may I go on high,
that of the glorious use of purse and sword
your honored race doth not despoil itself.
(Divine Comedy, Purgatory, Dante Alighieri, 8th Chant, Vv. 121-129)
The origins of the house
The Malaspinas were a marquise branch discending from the Odertenghi family, whose originator was Oberto I (Otbert or Odebertus), who around the middle of the 10th century became count palatine (the count of the sacred palace of Pavia and absolute judiciary authority of the kingdom), and from 951 he also became marquise of Milan and Count of Luni as well as of the marquisate of Obertenga (as he called it), in the oriental part of Liguria, which was made up of the committees of Milan, Genoa, Tortona, Bobbio, Luni and other bordering territories..
This vast territory was fragmented both because of the hereditary divisions (as the majorat was not valid yet) and because of conflicting relationships with other families (Fieschi, Spinola, Doria and others) but most importantly because of the pressure coming from the birthing communes of Milan, Genoa, Piacenza, Tortona, Pavia and Bobbio.
From Oberto I, thanks to his descendants: Oberto II, Oberto Obizzo I, Albert I, Oberto Obizzo II; Albert I Malaspina (?-1140) was able to give birth to the house.
Albert’s son: Obizzo I (the great) (?-1185) had in 1164 his feudal rights confirmed by Emperor Frederick I and was also nominated Imperial Vassal, his feuds included: parts of modern day Liguria (Tigullio, Cinque Terre and Levanto sul mare, acquired from Genoa and the Fieschi), the territories of the Lunigiana, Garfagnana and the valleys of the Trebbia River (until Torriglia), the Val d’Aveto (until Santo Stefano d’Aveto) and Staffora (located in the Oltrepò); as well as what at the time was known as Lombardy (Val Bormida and Oltregiogo).
Of Obizzo I's many heirs in 1220 only Conrad Malaspina the old and Obizzino Malaspina were alive, and their feudal rights were re-confirmed by the emperor, even if the territories were slightly reduced due to Piacenza’s influence being very prevalent. In 1221 Conrad and Obizzino divided their lordships equally: Conrad ruled over the Lunigiana territories located on the West bank of the Magra River and Val Trebbia in Lombardy, giving birth to the branch of the Spino Secco; Obizzino ruled over the Lunigiana territories located on the east bank of the Magra River and Valle Staffora in Lombardy, giving birth to the Spino Fiorito branch of the family.
The Spino Secco branch of the family
from the descendants of the forefather Conrad Malaspina (The Old), remembered by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy, four ulterior sub-branches were derived (this division occurred in 1266)
Malaspina of Mulazzo
The origin of this sub-branch is attributable to Moroello Malaspina (?-1284), whom possessed not on the Castle of Mulazzo in Lunigiana, the main castle of the Spino Secco branch, but also feuds in Val Trebbia surrounding Ottone as well has having some influence over the family's dominions in Sardinia.
This sub-branch, being the first to be generated from the Spino Secco, always had posses over the marquisate of Mulazzo until the abolition of feudalism. The branch was extinguished in 1810 with the death of marquise Alessandro Malaspina, a renowned politician, explorer and navigator.
The marquisate, ruling from 1266 to 1797, was recognized as an imperial feud as soon as 1164; it expanded with several acquisitions of land over Pozzo, Montereggio, Montarese, Castagnetoli (from 1746), Calice, Veppo and Madrignano (these last three territories were administered by the cadets of the Mulazzo sub-branch from 1710 to 1772, and due to some debts were then sold to the grand duke of Tuscany).
In the XVI century the branches of Madrignano (1523-1634) and of Montereggio (1523-1646) momentarily detached from the main Mulazzo branch, the feud of Mulazzo starting from 1473 was also alternately governed by the "Malaspina del Castello" and the "Malaspina del palazzo" until 1776. The direct male bloodline was extinguished with the famous explorer Alessandro Malaspina.
The rulers of the Malaspinas of Mulazzo feuds were:
- Moroello in 1355 he received the imperial investiture of feud
- Antonio (1365-1406)
- Azzone -1473
- Cristoforo -1511
- Azzone II
- Gian Paolo -1517 and Gian Gaspare -1531 (del Palazzo)
- Moroello II -1573 and Gian Cristoforo -1574
- Francesco Antonio -1574
- Giampaolo II -1584 and Gian Gaspare II -1584
- Leonardo -1605 and Anton Maria -1600
- Gian Vincenzo - 1623
- Ottavio -1646 and Gian Cristoforo II -1643
- Moroello III -1657
- Azzo Giacinto -1674 and Conrad -1676
- Carlo Maria -1705 and Obizzo -1691
- Azzo Giacinto II -1746 and Gian Cristoforo III -1763
- Carlo Moroello -1774 anb Cesare -1776
- Azzo Giacinto III -1797 (and Luigi -1797, de jure).
the main sub-branches deriving from the Malaspinas of Mulazzo are:
- Malaspina of Cariseto and Godano, from Cariseto a fraction of Cerignale in Val Trebbia, their forefather was Antonio (?-1477), son of Antonio of Mulazzo, this branch was extinguished in the span of two generations: the marquisate of Cariseto was acquired by the Fieschi in 1540 and subsequently by the Doria.
- Malaspina of Santo Stefano, from Santo Stefano d'Aveto, in Val Trebbia, their forefather was Ghisello I (?-1475), son of Antonio of Mulazzo; in 1495 the marquisate of Santo Stefano was sold to the Fieschi, only maintaining the feuds of Godano and Bolano (both located in val di Vara, set in between Lunigiana and Val Trebbia), the branch was extinguished in the XVII century, their feuds were left to the main branch of Mulazzo.
- Malaspina of Edifizi, in Edifizi a fraction of Ferriere in val Nure, their forefather was Pietro, son of Ghisello I of Santo Stefano, the branch was extinguished in 1624.
- Malaspina of Casanova (from a Casanova probably near Ottone), their forefather was Antonio, a bastard son of Barnabò of Mulazzo, the branch was extinguished in the XVIII century after having sold their feud to the Doria in the XVI century.
- Malaspina of Croce (from Croce Fieschi in the Ligurian Apennines) their feud was sold to the Fieschi in 1504.
- Malaspina of Fabbrica, from Fabbrica a fraction of Ottone (not to be mistaken with Fabbrica Curone of which the Malaspina of Varzi were the marquise), their forefather was Moroello, which was either the son of Bernabò or of Galeazzo of Mulazzo, they sold their feud in 1540 to the Fieschi, they survived to the end of the feudalism and the branch is still living today.
- Malaspina of Ottone, from Ottone in Val Trebbia, their forefather was Giovanni, which was either the son of Bernabò or of Galeazzo of Mulazzo; they sold their feud in 1540 to the Fieschie and the branch was extinguished at the beginning of the XIX century.
- Malaspina of Orezzoli, from Orezzoli, a fraction of Ottone, their forefather was Galeazzo son of Giovanni of Ottone, they had a considerable ramification process; their main branch was extinguished in the XVIII century, althought the bloodline survived in some sub-branches. from one of these sub-branches, native to Bobbio, derived via adoption the branch of the Malaspina-Della Chiesa, marquises of Volpedo and of Carbonara.
- Malaspina of Frassi, from Frassia fraction of Ottone, their forefather was Giovanni, son of Galeazzo of Orezzoli, the bloodline still exists today through many sub-branches. they sold their feud in 1656 to the Doria.
- Malaspina of Madrignano, an independent branch which started in 1355 having Azzone as its forefather, the branch was extinguished until 1631, but was later revived from 1710 to 1772 with the Consignori of Mulazzo. Its marquises were:
- Azzone II, 1446
- Bonifazio (1531-1555)
- Stefano -1592
- Bonifazio II
- Stefano II -1600
- Giulio Cesare -1631
- Rinaldo di Suvero
- Moroello di Mulazzo
- Gian Cristoforo II (1710-1763), consignore of Mulazzo
- Cesare -1772, consignore of Mulazzo
Malaspina of Castevoli
An autonomous branch of the family starting from the XV secolo having Azzone of Antonio of Mulazzo as its forefather, it possessed the feuds of Stadomelli, Cavanella as well as some ruling authority over Villafranca. its main representatives were Thomas II (-1603) and his son Francesco (-1649). The main branch went extinct in 1759 and with imperial approval the feuds were unified with Villafranca (1796). In 1794 some revolts against the authoritarian regime of Thomas III started. In 1757 part of the feud was acquired by the Mulazzo branch.
The rulers of the branch were:
- Azzone 1465
- Tommaso -1547
- Giovan Battista, consignore of Villafranca (1547-1561)
- Tommaso II -1603
- Francesco -1640
- Tommaso II -1649
- Niccolò -1676
- Clarice -1678.
- (Alfonso 1561-1584; Stadomelli lineage)
- (Alessandro -1604)
- (Marzio -1616)
- (Scipione -1656)
- Alfonso III (1678-1722), heir of Castevoli
- Scipione II -1744.
- Opizzone Paolo -1759
- Thomas III -1797, heir of Villafranca.
Malaspina of Giovagallo
Their forefather was Manfredo, son of Conrad Malaspina The Old around 1260. They possessed the castle of Giovagallo (Tresana) as well as some surrounding territories. The branch went extinct in 1365, and their feuds were inherited by the Villafranca branch, whilst most of the marquisate was absorbed by the marquisate of Tresana.
Malaspina of Villafranca
Their forefather was Frederick, son of Conrad Malaspina The Old, they ruled over the castle of Malnido as well as Villafranca in Lunigiana and the surrounding lands. The branch was greatly weakened and impoverished due to many hereditary divisions, wars and the loss of numerous territories in the valleys close to the river Vara, Auella and Taverone. In the XVI Century they were taken under the protection of Modena and thanks to their loyalty, with the decree of the third of may 1726 the duke Rinaldo d'Este of Modena gave them the name of "Malaspina Estensi". The newly formed dominion they acquired included Garbugliaga, Beverino, Villa, Rocchetta di Vara, the castle of Virgoletta, as well as the castle of Malnido in Villafranca, where they ruled together with the consignori of the Castevoli branch.
The marquises ruling the branch were:
- Federico -1367
- Spinetta -1402
- Federico I -1406
- Gabriele -1437
- Giovanni Spinetta -1469
- Tommaso - 1521
- Bartolomeo -1549
- Federico II -1580
- Alfonso -1601 and Scipione -1656
- Tommaso and Federico III -1603
- Bartolomeo II -1628
- Annibale -1652
- Niccolò - 1697
- Giovanni -1715
- Annibale II Malaspina Estense -1721
- Federico IV Estense -1786
- Giovanni II Estense -1796
- Tommaso III -1797 (of the Castevoli branch).
The branch expanded very efficiently, succeeding in surviving after the end of the feudalism, to this day many co-branches still exist. Some of them had their own rulers as well as a separate identity. These include:
- Malaspina of Cremolino, from Cremolino in Monferrato, their forefather was Thomas I (1361), son of Frederick of Villafranca And of Agnese del Bosco, a blood relative of the aleramica, from which derived all of the family's feuds (including the consignoria over the city of Ovada); the branch went extinct in the XVI Century.
- Malaspina of Lusuolo, from Lusuolo a fraction of Mulazzo in Lunigiana, their forefather was Azzone (died in 1364), son of Opizzino of Villafranca, he inherited the feuds of the Malaspina of Giovagallo that were already extinct. the branch went extinct in the XVII Century after selling their feuds to the gran-duke of Tuscany.
- Malaspina of Podenzana, from Podenzana in Lunigiana, their forefather was Leonardo, son of Gian Spinetta of Lusuolo in 1536. Alexander during the Spanish war of succession became the imperial governor of Aulla, greatly weakening the powers of the families of Genoa , that had the right to rule over those territories since 1543; refusing to pledge his loyalty to the king of Spain, Alexander's castle was demolished in 1706, only in 1710 he regained the right to rule over the territories as the marquise of Aulla, purchasing the feud from the emperor at the price of 30.000 fiorini. In 1794 inherited a part of Licciana; the branch went extinct in the XVIII century. They also possessed Montedivalli, Amola and a quarter of the feud of Monti. The marquises ruling the branch were:
- Malaspina of Tresana, from Tresana in Lunigiana, their forefather was Opizzino, son of Giovanni Jacopo of Lusuolo, the branch went extinct with Guglielmo in 1652.
- Malaspina of Licciana, from Licciana Nardi in Lunigiana, their forefather was Gian Spinetta, son of Giovanni Spinetta of Villafranca they became an independent branch in 1535; they ruled of the feud of Licciana the branch went extinct at the end of the XVIII century. Their marquisate also had influence over Panicale, Monti, Piancastelli, Solaro, Bigliolo, Catanasco, Mulesano and Amola. Ferdinando in the attempt to ask for Spanish protection was killed during a rioth in 1611. in 1778 the branch was put under the protection of Modena and the family inherited in 1783 a part of the feud of Bastia. After the death of Ignazio the feud was acquired by the Podenzana branch (1795).
The marquises ruling the branch were:
- Jacopo (1535-1580), in 1549 he received the imperial investiture
- Eugenio Branchi, Storia della Lunigiana feudale, ristampa anastatica, 3 vol., Forni, Bologna 1971.
- Umberto Burla, Malaspina di Lunigiana, Luna editore, La Spezia 2001.
- Giuseppe Caciagli, Storia della Lunigiana, Arnera, Pontedera 1992.
- Giorgio Fiori, I Malaspina, Tip.Le.Co., Piacenza 1995.
- Guido Guagnini, I Malaspina, Il Biscione, Milano 1973.
- Patrizia Meli, Gabriele Malaspina marchese di Fosdinovo: condotte, politica e diplomazia nella Lunigiana del Rinascimento, University Press, Firenze 2008 ISBN 978-88-8453-859-8, ISBN 978-88-8453-860-4.
- Franco Quartieri, Dante e i Malaspina, in "Analisi e paradossi su 'Commedia' e dintorni", p. 141, Longo editore, Ravenna 2006 ISBN 88-8063-501-8.
- Alessandro Soddu (a cura di), I Malaspina e la Sardegna. Documenti e testi dei secoli XII-XIV, CUEC, Cagliari 2005.
- Alessandro Soddu, Struttura familiare e potere territoriale nella signoria dei Malaspina, in “Giornale Storico della Lunigiana e del territorio Lucense”, LV (2004), pp. 135–152, 2007.
- Alessandro Soddu, Poteri signorili in Sardegna tra Due e Trecento: i Malaspina, in “RiMe. Rivista dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea”, 4 (giugno 2010), pp. 95–105 [Atti del “12th Annual Mediterranean Studies Congress: Sardinia: A Mediterranean Crossroads”, Cagliari 27-30 maggio 2009] on line http://rime.to.cnr.it/
- Alessandro Soddu, "Magni baroni certo e regi quasi”. I Malaspina fra Lunigiana, Lucca e Sardegna, in “Acta Historica et Archaelogica Mediaevalia”, 30 (2009-2010), pp. 251–260, 2011.
- "Castello di Fosdinovo - Albero genealogico" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 October 2016.
- La marca Obertenga e i Feudi Imperiali
- Guagnini, p. 27
- Guagnini, p. 49
- Fiori, p. 6
- Soddu, I Malaspina e la Sardegna, p. 36
- Branchi, I, p. 161
- E. Salvatori, Les Malaspina: bandits de grands chemins ou champions du raffinement courtois? Quelques considérations sur une cour qui a ouvert ses portes aux troubadours (XIIème - XIIIème siècles) , in Les élites lettrées, a cura di Patrick Gilli, Montpellier
- Dante Alighieri, La Divina Commedia, ed. G. Petrocchi, Torino 1975.
- Dante Alighieri, La Divina Commedia, ed. G. Petrocchi, Torino 1975.
- Patrizia Meli (2008). Gabriele Malaspina marchese di Fosdinovo: condotte, politica e diplomazia nella Lunigiana del Rinascimento. Firenze: Firenze University Press. pp. X, 2. ISBN 978-88-8453-860-4.
- Patrizia Meli (2008). Gabriele Malaspina marchese di Fosdinovo: condotte, politica e diplomazia nella Lunigiana del Rinascimento. Firenze: Firenze University Press. p. X. ISBN 978-88-8453-860-4.
- In pratica più o meno l'attuale Lombardia, più il Novarese, la Svizzera Italiana e l'Emilia con Ferrara; il Genovesato fino alla Lunigiana e alla Garfagnana e parte del Piemonte, cioè Tortona, Novi Ligure, Ovada, la Val Bormida (l'Oltregiogo), e poi si aggiunse anche Ascoli Piceno
- Guagnini, p. 52
- Branchi, II, p. 121
- Castello di Cariseto - Cerignale Piacenza Genova