Gonfalonier of the Church

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The Gonzaga family arms, displaying the papal insignia acquired by Federico II as Papal Gonfalonier Blason famille it Gonzaga06.svg
The Gonzaga family arms, displaying the papal insignia acquired by Federico II as Papal Gonfalonier
The Montefeltro family arms, displaying the papal insignia acquired by Federico III as Papal Gonfalonier Coat of arms of Federico and Guidobaldo da Montefeltro.svg
The Montefeltro family arms, displaying the papal insignia acquired by Federico III as Papal Gonfalonier

The Gonfalonier of the Church or Papal Gonfalonier (Italian : Gonfaloniere della Chiesa, "standard-bearer"; Latin : Vexillifer Ecclesiæ) was a military and political office of the Papal States. Originating from the use of the Papal banner during combat, the office later became largely ceremonial and political. At his nomination, the Gonfalonier was given two banners, one with the arms of the Church (vexillum cum armis Ecclesiæ) and another with the arms of the reigning pope (cum armis suis). The Gonfalonier was entitled to include ecclesiastical emblems (the Keys of St. Peter and the ombrellino) upon his own arms, usually only during his term of office but on occasion permanently. Pope Innocent XII ended the rank, along with the captaincy general, and replaced them both with the position of Flag-bearer of the Holy Roman Church (Italian : Vessilifero di Santa Romana Chiesa), which later became hereditary in the Naro Patrizi. [1]


List of Gonfaloniers of the Church

Term of officePortraitGonfalonierAppointing PopeNotes
1059 — ? Robertoilguiscardo.jpg Robert Guiscard Nicholas II
1063 — 1075 Saint Erlembald Alexander II
c. 1118 Stephen the Norman [3] With Pier Leoni, rescued Pope Gelasius II from Cencio II Frangipane.
c. 1296 Jaume II.jpg James II of Aragon Boniface VIII
King of Aragon and Valencia; Gonfalonier, admiral, and Captain General of the Church; appointed to encourage him to wage war against his brother Frederick III (c.f. Sicilian Vespers) [4]
1372 — ? Galeotto I Malatesta Gregory XI
Commander of the Papal Army against Bernabò Visconti, whom he defeated at Montechiaro.
1377 — 1384 Ridolfo II da Varano di Camerino Gregory XI
Appointed by Gregory XI and served as Commander of the Papal Army during the final years of the Avignon Papacy.
1384 — 1385 Charles III of Naples (head).jpg Charles III of Naples Urban VI
King of Naples. Excommunicated and removed from office, his forces besieged the pope at Nocera, while the pope later attempted to usurp Naples for his nephew. [5]
1387 — ? Carlo Malatesta.jpg Carlo I Malatesta Urban VI
A condottiero.
c. 1399 Martin I de Aragon.jpg Martin of Aragon Antipope
Benedict XIII
King of Aragon and Sicily. Gonfalonier of the Western antipope, but refused to wage war against France during the siege of Avignon [6]
1403 — ? Niccolo 3.jpg Niccolò III d'Este Boniface IX
A condottiero; also Lord of Ferrara. Appointed in opposition to Milan. Possibly reappointed by Pope Martin V.
1406 — ? Ladislas of Naples (head).jpg Ladislaus of Naples Innocent VII
King of Naples; appointed for his assistance in helping Innocent VII against the Roman mob. [7] Routed at Roccasecca in 1411, he abandoned Pope Gregory XII in favor of the antipope John XXIII, who appointed him his gonfalonier. [8]
1409 — 1411 15th-century unknown painters - Louis II of Anjou - WGA23561.jpg Louis II of Naples Antipope
Alexander V
Opposed to Ladislaus for the Kingdom of Naples, was appointed gonfalonier by the Pisan faction's antipope Alexander V. Despite winning a major victory at Roccasecca, though, abandoned the field and returned to France. [9]
1412 — ? Gianfrancesco I Gonzaga.jpg Gianfrancisco I Gonzaga Gregory XII
A condottiero; also Lord of Mantua.
1431 — ? Niccolò Fortebraccio Eugene IV
A condottiero; despite his failure to recapture Città di Castello, was hired as Gonfalonier to oppose Sigismund of Hungary in Tuscany and the Prefetti di Vico in Lazio, but fired for using his position to advance his own interests. Thereafter went to war against the Papal States for Milan.
1433 — 1434 Giovanni Vitelleschi Eugene IV
Commander of the Papal Armies for a short time under Pope Eugene IV.
1434 — 1442 Francesco Sforza.jpg Francesco I Sforza Eugene IV
A condottiero; while working for Milan, received the position of Gonfalonier along with Ancona as part of the terms of a peace with Eugene, then led the campaign against former Gonfalonier and his former ally Niccolò Fortebraccio. [10] Lost his position after Milan allied with the Papacy against him. [11]
1442 — ? Niccolo Piccinino.png Niccolò Piccinino Eugene IV
A condottiero. Originally helped Fortebraccio and Sforza against the Papacy, appointed Gonfalonier to recover Sforza's holdings in the Marche.
1444 — ? Louis-XI.jpg Louis, Dauphin of France Eugene IV
Appointed for his actions in Switzerland against the Council of Basel and the antipope Felix V.
c. 1455 Francesco I Sforza Second term. [12] Now uninvested duke of Milan.
1456 — 1458 [13] Pedro Luis Borgia Callixtus III
Also Captain General. Rodrigo Borgia's older brother.
1462 [14] — 1468 Federico da Montefeltro.jpg Federico da Montefeltro Pius II
A condottiero; also Conte di Urbino. Appointed against Sigismondo Malatesta, lord of Rimini. Originally reappointed by Pope Paul II to oppose Venice, but challenged in his acquisition of Rimini following the victory at Molinella, switched sides. [15]
1474 — 1482 Federico da Montefeltro Sixtus IV
Second term. Now styled Duke of Urbino; married his daughter to Pope Sixtus's favorite nephew, who inherited the duchy following the death of Federico's own son.
1484 [16] — 1489 Giovanni della Rovere Pope Innocent VIII
Also Captain General.
1489 [17] — 1496 Niccolo di Pitigliano.jpg Niccolo Orsini Pope Innocent VIII
Also Captain General.
1496 [18] — 1497 Buch2-318.jpg Giovanni Borgia Alexander VI
Son; Duke of Gandia and also Captain General; assassinated by unknown agents.
29 March 1500 [19] — 1503 Cesareborgia.jpg Cesare Borgia Alexander VI
Son; former cardinal, Duke of Valentinois and also Captain General.
1504 — 1508? Guidobaldo montefeltro.jpg Guidobaldo da Montefeltro Julius II
A condottiero; also Duke of Urbino. Son of Federico da Montefeltro; adopted Francesco Maria I della Rovere, his nephew and the pope's. [15] [20]
19 April 1509 — 1510 [21] Bemberg Fondation Toulouse - Portrait d'Alphonse dEste - Titien Inv.1053.jpg Alfonso I d'Este Julius II
Also Duke of Ferrara and Captain General. [22] Commanded forces against Venice during the second phase of the War of the League of Cambrai. Removed from his post and excommunicated with all his family in order to return Ferrara to direct Papal administration. [23]
1510 [24] — ? Francesco II Gonzaga.jpg Francesco Gonzaga Julius II
Also Duke of Mantua and Captain General.
1513 — 1516 Raffaello, giuliano de' medici.jpg Giuliano de'Medici Leo X
Also Captain General and Duke of Nemours. [25]
1516 — ? Duke-Lorenzo.jpg Lorenzo II de'Medici [15] Leo X
Also Captain General: commanded the papal army in the War of Urbino (1517), before being wounded at the siege of Mondolfo
1519 — ? Tizian 063.jpg Federico II Gonzaga Julius II
Also Duke of Mantua and Captain General of the Church, as well as Captain General of the Republic of Venice. [26] Was not required to oppose the Holy Roman Empire and so failed to intervene in the Sack of Rome [22] [27]
1 February 1537 — 1547 Pier Luigi Farnese di Tiziano.jpg Pier Luigi Farnese Paul III
Son of Paul III; also Duke of Parma, Piacenza, and Castro. [22]
1547 — 1551 Ottavio Farnese 1521-1586.jpg Ottavio Farnese Paul III
Son of Pier Luigi Farnese; also Duke of Parma, Piacenza, and Castro [28]
c. 1565 Jacques Annibal de Hohenembs (or Count Hannibal of Altemps.) [1]
1566 — ? Ottavio Farnese 1521-1586.jpg Ottavio Farnese Pius V
Second term. [29]
1572 — 1585 Giacomo Boncompagni Gregory XIII
Son; also Captain General of Spanish Milan, purchased the Duchies of Sora and Arce, Aquino and Arpino. Removed as Gonfalonier upon the election of Pope Sixtus V.
c.1621 — ? Edward farnesio.jpg Odoardo Farnese Gregory XV
Also Duke of Parma and Piacenza. Excommunicated and prohibited from use of Gonfalonier emblems by Pope Urban VIII. [1]
? — 1630 Carlo Barberini Urban VIII
Brother of Pope Urban VIII and Antonio Marcello Barberini. Father of Taddeo Barberini.
1630 — 1636(?) Torquato Conti Urban VIII
Duke of Guadagnolo and Field Marshal of the Holy Roman Empire
1639 — 1644 Taddeo Barberini clay sculpture.JPG Taddeo Barberini Urban VIII
Nephew of Pope Urban VIII and Prince of Palestrina . Appointed Commander of the Papal Army during the Wars of Castro. Went into exile after the 1644 election of Pope Innocent X and died, without returning to Rome, in 1647. Dates are approximate.
1649 — ? Maffeo Barberini bust.jpg Maffeo Barberini Innocent X
Son of Taddeo Barberini who was appointed to his father's previous titles after the reconciliation of the Pamphili and Barberini families.
? - 1689 Odescalchi Monnot Louvre RF4619.jpg Livio Odescalchi Innocent XI (1676–1689)Nephew of Innocent XI; also Captain General [30]

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