The Aldobrandeschi

In the history of the Tuscan Maremma, the Aldobrandeschis have had a fundamental importance for the political, corporate and economic structure of the territory, profoundly marking the characteristics of the region.

The Aldobrandesca fortress of Sovana – Municipality of Sorano – Tufo area – Tuscan Maremma (Photo by Umberto Luparelli)

During the Middle Ages, for four hundred years – from the IX to the XIII century – the Maremma lands were subjected to the dominion of the Aldobrandeschi, a powerful and noble feudal family of Lombard origin. He came to power in Maremma thanks to the support of the bishops of Lucca (very powerful and often really Lombard, like the Aldobrandesca family itself) and to a repeated “exchange” of possessions with the diocese during the ninth century. The first capital of their county was the Etruscan city of Roselle (862 AD), destroyed by the Saracens in 935. Since then the center of the Aldobrandesco power was Sovana (the ancient Soana); during the 13th century, the family definitively split into two separate counties. The first news of the presence of these feudal lords in the Tuscan Maremma dates back to the 9th century when Ildebrando, son of the vassal Eriprando I, quarreled with his brother Geremia, bishop of Lucca, over the division of the territories to be inherited. This will be only the first of the disagreements within the dynasty that will characterize the long history of the powerful Aldobrandeschi family, up to 1438.

Torn by internal struggles and in constant disagreement with Siena and Orvieto, the Aldobrandeschis ruled the region until 1438, the year in which Giulio, the last Aldobrandesco male heir, died.

At the beginning of the 10th century the Aldobrandeschi had numerous buildings built castles and fortresses in most of the Maremma territories (still visible today, scattered everywhere), extending their possessions from Volterra to Montalto di Castro, from Colle Val d’Elsa to the Tyrrhenian sea, with strategic positions along the banks of the Arno , in Val d’Orcia and even on Lake Bolsena. The Aldobrandeschi were not only great nobles, but also valiant warriors, well received by popes and friends of emperors, masters of a diplomatic art that allowed them to safeguard territorial rights and borders threatened for a long time by Orvieto and Siena.

Resources on the Aldobrandeschi in Maremma

  • Aldobrandeschi – The central role of the powerful feudal family of Lombard origin in the history of the Maremma and the Amiata. PDF with the proceedings of the conference “The Aldobrandeschi. The great feudal family of the Tuscan Maremma”.