The Marescotti origins

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According to the Marescotti-Ruspoli archive and as often seen on various family trees and reported on the official "Libro d'oro della Nobiltà Italiana" published by the Collegio Araldico, the origins of the Marescotti can be traced back to Marius Scotus born in Galloway in south west Scotland in the 8th century.

In the year 773 king Charlemagne started a military campaign against the Lombards in Italy, because they were not respecting an agreement made with Pepin the Short to give part of their land to the state of the Church. He asked for help from king of Dál Riata (Western Scotland) Eochaid IV.[5] The latter asked his cousin Count William of Douglas to recruit and bring to France a brigade of 4,000 men, which he did. But soon thereafter he had to return to Scotland to govern the family clan, leaving his command to his younger brother Marius Douglas, who at the time was described as courageous, tall, strong and with a reddish beard.

The army of the Franks crossed the Alps and took base in the Benedictine Abbey of Novalesa, in the high valley of Dora Riparia. Mario Scoto, as he was known in Italy, discovered a small path through forests between the mountains which was absolutely unusable by the army, but perfect for the Scottish highlanders. After walking quietly for three days along the path, Mario Scoto and his men attacked the Lombards by surprise from the back, while king Charlemagne attacked with the cavalry from the front. It was a major victory for the Franks which marked the decline of the Lombards in Italy.

In the spring of the following year, Pope Adrian I and the king decided to meet. With a small escort, amongst whom Mario Scoto was present, Charlemagne travelled the ancient via Cassia to Saint Peter's Basilica where he was received and blessed by the pope. Mario Scoto was Catholic as were the majority of Scottsmen at the time and at the service of his king became himself a defender of the Faith. He became an appreciated military advisor and distinguished himself in the Spanish campaign and in the battle against the Saxons at the confluence of the Weser with the Aller in which of the 5,000 Saxons, only the 500 who chose to be baptised were spared their lives.

Towards the end of the century Mario Scoto retired from the army, married an Italian noblewoman called Marozia and, for his devotion to the pope, settled in Rome where he was granted the honor to escort the pope. He was therefore present when in April 799 Pope Leo III was assaulted and kidnapped near the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. Mario Scoto was able to find the pope in a monastery on the Aventine Hill and rescued him and returned him to his throne at the Holy See. The scene was later painted in Bologna by Giuseppe Antonio Caccioli.

On Christmas Day 800 Mario Scoto was invested Count of Bagnacavallo in Romagna and was granted the privilege to adorn his family crest, which already had the rampant leopard (sic) of Scotland, with the three fleur-de-lis, characteristic symbol of the French kings.

The family still conserves an old portrait of a soldier with the following encryption in Latin: "Marius de Calveis, Scotus, Carl Mag M Dux Familiam Marescotti Fundavit ANN D. DCCC" (Marius of Galloway, Scottish, military commander under Charlemagne, founder of the Marescotti family. AD 800)

In the 9th century the Marescotti people (name derived from Mario Scoto) carried the title of counts of Bagnacavallo, a large fiefdom between the Lamone and Savio rivers. Charlemagne had received vast lands in the Bologna area and had later distributed them, as was the custom in those days, to the veterans of his army.

Some members of the family in chronological order:

Alberto il Malvicino de Calveiso de' Calvi Count of Bagnacavallo. Alberto Count of Bagnacavallo. Ermes, Massimiliano and Oddo Marescotti (Mariscotti) were Consuls of Orvieto respectively in 1035, 1091 e 1099. Carbone - in 1120 build a tower in Bologna. Marescotto - Consul of Imola nel 1140

Raniero Marescotti - elected cardinal by Pope Lucius II December 18, 1144.

Marescotto - Consul of Bologna e Captain general of Bologna in the war against Imola in 1179. Pietro de' Calvi Marescotti - Podestà of Faenza in 1185. Marescotto Consul of Bologna 1227 Guglielmo - Podestà di Siena nel 1232, his son Corrado was Chancellor of Emperor Frederick II in 1249. Alberto Marescotti son of Ugolino was Consul of Bologna, Captain general of the infantry of Bologna, then took Faenza in 1281 and regained Imola in 1290.



See also:
•  Marius Douglas
•  Mario Scoto



Sources for this article include:
  • Galeazzo Ruspoli, I Ruspoli, Gremese Editore, 2001
  • Leo S. Olschki, Archivio Storico Italiano, Deputazione toscana, 1875

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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024