Pignatelli: A Historical Essay

Residence: Naples, Rome, Madrid, Palermo

Historical and illustrious family of southern Italy, recognized by many authors as descending from the Lombard Dukes of Benevento, which proven line starts with Lucio Pignatelli, Constable of Naples in 1102. To explain Coat-of-Arms and Name many authors refer that a famous Landolfo under the service of King Roger of Hauteville of the Norman’s Dynasty, during the assault and the Sack of the Imperial Palace in Constantinople , he came out holding on his hands three Silver Pignates and from then was assumed the Coat-of-Arms.

A recent document found in the Archives of Monteroduni line stated that in 1094 two Pignatellis  “orti a nobile sanguine “ supplied over  1500 warriors to “ certamen “ in the Holy land. This story will confirm that is most likely that the “Droit de Pillage “ was very common at that time , thus the logic of the silver pignates. Other Historians claim that a famous Gisulfo leading a fleet on behalf of the King Roger of Hauteville against the Byzantines in Negroponte , won the naval battle by launching pignates in fire.

The Family held numerous fiefdoms : Seigneur of Caserta in 1269, Patrician of Naples at the Seggi of Nido e Capuana. 
Enjoyed Nobility Rank in Rome , Venice , Sicily , Spain and Mexico. The family joined the Knights of Malta in 1420 with Giovanni , Commendatore of Monopoli and Pietro Prior of Messina. The family held important positions in the Church Hierarchy and on Civil Service . The family received the Toson d’Or in the branches of Monteleone and Terranova and Strongoli. Grandee of Spain in the Lines of Monteleone e Terranova , Belmonte , Strongoli , Fuentes.

This very Illustrious Family divided in three main Lines: From RICCARDO in 1250 descended TOMMASO , Governatore d’Atri ( 1431 ) and in the dawn of the XV Century three main Lines were established by their sons STEFANO ( branches of Marques of Casalnuovo , Princes of Monteroduni , Dukes of Montecalvo ) CARLO ( Counts and Dukes of Monteleone , Marques of Caronia ,Princes of Castelvetrano and through the last Heiress of Fernando Cortez Marchioness of Valle Oaxaca and Countess of Priego ) PALAMEDE ( Lords of Cerchiara , Princes of Noja, Princes of Holy Roman Empire , and through marriages Dukes of Terranova , Princes of Holy Roman Empire with the Branches of Belmonte ( 1723 ) ;Monteleone and Terranova , Strongoli ,Fuentes e Cerchiara ( 1648 ) The first-born  line descending from  CARLO (1421-1476) extinguished with Geronima (1599- 1667 ) , Princess of Holy Roman Empire , V  Duchess of  Monteleone , Countess of Borrello , Vice-Queen of Aragona  in  1655 ; daughter of  Ettore III ,  IV Duca di Monteleone  ( 1572 – 1622 ) , Viceroy of Catalogna  and Caterina Caracciolo Countess of S. Angelo dei Lombardi .

This Line ended in the Branch of Marchesi di Cerchiara  and Principi di Noja , with the marriage of  Geronima with Fabrizio Pignatelli , V Marchese of Cerchiara , III Principe of Noja , who inherited from her the Dukedom of Monteleone (title held since  1527 ), the Earldom of Borrello (title held since1520 ) and the Baronia of Mesiano e Rosario( titles held since 1501 ) and the Earldom of S. Angelo di Lombardi  via  Caracciolo family (title held since 1426 ).

Giacomo  Pignatelli (? – 1539 ) son of the third-born brother PALAMEDE started  the Line of Cerchiara and Noja .

A very illustrious descendant  of Giacomo was the Pontiff Innocenzo XII  ( 1691-1700 ), his secular name was Antonio Pignatelli , son of Francesco dei Marchesi di Cerchiara, Marchese di Spinazzola ( 1576 ) , Principe di Minervino in 1629, inheritance and succession of the Carafa family, from his wife Porzia ( marr.1605) , daughter of Fabrizio Carafa  Duke of  Andria .

The title of  Marquis of Cerchiara  was granted in 1556 to Fabrizio I ( ? – 1567 ), son of Jacopo (Giacomo ) ; Viceroy of Calabria , I Marquis di Cerchiara , II Signore di Noja.

The title of Prince of the Noja “State” (Basilicata/Lucania ) was granted in 1600  to Fabrizio , III Marchese di Cerchiara .

The first line of the Branch of Marchesi of Cerchiara and Principi di Noja  took also the name and  the Coat-of-Arms of the family Aragona Cortes , after the marriage attested in 1639 by the Notary P.Graffeo in Palermo.

In the contract , was established that all descendants of Ettore Pignatelli , Marquis del Vaglio with Giovanna Tagliavia Aragona Cortes, will carry the full Tagliavia Aragona Pignatelli Cortes name.

With this marriage the following fiefs and titles were inherited : Marquis of Avola (title held since 1542 ) ; Prince of Castelvetrano (title held since 1564 ) ; Duke of Terranova (title held since 1561) ; Count of Borghetto ( title held since 1565 ); the title Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was granted in  1648 ( with the right to all descendants m/f ) to the father of  Giovanna : Diego Tagliavia Aragona Cortes  Duke of Terranova , Prince of Castelvetrano etc. 

The above mentioned Giovanna , from her mother Stefania Carrillo Cortes  , niece of Ferdinando Cortes, “ Conquistador del Mexico”  inherited also the titles of Marquis of Valle Oaxaca and Count of Priego ( Mexico ).

The name Aragona , originated from Orlando Signore of Avola ( 1363 )  son  of   King Federico II .

Tagliavia was a Sicilian family originated by Bartolomeo , Signore of Castelvetrano ( 1209 ) and took the full  name of Tagliavia Aragona with the marriage of Giovanvincenzo Tagliavia , Count of Castelvetrano ( 1522 ) with Beatrice Aragona  niece of Federico III  King of Sicily and Aragona .

In the XVII century with the marriage of  Nicolo’ Pignatelli (  bur. In  Cerchiara the 23rd of August 1648, bur. in Naples  the 8th of  March 1730)  : Viceroy of Sardinia and Sicily , and second brother of  Fabrizio III , V Marchese di Cerchiara e III Principe di Noja , with her grand-niece  Giovanna II Aragona Pignatelli Cortes(1677-1723) daughter of  Andrea Fabrizio (?-1677) Duke of Monteleone , all titles and fiefs were inherited by  the first-born of the four brothers  :

1-  Diego , Prince of H.R.E. , Marquis of Valle Oaxaca later Duke of Terranova and Monteleone.

2- Ferdinando, Prince of  H.R.E. , later Prince of Strongoli

3- Antonio,  Prince of  H.R.E. , later Count of Fuentes

4 -Fabrizio Prince of   H.R.E. later Line of Cerchiara.

From the last born PALAMEDE were  generated the second and third Line of Monteleone:

A}  Princes  of Strongoli (title held since 1620 ) : following the marriage of Ferdinando Pignatelli , Prince of  the Holy Roman Empire, Admiral  of the Kingdom of  Naples , Grandee of Spain  , Knight of Toson d’Or ,( 1689 – 1767 ) with Lucrezia Pignatelli (1704 -1760) , IV Princess of  Strongoli , VI Countess of Melissa and Duchess of Tolve, all titles and fiefs inherited from the family  Campitelli and Moles were received through  marriages.

B} The Line  Counts of Fuentes (Title held since  1508 ) inheritance and succession of the family Moncaio-Blanes y Centelles.This branch had the honour to generate Saint Joseph Pignatelli (1737-1811) , relevant representative of the Jesuit Order.

C} The Branch , descendant from  Domenico Pignatelli Y de Vaez (1630 c.a.-1700 c.a. ) Marquis of S.Vincenzo, Capitano Generale of Estremadura ,Galicia and Navarra , married Anna de Aymerich  and generated the  following lines :

D} The Line  Pignatelli y Americh , Princes of Belmonte ( 1619 ) , Dukes of Acerenza ( 1593 ) , Marquis of Galatone (1562 ) Counts of Copertino (1557 ) inheritance from Ravaschieri and Pinelli family.

Paolina Francesca Pignatelli Y Americh- Pinelli-Ravaschieri Squarciafico (1824-1911) (Female Succession) ,  direct descendant of the above mentioned Domenico , she held the titles of XXI Countess of Copertino , XI Marquise of Galatone , IX Duchess of Acerenza , VII Princess of Belmonte etc.. Grandee of Spain  on the Acerenza fief , daughter of Gennaro (1777-1829), she inherited all fiefs ,estates and titles of brothers who died earlier; she married in 1839 Angelo V Granito, IV Marquis of Castellabate  and Baron of Rocca Cilento, Gentiluomo di Camera of H.M. the King of the Two Sicilies and  Sovraintendente Generale of the Royal Archives.

E } and the Line Granito-Pignatelli di Belmonte originated.

The descendants of  STEFANO, second-born of the famous above mentioned three brothers (XV century ) , generated the Line of Marquis of  Casalnuovo( 1630 ) , the Line of the Dukes of Montecalvo (1611)  and the actual first LINE of Princes of Monteroduni (1702) The line of Casalnuovo ended in mid of last century.

The Colonel of The House of Pignatelli  today is : Giovanni Pignatelli della Leonessa (1920-) , VIII Prince  of  Monteroduni , IV Prince of Sepino ,Count of  Tuhegl , Duke of Castoria , Baron del Gallo , Patrizio Napolitano son of the VII Prince of Monteroduni  Luigi (1885-1930) and Maria dei Marchesi Ajossa (1889-1969).

Following the Court Sentence of the Tribunal of Naples in 1859 over  the two centuries old dispute , between the Casalnuovo line and the Monteleone-Terranova line, concerning the title of Count of Borrello and Duke of Monteleone ,  titles granted to the Pignatelli branch by Ferdinand V of Aragon with male primogeniture succession ; the above mentioned titles should have been used by the first male line , while the Pignatelli Tagliavia Aragona Cortes Line has always used the Monteleone , Borrello titles through female succession according to the Spanish feudal law of succession in force during the Spanish Vice-Kingdom of Naples:

Giovanna II daughter of Andrea Fabrizio last Duke of Monteleone ( died in 1677 ) who married Nicolo’ Pignatelli Prince of Noja and Marquis of Cerchiara and before with Geronima ( 1599-1667) who married in 1615 Fabrizio V Marquis of Cerchiara and III Prince of Noja (see above and Genealogy Tables and Pignatelli Cortes History)

Consequently the Monteroduni line , actual first line,  after the extinction of Casalnuovo may hold the title of Count of Casalnuovo , Count of Borrello , Duke of Monteleone.