araldica di firenze: the ridolfi

ridolfi2

Family: Ridolfi
Dates to: at least 1306
Meaningful shapes, colors and symbols: A pyramid of 6 gold mountains
on a blue background with a red stripe across
Where to find it: via Maggio

The Ridolfi are a very old Florentine family.  Like the Strozzi, they originated in Fiesole and moved into Florence in the 1300s.  The family had three branches, at least one of which died out in the 1650s.  But the remaining branches made rich contributions to the history of Florence and Europe in general, up to the present day.

In 1306 Cione di Ridolfo was sent as a representative for Florence to the King of France to negotiate trading privileges for Florentine merchants.  The results of his negotiations no doubt helped establish Florence as a center for the production of wool, and later banking.  By the 1500s the family's wealth and influence had grown tremendously.  In fact, in 1570 Roberto Ridolfi, an international banker (who regularly visited London) and devout Catholic, conspired to assassinate England's Queen Elizabeth I and place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne.  The plot was discovered and he is now primarily remembered for financing of the scheme.  Obviously he never visited England again.

In addition to politics the Ridolfi have been scholars over the years.  Cosimo Ridolfi, born in 1794, founded the Agricultural Institute in Italy at Pisa, was President of the Geography Society in Florence, started a agricultural journal, and also helped found the Cassa di Risparmio bank, which is today known as Banca CR Firenze.  Most recently the Ridolfi family is known for the scholar Roberto Ridolfi, who wrote highly-praised biographies of Savonarola and Machiavelli.  This Roberto Ridolfi passed away in 1991.