Fabrizio Ruffo
Fabrizio Ruffo was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 and politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

, who led the popular anti-republican Sanfedismo
Sanfedismo was a popular anti-Republican movement, organized by Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, which mobilized peasants of the Papal States against the Parthenopaean Republic in 1799, its aims culminating in the restoration of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies...

movement (whose members were known as the Sanfedisti).


Ruffo was born at San Lucido
San Lucido
San Lucido is a town and comune in the province of Cosenza in the Calabria region of southern Italy.-Economy:San Lucido is one of the few towns in the area where the town itself is close to the sea. Most of the other towns in the area have the old town or "centro storico" 2-5 km back from the sea...

 in Calabria
Calabria , in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro....

, then part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. His father, Litterio Ruffo, was duke of Baranello, and his mother, Giustiniana, was of the Roman family of Colonna. Fabrizio owed his education to his uncle, Tommaso Cardinal Ruffo, then dean of the College of Cardinals
Dean of the College of Cardinals
The Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals is the president of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church, and as such always holds the rank of Cardinal Bishop. The Dean is not necessarily the longest-serving member of the whole College...

. In early life he secured the favour of Giovanni Angelo Braschi, who in 1775 became Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI , born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was Pope from 1775 to 1799.-Early years:Braschi was born in Cesena...

. Ruffo was placed by the pope among the chierici di camera, the clerks who formed the papal civil and financial service. He was later promoted to treasurer-general, a post which carried with it the ministry of war. Ruffo's conduct in office was diversely judged. Pietro Colletta
Pietro Colletta
Pietro Colletta was a Neapolitan general and historian, entered the Neapolitan artillery in 1796 and took part in the campaign against the French in 1798.-Biography:Colletta was born in Naples...

, the historian of Naples, speaks of him as corrupt, and Jomini repeats the charge, but these can be dismissed as part of a hostile tradition. In fact, he was widely regarded as a reformer.

Ruffo's biographer, Sachinelli, says that he incurred hostility by restricting the feudal powers of some of the landowners in the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

. In 1791 he was removed from the treasurership, but was created cardinal on 2 September, though he was not in orders and in fact never became a priest. Ruffo went to Naples, where he was named administrator of the royal domain of Caserta, and received the abbey of S. Sophia in Benevento in commendam.

He also announced Pope Leo XII's election in the papal conclave of 1823.


When in December 1798 the French troops advanced on Naples, Ruffo fled to Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 with the royal family. He was chosen to head a royalist movement in Calabria, where his family, though impoverished by debt, exercised large feudal powers. He was named vicar-general on 25 January 1800. On 8 February he landed at La Cortona with a small following, and began to raise the so-called "army of the faith" in association with Michele Pezza, "Fra Diavolo
Fra Diavolo
Fra Diavolo , is the popular name given to Michele Pezza, a famous Neapolitan guerrilla leader who resisted the French occupation of Naples, proving an “inspirational practicioner of popular insurrection”. Pezza figures prominently in folk lore and fiction...

", and other brigand leaders. Backed by the Russian fleet of Admiral Ushakov, Ruffo had no difficulty in upsetting the Parthenopean Republican government established by the French, and by June had advanced to Naples. Possibly exceeding his authority, he promised the Neapolitan republicans immunity from reprisals and obtained their surrender in June, 1799. In the meantime Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB was a flag officer famous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of...

 appeared with his fleet; he called the cardinal to task for his leniency, and revoked the terms of surrender. The republicans, it was asserted, had surrendered under terms that were unclear. One of the main republican figures, former Admiral Francesco Caracciolo
Francesco Caracciolo
Prince Francesco Caracciolo was a Neapolitan admiral and revolutionist.-Early life and British service:Caracciolo was born in Naples to a noble family. He entered the navy and learned his seamanship under Rodney...

, was ignominiously executed on 30 June, and widespread reprisals and executions of other republican sympathizers in Naples followed.

The campaign gave rise to much controversy among nineteenth-century historians. Ruffo appears to have lost favour with the king by showing a tendency to spare the republicans. He resigned his vicar-generalship to the prince of Cassero, and during the second French occupation and the reigns of Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily , and later King of Spain...

 and Joachim Murat
Joachim Murat
Joachim-Napoléon Murat , Marshal of France and Grand Admiral or Admiral of France, 1st Prince Murat, was Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808 and then King of Naples from 1808 to 1815...

 he lived quietly in Naples. Some notice was taken of him by Napoleon, but he never held an important post. After the restoration of the Bourbons he was received into favour. During the revolutionary troubles of 1822 he was consulted by the king, and was even in office for a very short time as a loyalist minister.
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