Chigi-Albani is a Roman princely family of Sienese extraction descended from the counts of Ardenghesca, which possessed castles in the Maremma, southern Tuscany. The earliest authentic mention of them is in the 13th century, with one Alemanno, counsellor of the Republic of Siena.
The first very prominent member was Mariano (1439-1504), a banker and two times ambassador of Siena to the Popes Alexander VI and Julius II. He founded the Roman branch of the family, the other branch was started by his brother, Benedetto.
Agostino Chigi (1465-1520) was the most famous member of the family during the Renaissance. He became an immensely rich banker, and built the palace and gardens afterwards known as the Farnesina, decorated by Raphael, and was noted for the splendour of his entertainments. Pope Julius II made him practically his finance minister and gave him the privilege of quartering his own (Della Rovere) arms with those of the Chigi.
Fabio Chigi, on being made pope (Pope Alexander VII) in 1655, conferred the Roman patriciate on his family. His nephew Agostino was created by emperor Leopold I Reichsfurst (prince of the Holy Roman Empire) in 1659. Agostino married Maria Virginia Borghese (relative of the Borghese pope), and acquired the principates of Farnese (1658), Campagnano (1661) and Ariccia, where a famous palazzo bearing the family name still exists. The pope also had two nephews who became cardinals, Flavio I, who was one of the main art collectors of the family, and Sigismondo.
In 1712, the family received the dignity of hereditary marshals of the Roman Catholic Church and guardians of the conclaves, which gave them a very great importance on the death of every pope. During the 1700s, Flavio II became cardinal. In the 19th century, Flavio III became cardinal and Nuncio to France.
On the marriage in 1735 of another Agostino Chigi (1710-1769) with Giulia Albani, heiress of the Albani, a Venetian patrician family, said to be of Albanian origin, her name was added to that of Chigi. Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere was Grand Master of the Knights of Malta from 1931 to 1951.
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