+ Fabius was a Roman politician and soldier, born in Rome around 275 BC. He was consul five times (233 BC, 228 BC, 215 BC, 214 BC and 208 BC) and was twice dictator, 221–219 BC, and 217 BC. His nickname Cunctator means "delayer" in Latin, and refers to his tactics in deploying the troops during the Second Punic War where he defeated Hannibal. Descended from an ancient patrician family, the Fabii, he was a grandson of Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges and a great-grandson of Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, both famous consuls. According to Plutarch, the first of the Fabii was born from the liaison of Hercules with a nymph, rendering the family's origins semi-divine..
The Massimo family also provided two Popes to the Catholic Church, both Saints - Pope Anastasius I (died 401) who denounced the Origenist heresy, and Pope Paschal I (died 824) who stood up to the Frankish kings.
After the dark ages the family is recorded again in 1012 in the person of Leo de Maximis. Thereafter the family grew in influence among the Roman barons, and played a considerable part in the history of the city in the Middle Ages, producing numerous Cardinals, ambassadors, and civil and military leaders. The family were significant patrons of the arts, with the brothers Pietro and Francesco Massimi acquiring fame by protecting and encouraging the German printers Sweynheim and Pannartz, who came to Rome in 1467, where the first printed books in Italy were produced in the Massimo Palace. In the 17th century Cardinal Camillo II Massimo was famous as the patron of both Velasquez and Poussin.
The Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne in Rome was built by the celebrated Sienese architect Baldassare Peruzzi by order of Pietro Massimo, on the ruins of an earlier palace destroyed in the sack of Rome in 1527. The curved façade is built on and dictated by the foundations of the stands for the stadium odeon of the emperor Domitian. The interior ceilings and vestibules are elaborately ornamented with rosettes and coffered roofs. The entrance ceiling is decorated with a fresco by Daniele da Volterra, who represented "Life of Fabius Maximus". The chapel on the 2nd floor was a room where the 14 year old Paolo Massimo, son of Prince Fabrizio Massimo, was recalled briefly to life by Saint Philip Neri in March 16, 1583. The interior of the palace is open to public only on that day each year when the family receive the Cardinals and other high officials to honor the event. Other notable events in the palace of the 16th century including various intra-familial murders. The palace is considered one of the most important early Renaissance mannerist masterpieces and remains the principal residence of the family, along with the Massimo Castle at Arsoli.
Many of the Massimo princesses who married into the family were from the most important Royal families of Europe. These included HRH Princess Cristina of Saxony, who married Prince Camillo Massimiliano in 1796; HRH Princess Maria-Gabriella of Savoy, who married Prince Camillo Vittorio in 1827; HRH Princess Beatrice of Borbon, daughter of Don Carlos of Bourbon (Duke of Madrid), the pretender to the Spanish throne who married Prince Fabrizio in 1897; and HRH Princess Maria-Adelaide of Savoy-Genoa, daughter of the Duke of Genoa and niece of King Victor Emmanuel III, who married Prince Leone in 1935.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were two branches of the Massimo family – the Princes Massimo, descended from Camillo Massimiliano (1770-1840), and the dukes of Rignano, descended from Francesco Massimo (1773-1844). Currently only the Princely branch of the family remains, represented by Prince Filippo, Prince of Arsoli (b. 1938), whose heir is Prince Fabrizio Massimo-Brancaccio (b.1963), and Prince Stefano, Prince of Roccasecca dei Volsci (b. 1955), whose heir is Prince Valerio Massimo (b. 1973).