The Barberini were a family of the Italian nobility that rose to prominence in 17th century Rome. Their influence peaked with the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini to the throne in 1623. Their urban palace, the Palazzo Barberini, today houses Italys Galleria Nazionale dArte Antica, the Barberini family were originally a family of minor nobility from the Tuscan town of Barberino Val dElsa, who settled in Florence during the early part of the 11th century. Carlo Barberini and his brother Barberini were successful Florentine grain, wool, in 1552, Carlos son Francesco followed his uncle to Rome and business flourished. Francesco became a rich man and bought a number of high offices within government. In 1559, his uncle Antonio was murdered by forces loyal to the Medici, Francesco continued to build his fortune and amass titles until his death in 1600. The continuation of Barberini business fell to his nephews including Maffeo Barberini, the Barberini acquired great wealth and influence when Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was elected to the papal throne in 1623, taking the name Pope Urban VIII. He elevated a brother Antonio Marcello Barberini and two nephews, Francesco Barberini and Antonio Barberini, to the cardinalate and he made another brother Duke of Monterotondo, and gave a third nephew, Taddeo Barberini, the principality of Palestrina. Taddeo was also made Gonfalonier of the Church, Prefect of Rome, the ecclesiastical, diplomatic and cultural accomplishments of Urbans reign were overshadowed by the nepotism the pope practised. Urbans contemporary, John Bargrave, wrote, Likewise, the War of Castro, toward the end of Urbans papacy, sullied Urbans reputation and it is estimated that during the course of Urbans reign, the Barberini amassed 105 million scudi in personal wealth. The pope erected a tablet proudly proclaiming his re-use of these hidden beams for the glory, the Barberini participated extensively in the First War of Castro. The conflict began when Odoardo Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, visited Rome, the war produced no clear victor, and Pope Urban died in 1644, only months after a peace accord was signed. Despite Urbans appointment of a number of relatives as cardinals, the College of Cardinals elected Pope Innocent X of the Pamphili family, almost immediately, Innocent X launched an investigation into the conduct of various members of the Barberini family during the wars. Antonio and Taddeo left first, by sea, but not before hanging the French coat of arms above the door of the Palazzo Barberini to confirm they were under the protection of France, Francesco joined his brothers soon after. Taddeos wife, Anna Colonna also joined her husband and children in Paris but not before making an appeal to the Pope. The Pope agreed and, though he paid some debts out of the Barberini estate, in Paris they relied on the hospitality of Louis XIV, King of France, until 1653 when most of the family finally returned to Rome. Though Taddeo died in exile in 1647, his brothers eventually reconciled with the papacy through the marriage of Taddeos younger son Maffeo with Olimpia Giustiniani, Maffeo was given his fathers former title, that of Prince of Palestrina. Taddeos older son Carlo Barberini was made a cardinal by Pope Innocent X. Taddeos daughter, Lucrezia Barberini, married Francesco I dEste, Duke of Modena, further stabilizing relations
Barberini coat-of-arms (three bees) surmounted by papal tiara and crossed keys on coin struck for Pope Urban VIII.
The Palazzo Colonna Barberini in Palestrina; the comune over which various Barberini family members were given control.