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The Savelli (de Sabellis in documents) were a rich and influential Romanmarker family who rose to prominence in the twelfth century and were extinct in the male line in 1712.

The family, who held the lordship of Palombara Sabinamarker, took their name from the rocca (castle) of Sabellum, near Albano, which had belonged to the counts of Tusculum before it passed to the Savelli. Early modern genealogies of the Savelli, such as the unpublished manuscript "eulogistic treatise" compiled by Onofrio Panvinio, drew connections to Pope Benedict II, a possible but undocumentable connection, and even to the cognomen Sabellius of Antiquity.

They provided at least two Popes, Cencio Savelli (Pope Honorius III (1216-1227) and Giacomo Savelli, Honorius IV (12851287). His father, Luca Savelli, was Roman senator and sacked the Lateran in 1234. Luca's choice to side for emperor Frederick II against Honorius III's successor, Gregory, gained the family large possessions in the Lazio.

Later members include the condottieri Silvio and Antonello Savelli. Savelli Cardinals include Giacomo Savelli (1539) Silvio Savelli (1596); Giulio Savelli (1615); Fabrizio Savelli (1647); Paolo Savelli (1664); and Domenico Savelli (1853). The last member of the family left in Rome was Giulio Savelli, who died in 1712. A collateral line, the Giannuzzi Savelli ('Giannuzzi' adopted later on) represent descendants of Antonio Savelli of Rignano who moved to the Kingdom of Naples in 1421 to fight as a condottiero. The title principe di Cerenzia has been held in that family since Ercole Giannuzzi Savelli dei baroni di Pietramala inherited it in 1769 from his mother Ippolita Rota, last of her house. The republican patriot Luigi Giannuzzi Savelli prince of Cerenzia was shot 3 April 1799 by orders of Cardinal Ruffo, and the feudal lands of Prince Tommaso Giannuzzi Savelli of Cerenzia were confiscated: Cerenzia, Casino (Castelsilano) Montespinello (Spinello) Belvedere Malapezza, and Zinga. . Nowaday, the title of Prince of Cerenzia belongs to the Paternò family.


  1. Borengässer 1994.
  2. Reversus Albam postera die ad nemora inferiora descendit spectatu digna sub castello, quod Sabellum vocant, unde Sabellae familiae nomen inditum." Flavio Biondo, Commentarii XI.22
  3. So described by Charles T. Davis in "Roman Patriotism and Republican Propaganda: Ptolemy of Lucca and Pope Nicholas III" Speculum 50.3 (July 1975:411-433) p. 424.
  4. Onofrio Panvinio, De gente Sabella, edited by Enrico Celani, in: Studi e documenti di storia e diritto 12 (1891:271-309).
  5. Four popes are claimed in the Website of Savelli Family Stores: "The Savelli name belongs to an old Roman family that has given the church four Popes: Benedict II, Gregory II, Honorius III and Honorius IV." However, according to the modern historiography the attribution of Pope Honorius III to the Savelli family is incorrect (S. Miranda Cardinal Cencio - Pope Honorius III (note 1)). The attribution of Benedict II and Gregory II to that family started only in 15th century and is also very unlikely.
  6. Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church
  7. (Norbert M. Borengässer), Biografisch-Bibliographische Kirchenlexikon (1994) vol. VIII: "Savelli"
  8. Giuseppe Aragona, Cerenzia, Historical Notes on the Antiquity of the City and the Modern Town, translated by Tom Lucente on line text
  9. See Paterno (famiglia)).


  • Norbert M. Borengässer, "Savelli", Biographisch-Bibliografisches Kirchenlexikon 8 (1994).( on-line text)
  • Litta, P. Le famiglie celebri italiane, Vol. X: "I Savelli di Roma" (Turin: Liverani) 1872.

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