The Duchy of Parma and Piacenza (now part of Italy) was created in 1545 by Pope Paul III. The duchy was ruled by the Farnese family until 1737. The area became a possession of the Bourbon family. In the Paris Convention in 1817 it was decided that when the family became extinct, the area would become part of Austria. This happened in 1847, but the Austrian Emperors already used the title in 1836. The arms are identical to the arms of the Farnese family
Palazzo dela Pilotta - Farnese, an Italian family that ruled the duchy of Parma and Piacenza from 1545 to 1731. Originating in upper Lazio, the family soon became noted through its statesmen and its soldiers,...
Cardinal Odoardo (1573-1626), brother of Ranuccio I, became cardinal in 1591. He continued the Farnese's tradition of patronage, including the Il Gesu church and the famous frescos he comissioned from Carracci to decorate the Palazzo Farnese. He became the family's last important cardinal.
By becoming sovereign Dukes of Parma and Piacenza in 1545, the Farnese finally attained Ruling House status. After a rough start where they battled local nobles, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and traded other territories they held, the family were able to consolidate their power and hold onto them until their extinction in 1731. Unlike the Medici in neighboring Tuscany, they were also able to pass these posession to the son of Elizabeth Farnese, who married into the Spanish Bourbon family.
Villa Farnese - dolphins appear on the family crest
La familia de Felipe V (The Family of King Philip V of Spain) by Louis Michel van Loo (1743) Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Note the varied expressions on the faces of the family members--some annoyed, some tired, some happy.
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The Farnese Hercules is another highly admired and copied piece in the family's antiquities collection. As with the rest of the Farnese Collection, it moved to Naples in the 1700's, after Elizabeth Farnese's son Charles became King of the Two Sicilies.
Pope Paul III 9 February 1468 – 10 November 1549 born Alessandro Farnese Pope from 13 October 1534 to death in 1549 He came to the papal throne following the 1527 sack of Rome. During his pontificate, and in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation, new Catholic religious orders and societies. He convened the Council of Trent in 1545. He was a significant patron of the arts and employed nepotism to advance the power and fortunes of his family.