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An ancient and illustrious Neapolitan family, from which the "Brancas" of France were descended. The family founded the celebrated Brancacciana Library at Naples, gave prominent officials to the State and from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, seven cardinals to the Church. It is represented today by two branches, the "Principi di Ruffano" and the "Principi Brancaccio". The seven cardinals were as follows: (1) LANDOLFO, b. at Naples; d. at Avignon, 1312. He was created cardinal in 1294 by Celestine V, entrusted with difficult negotiations under Boniface VIII and Clement V, and attended the General Council of Vienne (1311-12). (2) LUIGI, a learned canonist, d. 1411. He was appointed by Innocent VII Nuncio to Naples, and made Archbishop of Taranto and cardinal (1408) by Gregory XII. (3) NICOLÒ, d. at Florence, 1412. He was made Archbishop of Cosenza in 1376; he sided with the antipopes Clement VII and Benedict XIII, and was created cardinal by the former in 1378. (4) RINALDO, d. at Rome, 1427. He was raised to the cardinalate by Urban VI in 1384, was present at the Council of Constance (1414-18), and filled several important missions. (5) TOMMASO, d. in Rome, 1427. He was created cardinal in 1411 by his uncle, John XXIII, and was present at the Council of Constance. His private life is said to have been far from exemplary. (6) FRANCESCO MARIA, b. about 1591; d. 1675. He became Bishop of Capacio, Viterbo, and Porto, and was created cardinal in 1634 by Urban VIII. Among other writings, he has left a dissertation on the question whether chocolate breaks the fast or not. (7) STEFANO, nephew of Francesco Maria, b. at Naples, 1618; d. 1682. He was nuncio at Florence and Venice, Bishop of Viterbo in 1670, and cardinal in 1681.
VAST in La grande encyc., VIII, 985.