Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma

Ranuccio II Farnese

Portrait of Ranuccio II by Jacob Denys
Duke of Parma and Piacenza
Reign 11 September 1646 – 11 December 1694
Predecessor Odoardo
Successor Francesco
Regent Francesco Maria Farnese
Margherita de' Medici
Born (1630-09-17)17 September 1630
Parma, Parma
Died 11 December 1694(1694-12-11) (aged 64)
Parma, Parma
Burial Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata, Parma
Spouse Marguerite Yolande of Savoy
Isabella d'Este
Maria d'Este
Issue Margherita Maria, Duchess of Modena
Oddoardo, Hereditary Prince of Parma
Francesco, Duke of Parma
Antonio, Duke of Parma
House House of Farnese
Father Odoardo Farnese
Mother Margherita de' Medici
Religion Roman Catholicism

Ranuccio II Farnese (17 September 1630 – 11 December 1694) was the sixth Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1646 until his death nearly 50 years later and Duke of Castro from 1646 until 1649.


Birth and Succession

Ranuccio was the eldest son of Odoardo Farnese, the fifth sovereign duke of Parma, and his Tuscan wife, Margherita de' Medici. After his father's sudden death, Ranuccio succeeded as duke. As he was a minor and had not yet reached his majority, he ruled the first two years of his reign under the regency of his uncle, Francesco Maria Farnese and his mother.

Ranuccio belonged to the House of Farnese, founded by Pope Paul III, formerly Alessandro Farnese. The Farnese Dukes had been ruling Parma and Piacenza since Pope Paul's illegitimate son Pier Luigi Farnese was given it as a possession. Pier Luigi was also Duke of Castro, a title he was bestowed upon by his father, after the latter created it from the lands recovered after the death of Ranuccio the Elder, Pier Luigi's younger brother.

Conflicts with the Papacy

Pope Innocent X, conqueror and destructor of Castro

During Odoardo's reign the declining Duchy had been involved in the Wars of Castro, over the above-mentioned duchy of Castro, which was a Farnese fief in the Papal States, north of Rome, which the powerful Pope Urban VIII's family, the Barberini, was eager to acquire. They found the excuse when Odoardo was unable to repay his creditors, from whom he had incurred debts. Urban responded to the creditors' plea for help and had Castro occupied. However, the first war ended with Papal defeat.

Ranuccio refused to repay the debts incurred by his father, despite the latter having a signed a peace treaty agreeing to do so. He also refused to recognise the new bishop of Castro, appointed by Urban's successor, Innocent X. In 1649, the new bishop, Cardinal Cristoforo Giarda, was murdered on his way to Castro. Innocent accused Ranuccio of the murder and in retaliation, forces loyal to the Pope besieged Castro, and then razed it to the ground. In August of that same year the Parmense troops had been crushed not far from Bologna, and Ranuccio remained with no means to gain back his fief, despite his attempts to buy it back through money.

In 1672 he bought the principate of Bardi and Compiano from Gianandrea Doria Landi, giving the Duchy its final shape. In the last days of his reign, the Duchy suffered heavily from the presence of Imperial troops, who were fighting in the dispute between Victor Amadeus II of Savoy and France.


Equestrian statue of Ranuccio II Farnese by Francesco Mochi (1615)
Margaret Yolande, Ranuccio's first wife

Ranuccio II was married three times:

On 29 April 1660, Ranuccio married firstly Marguerite Yolande of Savoy (b. 15 November 1635 – d. 29 April 1663), a daughter of Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy and Christine Marie of France. They had two children:

Name of child Lifespan Marriages and Issue
unnamed daughter14 December 1661 – 14 December 1661 None
unnamed son27 April 1663 – 28 April 1663 None

On 18 February 1664 Ranuccio married secondly Isabella d'Este of Modena (b. 3 October 1635 – d. 17 August 1666), a daughter of Francesco I d'Este and his cousin. They had three children:

Name of child Lifespan Marriages and Issue
Margherita Maria Farnese24 November 1664 – 17 June 1718 Francesco II d'Este, Duke of Modena, no issue
Teresa Farnese10 October 1665 – 9 November 1702Never Married; Benedictine nun in Sant’ Alessandro Monastery of Parma
Odoardo Farnese, Hereditary Prince of Parma12 August 1666 – 6 September 1693 Countess Palatine Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg, had issue

On 1 October 1668 he married Maria d'Este of Modena, (b. 8 December 1644 – d. 20 August 1684), his second wife's sister. They had nine children:

Name of child Lifespan Marriages and Issue
Isabella Francesca Maria Lucia14 December 1668 – 9 July 1718Never Married; Benedictine nun in Santa Maria di Campagna Monastery of Piacenza.
Vittoria Maria Francesca Farnese24 December 1669 – 15 September 1671
Unnamed son24 June 1671 – 28 June 1671
Vittoria Farnese 19 November 1672 – 19 November 1672
Caterina Farnese19 November 1672 – 19 November 1672
Unnamed son26 December 1674 – 26 December 1674
Eleonora Farnese1 September 1675 – 3 November 1675
Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma19 May 1678 – 26 February 1727Countess Palatine Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg, no issue
Antonio, Duke of Parma29 November 1679 – 20 January 1731Enrichetta d'Este, no issue


16. Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma
8. Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma
17. Margaret of Austria
4. Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma
18. Infante Edward, 4th Duke of Guimarães
9. Infanta Maria of Guimarães
19. Isabella of Braganza, Duchess of Guimarães
2. Odoardo Farnese
20. Giorgio Aldobrandini
10. Giovanni Francesco Aldobrandini, Prince of Carpineto
21. Margherita Dal Corno
5. Margherita Aldobrandini
22. Pietro Aldobrandini
11. Olimpia Aldobrandini, Princess Campinelli
23. Flaminia Ferracci
1. Ranuccio II Farnese
24. Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
12. Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
25. Eleonora di Toledo
6. Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
26. Charles III, Duke of Lorraine
13. Christina of Lorraine
27. Claude of Valois
3. Margherita de' Medici
28. Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
14. Charles II, Archduke of Austria
29. Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
7. Maria Maddalena of Austria
30. Albert V, Duke of Bavaria
15. Maria Anna of Bavaria
31. Anna of Austria


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ranuccio II Farnese.

Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma
Born: 17 September 1630 Died: 11 December 1694
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Duke of Parma
Succeeded by
Duke of Piacenza

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