The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261)
Consistory of December 1255 (I)


(2) 1. BECCHERIA, O.S.B.Vall., Tesauro dei (?-1258)

Birth. (No date found), Pavia. From a noble and important family. His first name also listed as Tesauro; and as Tesoro; and his last name as Beccaria.

Education. Entered the Congregation Vallombrosana of the Order of Saint Benedict (Benedictines).

Priesthood. Ordained (no further information found). Monk, abbot and later, elected abbot general of his order in 1252.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of December 1255; his deaconry is not known (1). Does not appear as signatory of any papal bulls. Pontifical Legate in Florence to establish the peace between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines (2). In 1258 Tesauro Beccaria was arrested on charges that he had secretly treated with Manfredi to encourage the return of the Ghibellines in Florence. Tried and sentenced to death, the 4 (or 12) of September 1258, he was executed by beheading, in the ancient Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, currently Piazza San Firenze. The execution caused the city of Florence ot be placed under papal interdict which lasted for over seven years. The abbot's killing also provoked condemnation by the City of Pavia which threatened to imprison the Florentine merchants and confiscate their goods. The Florentines replied, through the pen of Brunetto Latini, that if the abbot had risen a thousand times, a thousand times he deserved the death penalty, while declaring themselves willing to conduct peace negotiations.

Death. September 12, 1258, decapitated, piazza di Sant'Apollinare, Florence. Buried (no information found).

Beatification. He is inserted in the Benedictine martyrology as a martyr; his feast is celebrated on September 4; he is remembered as Saint Tesauro in the Universal Church on September 12.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 2, 290-291; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm ab initio nascentis Ecclesiæ vsque ad Vrbanvm VIII. Pont. Max. 2 volumes. Romae : Typis Vaticanis, 1677, II, col. 144; Del Re, Niccolò. "Chi fu l'unico vero cardinale creato da Alessandro IV", in Strenna dei Romanisti, 47 (1987), pp. 169–176; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux du XIIIè siècle". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1929. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1929, p. 123; Eubel, Conradus and Gulik, Guglielmus van. Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi. Volumen I (1198-1431). Münich : Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1913; reprint, Padua : Il Messagero di S. Antonio, 1960, p. 7; Paravicini Bagliani, Agostino. Cardinali di curia e "familiae" cardinalizie. Dal 1227 al 1254. 2 vols. Padova, Antenore, 1972. (Italia sacra, 18-19), II, 539.

Webgraphy. Portrait and biography, in Italian, Wikipedia; another view of the same portrait, church of S. Prassde, Rome, Roma SPQR, Marco De Berardinis; biography, in Danish Annas Roma Guide; brief biographical information, in English, note 120, from "The Divine Comedy", canto XXXII, inferno xxxii, The Inferno of Dante Alighieri, a rhymed translation by Seth Zimmerman; and Un "Cardinale" all'inferno, in Italian, Araldica Vaticana; Sede Vacante 1261, in English.

(1) Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi, I, 7, says that he did not find any cardinals created by this pope and in n. 8, adds that Chacón, Vitae et res gestae Pontificum Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalium, II, col. 144, mentions the promotion of this cardinal. Annuaire Pontifical Catholique, 1929, p. 123, confirms the information and has his biography; Paravicini Bagliani, Cardinali di curia e "familiae" cardinalizie. Dal 1227 al 1254, II, 539, also says that he was not created a cardinal.
(2) After the death of Emperor Frederick II in 1250, the Guelph faction had taken over in Florence, making a long series of vendettas and purges that culminated with the exile of the Ghibelline families and the destruction of their homes.

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