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The Maltese branch of the Counts Moroni.

 

In Montalto’s book (page 251) we find reference to Laudonia Moroni as the daughter of Count Moroni, a Roman Senator. Montalto goes on to say that the most famous member of the Moroni family was St. Celestine V, the only lawful Pope to abdicate. 

 

This is a repetition of what is found in Marchese Cassar Desain’s “Genealogia della Famiglia Testaferrata”, (Malta, Puglisevich, 1880), (pages 117-119): “La nobilissima casa Moroni di Roma – annoverata tra le LX coscritte, ha la gloria d’aver dato alla Chiesa Celestino V proclamato Sovrano Pontefice il 5 Luglio 1294, e messo nel catalogo dei Santi dal Pont. O.M. Clemente V. – Vedi Muratori Annali d’Italia, Tom. VII. Di questa famiglia fu pure Giovanni Moroni, Arcivescovo di Modena, creato Cardinale di S.R. C. dal Pont. Paolo III il 2 giugno 1542, Muratori cit .  

 

Of these two personalities – a saintly pope and a cardinal - it is unlikely that Celestine V was of the same family because official sources cite His Holiness as having in 1239 retired to a solitary cavern on the mountain Morrone, whence his name, describing him as the ascetic son of one Angelo Angelerio, a peasant farmer, see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03479b.htm . On the other hand, there is no doubt that the Cardinal Giovanni Moroni (aka Morone, who together with Cardinals Reginald Pole and Pierpaolo Parisio, was named president of the Council of Trent, November 1, 1542, http://www.fiu.edu/~mirandas/bios1542.htm#Morone ) was brother to Laudonia’s direct ancestor Antonio, as seen below. 

 

In Gauci’s 1981 publication (Table 35) we find that in 1781 the childless Baron Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Abela contracted a second, fruitful marriage with Laudonia daughter of Count Annibale Moroni, see http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/gomerino.html . 

 

There is however no indication that any of Laudonia’s descendants claimed any ‘Moroni’ titles of honour. In fact no claim whatsoever was made before the Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility by Laudonia’s seniormost descendant, Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Abela Moroni. This may be explained by the fact that the latter gentleman was more concerned with asserting his right as primogenital descendant of the first-ever locally created title, rather than toying with a mere foreign honour. (It will be recalled that according to the Report of the Royal Commission Pietro Paolo was the then possessor of the primogenitura established by Beatrice Testaferrata and her husband on the 7th March 1714. His argument rested on the fact that the Grand Master had assented to a 1734 transaction which tied the 1710 barony to the 1714 primogenitura)

 

In Gauci’s later publication (1986) the title of “Count Moroni” was listed (page 11) as a bona fide foreign title of nobility. But we only find more detail in Gauci’s 1992 publication (Page 315) which says that the Moroni family enjoyed the titles of Count of Lecco by Duke Maximillian Sforza (23-11-1513), Count of Orio (1518), Duke of Boiano by Emperor Charles V (1528), Count of Pontecurone (1534) as well as an Hereditary Senatorship of Rome (1768) and a Patriziato of Rome. 

 

There are therefore 3, not 1, bases of the title Count Moroni, the earliest being 1513. 

 
In the “Archivio Storico Lombardo” Milano, Brigola, 1872-74 (Nos. 189-194) we find more information regarding the later title of Pontecurone. 

 
The 1534 title was in fact a comital fief granted on the 22 December by Duke Francesco II Sforza to the brothers Moroni:- Antonio (Laudonia’s ancestor), Giovanni (later Cardinal) and their brother Sforza, 
sons of Gerolamo Moroni were created Counts of the fief of  Pontecurone with remainder to males descending in to the male to male line, “suisque filiis ac descendentibus et descendentium descendentibus
 masculis et legitimis, ac ex legitimo matrimonio, lineaque masculine”, see http://www.archive.org/stream/archiviostoricol01sociuoft/archiviostoricol01sociuoft_djvu.txt. 

 
Interestingly, the grant also entitled the Moroni brothers to receive the annual income of 2000 imperial lire from the taxes collected by the Customs Office of the city of Milan. This may be explained by
 the fact that their father Girolamo Morone was the grand chancellor of the duchy of Milan. 

 

Montalto observes that because of his marriage to Laudonia, Pietro Paolo Testaferrata was able to divide his time between Valletta and Rome. But, it appears that this pleasant life was thwarted by the French invasions of mainland Italy, because Laudonia was to die tragically in Malta, ironically also as a result of the French invaders. In fact, the Baronessa Testaferrata Moroni passed in December 1799, having fallen victim to a cannon ball at St. John Street Valletta, during the Maltese insurrection against the French occupiers. A contemporary diarist records the sorrow felt when news arrived of her demise.

 

“Cosi’ parla di questa gentile romana, il Comm. Bosredon de Ransijat nel suo Giornale dell’ Assedio e Blocco di Malta, sotto il 15 Frimaire, anno settimo (15 dicembre 1799) : "Noi abbiamo sentito la morte della poc’ anzi menzionata baronessa Testaferrata (la romana), la quale da piu’ mesi s’era trasportata in campagna, nella speranza di ristabilirvi la sua salute, che si trovava estremamente disordinata per effetto di cattivi parti. Questa giovine, interessante pel suo spirito e per la dolcezza del suo carattere, avendo sposato un barone maltese, e preveduto le turbolenze, che la guerra porterebbe nel suo natio paese, avea abbandonato Roma, sua patria, fino dalla famosa campagna di Bonaparte in Italia, per fuggire il romore delle armi, e venir a cercare in Malta tranquilita’ e sicurezza : ma oh quanto era stata delusa nella sua aspettativa ! Poiche’, oltre molte agitazioni e penose privazioni, che sin dal principio della nostra crisi essa avea provato con tutti gli altri abitanti, nel mentre ch’essa era ancor in citta’, una palla di cannone avea sconquassato fortemente il muro di sua casa (Strada San Giovanni, No. 56) e due bombe scoppiarano una sotto le sue finestre e l’altra nella camera istessa, ov’ essa trovavasi inferma. Sembrava che dopo aver avuto la fortuna di scampare da un cosi grande pericolo, ella si dovesse lusingare di giungere a liberarsi da quella, da cui Ell’ era minacciata, per la lunga e dolorosa malattia, alla quale ha soggiacuto, ma il destino crudele non ha voluto cosi’ ! Essa lascia il marito inconsolabile, i suoi amici nell’ afflizione, e quattro fanciulli belli come angioli ; i quali, oltre la disgrazia di vedersi privati della madre nell’ epoca in cui aveano maggiormente bisogno di conservarla per formare la loro educazione, provano ancor quella di perdere una gran parte della loro fortuna, a causa dell’ insurrezione de’ loro compatriotti”.

 

Gauci’s 1992 publication (Page 315) explains the genealogy of Laudonia as follows: Girolamo (The Grand Chancellor) from whom Antonio (one of the brothers described above) from whom Giulio (described by Gauci as a Roman Patrician) from whom Tiburzio (described as a Papal courtier), from whom Francesco (also described as a Papal courtier), from whom Annibale (described as Governor of Castel Sant’ Angelo and as Hereditary Senator of Rome) from whom Laudonia and her brother Michele.