Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Rienzi, Cola di Rienzo (1313-54), Roman tribune, was born at Rome, and, though the son of a water-carrier, managed to secure a good education. The eloquence which was perhaps his most notable characteristic came to him in early youth, and, as a warm admirer of Petrarch, he shared that poet's views of the ancient glories of the Eternal City, and imagined it possible to restore its former prestige. He was sent with Petrarch to Pope Clement VI., who was at Avignon, and was made Vicar-Apostolical. Recognising the misery of the people of Rome, he championed their cause, and became immensely popular. He was made tribune, and in May, 1347, the people formed a republic, with, curiously enough, the consent of the Pope. Rienzi governed well for a time, but made various mistakes, and at length had to flee when his dictatorship became insupportable. After his arrest and subsequent imprisonment, he was again sent to Rome as governor, by the Pope. He was welcomed with acclamation, but was assassinated soon after by the populace, who were in a wretched condition. Lytton's romance has made his name familiar to English readers.