Archbishop Ruggieri Ubaldini


“La bocca sollevò dal fiero pasto quel peccator, forbendola a’capelli del capo ch’elli avea di retro guasto. [….] Tu dei saper ch’i fui conte Ugolino e questi è l’arcivescovo Ruggieri or ti dirò perch’i son tal vicino” (Inf., XXXIII, vv. 1-3, 13-15)

Ruggeri Ubaldini, son of Ubaldino Della Pila, was born in the golden age of the dynasty and followed in the footsteps of his uncle Ottaviano in the city of Bologna, where he became archdeacon. In 1278 he became archbishop of Pisa, where he came into contact with the ruling class of the city, ruled by the Ghibelline Ugolino Della Gherardesca and the Guelph Nino Visconti.
Witness of the decline of Pisa after the defeat of the Battle of Meloria (1284), after getting rid of both, he assumed power and sentenced Count Ugolino Della Gherardesca to death by having him locked up in the “Torre Della Fame” together with two children and two grandchildren.

One of the most famous passages of the Comedy is dedicated to this episode.
However, “[….] All the light of Dante’s verses is projected on Ugolino; Ruggieri is inert: only a skull to gnaw on, some hair with which to “wipe” his mouth as with a rag “(from Enciclopedia Dantesca, 1970).