Napoleon meets the tradition of Prince Massimo

May 5, 2014

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator (ca. 280 BC – 203 BC), statue in the Schönbrunn gardens in Vienna.

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator (ca. 280 BC – 203 BC), statue in the Schönbrunn gardens in Vienna.

The family tradition of the Massimos, a Roman princely family of ancient extraction, is that they descend from Quintus Fabius Maximus (c. 275 BC – 203 BC), who is known as the Cunctator (the Delayer), because of the military tactic he employed when fighting Hannibal, the Carthaginian general defeated by the Roman republic during the Second Punic War.

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When asked by General Napoleon Bonaparte, with whom he was negotiating the Treaty of Tolentino (signed Feb. 19, 1797), if the story of the family’s descent from Fabius Maximus was true or not, the then Prince Massimo famously replied: “Je ne saurais en effet le prouver, c’est un bruit qui ne court que depuis douze cents ans dans notre famille” (“I cannot actually prove it, but it’s a rumor that has been going around our family for twelve hundred years.”

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 382

 

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