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Chapter Two: Preparations as Humanist and Curialist

The Cervini family resided in the town of Montepulciano as early as the thirteent century, according to Vittorio Spreti, a historian of the noble families of Italy. Allegedly the family came originally from France, an assumption Spreti may have made because in 1230 the head of the family was named Pierre, but certainly by the fifteenth century they were well established among the noble families of Tuscany. Ricciardo Cervini, later the father of Marcello, was born in Montepulciano on February 4, 1454, the firstborn son of Antonio Cervini and his second wife, the Florentine Elizabetta Machiavelli. [En 1]

Ricciardo grew up in Florence, raised by Elizabetta after the death of his father. Here, as a student of humanistic subjects, he attended the Academy of Lorenzo de' Medici, and first made the acquaintance of Alessandro Farnese, later Pope Paul III. [En 2] Ricciardo later traveled to Siena to continue his education. This move might have been due in part to the legal battle over the division of the estate left by his father, as Marco Palma points out. Nevertheless, while in Siena he won the friendship of the wealthy Spannocchi family, to whom he sent his own son for a similar education some thirty-five years later. Ricciardo served as administrator of the Spannocchi patrimony after the death of Ambrogio and also looked after the education of Ambrogio's sons Antonio and Giulio.