Date of Birth: 28 March 1569
Spouse: Margherita, daughter of Gianfranceso Aldobrandini and Olimpia
Reign: 1592 – 1622
Summary: Ranuccio, despite being a Parmese prince, was senior heir to Cardinal Henry I, king of Portugal, when he died in 1580. Ranuccio was only eleven at the time but his mother, Maria, was the eldest daughter of Edward, duke of Guimarães, the sixth legitimate son of Manuel I of Portugal. The problem at the time was that no female line had ever inherited the Portuguese throne, and thus Ranuccio's role as heir general was in question. To make matters worse, Ranuccio's father, Alessandro, was a subject and ally of the Spanish king who claimed Portugal for himself. Thus Ranuccio quietly renounced his right to the throne and his mother's sister, Catherine, attempted to claim the throne instead. In any case, Spain won out in the end, with Catherine's line only inheriting sixty years later. The Parma of Ranuccio's youth was rich in the arts and architecture. He became duke in 1592 upon the death of his father.
As duke, Ranuccio I centralized the Parma government, removing the nobles' right to counter the duke's decisions. He began expanding Parma outward, enlarging and revitalizing the university and expanding the city's walls. He also began creating a new royal palace called the Palazzo della Pilotta, which was completed near the end of his reign in 1620. Ranuccio was not above intrigue, and was responsible for the deaths of numerous nobles in 1612 who he feared were plotting against him. This ostracized him from the other important Italian families because some of them were named as conspirators. The duke died in 1622 leaving the duchy to his young son Odoardo, under the regency of his brother, also named Odoardo.
Date of Death: 5 March 1622
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