The Libro d'Oro della Nobiltà Italiana (English: Golden Book of Italian nobility), once the formal directory of nobles in the Republic of Venice (including the Ionian Islands), is now a privately published directory of the nobility of Italy. The book lists some of Italy's noble families and their cadet branches.
In 1896 the "Golden Book of Italian nobility", was founded, in which members were families who had obtained decrees granting, renewal or confirmation of a title of nobility by the king or royal decrees or ministerial recognition of his noble title. It was intended to avoid abuses and usurpations in the maintenance of existing titles in the pre-unification states and was responsible for keeping a "record of noble titles" in which membership was compulsory for the public use the titles. In 1889 a list of families who had obtained decrees granting or recognition of titles of nobility after the unification of Italy was drawn up, as were 14 regional lists, where families were already recorded in the official lists of states pre-unification.
It was initially an official register kept in the State Central State in Rome compiled by the heraldry consultants of the Kingdom of Italy, a government body established in 1869 at the Ministry of the Interior.
Early 20th century
First published in its current form in 1910, it includes some 2,500 families, and may not be considered exhaustive. Included are those listed in the earlier register of the Libro d’Oro della Consulta Araldica del Regno d’Italia and the later Elenchi Ufficiali Nobiliari of 1921 and of 1933.
In 1921 it was approved '"Official list of noble and titled families of the Kingdom of Italy": the list included all family members already in the regional registers, but it marked with an asterisk those who had obtained title by royal or ministerial decree. In 1933 it was approved a second '"Official List of the Italian nobility", to which was attached a list of requirements to establish nobility. Those enrolled in the Italian Official lists of nobility (1921–1933 and SUPL. 1934-36) had three years to provide documentation for inclusion in the Golden Book of 1933, so this is much shorter than the 1921 edition.
After the Second World War
Following the Second World War and the decision by a referendum to abolish its monarchy, democratic Italy officially ended its recognition of titles and hereditary honours in its new constitution, so ceased to maintain the Consulta Araldica, an official government body regulating the nobility which had been a department of the Ministry of the Interior. All titles are now not recognized. Only those families bearing titles before 28 October 1922 (i.e. before the rise to power of Fascism) were permitted to use predicates of such titles as a part of their names. These laws did not apply to the nobility of Rome, insofar as their titles had been created by the pope, when he was a sovereign head of state (i.e. until the Capture of Rome on 20 September 1870). After a period of uncertainty, the Italian aristocracy continued to use their titles in the same way as they had in previous centuries. This behaviour was cemented by the continued publication of Il Libro d'Oro della Nobiltà Italiana, published as much to prevent self-styled aristocrats from social climbing as to list the established nobility.
The Libro d'Oro della Nobiltà Italiana ("Golden Book of the Italian Nobility") is regularly published by the Collegio Araldico of Rome. It should not be confused with a social register - wealth, status and social contacts are of no consideration on the decision as to whether a person may be included in the book, the only consideration is the blood or marital relationship to the head of a noble family. Nor is it a peerage reference such as those published in Great Britain (e.g., Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage, Burke's Peerage). The currently published Libro d'Oro is not an official publication of the Italian state, which currently does not have a civic office to recognise titles of nobility or personal coats of arms. The most recent (25th) edition of Libro d'Oro della Nobiltà Italiana was published in 2014 http://www.collegioaraldicoromano.it/libro-d-oro
- Golden Book of the Italian nobility, old series in 11 volumes
- Golden Book of the Italian nobility, new series, in 30 volumes
States and cities
In addition to the Libro d'oro of Venice, such books had existed in many of the Italian states and cities before the unification of Italy. For example, the Libro d'Oro of Murano, the glass-making island in the Venetian Lagoon, was instituted in 1602, and from 1605 the heads of the Council of Ten granted the title cittadino di Murano to those heads of families born on the island or resident there for at least twenty-five years. A Libro d'Oro was also compiled on each of the Ionian Islands as a nobiliary of the members of local Community Councils (Zante 1542, Corfu 1572 and Cephalonia 1593). After the Ionian Islands were conquered and annexed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797, the Libro d'Oro was ceremoniously burned.
In the reformed Republic of Genoa of 1576 the Genoese Libro d'Oro, which had been closed in 1528, was reopened to admit new blood.
By extension, a Libro d'Oro is a by-name for any nobiliary directory, as when Al. N. Oikonomides refers to "the recently published 'libro d'oro' of the wealthy ancient Athenians (J.K. Davies, Athenian Propertied Families 600-200 B.C. (Oxford 1971)".
- Regi decreti n.313 del 2 luglio e n.314 del 5 luglio 1896. Furono istituiti contemporaneamente anche il "Libro araldico dei titolati stranieri" (famiglie straniere in possesso di titoli nobiliari italiani), il "Libro araldico della cittadinanza" (famiglie non nobili con stemma) e il "Libro araldico degli enti morali" (stemmi e altri simboli per enti pubblici o associazioni).
- Regio decreto del 15 giugno 1889.
- Riconoscimenti di predicati italiani e di titoli nobiliari pontifici nella Repubblica Italiana / repertorio a cura di Walter Pagnotta, Ministero per i beni culturali e ambientali - Ufficio Centrale per i Beni Archivistici, Roma : Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 1997, serie: Pubblicazioni degli Archivi di Stato. Sussidi ; 9 ISBN 88-7125-123-7
- Jocteau Gian Carlo: Nobili e nobiltà nell'Italia unita, Laterza (collana Quadrante Laterza) 1997
- Regio decreto n. 5318 del 10 ottobre 1869; il regolamento fu approvato con un secondo regio decreto dell'8 maggio 1870.
- Regio decreto n.972 del 3 luglio 1921.
- Regio decreto n. 1990 del 7 settembre 1933, con supplemento relativo al 1934-1936 approvato con regio decreto n.173 del 1 febbraio 1937.
- AA.VV. "Nobiltà" pubblicazione bimestrale Milano anno XVII Gennaio-Febbraio 2010 numero 94 pag. 77-78.
- Sentenza della Corte costituzionale n.101 del 1967.
- "The Constitution of the Italian Republic REPUBLIC" (PDF). quirinale.it. p. 33. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- Heraldry in Italy
- Guida ai fondi dell'Archivio Centrale dello Stato Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine
- Tra gli esempi il "Libro d'oro delle Isole Ionie", compilato dalle autorità veneziane, probabilmente come aiuto nella raccolta delle tasse piuttosto che come libro di promozione od ordinamento sociale, o il "Libro d'oro di Corfù", pubblicato la prima volta nel 1572.
- V. Zanetti, Il libro d'oro di Murano, (Venice: Fontana) 1883, noted by Francesca Trivellato and Maria Novella Borghetti, "Salaires et justice dans les corporations vénitiennes au 17e siècle: Le cas des manufactures de verre", Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 54.1 (January - February 1999:245-273) p. 253 note 18.
- Rizo-Rangabè, Eugène: "Livre d'Or de la Noblesse Ionienne", Volumes 1-4, Athens 1925-6-7
- Moschonas, Nikos G.: "Records of the Community Council of Cephalonia - First Book 1593", Athens 1979 (extract)
- Zaridi, Katerina F.: "The Libro D'Oro of Cephalonia of the Year 1799", Argostoli 2006 (in Greek)
- Cangelaris, Panayotis D.: Libro d'Oro - The Golden Book of Cephalonia, Corfu 2011 (extract)
- Al. N. Oikonomides, "Aristoteles, the Son of Opsiades and Polystrate" The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 5 (1977:41-42) p.