Marius Douglas

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The family still conserves a very ancient portrait of a soldier with the following encryption in Latin: "Marius de Calveis, Scotus, Carl Mag M Dux Familiam Marescotti Fundavit ANN D. DCCC" (Marius of Galloway, Scottish, military commander under Charlemagne, founder of the Marescotti family. AD 800)

According to the legend, Marescotti's(1) origins date back to Mario Scoto (Marius Scotus) born in Galloway in the southwest of Scotland in the eighth century.

In the year 773 King Charlemagne began a military campaign against the Longobards in Italy, because he did not respect the covenant, imposed on them by Pepin the Short, to surrender part of their territory to the states of the church. He asked for help from the king of Dalriada (Western Scotland) Eochaid IV.

He commissioned his cousin(2) Count William Douglas to recruit and lead a brigade of 4000 men in France, what he did. But later, having to return to Galloway to rule the family clan, he left the brigade to be command by his younger brother, Marius, whom the contemporaries called courageous, high, strong and reddish beard.

Georgina Gordon-Ham, reviewing a book by Prince Maurizio Ferrante Gonzaga, states: William Douglas was a Scottish adventurer (son of Sholto Douglas (3)), who came to Piacenza between 775 and 787 AD with 4,000 soldiers to support the Holy Roman Empire and help Charlemagne fight against the Lombards. William remained in Piacenza due to bad health and married a daughter of Antonio Spettino.

They had many children and were commonly known as ‘gli Scotti’, the children of the Scottish father. Over time the surnames Scotta and Scotti became official. The narrative is based on detailed research through family and historical documentation found in the State Archives of Piacenza and Modena, in parish registers, in documents of the Scotti and Gonzaga families.

Painting by Giuseppe Antonio Caccioli (1672 - 1740) representing Mario Scoto and Pope Leo III

In the spring of 774, during his subjugation of Italy, king Charlemagne and Pope Adrian I decided to meet. With a small escort, amongst whom Mario Scoto was present, Charlemagne travelled the ancient via Cassia to Saint Peter's Basilica where he was received and blessed by the pope. Mario Scoto was Catholic as were the majority of Scotsmen at the time and at the service of his king became himself a defender of the Faith. He became an appreciated military advisor and distinguished himself in the Spanish campaign and in the battle against the Saxons at the confluence of the Weser with the Aller in which of the 5,000 Saxons, only the 500 who chose to be baptised were spared their lives.

Towards the end of the century Mario Scoto retired from the army, married an Italian noblewoman called Marozia and, for his devotion to the pope, settled in Rome where he was granted the honor to escort the pope. He was therefore present when in April 799 Pope Leo III was assaulted and kidnapped near the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. Mario Scoto was able to find the pope in a monastery on the Aventine Hill and rescued him and returned him to his throne at the Holy See. The scene was later painted in Bologna by Giuseppe Antonio Caccioli.

1.  Marescotti was an ancient Bolognese family of Ghibelline faith, with branches in Siena, Rome, Florence and France.
2.  Different sources quote different relationships - son and cousin.
3.  Some say son of Hugh and grandson of Sholto.

See also:
• The Marescotti origins
Douglas Scotti di Vigoleno
Scotti Douglas

Italian members of the Douglas family



Sources for this article include:
• Galeazzo Ruspoli, I Ruspoli, Gremese Editore

Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024