Coat of arms of the Malabayla family
Truncated wedged of four pieces of red and silver.
Aequari his potuit semper Malabaila propago
Cum nempe excellant nobilitate pari
(Anonymous, XIV century, taken from History of the City of Asti, Serafino Grassi, Asti 1894, vol. II, pg 234)

The Malabayla or Malabaila family belongs to the “casane of Asti”, that is, that group of families who obtained their social rise not by patrician descent, but following the loan of currency and trade.

Merchants of fabrics and wools, like all the cheese makers of Asti, developed the feneratizia activity and spread it throughout Europe reaching the peak of their development between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The family through some branches became the owner of the fiefs of Canale, Cercenasco, Montà, Varigliè, Antignano, Benevagienna, Castellino de ‘Voltis, Cellarengo, Corneliano, Demonte, Monteu Roero, Monticello, Sommariva Bosco, Torre Valgorera and also had some properties in Burio , Castellinaldo, Ferrere, Monale, S. Stefano Roero, Serra Lunga.

In Asti they had the most important Renaissance palace in the city, where they certainly hosted Louis XII of France and probably Francis I of France.[1]

Origins and history

Legend has it that the Malabayla lineage descends directly from the Anscarici; at first the members of the family were called Abelloni with the progenitor Alineo, descendant of Robaldo II.[2]

The son of Alineo, Abellono gave the name to the descendants; Manno writes that they participated in the foundation of the Abbey of Vezzolano in 1095 with some members of the Radicati family.[3]

The family always sided with the Guelph party and Robaldo, in the twelfth century led the troops of Asti in the service of Pope John XXII against Matteo I Visconti.

The first to be called Malabayla was Abellono II, son of Rolando who, during the civil war between Guelphs and Ghibellines, was taken prisoner in 1308.

A nephew of Abellono, and son of Francesco, lord of Pocapaglia, Baldracco, was consecrated by Pope Clement VIvescovo of Asti following the death of his predecessor Arnaldo De Rosette.

He attempted to reaffirm the ancient episcopal power over the city. He collected all the diplomas and concessions of the episcopal fiefdoms in a single book called the “Green Book of the Church of Asti”, trying to regain possession of them.

Another Malabayla climbed into the chair of the Asti episcopate in 1365: Giovanni, who fought strenuously against the Visconti for the rights of the Church of Asti over the city and was imprisoned by them for two years in Bra.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Alessandro Malabayla della Montà, councilor of Asti between 1477 and 11.1498 was appointed maitre d’hotel by Louis XII; in 1499 the king of France had appointed him governor of Alexandria after the French victory over the troops of the Duchy of Milan. He held the position until 1503 (the year of his death).

He hosted the king in the majestic Renaissance palace of Asti. On the facade the building bore the symbol of the porcupine, a sign of Louis and the Orleans.[4]

His nephew Gerolamo became treasurer and general financial controller of the wars. Gerolamo Vasino’s brother first became bishop of Piacenza and then of Asti in 1518.

In addition to the Montà branch, the Malabayla of Canale and Castellinaldo also held positions in the service of the royals of France: Bernardino in 1500 was appointed treasurer of the Duchy of Milan; in 1524, he followed Francesco I in the battle of Pavia where he was taken prisoner by the Spaniards. In order to pay the ransom, he was forced to sell the Magliano fiefdom.

The French defeat and the rise of Spanish domination marked the decline of the family which was subjected to various reprisals.

On 3 March 1565, with the passage of the city of Asti to the Savoy government, Giacomo recovered part of the lands that had been confiscated and was invested with the fiefdom of Canale.

His son Ottavio, a knight of Santo Stefano, fell in the battle of Lepanto.

Ottavio’s nephew was Filippo Malabayla, abbot general of the Cistercians and known for some mystifying literary works on the origins of the city of Asti.

In the eighteenth century, Gerolamo Luigi Malabayla became ambassador of the king of Sardinia in Vienna; in 1778 he became Minister of State of Carlo Emanuele III of Savoy.

The fenerative activity

The family, in the market landscape of Asti, assumed a prominent place since the twelfth century.

At the end of the 13th century, the family ran casane in Savoy in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne, Marlieux, Saint Raimbert, Lompnes, Pont-d’Ain, Ambronay.

In 1297, Corrado Malabayla lent 700 lire to Amedeo V of Savoy. In the 14th century, the business developed mainly in Bourg-en-Bresse. The merchant company (Societas de Malabayla) was led by Bertrando, Abellone, Albertino, Andreone, Ribaudo, Pietro, Alerando, Bartolomeo and Bonifacio.

After 1358 there are no longer any traces of Malabayla casane in Savoy.[5]

The dwellings

In Rione Cattedrale in via Mazzini in Asti, the Malabayla palace is the most important Renaissance palace in the city.[6]

At one time it occupied the entire block between via Mazzini, Isnardi, and corso Alfieri, as can be seen in the seventeenth-century map of the Theatrum Sabaudiae.

The façade is clearly inspired by Bramante, contrasted by the design of the cross windows on the second floor, surmounted by shells inscribed in a Gothic gable, typical of the French fashion of the period.

The entrance portal, in sandstone, is unique in the panorama of the Piedmontese Renaissance. The jambs and shelves are finely decorated, the former with candelabra, the latter with low-relief vegetal volutes. Above the door the great coat of arms now disappeared, but remained in the descriptions of the Engraved, of the king of France supported by two angels and the enterprise of the porcupine.

On the sides, the stone coats of arms of the Malabayla are still visible.

Genealogical framework

Here are the main features of the lineage of the Malabayla family[7]


Coat of arms

According to the rule that the simplest weapons are also the most ancient, the Malabayla coat of arms may have a particularly remote origin, attributable to military iconography so as to be recognized without a shadow of a doubt on the battlefields.a.[8]

In particular, the family’s weapon refers to that of the Duchy of Franconia. The Angius in 1841, hypothesizes that the family may have originated from the noble Wuertzburg of Franconia, even if it is now established that the Malabayla have origins from Asti and only in the 13th century did they open banks and commercial activities in Franconia.

Shield: Truncated wedged of four pieces of red and silver.
Crest: The rising red lion.



  1. V.Malfatto, Asti antiche e nobili casate. Il Portichetto 1982
  2. V.Malfatto, Asti antiche e nobili casate. Il Portichetto 1982, pg 157
  3. A.Manno, Il patriziato Subalpino, volume A-B, pg 2
  4. A. Merlotti, La lunga costruzione della fedeltà. Le nobiltà astigiane fra Cinque e Settecento , tratto da R. Bordone (a cura di) Dalla carità al credito, Asti 2005, pg 32
  5. A.M. Patrone, Le Casane astigiane in Savoia, Dep. Subalpina di storia patria, Torino 1959
  6. Bera G., Asti edifici e palazzi nel medioevo. Gribaudo Editore Se Di Co 2004
  7. Malfatto V., Asti antiche e nobili casate. Il Portichetto 1982, pg157-158
  8. Natta-Soleri C., Fe’ D’Ostani B., Adozione e diffusione dell’arma gentilizia presso il patriziato astigiano, da Araldica astigiana, Allemandi (a cura di Bordone R.), C.R.A. 2001, pg.67


  • Bera G., Asti edifici e palazzi nel medioevo. Gribaudo Editore Se Di Co 2004 ISBN 88-8058-886-9
  • Bianco A.Asti Medievale, Ed CRA 1960
    • Asti ai tempi della rivoluzione. Ed CRA 1960
  • Bordone R., Araldica astigiana, Allemandi C.R.A. 2001
    • Dalla carità al credito. C.R.A. 2005
  • Castellani L., Gli uomini d’affari astigiani. Politica e denaro fra il Piemonte e l’Europa (1270 – 1312). Dipartimento di Storia dell’Università di Torino 1998 ISBN 88-395-6160-9
  • Ferro, Arleri, Campassi, Antichi Cronisti Astesi, ed. dell’Orso 1990 ISBN 88-7649-061-2
  • Gabiani Nicola, Asti nei principali suoi ricordi storici vol 1, 2,3. Tip. Vinassa 1927-1934
    • Le torri le case-forti ed i palazzi nobili medievali in Asti,A.Forni ed. 1978
  • Incisa S.G., Asti nelle sue chiese ed iscrizioni C. R.A. 1974
  • Malfatto V., Asti antiche e nobili casate. Il Portichetto 1982
  • A.M. Patrone, Le Casane astigiane in Savoia, Dep. Subalpina di storia patria, Torino 1959
  • Peyrot A., Asti e l’Astigiano ,tip. Torinese Ed. 1983
  • Sella Q., Codex Astensis qui De Malabayla comuniter nuncupatur, del Codice detto De Malabayla, memoria di Quintino Sella, Accademia dei Lincei, Roma 1887.
  • S.G. Incisa, Asti nelle sue chiese ed iscrizioni C.R.A. 1974.


Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.