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The Four ItaliansCat

The online trees of the Seminario family reach back to Julio Cesáreo Seminario y Gonzaga (JCS), the first known Seminario, who may have been related to four distinguished families of the Italian nobility:  the Gonzagas, Colonnas, Leccas and Medici.  Taken together, we call these noble families the The Four Italians.  Someday it may be better to organize our research into four separate projects.  But for now, The Four Italians are worth studying together.

The Gonzagas were the Dukes and Princes of Mantua for centuries.  The Colonnas include a number of dukes, princes, cardinals and even Pope Martin V.  The Lecca family (also spelled Leca) descends from the Greek emperors of Byzantium.  The Medicis - well, they're just famous.

Up to now, we have found no proof of JCS's exact ancestry.  The existing evidence indicates that the best possibilities of relationship are with the Gonzagas and Colonnas. It is a matter of historical record that the Medicis intermarried with the Colonnas and the Gonzagas.  Genealogical and historical records also show that the Colonnas and Leccas intermarried. 

What we don't know yet is whether the Seminarios descend from the branches the Medicis and Leccas joined.   But even if it turns out that the Seminarios are not related to the Leccas and Medicis, documenting the connection to the Colonnas and Gonzagas would be a significant accomplishment.

The problem:  The identity and ancestry of Julio Cesáreo Seminario y Gonzaga (JCS)

In 2008, when I started researching my wife's Seminario ancestry and adding early Seminarios to our family tree, my information came from other online trees through the matching process.  Here is the consensus of information from the online Seminario trees:

  • Julio Cesáreo Del Seminario y Gonzaga was born in Mantua (Mantova), Italy in 1600.
  • His wife was Graciana Gonzaga, or in some trees, Graciana Gonzaga Colonna.
  • His sons were Gaspar Andrés and Martín.  The wife of Gaspar Andrés was Angela Gandiño Gonzaga.

If this information were correct, the Gonzaga connection could be established in three ways:  through JCS's mother, because JCS was a Seminario Gonzaga, by JCS's wife, since she was both a Gonzaga and a Colonna, and via his son's wife, since she was a Gonzaga on her mother's side.

As I continued my studies, I began to realize that the majority of this information is wrong or questionable.  Based on newly found information, I now believe the following to be true:

  • No proof has been found of JCS's birth, baptism or marriage, so we do not know when he was born, but by deduction it would appear to be somewhere between 1570 and 1580. The only document that confirms JCS's existence is his will, sworn on the 17th of February, 1647 in the Hospital of Pamplona, Spain, when he was near death.  In the will, he gives his name as Julio Cesáreo Seminario y Gonzaga, and says he was born in Mantua.

  • Gaspar and Andrés Seminario Gonzaga were two different people.  They apparently were brothers, but without their baptismal certificates or other proof, we cannot be certain that they were JCS's sons.  In his will, JCS names Gaspar, Andrés and César Seminario as his heirs, but does not say that they were his sons.

  • Graciana was not married to JCS, but to Gaspar.  Her surname was Gozoaga, not Gonzaga.  There is no evidence that she was a Colonna.  There is also no evidence of the name of JCS's wife.

  • Angela Gandino, not Gandiño, was the wife of Andrés.  There is no evidence that her second surname was Gonzaga.

  • There is no evidence that JCS had a son named Martín, though Gaspar and Andrés each had a son with that name, Martín Seminario Gozoaga and Martín Seminario Gandino, the latter being the ancestor of all the Peruvian Seminarios.

In later sections, I discuss the evidence that supports these findings.  They make proving the connection to the Gonzagas and Colonna more difficult because some lines of inquiry have been eliminated.

Argote de Molina's Evidence

The strongest evidence of the Seminarios' nobility via the Four Italians is found in the book Nobleza de Andaluzia written by Gonzalo Argote de Molina and published in Seville in 1588 by Fernando Diaz.  ReInk Books recently offered a new version without changes from the original.  For those who would like a copy, it is available on the Spanish website

What follows is the translation of an exact quotation of the first few lines of Book 2, Chapter 134, titled "Of the Italian lineages who populated Andaluzia":

Having covered in the previous chapters the lineages of Alonso Pecha and Mossen Enrique Cribel, and the memories of them that remain in this Kingdom, I will memorialize together with them the other lineages of Italy who came to live in Spain and enjoyed its nobility, as I covered those from France in Chapter 85, and those from Genoa in Chapter 121 of this second book.  Leaving aside the lineages of Tresancos, Mariño, Ambia, Beltran de Nendo and Andrada, who originated with the five Knights who came from Rome to Spain with Count Mendo, and resided in the Kingdom of Galicia, as I wrote in Chapter 102 of the first book.

All historians ancient and modern agree with the fame of the greatness and antiquity of the House of Lecca, which descended from the legitimate Emperors of Constantinople, from which are derived on the Isle and Kingdom of Corsica the Lords of Istria, la Roca, Ornano and Bocio, and the Houses of Bláca, de Costa, de San Antolín and Madre, which are its most noble families.  Clarified, in addition, is the House of Seminario from the most illustrious House of Colona, whose greatness is known in all Europe, not having been a history in almost seven hundred years about it that does not refer to memories of famous Popes, Cardinals, Princes and Captains who came from it. Among which were that great Count Hugo Colona, who by his valor became Lord of Corsica, from whom proceeded Count Iuan Pablo de Lecca, successor in the same state.

Please click to see a  scan of the pages that discuss (in Spanish) the Seminario, Colonna and Lecca families.

The weakness of this evidence, in addition to the lack of specific lineage information, is that there is no evidence that JCS was a member of the Seminario family of Andalucia.  It is true the Seminario surname was rare in Spain.  But this fact does not allow the presumption that JCS was a relative of the Andalucia Seminarios, because by JCS's account in his will, he was born in Mantua and his parents' home was in Mantua.

When I searched and other church records for all the Seminarios who lived in Spain between 1400 and 1650, the only names that appeared were JCS's sons and grandchildren, with the exception of a marriage certificate for Juan Baptista Seminario, whose name also appears on a list (in Spanish) of technicians who left Milan in 1596 to form the Royal Armory in Eugui, Navarra.

Previous Research:  Isabel Ramos Seminario

Isabel Ramos Seminario, known within the family as "Chabelita", was a talented, tenacious and careful researcher.  In 1991, she published her study "The Seminarios of Piura"  in the 18th edition of the Magazine of the Instituto Peruano de Investigaciones Genealógicas (IPIG).

One of the difficulties facing any Seminario genealogist is that the religious documents of Piura have not been digitized, and cannot be found in online sources like  Ms. Ramos made a personal search of the records, and her study provides exact dates of births, marriages and death that previously were unavailable for family members born in Piura.

After doing a considerable amount of research on my own, I was finally able to obtain a copy of IPIG 18, and found some support for my findings in Ms. Ramos' research.  She does not provide a date or place of birth for JCS, only saying that he was in a group of armorers that came from Italy to work in the Royal Armory, which was located first in Eugui, Navarra, Spain in 1596 and moved to Tolosa in 1630.

Her study also shows Gaspar and Andrés as two separate people, and correctly shows Graciana as the wife of Gaspar rather than JCS, though she lists her surname as Gonzaga rather than Gozoaga.

Ms. Ramos' study also mentions another early Seminario, Federico Seminario.  According to genealogists Rómulo Cuneo Vidal and Ricardo Tizón Bueno, he moved to Spain in 1508 and was the trunk of the Seminarios of Andalucia. Doña Isabel does not provide any evidence of relationship between Federico Seminario and JCS.

Previous Research:  Edwin Seminario Coloma

Another outstanding Seminario historian is Edwin Emilio Seminario Coloma.  He wrote an excellent article "Origins, ancestry, history and genealogy of the Seminarios of Piura", published in Spanish in:

Edwin Seminario also published a two-volume book titled "Piura y Los Seminario - Historia y Genealogía" (Piura and the Seminarios - History and Genealogy), which I have not been able to find.  If anyone knows where I can get a copy, I'd greatly appreciate an email to

Mr. Seminario Coloma begins his article with a quote from a study by Arturo Ernesto Seminario García, who mentioned the book Nobleza de Andaluzía.  What Mr. Seminario García wrote was not an exact quote, but rather a summary of the content:  that there lived in Sevilla a Seminario family of Corsican origin, descendants of the Colonna family.

Edwin Seminario's article also identifies JCS's will and testament of February 17, 1647:  "I wish my body to be buried under the main altar of the Church of Santa Maria in Tolosa, a town in which I've lived lately and to which I've devoted much love."

Edwin Seminario repeats the information that JCS was married to Graciana Gonzaga, but attributes the information to a tree on  If I can locate Edwin's book, I hope that it contains more documentation, but the attribution implies that he had no independent evidence of JCS's marriage.

Other Researchers

Before moving on to new information, I'd also like to highlight a passage that appears in JCS's biographical information in Geneanet trees of Francisco Javier Carbone Montes and Jose Luis Boggio.  The source of this item is not cited.

"Related to the Italian houses of the Colonnas and Leccas; moved to Spain in the retinue of the Viceroy Doña Ana de Aragón, wife of Don Vespasiano Gonzaga y Colonna, Duke of Sabioneda and Trayeto, Count of Fundi, and Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Viceroy of Navarra and Valencia in the Kingdoms of Spain."

New Information -  JCS's identity, wife, children and grandchildren

I have searched long and hard for a baptismal record or some other historical record of birth for JCS, Gaspar and Andrés, because having proof of their parents' names would be a significant step toward establishing the connection to the Four Italians.  What I did find on the site of the Archivo Histórico Diocesano de San Sebastian,, are the baptismal certificates from Tolosa for six children of Gaspar Seminario Gonzaga and Graciana Gozoaga, and three children of Andrés Seminario Gonzaga and Angela Gandino.  If we can prove that JCS is the father of Gaspar and Andrés, then these nine children are JCS's grandchildren.

Here are the links for viewing all nine documents.  Both the online indices of the record and copies of the original entry are available:

In reviewing these documents, you will notice that Angela Gandino's name is consistently written without the "ñ".  Graciana's surname is written all sorts of ways, Gozoaga, Gojoaga, even Ujuaga in one case, although some of this is undoubtedly due to the digitizer's inability to read the handwriting in the record.  Still, it is clearly not Gonzaga, because in some of the records, both Andrés and Gaspar gave their surnames as "Seminario Gonzaga", and the recorder was able to spell Gonzaga correctly.  The records from the Royal Armory of Tolosa, discussed in the next section, confirm Graciana's surname as Gozoaga.

So it is clear that Graciana Gozoaga was Gaspar's wife, and therefore we do not know who JCS's wife was.  I suppose there could have been two women named Graciana, Gaspar's wife named Gozoaga and JCS's wife named Gonzaga, but that seems unlikely.

One of the most powerful clues that the Seminarios may descend from the Gonzagas is that both Gaspar and Andrés gave their surnames as "Seminario Gonzaga".  This could mean that their mother was a Gonzaga, but probably not.   This custom of "paternal surname - maternal surname" wasn't yet fully established at that time.  Some people used all four surnames of their grandparents.  Others would pick the ones they wanted to use.  So it is possible that the connection between the Seminarios and the Gonzagas happened some generations before, but the Seminarios kept using the "Seminario Gonzaga" combination out of respect for their noble heritage.

Another pair of documents I found on the site are:

I cropped the original documents received from the Archivo Histórico Diocesano de San Sebastian so that only the entry relating to an individual appears in his or her record in our database.  The original documents from San Sebastian were full page copies of the church records that contained entries for unrelated individuals.  If you wish to review the originals, they can be downloaded by clicking here and here.

None of these records show who the parents of Gaspar and Andrés were.  So JCS remains a mystery.  The estimate by some online trees of JCS's date of birth as 1600 appears to be too late.    We know Gaspar married in 1631, so even if he married at 18, he would have been born in 1613, when JCS was only 13 years old by the online trees' account.

Also, if Isabel Ramos Seminario is right and JCS came with the Italian armorers from Milan to establish the Royal Armory in Eugui, Navarre, that happened in 1596, so he would have to have been born sometime before that.  JCS's name does not appear on the list of the first 30 Italian armorers who were contracted to come to Spain, but he could have come later.  It is clear that JCS worked in the Armory, because in his will he says: "My engraving tool I leave to Andrés and Gaspar and César Seminario, which they should share as brothers and in a friendly way, although I'd like the uchero (sic) to be for Gaspar who needs it the most, and the lead lance for Andrés."

The information from the Carbone Montes and Boggio trees,  that JCS came to Spain with the retinue of Vespasiano Gonzaga and Ana de Aragon, does not appear to be correct.   The Spanish historian Francisco Amillo Alegre wrote a detailed account of the life of Vespasiano Gonzaga.  He says that Ana de Aragon died in July of  1567, before her husband was named as Viceroy of Navarre in 1571.  Even if JCS came to Spain with Vespasiano only, he would have to be much older than we thought.  Here are the references:

In trying to obtain further information about JCS's death, I wrote to the Diocesan Archive of Pamplona.  The records of the Pamplona Diocese are not digitized, but they are microfilmed, and to access them you need an appointment in advance:

When I contacted them by email, the director was kind enough to tell me that the Pamplona Hospital had its own unit of the church for recording births and deaths, but that it did not start keeping death records until 1668.  She did check the records for the nearby parishes of San Juan Bautista and San Saturnino, but JCS's death record could not be located.

I also contacted the Tourism Office of Tolosa to find out, if JCS was in fact buried in the church of Santa Maria, whether there might still be a gravestone or plaque.  I thought that a gravestone might show his year of birth.  I received a very kind response from the the Office of the Municipal Archives, saying that because the church had been remodeled several times since 1647, there was little chance of finding any markers for JCS.  They did mention that it cost extra to be buried inside the church, with the position determining the fee.  So if JCS could command a position under the main altar, he must have been a man of some means.

The Church of Santa Maria, Tolosa, Spain

New Information - The Royal Armory of Tolosa

In her article in IPIG 18, page 214, Isabel Seminario Ramos mentions an inventory made in 1645 at the Royal Armory of Tolosa that shows Gaspar Seminario Gonzaga.  In searching for this inventory, I encountered an article about the Royal Armory written by Ignacio Carrión Arregui, Professor of History at the Universidad del País Vasco in San Sebastian, Spain.  The article is in Spanish:

I wrote to Professor Carrión to ask if he had a copy of the 1645 inventory or a list of the workers.  His reply amazed me.   While he was doing his study, he copied out large sections of the ancient records into Word and Excel files.   He sent me two documents:  an Excel file that contained a list of workers, their positions and the pay they received each year for several years, and a Word file from the Protocolos de Tolosa of 1645 containing a record of the Armory's financial transactions.  These can both be seen here  along with some notes in his email message.  I have only reproduced the first page of the Excel file since there was no additional relevant information on the other pages, but if you'd like a copy of the entire file, please send me an email.

These records show both Gaspar and Andrés Seminario as workers at the Armory.  Gaspar was shown as an "official of engraving" on the spreadsheet but Professor Carrión noted that he also served as "mayordomo",  evidently a combination of paymaster and purchasing agent.  JCS is not mentioned as a worker in any of the years covered by Professor Carrion's records, but another Seminario, Juan Baptista, is shown several times. As JCS said in his 1647 will that he had a sickness of the chest and was of  "advanced old age", it is possible that he retired from the Armory several years before.

Another article in Spanish contains a list of the 30 Italian artisans who moved from Milan to Eugui to form the core of the new Armory.  Juan Baptista Seminario is on the list, but JCS is not.  In his cover email, Professor Carrión told me the same thing.

The Carrión records also show Carlos and Jorge Gandino among the workers.  I suspect Angela Gandino was a relative of theirs.  Jorge was in the group of the 30 workers from Milan.  I noted that there is a town in Italy called Gandino about 45 miles NE of Milan.  This may be the origin of the Gandino surname.  None of the available records provide support for the idea that Angela was also a Gonzaga.

One effort to locate documents based on the Royal Armory information proved unsuccessful.  I reasoned that, if Isabel Ramos Seminario was correct in saying the JCS came from Italy to work in the Armory, perhaps the births of Andrés and Gaspar were recorded in Eugui, Navarra during the period from 1596 to 1630.  Also, since Jorge Gandino was in Eugui during that time, perhaps the birth of Angela Gandino was recorded there.  I wrote to the Diocesan Archives of Pamplona to ask if birth and marriage documents were available for that period, and if they were housed in their office in Pamplona.  The full reply in Spanish can be seen here.   The short answer is that the documents do not exist because the church records were burned by the French in 1794.

New Information - Juan Baptista Seminario

The information from Professor Carrión made me think of the possibility that Gaspar and Andrés were children of Juan Baptista Seminario instead of JCS.  In earlier research, I had run surname-only queries for the years from 1400 to 1650 on Family Search, My Heritage, AHEB-BEHA and Mendezmende.  The ideas was to find the documents of any Seminario living in Spain.  Other than the records for Andres and Angela, Gaspar and Graciana, and their children, I found only one other document.  That was a 1597 marriage certificate for Juan Baptista Seminario and Leonor Miseroti de Gárzalo.

Juan Baptista was clearly older than Gaspar and Andrés, and worked with them in the Armory, so it's likely he was a relative - maybe an uncle.  But he probably was not their father, because otherwise the surnames of Gaspar and Andrés might be recorded as Seminario Miseroti.  Even though JCS's will does not identify Gaspar and Andrés as his sons, he speaks of them as if they were.  The will supports the finding that Gaspar and Andrés, and perhaps César, were JCS's sons, though the proof is not conclusive.

In regard to other Seminarios in Spain, either Federico Seminario mentioned by Isabel Ramos Seminario, or the Andalucia branch mentioned by Argote, I have found no record.

New Information - The Will of JCS

In June 2017, thanks to Alec Pontow Seminario of Argentina, I received a copy of a transcription of JCS's will.  The transcription was done by Edwin Seminario Coloma as part of his book Piura y los Seminario - Historia y Genealogía.

US copyright laws do not allow me to publish the entire transcription.  They do permit quotes and brief excerpts.  All of the quotations from the will in this article are Mr. Seminario Coloma's work.

However, Mr. Seminario Coloma was unable to transcribe the entire testament.  He was unable to handle several large sections because of the difficulty of reading the notary's handwriting.  In the course of my studies, I've been unable to read the original handwriting of many Spanish documents I've found.  Last year, I found some experts in paleography, the art of reading ancient documents.  They helped me decipher a letter written by Hernando Pizarro.

If we can find a copy of the original will, my experts may be able to produce a complete transcription, which would give us some clues to other aspects of JCS's life.  In his transcription, Mr. Seminario Coloma describes the location of the original as "A.F. de Navarra, L-4, S, 17, C.14, E.1419 (file number 131487)".  The name of the notary was José Cruz de Murua.

I wrote the Archivo General de Navarra, the government agency that has custody of the books of the notaries public of Pamplona for the 17th century.  They answered that they didn't have José Cruz de Murua's books, so he evidently was a private notary, perhaps employed by the Hospital de Pamplona, which at the time belonged to the Church.  I've sent requests to the Diocesan Archive of Pamplona, and also to the library of the University of Piura, Peru, which has some of the Navarra archives for the period in question.  I haven't received a reply yet, so I'm incorporating Mr. Coloma Seminario's transcription for now, with the hope of having a more complete transcription in the future.

The parts of the will that Mr. Seminario Coloma was able to read give us some interesting clues:

"I must make a perpetual and eternal recommendation to my wards and successors to remember the Illustrious and Venerable Don Vespasiano Gonzaga, Count of Rodrigo, whose example, goodwill and service have attracted my entire family, and I ask that he never be forgotten ...."

History records several Vespasiano Gonzagas, but the one mentioned by JCS in his will, the Count of Rodrigo, is the same person who came to Spain in 1571 as Viceroy of Navarra.  He was a fascinating man, but the testament, or at least Seminario Coloma's transcription, says nothing about his being a relative of JCS.  If JCS knew him, it had to be in his youth, because Vespasiano Gonzaga died in 1591.  Perhaps JCS's parents, or some other Seminario relatives, accompanied Vespasiano Gonzaga when he came to Spain.

Two years ago, in the search for a link between Vespasiano Gonzaga and the Seminario family, I read in Italian the book Vita di Vespasiano Gonzaga Duca di Sabbioneta e Trajetto, Marchese di Ostiano, Conte di Rodigo, Fondi Etc.,written in 1780 by Ireneo Afflo.  It contains a biography and dozens of Gonzaga's letters. There is not even one mention of the Seminario family.

"The house in Eugui has not been touched since we left the town 16 or 17 years ago..."

This supports the conclusions that JCS worked in the Royal Armory, and that Andrés and Gaspar may have been born in Eugui, since the move from Eugui to Tolosa took place in 1630, 17 years before the date of the will.

"The inheritance that I should have received from my parents I ceded by my own hand and will to Felipe Gonzaga in the year 97".

This phrase raises the possibility that JCS lived in Mantua until 1597, and may explain why he does not appear on the list of technicians that left Milan in 1596.  To have the legal right to dispose of his inheritance, he must have had to be at least 18 years old, which would mean a year of birth prior to 1580.  The reason for giving up his inheritance may have been his decision to go to Spain to seek his fortune.  Ceding it to Felipe Gonzaga may indicate that he was a relative.

Summary of Research Status

Even though the Piura records are not digitized and not fully available, Isabel Ramos Seminario's study of the Piura Seminarios provides a convincing record of the identity of each individual from Manuel Joseph Seminario Saldivar back to Martín Seminario Gandino.  The records I have found provide convincing evidence of the existence of Gaspar and Andrés Seminario Gonzaga.  But the identity of Julio Cesáreo Seminario y Gonzaga, and whether he in fact was the father of Gaspar and Andrés, remains a mystery.

Several clues and positive indications exist, but there are also many questions that still need to be resolved.  Without being able to connect JCS, Gaspar, Andrés or their wives to a recognized member of the Gonzaga or Colonna noble families, the status of the investigation must remain "Relationship with noble families appears to exist but has not been established with certainty."

Pending Questions

(1)  Who was Julio Cesáreo Seminario y Gonzaga?  When was he born?  Who were his parents?  Who was his wife?  Can we link his parents or his wife's parents to the Gonzaga or Colonna families? When and why did he come to Spain?  Was he a part of Andalucia Seminarios that Argote talks about, or was he involved with the group of armorists from Milan, or did he come with Vespasiano Gonzaga?  Was he related to Vespasiano?

(2)  Who were the parents of Gaspar and Andrés Seminario Gonzaga?

(3)  Where and when was Juan Baptista Seminario born, and who were his parents?  How was he related to JCS, Gaspar and Andrés?

(4)  Can we find any genealogical or historical records regarding the Seminarios who lived in Andalucia from 1508 to 1650?

Tasks - If You Want to Help

If you live near or plan to visit Seville, Spain

I have not been able to find a source of digitized church records in Andalucia.  I have tried some searches on PARES, just looking for any mention of the Seminario or Gonzaga names, without success.  It may be possible to answer question (4) by visiting the repositories of church records in Andalucia.  Unfortunately, when records are not digitized, you often are required to know the name of the person and their place and date of birth or baptism.  To answer (4), we need a search of any person with the name of Seminario born in Andalucia between 1508 and 1650.  That may not be possible unless the churches have an internal computerized index of their records.  However, an inquiry in person would at least help to find out whether an answer is possible.

If you live near or plan to visit Mantua, Italy

A search of church records of the diocese that serves the Mantua area for JCS's birth from the period from 1560 to 1600 is worth doing,  especially if the church has an internal computerized index of their records.

If you can work online

It may be possible to answer some of the above questions through online sources.  I have tried, but success often depends on your search method and good fortune.  Many times I have found documents on the second or third try. 

Resources for Researchers

Here are some resources that may be helpful:

A history of Corsica that makes no mention of the Seminarios but sheds some light as to why members of the Italian nobility left the island in the 16th century:

If you would like to obtain a copy of Isabel Ramos Seminario's full study, a copy of the 18th edition of the magazine of the Instituto Peruano de Investigaciones Genealógicas can be obtained by writing to Sr. Gustavo León y León, Secretario General at  Back issue of editions 13 and 18 are available as of my last contact with Mr. León on 4/25/16.  Issue 13 also contains a small study on the Seminarios of Piura.  Back issues cost $20 per copy, plus shipping and bank transfer fees.  The total charge for magazines and delivery to the US was about $150 for the two issues, so if a relative can pick up the back issues at the IPIG office in Lima, the cost will be more reasonable.

Bob Bordier,
Written:  May 15, 2016  -  Last update:  September 3, 2017