Fabrizio Ruffo (September 16, 1744 _ December 13, 1827) Neapolitan cardinal and politician, was born at San Lucido in Calabria.
His father, Litterio Ruffo, was duke of Baranello, and his mother, Giustiniana, was of the family of Colonna. Fabrizio owed his education to his uncle, the cardinal Thomas Ruffo, then dean of the Sacred College. In early life he secured the favour of Giovanni Angelo Braschi di Cesera, who in 1775 became Pope Pius VI. Ruffo was placed by the pope among the chierici di camera the clerks who formed the papal civil and financial service. He was later promoted to be treasurer-general, a post which carried with it the ministry of war. Ruffos conduct in office was diversely judged. Colletta, the historian of Naples, speaks of him as corrupt, and Jomini repeats the charge.
Ruffo's biographer, Sachinelli, says that he incurred hostility by restricting the feudal powers of some of the landowners in the papal states. In 1791 he was removed from the treasurership, but, was created cardinal on September 29, though be was not in orders. He never became a priest. Ruffo went to Naples, where he was named administrator of the royal domain of Caserta, and received the abbey of S. Sophia in Benevento in commendam.
When in December 1798 the French troops advanced on Naples, Ruffo fled to Palermo with the royal family. He was chosen to head a royalist movement in Calabria, where his family, though impoverished by debt, exercised large feudal powers. He was named vicar-general on January 25, 1800. On February 8 he landed at La Cortona with a small following, and began to raise the socalled army of the faith in association with Fra Diavolo and other brigand leaders. Ruffo had no difficulty in upsetting the republican government established by the French, and by June had advanced to Naples.
The campaign has given rise to much controversy. Ruffo appears to have lost favour with the king by showing a tendency to spare the republicans. He resigned his vicar_generalship to the prince of Cassero, and during the second French conquest and the reigns of Joseph Bonaparte and Murat he lived quietly in Naples. Some notice was taken of him by Napoleon, but he never held an important post. After the restoration of the Bourbons he was received into favour. During the revolutionary troubles of 1822 he was consulted by the king, and was even in office for a very short time as a loyalist minister.
The account of Ruffo given in Colletta's History of Naples (English translation, Edinburgh, 1860) must be taken with caution. Colletta was a violent liberal partisan, who wrote in exile, and largely from memory. He has been corrected by the Duca de Lauria, Intorno alla storia del Reame di Napoli di Pietro Colletta (Naples, 1877). Ruffo's own side of the question is stated in Memorie Storiche sulla vita dei Cardinale Fabrizio Ruffo, by Domenico Sacchinelli (Naples,, 1836). See also Fabrizio Ruffo: Revolution and Gegen_Revolution. von Neapel, by Baron von Helfert (Vienna, 1882).