Dandolo Brancaleone, an Italian statesman, died in 1258. He was a Ghibelline senator of Bologna, and in 1253 was invited by the Romans to become their podesta with dictatorial powers. He restored peace and order, and Gibbon says that " no criminals were so powerful as to brave, so obscure as to elude, the justice of the senator." He caused two members of the noble Annibaldi family to be executed, and demolished in the city and its environs 140 towers which served as shelters to the disturbers of the peace. He curbed the power of the pope, the clergy, and the nobles, and put down public robbery with an iron hand. But the people, though benefited by his administration, became exasperated against him; he was deposed, arrested, and probably would have been executed if he had not provided against this by retaining at Bologna as hostages 30 members of the most eminent Roman families. Bologna was in consequence placed under interdict by Pope Innocent IV. The Roman people at length began to appreciate the great services of Brancaleone, and in 1256 he was brought in triumph from prison to the capitol, and continued in power during the remaining two years of his life.
His death was regarded as a public calamity; and " his head, enclosed in a costly vase, was deposited on a lofty column of marble." His biography is in the Eistoria Major of Matthew Paris.