Ugolino Della Gherardesca, an Italian partisan leader, died in Pisa in 1289. His ancestors originally came from Tuscany and removed to Pisa as prominent Ghibellines. In order to secure his supremacy in Pisa, he induced the Guelph leader Giovanni Visconti to marry his sister, but he and his brother-in-law were expelled. Aided by the forces of Florence and Lucca, he soon gained victories over the opposing faction, and was recalled to Pisa in 1276. In the warfare between Pisa and Genoa in 1284 he contrived the defeat and capture of the Pisan squadron near the island of Me-loria (Aug. 0). The Pisans, unaware of his perfidy, continued to accord him their confidence, and he again betrayed them by ceding a number of castles and forts to the enemies of the republic, who thereupon established a protectorate over Pisa with his connivance. His grandson Nino de Gallura led an unsuccessful revolt against him in concert with both Ghibelline and Guelph leaders; and Ugolino wreaked unsparing vengeance on his opponents. Ruggiero Ubaldini, the archbishop, whose nephew had been one of the victims, subsequently headed a general rising against Ugolino, who was at last (July 1,1288) arrested, together with his sons, Gaddo and Uguccione, and three grandsons.
At the instigation of the archbishop they were doomed to starvation in the Gualandi tower, hence called torre di fame. Dante describes their terrible death in the 33d canto of the Inferno.