The Malatesta (more correctly, from the Latin "de Malatestiis", Malatesti), lords of Verucchio, were an Italian family that dominated Romagna, especially Rimini and its territory from 1295 to 1500 (and subsequent short periods), and, in the moment of maximum influence, it extended its domains to the northern castles of San Marino and beyond.
The origins of the dynasty are traced back to some times until ancient Rome. Certain sources, not considered serious by historians as an expression of mythological vanity, attribute to Azzo di Lotaringia or Lorena and to Matilda (daughter of Otto II and sister of Otto III) the son Malatesta I known as "the German", considered the progenitor of lineage.
The first documented news concerns a gentleman from Ravenna of the XII century, named Giovanni, presumed ancestor of the family. The name Malatesta dates back to the tenth century and would refer to an exponent of the progeny, Rodolfo, who would have shown courage and tenacity in defending itself from external attacks.
Malatesta da Verucchio (died in 1312) was a Guelph leader who obtained the office of mayor of Rimini in 1239 and, proclaiming himself lord of the city, decreed the expulsion of all the Ghibelline families rivals in 1295.
His son Giovanni Malatesta (called Gianciotto) became famous for the tragedy that saw him involved (perhaps in Gradara) in 1285 when his wife Francesca da Polenta, discovered in adultery with Paolo, Giovanni's younger brother, was killed together with her brother-lover. This unfortunate love was sung by Dante in the fifth canto of Hell.
In the 14th and 15th centuries the Malatesta conquered numerous cities of Romagna and Marche, including Pesaro, Fano, Cesena, Fossombrone and Cervia. To the south, their dominion extended to Monte San Vito, near Ancona, which, therefore, represented the southernmost offshoot of the Malatesta seigniory. Towards the south-west the seigniory included Sansepolcro (1380-1430).
In 1320 the castle of Chiesanuova (Busignano) spontaneously joined the Republic of San Marino.
In 1463 San Marino during the war against the Malatesta occupied the castles of Serravalle (Olnano), Fiorentino, Domagnano (Monte Lupo), Montegiardino and voluntarily joined the castle of Faetano: the aforementioned localities were part of their dominions.
Many Malatesta were leaders in the service of some Italian states. The most famous was Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, who was at war for several years with the Pope and the Duchy of Urbino.
Roberto, the natural son of Sigismondo, usurped the power of his third wife, Isolde, and their son Sallustio, whom he designated. After the occupation of Cesare Borgia, in 1522-1523 the heir Pandolfo IV, called Pandolfaccio, was again lord of Rimini, together with the scion Sigismondo I, again in 1527-1528, when the territory was definitively incorporated into the dominions of the Church .