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A year later, on the 2nd July 1803, Cardinal Fesch, the brother of Napoleon’s mother Letizia, arrived in Rome, as French ambassador to the Holy See, with the task of clearing the ground at the Vatican for Napoleon’s regal ambitions. At this point the French Embassy was in the Palazzo Lancellotti ai Coronari, from where Fesch moved it in 1805 to the Palazzo Niccolini (later Ferraioli) on Piazza Colonna. After the collapse of Napoleon’s power, and with it the loss of any possibility of a political role for him, Cardinal Fesch returned to Rome, and retired to live in the Palazzo Falconieri on the Via Giulia, dedicating himself to his vast and celebrated collection of works of art, which was almost entirely broken up at his death.

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