Rienzi, Nicola Gabrini, a Roman patriot; born about 1310. He was sent by his fellow citizens to Clement VI. at Avignon, in order to prevail on that pontiff to return to Rome. His eloquence pleased the Pope, though it did not persuade him; and Rienzi on his return formed the design of making himself master of Rome. Having gained a considerable number of partisans, he entered the Capitol, harangued the people, and elevated the standard of liberty. He designed to unite the whole of Italy into one great republic, with Rome for its capital. At length a conspiracy was formed against him; and having lost the popular favor by his arrogance and tyranny, he was compelled to seek safety in flight, but was taken and cruelly put to death in 1352.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia,