There are different opinions of the ancestry of the Branciforti family. Some historians believe that they were of Spanish origin, others French, but it is more than likely that they were from Piacenza.
It is believed that the family originated from a man called Obizzo, an army Lieutenant General of Charlesmagne. During a battle between the army of Charlemagne and the Longobardi, Obizzo was attacked by three enemy soldiers who wanted to capture the Charlemagne standard. They cut off his hands, but Obizzo held onto the flag with his arms until he was saved by Charlemagne troops.
Charlemagne rewarded him by giving him the city of Piacenza and the honour of changing his family name to Branciforti. The family crest was a lion with a crown of gold that held an unfurled banner with its stumps with three lilies on the left and two severed legs on the right.
At the time of King Frederick II of Aragon, two brothers, Stephen and William Branciforti, came to Sicily. The latter married the Countess of Paternò Francesca Maletto in Catania. He died childless in 1347 and left his property to his nephews. It is William, therefore, who is regarded as the founder of the Branciforti family in Sicily.
Another important member of the family Branciforti not only in the history of Sicily but also in the history of Leonforte was Nicolò Placido Branciforti who was born in 1593. His father was Giuseppe Lanza Branciforti Moncada and his mother Agata Gioeni, daughter of Count Ottavio di Trabia. It was, however, the fifth Count of Raccudia, second Lord of Cassibile, seventh Baron of Tavi, Knight of the Order of St. James under King Philip III, first Duke of Mascalucia and then first prince of the town, who founded Leonforte.
He married Catherine Branciforti Barrese, his cousin, daughter of Prince Fabrizio Branciforti of Butera, who died on 3rd August 1634 at the age of 43 years. They had four sons and five daughters. Giuseppe II, named after his grandfather, became the second prince of Leonforte.
He was also Prince of Pietraperzia, a Palermo Magistrate in 1657, Count of Raccudia, Knight of Toson D’Oro, Vicar General of Sicily and Viceroy of Aragon in twelve parts of the kingdom.
Giuseppe Branciforti was the eighth and last prince of Leonforte. In 1842, he married Charlotte Amalia Kirchleim from Hamburg who died in Paris on 6th August 1896. The prince, decided to spend the rest of his life in Paris and, therefore, sold Leonforte to Giovanni Calogero, Count Li Destri Bonsignore.
So, after almost two and a half centuries, the dominance of the Branciforti family in Leonforte came to an end.