Who was Cola di Rienzi?

   Cola di Rienzo (or Rienzi) (1313?-1354), was a famous Roman patriot. His career shows how power can turn a freedom-loving patriot into a tyrant.
   Rienzi was born in Rome, where he received a good education and became a notary. The way the nobles of his time oppressed the common people made him sick at heart, and the nobles hated and feared him. In 1347, he became powerful enough to call a meeting of the people on Capitol Hill to demand a new government. Soon he became a tribune, or defender of the people, and received the powers of a dictator.
   Rienzi ruled wisely for a time, but he began to want more and more power. Soon he became unpopular, and the people lost confidence in him. After ruling seven months, he fled to Naples. There, Emperor Charles IV imprisoned him. In 1354, Rienzi was released and returned to Rome. The people welcomed him, and he regained his lost power. But he again acted with the cruelty of a tyrant. He was killed while trying to put down a riot.