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Biographical notes on War Captains and Mercenary Leaders operating in Italy between 1330 and 1550

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Castruccio Castracani: The Life & Legacy of a Medieval Condottiere

From merchant to the greatest captain of his time in Italy, and lord of Lucca, Pisa, and Pistoia. Cruel and ungrateful for the services received, he is a condottiero who combines cunning and dissimulation with the rarest military talents

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Last Updated on 2023/12/08

CASTRUCCIO CASTRACANI (Castruccio degli Inteminelli, Castruccio degli Antelminelli) Of Lucca. Guelph family.

Castruccio Castracani (1281-1328) was a prominent condottiere and ruler of Lucca in the early 14th century. As a skilled military leader, he played a significant role in the turbulent political landscape of medieval Tuscany. Castracani’s successful military campaigns and strategic alliances expanded his influence, earning him the admiration of his contemporaries.

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Ghibelline. Duke. Lord of Lucca, Pistoia, Pisa, Sarzana, Carrara, Montignoso, Pontremoli, Lerici. Father of Arrigo Castracani and Valeriano Castracani, cousin of Francesco Castracani.

Born: 1281 (March)
Death: 1328 (September)

Year, monthStateOpponentConductActivity area

Military actions and other facts

………….   Tuscany

Born at the end of the month in Lucca to a wealthy family that owned some iron mines in Versilia, in the house of San Benedetto in Gottella, so called by the Gottelli who lived there.

1296     
Aug.   TuscanyHe is mentioned in a trade agreement between the Castracani and some members of the Riccardi society, which is in financial difficulty. His father, brother Coluccio, and Castruccio take responsibility for paying the Riccardi the sum of 1000 lire tornesi and 1000 florins.
1300   Tuscany and Marche

Following the discord between the White Guelphs (including the Antelminelli) and the Black Guelphs in Lucca (culminating in the murder of Obizzone degli Obizzi), his family members are exiled and their assets are confiscated. His father Geri takes refuge in Ancona with a few coins and jewels, while his brother Coluccio takes refuge in Pisa. Castruccio follows his father to Ancona. He soon becomes an orphan and also dedicates himself to the spice and silk trade; he also practices the art of exchange.

……………MilanGuelphs Lombardy

Castruccio Castracani takes up the profession of arms; he has his first experiences in the pay of the Visconti in the company of Francesco Guinigi.

……………   LombardyHe is mentioned in the reconquest of the castle of Pavia.
1301     
……………BanishedLucca TuscanyAttempts to return to Lucca. He is banished in turn.
1302   England and Belgium

He moves to England to the relative Alderigo degli Antelminelli; he frequents the court of King Henry II, with whom he shares a passion for the game of pallacorda. Struck by a punch given by an English nobleman or the Lucchese Ciacco Roncini (according to sources), Castracani kills the offender with a dagger blow in front of the sovereign. The dispute would have occurred during a pallacorda game, in which Castracani proved very skilled. He is arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London; he manages to escape with the help of his family members and embarks for Flanders. In October 1325, through the intercession of his doctor Pancio da Controne, Henry II will send him a letter of pardon.

1303FranceEngland Belgium and France

Alberto Scotti, lord of Piacenza and Milan, gathers an army in Flanders for King Philip the Fair of France. Castracani enlists to fight against the English and is given command of a small unit. He gains considerable fame and becomes acquainted with the King of France. He takes part in the Battle of Saint-Omer and the defense of Thérouanne. He particularly distinguishes himself during the retreat from the city, leading a group of well-armed Lombard, Tuscan, and Romagnol soldiers with long lances. During the fighting, he manages to make his way to Arras and Tournon, spreading terror among the local population.

1304     
Jan.   Tuscany

He returns to Pisa with honors and a reputation as a skilled captain. He is noted along with his uncle Coluccio for authorizing a power of attorney to retrieve some accounting books from the children of a recently deceased Genoese merchant.

1305PiacenzaMilan400 cavalry and 1000 infantryLombardy

He fights again in the service of Alberto Scotti against the Visconti. He successfully defends Vaprio d’Adda, which is attacked by Matteo Visconti with 800 cavalry and 1500 infantry, forcing the opponents to retreat to Brescia.

1306PistoiaFlorence TuscanyHe possibly takes part in the defense of Pistoia during this period. In any case, he is mentioned as part of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini’s entourage, a supporter of the Ghibelline cause, when the prelate arrives in Tuscany as a papal legate.
1307   Lombardy and VenetoIn Bergamo and Verona. Having grown wealthy through his military career, he deposits a large sum of money with a banker from San Gimignano, Muzzino Alberti, during this period.
1309Verona  VenetoIn the service of the Scaligeri.
1310Venice  SloveniaConstable in Capodistria on behalf of the Serenissima.
1312     
……………MilanGuelphs LombardyFights the Guelphs in Lombardy under the command of Guarnieri di Homberg.
Apr.EmpireFlorence Tuscany

From Milan, he joins Emperor Henry of Luxembourg in Tuscany; he is by his side in Pisa. He is appointed as vicar in Lunigiana.

Jun.VeronaPadua VenetoIn the service of Cangrande della Scala. He confronts the Paduans in the Vicenza region.
……………VeronaGuelphs LombardyFights against the Guelphs in the Brescia region.
1313     
Aug.   TuscanyAt the end of the month, he is reported in Pisa to issue a power of attorney to some fellow citizens.
1314     
Apr. May   Tuscany

In Lucca, the factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines clash. The former is led by Lucio degli Obizzi, the latter by Arrigo Berarducci. The latter tries to befriend the exiled White Guelphs. At the end of April, Castracani returns to the city.

Jun.PisaLucca Tuscany

22 Ghibelline families of Lucca (including the Onesti, Poggi, Fatinelli, Quartigiani, and Antelminelli) organize a conspiracy against their opponents. Castracani secretly asks the Lord of Pisa, Uguccione della Faggiuola, for help; he attacks Lucio degli Obizzi’s supporters and occupies the tower of the Tre Campane or Tre Cappelle at Porta San Frediano. He declares himself ready to open the gate as soon as the Ghibelline captain appears. The Guelphs attack Castracani, occupy the bell tower of San Frediano, and kill the defenders; while fighting barricaded in the houses of the Onesti and Faitinelli, the della Faggiuola arrives with the Pisan cavalry. The attackers find no resistance to their action, break into the city and sack it. Castruccio Castracani also helps them in their destructive work; he enters the sacristy of the Church of San Frediano and takes possession of the treasure that Cardinal Gentile da Montefiore had temporarily placed there, to be later transported to France in Avignon by order of Pope Clement V. The Ghibellines of Lucca give great prominence to the expulsion of the Guelphs from the city. About three years later, Guidotto da San Miniato, Castracani’s deputy, and 10 of the Elders will decree to build an altar in honor of San Vito in the Church of San Martino because the victory over the Guelphs took place on the eve of this saint’s feast, and to offer 100 pounds of wax each year to the same church at the expense of the municipality.

Jul.   Liguria and Tuscany

At the beginning of the month, he occupies Sarzana; he is appointed by della Faggiuola as Viscount and General Commissioner of Lunigiana. He is also invested with Fucecchio by Gherardino Malaspina, the Ghibelline bishop of Luni, who has recently been ousted by the Guelphs as the vicar-administrator of the episcopal castle and its lands. The Guelph bishop of the same locality (another Malaspina) takes refuge with other supporters of his faction in Fucecchio. Castracani turns towards Pontremoli with 1000 horses and 600 infantry and drives the Guelph Malaspina from their positions. He ravages the territory up to Cravia. In a short time, he controls all the surrounding municipalities such as Sarzanello, Santo Stefano di Magra, Albiano, Stradano, Castelnuovo Magra, Nicola, Ortonovo, Carrara, and Avenza.

Dec.   LiguriaHe is appointed by the municipalities of Sarzana and Castro as the Imperial Vicar of Lunigiana for two years.
1315     
Aug.PisaFlorence Naples40 horses and 1000 infantryTuscany

In command of 40 horses and 1000 infantry from Sarzana, he distinguishes himself in the Battle of Montecatini against the Angevins of Philip of Taranto and Peter of Anjou: more than 10,000 men are killed or drowned in the marshes of Guisciana during the clash between the Florentines, while the Pisans lose 300/400. He is sent at the beginning with Matteo Visconti to recover Viminaia Castle and free San Martino in Colle from enemies: their task is to keep the road from Lucca to the Faggiuola troops open, as well as to deliver supplies to the troops quickly. He intervenes from Viminaia with Visconti when the outcome of the battle is very uncertain. His action changes the outcome. Charles of Anjou is killed in the clash with his men. He is severely wounded in the leg during the fighting. Initially, he refuses any medical treatment until he enters Montecatini Alto. He returns to Lunigiana after taking part in the conquest of that place and Monsummano. Many Luccan exiles, taken prisoner, are executed in Lucca. During this period, in opposition to della Faggiuola, who has declared himself a supporter of Ludwig the Bavarian, he sends his own ambassador to the other candidate for the imperial throne, Frederick of Habsburg. He obtains a privilege with the appointment as counselor and family member: he is also elected his vicar for all the fortresses, castles, cities, and villages belonging to the empire that are under his control.

……………   TuscanyNew turmoil arises in Pontremoli between Guelphs and Ghibellines. To quell it, Castracani orders the demolition of all the houses surrounding the main square; he divides the city into two parts, separated by an iron gate that prevents passage. The Ghibellines occupy the lower part of Pontremoli, the Guelphs the upper part. During his stay, he cultivates the friendship of the Lord of Verona, Cangrande della Scala, to whom he sends many gifts, including a lion, an eagle, a wild horse, and many silk fabrics.
1316     
Feb.   TuscanyIn Pontremoli, he constructs a castle with three towers in the main square, at the same spot where the houses of the faction leaders were demolished. The fortress is called Cacciaguerra. In the city, he also builds a palace for his residence in the San Colombano district.
Mar.   Tuscany

He increases his popularity in Lucca at the expense of the della Faggiuola: Uguccione looks for an excuse to get rid of him. The accusation is high treason for having executed 30 citizens in Massa Macinaia in the previous January. As the vicar of Emperor Frederick of Habsburg, Castruccio visited the location with other members of his family. For his behavior, he is accused by Uguccione della Faggiuola of plunder and murder, as the Lord of Pisa does not recognize the vicariate granted to him by the Habsburg. The Pisans order the Lucca’s podestà Neri della Faggiuola to arrest him; in response, Castracani captures 30 Luccan exiles in Camaiore on the pretext of having attempted to take his life. Some of them fortify themselves in a church, leading to an attack in which 22 are killed in the fray.

Apr.LuccaFlorence Tuscany

Neri della Faggiuola, following his father’s instructions, invites him to dinner in his palace. During the banquet, Castruccio Castracani is bound and imprisoned in Lucca to be decapitated. However, Uguccione’s son lacks the courage to carry out the sentence, fearing the uprising that Castracani’s supporters, such as the Quartigiani, Onesti, and Poggi, could provoke in Lucca. Meanwhile, messengers from Pisa arrive, urging Neri to execute the order. He requests reinforcements to control the situation. As soon as Uguccione leaves Pisa, a rebellion breaks out in the city, and the della Faggiuola followers are expelled. Upon hearing the news, Lucca also rises up, and Castracani is handed over to his supporters, still with his hands and feet chained. Once freed, he besieges Neri della Faggiuola in the city fortress and forces him to surrender. He spares his life so that Uguccione’s son can leave Lucca without risking being killed. The Elders appoint Castracani and Pagano Cristofori as commanders of the militias and arbiters of war for six months. Castruccio commits to recovering all lands reconquered by the Florentines during this period. Falling ill, he hands over command of the militias to his uncle Niccolò Castracani, who routs the adversaries, inflicting the loss of 300 horses and 1,000 infantry (dead and prisoners), in addition to recapturing Vinci.

May-Jun.   Liguria and Tuscany

Having recovered, he conquers Sarzana, builds the Sarzanello fortress, occupies Massa and Carrara, and restores peace in Lunigiana. He returns to Lucca, and in mid-month, the outgoing podestà Umberto da Colle and the Elders appoint him as the general captain and defender of the city for six months. He is also granted the function of captain of the people, while podestà Pietro dal Verme retains only judicial functions.

Nov.   TuscanyHe restores peace in Lucca and suppresses a rebellion in Coreglia, a castle in Garfagnana controlled by his relatives. In early November, the Elders extend his powers for another year.
1317     
May   TuscanyUnder pressure from Frederick of Habsburg, who is related by marriage to the King of Naples, Robert of Anjou, Castracani signs two peace treaties on behalf of the Lucchese, one with the Guelph cities of Tuscany (Florence, Pistoia, Prato, and San Miniato) and a second with the Angevins themselves. Financial aid is promised to the King of France for a new crusade led by Pope John XXII; assistance is also guaranteed to the Angevins for their conquest of Sicily from the Aragonese and for their expedition to Greece.
Jun.   TuscanyA dispute over the dominion of Sarzana is resolved in favor of Pisa; the Lucchese retain possession of Sarzanello.
Jul.   TuscanyEmboldened by his diplomatic successes, he has his positions and powers confirmed for another ten years, with an annual salary of 4,000 florins.
……………LuccaMalaspina Tuscany

Allied with the Lord of Pisa, Gherardo della Gherardesca, he successfully opposes the Malaspina and Uguccione della Faggiuola in Garfagnana.

Aug.   TuscanyHe acquires Fosdinovo, Verruca (Verrucolette), and Buosi.
1318     
……………LuccaGenoa Naples Liguria

Supports Marco Visconti and the Ghibellines at the siege of Genoa. He is soon forced to return to Tuscany due to threats from the Florentines.

Sept.    He is excommunicated for the first time in Florence by papal delegates.
Dec.   TuscanyThe exiles of Pistoia elect him as the general captain of the imperial faction of their city. In the same year, he builds a villa surrounded by vast lands and equipped with a chapel named San Giovanni a Schetto near Lucca, in Massa Pisana.
1319     
Jan.   Tuscany

He is elected captain of the imperial faction of the communities of Vinacciano, Marliana, Castellina di Mulazzano, Casore, Serravalle, Montagnana, Momigno, Fugno, and Lanciole.

……………LuccaMalaspina Tuscany and Liguria

He subdues the Counts of Gragnano in Garfagnana; expels the Guelph faction Malaspina from the region and obtains the castle of Ponzano Superiore from Azzone Malaspina. He rides in Val di Nievole and Lunigiana.

1320     
……………   Tuscany

Coscetto dal Colle approaches him and proposes the purchase of Pisa. The conspiracy is discovered; Castracani approaches Monte di San Giuliano twice according to agreements and twice returns to Lucca without seeing the promised signals.

Apr.LuccaFlorence Tuscany

He wages war against the Florentines with the help of Pisan mercenaries; conquers Cappiano, Montefalcone, and the bridge over the Guisciana; devastates the countryside around Fucecchio, Vinci, Cerreto Guidi, and Empoli. He besieges Santa Maria a Monte. During the same days, he is appointed captain and general lord of the city of Lucca for life on the proposal of his deputy Ugolino da Celle. The Council of Elders approves the election with 209 votes in favor and only one against. Upon his return to Lucca, the Avogadro family refuses to obey him: Castracani proceeds against its members who barricade themselves in Col di Pozzo. After fierce resistance, the opponents, who have sought the help of Neri della Gherardesca, are forced to surrender at discretion: the fortress is destroyed from the foundations and the Avogadro are imprisoned in Lucca.

May   Tuscany

At the beginning of the month, Elzerbino di Genula delivers to him, on behalf of Frederick of Habsburg, a diploma recognizing his imperial vicariate (with mere and mixed empire) over Lucca, Garfagnana, Valle Ariana and Lima, Val di Nievole, the lands called dei Bianchi, Verrucolette, Buosi, Lunigiana, Massa and Versilia, Serravalle, and other lands of the imperial faction of Pistoia and Valdarno. Castracani resumes the campaign in Valdarno. In ten days, he obtains Santa Maria a Monte on terms. Landuccio Salamoncelli, Bonifacio da Porcari, and Spina degli Obizzi are captured and will die of starvation in prison.

July. Sett.MilanGenoa NaplesCaptain GeneralLiguria

With 500 horses and 1,200 infantry, he joins the Ghibellines on the Eastern Ligurian coast. In August, he is elected captain general of the Eastern Ligurian coast for six months with a monthly provision of 2,000 florins and the promise of numerous lands. Through a mix of force and persuasion, he quickly takes control of the entire Magra Valley. In September, he occupies, among other castles, those of Levanto and Corvara; he besieges Corniglia and camps on the Bisagno River with his allies. He must return to Tuscany when the Florentines send troops to Val di Nievole and threaten Altopascio after devastating its territory.

Oct. Nov.Lucca MilanFlorence Genoa Tuscany and Liguria

Upon hearing of his arrival, Florence’s war captain Guido della Petrella orders his troops to retreat to the fortress of Fucecchio. Castruccio Castracani stops at Cappiano on the Guisciana River. Operations last several days with continuous skirmishes between the two sides until winter and constant rain persuade the contenders to desist. The commander returns to the Eastern Ligurian coast and in mid-November forces the besieged in Corniglia to surrender.

Dec.LuccaFlorence TuscanyThe Florentines send Guglione dell’ Oliva with 100 horses to defend Pistoia. He carries out numerous raids against the Lucchese and the Abbey of San Baronto, which is controlled by Pistoian exiles; he defeats Castruccio Castracani’s troops. Many exiles are killed or taken prisoner in the fighting.
1321     
Jan.   Tuscany

He moves to Pistoia and forces Pino della Tosa, who has moved against him at Sperone, to return to the city. He captures Piuvica castle; all those defending it and taken prisoner, about a hundred men, are killed. In the Pistoia mountains, in Val di Lima, he builds three bridges, restores the existing one on the Verdiana River towards Spignana (called Ponte a Firenze) to move from Lucca to Pistoia in the winter months; he reaches Cutigliano. Devastation of the countryside follows, and fruitless negotiations with the Florentine captain ensue.

Spring   Tuscany

He rides to Cerreto Guidi and is surprised in Lunigiana by 300 Florentine horses and 500 infantry, who, allied with Spinetta Malaspina (100 horses), quickly recover all the castles that previously belonged to the Malaspina. At the same time, another 800 Florentine horses are engaged in the siege of Montevettolini. Castruccio Castracani asks the Ghibellines for help, who send reinforcements from Milan and Parma (500 horses), from Pisa, from Arezzo, through Bishop Guido Tarlati, and from other Tuscans for 500 horses: he now leads 1,600 horses and is able to resume the offensive. He leaves Lunigiana and focuses his forces against the Florentines who, still under the command of Guido della Petrella, retreat to Belvedere di Serravalle. He catches them in disarray near Fucecchio and routs them. The Lucchese devastate the surrounding lands for about twenty days.

May   Tuscany

With the death of the Bishop of Luni, Gherardino Malaspina, which occurred in the early months of the year, he works to have his viscountship in Lunigiana confirmed: it is granted to him for nine years. In the meantime, Pontremoli is given to him as lordship for five years.

June   Tuscany

He aids Lippo d’Anchiano in Anchiano: 200 Florentines die in the clash and another 300 drown in the Arno River while trying to flee. The opposing captain Guido della Petrella realizes he has put himself in an indefensible position; his assault is repelled. At night, he orders many fires and bonfires to be lit as if to show he is ready to strike the Lucchese again. Instead, he breaks camp under heavy rain and retreats to Fucecchio, Carmignano, and other castles in Valdarno. With the withdrawal of the opponents, Castruccio Castracani takes revenge on the territory; he sends Lucchese cavalry with Franceschino Belloni and Vanni da Baseglia towards Pistoia. Carmignano is sacked. Castracani himself, with 800 horses and 8,000 infantry, crosses the Guisciana, ravages the Fucecchio countryside where Guido della Petrella is located; he seizes Castelfranco di Sotto, Santa Croce sull’Arno, San Miniato, Montopoli in Val d’Arno, Vinci, and Cerreto Guidi.

July   TuscanyHe occupies Lunigiana when the Florentines recall their troops. He forces Spinetta Malaspina to abandon Pontremoli.
Ago.   TuscanyOpposes Giacomo di Fontanabuona, who forces him on the defensive and prevents him from crossing the marsh of Guisciana.
……………   MarcheSupports the Lord of Urbino, Federico da Montefeltro, engaged with the papal forces.
……………LuccaGenoa LiguriaContinues to help the Visconti, still camped near Genoa. Occupies Ameglia, Lerici, and Sestri Ponente.
1322     
Apr.LuccaFlorence Tuscany 
Jul.MilanChurch PiedmontIn Piedmont. With Marco Visconti, he defeats the pontifical forces led by Raimondo di Cardona at Bassignana.
Sept.   Liguria

Moves in favor of the Marquis of Finale, the exiled/banished Genoese, and Federico d’Aragona to fight against Genoa and King Roberto d’Angiò of Naples; he besieges Portovenere and enters Albenga. At the end of the month in Germany, Ludovico il Bavaro defeats and captures his rival Federico d’Asburgo at Muhldorf: Castracani has no hesitation in switching sides to the Bavarian. The following spring, one of his ambassadors will swear allegiance to this emperor.

Nov.   LombardyGaleazzo Visconti is expelled from Milan and takes refuge in Lodi. At his request, Castracani heads with a large force towards Milan. The inhabitants open the gates, and Visconti regains power. During this expedition, he engages in several skirmishes, emerging victorious with considerable losses for the opponents.
1323     
Jan.LuccaFlorence TuscanyThe Florentines attempt to treacherously occupy some lands in Val di Nievole and ally themselves with the Genoese to harass him from the sea. However, the opponents fail to seize Cappiano and the bridge over the Guisciana. Castracani himself raids the territory of Empoli, thwarts a treaty against him in Buggiano, and hangs 12 local men there.
Feb.   Tuscany

Rides into the Pistoia region. In a short time, he occupies Popiglio and the surrounding territory. Ormanno Tedici, increasingly in difficulty in his lordship, pretends to want to hand over Pistoia to Castracani; he invites him to approach the walls with 500 horsemen. In mid-May, the abbot of Pacciana gathers the city council, which offers him the control of the city and the countryside of Pistoia. Castracani is promised an annual sum of 4,000 florins.

Mar.   Tuscany

Reconquers the fortress of Sommacolonia in Garfagnana, above Barga; he is injured by a large stone while assaulting the villages. Besieges Lucchio, where 75 horsemen and 400 Florentine infantrymen have entered: the defenders surrender on terms after a few days.

Jun.   Tuscany

Bribes Giacomo di Fontanabuona and convinces him to transfer to his service with 200 Friulian horsemen. With these reinforcements (commanding 800 horsemen and 8,000 infantrymen), he crosses the Guisciana at Cappiano, besieges Fucecchio, and plunders its surrounding territory; Santa Croce sull’Arno and Castelfranco di Sotto suffer the same fate. He fords the Arno and, still undisturbed by his adversaries, harasses the territory of Montopoli in Val d’Arno. He goes up the Elsa and sacks the villages around San Miniato.

Jul.   Tuscany

Leaves Lucca, moves against Prato, and encamps near Aiuolo with 650 horsemen and 4,000 infantrymen. To defend the city, 1,500 horsemen, 20,000 infantrymen, and 4,000 exiled/banished people transfer, thus able to abandon the exile to which they have been confined. Castruccio Castracani finds himself outnumbered; he does not dare to attack in battle but instead harasses the Prato region so much that for a year, the communities of Tobbiana, Sorniana, Vergaio, Galciana, Narnali, San Paolo, and Armignano will be exempt from all taxes.

Aug.   Tuscany

Leaves Aiuolo at night, crosses the Ombrone River, and retreats with the spoils to Serravalle Pistoiese. Returns to Lucca, while the Florentines receive reinforcements from Bologna (200 horsemen) and Siena (450 horsemen). Discord arises in the opposing army, mainly due to the incompetence of the Angevin vicar Beltramone del Balzo (Novello del Balzo), causing the adversaries to return to Florence without achieving anything.

Oct.LuccaPisa Tuscany

Organizes a plot in Pisa against Neri della Gherardesca to seize the city. The conspiracy is discovered; Betto Malepo dei Lanfranchi and some German constables are beheaded by the Pisans. As revenge, della Gherardesca places a bounty of 6,000 florins on Castracani’s head, guaranteeing the assassin’s exoneration from any exile if they are an outlaw. Two Florentine exiles living in Pisa, a Guidi and a Cerchi, receive a large sum of money from Neri della Gherardesca as compensation for revealing the conspiracy’s details.

Dec.LuccaFlorence Tuscany

Bursts into Fucecchio with 150 horsemen and 500 infantrymen through a small gate opened by one of his supporters. During the night, he occupies most of the town center and the fortress. Finally, Vanni Scornazzani arrives with reinforcements from Santa Croce sull’Arno, Castelfranco di Sotto, and San Miniato, responding to distress signals lit on a tower. Castracani is caught between the inhabitants behind him and the Florentines in front and on the sides; he clashes with the rescuers at the mouth of the streets leading to the square. His troops are overcome by exhaustion; wounded in the face, he barely manages to escape on foot, as the Florentines hesitate to pursue the fleeing Lucchese. The defeated leave 150 men behind, dead or captured.

1324     
……………    Continuing his hostility towards the Pisans, he attempts to negotiate with King James of Aragon, who is at war with the Pisans over the possession of Sardinia, through the mediation of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini.
Apr.   Tuscany

He goes to Serravalle Pistoiese with 500 horsemen to persuade Beltramone del Balzo to withdraw from Carmignano. By the end of the month, he is excommunicated by the Avignon Curia.

May   Tuscany

220 Florentine horses led by Beltramone del Balzo defeat 150 Luccan horses at Castelfranco di Sotto in a clash lasting over three hours. Castruccio Castracani quickly seeks revenge; through a treaty with a guard officer at the gates of Serravalle Pistoiese, 400 horses secretly enter the castle at night. The castellan Manfredi Tedesco is killed in the fortress. Castracani then leaves Montecarlo and reaches the area in the morning. The Florentine cavalry, unaware of the events, move towards Serravalle Pistoiese and clash with the Luccan infantry, also headed towards the castle: from the fortress, the 400 horses that had entered earlier come out; the Florentines are put to flight with the capture of Bandino dei Rossi, Francesco Brunelleschi, and Giovanni della Tosa. With the victory, Castracani makes contact with the Ghibelline Filippo Tedici, nephew of the abbot of Pacciana, Lord of Pistoia. He reaches the hill of Brandelli, three miles from the capital, and builds a new fortress there, called Bellosguardo or Berriguardo. By the end of the month, the Florentines decide to economically blockade Lucca with the help of allied municipalities. Severe penalties are established against transgressors; the predetermined goal is not achieved. During the same days, Ludwig the Bavarian confirms his imperial vicariate over Lucca and other territories already included in the diploma recognized by Frederick of Habsburg; he is also granted the vicariate of Pontremoli. On the same date, he is elected imperial vicar over the city, county, and district of Pistoia: until then, he has held only the title of imperial party vicar, that is, leader of the city’s exiles.

July-Sept.   Tuscany

Filippo Tedici, with the help of Count Neruccio da Sarteano, occupies Pistoia and is appointed on behalf of the Guelphs as the lord of the city. The Florentines believe they have found an ally in him and send him some troops: these are not allowed to enter the area. Subsequently, Tedici thwarts a conspiracy by his uncle Ormanno to regain power; at the end of September, he has his relative arrested.

1325     
Feb.   Tuscany

Secretly negotiates with Filippo Tedici for the transfer of Pistoia through an Augustinian friar. To prevent the Florentines from learning about the treaty, he seizes the strong castle of Sambuca Pistoiese and attacks the fortress. The castellan, a relative of Tedici, hands it over to him; some Guelph prisoners are executed in Lucca.

Mar.   Tuscany

Sends his assassins to Pisa to murder Neri della Gherardesca; the culprits are identified and sentenced to death.

Apr.   Tuscany

Promotes conspiracies in Florence and Prato. The first involves a monk confessor of the French troops, a soldier from the company of Guglielmo di Noren (probably with the complicity of that captain), and Tommaso Frescobaldi, who was supposed to incite a rebellion against the commune in Capraia and Montelupo Fiorentino. The main actor in the Prato conspiracy is Vito Pugliesi. In both cases, except for Frescobaldi, the conspirators are discovered and executed.

May   Tuscany

Secretly negotiates with Filippo Tedici the transfer of Pistoia through an Augustinian friar. To prevent the Florentines from becoming aware of the treaty, he takes possession of the strong castle of Sambuca Pistoiese; he attacks the fortress. It is handed over to him by the castellan, a brother-in-law of Tedici: some Guelph prisoners are executed in Lucca.

Mar.   Tuscany

Sends his assassins to Pisa to kill Neri della Gherardesca: the culprits are identified and sentenced to death.

Apr.   Tuscany

Promotes treaties in Florence and Prato. In the first, a monk confessor of the French masnade, a man-at-arms of the company of Guglielmo di Noren (probably with the connivance of this captain), and Tommaso Frescobaldi, who was supposed to rebel against the commune of Capraia and Montelupo Fiorentino, are involved; the main actor of the Prato conspiracy is Vito Pugliesi. In this case too, with the exception of Frescobaldi, the conspirators are discovered and executed.

May   Tuscany

Suspects Filippo Tedici of double-dealing; to preempt the Florentines, he offers Tedici the hand of his daughter Dialta in exchange for the transfer of Pistoia. Having received the tokens of all the fortresses and strongholds, he enters Pistoia with the help of Carlino Tedici, son of Filippo, who, for the sum of 6000 florins, hands him the Porta di Ripalta. Castracani stops with his troops at Prato di San Francesco, rides through the whole city, and occupies the main square. Many Guelphs flee the city and the Florentine soldiers of the garrison are almost all stripped of arms and mounts. The Florentine captains Lotto da Montecchio and Gabriele dei Pannocchieschi barricade themselves at the Porta Caldatica, only to surrender on terms shortly after. Tedici remains in charge of Pistoia as Castracani’s vicar; the leader gives him his daughter in marriage, grants him a provision of 2000 florins, and the proceeds from some communal taxes. At the end of the month, after a clash with the inhabitants of Fucecchio, he marches towards Castelfranco di Sotto with 150 horses. The Florentines move against him with 120 horses. Another 100 horses arrive from Fucecchio, and the Lucchese are put to flight.

Jun.   Tuscany

Strengthens the castle of Montale; sets out against the Florentines whose troops are now led by Raimondo di Cardona (2100 horses, of which 1600 are mercenaries, and 15000 infantry from Florence and the countryside). Castruccio Castracani has at his disposal only 700 horses and many infantry with which he shuts himself in Pistoia.

Jul.   Tuscany

Raimondo di Cardona besieges Cappiano and crosses the Guisciana river. As the town falls, Castruccio Castracani leaves Pistoia to avoid being cut off from Lucca, moves to Val di Nievole, and camps at Vivinaia. Ghibelline reinforcements join him here, including 300 horses from the Tarlati, 200 horses from the March of Ancona and Romagna, and another 150 from the Maremma, Santa Fiora, and other Tuscan nobles. He fortifies Cerruglio (Montecarlo) with trenches and palisades up to the Sesto marsh, later called Bientina. During this time, he tries to make two French constables (Guglielmo di Noren and Miles d’Auxerre) desert from the enemy ranks. The negotiations are revealed by the second captain on his deathbed.

Aug.   Tuscany

While Raimondo di Cardona is engaged in the siege of Altopascio, he attempts two diversionary actions with 200 horses and some infantry in the Prato countryside (under the command of his brother-in-law Vanni Streghi) and towards Lecore in the Florentine territory. He makes another attempt on Carmignano with 150 horses and 1000 infantry: his troops enter the village but are surprised by the Galgalandi and 200 Florentine and Bolognese horses, who kill 450 of his men and capture many others. Altopascio surrenders at the end of the month.

Sept.   Tuscany

Castruccio’s forces are reduced in number due to illness and a lack of funds. Despite this, he continues to strengthen his position on the hills of Vivinaia, Montechiaro, Montecarlo, and Porcari to block a possible enemy march towards Lucca. Cardona realizes he has camped at the Abbey of Pozzeveri in an unfavorable position relative to the Lucchese: he sends Bornio of Burgundy and Urlimbacca the German between Montechiaro and Porcari to have engineers create clearings to transfer the camp. A first battle begins near Altopascio, lasting three hours, in which Castruccio himself is directly involved: he is wounded and thrown from his horse by Urlimbacca the German. As night approaches, the Florentines abandon the field after losing 40 horses, including Urlimbacca the German, who is captured along with twelve men from his company, including Bavarian knights Heinrich and Hermann, an Austrian lord named Dietrich, Nies of Strasbourg, Forbacher of Nuremberg, three French constables, and Florentines Francesco Brunelleschi and Giovanni della Tosa. Following the skirmish, negotiations take place with Cardona; Castruccio Castracani deceives his rival by pretending to be willing to hand over some Val di Nievole castles to the Florentines. The delay allows him to strengthen his forces with 1000 horses, 800 of which are led by Azzone Visconti (to move them from Lucca, he has to give them 6000 florins) and another 200 by Passerino Bonacolsi. The enemy army now has 2000 horses and 8000 infantry, while the Lucchese have 1500 horses. The Florentines provoke Castracani into battle by sounding trumpets. Castracani descends from Vivinaia and engages in various skirmishes while waiting for Visconti’s reinforcements; with the arrival of the latter, the battle becomes general. His deployment plan has his son Arrigo at the forefront with 1000 men; he places himself in the center with 5000 men, along with Marco Visconti and another 5000 men; the right wing consists of Franceschino Belloni of Pescia and Vanni di Baseglia; the left wing is led by the exiled Pisan Benedetto Lanfranchi; the rear guard is commanded by Azzone Visconti with troops sent by the Ghibellines. Initially, the battle is uncertain; 150 Florentine and French horses resist the charge of the Visconti cavalry vigorously. Lucchese infantry intervenes, throwing themselves against the enemy cavalry, knocking down horses and their fallen riders. Suddenly, Bornio of Burgundy (who commands the second line with 800 horses) withdraws without reason, for which he will later be accused of treason. Cardona also remains largely inactive; as soon as the Florentine infantry realizes they are left alone, abandoned by the heavy cavalry, they flee in disarray. In the clash, 110 Florentine horses are lost; more numerous are the prisoners (770 men, not counting confederates and mercenaries): among them are Cardona and his son Guglielmo, two nephews, 40 of the leading Florentine nobles, 30 nobles from other Tuscan cities, and 50 German and French knights, including Piero di Narsì. The prisoners are taken to Lucca and, to a lesser extent, to Pistoia under the custody of Castruccio’s son-in-law Filippo Tedici.

Oct.   Tuscany

Castruccio Castracani recovers the castles of Cappiano, Montefalcone, and (with Azzone Visconti) that of Altopascio, whose defenders (more than 500) are taken to Lucca bound. He destroys the bridge over the Guisciana built by Cardona. In order to pay his soldiers, at least with booty, he moves to Lecore and camps at Signa; he subsequently devastates Campi Bisenzio, Brozzi, Careggi, Quarantola, Rifredo, and San Moro (set on fire). He stops at Peretola for three days and lodges in Geri Spina’s palace. He occupies Montevettolini and has the Florentine garrison killed. At Peretola, he organizes three races, one for the men-at-arms, one for the infantry, and the third for the prostitutes accompanying the troops. He captures the castles of Capalle and Calenzano; returns to Signa and plunders the Valdarno counties of Galgalandi, San Martino alla Palma, Pulci, Settimello; he also reaches Greve in Chianti; his troops, always using the same methods, touch San Piero a Monticelli, Marignolle, Giogoli, Torri in Val di Pesa, Montelupo Fiorentino, and Pontorme (whose villages are set on fire); he takes the Torrebecchi castle, owned by the Strozzi: the 100 defenders, who are taken prisoner, are all hanged. With Azzone Visconti, he also enters Carmignano (those who surrender are sent as prisoners to Pistoia) and Artimino castle. He besieges the fortress; the defenders surrender at his discretion: some are hanged, and some are imprisoned in Pistoia. He returns to Lucca; as compensation for the prisoners’ ransom, he recognizes to Azzone Visconti 25,000 florins, taken on loan from exiled Genoese living in Pisa. With Visconti, he moves to Rifredo with 2,000 horses and holds another race nearby on an island in the Arno that can be seen from Florence. Many fugitives enter the capital and bring the plague with them. Castracani spends the rest of the month plundering the countryside of Prato, Signa, Rifredo, Greve in Chianti, and Giogoli: many centers of the district recognize the payment of a tribute to the lord of Lucca. It is during this time that he frees an innkeeper from Val di Greve with fifty fellow countrymen, captured during the raids, because years earlier, when he was poor, the innkeeper had quenched his thirst with his wine, free of charge and kindly.

Nov.   Tuscany

He penetrates Val di Marina with 700 horses and 500 infantry, causing great damage. The Florentines attempt to surprise him at Calenzano with 200 horses and 2,000 infantry: Castracani, having learned of the trap in advance, moves to Signa where he mints small coins with the image of Emperor Otto (the castruccini). With the rainy season beginning, he returns to Lucca for the feast of San Martino. Signa is entrusted to the protection of the exiled Florentines and 300 horses; another 300 horses that followed him on his raids return to Arezzo. Castracani makes a triumphant entrance into Lucca, which is adorned with carpets and silk drapes. The procession starts in the early morning, departs from Altopascio, and enters Lucca through the Porta di San Gervasio, where he is greeted by the bishop and the entire population, who accompany him to the Church of San Martino. The procession is preceded by the imperial eagle holding a snake in its beak. Other insignia include a white cross on a red field, the crowned snake, and the flags of allies Cangrande della Scala, the Visconti of Milan, and Passerino Buonaccorsi. Then come the sutlers, the camp attendants, and the livestock guardians with animals and war spoils; a large number of prisoners captured in battle follow in order of rank and importance; corporals, squad leaders, and captains all on foot, disarmed, with their heads uncovered. A large number of warhorses follow, some ridden by young Luccans carrying the helmets and surcoats of the enemy prisoners or dead; the Martinella, a cart pulled by buffaloes and oxen, with a large bell, and the Florentines’ carroccio, pulled by buffaloes, with a bell without a clapper and the flags of Florence dragged upside down on the ground; Raimondo di Cardona with his son also precedes the winner’s cart, holding lit torches in hand to offer to the city’s patron saint (San Martino). Castracani’s cart is pulled by four white horses, draped in blue cloth adorned with gold and embroidered arms. The commander, crowned with laurel, sits on the highest part of the cart and is dressed in a purple and gold cloak. He is surrounded by ambassadors and members of his court. Behind him, accompanied by friends and ambassadors, are his sons Arrigo and Valeriano, Azzone and Marco Visconti, as well as his captains like Benedetto Lanfranchi and Franceschino Belloni. The entire cavalry and infantry (advancing in double file) close the procession in their uniforms and with the Antelminelli insignia. From the ransom of the prisoners, Castracani will collect 100,000 florins.

Dec.   Tuscany

From Signa, 200 Luccan horses raid as far as San Piero a Monticelli and the Florentine gate of San Frediano: some Flemish horses exit the city to confront them. 800 enemies move in disarray to Settimello, allowing the Luccans to regain the road to Signa. Meanwhile, Castracani obtains the fortress of Chiavello from the Strozzi on terms, which is then destroyed; he conquers by force the tower of Palugiano (also demolished) and besieges Montemurlo, guarded by 150 infantrymen with Giovanni Adimari.

1326     
Oct.   Tuscany

Castruccio Castracani recaptures the castles of Cappiano, Montefalcone, and (with Azzone Visconti) that of Altopascio, whose defenders (more than 500) are led to Lucca bound. He destroys the bridge over the Guisciana built by Cardona. In order to pay the militias, at least with loot, he goes to Lecore and camps at Signa; he devastates Campi Bisenzio, Brozzi, Careggi, Quarantola, Rifredo, and San Moro (set on fire) in succession. He stays at Peretola for three days and lodges in Geri Spina’s palace. He occupies Montevettolini and has the Florentine garrison killed. At Peretola, he holds three races, one for men-at-arms, one for infantry, and the third for the prostitutes accompanying the troops. He captures the castles of Capalle and Calenzano; returns to Signa and plunders the Valdarno, the districts of Galgalandi, San Martino alla Palma, Pulci, Settimello; he even reaches Greve in Chianti; his troops, always with the usual methods, touch San Piero a Monticelli, Marignolle, Giogoli, Torri in Val di Pesa, Montelupo Fiorentino, and Pontorme (whose towns are set on fire); he captures the castle of Torrebecchi, owned by the Strozzi: the 100 defenders, who are taken prisoner, are all hanged. Still with Azzone Visconti, he also enters Carmignano (those who surrender are sent as prisoners to Pistoia) and the castle of Artimino. He besieges the fortress; the defenders surrender at discretion: some are hanged, and some are imprisoned in Pistoia. He returns to Lucca; as compensation for the ransom of the prisoners, he acknowledges Azzone Visconti 25,000 florins, taken as a loan from exiled/banished Genoese living in Pisa. Still with Visconti, he moves to Rifredo with 2,000 horses and holds another race nearby on an island of the Arno, which can be seen from Florence. Many refugees enter the capital and bring the plague. Castracani spends the rest of the month plundering the countryside of Prato, as well as those of Signa, Rifredo, Greve in Chianti, and Giogoli: many centers of the district acknowledge the payment of a tribute to the lord of Lucca. It is during this period that he frees an innkeeper from Val di Greve with fifty fellow countrymen, captured during the raids because, years before, when he was poor, the man had quenched his thirst for free and kindly with his wine.

Nov.   Tuscany

He penetrates Val di Marina with 700 horses and 500 infantry, causing great damage. The Florentines try to surprise him at Calenzano with 200 horses and 2,000 infantry: Castracani, learning in advance of the ambush, moves to Signa, where he mints small coins with the image of Emperor Otto (the castruccini). With the rainy season beginning, he returns to Lucca for the feast of St. Martin. Signa is entrusted to the care of the exiled/banished Florentines and 300 horses; another 300 horses that followed him in his raids return to Arezzo. Castracani makes his triumphant entrance into Lucca, adorned with carpets and silk drapes. The procession begins in the early hours of the morning; it starts from Altopascio and enters Lucca through the Porta di San Gervasio, where he is welcomed by the bishop and the entire population who accompany him to the church of San Martino. The procession is led by the imperial eagle with a serpent in its mouth. Other insignia include a white cross on a red field, the crowned serpent, and the flags of allies Cangrande della Scala, the Visconti of Milan, and Passerino Buonaccorsi. Then come the sutlers, camp staff, and livestock keepers with animals and war spoils; a large number of prisoners captured in battle follow in order of rank and importance: corporals, squad leaders, captains all on foot, disarmed with their heads uncovered. A large number of war horses follow, some of which are ridden by young Lucchese who carry the helmets and surcoats of enemy prisoners or the dead; they are followed by the Martinella, a cart pulled by buffaloes and oxen, with a large bell and the Florentine Carroccio, pulled by buffaloes, with a bell without a clapper and the banners of Florence dragged on the ground upside down; Raimondo di Cardona and his son also precede the winner’s cart, with lit torches in hand to offer to the city’s patron saint (San Martino). Castracani’s cart is pulled by four white horses, draped in blue cloth adorned with gold and embroidered weapons. The commander, crowned with laurel, sits on the highest part of the cart and is dressed in a purple and gold cloak. He is surrounded by ambassadors and members of his court. Behind him, accompanied by friends and ambassadors, are his sons Arrigo and Valeriano, Azzone and Marco Visconti, as well as his captains like Benedetto Lanfranchi and Franceschino Belloni. The entire cavalry and infantry (advancing in double file) close the procession in their uniforms and with the insignia of the Antelminelli. Castracani will earn 100,000 florins from the ransom of the prisoners.

Dec.   Tuscany

From Signa, 200 Lucchese horses raid as far as San Piero a Monticelli and the Florentine gate of San Frediano: some Flemish horses leave the city to oppose them. 800 enemies head to Settimello in disarray, allowing the Lucchese to regain the road to Signa. Meanwhile, Castracani obtains the fortress of Chiavello from the Strozzi on terms, which is then destroyed; he forcefully conquers the tower of Palugiano (also demolished) and besieges Montemurlo, guarded by 150 infantrymen with Giovanni Adimari.

1326     
Dec.    Sends ambassadors to Innsbruck to meet Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian.
1327     
Jan.LuccaPisa Tuscany

Assists Benedetto Maccaione of the Lanfranchi family in his actions against Vicopisano: the Exiled/Banished is put to flight by the inhabitants. At the same time, Beltramone del Balzo, leading 800 horses, attempts an expedition against Pistoia, managing to penetrate as far as the outer gate. The attackers are repelled and vent their anger by ravaging the surrounding countryside.

Feb.LuccaGenoa Liguria

Once again assists the Genoese Exiled/Banished. Sends ambassadors to Trento to meet Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian.

Mar.   Tuscany

He is excommunicated once more in Florence at Santa Reparata (Santa Maria del Fiore) by the chaplain of the episcopal church on behalf of the inquisitor. The excommunication will be repeated the following Sunday after Castracani was unsuccessfully invited to appear in a Pistoian castle to clear himself of his errors concerning orthodox faith. Bishop Guido Tarlati is also excommunicated for the second time.

May   Lombardy

He is in Milan for the coronation of Ludwig the Bavarian as King of Italy in the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio. During his absence, Carlo of Calabria secretly agrees with the Quartigiani to incite a rebellion in Lucca while the Florentines were supposed to attack Pistoia.

Jun.   Tuscany

Some Quartigiani reveal the plot to Castruccio Castracani: he orders the gates of Lucca to be closed and captures 22 members of the family. Guerruccio Quartigiani and three of his sons are hanged with the reversed insignia of Florence and the Church found in their house; others are propagginati (buried alive head down). All other members (over 100) are expelled from Lucca and its territory. Shortly after, another plot is discovered in Lucca, organized by the Carincioni and other citizens: all the conspirators who are captured are put to death. Some of them take refuge in an area above Matraia, called Colle del Pozzo: besieged, they are taken prisoner and brought to Lucca. They are made to ride backwards, with their hands tied behind their backs on some donkeys. Among them are four knights who are hanged. For his part, Castracani incites the inhabitants of Rome to drive out of the city the partisans of the King of Naples, Roberto d’Angiò.

July   Tuscany

1300 Florentine horses and 8000 infantry await with Carlo di Calabria in Signa, cross the Guisciana and besiege Santa Maria a Monte; in the meantime, another 1200 horses and 4000 infantry join them, led by Beltramone del Balzo, Vergusio dei Landi and the papal legate. The opponents conquer the first circle of walls and, shortly after, the second as well. Following a violent dispute over war booty between Florentines and French, a fire breaks out, causing houses and loot to burn in a large bonfire along with several inhabitants hidden in their homes. The fortress will fall into enemy hands in the early days of the following month.

Aug.   Tuscany

Camps at Vivinaia, Montecarlo, and Montechiaro with 800 horses and 10,000 infantry; refuses the frontal battle requested by the opponents (who, in the course of operations, place their lodgings at the foot of the Montecarlo hill). Fails to prevent the fall of Artimino, a castle in Valdarno between Signa and Capraia. The defenders of this fortress surrender at the end of the month after three days of fighting with the guarantee of having their lives spared: however, this does not happen because many of the soldiers and inhabitants are killed. Finally, Ludovico il Bavaro’s militias approach in support of Castracani; the Florentines are forced to retreat after spending more than half a million florins in a fruitless thirteen-month campaign.

Sept.LuccaPisa Tuscany

Castracani crosses the Serchio and heads towards Serra Pistoiese to welcome the emperor in Pontremoli: in the meantime, in this location, some imperial soldiers kidnap and rape a local young woman. Her father organizes the chase and, with the help of the population, kills the kidnappers. Castracani, informed of the fact, goes to Pescia; attacks the castle of Serra Pistoiese and obtains its surrender on terms. These are not respected, because his soldiers break into it and set fire to the castle, killing many inhabitants regardless of sex or age. The survivors of the massacre are brought tied up before Castracani and are all beheaded. He meets again with Ludovico il Bavaro in Pietrasanta: takes the opportunity to capture some Pisan ambassadors at odds with the bishop of Arezzo. Allied with the emperor, he besieges Pisa at the head of 3000 horses, poorly armed, and many infantry from Lucca, Lunigiana, and Genoa. He conquers Porto Pisano and all the surrounding castles; enters the village of San Marco in Pisa, digs tunnels under the walls, launches numerous assaults: all this proves fruitless.

Oct.   Tuscany

Discord in Pisa between those who, enticed by Castracani’s promises, want peace (Fazio della Gherardesca and Vanni Bonconti) and the other leading citizens leads the Pisans to surrender to the emperor in exchange for 60,000 florins and the promise that the lord of Lucca and the Exiled/Banished cannot enter the city. Within three days, the Pisans change their minds, and Castracani enters peacefully, ensuring his soldiers observe the strictest discipline.

Nov.   Tuscany

He is knighted by Ludovico il Bavaro and, after paying 50,000 florins, is elected Duke of Lucca, Pistoia, Luni, Prato, San Gimignano, Colle di Val d’Elsa, and Volterra.

Dec.   Tuscany

The emperor grants him, against the interests of the Pisans, the castles of Sarzana, Rotina in Versilia, as well as those of Montecalvoli and Pietracassa. Around the same time, he marries his daughter Bertecca to Fazio della Gherardesca.

1328     
Jan.   Lazio

Leaves strong garrisons in Lucca (1000 horses), Pistoia, and Pisa; joins Ludovico il Bavaro in Viterbo with 300/500 horses and 1000 Genoese and Tuscan crossbowmen. He is by the emperor’s side during his entry into Rome. While in this city, the Florentines, under the command of Filippo di Sangineto (2600 horses and 30000 infantry), assault the walls of Pistoia, overcome the resistance of Puccino Antelminelli and his son Valeriano, and conquer the locality.

Feb.   Lazio and Tuscany

In Rome; attends the coronation of Ludovico il Bavaro as emperor in St. Peter’s without the confirmation and apostolic blessing. He is appointed senator of the city, count palatine of the Lateran, and standard-bearer of the Roman Empire. Upon hearing of the loss of Pistoia to the Florentines led by Filippo di Sangineto, he hastily leaves the city, crosses the Maremma with only 12 horses as an escort, and enters Pisa ahead of his men and those of Count Giovanni di Clermont. He seizes the city’s revenues. Count Friedrich Oettingen arrives in the city, who is to take charge of the city government on behalf of the empress, to whom the Pisans have turned to avoid the implementation of the lord of Lucca’s plans. Castracani tries to obtain Montopoli in Val d’Arno by agreement.

Mar.   Tuscany

Ravages the Pistoia area; resupplies Montemurlo with provisions and armed forces and returns to Lucca. Contributes to the reconciliation between Venice on one side and Savona and the exiled/banished Genoese on the other, who have started fighting each other due to acts of piracy carried out by the latter in Syria and Greece. He is once again excommunicated by the Pope along with Ludovico il Bavaro and Pier Saccone Tarlatlati.

Apr.   Tuscany

Sends 400 horses and numerous infantry to Montemassi, in Maremma, who seize the locality before 250 Florentine horses arrive. He expels Nellino and Bustaccio da Sticciano, who are besieged there by Guidoriccio da Fogliano; on the contrary, he loses Pozzo.

Mag. lug.   Tuscany

He goes to Pisa and is elected lord of the city for two years after forcing the imperial vicar, Count of Oettingen, to go to Rome. He also takes advantage of this to get rid of some people hostile to his politics, such as Bavoso da Gubbio (Baverio Salinguerri), Filippo da Caprona, and other nobles. The situation is resolved with his appointment as imperial vicar of Pisa by Count Mainardo of Oftenburg and Burgrave Federico of Nuremberg. He returns to Lucca to hire numerous soldiers and moves to the siege of Pistoia, defended by Simone della Tosa with 300 horses and 1,000 infantry. In the city, there are conflicts between Filippo di Sangineto and the Florentines; furthermore, there are supplies for only two months. Castracani positions himself around Pistoia with 700 horses (including 500 from Pisa and 200 foreigners) and 30,000 infantry; he camps at Ponte a Bonelle and ravages the countryside. He blocks every access road to the city with battifolli and fences: he places a garrison at the head of the road to Florence in front of the church of San Desiderio; one in front of the Pusterla; one between the Porta Lucchese and Porta Ripalta; one between the Porta di San Marco and Ripalta, and the last one opposite the Porta di San Leonardo. There are frequent sorties from the city, sometimes ending with the burning of siege machines or bastions. Castracani disregards the losses, knowing the shortage of supplies in Pistoia; he takes control of the parish of Valdibura, from where the defenders cause severe damage to his men. He obtains their surrender due to hunger; they are tied up and brought under the city walls, where they are all hanged. In retaliation, the relatives of the executed attack the prison, take out the prisoners, and hang them on the city walls’ battlements: among them, those considered closest to Castracani are quartered, and their remains are thrown into the Lucchese camp. The Florentines send 600 horses to help the Pistoians; these troops camp at Agliana. The leader gathers all his soldiers, leaving only weak garrisons to guard the defenses and attacks the opponents. The battle lasts an entire day and ends with the enemy’s withdrawal.

Ago.   Tuscany

The defenders, with Simone della Tosa, have food for only three days and surrender on terms, provided they do not receive help from the league within five days. After the surrender, the Guelphs leaving the city are robbed of their possessions by the Ghibellines. Castracani returns to Pisa and is welcomed with all honors.

Sept.   Tuscany

He dies in Lucca in the first days of the month (two days before his guest Galeazzo Visconti) due to the hardships endured during the siege of Pistoia. Before dying, he gives instructions for his son Arrigo to go to Pisa with the cavalry; he confesses; he is given the last rites. He is buried with solemn ceremonies in Lucca in the church of San Francesco, dressed in the habit of the Minor Friars. His likeness appears on a wall of the Augusta fortress. The painting was destroyed upon his death when the fortress was demolished by his opponents. Another fresco, which was in the villa of Massa Pisana of the condottiero, was also destroyed during a renovation of the building. His effigy appears in the Camposanto of Pisa in the “Triumph of Death” by Orcagna; Giorgio Vasari identified Castruccio Castracani in two other places. Another image of him is in the chapel of the Medici Palace in Florence by Benozzo Gozzoli (“Journey of the Magi”). In this case, Castracani is depicted as a young man with curly hair, richly dressed atop a horse adorned with a panther-decorated saddlecloth, symbol of Lucca. There are also medallions, medals, and engravings depicting his image. His deeds are celebrated in a Latin poem by the Pisan poet Ranieri de Granchis. Castracani is also mentioned in writings by Francesco Petrarca, Franco Sacchetti, Giovanni Cavalcanti, and Giovanni Villani. Biographies about him have been written by Niccolò Tegrimi, Niccolò Machiavelli (who presents a fantastical picture of him as the embodiment of the cunning and fortunate captain), and Aldo Manuzio. The Castracani myth also spread outside Italy during the Renaissance. The condottiero (information taken from Lucarelli) is mentioned in the Spanish comedy “Vandos de Luca Y Pisa” by the poet Antonio Fajardo de Acevedo and in the “Silva de varia leccion” by Pedro Mexia. From 1830 is an epic poem by the Luccan poetess Costanza Moschena and from the late 1700s is the musical drama “Castruccio” published by Giuseppe Rocchi. At the end of the 1800s, historical books about him appeared, such as those by V. Bocci (“Castruccio”), P. Dompé, C. Gandolfi (“Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli”), C.Magnani (“Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli”), Niccolò Tommaseo, F. Winckler (“Castruccio Castracani herzog von Lucca. Historische studien”), and the wife of the poet Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin Shelley (“Valperga or her life and adventures of Castruccio prince of Lucca”). Throughout his rule, Castruccio Castracani built the Augusta fortress (demolished by the people of Lucca in 1370 to build the new Palazzo degli Anziani on its ruins) and his villa at Massa Pisana. He also erected many defensive and beautifying works in his territories. He reinforced the walls of Pietrasanta (the fortified village with walls connected to the Rocca Arrighina), Massa, and Pontremoli (Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Repubblica, originally a single space, were divided to put an end to disputes between Guelphs and Ghibellines, and built the tower in the middle, later raised and transformed into the current bell tower); he rebuilt the port of Motrone, reconstructed the fortress of Viareggio, destroyed by the Pisans, and also arranged it for the unloading of goods by small boats; in the same place, he restored the road that leads to Montramito. He reorganized and fortified Monteggiori, where he had a residence; in Garfagnana, he connected Castelnuovo and the nearby villages with roads and bridges; in Ghivizzano, a castle of his family, he enlarged the existing palace; on the Lima River, he built many bridges and fortresses; in Nozzano, he rebuilt the fortress demolished by Uguccione della Faggiuola; in the castle of Lavenza, he built a new palace; in Sarzana, he modified and consolidated the structure of the Sarzanello fortress; in Pistoia, he erected the Bellaspera fortress, called Rolanda or Valeranda. In addition to construction, Castracani took great care of the efficiency of the roads in all his domains, especially those used by the cavalry, and built many bridges to cross rivers and streams. The original coat of arms of the Antelminelli family features a white greyhound with the upper part of its body raised; the collar is red and adorned with gold on a blue field. In the lower part of the animal, there is a shield, a helmet, a crest with a crowned eagle’s head. The motto is “inexpugnabilis”. Variations on this theme were introduced as his successes evolved. For example, Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian granted him the right to add the blue and silver lozenges of the Wittelsbach house to the dog. He married Spina Streghi of Monteriggioni.

SOURCES

-“Trovossi in sul colmo d’essere temuto e ridottato, e bene avventuroso di sue imprese, più che fosse stato nullo signore o tiranno italiano, passati trecento anni, ritrovandone il vero per le croniche; e con questo, signore della città di Pisa e di Lucca, e di Pistoia e di Lunigiana, e di gran parte della Riviera di Genova in levante,  trovossi signore di più di trecento castella murate…Questo Castruccio fu della persona molto destro, grande, d’assai avvenante forma, schietto, e non grosso, bianco, e pendea in palido, i capelli diritti e biondi con assai grazioso viso. Assai fu crudele in fare morire e tormentare uomini: ingrato de’ servigi ricevuti in suoi bisogni e necessitadi, e vago di gente e amici nuovi, e vanaglorioso molto per avere stato e signoria; e al tutto sì credette signore di Firenze e re in Toscana.” VILLANI

-“Il più grande capitano dell’Italia di quel tempo.” GREGOROVIUS

-“Fu adunque Castruccio..uno uomo non solamente caro ne’ tempi sua, ma in molti di quegli che innanzi erano passati. Fu della persona più che l’ordinario di altezza, e ogni membro era all’altro rispondente; ed era di tanta grazia nello aspetto e con tanta umanità raccoglieva gli uomini, che non mai gli parlò alcuno che si partisse da lui mal contento. I capegli suoi pendevano in rosso, e portavagli tonduti sopra gli orecchi, e sempre, e d’ogni tempo, come se piovesse o nevicasse, andava con il capo scoperto. Era grato agli amici, agli inimici terribile, giusto con i sudditi, infedele con gli esterni; né mai potette vincere per fraude, che e ‘ cercasse di vincere per forza; perché ei diceva che la vittoria, non el modo della vittoria, ti arrecava gloria. Niuno fu mai più audace a entrare ne’ pericoli, né più cauto a uscirne; e usava di dire che gli uomini debbono tentare ogni cosa, né di alcuna sbigottire, e che Dio è amatore degli uomini forti, perché si vede che sempre gastiga gli impotenti con i potenti.” MACHIAVELLI

-“Un uomo che univa l’astuzia e la dissimulazione al valore e alle più rare doti militari; temuto dal popolo e caro ai soldati, giusto stimatore dell’odio impotente che può essere disprezzato e dell’amicizia e favore che interessa acquistare; in grado di provocare la vendetta, di affidarsi all’amicizia senza rischiare di essere tradito. Costui era Castruccio Castracani, signore o tiranno di Lucca..Castruccio era abile e robusto, di statura imponente, di gradevole aspetto, ma sparuto e quasi bianco; aveva i capelli lisci e biondi e una dolce fisionomia..Fra i tiranni ebbe fama di valoroso e magnanimo, saggio, accorto, pronto nelle decisioni, instancabile nella fatica, valoroso nelle armi, previdente, vittorioso nelle sue imprese, temuto da tutti. Ma durante i 15 anni in cui governò Lucca, manifestò più volte la sua crudele indole. Fece orribilmente torturare i sospetti, e condannò ad atroci supplizi i suoi nemici. Desideroso sempre di avere nuovi servitori e nuovi amici, non era riconoscente per i benefici ricevuti; sembrava anzi incrudelire maggiormente contro quanti lo avevano aiutato in passato nei suoi bisogni, quasi volesse liberarsi in tal modo dei suoi debiti.” SISMONDI

-“Non magnanimo né grande Capitano, né grande legislatore, come pure lo descrisse il Machiavelli. Castruccio fu soltanto un uomo di parte avveduto e audace, uno spirito indomabile e freddo, un condottiero abile e fortunato che si accorse in tempo piegare decisamente verso il Principato le forme comunali, e volle fermamente fondare la Signoria con la forza delle armi, a traverso la guerra civile e la guerra esterna, a qualunque costo. E vi riuscì, ma il destino disperse i risultati delle vittorie militari e dei calcoli politici, conservandone soltanto l’insegnamento.” CAGGESE

-“Giovane sagace, ardimentoso, e tale che pareva destinato a compiere operazioni straordinarie.” TOMMASI

-“Venne in stima de primi capitani di guerra di quei tempi..Buono, e avventurato guerriere: la cui effigie, con quella d’Uguccione della Fagiuola si vede nel camposanto di Pisa.” BUGATI

-“Uomo potente e celebre nella Storia di que’ tempi.” VERRI

-“Il quale di fattore d’un mercante fatto soldato, e di soldato Capitano illustre, con ostinato valore ascese al principato, non gli mancando mai la fortuna del suo favore.” GIOVIO

-E’ raffigurato una prima volta in una zona del Camposanto di Pisa come un giovane, con cappuccio azzurro intorno alla testa e con uno sparviero sopra il pugno di una mano. In un’altra area è rappresentato in un gruppo di cavalieri che, ritornando da una battuta di caccia con battitori e bracconieri, si imbattono in tre bare scoperchiate contenenti cadaveri putrefatti. Oltre al Castracani fra questi personaggi sono rappresentati Uguccione della Faggiuola e l’imperatore Ludovico il Bavaro.

-“Era alto di statura, di bella corporatura, con arti proporzionati ed agili. Gli occhia aveva neri e grandi, con sguardo ora benevolo ora terribile. I capelli erano forse biondi ed anellati, il carnato bianco, tendente al pallido. La bocca aveva molto bella, il mento piuttosto lungo, così pure il naso, che tendeva all’aquilino. nella regione mascellare sinistra aveva una cicatrice, che non toglieva grazia all’aspetto del viso. Castruccio appariva sempre pensoso, tanto da farlo sembrare malinconico. Il che non era.” LUCARELLI

-“Quel Castruccio signor di Lucca, il quale/ Rinovellò l’antico honor di Marte,/ E in favor della setta imperiale/ Scosse tutta Toscana a parte a parte./ Che già fu Capitan senz’altro eguale,/ Et diede alta materia a molte carte:/ Hor qui riposa poca polve, e ombra: Et guerrier tal si poco ingombra.” Da un sonetto di G. Faerno raccolto dal GIOVIO

-“Homo virtuosus et in omni audacia et virtute preclarus..Fuit dominus probus, iustus, sapiens ac in omnibus gloriosus.” BATTAGLI

-“De la casa delli Terminelli, non perciò de’ migliori de la casa, ma era di grande ardire e seguito..Era di gran consiglio in guerra e aventuroso ed egli solo più temuto da’ re Roberto (d’Angiò) e dal duca (di Calabria) e da quelli de’ regno (di Napoli), che il Bavaro (l’imperatore) con tutta sua gente..Fu de la persona molto destro, grande, d’assai avenente forma, schietto e non grosso, bianco, e pendici in palido, i capelli dritti e biondi con assai gratioso viso.” A. DI TURA

-“Molto aspramente facea sua signoria e rigidamente con gran crudeltà; e no avea misericordia di neuna persona che a mano li venisse..Della morte di C°. fue fatto grande lamento; e fue tenuto che fosse morto lo più savio e ‘l più prò e ‘l più magnifico signore e il più bene aventuroso uomo e quelli che maggiori e più notabili cose avea fatte, che nessuno che fosse morto inanzi a lui signore più di dugento anni passati.” STORIE PISTORESI

-“Virum domi nobilem et manu promptu.” PLATINA

-“Giovane valoroso, e di gran cuore.” PELLINI

-“Fu valoroso contra i suoi ribelli/ Schiacciando guelfi per piano e per monte/ E ghibellin teneva per fratelli.” Da un poema riportato dal SERCAMBI

-“De! che abbia l’anno, l’ora e ‘l die/ Che fu signore il nobile Castruccio/ A poner giù il corruccio/ C’ha tutte spente queste tirannie.” P. DEI FAYTINELLI

-“Salì in poco (acquistando sempre con la potenza maggior lode di virtù) a tanta altezza di gloria, che per comune opinione, era tenuto il più potente Principe, e ‘l più eccellente Capitano dell’età sua..Era Castruccio alto di persona; di volto pallido, con occhi castagnicci, e capelli biondi.” ROSCIO

-“Princeps praeter alios animi virtutes insignes.” EGNAZIO

-“Giovane molto nobile e principale in quella città Lucca).” TARCAGNOTA

-“Laudabilis virtute, morum strenuus et prudens.” DE’ FERRETI

-“Hic fuit homo probissimus et legalis ultra quam dire possit.” GAZZATA

-“Probissimus Lucanus, de cujus rara justitia, magnisque gestis, etiam hodie laudabiliter fermo est.” STELLA

-“Provò per tutto il corso della vita sua varie e diverse avventure, e quanto più era egli colpito da’ colpi di fortuna percosso, tanto più animoso ne’ pericoli diveniva: onde egli giudicava non potersi i pericoli senza pericolo superare. Fu veramente costui un esempio di umana fortuna.. Fu delle ingiurie, che gli eran fatte, crudele vendicatore; né saprei dire se verso i suoi cittadini egli fu più severo o più crudele..Tutti quei, che gli erano inimici, o per coniettura tali gli reputava..di fame gli faceva morire, o avvertiti segretamente da’ suoi satelliti, cotale esser la volontà del signore, si partivano di Lucca..Esercito alcuno non mai gli abbottinò; a ferire il nemico era sempre il primo, il primo a portar le scale e salire sopra il riparo, il primo a passare i fiumi a nuoto..; e tanto era a i soldati piacevole e benigno, dove egli per grado e per dignità i principali che vi fussero avanzava, agl’infimi nondimeno uguale pareva..nel vegghiare era pazientissimo, moderatissimo nel dormire, e solo quanto era bastante a conservare la vita, che appena mai arrivò a mezzanotte. Dopo cena ricreava l’animo e il corpo con la musica, della quale molto si dilettava; perciocché la mattina al desinare voleva il ragionamento d’uomini dotti, e poi che dormito e riposato aveva si levava suso, uscendo non dalle piume o dalle coperte di seta e di vari colori risplendenti, ma d’un tappeto, o come chiama il volgo da una materassa; e prima fatto orazione a Dio, faceva poi al segreto orazione a S. Francesco, del quale devotissimo era: il rimanente del tempo consumava nelle faccende della Repubblica.. Fecesi sempre beffe de’ matematici e di quei che fan professione d’indovinare le cose future, come generazione d’uomini poco fedele a i grandi, fallace e bugiarda a chi spera in loro; tenendo egli opinione che le cose sottoposte al fato, quantunque annunziate, schifare non si possono; conciosiacosaché nessuna forza umana, o virtù abbia potuto far sì, che l’ordine fatale a predestinato non succeda.. Fu di statura più che ordinaria, aveva gli occhi neri, il capello crespo, il naso disteso, il mento un poco lunghetto, era di colore bruno. Aveva le membra l’uno all’altra corrispondenti, le quali davan bellezza e ornamento a tutto il corpo..Pareva sempre che egli stesse pensoso, ma nell’aspetto aveva una certa venustà, che in ogni parte amabile lo rendeva, e una margine di ferita, che sul volto nella guancia sinistra aveva, faceva lodare la virtù sua e niente di grazia gli toglieva.” TEGRIMI

-“Aveva mente, cuore e braccio da operare grandi cose; accorto e dissimulatore, sapeva farsi amare dai suoi soldati, temere dal popolo; terribile ai nemici, non ebbe amici se non quanto potessero aiutarlo nelle sue imprese.” BOSI

-“Fu questo signore di statura alta, di bellissima corporatura, magro e bianco; di faccia piuttosto pallida che altrimenti; di capelli crespi ed altri vogliono biondi ed anellati; aveva alterezza nelle ciglie; ed era veramente mirabile, dando a’ riguardanti animo e terrore; gli occhi neri e grandi; e nel suo sguardo leggiadro e da esser temuto; aveva il naso con bel profilo, sottile e steso, tirando piuttosto all’aquilino; bellissima bocca, tutta piena di venustà e di qualità che induceva tutti ad amarlo; il mento lungo; e sempre dimostrava di star pensoso, onde tutti lo giudicavano malinconico, il che non era..Fu nelle guerre spedito e risoluto, dimostrando gran prodezza, e bene spesso raffrenando i soldati nella vittoria, nella fuga e nel tumulto..: e per accrescere cuore ad essi si sforzava di essere il primo ad offendere i nemici, salir dopra i ripari, pigliar le scale, passar fiumi e ad ogni faticosa impresa; dando bene spesso principio con le proprie mani alle tagliate ed alle trincee; cavalcava e stava in campagna giorno e notte sempre armato, rinfrancando con questi mezzi più i suoi soldati alla fatica, che con altri: non ricusò mai sinistro alcuno che lo portasse alla gloria ed all’onore, e rendevasi tanto eguale nella guerra agli altri, quanto fosse il minimo fantaccino. Accomodò sempre il suo esercito con gran giudizio, ponendosi sempre in campagna ne’ luoghi eminenti e di poterlo soccorrere, e provvedere di vettovaglia e de’ bisogni suoi, né temer che egli fosse circondato da insidie nemiche. Per la sua prontezza teneva i principi in dubbio: e perciò se egli faceva amici e molto famigliari, e benissimo conosceva quelli che simulavano e quelli che gli erano veri e fedeli; né si confidò mai nel numero de’ soldati, ma solo nel valore de’ pochi. Poneva avanti quelli che erano nobili per la virtù ed animosi per onore, facendoli chi colonnelli e chi capitani, ed altri capo di squadre, dicendo che a questi tali si doveva confidar la salute del principe; ed agli altri codardi ed intenti alla fuga si doveva lasciar perdere la vita e l’onore.” MANNUCCI

-“Nella scienza della guerra splendé quasi sole nella prima metà del secolo decimo quarto, e riempié molte pagine della storia d’Italia. Ei fu veramnte il rinnovatore di quella scienza tra noi, e ristabilì l’onore della milizia italiana, tanto scaduto per la ignoranza e vigliaccheria dei capitani, servendosi di quei due modi, velocità e massa, che ai nostri tempi cambiarono faccia d’Europa.” MAZZAROSA

-“Fra’ Capitani di quell’età per memorabili imprese celebratissimo.” DEZA

-“Uno degli uomini più eminenti dei suoi tempi.” DOMPE’-GANDOLFI

-“Fu il maggior Capitano dell’età sua… Fu di gran nome Castracane condottiero d’eserciti.” GAMURRINI

-“La leggenda secolare che si venne intessendo attorno al lucchese – al punto che le sue imprese poterono essere collocate dalla tradizione popolare perfino nell’antichità romana – testimonia l’impressione di quasi estraneità al suo tempo, e a ogni tempo, che dette ai contemporanei e ai poteri il personaggio del Castracani. Nel suo testamento il Castracani – che disponeva di essere sepolto in S. Francesco vestito dell’umile saio – si dichiarava semplice strumento di Dio che “noslicet immeritos, tot tantisque honoribus et dignitatibus extulit, ut non sufficiat lingua nostra proferre, neque mens nostra concipere”. In realtà questo condottiero figlio di mercanti, questo cittadino erede di nobili “feudali” fu uno dei maggiori interpreti dell’età del tramonto del medioevo in Italia e, come il suo quasi contemporaneo Dante Alighieri, ne visse fino in fondo le esasperate contraddizioni. Non il solo Castracani, “formica ex pulvere”, come lo definì Marin Sanuto il Vecchio, era venuto dal nulla, ma il suo stesso dominio era stato creato partendo da basi quasi inconsistenti in un ambito politico refrattario ad ogni coesione.” M. LUZZATI

-“Regnat in urbe sua probus et Castruccius audax/ Ardua praecipiens; super omnia partis amorem;/ Et populum servare monet sub pondere vitae.” GRANCHI

-“Uomo fiero, valente nelle armi, senza coscienza e arditissimo.” ARGIOLAS

-“Fu grande guerriero, fino politico, uomo di grandi vizi e di varie virtù, non amato, ma temuto e avuto in molto conto anche dai nemici.” BALAN

-“A lui si deve in parte il ristabilimento della milizia italiana..Benché il primo guerriero del suo secolo, è dubbio se fosse maggiore nell’armi, o nel consiglio: benché nutrito, e vissuto in mezzo alla rivoluzioni, non sparse quasi mai il sangue se non quando la necessità ve lo costrinse. Fu uno di quegli uomini grandi, che quantunque ignaro delle lettere, ne conosceva il pregio, e faceva conto degli scienziati. Animatore del’arti utili, e delle manifatturiere, premiava generosamente chi ne introduceva delle nuove: restano ancora i monumenti de’ numerosi lavori di pubblica utilità, ponti, strade, fortezze, che a lui si debbono. Fu certamente un uomo straordinario, e se il teatro delle sue azioni fosse stato più vasto, e i mezzi più grandi, si sarebbe distinto al paro dei più celebri uomini dell’antichità.” PIGNOTTI

-“Riuniva l’astuzia e la dissimulazione ad una rara valentia e ad un ingegno svegliatissimo, per cui seppe farsi temere dal popolo ed amare dai suoi soldati.” PAOLINI

-“Incredibile e vittorioso avversario dei Fiorentini.” SILVA

-“Huomo di molto ingegno e desideroso di avvantaggiarsi in grandezze..Avvedutissimo guerriero.” TRONCI

-“Vir ingenio acri.” SANT’ANTONINO

-“Excelsa animi indoles, acre ingenium, vigorque spiritus, ne dum supra privatos, sed super principes. Ad hac consilium excellens, solertia in cavendo, sagacitas in providendo; nec minus in subendis periculis audax, quam inter ipsa pericula interritus. Nihil temere moliri, nihil aggredi. Aciem primus ingredi, novissimus excedere. Militis, ducis munia strenue obire: nullo sequi recusante, cum exemplo imperaret. Nemo hostibus magis ex insperato adesse: celeritatem in bello maximam partem victoriae ratus. Veteris militiae disciplinam gentium barbararum stolida ferocia bellantium vitio collapsam revocare, nemo illo plus aut scivit aut potuit: rei militaris, gloriaeque restitutor merito appellatus. Nullus eo callidior instuere aciem, castris locum capere, urbes oppugnare aut tueri: omnia non minus romano more quam virtute agere. Inde coeteris earum artium ignaris mirandus pariter ac metuendus: saepe solo nomine victor, non armis, quam fama plura conficere: vini cibique modicus, somique ac caeterarum remississionum intra naturale desiderium modus finitus. Eadem illi frigoris calorisque tolerantia: corpusque adversus labores invictum. Simulandi ac dissimulandi artifex: idem severus, idem comis blandusque: cum omnes illum metuerent, omnes amabant. Prompta illi facundia, magnum imperatorem telum, quo ipsa arma in bellis armantur. Conciliandis vulgi studiis maxime efficax: alios comiter appellando, alios spem pretiumque ostendendo, plerosque beneficiis emere: nullius rei nisi gloriae laudisque avarus. Quaeque raro inter militares virtutes locum habent, fides atque religio illi dilectae, seu verae, seu fictae semper gerendis rebus ingens momentum. Haec tanto ingenii animique bona, commendabat prospera valentudo, procerus corporis habitus, oris temperatus majestatis decor, igneva oculorum vigor, sufflava caesaries, vocis sonus, et coetera quae apud militare vulgus pro virtibus habebatur.” BEVERINI

-“Capitano di militi e soldati di ventura.” MUZZI

-“Giovane e ambizioso..ottimo condottiero quanto avventuriero senza scrupoli.” ANTONETTI

-Con Niccolò PiccininoUguccione della FaggiuolaLodrisio ViscontiGiovanni AcutoFacino CaneBartolomeo Colleoni ed il Carmagnola “Furono capi notissimi per le loro imprese.” AGOSTINI

-“The great condottiere Castruccio Castracani, whom Machiavelli .. compared to Philip of Macedon.” STONOR SAUNDERS

-“Vero cavaliere di ventura non ha altro onore all’infuori di quello della scarsella: stupra allegramente le fanciulle che gli capitano a tiro durante le scorribande coi suoi pari, se ne trascina dietro qualcuna perché lo consoli negli ozi di guarnigione. Ma soprattutto uccide…per Castruccio una vita non vale niente, in nessun caso; sia che si tratti di quella del contadino inerme di fronte alle soldatesche, sia che appartenga a un religioso o a un nobile la cui famiglia, un domani, potrebbe fargli pagar cara la cosa… Dove invece la personalità di questo ribaldo trova il suo naturale sfogo è sul campo di battaglia; allora è difficile trovare qualcuno che gli sia pari nel valore e nel coraggio che dimostra buttandosi nella mischia…E’ un vero fulmine di guerra.” ADAR

-“Era un buon comandante, sempre presente dove ci fosse bisogno, pronto a dare l’esempio in prima persona.” SCARDIGLI

-“Non gl’insegnò solamente i modi di schierare un esercito. Senza punto permettergli di darsi in preda al sonno, all’ozio, al lusso, ma facendogli durare continue, aspre fatiche, procurava di ingagliadirne le membra, e perciò volle che non altri esercizi facesse se non l’equitazione, la corsa, la lotta; giacché la gagliardia del corpo è fondamento di quella dell’animo. Poiché un capitano deve stare impassibile non solo contro gl’impeti degli uomini, ma anche contro quelli della fortuna, lo attrezzò a sopportare il caldo, il freddo, la fame, la sete.” LOMONACO

-“Fama quidem Castrucii nulla ex re unquam tantum enituit quantum ex hac una obsidione (di Pistoia). Admirabile porro visum est, longe adeo paucioribus copiis circa urbem magnam per loca plana circumfusis et intus simul extraque oppugnatis, industria solum ac scientia rei militaris ita perstitisse, ut adversariorum conatus omnis impetusque arceret, ac victor tandem urbe in oculis pene tantarum hostium copiarum potitetur…(Per la sua morte) Castrucius lucensis, vir magni animi sed nequaquam pari potentia cum praesule nec pari dignitate, patrocinium opprimendi florentini populi cum sibi assumpsisset, quis non gaudebat? Quis non laetabatur? Atqui laetitia illa quantum maerorem nobis ad extremum attulerit scimus! Non enim prius nocuit Florentiinis Castrucius, quam Pisanos iugo servitutis oppressit. Ita, dum aliis nocere voluerunt Pisani, siibi ipsis tyrannidem superinduxere.” BRUNI

-“Castruccio fu uno dei colossi che calpestarono la penisola italiana a cavallo tra XIII e XIV secolo..Abile politico e grande soldato, feroce e vendicativo ma capace anche di gesti magnanimi, quest’uomo, che un patrizio veneziano nel 1325 definiva sprezzantemente “formica nella polvere che getta scompiglio in Toscana”, fu invece il prototipo dell’uomo nuovo partorito nell’ultimo scorcio del Medioevo. Amico di sovrani, fidato luogotenente di imperatori, invincibile sul campo di battaglia, privo di scrupoli morali sul terreno politico eppure sempre mosso da una sua fedele coerenza ai principi del ghibellinismo.” STAFFA

-“Never for a moment during his youth and young manhood had he believed that he would be cut off before old age. His career, he felt had just begun; his ambition was unfulfilled. It would have been better to die without forewarning of death. In his physical pain and mental anguish, the sharp blade of an assassin’s dagger would have seemed merciful of him, and more worthy of his fame…His funeral was without pomp, for he felt that the tears of his people were an adequate farewell. His casket was accompanied by ten black horses ande ten black flags of silk. he was buried, according to his instructions, in the church of San Francesco in Lucca..wearing the simple grey habit of the sant.” DEISS

-“Il profilo del signore cavaliere si incarna più di tutti..in Castruccio Castracani, che esercitò sulla natia Lucca un’influenza sostanzialmente ininterrotta dal 1316 al 1328, allargando le sue mire alle città contermini e a intere sub-regioni come la Lunigiana, la Valdinievole, il Valdarno inferiore lucchese e fiorentino, che sottomise alternando la conquista militare, le negoziazioni diplomatiche, la concessione di titoli imperiali. La sua dominazione assunse i tratti di una signoria pluricittadina e territoriale estesa a Pistoia, la Valleriana, la Val di Lima, la Versilia, Massa, la Lunigiana e la Garfagnana lucchese; ebbe anche il titolo di duca di Volterra dal 1327, e tentò invano di insignorirsi di Genova e Pisa.” An. ZORZI

-“Acquistando sempre con la potenza maggior lode di virtù, ascese a sì vera gloria, che per commune opinione era tenuto il più prudente Prencipe, e eccellente Capitano dell’età sua..Era Castruccio alto: di volto pallido: di occhi castagnicci: e capelli biondi.” CAPRIOLO

-“A fine d’addestrare alla guerra, il Castracani istruiva per tempo la gioventù della Vallata (Val di Nievole) nella militare disciplina,  e proponeva premi a quelli che in tirar l’arco o la balestra erano più valenti, o che fossero migliori nel tirare il palo, nel giuocare alla lotta, nel correre gualdane, nei torneamenti a cavallo, nel rappresentare espugnazioni di Castelli, in fare zuffe e combattimenti.” ANONIMO

-“Con Castruccio Castracani Lucca aveva raggiunto il massimo splendore della sua vita municipale, fino a competere con Firenze per la supremazia politica ed economica della regione. Ma dopo la morte dell’Antelminelli la città non più libera e prostrata da tante sventure, aveva iniziato la propria decadenza, passando da una signoria all’altra, da quella di Marco Visconti a quella dei Maniscalchi, di Gherardo Spinola, di Giovanni di Lussemburgo, dei fratelli Marsilio, Pietro e Rolando dei Rossi di Parma e di Mastino della Scala di Verona.” BENVENUTI 

-“Quantunque avesse avversato il guelfismo e ne avesse avuta duplice scomunica, morì cristianamente. Il maggior tributo di gloria lo ebbe dal suo grande biografo N. Machiavelli.” ARGEGNI

-Fu uno dei più arditi cavalieri del suo tempo. Fu un grandissimo capitano, combatté e vinse grandi battaglie, tentò di riunire la Toscana in un unico Stato e fu un personaggio così ragguardevole che Niccolò Machiavelli ne scrisse la vita.” BATINI

-Grande travaglio diè questo forte, astuto e insidioso guerriero ai Fiorentini, che fornito d’ingegno e d’animo risoluto fu uno de’ più mirabili uomini per fortunate imprese, e che per esser più grande non avea d’uopo che di migliori tempi e di maggiore Stato.” CHINI

-Sulla sua tomba è inscritto il seguente epitaffio “Eu vivo, vivivamque, ob facta rerum gestarum Italicae/ militiae splendor, Lucensium decus, Etruriae ornamen/ tum, Castruccius Gerii Antelminellorum stirpe. Vixi,/ peccavi, dolui, cessi naturae indigenti. Animae piae,/ benevole succurrite, brevi memores vos morituros.”

-Secoli dopo la sua morte a Lucca è stata eretta in suo onore la seguente iscrizione “Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli/ Capitano/ Di mente vastissima/ Di cuore imperturbabile/ Sollevò in Italia la parte ghibellina/ Mise in fondo la guelfa/ Come ne accertarono/ I campi insanguinati dell’Altopascio/ Trentamila prigioni/ Firenze disperata di sua salute./ Cittadino/ Illustrava la patria ne cresceva il dominio;/ Principe/ Non la oppresse/ La vita bastò alla gloria/ Non alla grandezza.”

BIOGRAFIE SPECIFICHE

-P. Dompé – L. Gandolfo. Castruccio Castracani degli Antelnminelli.

-G. Lucarelli. Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli.

-N. Machiavelli. Vita di castruccio Castracani e altri scritti minori.

-C. Magnani. Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli.

-A. Mannucci. Le azioni di Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli.

-N. Tegrimi. Vita di Castruccio Antelminelli Lucensis ducis.

-R. Piattoli. Documenti per la storia di Castruccio Antelminelli e delle sue imprese.

Featured image source: wikimedia, other images: wikimedia

Topics: Castruccio Castracani biography, medieval Tuscan military leader, Castracani’s military conquests, influential condottiere of the 14th century

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Roberto Damiani
Roberto Damiani
Roberto Damiani è l'autore del sito Condottieri di ventura.