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Gian Giacomo Dei Medici: Master of Discipline and Strategy in Mercenary Warfare

Italian CondottieriGian Giacomo Dei Medici: Master of Discipline and Strategy in Mercenary Warfare

No kinship with the **Medici** of Florence. An enterprising, persevering, cruel captain, endowed with an almost inhuman fierce personality, a lover of extreme measures. He maintains discipline in the troops under his command with severity. His adventures often border on legend. A captain capable of making the most of his talents. The depth of his insights and his political foresight make him an impeccable mercenary leader.

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The life of Gian Giacomo Medici, a key military figure in Renaissance Italy, known for his leadership and tactical prowess in battle.

Gian Giacomo de’ Medici (Medeghino, meaning “little Medici” due to his short stature) of Milan; some sources state he was originally from Porlezza in Valsolda. He had no kinship with the Medici of Florence. From the petite bourgeoisie: his father was, in fact, a customs clerk. Count of Lecco, Marquis of Musso and Marignano. Lord of Monguzzo, Chiavenna, Nibionno, Menaggio, Osteno, and the Three Parishes (Dongo, Gravedona, Sorico), as well as of the Intelvi Valley, Valsolda, Valsassina, Valdamera, Moncrivello, and Lanzo. Cousin to Gabriele Serbelloni, son-in-law to Ludovico Orsini. Knight of the Golden Fleece.

Born: 1495
Death: 1555, October

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
……………LombardyBorn in Milan near the Church of San Martino di Nosigia. The son of a customs contractor and the eldest of 14 siblings (of whom 4 died in early childhood). He quickly learned the art of fending for himself on the streets and in the countryside. He became the leader of a band of young brigands ready to commit all sorts of roguery. He distinguished himself as a swordsman.
1511LombardyAt sixteen, he had a quarrel with Paolo Pagnano: assassins hired by his rival ambushed him and left him for dead on the road. Once recovered, Medici took his revenge in broad daylight, killed the instigator, and remained unpunished. He was banished from Milan and took refuge near Lake Como. He led a band of brigands and distinguished himself with his exploits as a highwayman along the lake’s shores.
1515/1520SforzaFranceLombardyAfter the French entered Milan, some of his actions took on a distinct political hue; it was Girolamo Morone, chancellor of Francesco Sforza, who directed his band against the transalpine forces. In 1517, he allied with Giovanni del Matto; he carried out several disruptive actions on Lake Como and executed numerous raids around Milan to the detriment of the French. At noon, he scaled the bastions of the capital with four companions, killed a French courier, and seized several messages that were delivered to Sforza.
1521
Aug.SforzaFranceEmiliaHe took part in the siege of Parma. He stopped to talk in front of a door with the enemy captain Federico Gonzaga from Bozzolo and had breakfast with him.
Nov.LombardyHe crossed the Po River and encamped at Rivolta d’Adda. He clashed with the French under the command of Lautrec at Vaprio d’Adda. He managed to distinguish himself in the battle; upon the death of Francesco Morone, he took command of the Sforza contingent. Leading the vanguard, he moved to the other side of the river, surprised the opponents, and captured a bridgehead. As night approached, Lautrec preferred to retreat to Milan.
Dec.LombardyGiovanni del Matto was captured and executed by the French. Gian Giacomo de’ Medici avenged his comrade by killing those involved in the capture and their accomplices; he besieged Menaggio, which was set ablaze. He persuaded the Grisons to abandon the cause of the transalpines; he stealthily penetrated the port of Musso and set fire to the opponents’ lake fleet.
Ferdinando d’Avalos besieged Como; Girolamo Morone sent a portion of the ducal army under the command of Ermes Visconti to Bellagio. The Sforza captain failed in his objectives and fled, abandoning his ships. Gian Giacomo de’ Medici left Rezzonico and headed towards Bellagio by land. He routed the French and the exiled Guelphs. The opponents retreated from Lecco and other castles around Lake Como, except for Musso, which remained under the control of the followers of the Trivulzio family.
At the end of the month, on Christmas Eve, Medici gathered 300 infantrymen and launched a nighttime attack on the fortress of Musso. His assault was repelled. He negotiated with the defenders of the high fort of Musso and convinced them to surrender to the imperial forces. The 150 men of the garrison left the castle. He was awarded the prefecture of Lario and command of the ducal naval forces alongside Bartolomeo da Villachiara. He besieged Menaggio again and burned the residences of the pro-French; he then moved on to the Three Parishes and seized the tower of Rezzonico.
1522
Jan. – Mar.LombardyLautrec was forced to abandon Cremona; he moved to Lecco where he armed a small fleet; he was assisted in his efforts by the castellan of Musso, Biagio Malacrida. In March, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici took part in the conquest of Musso Castle. He set fire at night to the boats in the harbor and stormed the castle; the defenders were caught asleep. Within the fortress, 22 cannons of various sizes were found, of which twelve were transported to Milan. Sforza appointed Giovanni Battista Visconti as the castellan of the fortress, thus disappointing his expectations. He contacted Morone to obtain what he believed was due to him.
Apr.LombardyHe served under the command of Prospero Colonna. After the Battle of Bicocca, he opposed the partisans of the Trivulzio family around Lake Como.
JuneLombardyAlongside Domenico del Matto, he supported Bartolomeo da Villachiara on Lake Como. They wreaked havoc; numerous were the deaths and the homes set ablaze. Torno was sacked. The French were forced to retreat to Monza.
JulyLombardyHe was part of the bodyguard of Duke Francesco Sforza and became his right-hand man in all the most criminal actions; he eliminated without hesitation anyone Morone pointed out as an enemy of the state. In early July, he and Pozzo ambushed in the Solarolo district in Milan (now Via Nerino) and there killed Ettore Visconti, who was also his friend, as he passed by on a mule, accompanied only by two pages. He had to flee to Musso; a proclamation was issued against him and Pozzo in September. At the beginning of October, the proclamation was reiterated.
Nov.LombardyHe crossed the Adda at Vaprio d’Adda; he first clashed with Ugo Pepoli and then with Lescun.
Dec.LombardyHe entered Milan and incited the population to revolt.
1523
JulyLombardyFrancesco Sforza decided to rid himself of Gian Giacomo de’ Medici, who had become too cumbersome a figure for the duke. Girolamo Morone granted him the castle of Musso and delivered a diploma with a sealed letter for the castellan, Giovanni Battista Visconti, in which the latter was ordered to hang Medici. The condottiere suspected treachery (thanks also to information provided by Gian Giacomo dal Borgo); he opened the letter without breaking the seal; he consulted with his brother Giovan Angelo, who would later become Pope Pius IV, and replaced the original letter with another commanding the castellan of Musso to open the gates to him. In this manner, he took control of the fortress; he transformed it into a haven for mercenaries. Other captains such as Niccolò Pelliccione, Gasparino da Malgrate, and the brothers Giovanni Battista and Gabriele de’ Medici also joined him. He ruthlessly dictated law along the shores of Lake Como with raids and kidnappings to secure bounties and ransoms. At Cava di Val San Martino, he captured a wealthy man named Stefano da Birago; he tortured him for three months until the captive agreed to a ransom of 1600 scudi. The fortress of Musso was equipped with powerful walls, towers, and a fortified harbor, as well as a large water cistern and its own mint. Medici modified the castle, strengthening its defenses which extended from Lake Como to San Bernardo. His coat of arms appeared on the city walls: three golden balls on a red field.
1524MediciGrisonsLombardyTo regain the favor of Sforza, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici decided to harass the Grisons who had switched allegiance to the King of France. He left the port of Musso with seven boats, each equipped with a cannon; from Rezzonico he moved to Colico where the Adda flows into Lake Como and requisitioned all available boats. His opponents (5000 infantry led by Tegane) were forced to march along the left bank of the lake towards Valsassina, so harried by Medici’s men that they managed to cover only twelve miles in six days. The Grisons reached Bellano. Medici had to cease operations and move to Torno where some disturbances had arisen due to pro-French factions; he was defeated by the inhabitants. The Three Parishes were also recaptured by the Grisons. The adversaries occupied Bellagio and sacked the locality.
With the flotilla at his disposal, he attacked the Three Parishes; he was assisted by Francesco del Matto, son of Giovanni, and Mattiolo Riccio. He regained Dongo, Gravedona, and Sorico; he crossed the mountains towards Mesocco and drove Giovanni and Corrado Pianta from the Three Parishes. He continued his raids; he advanced into the Chiavenna Valley, spreading destruction and damage everywhere. The Grisons were called back from Bellano. Their commander, Tegane, left the ranks of the French army, returned to Valtellina by the same route they had come, and moved against Medici; however, his action was unsuccessful. The adversaries then pressured the Duke of Milan. Sforza, to avoid their attacks (also because the French seemed superior in the ongoing conflict), agreed to return the boats previously seized by Medici and confirmed their hold on all their territories (the counties of Bormio, Chiavenna, and Valtellina).
1525
Jan.MilanFranceLombardyAs the King of France invaded Lombardy, gaining the support of the Grisons led by Tegane, the situation necessitated a reconciliation. Sforza pardoned Gian Giacomo de’ Medici, granted him a provision, and acknowledged his perpetual governance over Musso, the Three Parishes, Valsassina, Valsolda, and Chiavenna—although these territories were still in the hands of the adversaries.
Feb.MediciGrisonsLombardyFrancesco del Matto, Mattiolo Riccio, and Niccolò Pelliccione hid with 400 infantry near the fortress of Chiavenna. The castellan, Silvestro Wolf, was captured at night while trying to re-enter the fortress after attending a mass. According to other sources, the castellan was taken prisoner by Mattiolo Riccio alone as he tried to return to the fortress with his son and two servants after a banquet with some nobles of Chiavenna. The captain of Gian Giacomo de’ Medici threatened to kill both with a knife to the throat unless the wife and a servant handed over the keys to the castle. The drawbridge was lowered; Mattiolo Riccio’s men stormed in, disarmed the Grisons infantry of the garrison, took their place, arrested the commissioner with his family, and awaited the arrival of the lord of Musso. The next day, a Sunday, four residents of Chiavenna went to the castle to pay homage to Silvestro Wolf; they were all taken prisoner. Others followed, totaling forty people. The population realized the deceit and stormed the castle. The bells rang; Riccio and Niccolò Pelliccione came out for a sortie: the inhabitants were repelled and the bodies of the dead were stripped of their possessions. The defense of Musso was entrusted to his brother Giovanni Battista that same night, and Gian Giacomo de’ Medici (Medeghino) intervened with 700 soldiers. The attackers (1500 men) were caught off guard and fled into the nearby hills. Medici entered Chiavenna; Francesco del Matto arrived with two companies of ducal infantry, pursued the enemies by systematically looting the territory and raiding livestock to meet his men’s needs. He was forced to retreat when he was shot in the groin by a harquebus ball. He returned to Chiavenna; he had the town walls and the castle repaired. Once recovered, he left the town of Chiavenna in the hands of Francesco del Matto, while the defense of the castle was entrusted to another of his associates, Captain Bologna. Sforza sent him additional soldiers. Medici decided to go on the counteroffensive. He burst into the Val Pregallia, turned against the Three Parishes, and occupied the countryside. With new ducal militias received as reinforcements, he aimed to conquer the entire Valtellina. He coordinated with the governor of Como, Count Gerardo d’Arco; he strengthened the garrison at Ologno, seized Delebio and Morbegno where some local peasants were defeated. The valley governor, the Grisons Giovanni Traverso, with Giovanni Guller, attacked Count d’Arco with the local militia and put him to flight; the Sforzians retreated to the Three Parishes. He decided to retreat to avoid being cut off from all retreat paths. Disguised as a peasant and with only one companion, he reached Chiavenna after bypassing the enemy garrison at Dasso Corbé. He obtained a mount and reached Musso where he reorganized Count d’Arco’s resistance at Dubino. The Grisons marched on Chiavenna, beheaded the former city commissioner Silvestro Wolf at Piuro for treason, or at least for his weakness, and besieged the town. A furious assault was launched on the walls by Giberto di Castelmuro. Medici left Musso with 700 Spanish infantry from the garrison and his partisans from the lake; he attacked the troops of the Grey League (under the command of Giorgio Giorgi, Rodolfo del Marmo, and the governor of Valtellina Pietro Simone Traverso) who had fortified themselves in the nearby village of Betto. His men were defeated and 800 soldiers, both Spanish and Italian, lay dead on the ground; some were captured; a tailor was hanged for being deemed complicit in the betrayal that led to the fall of Chiavenna. The losses among the adversaries were comparatively light. Nonetheless, Medici’s action had significant political implications because the Grisons mercenaries, who were paid by the French (2000-6000 men according to sources), left the French army besieging Pavia to join their compatriots fighting Medici. This renewed the siege of Chiavenna with greater vigor. Francesco del Matto, tasked with its defense, was forced to surrender on terms. The castle, however, continued to resist, defended by Mattiolo Riccio and Bologna.
Oct.LombardyWhile the Grisons continued to besiege the castle of Chiavenna, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici orchestrated the capture of six of their ambassadors in Como. These ambassadors had left Milan, where they had met with Duke Francesco Sforza, to proceed to Archduke Ferdinand of Austria; additionally, some merchants were robbed of their livestock. All were imprisoned in Musso and threatened with death unless they cooperated in smuggling provisions and weapons into the castle. During the same period, Bologna, driven by a lack of supplies, feigned surrender, initiated negotiations with Pietro Simone Traverso, who commanded the siege operations, lured him into an ambush, and captured him after inflicting wounds.
The Grisons declared war on Medici. The condottiere gathered 1500-2000 infantry with whom he attempted to relieve the fortress of Chiavenna; Morone, on behalf of the Duke of Milan, however, ordered him to release the prisoners. In response, Medici occupied Archiano, near Musso, and Sorico, thereby blocking the route of his adversaries. He was then attacked by 9000 Grisons supported by the imperial forces (who were in conflict with the Duke of Milan).
Nov.LombardyThe Grisons brought several bombards from Mesocco to batter the walls of Chiavenna. To alleviate the enemy pressure, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici landed at Colico and surprised the enemy camp at Traona with 900 infantry. The locality and the castle were sacked. The entire area up to Morbegno was similarly plundered. His march was discovered upon reaching Delebio: he managed to escape with some losses. A similar action led by Marco Grasso with 500 arquebusiers in Valsassina was thwarted by the Grisons. Medici returned to the Three Parishes. He sent 200 infantry to aid the defenders of Chiavenna, each carrying three pounds of gunpowder. These men were ambushed at Pizzo; the majority of the company and their captain (from Piacenza) who led them were killed.
Captain Bologna, after one hundred and fifty assaults, was forced to surrender due to starvation; he and the entire garrison were allowed to exit the fortress. With the surrender, Medici lost part of the wealth he had accumulated from his raids in Valtellina. The Grisons demolished the fortresses of Chiavenna and the one in Val Pregallia with artillery.
Dec.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici negotiated a three-month truce with his adversaries. Meanwhile, he continued to consolidate his position in the Three Parishes; he rebuilt the castle of Ologno, which had previously been demolished by the opponents. He established a customs post in that location.
1526
Jan.LombardyFrom Musso, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici continued his guerrilla actions.
Feb.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici released half of the prisoners in exchange for 11,000 ducats, half of which was paid immediately and the other half due by September. He strengthened the defenses of Musso.
Mar.LombardyGaspare di Belgrado, a trusted man of Gian Giacomo de’ Medici, was captured by the enemies. He negotiated with them to hand over Musso in exchange for 6,000 ducats; upon his release, he returned to Medici and disclosed the agreement. Medeghino then spread rumors that he would be visiting a thermal spa, and sent a look-alike to Val Brembana in his place. He also dispatched one of his partisans, Borella, to the captain of Lecco, urging him to quickly seize Musso, taking advantage of his supposed absence. When numerous Spaniards stormed the fortress, many were killed by pike thrusts, the prisoners were hanged, and only a few managed to escape.
MayLombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici recruited 150 harquebusiers and arquebusiers from the Bergamo area, who then marched towards Musso. He also arranged an ambush with 400 harquebusiers targeting the Landsknechts.
JuneVeniceEmpireLombardy, SwitzerlandGian Giacomo de’ Medici was surprised at Erba by Giovanni di Urbina. Around the same time, he signaled to the Venetians and the Papal States that with 6,000 ducats, he could enlist 6,000 Swiss mercenaries to use against the Imperial forces. He managed to gather only 2,000 of these mercenaries. He also demanded that the Grisons pay him in advance the second installment of a ransom due in September; this payment was advanced by the Venetians, and he received it in Bellinzona.
July700 infantrymenSwitzerland, LombardyLeaving Bellinzona with an additional 3,000 Swiss mercenaries, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici, along with Bishop Ottaviano Sforza of Lodi, led 5,500 men to Bergamo. He was also accompanied by 25 cavalrymen and 25 Milanese gentlemen. He proceeded to the camp at Segrate, where he was given command of 700 infantry; together with other condottieri, he attempted to relieve Duke Francesco Sforza, who was besieged in the Sforza Castle by Imperial forces.
Medici demanded much more money than had been agreed upon, which led to a reprimand from the Papal commissioner Francesco Guicciardini. Following the rebuke, he fled the camp on horseback with the assistance of his retainer, Sponghino da Tradate.
Aug.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici orchestrated the capture of two Venetian ambassadors, Sebastiano Giustinian and Lorenzo Bragadin, who were en route to France across Lake Como. He informed them that they needed a safe-conduct to pass through the territories under his control, leveraging this situation by claiming that he was a creditor to the Serene Republic and the Papal States for payments he had made on behalf of the Swiss; he threatened to hold the prisoners at the fortress of Musso until his claims were settled.
Sforza sent Giovanni Mella to persuade Medici to release the ambassadors, but Medici persisted with his intentions; he imprisoned Cappo di Capino, the Papal nuncio to the Swiss cantons, and imposed a ransom of 500 ducats on him. These diplomatic skirmishes did not deter him from continuing his campaign against the Imperial forces; although a planned ambush failed, he succeeded in a skirmish where the opponents were pushed back to their fortified camp with significant losses (among his forces, 12 men and 2 captains were killed).
Medici was positioned with 200 infantry at the Three Parishes, blocking the path of 800 Grison infantry led by Tegane, who were trying to join up with the Imperial forces.
Sept.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici managed to persuade 400 infantrymen out of the 2000 available to Tegane to desert and move to the camp at Lambrate. He was approached by the Constable of Bourbon, who attempted to persuade him to defect to the Imperial side. Medici promptly informed his allies of this overture, seizing the opportunity to demand the settlement of his outstanding credit with the Venetians (12,000 ducats).
Nov. – Dec.LombardyA compromise was reached between the Venetians and Gian Giacomo de’ Medici: he was paid 5,000 ducats (3,000 immediately and 2,000 within twenty days, paid by Giovanni Andrea di Prato); he was also promised payment for the wages of 400 infantrymen for the defense of Como (an additional 1,500 ducats). Bolstered by Swiss militias via the Brianza route, he advanced towards Milan. He reached Cantù but was forced to retreat to Lodi, where French and Venetian forces were stationed.
1527
Jan.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici successfully conquered Valsolda and then prepared to lay siege to Lecco.
Feb.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici received 1,000 ducats from the Venetian official, Domenico Contarini.
Mar.FranceEmpireLombardyThe French delayed sending Gian Giacomo de’ Medici the 5,500 ducats he was owed. As retribution, Medici allowed Tegane passage, enabling him to join forces with the Landsknechts in Lombardy.
MayLombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici cunningly took control of the fortress of Monguzzo during the night, which was under the guard of Alessandro Bentivoglio. He was soon attacked by Ludovico Barbiano da Belgioioso. The Venetians sent Teodoro Manassi with 50 stradiotti (light cavalry), 20 men-at-arms, and 150 arquebusiers to support Medici. The Imperial captain was quickly forced to retreat to Monza, suffering the loss of four cannons and 400 infantrymen. With this victory, Medici now had the opportunity to control the Brianza area.
JuneLombardyNow faced with Antonio di Leyva, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici left the defense of Monguzzo in the hands of his brother Giovanni Battista and took the offensive. Receiving reinforcements from the French consisting of a substantial contingent of Swiss and Grisons troops, he attacked the castles of Brivio and Trezzo on the Adda. The wealthiest inhabitants from the surrounding areas were transferred to Monguzzo to extract ransoms from them.
JulyLombardyAntonio di Leyva encamped at Melegnano. Gian Giacomo de’ Medici, also known as Medeghino, decided to target Monza; he stopped with 2,500 infantry (although sources vary, with some citing up to 4,500) at Carate Brianza, ten miles from the Venetian camp. At dawn, he was unexpectedly attacked by the enemy. The Imperial forces deceived Medici‘s troops by pretending to be French reinforcements; they swapped their red sashes (the mark of Imperial soldiers) for the white ones used by the French. These were the distinguishing signs of the armies at the time, as proper uniforms had not yet been established.
The sentinels were fooled; the Swiss and Grisons infantry under Medici‘s command believed they had fallen into an ambush set by their own allies who had supposedly colluded with the enemy. Initially, the Swiss militias refused to support the action of the Italian arquebusiers; thus, Medici‘s troops were routed. Even the Grisons, who later realized their mistake, mounted a belated assault with pikes.
Medici managed to escape by leaping over a cart that blocked his path with his mount and then fleeing into the woods. The Imperials seized 14 flags, six of which were taken to Milan. Medici then retreated to the Three Parishes, where Francesco del Matto was stationed with a strong fleet.
Sept.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici resumed his raids and plundering between Civello and Como. He threatened Cantù and from Monte di Brianza he drove out enemy garrisons, imposing hefty ransoms on local inhabitants to fund his troops’ wages. His commissioner, Martino da Mondonico, was approached by Antonio di Leyva to hand over the castle of Perego, defended by Il Pozzo. The commissioner tied up some of his own men as if they were criminals, presented them to Perego late in the evening, and requested the castellan to guard the “prisoners.” Il Pozzo allowed them entry. During the night, Martino da Mondonico untied his comrades-in-arms and seized the castle in the name of the Imperials.
Medici immediately sent Niccolò Pelliccione to recapture the castle, apprehend the traitor and his men. All were brought to Monguzzo: Martino da Mondonico was tortured, and after revealing his plot, was executed by being “rolled alive”; the others were hanged.
At the same time, the Spanish governor of the area, Villaturello, considered using treachery as well: he listened to his prisoner, Gasparino Sardo, who promised to deliver Musso in exchange for his freedom. Sardo obtained a guarantee of 400 scudi from a friend, Palamede d’Adda, went to Musso, and double-dealt with Medici. Villaturello sent a brother with many soldiers to take over the fortress; the relative was to signal the success of the mission with a cannon shot from a brigantine moored nearby. The signal was given. Villaturello left Lecco with his troops. However, the attackers, under the command of the brother, fell into an ambush and were all killed; the Spanish governor crossed the lake with many armed men; at Mandello del Lario, he was informed of the actual events and decided to return to Lecco.
Oct.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici took control of Olginate and Brivio; he then embarked 300 infantry along with four pieces of artillery and assaulted Lecco, which was defended by a garrison of Calabrian infantry under the command of Lucio Brisighelli. Medici seized the bridge over the Adda and prepared to lay siege to the city with 700 infantry, while his fleet on the lake made it impossible for the Imperial forces, stationed at Como, to move in support of the city’s defenders. Brisighelli requested reinforcements from Antonio di Leyva.
Dec.LombardyGian Giacomo de’ Medici received further support from the Venetians, led by Antonio da Castello, Cesare Fregoso, and Annibale Fregoso, who brought seven banners of infantry and twelve pieces of artillery. He bombarded Lecco using falconets provided by the Serene Republic. Upon learning that 1,200 infantry, comprising Landsknechts and Spaniards under the command of the Spanish Caravacca, had entered Lecco from Oggiono with two banners of men-at-arms, 100 light cavalry, and two pieces of artillery, Medici decided to retreat to Malgrate with Antonio da Castello.
This maneuver allowed Caravacca to bring supplies and new troops (100 arquebusiers, many oxen, flour, salt, and gunpowder) into Lecco via several trips of a brigantine belonging to Brisighelli. The Imperial forces, utilizing the routes through Olginate and Cernusco—towns occupied by Medici’s troops—were able to return to Milan without sustaining losses.
Because of these developments, the Venetians began to suspect Medici of treachery; they withdrew part of their troops and some artillery pieces from the siege. As a result, Medici was left virtually alone to sustain the siege operations.
1528
Jan. – Feb.LombardyHe leaves his brother Giovanni Battista in Monguzzo and repositions himself around Lecco with 800 infantry; Antonio de Leyva (Antonio di Leyva) captures every boat on the lake to ensure that no more supplies reach the Medici by water. An additional imperial expedition arrives from Milan under the command of Peter da Birago (Pietro da Birago), consisting of 1000 infantry and 2 artillery pieces. The opponents seize the fortress of Olginate. At the end of the month, Philip Tornielli (Filippo Tornielli) and Ludovico Barbiano di Belgioioso join them with another 2000 Italian, Spanish, and Landsknecht infantry, 400 light cavalry, and two cannons. De Leyva camps with the rest of the army at Pioltello. The Medici, in turn, receive reinforcements from the Venetians and from the Sforza.
Mar.LombardyGian Giacomo Medici repels a sortie by the defenders of Lecco, inflicting heavy losses on them. The imperial forces lay siege to Olginate, defended by his cousin Antonio Maria Negri with about twenty arquebusiers. After ten days, the town surrenders under agreed terms, and the relative is killed: Medici avenges his death by boarding a brigantine and slaughtering those he encounters along his path. The opponents use the bridge over the Adda to trouble the Venetians positioned on the opposite bank of the river. Cesare da Napoli is the first to reach the Bergamo area; the Serene Republic’s troops, guarding the pass under the command of Ercole Rangoni, flee without resistance. Medeghino (Gian Giacomo Medici) requests 600 infantry from the provider Tommaso Moro: otherwise, he declares, he would have been forced to negotiate with the enemy, with whom he has already started some discussions. He receives 400 infantry for the defense of the Chiusa fortress, which, along with the port of Lecco, forms the advanced defenses of the town, and another 200 for defending the height overlooking Lecco.
The imperial forces, having unsuccessfully attempted to force the fortified passes controlled by Medici, send a large contingent to Carenno to bypass the Chiusa. The enemy pillages the countryside and, with booty and prisoners, descends to Calolzio: here they are ambushed by the condottiere who recovers the spoils and forces them to retreat across the lake to Olginate (200 dead on both sides). Mid-month, he requests more reinforcements. Philip Tornielli and Ludovico Barbiano di Belgioioso manage to cross the pass above Carenno, abandoned by the Serene Republic’s garrison. This failure forces Medici to withdraw from the Chiusa fort to Mandello del Lario with his fleet (9 large boats and 8 brigantines) and artillery. He retains four artillery pieces granted by the allies and transports them to Musso. At the end of the month, with his 17 vessels, he clashes on the lake against 300 infantry led by Ludovico Barbiano di Belgioioso on 4 boats: of these, one is sunk by cannon fire, one is damaged, and two flee towards Como with Belgioioso. He resumes negotiations with de Leyva through the latter’s brother Girolamo.
Apr.EmpireFrance, Venice, MilanLombardyWhile his ships are bombarding a lakeside village, Gian Giacomo Medici receives a message from his brother Giovanni Battista informing him of the successful negotiations with the imperial forces. He agrees to a settlement with the opponents (Treaty of Pioltello) and switches to their service; he is granted the fiefs of Musso, Monguzzo, Olonio, Lecco, Nibionno, Osteno, Porlezza, Menaggio, the Valle d’Intelvi, Valsolda, Valsassina, Valmadrera, and the Tre Pievi by Antonio de Leyva. He is awarded the marquisate title of Musso in exchange for 30,000 ducats paid in cash; he is obliged to provide 3,000 infantry for three months (2,000 of which are under the command of his brother Giovanni Battista) and to transport 5,000 sacks of wheat to Milan. During this period, he hosts the Landsknecht captain Marco Sittich at Musso, with whom he forms familial ties. He apologizes to the Venetians and the Sforzas for his betrayal and professes his good friendship: yet, within the same month, his men attack Fornovo San Giovanni in Bergamo and plunder Nollo.
MayLombardyMid-month, Gian Giacomo Medici is acquitted of all charges; his brothers and followers are also included in the imperial amnesty. He sends 500 infantry to Antonio de Leyva and cooperates in the conquest of Abbiategrasso.
JuneLombardyThe Milanese Senate refuses to recognize Gian Giacomo Medici’s ownership of Musso; he feigns a reconciliation with the French. Urged by Antonio de Leyva, he again descends into the valleys of Bergamo. He ravages Val Brembana and Val di Taleggio alongside his brother Giovanni Battista and Niccolò Pelliccione, leading 1300 infantry; they plunder Serina and Zogno, amassing booty worth 60,000 ducats. The loot is stored in the church of Zogno: the valley residents attempt to seize it; they are about to succeed when Venetian troops, sent to defend them, arrive. However, these troops also engage in looting; then, Medici’s men arrive and resolve the situation by securing the spoils for themselves from the pillages and loots. Medici also occupies Caprino Bergamasco and the Valle di San Martino, encountering little resistance.
…………SwitzerlandGian Giacomo Medici arms several boats on Lake Lugano and begins raiding the lakeside villages.
Oct.LombardyHe threatens the region of Bergamo.
Nov.LombardyHe requests a pass from the Grisons for his sister Clara (and her entourage of 120 people), who is to marry Marco Sittich. On the way to Mazzo di Valtellina, the archpriest of the locality is captured along with the Tegane. He engages in combat with the Grisons.
1529
Jan.LombardyHe demands to be granted the lordship of Como by the imperial authorities. Meanwhile, his troops, led by his brother Gabriele, join forces with those of Federico Borromeo. They ambush the imperial captain Cesare da Napoli, who is headed to Domodossola, seizing his artillery. Gian Giacomo Medici insists that two months’ pay for 200 infantry be acknowledged. The inhabitants of Domodossola prefer to surrender to him rather than to Ludovico Barbiano di Belgioioso. Antonio de Leyva concedes the town to the latter in exchange for money and provisions. The defender of Domodossola, Giovanni Pietro del Ponte, switches allegiance to the imperial service (an annual provision of 100 scudi, payable in four installments).
Apr.LombardyHe enlists 3000 Landsknechts.
MayLombardyHe is contacted by Guido Rangoni to return to the service of the anti-imperial league.
JuneLombardyHe continues his pirate raids on Lake Como. The Duke of Milan imprisons one of his followers, Antonio Dugnano; Medici raids Cantù and incarcerates many nobles, whom he has taken to Monguzzo. He proposes that his follower be released and that he himself be recognized as the rightful owner of Musso, Lecco, and the lake shores; in exchange, he offers to hand over Monguzzo to the Sforza and a sum of 40,000 ducats, of which 15,000 would be returned to him after a certain period. The negotiation is concluded by his brother Giovanni Battista with Massimiliano Stampa and includes a six-month truce. Under the pretext of the plague, he constructs a church dedicated to Saint Roch (in reality a tower) at Arcato on Lake Como near the border with the Grisons: they demand that he halt the construction and subsequently raze its walls to the ground.
JulyLombardy300 infantry and 60 cavalry from his companies carry out a raid in the Bergamo area.
Dec.LombardyThe Senate of Milan does not ratify the Treaty of Pioltello.
1530
Jan. – Mar.MediciMilan, GrisonsLombardyAt the conclusion of the conflict, Charles V is crowned Emperor and the Sforza is recognized as the Duke of Milan. Charles V does not grant Gian Giacomo Medici the investitures that had been agreed upon by Antonio de Leyva. Medici is stripped of all his possessions. To assert his rights, he hires German and Spanish soldiers and some condottieri left without pay due to the peace; he orchestrates the assassination of the governor of Valtellina, Giovanni Maino. The same fate meets the Grisons’ ambassador, Martino Bovellini, and his escort of four men, seven kilometers from Milan. He had been sent to the Duke of Milan to seek explanations about Medeghino’s role in the region. Medici suddenly enters Valtellina and occupies Morbegno, leaving a garrison there with his brother Gabriele. A bounty is placed on his head.
Apr.LombardyHe attempts to negotiate with the Sforzas using his brother, Giovan Angelo, archpriest of Mazzo di Valtellina, as an intermediary. He reaches an agreement with Count Federico Borromeo of Arona to have his sister Margherita marry Borromeo’s eldest son, Gilberto.
AutumnLombardySeeing the futility of his efforts, he strengthens the defenses of Musso, intending it to serve as a bulwark against Como.
…………LombardyHe unopposedly concentrates his troops in Musso and Monguzzo to combat the militias of the Grey Leagues. He continues to negotiate with the Sforzas.
1531
Feb.PiedmontHe patrols Lake Maggiore with a galley. He concludes a three-month truce with the ducal forces.
Mar.LombardyHe has four of his assassins kill three Grison ambassadors near Monguzzo as they return from Milan. He gathers new troops and awaits the arrival of 3000 Landsknechts sent to his aid by his brother-in-law Marco Sittich. He dispatches his forces to Valtellina, easily capturing Morbegno and sacking Delebio.
He is confronted by the governor of Valtellina, Giovanni di Marmora, who advances to retake Morbegno with 4000 armed men. Near Berbenno, they initially clash with Pelliccione and Riccio; advancing further, they engage in a bloody battle near Morbegno in the district of San Martino against Medici’s men. They are defeated and forced to retreat across the Adda, pursued by Gabriele Medici who emerges with the garrison from the town. Many enemies drown in the river while attempting to swim across. 500 Grisons are left dead, including Giovanni di Marmora, Martino Traverso, and Tegane.
During the same period, the Marquis of Musso ensures that his brother Giovan Angelo becomes the bishop of Chur. However, the Grisons rebel against this appointment, and their pressures lead him to resign not only from the bishopric but also from his position as archpriest of Mazzo di Valtellina.
Apr.
LombardyFollowing this victory, the Duke of Milan breaks the truce and allies with the Swiss and Grisons against him. At the same time, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria opposes his attempt to enlist Landsknechts under his command. In response to Sforza’s betrayal, Gian Giacomo Medici has a coin minted at the Musso castle mint with the motto “rupta fides” (broken faith).
Medici now has only 600 Spanish troops and 300 Neapolitan infantry at his disposal. Faced with an offensive led by Alessandro Gonzaga and Alessandro Bentivoglio, his brother Gabriele and Niccolò Pelliccione are forced to abandon Morbegno by night, after twenty-six days of resistance, and head towards the nearby mountains; they retreat to Colico where they find Medici’s flotilla to rescue them. The boat of Marco Grasso, carrying 40 Spanish infantry, is intercepted on the north shore of Lake Como because it is trapped near the shore by marsh vegetation. The captain surrenders under terms; he is taken to Morbegno and is here hanged along with 4 sailors despite the agreements made.
At the end of the month, the Emperor recalls the Spanish serving under Medici to the Netherlands, and the Duke of Milan blocks all his supply routes.
MayLombardyHe prepares for defense; he still has 17 ships, of which 7 have 48 oars each, equipped with several pieces of artillery firing 40-pound balls, with a hundred fighters on board. Medici sails aboard the “Brigantino,” while his brother Gabriele commands the “Indomabile”; other captains in his retinue include Falco di Nesso and Battista Borserio. His opponents are stronger on land. The Grisons enter Valsassina; he falls back to Gravedona where he fortifies himself with 2 pieces of artillery. Soon, Ludovico Vistarini and Giovanni Battista Speziano capture Gravedona, Menaggio, and Bellagio from him. He is forced to retreat to Dongo; there he leaves Francesco del Matto in defense and with Pelliccione, moves to Musso.
Here, he is besieged by 2000 Swiss and 1200 Sforza troops. Despite the terrain’s difficulty, within fifteen days the adversaries manage to position a battery of five cannons to bombard the walls. Medeghino makes a sortie from the castle, puts the besiegers to flight, and destroys their artillery positions.
JuneLombardyDeciding to risk everything with his captains, Niccolò Pelliccione and Mattiolo Riccio leave Musso to target Tre Pievi; Francesco del Matto is ordered from Dongo to raid along the same shore of Lake Como; he himself seeks an engagement with Ludovico Vistarini. He is repelled from Valtellina. He gathers his flotilla at Mandello del Lario and heads towards Menaggio. The battle occurs at Cadenabbia.
The ducal armada of Vistarini, consisting of 28 vessels, suffers a defeat (losing 300 men, including many prisoners). The survivors are thrown alive into the lake; 20 men are dragged to the shore at Tremezzo to be hanged there on the spot. In retaliation, the Duke of Milan orders 6 prisoners to be taken to Como; they are hanged overnight at the windows of the Broletto. During the same days, Gian Giacomo Medici moves his flotilla to Lecco.
JulyLombardyDue to a lack of provisions and money, he is abandoned by the constables Giovanni Battista Corso and Giovanni Paolo da Milano.
Sept.LombardyHe initiates new peace negotiations with his brother Giovanni Battista.
Oct. – Nov.LombardyHe crosses Lake Como and conducts troop landings at Dervio, Bellano, Varenna, and Mandello del Lario. Ludovico Vistarini, in response, sails towards Bellagio with the intention of trapping him in the Gulf of Lecco. Medici engages his rival; he suffers heavy losses, including the death of Francesco del Matto, killed by a cannon shot. He sends his brother Gabriele to Tre Pievi while he himself retreats to Lecco, where he is besieged by the Sforza forces.
Increasingly despondent, he appeals to the Emperor and the Archduke of Austria for peace; he even offers the castles of Musso and Lecco to the King of France for protection. The offer is declined. He also mints a coin made of a tin alloy at the castle of Musso, promising to reimburse holders with real currency at the end of the conflict.
Dec.LombardyPelliccione and Gabriele Serbelloni are left to defend Lecco. He orders some of his men to wear a white band over a red one, unlike the ducal forces who wear both bands red and over them a black cape to make themselves less visible and to shield from the pouring rain. He leaves Lecco by night with 92 infantrymen; he surprises the sentinels at the Sforza camp and drives his sword-armed men to assault. He attacks near the bridge, in the area known as Castello, targeting the camp of Colonel Alessandro Gonzaga. This captain is caught off-guard in his tent, bedridden with gout: Medici captures him along with the ducal commissioner Tanzio and 20 men, bringing them to Lecco; among the opponents, 150 men are killed; the ducal forces abandon 3 pieces of artillery on the field. The survivors partly retreat to the tower of Olginate, while others flee towards the valleys of Bergamo; the troops stationed at Malgrate take refuge in Erba.
At the same time, Luigi Borserio captures Olginate where he seizes numerous munitions and provisions. The soldiers guarding the stores are all thrown into the Adda. He crosses Lake Como with his flotilla and, near Olginate, raids the company of the Milanese bailiff; he seizes 200 barrels of wine, a lot of flour, cheese, and other provisions intended for the defenders of Lecco.
1532
Jan.LombardyNegotiations for peace continue: Medici requests for himself and his family the remission of all sentences, the ability to enjoy their properties in the Milanese territory, and 70,000 ducats for the cession of Lecco and Musso (35,000 immediately, the remainder upon delivery). Receiving no response, he attacks the opposing flotilla: he captures a boat armed with a cannon. The vessel is taken to Mandello del Lario. At the beginning of the month, he is joined by Cesare da Napoli and Cosco, who bring 400 Calabrian infantry from the Naples area.
Feb.LombardyGian Giacomo Medici plans to attack the Sforza garrison at Malgrate, which, by its presence, restricts the maneuverability of his flotilla. Near Malgrate, Corsino da Sant’Antonio with 2 companies and 2 pieces of artillery bombards Lecco. Mid-month, Medici, supported on land by Cesare da Napoli, attacks the fortifications of Malgrate from the lake with Luigi Borserio. Defending the location are 400 infantry under the command of Accursio da Lodi. The operation is carried out around midnight; Medici, with the help of Lanfranco da Mandello, Pedraccio da Erba, and Mazzone Visico, arrives at the location on several piotte (small boats) carrying arquebusiers, while comballi (another type of lake vessel suitable for transport) are loaded with numerous beams. These beams, carried by hand, are used as rams to break down the barricades and doors of houses. The opponents are overwhelmed and massacred. In one house, Accursio da Lodi is found. Awakened by the noise, he defends himself bravely with a sword but is killed by a halberd blow.
The survivors flee; Malgrate is set on fire. After the victory, Medici heads toward Como; his path is blocked at Civate by Girolamo Crivelli with many infantry and cavalry. He begins pillaging the lakeside villages with his fleet; his brother Gabriele joins him from Musso. They attack Menaggio, defended by Vistarini, but are repelled, and during the assault, his relative is killed. During this crisis, he pressures the imperial ambassador Martino Caracciolo to negotiate peace in Milan. He sends his brother Giovanni Battista to the Swiss and Giovan Angelo to the Duke of Milan to facilitate the negotiation. To aid the talks, he releases the ducal commissioner Tanzio and Alessandro Gonzaga, who had been captured earlier at Castello.
Sforza is uncertain; Medici resumes conflict against Vistarini’s troops. He decides to attack Gabriele da Ferrara, recalled from the siege of Musso; he sends his brothers Battista and Luigi Borserio with some vessels to recover the strongholds of Menaggio and Griante. Then, with Cesare da Napoli and 500 infantry, he attacks the ducal troops near Musso, slaughtering them. All prisoners are killed outright. The Duke of Milan, now also under pressure from the Bishop of Vercelli Agostino Ferrero, changes his stance. The agreement is made with Giovan Angelo de’ Medici: the news reaches him at Dongo. The terms include amnesty for Medici and his followers, a reimbursement of 35,000 ducats (10,000 immediately and the rest in two installments), and an annual income of 1,000 ducats in the Vercelli area; he is also granted the Marquisate of Marignano (Melegnano). In return, he must restore Lecco and Musso to the ducals. Medici initially refuses because, in the recent war, he has incurred expenses of 300,000 ducats. He attacks the ducal fleet again: among his troops, 40 men including the captain Luigi Borserio are killed; all boats fall into the hands of the opponents.
Mar.Lombardy, PiedmontGian Giacomo Medici accepts the terms proposed to him. A similar agreement is reached by his brother Giovanni Battista with the Swiss. He departs from Musso at the beginning of the month; military honors are accorded to him, and he is given 10,000 ducats as he heads to Lecco. After leaving that place with 25 halberdiers of his guard, he stops for lunch with the Marquis Massimiliano Stampa at Olginate.
Mid-month, he heads towards Piedmont with 500 infantry (of whom 120 remain under his command) and 12 pieces of artillery, 22 wagons of cannonballs, 4 of gunpowder, and 2 wagons full of pikes. He is accompanied by Captains Cesare da Napoli, Cosco, Pelliccione, Frate da Modena Domenico del Matto, Francesco da Pusterla (nicknamed Sponghino), Gasparino da Malgrate, Michele Sardo, Mariotto del Pero, Angelo da Muro, Domenico della Puta, Lorenzo da Piacenza, Giovanni Antonio da Tieveno, Antonio del Quarto, and Giorgio da Palestrina. He pays his men and continues to Vercelli, where he can enter only with the 25 halberdiers of his guard; the captains and other soldiers of the company stay outside the walls. The castle of Musso is demolished the same month by the Swiss and Grisons.
Apr.PiedmontIn Santhià, he is a guest of Filiberto Ferrero, lord of Candela.
JuneDuke of SavoyPiedmontHe enters the service of Duke Charles of Savoy, who enfeoffs him in the Vercelli area with Moncrivello, Giaianino, and several mills that provide him an annual income of 3000 ducats. Emperor Charles V confirms the investiture of Melegnano in his favor with a diploma issued from Regensburg.
Aug.PiedmontHe is in Turin where, in the Church of San Giovanni, Giacomo Folgore da Piossasco offends Count Claudio di Savoia, the Count of Tenda. Gian Giacomo Medici manages to calm the spirits of the disputants.
Nov.PiedmontHe is granted a new pension of 800 scudi per year.
1533
Feb.EmiliaHe follows the Duke of Savoy to Bologna. He takes the opportunity to visit the Venetian ambassador, Giovanni Basadonna.
Apr.PiedmontHe is granted the fiefdom of Lanzo.
MayPiedmontAlongside Piermaria dei Rossi, he confronts Marquis Gian Ludovico of Saluzzo at the head of 3000 infantry.
1534
Aug.France, SwitzerlandHe is in Chambéry to confront the Swiss; he immediately appears on the borders of Geneva with 4000 men, putting the cantons of Bern, Zurich, and others controlled by the Protestants on alert.
1536
Jan.SwitzerlandThe Swiss from the canton of Bern occupy the canton of Vaud.
Feb.France, PiedmontAlong with his brother Giovanni Battista, governor of Vercelli, he is unable to resist the actions of Saint-Pol in Bresse and Bugey. The Admiral of France, Gaspare di Coligny, occupies Savoy, forcing Medici to retreat to Piedmont with fewer than 4000 men.
Mar.PiedmontTogether with Filippo Tornielli and 4000 infantry, he counters the advance of Annebault and Montejean, attempting to block their passage through Susa. He withdraws in the face of superior enemy numbers, allowing them to reach Turin.
Apr.PiedmontMoving from Savoy, Gian Giacomo Medici, along with Filippo Tornielli, seizes a bridge near Turin; he fortifies his position with Giambattista Castaldo (between 4000/5000 infantry and 400/500 cavalry) along the banks of the Dora Baltea. With other commanders, he moves towards Grugliasco to provide relief to Bernardino Francesco Claramont, who is besieged in the castle of Mommigliano in Savoy. The defenders surrender due to a lack of provisions. Medici has the sergeant who ratified the surrender with the opponents hanged by one foot from a walnut tree near Grugliasco; later, he orders his men to kill the sergeant with arquebus fire.
Violently attacked by the French and the Landsknechts, he is forced to retreat to Vercelli.
MayPiedmontHe besieges Moncalieri alongside Giacomo Folgore di Piossasco.
June – JulyPiedmontWith the reorganization of the imperial forces, he lays siege to Turin alongside Marchese Francesco di Saluzzo (who has switched to the imperial side), Cesare da Napoli, and Giovanni Tommaso della Mirandola, commanding between 8000 to 10000 men. He enters Rivoli by night with 600 infantry through a small gate of the castle facing the Po River; the inhabitants resist, fearful of looting by his troops. He confronts Marco Antonio Cusano who is heading towards Savigliano for a diversionary action.
The siege of Turin persists until he is forced to retreat to Asti due to the arrival of Rangoni, who manages to get provisions and artillery into the city from Carignano.
…………PiedmontThe death of Antonio de Leyva and the subsequent replacement in command by Marquis Alfonso d’Avalos, Marchese di Vasto, his old adversary from the War of Musso during which many Spanish soldiers were hanged, leads to a diminution of his role.
Dec.LombardyAlfonso d’Avalos, the new Governor of Milan, jealous of the memory of his predecessor, lashes out against Gian Giacomo Medici, whom he considers to have been Antonio de Leyva’s most esteemed collaborator. Medici is accused of colluding with the French captain Ludovico da Birago; he is captured in the Ducal Palace of Milan the day after Christmas while dining with Cardinal Marino Caracciolo. His brother Giovanni Battista and Serbelloni are also imprisoned on the same charges of felony and treason. Following a summary trial, he is incarcerated in the Sforzesco Castle along with his relatives.
1538LombardyGian Giacomo Medici remains in prison for eighteen months; he is released through the efforts of the castellan Alvaro di Luna, owing to joint pressures from the Duke of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici, his brother-in-law Marco Sittich, and his brother Giovan Angelo, governor of Parma on behalf of the papacy. Before gaining his freedom, he is required to post a bail of 100,000 ducats, which is reduced by the Emperor to 20,000 ducats. Emperor Charles V summons him to his court for a time and entrusts him with a series of military tasks; upon his departure from Milan, he is given 20,000 scudi, partly as the remainder of his credit with the Sforza and partly as compensation for damages. He then travels to Spain.
1539LombardyGian Giacomo Medici returns to Milan to collect from the heirs of the deceased Duke of Milan the balance of the 20,000 ducats of previous credit, as well as the salaries owed to him for his service in Piedmont.
1540He operates in Flanders, specifically in Ghent. He oversees the construction of the citadel and suppresses a revolt by the inhabitants.
1541He is reported to be in the Riviera del Garda.
1542EmpireOttoman Empire3000 infantrymenHungary, AustriaGian Giacomo Medici fights the Turks on the Danube, leading 3000 Italian infantry and 500 light cavalry to aid the brother of Charles V, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. He commands a naval squadron. In Hungary, he distinguishes himself at Strigonia (Esztergom), where he defeats the Ottomans: the loot is donated to the Emperor and his friends Alvaro di Luna and Granvela; a portion is also given to Alfonso d’Avalos, with whom he has reconciled by this time. He constructs a pontoon bridge over the Danube, seizes the Island of Saint Margaret, and begins bombarding Pest with 40 pieces of artillery. The Turks organize a naval squadron and defend the city. Medici commands the river fleet.
Alessandro Vitelli camps with his infantry in the gardens of the royal palace; the German infantry are positioned further back. Pietro Pereno with the Hungarian cavalry patrols nearby to prevent reinforcements from reaching the city garrison. Vitelli advances to determine artillery placement; a sortie by the Janissaries challenges the attackers until Sforza Pallavicini‘s cavalry arrives. Vitelli and his Perugian infantry push the enemies back into Buda. Alongside Pereno and Duke Maurice of Saxony, he prepares an ambush, organizing his squads so that the pikemen are on the flanks — a formation unknown to the enemies — with arquebusiers at the center.
The Turks boldly exit through the Eastern Gate and other exits to charge Vitelli‘s troops. The pikemen and arquebusiers appear to falter against the larger number of opponents; they retreat to their lodgings where Pereno is positioned with many men. Maurice of Saxony, meanwhile, hits them from the back, cutting off their retreat. During an assault, while Medici is occupied chasing a deserter he wishes to punish, he is seriously wounded by a stone that throws him off his horse; he accidentally injures himself with his sword’s tip. Following initial successes, the Imperials decide to assault the locality. The Italian infantry move forward; the German and Hungarian infantry, however, remain stationary; only Medici with his vessels supports Pereno. The attack is repelled.
The Imperials decide to abandon the field; the German infantry choose to return home as the colder months approach. The artillery pieces are loaded onto Medici‘s ships as the army heads towards Vienna. Positioned in the rearguard with Vitelli and Pereno, he repels an enemy attack: however, he is unable to prevent the Turks from capturing 700 wounded Germans, who are all slaughtered in front of their powerless comrades. He returns to Esztergom; he is tasked with escorting the commander of the Hungarian militias, Pietro Pereno, accused of the expedition’s poor outcome, to Vienna. Alongside Filippo Tornielli, he presses the Archduke to ensure that Pereno is not executed. The captain is imprisoned; later, he will be confined in a city in Hungary.
Medici returns to Italy significantly richer: it is estimated that in Hungary, between pay and loot, his earnings amounted to 20,000 scudi.
1543
…………EmpireFranceCaptain General of ArtilleryGermanyIn Cologne, Gian Giacomo Medici is granted command of the artillery units in the conflict against the French forces led by Duke William of Cleves. He lays siege to Düren (Dura); the city is taken by the Italian infantry, with 600 of them killed just in overcoming a dyke of the moat that defends the city walls. Among the opponents, Zuchero is captured. Medici then bombards and sacks Cateau-Cambrésis, demonstrating his strategic and ruthless effectiveness in using artillery to breach defenses and devastate enemy strongholds. This series of military actions underlines his role as a capable and formidable artillery commander during the conflicts of his time.
AutumnFranceHe unsuccessfully besieged Landrecy (Landrecies). Falling ill, he returned to Milan.
1544
…………EmpireFranceLombardyHe is called to Piedmont by the Marquis of Vasto; he returns to Lombardy; he is therefore unable to provide assistance to the defenders of Carignano.
Apr.Lombardy, PiedmontFollowing the defeat of the Imperials at Ceresole Alba, he leaves Milan; he meets in Pavia with Governor Camillo Borromeo; from there, he moves to Asti to connect with d’Avalos. He plots at court with other captains for the removal of the Marquis of Vasto.
…………FranceHe is still in the Flanders; he takes part in the siege of Saint-Dizier and a bloody battle on the Marne. Engaged in the trenches in conversation with Ferrante Gonzaga, he stands up upon the arrival of the Prince of Orange to yield his place: the general is killed by a musket shot while Medici is explaining the course of operations to those present.
1545
Jan.He is granted the fiefdom of the Tre Pievi (Dongo, Gravedona, and Sorico).
Sept.FranceHis troops are lacking provisions; thus, he is forced to initiate peace negotiations with the opponents.
…………Under pressure from Pope Paul III (Paolo III) and his cardinal brother, he marries Marzia Orsini, daughter of Ludovico, Count of Pitigliano, and widow of Livio d’Alviano (son of Bartolomeo). According to some sources, the marriage is celebrated in spring rather than in autumn.
1546
Feb.In Piacenza, he serves as a judge at a joust organized by the Duke of Parma, Pier Luigi Farnese.
June – JulyEmpireProtestantsGermanyHe fights in Germany against the armies of the so-called Schmalkaldic League, led by John Frederick, Duke of Saxony, and Philip of Hesse. He commands the artillery. The Protestant army includes captains such as Sebastian Schartlin and William of Fürstenberg: 80,000 men, 14,000 horses, 120 artillery pieces, and 800 wagons that also transport 300 boats and other military equipment. He gathers German infantry at Fiessen with Aliprando Madruzzi and opposes the Saxons; falling ill, he is transported to Egra. He recovers, fords the Elbe with the Spanish infantry, and swiftly corners his opponents. He attacks 3,000 Swiss guarding Neuburg an der Donau. The place is sacked; the booty is estimated at 30,000 scudi. He distinguishes himself at Regensburg where he saves Charles V with a significant strategic action that would later earn him the title of Viceroy of Bohemia.
Aug.GermanyHe marches against Philip of Hesse, leading 12,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry. He is defeated by the Lutherans.
Sept.GermanyTogether with Pirro Colonna, he confronts Christopher of Oldenburg at Ingolstadt.
1547
Mar.GermanyAlongside Alvaro de Sande, leading 3,000 infantry, he supports the action of Margraves Albert and John of Luxembourg, who command 1,600 cavalry and another 3,000 infantry.
JulyGermanyHe assists Archduke Ferdinand of Austria with 4,000 German infantry. He arrives at Nuremberg with de Sande; they force the ford on the Elbe at Muhlberg, catching the Protestants by surprise. John Frederick, Duke of Saxony and Elector Prince, is captured.
…………BohemiaHe is transferred to Prague; there he quells a mutiny by German infantrymen who are owed several back payments. He subdues Bohemia and compels the inhabitants to acknowledge an annual tribute of 400,000 thalers to the King of the Romans (the Archduke of Austria); he severely punishes the soldiers of his regiment who mutinied. At the end of the campaign, he is reaffirmed in his command of the artillery, called to be part of the Aulic Council of War, and his position as Viceroy of Bohemia is maintained.
1548
Aug.LombardyMid-month, his wife dies without having a direct heir. With the Emperor’s permission, he names his brother Agostino, still unmarried, as his successor.
1549
Jan.LombardyHaving returned to Italy, he hosted the Spanish Infante, Philip II (Filippo II), in Melegnano.
1551
…………EmpireFrancePiedmont, EmiliaIn Piedmont, the French regained control of Chieri, San Damiano d’Asti, and much of the region. He then moved to defend Asti with Alvaro de Sande. An assault he led on the castle of Villafranca d’Asti was repelled. Related by marriage to Octavio Farnese (Ottavio Farnese), he was soon sent by Charles V (Carlo V) to his relative to persuade him to join forces with the imperial troops and to accept the possession of Parma as an imperial fief. After receiving a negative response, he served under Ferrante Gonzaga in the Parma War against the same Farnese and his French allies.
JulyEmiliaHe participated in the siege of Colorno, during which he devastated the surrounding countryside, notably by setting fire to the crops; he brought in 14 pieces of artillery from Borgo San Donnino (Fidenza); he demanded the surrender of the defenders led by Amerigo Antinori. Upon their refusal, he began bombarding the castle; within half a day of firing, he had demolished a good portion of the walls. The Spaniards, protected by a trench that reached the moat, approached the walls with ladders and prepared for a nighttime assault. Frightened, Amerigo Antinori surrendered under terms and handed himself over to Ferrante Gonzaga. The Medici plundered the Parma area and vainly tried to block Piero Strozzi at the bridge over the Enza, who was advancing from the Bolognese area to defend Parma with 1500 infantry and 200 cavalry. On this occasion, he was suspected of deliberately delaying his movements to facilitate Octavio Farnese. Ferrante Gonzaga decided not to investigate him for this accusation.
Sept.EmiliaDuring the siege of Parma, he took command of the operations when Ferrante Gonzaga had to move to Piedmont to confront the advance of the French under Brissac. Under his command were 800 cavalry (including 200 from the Papal States), 2000 German infantry, and 2000 Italian infantry; due to this force composition, he withdrew seven miles from the vicinity of the city. He distributed his troops between Castelguelfo, Noceto, Montecchio Emilia, Castelnuovo, and Brescello to cut off the supply lines to Parma. He failed to recapture Guardasone because supplies and ammunition continued to flow into Parma via the mountain routes.
…………EmiliaHe did not hesitate to sentence Alessandro Pallavicini to death upon learning that this captain, who was guarding Fidenza, allowed several shipments of wheat intended for the besieged city to pass through. He orchestrated a diversionary action on Sala Baganza. He clashed with Francesco d’Este.
1552
Apr.EmiliaHe once again led his forces against Colorno, hoping to secure it through negotiation; along the way, his soldiers mutinied due to delayed pay. This incident allowed Orazio Farnese to move towards the location; the French were repelled, and he chased them up to San Martino, capturing many prisoners.
MayEmilia, LombardyWith the signing of a truce between the parties, he failed to seize the forts left by the Papal forces to the French around Mirandola. He was preceded in Quarantoli by Paolo Orsini, who, with few men, repelled the attack by his Spanish arquebusiers: the fort was demolished to prevent it from coming under his control.
…………Emilia, FranceAccused of being too lenient with the opponents, he was transferred with 4000 Italian infantry (many of whom were Tuscan) to the Duchy of Lorraine.
Oct.Germany, FranceThe inspection of his troops took place in Augsburg in the presence of the Emperor; he then moved to the siege of Metz under the command of the Duke of Alba, Don Ferdinando di Toledo. The imperial army consisted of 14,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, and had 60 pieces of artillery; defending the city were the Duke of Guisa, Orazio Farnese, and Piero Strozzi. Despite his ailments, he joined the Duke of Alba at Belle-Croix to inspect the French defenses and to search for the best sites for soldier encampments.
Nov.FranceHe moved with the camp; positioning himself at the Abbey of Saint-Clément and at Saint-Arnoul. Piero Strozzi managed to surprise a Spanish corps near the Tower of Hell; for his part, he confronted the French cavalry and routed them. He persuaded the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg to defect to the imperial side; he also attempted to contact Orazio Farnese to encourage him to advocate for a negotiated surrender.
1553
Jan.FranceDue to the cold, he was forced to abandon the siege operations at Metz.
…………General captainHe returned to Italy, where his infantry were paid punctually. He was granted a company of men-at-arms. He replaced Ferrante Gonzaga in command of the troops when the latter was accused of misgovernment in the Duchy of Milan.
…………FlorenceFranceGeneral captainTuscanyHe is tasked with seizing Siena, which is defended by Piero Strozzi. He heads towards San Donato in Poggio (San Donato) with 3500 infantry and 300 cavalry to defend Piombino from potential assaults by the opponents.
1554
Jan.TuscanyInitially, he attempts to seize Siena through a treaty. He sends Camillo da Cesena to the city, who pretends to have deserted from the Imperial army. Camillo befriends many soldiers of the Gascon, Chiaramonte. The conspiracy is discovered due to accusations made against him by a soldier he had contacted. The Medici then leaves Poggibonsi by night, carrying many ladders; he reaches Staggia in great silence. Approaching Siena with 300 infantry, he takes control of the Devil’s Palace and a poorly guarded bastion built by Termes near the Camollia Gate, manned by just 40 infantry. He also occupies some houses and hostels nearby; however, he is unable to continue the action due to the delayed arrival of the allied army of Cosimo de’ Medici, which is blocked by the resistance of Lorenzo da Castiglione. The Medici fortifies his position; Strozzi, who is currently reviewing the fortresses of Grosseto, Massa, Porto Ercole, and other locations in the Maremma, immediately moves to defend Siena.
Feb.TuscanyHe does not directly assault Siena, knowing well that it is heavily fortified; instead, he opts for a waiting tactic, relying on the fact that the previous year’s harvest has been destroyed.
Mar.TuscanyAt the head of 600 Italian infantry and an equal number of foreign troops, along with 2 pieces of artillery, he captures Aiuola, a fortified village belonging to the Bellanti family, located between Siena and Castellina in Chianti; he then takes Tolfa, where there are 50 peasants and a few soldiers living off brigandage: the defenders surrender at discretion after a valiant resistance. He hangs 17 of them; he threatens this fate to all those who dare resist his men. Similar atrocities occur in Torrita di Siena, Asinalonga (Sinalunga), Scopeto, Chiocciola, and Santa Colomba, all places that offer the same resistance. In the last location, he releases the women and children and hangs the adults who, nevertheless, had surrendered after some cannon shots. He enters Belcaro, which Strozzi tries to assist; he also captures Lecceto, an Augustinian convent.
Apr.TuscanyWith 3000 infantry—Germans, Spaniards, and Italians—and 2 pieces of artillery, he decides to occupy a Benedictine monastery near the village of San Marco in Siena. He attacks the fortress, defended by Ventura da Castello with 120 infantry, under the cover of a dense fog; nearby is Cornelio Bentivoglio with 800 infantry; he is forced to retreat into the city. The Medici positions Bombaglino with 500 arquebusiers on a small hill to prevent any sorties from the defenders through the San Marco Gate. There is a fierce skirmish with Strozzi, who arrives to assist the monastery’s men. The latter agree to surrender on the condition of receiving three pay instalments and the retention of their artillery pieces. The Medici orders an assault that meets fierce resistance; Strozzi reorganizes 1000 infantry and some cavalry; he exits through the Ovile gate and attacks the Imperial trenches. The Medici is forced to retreat; remaining at the monastery’s siege are Chiappino Vitelli and Carlo Gonzaga. Ventura da Castello is forced to surrender unconditionally due to the lack of provisions: the soldiers are released with their swords on the promise not to serve the French for three months. The Medici leaves the field with 1000 infantry and 150 cavalry to monitor Siena’s defenses up to San Lazzaro. During the same days, he establishes his headquarters at Belcaro in a villa designed by the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi.
MayTuscanyAt the Devil’s Palace, where his quarters are located, he hangs 4 peasants and 2 soldiers captured at Vignano while they were trying to smuggle provisions into Siena. This provokes the wrath of Strozzi, who, in retaliation, hangs 4 Spanish prisoners previously captured, within the citadel. The Tuscan captain also threatens to do the same to the captains in his custody, including Ascanio della Cornia, who is his prisoner. The Medici‘s response is swift; he erects a couple of gallows at the fort in front of the Camollia Gate; Strozzi, in return, raises an equal number in the citadel. This causes protests from the Spanish soldiers who fear for the lives of their comrades captured by the French. The Medici will not use this method as frequently thereafter. He unsuccessfully attempts to deceitfully take control of Monteriggioni by sending a forged letter from Strozzi to Captain Giovanni Zeti, who is defending the castle. He occupies Vitignano and Ancaiano; he refrains from hanging peasants for some time.
JuneTuscanyPiero Strozzi leaves Siena, evading the surveillance of his men to shift the conflict to the Chianti region. When The Medici learns that the opposing captain has reached Casole d’Elsa, he cuts across the valley and arrives at San Casciano in Val di Pesa to block his path. He moves to Empoli, positions 1000 arquebusiers at Serravalle, crosses the Arno, and reaches Pescia with 7000 infantry before Strozzi has managed to cross the river himself. He avoids direct conflict and takes refuge in Pistoia: Montecatini Alto and Montecarlo are then occupied by the French.
JulyTuscanyThe Medici connects with Giovanni de Luna; together, the two captains (with 10,000 infantry and 800 cavalry) reach Piero Strozzi in the forest of San Vivaldo. In the skirmish, more than 1000 men from both sides die; 200 wounded are transported to Lucignano d’Arbia. The French break through the Imperial blockade and reach Casole d’Elsa. Gian Giacomo de’ Medici returns to the vicinity of Siena, positioning himself in front of the Roman Gate; Strozzi forces him to move in front of the Camollia Gate. The Medici proceeds along the road of Ponte or Bozzone, recaptures Vignano and the fortress of Santa Regina, and captures Mario Sforza and his brother, the Prior of Lombardy, at Civitella Marittima. Piero Strozzi now targets Marciano; The Medici has another major confrontation with the enemy nearby (700 dead and wounded among the French; 200 among the Imperials). The enemies retreat due to lack of water and supplies.
Aug.TuscanyAt the head of 2000 Spaniards, 4000 Germans, 6000/7000 Italians, and 1200 light cavalry, he routs Strozzi between Marciano della Chiana and Lucignano d’Arbia at Scannagallo. He sends 70/80 horses ahead for reconnaissance and pushes 2000 Italian and Spanish arquebusiers to attack the enemy while waiting for his cavalry and the rest of the infantry to arrive. The cowardice of the French cavalry, commanded by Ludovico della Mirandola and Ludovico Borgonovo, and the poor resolve of the Grisons serving the French cause the enemy ranks to disperse. The conflict lasts two hours; in it, 4000 men die—Grisons, Italians, and Gascons—compared to only 200 soldiers among the Imperials. The victory is also facilitated by the betrayal of a French ensign who, bribed by The Medici with twelve flasks of tin full of gold coins, flees first, causing disorder in his own cavalry ranks. The number of prisoners, carriages, and artillery pieces captured by the Imperials is significant, as are the infantry (60) and cavalry (23) flags, all of which are taken to Duke Cosimo de’ Medici in Florence by his brother-in-law Marco Sittich. At the end of the fight, he allows the surviving Grison infantrymen to return to their lands.
He departs the field with six pieces of artillery, 2000 Italian infantry, two divisions of Germans, and the Spanish tercio, fresh from Corsica, to take possession of Monteriggioni, which is handed over to him by Giovanni Zeti for 4000 ducats and the promise of reinstatement in the Florentine state. He conquers other castles such as Ruosoli, Bibbiano, Torrenieri, and Trequanda (by agreement); for his victory, he is gifted 50000 scudi confiscated from the rebel Bindo Altoviti.
Oct.TuscanyHe besieges Siena with increased ferocity: he captures all the peasants he can find despite having issued them work permits; he sends them all to work on the fortifications of Florence; he destroys houses, vineyards, and plants up to a mile from the city. Piero Strozzi once again eludes his surveillance and abandons Siena. The Medici moves to the Maremma, seizing Monticiano and Chiusdino. He attacks Casole d’Elsa; he bombards the castle with 10 cannons and a culverin: the Milanese exile Pompeo della Croce, who is guarding it with Camillo da Martinengo (4 companies of infantry and one of cavalry), contacts him; on the promise of being allowed to return to the Duchy of Milan, he finds a gate left open for him. The town is sacked and Camillo da Martinengo is taken prisoner to Florence. He takes possession of Massa Marittima.
Nov.TuscanyHe reaches an agreement with the Duke of Somma to acquire Grosseto through negotiation; he sets his sights on the city. Upon hearing that Piero Strozzi is aware of the plot, he returns towards Munistero. With 3000 men and 4 pieces of artillery (2 small and 2 large caliber), he assaults the tower of Crevole defended by Giulio da Thiene with two banners of French infantry: after five days of bombardment, the enemies are forced to surrender; the soldiers are released, and Giulio da Thiene is taken to Florence. He returns to besiege Siena, setting up his camp first at Montecchio (where Chiappino Vitelli remains) and then at Belcaro.
Dec.TuscanyHe continues to be ruthless with the peasants attempting to bring provisions to the besieged in Siena: many are hanged, sometimes personally by The Medici using a type of hammer that also serves as a cane, or by the hands of others; he also has the “useless mouths” who try to leave the city killed. He demands the surrender of Siena and threatens to exterminate its inhabitants in case of victory. On Christmas Eve, he silently approaches the hill of Ravacciano with Chiappino Vitelli; the venture fails with the loss of more than 200 men because the ladders used are found to be inadequately long.
1555
Jan.TuscanySiena is bombarded with 26 pieces of artillery; additional batteries positioned between the Ovile Gate and Ravaniana Gate also have similarly unsuccessful results. He continues to threaten to hang any peasants caught bringing provisions: Blaise de Monluc retorts sharply and declares that he will have the drummers sent to the city to demand its surrender quartered.
Feb.TuscanyDespite these skirmishes, he sends Blaise de Monluc a roebuck, 4 hares, 4 pairs of chickens, and other comfort goods. He entices the defenders to switch to his side by offering them his pay.
Mar.TuscanyHe surprises a column of 900 German and Grison infantry, who had exited through the Roman Gate along with 400 French and Italian arquebusiers aiming for Montalcino: the Imperial cavalry attacks them, causing heavy casualties (600 soldiers dead and wounded).
Apr.TuscanyNegotiations for the surrender of Siena, increasingly exhausted by famine, begin. Meetings take place at Belcaro and San Lazzaro with Blaise de Monluc, Cornelio Bentivoglio, and the Count of Caiazzo to inform them of an agreement concluded in Florence. A few days later, he enters Siena to the sound of trumpets, the rolling of drums, and flags fluttering in the wind, accompanied by his staff and flanked by 300 cavalry. Welcomed at the Roman Gate by the city government officials, he moves to the San Lazzaro Gate with Chiappino Vitelli to ensure that no harm comes to the Sienese who prefer to leave the city with the French. He embraces Monluc; in bidding farewell to the opposing captain, he also takes the opportunity to pay tribute to the King of France. He enters Siena and immediately arranges for the introduction of provisions. Dismounting at the cathedral square, after a brief reception in the sacristy, he enters the cathedral with his entourage and attends the solemn mass. He leaves Sforza Sforza in charge of the city’s guard and, feeling unwell, returns that evening to his headquarters at Belcaro, then proceeds to Florence where he is welcomed by Francesco de’ Medici and Paolo Giordano Orsini.
MayTuscanyHe leaves Pienza with 11 banners of Landsknechts and 9 of Spaniards, moves down to Saturnia, and via Marsiliana and Ansedonia, heads towards Porto Ercole to attack Piero Strozzi, after ten days. He positions his quarters in the valley of Pertuso, out of the artillery range of the forts controlled by the French. He quickly identifies the weak points of the enemy’s defensive system. He sends Chiappino Vitelli with 1500 infantry through cliffs and thickets to first attack the Fort of Sant’Ippolito, the highest situated fort and from which all other defensive works can be targeted.
JuneTuscanyAt the beginning of the month, he assaults the Fort of Stronco or Strozzi. He lands his cannons and begins the bombardment. At night, the Mediceans, aided by 2 galleys of Andrea Doria and another 4 commanded by Marco Centurione, occupy the small island called d’Ercole (or Ercolino) at the entrance of the harbor, garrisoned by a hundred men including French and Italians. The opponents are no longer able to keep the galleys at bay. This allows the ships to approach the harbor and maintain continuous artillery fire on it.
Meanwhile, substantial reinforcements arrive at Porto Ercole led by the Count of Caiazzo (who has switched to the Imperial side) and Ottobono Fieschi. Piero Strozzi realizes that the fortresses can only hold out for a few more days, especially since the arrival of the allied Turkish fleet is far off: he embarks and sets sail for Civitavecchia. The Medici renews the attack on Fort Stronco/Strozzi which, with the departure of the Florentine captain, is now defended by Vico Nobili. After securing its surrender, he instructs Gabriele Serbelloni to begin bombarding Fort Avvoltoio. His soldiers plunder everything they find, not even respecting the tomb of Leone Strozzi. Finally, the forts of Galera, Sant’Elmo, and Gasparino also fall into his control. Twenty-eight Florentine exiles are captured, some of whom will be beheaded in Florence. He returns to Florence, greeted with all honors by the Duke.
Sept.EmpireFrancePiedmontHe meets the Duke of Alba, Don Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, at Pontestura. He immediately quells a mutiny of the Landsknechts: each man is given a shield, promised half-pay within eight days, and subsequent half-pays at the same intervals until the full debt owed to the troops is settled. He personally guarantees these promises.
Oct.LombardyRecalled to Milan, he dies suddenly in his palace. At the same time, the King of Spain, Philip II, awards him the Order of the Golden Fleece, an honor that The Medici is unable to accept due to his death. He dies from complications following the development of severe catarrh, which the doctors at his bedside treat with an ointment that, in reality, hastens his death. Another version states that he dies due to the administration of a poison contained in a syrup for catarrh prescribed by his doctor. At his bedside is the Duke of Alba, Fernando Alvarez de Toledo. Initially, his body is transported, with an honor guard escort, to the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista in Melegnano and buried in the chapel of the Immaculate Conception; later, in 1562, his brother (Pope Pius IV) commissions a marble mausoleum for him (designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti and executed by the Arezzo-born Leone Leoni) in Milan’s cathedral. His body is placed in the right nave of the southern transept (the chapel of the Assumption and St. James, later called the Medici Chapel).
In the main church of Cima, a district of Porlezza, there is a relief depicting the Lion of Saint Mark, symbolizing Gian Giacomo de’ Medici‘s alliance with the Serenissima. A medal by Francesco da Sangallo features his bust on the front with his name, and on the back, the inscription “Senis receptis” with a dog lying tied to a palm. A portrait by Giorgio Vasari can be seen in the Sala di Cosimo at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Gian Giacomo de’ Medici transforms the current castle of Melegnano into a Renaissance residence, adorned with fresco cycles, stuccos, coffered ceilings, and large marble fireplaces. To the original Medici family coat of arms (six red balls with a gold ball), The Medici adds the imperial eagle with a golden crown when he acquires the castellany of Musso. He marries Maria Orsini, daughter of Ludovico.

Sources

-“Era questi di mezzana tacca, ma ben tagliato di tutte le membra, largo il petto, bianca e ridente la faccia, dolce la guardatura e penetrante, persuasivo il discorso, vestiva poco meglio che soldatello, parlava il pretto milanese, il che unito a quella sua maniera alla sodatesca, lo rendeva molto popolare: tenacissimo della disciplina, audace all’immaginare, pronto al compire le imprese: insofferente della pace, lontano dalla voluttà, fantaccino o capitano secondo occorreva, amato e venerato insieme da suoi soggetti; feroce, acerbo, inflessibile lo trovavano i nemici ed i trasgressori de’ cenni suoi.” CANTU’

-“Uomo intraprendente, e non pertanto consigliato, perseverante, crudele, e tenuto in conto di uno de’ migliori generali dell’ imperatore.” SISMONDI

-“Il più astuto uomo che si trovasse nel mestier della guerra ..Personaggio di bassi principi, uno che s’era acquistato fama di valente e scaltro Condottier d’armi, e insieme d’uomo inumano, e di gran cacciatore ed amator della pecunia.” MURATORI

-“Astutissimo uomo nella guerra.” SEGNI

-“E’ homo il prefato castellano per far ogni bel tratto.” SANUDO

-“Si acquistò..non poca celebrità nelle faccende della guerra.” BOTTA

-“E’ riputato bonissimo soldato, e che intende molto bene la guerra: diligentissimo, di molta fatica e di molta pratica. Disegna però sempre all’utilità sua particolare, e cerca d’avvantaggiarsi per ogni via..Ben complessionato e bellissimo omo, di condizione populare ed artesano, di animo gagliardo, pratico e de la guerra ben instrutto.” Da una relazione di Bernardo Navagero riportata dall’ALBERI

-“Notabilissimo Capitano de tempi nostri.” SANSOVINO

-“Servì con gradi militari honorevoli a diversi capitani, de’ primi di Carlo (Carlo V), onde divenne un distillato, per così dire, di virtù militari e nel generalato si acquistò gran nome.” LETI

-“Non ha Milano ad invidiare a Roma/ Quei, ch’hebbe in guerra già famosi heroi,/ Che ‘l Medici è più degno hoggi fra noi/ Di quanti ne’ trionfi ornar la chioma./ Qual vanto, a dir il ver, fa l’haver doma/ Africa ed Asia a i lidi Eoi,/ Con legion cento, e ‘l gran poter de’ suoi,/ S’a imbelli, e inermi sol poser la fama?/ Questi con pochi armati audace, e forte/ Atterrò ovunque Europa havea la guerra/ L’immenso stuol d’armati, e fier nemici./ D’altre arme, altre bombarde, altre lorici,/ Orma la fama il suo trionfo in terra/ Onde a Milano Roma invidia porte.” Nato in privata fortuna, scacciato da Milano sua patria, i principali della quale città, e alfine il proprio duca gli furono e inimici e persecutori; chiuso in un castello senza aiuto alcuno, solo con l’industria sua s’aperse la strada, con tanta varietà di fortuna, e tra tanti emuli, e invidiosi, di ascendere a quel generalato di esserciti, che per prudenza e felicità fu rarissimo a’ nostri giorni..Fu il marchese di Marignano di mediocre statura, largo in petto co ‘l resto delle membra proportionate, di faccia bianca e ridente, di guardatura dolce e penetrante, hebbe un’efficace e naturale persuasiva non punto aiutata da artificiose parole, però che egli parlò sempre la semplice lingua milanese, e più tosto la plebea che la nobile; e questa congiunta con una piacevolissima maniera di accogliere a accarezzare ogni sorte di persone, lo rendevano grato e amabile a chiunque haveva da conversare seco. Nelle sue imprese usò prestezza e vigilanza..Fu di modo rissoluto, che lodava più gli estremi che i mezzi, contro i trasgressori della obedienza fu più tosto crudele che severo, stimandolo fondamento della vera disciplina militare. Ne’ pericoli di guerra fu sempre seguito da’ suoi con allegria, come certi di esser condotti all’utile e honore, e di qui avvenne ch’egli fu sempre temuto e amato in tutte le sue attioni così piacevoli, come d’importanza..Hebbe in odio i detrattori e maldicenti; e egli con molta modestia e simplicità di parole pungea chi lo meritava..Fu tenuto molto avventuroso e amico della fortuna.” MISSAGLIA

-“Capitano molto avveduto..Fu di statura giusta e di carnagione bianca, d’occhi azzurri e di barba e capelli neri.” ROSCIO

-“Soldato vecchio e essercitato in tante guerre.” ROSEO

-“Che non è alcuno che non sappia il suo grande valore per le sue maravigliose prodezze.” ULLOA

-“Audace condottiero di bande di ventura e grande capitano di eserciti regolari, astuto politico che seppe tener alto il nome italiano.” SPRETI

-“Il qual’ ha dato nome immortale a se stesso, alla casa e alla patria, per essere egli stato de’ bravi guerrier ch’abbi havuto la nostra città molti anni sono.” MORIGI

-“Uno dei più celebri capitani del secolo XVI.” BOSI

-“Generoso ed intendente Capitano..Il più avventurato capitano della nostra età.” MONTALVO

-“Stimato in questa età uno de più cauti e esercitati Capitani che in guerra si adoperasse..Valoroso guerriero.” ADRIANI

-“Generale d’eserciti nominatissimo.” GAMURRINI

-“Soldato di molto valore e di lunga sperienza.” MANNUCCI

-“Prima juventa ferox, inquies, iratusque natalium suorum fortunae, ex qua nihil nisi inopem nobilitatem, et magnae stirpis inane nomen haberet.” RIPAMONTI

-“Egregie enutritus, indole mox aetatem vicit, magna virtute ad gloriam enitens. Statura mediocre fuit, pectore lato, totoque corpore pulcher: adspectus suavis, non sine acrimonia, oculis penetrans, tanquam maiestatem gratiis iungeret: natura facundus, ingenio acer, manu fortis, moribus comis: disciplinae tenax, in delicti severus: si quid agendum celer; ad omnia promptus, et gratus omnibus, quem qui armabant, simul verebantur: otii impatiens, voluptatem oror: miles et dux, strenuus et magnus.” CARDANO

-“Ut invidiae, dum vivent, obnoxius; ita stilo dignus fuit: vir animo manuque fortis, et quem posteritas admiretur..Ita incredibili industria et innato vigore animi, plane stupente Europa, ad excelsa belli vota perrupit: gloriosus quidem, quod ex ipso silentii profundo emergere tam felici conatu potuerit, et cum summa virtus promitteret, mediocria amplexus sit.” PUTEANO

-“Sebbene non mancasse di valore era troppo cauto nelle sue risoluzioni, e volendo operare sul sicuro si rendeva perciò tardo di maniera che egli considerava, lo Strozzi eseguiva; poco provido in prevedere il futuro si occupava solo del presente..; geloso soverchiamente del comando volea risolvere tutto, e disgustando i subalterni perdeva il tempo nel dettaglio degli affari dell’esercito più che nella direzione generale dell’ impresa; singolarmente avido di qualunque guadagno voleva intervenire a tutte le imprese per partecipare delle prede; collerico e tenace del suo parere non ammetteva l’altrui consiglio..Il pubblico attribuì al suo valore l’acquisto di Siena e il duca Cosimo lo attribuì alla propria vigilanza e al proprio consiglio reputando il marchese un mediocre e lento esecutore delle sue risoluzioni.” GALLUZZI

-“Fu sinistro e capace personaggio del Cinquecento.” BELOTTI

-“Insigne capitano milanese..Capacità militare indiscussa” SEGRE

-“Applicatosi fin dai primi anni al mestiere delle armi, vi era riuscito per uno dei più arditi ed astuti, egualmente che uno dei più fortunati e prodi. Robusto di persona, coraggioso, crudele e pronto ad eseguire le più arrischiate imprese, tutto pareva agevole alla sua cupidigia, perché egli e giuramenti e vite aveva come a gioco.” CROLLALANZA

-“Capitano..attivo, intraprendente, famoso per le sue molte spedizioni e depredazioni militari.” G. ROVELLI

-“Quest’ufficiale, nato vilmente, si era sollevato di grado in grado sino a quello di generale, e la reputazione che egli erasi acquistata nell’armi lo aveva messo nella sfera de’ più valenti capitani di questo secolo guerriero..Mostrossi piuttosto crudele che severo mantenitore della militare disciplina. Nei rischi di guerra era sempre seguito con allegria, come da chi è certo di essere condotto alla gloria e all’utilità. Abbandonati i giovanili disordini, abborrì talmente certi piaceri che soleva maravigliarsi di coloro che dicevano non saper vivere senza qualche dolce compagnia. Affermava suo maggior diletto pensare alla guerra ed alla casa, ma più alla guerra.” ROMEGIALLI

-“Se fit signaller pour bon capitaine et hazardeux.” BRANTOME

-“Audace condottiero di bande di ventura e grande capitano di eserciti regolari.” COMANDINI

-“Figura non inappuntabile dal punto di vista morale, ma senza dubbio coraggiosa e piena d’iniziative.” BESTA

-“Seppe far rifulgere sui campi di battaglia d’Oltralpe il valore delle armi e l’ardimento italiano.” BIGNAMI

-“…Marignan persona accorta/ Pratico, anzi invecchiato nella guerra/ Comanda a tutti, ogniun prega & esorta/ Ch’il valor la faccino alzar da terra/ Et chi si mostri ogn’un forte, & veloce/ Che salvo tornò la vermiglia Croce (simbolo degli imperiali).” L. PIERI

-“O di Marignan Marchese valoroso/ che del Imperio sei maggior colonna/ quanto nell’armi sei vittorioso/ c’ha dimostrato ben la tua persona/ che di mille trophei tu sei pomposo/ in le tue braccia Siena hor ti si dona/ e a te si raccomanda in tal periglio/ sì come a padre il piccoletto figlio.” Dal “Lamento della magnifica città di Siena” in GUERRE IN OTTAVA RIMA

-Mentre il primogenito Gian Giacomo (1495-1555)”audace e brutale condottiero di bande di ventura, grande capitano di eserciti imperiali ed astuto politico, fu creato Marchese di Marignano dal duca Francesco II Sforza (1495-1535) ed insignito dell’ambita e prestigiosa onorificenza del Toson d’Oro, il secondogenito Giovan Angelo (1499-1565), dottore in diritto canonico e civile, avviato alla carriera ecclesiastica, salì al soglio pontificio con il nome di Pio IV ed ebbe il merito di concludere il Concilio di Trento. Tra gli altri fratelli si annoverano Gian Battista (1535-1545), che seguì da vicino le orme del fratello primogenito, Gabriele (+1531), eccellente condottiero, ed Agosto (Agostino) (1501-1570) che, sposato a Barbara del Maino, diede i natali all’unico continuatore della dinastia del marchesato, Gian Giacomo II (1558-1599). Delle cinque sorelle tre andarono monache, mentre Clara (n. 1507) sposa di Wolf Dietrich von Ems zu Hohenems (Marco Sittich di Altemps), conte del Sacro Romano Impero e condottiero di lanzichenecchi, diede origine all’omonima famiglia romana, e Margherita (1510-1547), andata sposa al conte Giberto Borromeo, diede i natali a San Carlo, cardinale di Milano.” ROCCULI

-“Altri storici coevi lo descrissero come una persona comunque robusta, di media statura, con braccia nerborute, viso bianco, capelli neri e ricciuti, era solito lasciarsi in viso una folta barba, la fronte era alta, le sopracciglia foltissime racchiudevano il viso con un naso aquilino. Vestiva come semplice soldato, dormiva poco e aveva l’abitudine di mordersi le unghie; pretendeva dai suoi seguaci una disciplina ferrea, non ammetteva discussioni ai suoi ordini ed era sempre il primo a dare l’esempio per quanto riguardava i sacrifici e l’iniziativa militare…Dopo il periodo dedito all’erudizione passò, con tutti i suoi coetanei, all’arte della guerra, e fu proprio con il mestiere delle armi che il Medici si affermò come valente ed ardito condottiero. Le sue avventure sfiorarono spesso la leggenda, entrò negli archetipi del senso comune e come uomo ebbe comunque delle capacità superiori alla media, che seppe sfruttare al meglio; il genio e lo spessore delle sue intuizioni, l’ardimento personale e la lungimiranza politica ne fecero un ineccepibile capitano di ventura…Il Medeghino, inflessibile nel comando, ebbe una personalità acerba e feroce quasi inumana, amante dei mezzi estremi, fu in gran parte imprevedibile nelle sue azioni fulminee e per questo motivo molto temuto dai suoi detrattori.” PALMISANO

-“Certe imprese erano atrocità da criminale sanguinario, non certo da capitano di ventura.” RENDINA

-“Accortissimo e valente soldato.” REBUSCHINI

-“Fu di statura giusta, e di carnagion bianca: d’occhi azurri: e di barba, e capelli neri.” CAPRIOLO

-“Huomo famoso di guerra.” LAZARI

-“Capitano di guerra, in quel tempo molto reputato…Persona d’ingegno, e maestro di guerra.” G.A. PECCI

-“Il quale sotto il nome di marchese di Marignano si acquistò..non poca celebrità nelle faccende della guerra.” BOTTA

-“Grande generale spagnolo.” DI COLLOREDO MELS

-“Un ritratto dietro l’altro. Di fronte, di profilo. Con la corazza e l’elmo di guerra, con la mantellina di velluto e la berretta, con le redini del cavallo in una mano e nell’altra il bastone del comando. E’ ritratto un po’ dovunque sulle pareti affrescate del palazzo Vecchio, uno dei più celebri palazzi del mondo.. Quell’uomo barbuto, cos’tante volte volte ritratto, è “Il Medichino”, chiamato così era di Milano (dove, anzi lo chiamavano “Medeghino”) e non era nemmeno lontano parente dei Medici famosi, quelli, per intenderci, di Cafaggiolo.” BATINI

-“Uno dei condottieri più abili e brutali del XVI secolo.” CAMPAGNANO-FERRARA

-Sulla sua tomba è riportato il srguente epitaffio “Io. Iacobo Medici, Marchioni Marignani, eximij animi,/ et consilij, viro, multis victoriis per totam Europam/ partis apud omnes gentes clarissimo, cum ad exitum/ vitae anno aetatis suae LX pervenisset.”

SPECIFIC BIOGRAPHIES

-M. A. Missaglia.  Vita di Gio. Iacomo Medici marchese di Marignano.

-V. Palmisano. Il Marignano. da capitano di ventura a condottiero imperiale.

Featured image: Catalogo Beni Culturali

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