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

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Michelotto Coreglia: The Infamous Executor of Cesare Borgia’s Dark Deeds

Italian CondottieriMichelotto Coreglia: The Infamous Executor of Cesare Borgia's Dark Deeds

The damned soul of Cesare Borgia, the executioner through strangulation of captains opposed to the power of the Duke Valentino. Many condottieri fell victim to his hands, including the lord of Camerino, Giulio Cesare da Varano, and his sons Pirro, Annibale, and Venanzio, as well as the well-known Vitellozzo Vitelli and Oliverotto da Fermo. Not by chance, his character is one of the protagonists of the video game "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood."

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Life and Times of Michelotto Coreglia: Cesare Borgia’s Shadow

Michelotto Coreglia/Micheletto Coreglia/Miguel de Corella (Miguel Rabadas) was Spanish, from Valencia.

Born: 1508 (January)

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
…………He studied in Pisa with Cesare Borgia.
1496Tuscany
…………NaplesFranceHe obtained command of a company of mounted crossbowmen.
…………ChurchHe served under the Duke of Gandia, Giovanni Borgia, brother of Cesare.
1497
JulyChurch40 light cavalryUmbriaHe was sent by Pope Alexander VI to Monteleone d’Orvieto to aid the inhabitants of Orvieto, who were threatened by Bandino da Castel della Pieve.
1500
…………UmbriaHe entered Orvieto and there had many friends of Bartolomeo d’Alviano imprisoned and beheaded, suspected of plotting against the Pope.
Aug.LazioLeading a group of assassins, he stormed into the new tower in the garden of San Pietro, aiming to surprise Alfonso d’Aragona, the second husband of Lucrezia Borgia, who had already escaped a bloody assassination attempt the previous month. Upon entering his chamber, he arrested everyone present under the pretext of a plot fomented by the Colonna against the Pope. The Aragonese ambassador and two doctors sent by the King of Naples, Federico d’Aragona, were chained. Only Lucrezia Borgia and Sancia d’Aragona managed to move towards the Pope’s chambers in search of help. Seizing the opportunity, in front of the Borgias, he strangled the convalescing Alfonso in bed. When the young women returned with the hoped-for assistance, the door was closed and barred by Coreglia: he claimed that the Duke of Bisceglie had died from hemorrhaging after a fall. Neither of the two women was allowed to see Alfonso’s corpse or attend his funeral.
Oct.ChurchPesaroMarcheHe entered Pesaro with 400 infantrymen. He besieged Giorgio da Cotignola in the fortress.
Nov.RomagnaIn Forlì with the city’s lieutenant, the Bishop of Trani.
Dec.RomagnaIn Forlì, he had a shoemaker hanged for attempting to sell a pair of shoes at an excessively high price.
1501
Jan.ChurchFaenzaRomagnaIn Forlì, he also had one of his own relatives hanged for stealing a sword from a citizen. He then moved to the Val di Lamone and carried out numerous raids up to the gates of Faenza. He attempted to scale the city walls but was repelled.
Feb.RomagnaOnce again at the siege of Faenza, he tried to penetrate through the Candiano Gate and the Ponte Gate: he had two ladders raised under the rain. The attack was discovered, and some of the assailants were captured and hanged. Michelotto Coreglia was forced to return to his camp; he reached Imola and, on his return to Faenza, had 11 enemy gunmen killed, who were caught escorting men headed to the Torsellino mill on the road to Brisighella.
Mar.RomagnaHe was involved again in some skirmishes at the Montanara Gate of Faenza; he continued his devastation of the countryside.
Apr. – MayRomagna, LazioAt the end of the month, Faenza surrendered on terms; Michelotto Coreglia burst into the city to take possession of the fortress with 500 infantrymen. Subsequently, he accompanied the Duke Valentino to Rome, taking with him the young Astorre and Giovanni Evangelista Manfredi to a castle where, until recently, Caterina Sforza had been imprisoned. The two Manfredis would be killed there, in violation of the agreements signed by the Papal forces in the surrender terms.
JulyChurchFlorenceTuscanyHe headed towards Pisa with 40 horses.
Sept.ChurchNaples, PiombinoCampania, Lazio, TuscanyHe opposed the Aragonese and entered Naples with the Borgia. An unknown individual mistook him for the Duke Valentino and attempted to assassinate him with dagger strikes; the French opposed the man’s capture, allowing him to escape. Michelotto Coreglia returned to Rome; in the same month, he went to Piombino for the surrender of Riotorto and Grassole. He was left by the Duke Valentino to guard the city. At the end of the month, he was reported to be in Scarperia with Vitellozzo Vitelli.
…………TuscanyHe was appointed governor of Piombino. He welcomed the Pope and the Borgia into the city.
1502
Apr.TuscanyIn Piombino
May – JuneChurchCamerinoMarche, TuscanyHe takes possession of Cagli. He attacks Camerino at the head of the papal infantry. Later, he embarks and reaches Pisa by sea with some infantrymen.
Aug.Romagna
Sept.ChurchRebel condottieriUmbria, MarcheHe fights the condottieri who have rebelled against Cesare Borgia. He moves with Ugo di Moncada to aid the fortress of Gubbio; then he shifts to the March of Ancona; touches San Lorenzo in Campo and Staffolo upon hearing of the rebellion in San Leo. Borgia orders him to retreat towards Rimini with 100 men-at-arms, 200 light cavalry, and 500 infantrymen from Marche and Romagna: he delays to sack Pergola, into which he is introduced by the fortress’s castellan.
Oct.600 infantrymen, 100 light cavalryMarcheWhen informed of the revolt in Urbino, he has Giulio Cesare da Varano brought from Matelica and strangles him in the fortress of Pergola. He proceeds to Fossombrone: some partisans of the papacy open a gate for him, and Michelotto Coreglia subjects the city to the same treatment as Pergola. Many prefer to commit suicide rather than fall into his hands. He sets his sights on Cagli, where he clashes at Calmazzo with Paolo and Francesco Orsini and Vitellozzo Vitelli, who surprise him with a flanking maneuver and defeat him severely: in the conflict, where he is wounded, more than 500 men fall, and Ugo di Moncada is captured. Coreglia retreats first to Fano and then to Pesaro: there, he is reinforced by Ramiro di Lorca.
Nov.Marche, RomagnaHe has four citizens who organized a conspiracy in favor of the former lord of the city, Giovanni Sforza, hanged in Pesaro, from the windows of the Palace. He summons to the bishop’s square all the men fit to bear arms. He joins Cesare Borgia at Cesena and at Imola with 150 arquebusiers. He then moves to Fano.
Dec.MarcheCesare Borgia reconciles with the rebel condottieri; upon hearing this, Michelotto Coreglia leaves Fano and goes to Cesena where he meets with Oliverotto da Fermo. He then returns to Pesaro and Fano, pays the troops, confiscates 20,000 ducats from Ramiro di Lorca and takes him prisoner to Cesena. Lastly, he goes to Senigallia and assists Borgia in capturing Francesco and Paolo Orsini, Vitellozzo Vitelli, and Oliverotto da Fermo. He plans to call the latter into the midst of his soldiers while they are engaged in an exercise. On the last day of the year, he strangles both Vitelli and Oliverotto da Fermo in Senigallia with a violone string (the “Pisan cord”).
1503
Jan.ChurchOrsini, Perugia, SienaMarche, UmbriaHe enters Cagli and Castel della Pieve (Città della Pieve) and strangles Paolo and Francesco Orsini. He then heads with 2,000 cavalry towards Montalboddo (Ostra) where Fabio Orsini, son of Paolo, and Giampaolo Baglioni with the companies of Vitelli and Francesco Orsini are located. The opponents disperse and are pursued by his men.
Feb.Marche, Umbria, Tuscany, LazioIn Pesaro, or near Rimini, he also strangles Pirro, Annibale, and Venanzio da Varano. In Cagli, he has the city’s bishop, Gaspare Gulfi, a faithful friend of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, hanged, along with Ugolino da Pian di Meleto and Luigi da Montevecchio, all of whom had come under suspicion by the papacy. He enters Città di Castello with 6,000 men, both cavalry and infantry; he is repelled from the Val di Chiana, occupies Mugnano, near Pitigliano, and sacks Viterbiano, a rich castle near Viterbo.
Mar.LazioWith Ludovico della Mirandola and Ugo di Moncada, he besieges Giulio Orsini, Renzo, and Giovanni di Ceri in Ceri.
Apr.LazioHe forces the defenders of Ceri, who have fortified themselves in the fortress, to surrender. During the operations, his men foil an attempt to assassinate Borgia carried out by a Gascon infantryman with a crossbow bolt.
MayLazioWith Francisco Troccies (Troches), the pope’s secret chamberlain, he meets in Rome with an emissary of the Pisans, Colombano Grassolini: he encourages the Pisans to continue their fight against the Florentines. Days later, Troccies secretly leaves Rome for fear of having fallen out of favor with Alexander VI. Captured in Corsica, he is brought back to Rome.
JuneLazioHe strangles Francisco Troccies (Troches) in a tower in Trastevere, in front of Cesare Borgia, who had given the order and remains hidden, accused of spying for the French by disclosing ongoing negotiations between Alexander VI and the King of Spain. The body is displayed in the Savella Tower: as a reward, the pope gifts Michelotto Corella with the office that is conducted in that tower.
JulyLazioHe gathers troops for the papacy: he has two captains of stradiots killed who had requested (and obtained) permission to go to Duke Valentino.
Aug.Umbria, LazioHe is in the Perugia area. Meanwhile, the pope dies: Coreglia quickly heads to Rome at the Porta di San Pancrazio; he unsuccessfully attempts on two occasions to take control of the guard tower. He has all the doors of the Vatican closed and demands the keys to the treasury from Cardinal Camerlengo Casanova, threatening to slit his throat with a dagger and throw his body out of the palace window. In this way, Cesare Borgia takes possession of 100,000 ducats in cash, silverware, and jewels worth a total of 300,000 ducats.
Sept.LazioHe sets fire to the Monte Giordano palace, which belongs to the Orsini.
Oct. – Nov.Lazio, Umbria, TuscanyCesare Borgia is captured at Ostia by the men of the new pope Julius II and is imprisoned in Magliana; Michelotto Coreglia flees, pursued by the troops of the Baglioni, the Vitelli, and the Sienese. He moves to Bolsena and Viterbo to support the cause of the Gatteschi against the Maganzesi (another faction) who have taken control of the city with 200 cavalry, 400 infantry, and 400 exiles. He turns towards Parrano and enters the Florentine territory with Taddeo della Volpe and Carlo Baglioni (400 cavalrymen, 60 light cavalry, and 200 infantry); he stops between Castiglion Fiorentino and Cortona. His militias disband and are looted at Tavernelle by Giampaolo Baglioni (the booty being 12,000 ducats); Coreglia is captured by the local inhabitants. Entrusted to the podestà of the place, he is taken to Cortona: the Florentines hand him over to the pope at Acquapendente.
Dec.LazioHe is imprisoned in Rome at Castel Sant’Angelo and at Tor di Nona.
1504
May – Dec.LazioHe is tried and subjected by the papal authorities to numerous interrogations to confess the circumstances of the deaths of many individuals, such as those of the Duke of Gandia, the Da Varanos, Astorre and Ottaviano Manfredi, Alfonso of Aragon, Bernardino Gaetani of Sermoneta, the Bishop of Cagli, and other victims of Borgia.
1505
Aug.Comp. venturaPerugiaLazio, UmbriaOnce released, he joins Carlo Baglioni with 1,500 infantrymen, partly Spanish and partly exiles from Perugia: from the Viterbo area, he descends into Umbria, stops between Alviano, Carnano, Montecchio, and Amelia; he threatens Giampaolo Baglioni in Perugia.
AutumnFlorence30 light cavalry and 50 infantrymenTuscanyHe obtains from the Florentines (30 mounted crossbowmen and 50 infantrymen) the position of bailiff in the countryside, under pressure from the Gonfaloniere Piero Soderini.
1506
Apr. – MayTuscanyAfter the review of his company, he is sent to Mugello and Casentino with police duties, aiming to free these areas from thieves, bandits, and rebels. He visits the vicariates of Castel San Giovanni and Fiorenzuola; from there, he moves to Casentino. He is tasked with capturing Pasquino Borghesi and Domenico Fontechi, who have rebelled against the Florentine authorities, and to deliver them to the vicar of Scarperia.
June – JulyTuscanyHe commands 50 cavalry and 200 infantry. He reaches Dicomano where, in a clash between opposing factions, one man was killed and four others were injured. He is tasked with rooting out at the Villa, a mile from Vicchio, 25 men responsible for these clashes. Coreglia captures them and sets their houses on fire; he then moves to Firenzuola. His company is everywhere accused of behaving inappropriately, not paying for the provisions consumed, and thereby causing further disorder. In July, he supports the constable of Fiorenzuola, Antonio da Castiglione, who is tasked with preventing the desertion of his company’s soldiers to serve under the Venetians with Melchiorre Ramazzotto. Coreglia is, finally, transferred with his men to the Pisan territory where he joins forces with Marcantonio Colonna.
Aug.FlorencePisaTuscanyHe confronts the Pisans. He is stationed at Ripafratta. He is informed by spies that some emissaries from Lucca are headed to Genoa in search of money for the pay of soldiers defending Pisa. Along with Paolo da Parrano, he surprises Bono Boni, joined by twelve Pisan citizens on their return to Lucca, on the Monte di San Giuliano (location La Spelonca). Thirty horses are taken prisoner; the Florentines also seize twelve mules loaded with belongings and money. In the ambush, Rinieri della Sassetta also falls: the latter gives some money to some of Coreglia’s soldiers and manages to escape. Coreglia immediately has 2 soldiers who had been bribed captured and hanged.
Sept.He gathers troops to send in support of the papal forces engaged in a conflict with the Lord of Bologna, Giovanni Bentivoglio.
Oct.He is dismissed due to his conflicts with the authorities.
1508
Jan.He is killed in Milan by some of his compatriots as he is exiting the Chaumont palace; according to other sources, he is murdered at night in his home. The assassins will never be discovered. The body is buried in a common grave of the foreigners’ cemetery outside the city walls. The character of Coreglia, along with those of Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, and Fabio Orsini, has been included in the video game “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood,” produced by Ubisoft.

Sources

-“Anima dannata del Valentino, l’esecutore  emerito delle sue condanne capitali, l’uomo la cui sola presenza significava la morte di qualcuno.” FUSERO

-“Huomo così ribaldo, che tra suoi meriti appresso l’iniquo padrone (il Borgia) potè vantare più assassinii, che giorni di servitio.” TOMASI

-“Strumento fidatissimo in tutte le sue azioni (di Cesare Borgia) come che fatte si fussero.” NARDI

-“Ca’ nostri, non so se per disprezzo o per la piccolezza della persona, chiamato Micheletto; uomo crudelissimo e molto caro a lui (Cesare Borgia) per la somiglianza de’ costumi.” BALDI

-“Quale era lo primo homo avesse lo decto duca valentino.” T. DI SILVESTRO

-“Carnefice e ministro delle sceleratezze del Borgia.” SANSOVINO

-“Uomo crudelissimo.” UGOLINI

-“Crudelissimo spagnolo, sui (di Cesare Borgia) capitano e suo strangolatore.” VILLARI

-“Omo più che crudele, qual tempo suo avea strangolato, ammazzato tanti valenthomini in Romagna.” A. DA PAULLO

-“Uno dei più famigerati capitani del Valentino.” SHAW

-“C’était un capitaine d’infanterie, un soldat de fortune, qui avait suivi César (Borgia) dès les débuts de sa carrière militaire, l’homme qu’on dit avoir étranglé Alphonse d’Aragon sur l’ordre de Cèsar. On pense généralement que c’était un Espagnol; on le désigne communément sous le nom de Michelotto, ou de don Miguel; mais Alvisi suppose, d’après son nom de Corella, que ce devait etre un Vénitien; il nous dit que par sa fidelité à César et la manière implicite dont il éxecutait les ordres de son maitre, il s’acquit – comme c’est notoire – une haine considérable. On a dit de lui qu’il était l’ame damnée de César; mais c’est là une note romantique semblable à celle qui a fait attibuer la meme désignation au père Joseph à l’égard de Richelieu.” SABATINI

Featured image: Wikipedia

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