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

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Pedro Navarro: The Renaissance Strategist Who Revolutionized Warfare

He begins his career as a corsair, and over time, starting from the humble beginnings as an infantryman, he becomes the most renowned expert of his era in siege warfare.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Last Updated on 2024/01/28

Pedro Navarro (c. 1460 – c. September 1528) was a multifaceted figure from Navarre known for his roles as a condottiero, nobleman, and military engineer. He gained fame for his actions in the Italian Wars and North Africa, as well as for inventing landmines. Serving Naples, Aragon, and France, Navarro left a lasting mark on military history. He began his career as a humble foot soldier and, over the course of his activities, from being a corsair in the service of some local lord (a pirate, we would say today), became the most famous expert of his time in siege warfare. As a sailor, engineer, and condottiero, he had the opportunity to fight against Turks, French, and Imperials.

Pietro Navarro/Pedro Navarro (Pedro de Roncal, Pedro de Beretterra) Also known as El Salteador. From Roncal in Navarre. From a family belonging to the minor nobility.

Count of Oliveto and Alvito. Lord of Settefrati, Posta Fibreno, Belmonte Castello, Vicalvi, Campoli Appennino, Atina, Picinisco, and Carde in Biscay.

the disposition of the Spanish and French armies
Battle of Ravenna (1512). The first part of the battle details the formation of the Spanish and French armies, with a particular focus on the role played by Navarro, as highlighted in his biography, source

Born: 1454
Death: 1528

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
…………He starts as a squire for the Cardinal of Aragon; only subsequently does he commit to a military career.
1487
…………King of AragonGranadaSpainHe serves under the pay of the King of Aragon, Ferdinand II the Catholic (Ferdinando il Cattolico), against the emir Abou Abdallah, known in the chronicles as Boabdil. Pedro Navarro prepares a mine that creates a breach in the bastions of the fortress of Velez near Malaga.
…………FlorenceGenoaTuscany, LiguriaSwitching to the pay of the Florentines, he fights in Lunigiana under the command of Piero del Monte at Santa Maria against the Genoese. He stands out for his qualities as a military engineer. He is granted a monthly allowance of 30 ducats. He is noted at Sarzana.
1495NaplesFranceIn the service of the King of Naples, Federico d’Aragona.
1497
Jan.On his ownSicilyHe engages in privateering in the Sicilian waters near Palermo; on the African coasts, he seizes a Venetian ship, “La Contarina.” He heads towards the island of Favignana and the island of Capo Passero in search of other prizes.
Mar.The actions of Pietro Navarro are disavowed by the King of Naples.
Apr.On his ownNaplesTuscanyAttacked by the Aragonese fleet, he loses a vessel in the waters off Piombino but quickly rebounds, recovers the ship, and kills many opponents.
May – Aug.Calabria, LazioHe goes to Naples where he arms a galleon and two fustas for privateering. His base of operations is now in Calabria, at Roccella, a fief belonging to the Marquis of Crotone, Antonio di Centelles. He seizes a Genoese galleon laden with wheat and other goods owned by Andrea Lavagnino near Civitavecchia; he also captures Venetian ships, and often members of the crews are hanged by Navarro. During this period, 11 ships are also sunk by the pirates under his command.
Sept.On his ownVeniceCalabriaFrom Cattaro, four galleys of the Serenissima, commanded by Domenico Malipiero, move against Pietro Navarro. Soon his flotilla is defeated, and his ships are set ablaze. Navarro is attacked in Roccella; after six hours of combat, in which he is also aided by the Marquis of Crotone, he is defeated: seventeen of his men are killed and another 80 wounded. Although injured in the thigh and shoulder, he manages to escape capture; he takes refuge with Antonio di Centelles who protects him from the Venetians. A bounty of 100 ducats is placed on his head if delivered alive, 50 if dead; Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (Consalvo di Cordoba) also informs the Serenissima of his imminent intervention to punish him.
1498
Oct.NaplesOttoman EmpireGreeceHe is reported in the Peloponnese. He soon becomes a trusted man of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba.
1499
Jan.On his ownVeniceSicilyHe continues to patrol the seas on behalf of the Marquis of Crotone; he has a barge on which 400 men are embarked. Near Palermo, he takes possession of a Venetian merchant ship. He targets Trapani and threatens other ships of the Serenissima.
Feb.He has a Venetian ship set on fire in the port of Trapani.
Mar.On his ownGenoaSicilyHe arrives at the island of Favignana and takes possession of a Genoese vessel, 500 barrels in size, loaded with wheat and cheese, bound for Genoa. At Capo Passero with five other Marseille corsairs.
MayOn his ownGenoa, NaplesFrance, TuscanyHe sets out from Marseille with two barges; he seizes a barge and a Genoese galleon. The booty is substantial. The galleys of the King of Naples move against him; one of his ships is captured in the sea off Piombino. During the fight, Pietro Navarro recovers his vessel by killing the Aragonese who had boarded for the assault.
JuneOn his ownVeniceGreeceHe engages in privateering in the waters of Corfu with his own flotilla and 300 men under his command. He attacks a Venetian ship, “La Marcella”; during the assault, his opponents set fire to the caravel traveling alongside his barge. Taking advantage of the darkness at night, he withdraws with his squadron (which also includes a brigantine) strengthened by the galley that came into his possession.
1500
MayThe King of Naples withdraws his protection. He operates with a barge of 700 barrels.
JuneOn his ownRagusaCampaniaHe captures several vessels from Ragusa (Dubrovnik) in the waters off Capri.
JulyOn his ownSpainSicily, TuscanyHe is attacked by four Spanish barges; he is forced to abandon the waters of Palermo. He relocates to the Piombino Channel. His brother is defeated by a Portuguese barge; he dies, and the ship sinks.
Nov.SpainOttoman EmpireSicily, GreeceHe serves under the Spanish at the command of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba against the Turks. He sails from Messina and arrives at Corfu to aid the Venetians, whose fleet is commanded by the general provider Benedetto Pesaro. He conquers Cephalonia thanks to a mine that he detonates with Antonello da Trani beneath the fortress.
1501
Jan.SicilyHe returns to Sicily.
Feb.On his ownRagusaIn the Adriatic, he takes possession of a caravel from Ragusa.
Mar.He sails in the waters off Parenzo.
SpringSicilyIn Messina or Milazzo, according to the sources. A Biscayan captain demands before Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba the payment of wages owed to him. The claim is supported by all the men of the latter’s company. Pietro Navarro draws his sword to prevent any attempt at rebellion. Córdoba manages to calm the situation.
1502
JuneSpainFranceApuliaHe fights the French in Apulia. He is left by Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba with Cuello and Fernando di Peralta to defend Canosa di Puglia at the head of 1200 men.
JulyApuliaHe is besieged in Canosa di Puglia by the French, with a force of 850 lances and 5000 infantry, including 500 Germans and 800 Swiss: the city’s defenses are bombarded continuously for four days. A violent attack follows, launched by 150 men-at-arms and 1500 Gascon infantry, which is repelled. The artillery fire resumes, followed by new assaults, even more impetuous, all leading to the same negative outcome. Córdoba cannot send reinforcements and invites him to leave the position: Pietro Navarro starts negotiations with the Duke of Nemours and accepts the surrender terms offered by the French, who give him Andrea Giovanni d’Arbouville and La Crote as hostages. 900 infantrymen exit Canosa and are escorted by Aubigny out of the city with flags unfurled, to the sound of trumpets and drums. He reaches Barletta; he also brings along the wounded, who are transported on horseback. Córdoba leaves the city for over a mile, embraces him and praises him in front of all the captains.
Sept. – Oct.ApuliaHe is sent with 600 Spaniards (100 cavalry and 500 infantry) to Taranto. He positions himself near the area with Luigi di Herrera; at Pulsano, he surprises Fabrizio Gesualdo and Giulio da Capua with 33 men-at-arms, 50 mounted archers, and ten stradiots. Of the opponents, only three men escape capture or death. Again with Luigi di Herrera, he gains Castellaneta from the inhabitants by treaty: among the French, another 50 men-at-arms and 100 mounted archers with their captain Saint-Bonnet are captured or killed. He then conquers Massafra. Other localities in the Terra d’Otranto surrender to the Spaniards.
1503
Feb.ApuliaUrged by the inhabitants of Rutigliano, he sets an ambush near Corato for Andrea Matteo Acquaviva as he tries to join the Duke of Nemours in Barletta with 56 lances, 150 light cavalry, and 300 infantry. The Duke of Atri is seriously wounded in the clash and is taken prisoner. In the same days, Pietro Navarro leaves Taranto, where he has been elected governor, to attack at sea the squadron of Prégeant de Bidoux who has attempted to oppose the advance of the Aragonese fleet commanded by Bernardo Villamarina and Juan de Lezcano. The French captain is forced to flee towards Otranto.
Mar.ApuliaHe leaves Taranto to join Juan de Lezcano in Grottaglie; surprises a French contingent on the march (200 killed and 50 prisoners); reaches Otranto where he gathers 1200 Spanish infantry, 60 lances, and 300 light cavalry; attacks Luigi d’Ars in Ostuni, who is leading 300 cavalry and 300 infantry. The opponents are forced to retreat to Oria. Navarro is recalled by Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (Consalvo di Cordoba) to Barletta along with Luigi di Herrera and Juan de Lezcano (400 men-at-arms, 100 light cavalry, and 600 infantry).
Apr.ApuliaHe participates in the Battle of Cerignola, where he distinguishes himself alongside Garcia de Paredes. In command of the infantry, he opposes the square formation of the Swiss pikemen. Among the French, about fifty men-at-arms and 3000 infantry are killed, including the Duke of Nemours and Chandée; the Spaniards suffer the loss of a hundred men between dead and wounded.
JuneCampaniaThe infantry of Pietro Navarro, thanks to a powerful mine prepared again with Antonello da Trani, take possession of Castelnuovo in Naples. He then conquers the tower of San Vincenzo following intense artillery fire from both land and sea.
JulyCampaniaStill in Naples, he captures Castel dell’Ovo: he has the mountain on which the fortress rests cut down and sends some boats with reinforced roofs under its walls. Sappers dig beneath them and place a mine on the side facing Pizzofalcone. Mid-month, the castle is blown up.
Aug.LazioAt the head of 3000 Spanish infantry and 500 light cavalry, he leads the general assault against Gaeta, where Ivo d’Allègre and Ludovico di Saluzzo are entrenched with 3000 infantry. On this occasion as well, he employs the techniques used in Naples by digging long tunnels for mines and having the battlements removed from the walls with artillery. The accurate fire of the French cannons prevents the advance of his work, resulting in the death of many Spanish captains. Mid-month, the resistance of the opponents is overcome; the Spaniards enter the city and slaughter the soldiers of the garrison as well as the local inhabitants. Only 400 French manage to escape, pursued by the Spanish light cavalry.
…………LazioHe drives the French out of Roccaguglielma.
Nov.LazioWhen Villalba is besieged in Roccasecca by Francesco Gonzaga, he is sent to the relief of the center along with Prospero Colonna and Diego de Mendoza: he has a trumpeter, who came to demand surrender and had already been warned not to return to his camp, hanged.
Dec.LazioHe commands the vanguard with Garcia de Paredes in the Battle of the Garigliano (3500 Spanish infantry, 100 arquebusiers, and a few squadrons of broken lances from Bartolomeo d’Alviano). With his infantry and Alviano’s cavalry, he is tasked with pursuing the French immediately after the column of light cavalry of Prospero Colonna, which is sent ahead as an advance guard. He surprises and defeats some opponents on the Appian Way who are preparing to occupy Roccaguglielma; he continues to Fondi and captures several squads of horses; he takes control of the towns of Formia and Monte Orlando, situated above Gaeta and abandoned by the opponents. He plants several small pieces of artillery, pushed by hand by the soldiers: the city surrenders on terms.
1504
Jan.CampaniaIn Naples. He is appointed Count of Oliveto.
Feb. – Mar.ApuliaHe heads to Apulia with Bartolomeo d’Alviano to counter Luigi d’Ars, who controls Venosa and Altamura.
MayCampaniaIn Naples, he arrests Cesare Borgia, who had sought refuge with a safe-conduct from Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (Consalvo di Cordoba) to escape the surveillance of Pope Julius II.
1506
Apr.SpainHe leaves Naples and travels to Spain, where he has been summoned by King Ferdinand the Catholic.
Dec.ApuliaHe is ordered to find accommodations in Apulia for 5000 infantry.
1507
Jan.SpainTunisiTunisiaHe attacks the Berbers on the island of Djerba (Gerbe) with 4000 infantry embarked on 6 galleys and 4 ships.
MayCampaniaHe returns to Naples; he is granted the County of Alvito, taken from Ristagno Cantelmi, which includes Settefrati, Posta, Gallinaro, Belmonte Castello, Vicalvi, Campoli Appennino, San Donato Val di Comino, Atina, and Picinisco.
JulyCampania, Liguria, SpainHe leads the Spanish fleet (15 ships, 16 galleys, and many infantry) from Naples to Savona. On board is the King of Spain, who is to meet in this city with the King of France, Louis XII. The conversation between the two monarchs takes place on the French flagship “La Générale”. All the French and Spanish captains, including Córdoba (who had fallen out of favor at court due to his ambition), Bernardo Villamarina, and Prégeant de Bidoux, are present. After 3 days, Pietro Navarro continues his journey to Spain.
Dec.SpainSpanish rebelsSpainIn command of 10,000 infantry and a good number of cavalry, he confronts the Duke of Najera who refuses to surrender the fortresses under his control to Ferdinand the Catholic.
1508
Mar.SpainHe gathers 8,000 infantry for a new expedition in North Africa.
SummerSpain
Aug.Watch the seas to prevent Genoese or Venetian ships from supplying the Berbers with weapons.
Nov.SpainTunisiAlgeriaConfronts the Moors on behalf of the Primate of Spain, Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros; occupies the Pennone di Velez de la Gomera (Badis), located between Ceuta and Alcadia, at that time one of the most active nests of the Barbary pirates.
1509Algeria and MoroccoTakes control of the port of Mazalquivir (Mers El Kébir) and conquers Oran: this port becomes a base for expanding his action in the surrounding territory. The day after the capture of the city (mid-May), a dispute arises between Pietro Navarro and Cardinal de Cisneros, who is unwilling to give up imparting a religious-sacred purpose to his campaign, which he experiences as a crusade in support of evangelization. The operations are now directed by the Spanish sovereign.
1510
Jan.TunisiaDecides to leave the problem of the Christianization of North Africa in abeyance and to continue his policy of subjugating the more profitable coastal strip in terms of loot. Cisneros abandons the field. He is tasked with dismantling the Zayyanid kingdom of Tlemcen piece by piece. He moves with Diego de Vera to target Bougie (Behaya) at the head of a fleet of 30 ships and 9 galleys. The army consists of 5000 men and boasts a substantial artillery park. The defenders’ numerical superiority and the 200 cannons placed on the walls do not benefit them. King Mulay Abderrahman gathers 10000 infantry and several hundred horses that fail to stop the Spanish onslaught. The attackers form 4 battalions and scale the walls at different points, overwhelming the defenses and occupying the city. A garrison of 1500 men is left in the city.
MayTunisiaForces the king of Tunis to declare himself a vassal of the King of Spain, Ferdinand the Catholic.
JuneTunisia, SicilyLeaves Bougie with 8000 men. Heads to the island of Favignana to await the Spanish fleet and attack Tripoli.
JulySicily, Malta, LibyaLeaves Favignana with 56 barques, 34 caravels, 10 galleys, 30 fustas, numerous brigantines, and other vessels; stops in Malta to gather another 5 fustas: now has at his disposal 20,000 men, of which 15,000 are fighters. Attacks Tripoli; lands with 6000 men, half of whom assault the city while the other half remains to guard the camp against the local inhabitants. With the support of the fleet, he quickly conquers a section of the walls and 2 towers; later takes control of the tower overlooking the Gate of the Arabs. The Spaniards overcome it and burst into the city, which falls into their power after a fierce fight street by street: among the Moors, there are 2000/5000 dead and 6000 prisoners. Conversely, only a few hundred (300 or 150/170 according to other sources) Spanish casualties are recorded. Captured in the port are a caravel, a galiot, 2 fustas, and various boats. In the following days, other ships from Alexandria in Egypt and the Levant fall into the attackers’ hands. Four days after the conquest of Tripoli, the Arabs from the countryside come to Navarro to negotiate peace: they offer the possibility of supplying the troops with provisions.
Aug.Libya, TunisiaTo secure the possession of Tripoli, Pietro Navarro embarks on a new expedition against Djerba, considered a secondary objective to be quickly dealt with. He sets sail with 8 galleys and 4 ships: the inhabitants refuse to surrender, so he is forced to return to the starting base. Mid-month, he reviews his troops (15,000 men); he leaves 3,000 as a garrison in Tripoli, and the rest are embarked on 15 ships and 3 vessels bound for Djerba again. When the ships arrive offshore and drop anchor, they dare not proceed further for fear of running aground in the shallow waters. Loaded with weapons and equipment, under the scorching sun, the soldiers are forced to jump into the water and swim, arriving exhausted on the beach. The enemy waits for the Spaniards in an oasis where there are water wells. An ambush is set; the Spaniards are defeated with the death of Duke of Alba, Don Garcia Alvarez de Toledo, and the loss of 3000 infantry: 500 are captured and enslaved, while 2500 fall in the ambush and retreat to the ships; many die from thirst and hardship. Navarro, finally, sacrifices the rearguard used as cover to allow the rest of the troops to embark. On the last day of the month, due to a storm, Navarro sets sail for Tripoli after only nineteen days of campaign.
Sept.LibyaSends 1400 slaves to Palermo, who are sold at auction at a price ranging from 3 to 25 ducats each.
Oct.LibyaSets sail again. Leaves in Tripoli Diego de Vera with 4000 infantry, of which a thousand are sick. The storm pushes him back to Tripoli.
Nov.Tunisia, SicilyAbandons Africa again: the garrison left to defend Tripoli is left without money; it does not even have drinking water due to the lack of rain. Pietro Navarro retreats to Monastir and Lampedusa, where he stays until the following January.
1511
Jan.SicilyHas a large amount of lime collected on the island of Lampedusa, necessary for the construction of a fortress in Djerba.
Apr.TunisiaThe fleet is anchored at the Qarganato or Kertene islands, used as a base for collecting the water necessary for the soldiers engaged in the enterprise against Djerba. This initiative too has an unfortunate outcome: 400 armed men left to purify the wells are attacked at night by the Moors (probably due to the betrayal of a standard-bearer) and are all massacred. With them is also the Venetian colonel Girolamo Vianello, who directs the works.
JulyCampaniaRecalled by the King of Spain, he reaches Capri with the fleet reduced to 23 ships; the number of fighters at his disposal is now 4000 infantry. He reaches Naples with 500 infantry, waiting for the rest of the troops.
Sept.SpainFrance, FerraraGeneral Captain of the InfantryCampaniaIn Capri; his men protest due to the delay in their pay. He has command of the Spanish infantry (10,000 men) with which he prepares to fight the French in support of Pope Julius II.
Oct.LazioLands at Gaeta with 6000/8000 infantry, many of whom are of Maghrebi origin.
Nov.Abruzzo, RomagnaStations in the Abruzzi: his men (many of whom are armed with arquebuses) are rather disorganized. Reaches Lugo; with Giovanni Vitelli, he attacks the bastion of Zaniolo/Genivolo, defended by Vestitello Pagani with 150 infantry.
Dec.RomagnaStops at Coriano with 700 cavalry and 6000 infantry. Moves through Forlì and Faenza where he obtains Villafranca by agreement; the same happens in Russi; passes through Imola where he meets with the papal legate, Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici (the future Pope Leo X). Once again bombards the fortress of Zaniolo/Genivolo with three pieces of artillery: the infantry assault it, crossing the moat on some beams; almost all the defenders, along with their captain, are killed. He moves away and the Estensi recapture the bastion after bombarding it with nine pieces of artillery. Follows the Viceroy of Naples, Raimondo di Cardona, and Fabrizio Colonna in an attack on Bologna. Heads to Budrio, approaches the city. Begins the bombardment; defending the locality is La Fayette. After the artillery has knocked down a section of the city wall, the viceroy orders an attack in which Spanish, Venetian, and Papal infantry participate, along with two squadrons of heavy cavalry. Pietro Navarro, accompanied by Moriglione, commands the first squad. The second squadron, under the command of Francesco Maldonado, includes also the infantry of Giovanni Naldi, Babone Naldi, Giovanni da Imola, and Melchiorre Ramazzotto. The attackers’ four assaults (two per squad) are repelled with significant losses.
1512
Jan.EmiliaThe allied forces continue the siege operations. Numerous pieces of artillery are set up against Porta Santo Stefano; Pietro Navarro is tasked with preparing an underground tunnel towards Porta Castiglione (at the height of the Barracano chapel). The Bolognese adopt some countermeasures to defend against the threat by placing copper basins and various bells in the ground along the walls, so that these instruments can pick up the vibrations caused by the excavation work. The noise thus allows the defenders to identify the direction taken by the enemy sappers, drill the ground, and block their operations.
Feb.EmiliaNavarro orders the mine to be ignited: the attempt fails because the rubble from the chapel and the walls obstruct the passage for the attackers. The approach of French troops coming to the aid of the defenders forces him to retreat to Castel San Pietro Terme.
Apr.Romagna, EmiliaParticipates in the Battle of Ravenna against Gaston de Foix, where he commands the Spanish infantry (6000 men) positioned in the vanguard. The League’s army is composed of 1700 men-at-arms, 13500 infantry with 24 cannons, and 1500 light cavalry; the French have 1900 lances, 5000 German infantry, 8000 infantry from Gascony and Picardy, 5000 Italians, 3000 archers and light cavalry, and 50 pieces of artillery. Given their numerical inferiority of about a third, the allies decide to adopt a defensive stance, ready to counterattack vigorously at the right moment. Pietro Navarro positions himself at the front, behind a ditch, placing 20 falconets and about fifty two-wheeled carts, equipped on the outside with a pike and a double curved iron like a scythe. These mobile trenches are meant to obstruct cavalry charges and simultaneously break the compactness of the attacking infantry: between each cart, a couple of tripod-mounted arquebuses are placed (200 in total). The two artilleries face each other at a distance of 150 meters; Navarro’s cannons create deep gaps in the French infantry. Alfonso d’Este, commanding the opposing artillery, moves his pieces and archers to face the Spanish right wing. This new placement allows the Duke of Ferrara’s fire to hit the side and rear of the Hispano-Papal army, also causing “friendly fire” on the French front lines. Navarro withdraws his men to a low point near a riverbank so that his infantry are not hit. The Spanish heavy cavalry is put in difficulty as it finds itself without any cover. Fabrizio Colonna vainly asks Navarro for support; unheeded, he decides to launch his attack. He is faced by Gaston de Foix’s men-at-arms and the reserve forces (Gascon infantry) of Ivo d’Allègre. Navarro also orders his men to support the friendly cavalry. Initially, the Spanish infantry seems to prevail at the center; however, on the flanks, the French cavalry encounters less resistance and gains the upper hand. The French achieve victory. The Spanish attribute the defeat to Navarro, who allowed the enemy cavalry and infantry to get too close before engaging with his artillery. His supportive fire turns out to be too late, happening just as the Hispano-Papal cavalry is about to break. Overall, 7000/12000 soldiers of the League army are killed compared to 3000/4000 on the French side, including Gaston de Foix, Yves d’Allègre, Jacopo di Ems, and Molard. Pietro Navarro is captured by Vincenzo de la Fayette, known as the Grand Devil; along with him, Fabrizio Colonna, Ferdinando d’Avalos, Giovanni Francesco Acquaviva, and the papal legate are taken prisoner. He is taken to Ferrara and Bologna, where he attends the funeral of Gaston de Foix in the church of San Petronio.
May – Oct.Lombardy, FranceHe is first taken to Milan and then to France where, in October, he is imprisoned in the Loches jail with Bartolomeo d’Alviano, another prisoner of the French.
1514
Jan.FranceThe King of Spain asks in vain for his release.
1515
Mar.10,000 infantrymenFranceKing Francis I of France pays his ransom of 20,000 scudi. The Navarrese, offended with Ferdinand the Catholic because the sovereign did not want to pay for his ransom and, moreover, because he has been blamed for the defeat, renounces his fief of Valle Siciliana in the Abruzzi to enter the service of the King of France with the role of general captain of the Gascon infantry. He is also given command of 12 galleys; he is appointed chamberlain and granted an income of 6,000 francs.
MayFranceAfter the conquest of Blessy, he is in Lyon at the head of 10,000 infantrymen. He is preparing for the next expedition in Italy.
JulyFranceIn Grenoble.
Aug.FranceSpain, Milan, Empire, ChurchLiguria, PiedmontHe arrives in Genoa by sea; from there he moves to Piedmont; he inspects with Lautrec some Alpine passes, indicated to the French by the noble Savoyard, Count of Morette, capable of allowing the army to cross the mountains and evade the surveillance of the Swiss militias. Based on the report of the two captains, 4,000 sappers are sent ahead to prepare the way. Pietro Navarro fords the Durance and heads towards Argentera and the Gillestre pass, reaches the fortress of Saint-Paul between Embrun and Barcelonette. He continues on the Italian side of the Piè di Porco fortress and heads towards Alessandria and Tortona. He arrives in Vercelli with 4,500 infantrymen; he conquers the castle of Novara.
Sept.10,000 infantrymenLombardyHe heads towards Milan and takes part in the Battle of Melegnano at the head of 10,000 Basque and Gascon infantrymen. He tries to defend a battery of 7 pieces of artillery from the attack of the enemy infantry: his men are overwhelmed by the Swiss battalion of “enfants perdus,” a corps of young men chosen from all the cantons, distinguished by the white feathers waving on their caps. The assault is only checked by the intervention of Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio’s cavalry and the Constable of Bourbon. In the continuation of the fight, Pietro Navarro recovers 4 of the initially lost artillery pieces and forces the opponents to retreat into a grove: his sorties are repelled by the Swiss. The opponents are put to flight by the intervention of the Venetian cavalry of Alviano. Navarro enters Milan and besieges the Sforzesco Castle with 8,000 Gascon infantry, where Giovanni Gonzaga and Girolamo Morone have shut themselves in with 2,000 men. By cutting off the besieged’s water supply, he takes control of a casemate in the moat on the side of the castle facing Porta Comasina; he approaches the moat with siege machines (the cats) that protect the sappers’ work and digs a second moat; he prepares mines under the fortress walls and shores them up in anticipation of the right moment; finally, he prepares to bombard the castle with artillery (20 cannons and 3 culverins) from the side of the Carmine friars’ convent.
Oct.LombardyThe siege ends quickly because Gonzaga surrenders to the Constable of Bourbon: Navarro rebels against the capitulation because he had committed to the King to capture the Sforzesco Castle within thirty days in exchange for a reward of 30,000 scudi. He protests and, without acknowledging the surrender, continues to bombard the castle even more vigorously; he moves too far forward in the moat to direct the firing or to show a fuse to Vendome. He is hit by two pieces of a merlon detached from the walls, knocked down by a cannonball. Stunned by the blow, he is carried on a stretcher to the house of Senator Girolamo Cusano; he is treated with great care by the sovereign. He recovers in a few days.
Nov.Lombardy, EmiliaThe Venetian ambassador Andrea Gritti visits him in Milan to persuade him to move to the siege of Brescia. He leaves Milan with a few men. He risks being captured by a Spanish patrol that seizes his belongings, transported by 15 mules. He reaches the Monte di Brianza and from there goes to Travagliato at the head of 5,000 Gascon infantrymen and 3,000 mercenaries. He accompanies Lautrec to Bologna to meet King Francis I, who is due to meet with Pope Leo X there. He begins the siege operations of Brescia with Teodoro da Trivulzio. Upon arrival, he wants to inspect the city’s defenses: he is again caught off guard by a sudden attack from the garrison. Even Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio and the general provider Domenico Contarini risk being victims of arquebus shots. His hosts want to give him 500 ducats to reimburse him for the losses suffered during the previous journey: he refuses.
Dec.LombardyHe asks the Venetians to release in Venice an old comrade-in-arms, the Spaniard Rodrigo Alonso. Meanwhile, under Brescia, he begins to use his usual tactics: he positions himself in front of Porta Pile, between the churches of Sant’Apollinare, San Fiorano, and San Salvatore; he constructs an underground trench leading into the city and places mines in it. The defenders, alerted by the noise of the operation, dig some counter-trenches, fill them with gunpowder, set them on fire, and ruin his work, causing the death of many sappers. A general assault on the city is launched by his Biscayan and Gascon infantry; the pots filled with sulfur and other flammable substances and the fireworks launched from the walls quickly extinguish any offensive ambition. The failure of these attempts and the approach of 8,000 German infantrymen from Germany convince the Venetians to fall back to Ghedi with the larger artillery and almost all the carriages. Navarro goes to Milan; his men are housed in the winter camps of Calvisano.
1516
Jan.LombardyA war council is held in Milan, attended by Andrea Gritti, Gian Giacomo and Teodoro da Trivulzio, and Giano Fregoso. The decision is made to keep the troops in the winter camps and to block the access routes to Brescia while waiting for more favorable weather conditions. In the meantime, they will engage only in harassment actions. He returns to the camp at Lonato and attends a war council with Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio, Contarini, Gritti, and Lautrec.
Feb.LombardyHe is in Rezzato with 5,000 infantrymen; together with Teodoro da Trivulzio, he increasingly tightens the siege of Brescia from all four sides; he repels a sortie of 500 infantrymen, mostly arquebusiers, who had emerged from the city.
Mar.LombardyHe is stationed on the Po near Cremona to defend its banks. He is recalled to Milan when the capital of the duchy is attacked by the opponents. He clashes with the imperial forces and repels them at Peschiera Borromeo.
Apr.LombardyHe joins Lautrec towards Trezzo on the Adda and Melzo; he monitors the banks of the Adda when the Swiss retreat from Lodi towards Bergamo. To garrison Brescia with Governor Icardo, there remains just under a thousand men, mostly Spaniards, fortified in the castle and in the Garzetta fortress. The Emperor informs them that he would move shortly.
MayLombardyPietro Navarro has Giacomino di Val Trompia occupy the mountain passes leading to Brescia, while he himself heads towards Anfo, which had fallen without difficulty into the hands of Antonio di Lodrone. The reinforcements promised by the Emperor to the defenders of Brescia reach as far as Lonato. Here, seeing the resistance of the Venetians, Maximilian of Austria decides to retreat towards Riva del Garda. Navarro returns to the siege of the city with the Constable of Bourbon; he connects at Mompiano with Teodoro da Trivulzio. The French set up camp near Porta Pile, and the Venetians on the side of Garza. From there, 8 pieces of artillery fire against the walls of Brescia, causing severe damage; the French bombard towards Porta di San Giovanni. The sorties of the Spanish infantry prove futile. The general captain of the army (1,300 lances and 1,500 mounted archers) is the Constable of Bourbon. Navarro has at his disposal 12,000 infantrymen. He begins to prepare some mines, causing large gaps in the walls; Teodoro da Trivulzio has some tunnels dug under the foundations of the walls; the tunnels are shored up with wooden beams destined to be set on fire. A twenty-day truce is reached between the parties; it is anticipated that the city would surrender if no reinforcements reach the defenders within this period. The garrison would have the honor of arms, and each soldier would be given three paychecks. The imperial forces descend from the Alps under the leadership of Guglielmo di Rogendorf and Count Ludovico di Lodrone; the two captains enter Brescia at the head of 7,000 infantrymen. With the withdrawal of the imperial forces from the siege of Asola and the transfer of Emperor Maximilian of Austria to Milan, only 650 Spanish infantrymen and another 400 of various nationalities remain in defense of Brescia. Lautrec arrives at the camp. After a heavy artillery fire that lasts several days, an attack on the city is launched from 5 different points. The Gascon infantrymen of Pietro Navarro, trying to enter through the breaches in the walls, are repelled. The governor of Brescia, Icart, negotiates the surrender terms with Lautrec: the city would be handed over to the French if no reinforcements arrived within 8 days (for reinforcements, a contingent of more than 8,000 men is considered). The garrison would leave with arms and baggage, and the city would not be looted. In reality, the opposite happens: there are robberies, and some Spanish infantrymen are killed. The Constable of Bourbon immediately hangs 12 Venetian infantrymen, and another 8 are killed caught stealing in some houses. The French general captain, against the terms of the Franco-Venetian alliance, does not want to hand over Brescia to the Serenissima: he enters the town with 7,000 Gascon infantrymen and 500 lances and another 400 Gascon infantrymen in the castle. The Venetians set up camp in the citadel after having looted the houses of the Gambara and other supporters of the Ghibelline pro-imperial cause. The French are forced to escort the Spanish soldiers of the garrison, contrary to the agreements, to Verona; many of them are killed by Venetian soldiers, stradioti, and even the inhabitants themselves.
JuneEmilia, LombardyHe crosses the Po with 2,000 infantrymen and heads towards Mirandola to monitor the movements of Prospero and Muzio Colonna’s troops, who are returning to the Kingdom of Naples. In the same days, the Venetians release, at his request, 30 Spanish infantrymen with Captain Cugnido, who had been held prisoners in Venice. He enters Concordia to support the lady of the place, Francesca da Trivulzio, daughter of Gian Giacomo, against Giovanni Francesco della Mirandola. He drives away the papal and imperial forces from the locality. At the end of the month, he leaves Concordia to connect with the French camp at Revere. He opposes the passage of a contingent of Spanish infantry headed to Verona.
Aug.FranceHe is in Marseille to arm a fleet with which he must attack and plunder the Maghreb coasts. He leaves the court in Tours and is given 20,000 ducats. The African expedition, provoked by the conquest of Algiers by Arouj Barbarossa, involves the embarkation of 6,000 infantrymen on 18 ships.
Oct. – Dec.Tunisia, FranceHe sets sail from Marseille. The weather conditions are terrible; the storms prove to be of rare intensity: 2 galleys of Bernardino d’Ornesan are forced to return early to France. During the voyage, his crews are tormented by a lack of provisions, cold, and illness. At the end of November, he appears before the port of Marseille: the condition of his fleet is such that the city council prevents it from entering the port by not lowering the defense chain. The fleet is placed in quarantine.
1517
Jan.FrancePlagued by bad weather and the outbreaks of epidemics aboard the fleet, he must set sail again, heading for Nice, where he arrives at the beginning of the month. The initiative in Africa has ended with decidedly negative results.
Feb.FranceHe returns to Marseille.
Apr.FranceAt the court, in Paris.
MayFranceBarbary corsairsFrance, LiguriaIn Provence, where he equips another fleet to confront the Barbary corsairs along the African coasts. He leaves Marseille with 6 or 7 ships, not in the best condition. As he passes through Genoa, his squadron is reinforced by some vessels from the city.
Sept.SardiniaHe sails off the coast of Sardinia with 1,500 men embarked on 13 ships, a galleon, and a caravel.
Oct.AlgeriaPedro Navarro bombs Mehedia. The defenders with their artillery pieces sink a barge and knock down the mast of another; at the time of landing, some discord arises between the French militias and the 1500 Spaniards transported by the fleet. Due to the scarcity of available forces, Navarro can only conduct a demonstrative action. He heads towards Sicily and the island of Favignana. Returns to Marseille.
Nov.LazioHe meets in Rome with Pope Leo X. He escorts him to Civitavecchia. He always declares himself available to fight the Barbary corsairs.
Dec.LazioHe gathers 400 infantrymen in the Roman countryside. He is given 4000 ducats.
1518
Jan.Lazio, TuscanyHe leads the gathered troops to Terracina. Leaves Porto Santo Stefano with 5 ships and some brigantines.
June – JulySicily, Tunisa, FranceHe sails from Favignana with 9 galleons, 5 brigantines, and 2000 infantry to attack Monastir. During the journey, he stops at Lampedusa in search of prey; he assaults Monastir. Due to the resistance encountered, he sets sail for Favignana, Sardinia, and Marseille despite the opposition of Ugo di Moncada who tries, in vain, to counter this decision.
Oct.LombardyIn Provence, to inspect the preparations of the fleet. In March, he is in Lyon, still engaged in the preparation of the mission in Africa.
Dec.FranceFrancesco I entrusts him with the command of the squadron of the Levant galleys. The arming of such ships proceeds slowly due to the difficulties related to the recruitment of galley slaves.
JulyFrance, LiguriaFrom Marseille to Genoa to gather a certain number of infantrymen. He travels in formation until the island of Embiez: a strong mistral suddenly rises and his ships are forced to drift. He overcomes the obstacle and reaches Genoa.
Sept.FranceBarbary corsairsLiguria, Tuscany, LazioHe leaves Genoa with the fleet and heads for Piombino; arrives at Civitavecchia with 2 galleys; is welcomed by some Papal horses that escort him to Rome to pay homage to Leo X. After a long conversation, he returns to Civitavecchia and sets sail for Portovenere.
Oct.FranceHe positions himself with 10 vessels in front of Mehedia to fight the corsair Sinan. His efforts proving futile, he returns to Provence. He puts his ships in the Toussaint dry docks: part of the crews are exhausted from hunger and part from diseases.
1520
JulySicilyHe sails off the island of Favignana.
Sept.He assaults the Barbary corsairs in their bases on the African coasts with 2 galleons and 2 caravels. In October, he must once again desist from operations and set sail for Provence.
1521
Apr.I appreciate the clarification. Here’s the revised translation:
Pedro Navarro departs from Nice (a city where he enjoys an annual commission of 3000 ducats) and travels to Milan, where he has been summoned by Lautrec. He participates in a war council along with Federico Gonzaga da Bozzolo and Giulio da San Severino. Their task is to oversee the defenses of the border passes in Lombardy and the territories of the Serenissima.
JulyLombardyHe returns to Milan from the French court.
Aug.FranceEmpireEmiliaHe heads towards Busseto, the Pallavicini castle, with 300 lances and 2000 Swiss mercenaries. He faces off against 700 infantry and 400 cavalry. However, he retreats due to persistent rain and the delayed arrival of artillery. He moves to Cremona and participates in various war councils with Lautrec, the Marquis of Saluzzo, and Giulio da San Severino. Together with Marcantonio Colonna and Francesco Maria della Rovere, he enters Parma to assess the state of the city’s fortifications. The Imperial forces cross the Po River at Brescello, while the French cross the river at the Torreselle bridge near Casalmaggiore.
Nov.LombardyWith the fall of Milan into the hands of the Imperial forces, he relocates to Ponte San Pietro and Palazzolo sull’Oglio along with Lautrec, Marcantonio Colonna, della Rovere, and the General Provveditore Andrea Gritti. Their objective is to strategize joint actions to confront the adversaries.
1522
…………LombardyHe attempts to free the Sforzesco Castle in Milan from the siege imposed by Prospero Colonna, but the endeavor proves unsuccessful. Therefore, with Lescun and Pietro Baiardo, he relocates to Lomellina. In just one day, he secures the surrender of Vigevano Castle.
Apr.LombardyHe lays siege to Pavia, but heavy rains prompt him to move away and relocate to Lardirago, near the Imperial camp of Colonna. He harries the retreating adversaries towards Milan. Within the Franco-Venetian camp, conflicts arise between Lautrec and Gritti, while the Swiss mercenaries increasingly protest the delay in their pay. The Swiss mercenaries decide to wait for four more days before returning to their homelands. The allied forces resolve to engage in the Battle of Bicocca before the expected dissolution of the army. Pietro Navarro unsuccessfully opposes the frontal attack demanded by the Swiss mercenaries. The battle concludes with the defeat of Lautrec’s French forces.
MayLombardy, FranceHe moves to defend Cremona along with Lescun and Giacomo di Sainte-Colombe (400 lances). Upon the city’s surrender, he returns to France. He reaches Marseille with Andrea Doria and, at the end of the month, leaves the city by sea with 8 galleys to join the defense of Genoa, which is under attack by Colonna and Ferdinando d’Avalos.
JuneFrance, LiguriaHe arrives at the defense of Genoa with 4 galleys and enters the city with 800 infantrymen. Negotiations are initiated, during which the Spanish infantry takes advantage of the defenders’ negligence to capture and plunder the city. Pietro Navarro, along with Ottaviano Fregoso, is captured by Giovanni d’Urbina, who had previously served as his lieutenant. According to sources, he is taken prisoner in his quarters or in the square while in combat. Initially treated with unusual humanity, he is transported to Naples by a supporter of the Adorno family, Bernardo Gallo, to be handed over to the Viceroy Carlo di Lannoy. He is subsequently imprisoned by Ferdinando d’Avalos in the Castle of Ischia.
1526
Mar. – MayCampania, Lazio, EmiliaHe is freed following the peace agreement between the King of France and Emperor Charles V through a prisoner exchange (Prince of Orange, Filiberto di Chalons). He travels to Rome and meets with the new Pope Clement VII, who welcomes him warmly. He complains about the treatment he received from the Spanish captors. Upon returning to France, he is hosted in Modena by Guido Rangoni.
JuneFranceHe assumes command of the Levantine fleet and makes a stop at the Abbey of Saint-Victor near Avignon.
JulyFrance, LiguriaHe arrives in Marseille at the beginning of the month. However, not all the captains agree to obey his orders. He sets sail from Provence to join forces with the Venetian and Papal fleets. Both the French and Venetians acknowledge his monthly commission of 200 ducats. Supporting his command are Bernardino d’Ornesan with a galleon and 2 galleys, Saint-Blancard with 6 galleys, Magdalon d’Ornesan and Maurice de Jonas with 2 galleys each, and Antonio Doria with a galley. Additionally, 3 galleys are led by other captains. His lieutenant is Bernardino d’Ornesan. At the helm of 14 galleys, 4 galleons, and several smaller vessels, Pietro Navarro conquers the fortress of Portovenere.
Aug.LiguriaHe reaches Villafranca (Villefranche) and surprises some Genoese merchant ships. One of them is sunk, and another is captured, with their crews being sent to row as galley slaves. Mid-month, he arrives in Savona, where he is welcomed triumphantly. He blocks the flow of supplies to Genoa from the sea and besieges the city. Together with Andrea Doria and the Venetian galleys, he seizes 32 ships loaded with wheat, with the goods being partially unloaded in Savona and partially in Livorno. At the end of the month, an attempt led by him, Doria, and the Venetians against the Genoese capital fails.
Sept.Captain of the Great FleetLiguriaHe proposes to preempt the enemy’s movements to set fire to the Imperial fleet stationed in Cartagena. Despite opposition from Andrea Doria and the Venetian provveditore Alvise d’Armer, who point out the difficulties of navigation in late autumn, he departs from Savona and heads toward Villefranche with the escort of 2 Venetian galleys and 2 Genoese galleys. He waits in vain for the reinforcements promised to him in Marseille by Annes de Montmorency, which include several ships commanded by Claude Villiers d’Ancienville and galleys to be led by Antonio Doria. The ships are not yet ready, and Antonio Doria deliberately acts to delay the completion of his 2 galleys. Navarro returns to Savona and resumes the siege of Genoa with 16 French galleys and 4 galleons, 13 Venetian galleys, and 11 pontifical galleys. He requests 4000 infantry from della Rovere to assist the fleet in its operations. With the help of the Venetians and Filippino Doria, he repels an enemy infantry attack on his fleet anchored in Portofino. At times, he displays gestures of chivalry towards his former comrades, such as when he arranges for the release of Fernando Alarcon’s son, who was captured aboard a ship.
Oct. – Nov.LiguriaFinally, he is joined in Savona by Villiers d’Ancienville’s ships. He receives information that the Imperial fleet, carrying Carlo di Lannoy and Ferrante Gonzaga (20 galleys and 22 cargo ships with 4000 infantry aboard), has been caught in a storm and had to anchor off the Corsican coast. He sends for Andrea Doria, who is stationed between Lerici and La Spezia. He leaves 400 infantry in Savona, along with Villiers d’Ancienville’s ships and 2 galleys from Magdalon d’Ornesan. With the Saint-Blancard, he heads towards La Spezia and then moves to Portofino. From there, he joins Andrea Doria (6 French galleys, 5 pontifical galleys, and 5 Venetian galleys) to intercept the 24 Imperial ships at Punta Chiappa.
By late November, they are near Sestri Levante, where a brigantine informs them that the enemy fleet is sailing just a few miles away. Navarro decides to seek a nighttime encounter with the Imperial forces. The battle lasts for 4 to 5 hours. The flagship of the enemy, “la Portonda,” is pummeled like a pontoon by his artillery. Andrea Doria maneuvers his ship between two enemy vessels, destroying the first with falconets and bombards firing at close range. The second is sunk with a ramming blow. In the battle, around a thousand soldiers and many galley slaves and sailors from the Imperial fleet perish.
Suddenly, a fierce wind arises, hindering the navigation of the galleys. The French ships are forced to head for Civitavecchia, while the Venetian vessels return to Portofino.
Dec.Lazio, TuscanyHe travels to Viterbo and Rome to be received by the Pope. He is noted in Florence, where he oversees the city’s defenses. He reaches Pisa to procure supplies for his fleet’s provisions and Civitavecchia to prepare an expedition against the Kingdom of Naples. At anchor are 28 French, Venetian, and Pontifical galleys. However, the action is postponed.
1527
Jan.EmiliaHe participates in the defense of Bologna, which is threatened by the Landsknechts.
Feb.LiguriaHe moves to Savona and returns to blockade Genoa from the sea. The delay in payments reduces the number of men at his disposal.
Mar.LiguriaHe continues his work of fortifying the defenses of Savona, despite protests from the inhabitants.
JuneLiguria, PiedmontHe departs from Savona and heads towards Asti to join forces with Lautrec, who has arrived from France with 500 lances and 10,000 infantry. They advance into the Alessandria region and launch an assault on Alessandria with 7,000 infantry. The city is defended by 1,500 Landsknechts and 500 Italian infantry under the command of Giovanni Battista di Lodrone and Alberigo Barbiano da Belgioioso.
JulyPiedmontHe defeats Giovanni Battista di Lodrone, digs trenches, and prepares a mine. In a short period, he forces the adversaries to surrender with the promise not to engage in military activities against the French army for six months.
Aug.PiedmontHe besieges the castle of Bosco Marengo with 10,000 Swiss mercenaries and another 6,000 infantry. In the locality, Giovanni Battista di Lodrone remains with 1,000 infantry, of which 600 to 700 are Landsknechts. Using his mines, he nearly demolishes the entire castle’s walls. The adversaries surrender unconditionally and are plundered.
Oct.LombardyHe besieges Pavia, and a fierce artillery bombardment (11 pieces) destroys the part of the castle facing Barco. The water level in the moat prevents any possibility of crossing it. During the following night, Pietro Navarro orders the moat to be emptied and filled with fascines to easily approach the walls. The city is stormed and looted.
Immediately after, he departs with 8,000 infantry (3,000 Gascons, 3,000 Landsknechts and Swiss, 2,000 Italians) and blocks a contingent of Imperial forces that had exited Milan with 2,000 infantry, 50 men-at-arms, and 4 artillery pieces toward Abbiategrasso. Antonio di Leyva captures Abbiategrasso. Pietro Navarro proceeds towards Casalpusterlengo and Lodi, where he joins forces with the Venetians commanded by Giano Fregoso. Together, the two captains set up camp at Casorate Primo. With a brief artillery barrage, the defenders surrender unconditionally, and the town and fortress are subjected to plunder.
Nov.Lombardy, EmiliaHe passes through Lacchiarella and threatens Monza. However, around 1600 to 1800 Gascon infantrymen mutiny due to delayed payments. As a result, he is forced to abandon the area and move towards Vigevano. He crosses the Adda, reaches Treviglio, and proceeds to Parma to link up with Lautrec.
Dec.Captain General of InfantryEmiliaUnder his command, there are 2,690 French infantry, 4,060 Gascons, and 3,633 Italians.
1528
Jan.Emilia, RomagnaHe is reported to be in Bologna and in the Romagna region.
Feb.Marche, AbruzzoHe leaves Fermo with 12,000 infantry, half of them French, and enters the Abruzzo region. Along the march, Teramo and Giulianova surrender to him. He proceeds towards Leonessa, followed by the Marquis of Saluzzo and, further behind, Orazio Baglioni with 150 light cavalry and 4,000 infantry of the Bande Nere. In the Aquila region, he captures the Forca di Penne by constructing small shelters (known as “mantelletti”) to approach the walls individually and create openings that a man can easily pass through. The Bastardo di Luppe and Blaise de Monluc also participate in the action. This conquest is followed by the occupation of 14 other castles. The city of L’Aquila opens its gates to him as Prince of Melfi Giovanni Caracciolo withdraws upon hearing of his arrival. He halts in front of Castel di Sangro.
Mar.ApuliaHe ventures into Apulia to collect 80,000 ducats derived from the customs duties paid by shepherds when moving from the region to the Abruzzo pastures. He quickly reaches Lucera (where he joins forces with Lautrec) and Foggia with 10,000 men. He attacks a hill near Troia with 2,000 arquebusiers. Vaudemont, Guido Rangoni, and Valerio Orsini advise Lautrec to pursue the Imperial rearguard retreating towards Naples. However, Navarro urges the French Captain-General to target Molfetta, where Giovanni Caracciolo defends the city with his company of men-at-arms, 2 companies of Spanish infantry, and 4 companies of Italians. He assaults the city with Venetian infantry led by Camillo Orsini. Two attacks result in the deaths of 500 men under arquebus fire. During the night, Lautrec receives new artillery pieces, and Orazio Baglioni’s infantry arrives. The inhabitants revolt, and Caracciolo withdraws to the castle with 1,000 men. The Imperial forces surrender unconditionally, and the town is plundered, with the killing of 3,000 people, including the soldiers of the garrison.
Apr.Apulia, Basilicata, CalabriaHe arrives in Venosa with 4,000 infantry. The fortress, defended by 400 infantrymen, a mix of Spaniards and Landsknechts, surrenders unconditionally in three days. The captains are held as prisoners, and the soldiers are released without their weapons.
He captures Ascoli Satriano and takes Capistrano by storm, during which Blaise de Monluc is wounded. In retaliation for the injury to the French captain, the Gascons under his command kill the inhabitants and set their homes on fire. Andria, Cerignola, Tricarico, Matera, and Altamura open their gates to him. Only Manfredonia, defended by 1,000 infantry, holds out.
May – JuneCampaniaIn Terra di Lavoro, near Torre del Greco, he gives Monluc a castle confiscated from a Spanish noble, providing an annual income of 1,200 ducats. Navarro moves to the siege of Naples with his Gascon infantry. He camps in Poggioreale on the hills overlooking Mount San Martino, watched over by Giovanni d’Urbina with 1,000 arquebusiers and 4 artillery pieces at Mount San Martino and Porta di San Gennaro. Aigremont positions himself in front of Porta di San Gennaro, leading to the Borgo delle Vergini. Guido Rangoni and the Marquis Michelantonio di Saluzzo fortify themselves in front of Porta Nolana.
Navarro begins bombarding the city from Montagnetta, now Moiarello. He constructs a fort at San Martino and starts having trenches dug. Spanish infantrymen exit through the Porta di Santa Maria del Carmine and surprise Lautrec’s squires while they are watering their horses in the Sebeto River and at Poggioreale. In retaliation, Navarro fortifies a cottage between Poggioreale and places French cavalry near the Maddalena Bridge. The Imperial forces anticipate his intentions by sending Giovanni d’Urbina (who almost captures him while he is supervising the trenching works), Baracane, and Beredo with select troops. Orazio Baglioni intervenes in support. Urbina is forced to withdraw, and Orazio Baglioni, caught unarmed in a crimson satin jacket, is killed by a Biscayan infantryman with a halberd blow to the shoulder. During this time, the Provencal engineer Jean de Reynaud de Saint-Rémy serves under his command, learning the basics of mine preparation from the Spanish captain.
JulyCampaniaHe must interrupt the trench excavation works when Filippino Doria defects to the enemy camp. The Venetian sailors, who had been supporting his works from the beach, have to stop to intercept the supplies heading to Naples from the sea, a task previously carried out by Filippino Doria’s galleys. During this situation, Navarro, against the advice of Renzo da Ceri, supports Lautrec’s decision not to move the camp from the marshy areas where it currently resides, to Aversa, a more salubrious location. The army is ravaged by the plague during this time.
Aug.CampaniaPietro Navarro also falls victim to the plague. Despite his poor health, he tries to recapture Capua, whose inhabitants have opened the gates to the Imperial forces. At the end of the month, with the new French commander (Lautrec having died), the Marquis of Saluzzo, Guido Rangoni, and Paolo Camillo da Trivulzio decide to withdraw, taking advantage of heavy rain. Navarro abandons Mount San Martino with 800 infantry and positions himself at the rear. He is attacked by Giovanni d’Urbina on Mount Lanzata and attempts to reach Aversa. However, his men, mostly sick like Navarro himself, lack the strength to resist and surrender without their weapons. The Spanish captain is captured by stradiotti while trying to escape on a mule along a side road. He is taken to Naples and hosted in Brizio Giustiniani’s palace.
…………CampaniaEmperor Charles V orders his execution. The governor of Castelnuovo, Luigi Icardo, has him strangled in prison or suffocated in his sleep to prevent a public execution (another source suggests he was beaten to death). In the early 1600s, the Duke of Sessa, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba‘s nephew, has Pietro Navarro’s remains transferred from the castle church where he lies dishonored to a chapel in Santa Maria Nuova, next to Lautrec. On the same occasion, the body of the Spanish captain, who died of the plague, is also moved to the same chapel from his initial grave on a farm owned by the Duke of Montalto. The Duke of Sessa has both captains placed in two tombs sculpted by Annibale Caccavello with inscriptions taken from Paolo Giovio. Pietro Navarro is depicted by Giorgio Vasari in the Hall of Giovanni in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence while he is fighting in the Battle of Ravenna.

Sources

-“Uomo di grande valore e sagacia.” CONTI

-“Uomo di questo secolo in allacciar piazze e batter città senza dubbio il primo per il continuo uso ed eccellentissimo giudizio.” SANTORO

-“The explosive mine was ..brought to perfection by Pedro Navarro. To this interesting personage, who began his career as a private soldier and who lived to be the most trusted military adviser first of Spain and then of France, military engineering owes a debt similar to that which strategy and tactics owe to the marquis of Pescara. Both were animated by the same enterprising and experimental spirit. Both represented on the military side the intellectual audacity, the freedom from the bonds of tradition and routine, which characterized the Italian Renaissance.” TAYLOR

-“Il quale, fondato in tutti gli aiuti d’una vera virtù senza alcuna commendazione de’ suoi maggiori, fu famoso nelle avversità parimente e nelle cose prospere, s’avrebbe veramente acquistato fama di grandissimo capitano se l’insolente fortuna non l’avesse precipitato in queste miserie dell’ultima prigione.. Di fantaccin privato fatto per lo suo valore Capitano…Capitano molto famoso per le vittorie ottenute..Il quale ingegnere, e artefice d’opre meravigliose, per amminar le rocche, s’acquistò fama in tutto ‘l mondo, hebbe questa dispositione mezzo contadina d’habito e di volto.” GIOVIO

-“Singulare espugnatore e difenditore delle fortezze per comune judicio d’ognuno.” NARDI

-“Sopra ogn’altro capitano illustre, peritissimo delle fortificazioni, e dell’espugnazioni delle terre, e del maneggio delle artiglierie.” SEGNI

-“Al quale si trova gram valento homo et homo de granda suoa esparencia et masime le grande immortalità facto nel sopra scrito regno de Barbaria.” BERNARDI

-“Strenuissimo uomo di guerra.” GUERRAZZI

-“Homo di grandissimo valore et ingegno.” Da una cronaca riportata dal FRATI

-“Era a questo tempo il Navaro in gran concetto e riputatione, perché espertissimo dell’arte di espugnare le Città, rendeva vana, e inutile ogni fortezza delle terre de’ nemici, e con nuovo modo di combattere, era solito di riportarne la vittoria: e per certo usava egli tant’arte, e industria nel cavare le mine, e nell’adoperare altre varie, e inusitate machine, che dava a tuti di se grandissima maraviglia.” PARUTA

-“Di privato fantaccino era salito a grado di Capitano generale per il merito del suo valore.” BUONFIGLIO

-“Soldato di molto valore, che teneva fama d’espugnatore delle fortezze.” BELTRANO

-“Petit homme maigre du val de Roncal, lequel avoit faict beaucoup de belles choses sur les Turcs et au royaume de Naples; et homme ingénieux pour prendre places et les deffendre, et s’enterdoit aussy pour faire mines et contre-mines.” DE LA MARCK

-“C’éstoit un homme de grand esprit, auquel monsieur de Lautrec, qui ne croyait guière personne, avait grande creance. Si croy-je, et ne suis pas tout seul, qu’il le conseilla mal en ceste guerre.” MONLUC

-“Uomo eccellente nell’arte di escavar sotterra le mine.” DIEDO

-“Capitano di gran nome e huomo di grande ingegno, e pronto e accorto nel trovare nuovi partiti.” FOGLIETTA

-“Quel che sia vinto havere il suo nemico,/ Non con forza e ardir, ma con ingegno,/ Et sicuro alloggiar lo stuolo amico:/ Come talhor si possa far disegno,/ Cavando mine a guisa di consiglio,/ De minare ogni edificio degno,/ Mostrò il Navarro, huomo chiaro per consiglio,/ Et per valor di mano, il qual già pose/ Africa tutta in paura e ‘n periglio./ Vid’io a Trapani già quando e’ compose/ Di molte navi armate, entrando in mare,/ Quando Fortuna al suo desio rispose:/ E tosto ch’ei con esse in Libia appare/ Con ruina di molti, vincitore/ Tripoli e altre terre soggiogare:/ Le navi Hispane di spoglie e d’honore/ Carche solcano il mare, e ricche prede/ Egli s’ascquista, e nome di valore./ Ma se Fortuna non volgeva il piede/ Contro si bella e si lodata impresa/ D’Africa fora il di Spagna herede.” Da un sonetto di F. Balamio riportato dal GIOVIO

-“Che aveva un sommo credito per l’attacco delle piazze.” LAUGIER

-“D’incognito, che prima era, divenne non poco illustre, per virtù di guerra..Era il Navarro alto e di volto bruno: di occhi, barba e capelli neri.” ROSCIO

-“Omni re bellica celebratissimum, ac tunc militiae pedestris magistrum.” ARLUNO

-“Capitano di grido.” G. BONOLI

-“Ch’ebbe fama del più abile de’ suoi tempi in quell’arte (della fortificazione)” PIGNOTTI

-“(Con il Lautrec) dont le premier étoit le plus hardi officier de l’armée et le second le plus adroit.” VARILLAS

-“Capitano e ingegnere, celebre per le sue mine.” GOZZADINI

-“Dux bellica virtute clarissimus.” RAYNALDO

-“Capitano in quei tempi di gran fama.” ROSEO

-“Che di fante privato era del suo molto valore stato a primi gradi della militia assunto.” TARCAGNOTA

-“Astuto e ingegnoso huomo, benché mal consigliato cavaliero, per essersi con poco giudicio partito dal servitio del suo legitimo signore..In cose di mine haveva maraviglioso giudicio, et certo fu il primo huomo di suo tempo in queste cose..Con l’artificio di prendere et fortificare le città, si haveva acquistato gran credito e riputatione.” ULLOA

-“Grando inzignere.” DE’ BIANCHI

-“Ingenio acer, perspiciens.” BEAUCAIRE

-“Ducem rei militaris peritissimum.” CAPELLA

-“Valoroso Navarro, tu sempre fusti avvezzo a vincere e a mettere in fuga i nemici..Il quale non solamente era di animo invitto e guerriero, ma era ancho di ingegno sottile e sagace.” CANTALICIO

-“Espertissimo in quei tempi nell’arte degli assedj.” A. MOROSINI

-“Inventeur de l’art des mines.” PERRENS

-“Uno de’ più celebri Capitani di quel secolo.” GALLIZIOLI

-“Famoso corsar di mare e eccellentissimo cavator di mine.” RUSCELLI

-“Capitan de tanto nombre como sus valerosos hechos merecian..Fue tan singular hombre de guerra Pedro Navarro, asi por mar como per tierra, que se podia poner con los mas famosos espanoles de su siglo..Otras muchas virtudes de sabio y prudente capitan. Fue venturoso la mayor parte de su vida, y estimado de los reyes. Su consejo era maduro y sano en trazar y asentar un real, y en hacer las trincheras y otros reparos; ninguno le tuzo ventaja en su vida y pocos se le igualaron.” SANDOVAL

-“Habille a merveilles en faict de mynes.” J. D’AUTON

-“Tra i tanti famosi uomini d’arme del suo tempo egli è il solo cui mai nessuna cronaca attribuisca un fatto o un detto cavalleresco: elemento di “diversità” del tutto coerente con l’immagine pubblica di un personaggio antieroico.” PUDDU

-“Homo valente et de grande ingiegno.” CASTELLAR

-“Que era un muy valiente soldado.” ZURITA

-“Excellente signore.” NOTAR GIACOMO

-“Le comte  Petre de Navarre/ Du roi a la commission/ De mener sur la mer grand guerre/ Et amasser des compaignons./ La tour qui nous fist n’est pas bon,/ Car nous sommes très mal nourrys/ Pour l’amour du roy l’enduron/ Puisque la foy luy ons promis.” da un canto di M. De Lincy raccolto dal BRANTOME. Assedio di Amalfi.

-“Intanto il capitan de fantaria/ dil re spagnuol dicto pier navara/ acceso d’ira furibonda e ria/ e memorando quella pugna amara/ quando franciosi occiser sua zente,/ ala frascata che li costò cara/ sì come fier dracon menando vanpo/ a la bastia (del Genivolo) propinquò el suo campo.”  Da “Guerra tra Ferrara e la Lega Santa. la perdita e la riscossa della bastia” in  GUERRE IN OTTAVA RIMA

-Nel regno di Napoli contro i francesi “Homo de forza d’ingegno e cervello/…/ Pietro Navaro con sotil ingegno/ De san Vicenzo la torre acquistò/ Di notte tempo sopra un certo segno/ Tanto che alle mura presto s’acostò/ E rensà apunto al suo desegno/ El fondo della torre lui pigliò./ Quelli ch’era in alto si rese per fame/ Non havean Pan Vin Orzo né strame.” Da “Guerre orrende d’Italia” in GUERRE IN OTTAVA RIMA

-“Pietro Navara el famoso ghuerriere.” DE’ SORCI

-“Pietro Navaro si fa dentro in trato/ con la sua squadra bene a l’ordinanza/ col brando in mano fa mancar il fiato/ a quanti ne scontra de quilli di francesi/ pareva un leone disperato/ fra quella gente non stimava lanza.” DANZA

-A Vercelli “Venia con tutta la sua compagnia/ per dar ali nemici morte/ e farli correr con gran vigoria.”/…/ (All’assedio di Brescia) Pietro navara da guerrier siprano/ si fece inanzi col suo colonnello/ con gran cestoni sopra il verde piano/ et altri ingegni ch’havea fatti quello/ per voler superar l’ardir hispano/ e donarli quel giorno aspro flagello/ cridando… / hoggi è quel dì che sarem vittoriosi.” DEGLI AGOSTINI

-“Divenne ben presto il più celebre esperto della sua epoca nella guerra d’assedio. In gioventù si era dedicato alla carriera marinara, un’occupazione comune al popolo della Navarra, ma poi, in cerca di maggiori avventure, andò a combattere in Italia, dove imparò come sbriciolare le mura dei castelli scavandovi sotto delle gallerie che poi venivano riempite di polvere da sparo e fatte saltare.” DONVITO-CRISTINI

-“Astuto stratega.” PELLEGRINI

-“Un compagno di combattimento (per Consalvo di Cordoba), più che un amico…Era un uomo dall’aspetto torvo e dall’espressione ferma come tutti gli abitanti di quella regione del Nord della Spagna. Ma né il desiderio di avventura, né la leggenda che parlava di lui come “Roncal l’assaltatore” riuscirono ad alterarne la lucidità di uomo del Rinascimento. .. Genio militare possedeva la capacità di inventare marchingegni al servizio della guerra. Da vero antesignano, osservando con gli occhi dell’istinto quello che potevano essere le esigenze dell’assedio.., questo figlio di contadini traccia il proprio solco con l’ostinata lentezza di coloro che lavorano la terra da generazioni. Il frutto che ne nasce è il sistema moderno di minamento, così temuto dagli assediati dell’epoca.-” RUIZ-DOMENEC

-“Fu nelle cose di guerra uomo d’eccellente ingegno, e nello scavare mine empiendole di polvere d’artiglieria con la violenzia del fuoco riluttante, buttava a terra le torri, le terre ed i castelli.” G.B. DELLA PORTA

-“Il braccio destro del Gran Capitan (Consalvo di Cordoba) nella riorganizzazione della fanteria spagnola.” SCARDIGLI

-“Nato d’assai bassa conditione, e d’incognito, che prima era, divenne non poco illustre, per virtù di guerra..Era il Navarro alto, e di volto bruno: e d’occhi, barba, e capelli neri.” CAPRIOLO

-“Général habile et le meilleur ingénieur d’Europe.” LOT

-“He had started his career as a groom to Cardinal Juan of Aragon and then risen to become one of the best known and more highly esteemed soldiers of the time. His mastery of defensive-offensive tactics that resorted to the combined use of gunpowder weapons and earthworks and also of siege-craft – thanks to the explosive mines he had helped to perfect – made him an extremely useful factor in any battle or siege.” ARFAIOLI

-“Famoso e celebre per l’abilità con cui predisponeva le mine.” S. MESCHINI

-“Intrépido marino, estrecho collaborador de Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba y capitan conquistador de puertos estratégicos para la corona espanola.” ALGARRA

-“The Spanish commander had fought in important wars in North Italy, mainly recruited as a mercenary. Furthermore, he was in the army of Gonzalo Hernandez de Cordoba who successfully accompaigned against French troops that invaded Naples. Being probably one of the first military engineers of his time, his appearance in North Africa would not be for the first time; he also partecipated as a “condottiere” in the war he fought against the Ottoman Empire; he helped the capture of Cephalonia by laying mines to breech the walls” GURKAN 

-Sulla sua tomba compare il seguente epitaffio “Ossibus et memoriae Petri Navarii, Cantabri solerti, in expugnandis urbibus arte clarissimi. Gonsalvus Ferdinandus, Ludovici filius, magni Gonsalvi nepos, Suessiae princeps, ducem Gallorum partes secutum pro sepulchri munere honestavit; cum hoc in se habeat virtus, ut vel in hoste sit admirabilis.”

Featured image source: Wikimedia

Topics: Pedro Navarro biography, Innovations in warfare, Military technology pioneer

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