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

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Piero Farnese: Profile of a Renaissance Commander

Italian CondottieriPiero Farnese: Profile of a Renaissance Commander

Esteemed in his time as a loyal knight, he was an extremely skilled captain in the art of warfare. He is buried in the cathedral of Florence in a Roman sarcophagus from the second century. An equestrian statue, which depicted him mounted on a mule, was placed on the lid. The work, attributed to **Andrea Orcagna**, appeared to be made of marble. In reality, it was modeled with plaster and papier-mâché, or according to other theories, in wood and plaster, or wood and papier-mâché, wood and canvas. The monument has been lost without any remaining documentation.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Military Prowess of Piero Farnese.

Piero Farnese (Piero del Farneto, Petruccio di Cola), Lord of Farnese, Canino, Isola Farnese, Cellere, and Onano.

piero-farnese

Born: 1310 ca
Death: 1363, June

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
1338
Aug.UmbriaTogether with his father Nicola, he supported the Monaldeschi della Vipera faction against the Monaldeschi della Cervara in Orvieto. He was declared a rebel.
1344
Nov. – Dec.PerugiaArezzoTuscanyHe fought Pier Saccone Tarlati. He took part in the siege of Castiglion Fiorentino, where he constructed a bastion and remained in the countryside for forty-five days until the completion of the work.
1345
………TuscanyHe attacked Castiglion Fiorentino; he brought 5000 infantry to the field (of which 1000 were provided by the Perugians); at the head of these troops, he began to launch numerous assaults on the walls.
Apr.TuscanyHe seized control of Castiglion Fiorentino.
1348UmbriaIn Perugia with Guido Orsini when the latter conferred the lordship of Orvieto to the Perugians for a period of 10 years.
1352
Feb.ExilesOrvietoUmbriaHe sided with the Monaldeschi della Cervara to the detriment of Orvieto. He entered the city through the Porta della Pusterla, reached the fountain of Santo Stefano, and with Cataluccio da Bisenzo killed Benedetto Monaldeschi della Vipera. However, the attack was repelled by Pietruccio di Pepo dei Monaldeschi del Cane.
JuneLazioHe was urged by the rector of the Patrimony, Niccolò della Serra, to move to the field near Viterbo to act against the prefect, Giovanni di Vico.
1353ChurchVicoLazioHe occupied Toscanella (Tuscania).
1354
Feb.ChurchMilanLazioHe served under Cardinal Egidio Albornoz against the troops of the Lord of Milan, Bernabò Visconti. He was summoned to the war council held in Montefiascone.
JuneUmbriaIn Perugia.
1355
Nov.War CaptainMarcheHe was enfeoffed in Ancona with half of Onano in exchange for an annual census of 20 florins. The other half was granted to Albertaccio Ricasoli.
1358
Mar.ChurchEmiliaHe entered Bologna, which had fallen to the Papal States from the previous lord, Giovanni Visconti da Oleggio.
1359
JuneChurchForlìRomagnaIn Bertinoro with Cardinal Albornoz. He directed operations against Forlì and Folimpopoli.
JulyRomagnaHe entered Forlì and was knighted alongside Albertaccio Ricasoli. Each of the two commanders was given 200 ducats so they could purchase a high-quality mount of their choice.
1360
Jan.ChurchMilanEmiliaHe moved to defend Bologna with eighteen banners of cavalry; he entered the town through the Porta di San Felice. Alongside Gomez Albornoz, he contacted Giovanni Manfredi, who offered to fight the Visconti in exchange for certain concessions.
Mar.EmiliaHe took possession of Bologna with Blasco Fernandez when Giovanni Visconti da Oleggio surrendered the city to the Papal States in exchange for Fermo, the rectorate of the Marca, and an annual provision of 12,000 ducats plus another 80,000 ducats to settle the military expenses incurred. Farnese immediately issued an edict threatening exile to anyone who caused disturbances. He was also entrusted with the fortress of San Felice to protect the final days of Oleggio‘s stay in the city.
Oct.EmiliaHe was noted again in Bologna during the solemn entrance of Cardinal Albornoz: the prelate left the field of San Michele al Bosco and entered the city through the Porta di San Mammolo.
1361
………RomagnaHe moved to Romagna with the aim of reclaiming Lugo, Bagnacavallo, and Solarolo for the Papal States, areas controlled by Giovanni Manfredi.
JuneRomagna, EmiliaHe secretly left Romagna with Galeotto Malatesta and moved with 800 barbute to defend Bologna, which was threatened by Giovanni da Bileggio. He entered the city at night through the Porta di San Donato.
JulyEmiliaCardinal Albornoz promised double pay and a full month’s salary in case of victory over the Visconti forces: the enemies began constructing a bastion at the San Ruffillo bridge to cut off the supply flow to Bologna coming from Florence. Piero Farnese coordinated with Galeotto Malatesta and Malatesta Ungaro; he was positioned on the right wing, under the command of Gomez Albornoz, alongside his father Nicola. The Visconti forces were defeated. During the combat, he took command of the troops in his sector when Cardinal Albornoz, severely wounded, had to leave the field. Giovanni di Bileggio was captured; in the conflict, in which Farnese also sustained serious injuries, 970 men were killed and 1300 soldiers were captured.
1362
………RomagnaContinuing the fight against the Visconti, leading 28 banners of cavalry and 200 Hungarian infantrymen, he unsuccessfully attacked Lugo and Tossignano.
Nov.EmiliaHe was stationed at the guard of the bastion of San Felice, located on a bridge over the Reno near Bologna. After repelling attacks from the opponents (1000 Hungarians), he gathered with Gomez Albornoz and Ciappo da Narni 1500 cavalry and pursued them. They chased the enemy up to Corticella; he surprised the foes at night in Granarolo dell’Emilia. Among the Visconti, 150 men were captured; many were also killed in their ranks.
1363
Feb. – Mar.FlorencePisaGeneral captainTuscanyThe Senate of Rome sent him to assist the Florentines in their fight against the Pisans. He was appointed general captain in place of Rodolfo da Varano. He was given an advance of 2000 florins. In March, from Florence, he moved to the Val di Nievole, where the bulk of the troops were concentrated. Meanwhile, in Lucca, members of the Guelph faction, led by the Obizzi, attempted to rise up. The attempt failed with the execution of the conspiracy leaders and the exile of the others. All the mercenaries were brought into the fortress of Augusta: with the forced departure of the Guelphs, the adventurers left the fortress and plundered their houses. The negative outcome of the conspiracy convinced Piero Farnese to distance himself from the Lucchese area; thus, the Pisans, under the command of Rinieri da Baschi, were able to continue besieging Barga and raiding in the Volterra area.
Apr. – MayTuscanyIn anticipation of the forces of the White Company led by Alberto Sterz along with the Pisans, Piero Farnese orchestrated a rebellion in Garfagnana against the enemies, with Castiglione di Garfagnana and other castles revolting. He sent Spinelloccio dei Tolomei and Corrado da Jesi to the region with 300 cavalry and 200 infantry. Rinieri da Baschi ambushed them; he attacked and overcame the resistance of the Florentines. However, a part of them managed to break free, fortify themselves on a nearby hill, and orderly retreat from there. Spinelloccio dei Tolomei and Corrado da Jesi, for their part, fought vigorously. The two captains, surrounded, were captured and imprisoned. Piero Farnese did not accept this setback. In May, he led 800 Hungarians and 800 infantry to Bagno a Vena (San Giovanni alla Vena). Rinieri da Baschi gathered 400 cavalry and many infantrymen; with them, he tried to block the path to the opponents at the pass of San Piero. Before the conflict, Farnese knighted Simone da Varano. He ordered his troops to dismount and urged his men to fight with swords instead of lances due to the rugged nature of the terrain. An initial favorable skirmish for the Pisans turned after 2 and a half hours into a rout. Rinieri da Baschi was captured with his sword in hand. During the fight, Farnese‘s mount was killed; left standing and almost alone among the enemies, he found a donkey, freed it from its load, mounted it, and returned to the battle. On Ascension Day, Piero Farnese returned to Florence with 140/150 prisoners. He refused a laurel wreath and accepted as a gift 4 warhorses. In one of the many celebrations, he knighted the standard-bearer Niccolò Alberti. He received the royal standard and that of the commune. Soon after, he moved from Empoli with 2500 cavalry, many crossbowmen, and infantry. At Cecina, he forcefully overcame a ditch and defeated the resistance of 300 cavalry encamped at Castel del Bosco; from Ponsacco, he crossed the Val di Calci and moved to Caprona, setting fire to houses and palaces. He plundered the entire countryside up to Riglione Oratoio. From this location, he sent the Pisans a gauntlet of challenge. Two constables under his command, Amerigone Tedesco (60 barbutes) and Otto Tedesco (100 barbutes), attacked the enemy horses and infantry under the walls of Pisa. Initially victorious against 300 cavalry that came out for a sortie, they were defeated and captured by 600 barbutes and many townspeople who came out in large numbers from the city under the orders of the podestà. Piero Farnese then rallied 300 barbutes and charged at the opponents, putting them to flight. There were many dead and prisoners among the Pisans; many also drowned in the Arno. The Florentines moved to Riglione Oratoio and Spedaletto; Farnese headed to Ceruglio (Montecarlo); he reached the gates of Pisa: he entered the borough of San Marco, had coins minted (with the effigy of Saint John and a fox on the back representing the Pisans) and held a palio “for the whores.” The Pisans captured 42 citizens, some of whom were beheaded, and some foreigners: Piero Farnese realized that the treaty he had relied on to enter the enemy city had been discovered. Without plundering the countryside, he returned to Pescia. His rearguard was once again attacked by the opponents. Even this assault proved ineffective. The commander moved to Peccioli, never tiring of harming the opponents as much as possible.
JuneTuscanyHe was repelled from Marti twice; among the weapons hurled against the Florentines were beehives. He unsuccessfully besieged Montecalvoli, where two trebuchets were also erected. He withdrew only upon hearing of the imminent arrival of the White Company. He entered Barga, which had been besieged by the enemies for some time, with 3 battering rams: he resupplied the locality with provisions and destroyed two bastions placed at Sommocolonia. He arrived at Castelfiorentino. Mid-month, he was struck by the plague; he was taken to San Miniato al Tedesco (San Miniato) where he died at midnight. The plague also claimed the lives of 60/70 constables. His body was taken to Verzaia. When at the end of the month, his brother Ranuccio brought his remains to Florence, they were transferred to Florence. He was buried in that city in the church of Santa Reparata (Santa Maria del Fiore) in a funeral ark (designed by Andrea Orcagna) surmounted by his image astride a mule, as occurred in the battle he won against the Pisans at the pass of San Piero. The tomb is adorned with the blue fleurs-de-lis of the Farnese house, the Florentine lily, the cross of the people, and the eagle with the dragon of the Guelph party. Seventeen years later, painters Angelo and Giuliano Gaddi were commissioned to decorate it with paintings. In Naples (Palazzo Capodimonte, Museum), there is a print (design by Taddeo Zuccari and engraving by Georg Gaspar Penner) representing “The Triumphal Entry of Piero Farnese into Florence”.

Sources

-“Valente uomo in arme, e saputo e accorto con grande ardire, e saputo e accorto, con grande ardire, e leale cavaliere, e in fatti d’arme avventuroso.” VILLANI

-“Di lui fu grande e universale compianto, ed ebbe esequie splendidissime, e di mano di Andrea Orcagna una statua equestre di legno che stette infino a questi ultimi anni nel maggior tempio; dove Piero de Farnese fu ritratto sopra un mulo a ricordanza di quando egli,(battaglia di Bagno a Vena contro Rinieri del Bussa) mortogli sotto il destriero e quasi abbandonato dai suoi, montò sopra un mulo da soma e a quel modo compiè la vittoria che a’ Fiorentini fu tanto allegra.” CAPPONI

-“Uomo egregio nella guerra, e in quel tempo riputato peritissimo nell’arte militare.” L. ARETINO

-“Homo d’assai nel fatto delle arme, el qual’oltra i altri danni fè molte vergogne a’Pisani.” CORTUSII

-“Quisto fò valente homo.” GUERRIERO DA GUBBIO

-“Homo d’assai nel fatto delle arme.” N. DI ALESSIO

“Huomo celebre nell’armi.” LOSCHI

-“Valentissimo ed esperto uomo di guerra, franco, gagliardo e cortese.” VELLUTI

-“Messer Pier, ch’è campione di San Piero,/ E della Santa Chiesa, ardito, e fiero/ …/Messer Pier capitano di gran coraggio/…/ O indivisa, ed eterna Trinitade,/ Che tutti i cieli allumini, e la terra,/ Alluminami il cor, che con pietade/ Canti del franco capitan di guerra,/ Messer Pier da Farnese, cui bontade/ E’ sì notoria, che nessun si serra;/ Il qual morì vittorioso molto/ Per la città del Fiore, ov’è sepolto.” PUCCI

-“Vir egregius bello, ac rei militaris per eu tempora in primis peritus.” SANT’ANTONINO

-“Risulterebbe..esere stato il primo ad innalzare i gigli nel proprio stemma.. Capitano..acclamato e onorato.” NASALLI ROCCA

-Con Ciappo da Narni “Tutti valenti Capitani.” MUZZI

-Con Bonifacio d’Orvieto ed Enrico Fessa “Uomini nobili e consumati nelle armi.” FOGLIETTI

-Con Bonifacio d’Orvieto ed Enrico Fessa “Viri nobiles et ermis exercitati.” SEPULVEDA

-“Vie egregius bello ac rei militaris per ea tempora in primis peritus.” BRUNI

-“Gli veniva eretta nel 1366 in S. Reparata a Firenze, un’arca funebre sormontata dal simulacro del capitano a cavaliere di un mulo, così come aveva fatto nello scorcio della battaglia (di Bagno a Vena). Questo simulacro era di gesso e cartapesta, o legno e tela, ed è andato perduto.” BOCCIA

-“O lume chiar, nostro splendore adorno,/Onor di casa tua e tuo paese,/Come vola per tutto intorno intorno;/Chiamato Messer Piero da Farnese/Affezionato al fior degli altri fiori,/ Come si vidde in opre palese.” Cambino Aretino riportato da FABRETTI

-“Era un uomo d’arme molto abile e valoroso…Tra gli onori (tributatigli) fu quello di seppellire la salma del valoroso capitano in un sarcofago romano del secondo secolo.. che venne riscolpito su tre facce, mantenendo su di un lato la scultura originaria che raffigura in tre scene il mito di Fetonte. Sull’altro lato maggiore del sarcofago furono scolpiti il Giglio di Firenze, la Croce del Popolo e l’Aquila guelfa; sul lato minore destro, è scolpito il blasone dei Farnese sormontato da un cimiero; su quello sinistro, un altro scudo Farnese, un cimiero, e poi ancora la volpe (la subdola Pisa) a testa in già, per ricordarne la sconfitta, e quindi un giglio Farnese. Sul coperchio del sarcofago riciclato fu collocata la statua equestre che raffigurava il capitano in sella al mulo.. Si dice che apparentemente la statua (attribuita ad Andrea Orcagna o a suo fratello Iacopo) sembrasse di marmo, ma che in realtà fosse stata modellata con gesso e cartapesta, oppure con legno e gesso, legno e cartapesta, legno e tela. E’ andato perso senza che ne sia rimasta documentazione.” BATINI

-Sul monumento funebre compaiono due epigrafi: sulla prima faccia “Petro Nicolao Farnesio, qui periculoso/ bello, a Romano Pontifice subsidio Bonomiensi missus,/ urbem, fugato hoste, maximis periculis liberavit/ S.P.Q.B. gratus piusque ad renovandam beneficii memoriam” Sulla seconda faccia “Petrus Nicolaus Farnesius exercitus Reip./ Florentinae imperator, cum Pisanos acie instructa agressus/ est, qua in pugna equo saucio excussus, malum ascendere/ coactus est, quo cum ordine se restituit, militum animos/ confirmavit, victoriam retulit, Florentia reversus, bellicis/ laboribus confectus e vita recessit, senatus Florentinus/ summis in Rempublicam meritis sepulchrum et statuam decrevit.”

Imagehttps://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietro_Farnese_(capitano_generale_fiorentino)#/media/File:Arms_of_the_House_of_Farnese.svg

Featured image: wikimedia

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