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

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Ramon De Cardona: Condottiero of Valor and Diplomacy

Catalan condottiero skilled both in matters of war and in the art of diplomacy. Nothing precise is known about his date of birth, the location, and the date of his death, always in Spain. However, his military activities in Italy are very well known, marked by victories and defeats, often ending with his capture by opponents.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Last Updated on 2024/01/31

The Life, Triumphs, and Challenges of Ramon De Cardona.

RAIMONDO DI CARDONA (RAMON DE CARDONA) of Tarascona. Marquis of Incisa, Viscount of Tarascona.

Death: 1338

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
JuneKing of AragonFranceSpainDefends Gerona against the French of King Philip III the Bold. The opponents are forced to retreat due to the plague appearing in their camp. After a short period, the French resume siege operations.
Sept.SpainThe defenders of Gerona surrender. Raimondo di Cardona moves to Italy.
1313GuelphsAlessandriaPiedmontJoins with the exiles from Alessandria; devastates the communal territory; captured in a sortie by the Ghibellines of Alessandria, he is imprisoned in the city.
1316NaplesMilanLiguriaIs freed along with the Guelph Lanzavecchia only after three years.
…………LiguriaSwitches to the service of Robert of Anjou (Roberto d’Angiò). He is at the defense of Genoa besieged by Marco Visconti and the exiles. Pursues the enemies up to the port of Gereso, provoking them with continuous skirmishes.
JunePiedmontConquers Valenza in the middle of the month; attempts to also occupy Vercelli.
…………FranceIs noted in Provence. Holds the position of admiral on behalf of the Angevins.
SummerNaplesSicilyLiguria, CampaniaLeaves Provence with 55 galleys, joins at Portovenere with another 20 Genoese galleys to counter the Sicilian fleet of Federico II de Sicilia (Federico d’Aragona, also known as Federico III of Sicily) and the exiles, commanded by Corrado Doria and comprising 64 galleys. Upon hearing of his arrival, the Sicilians retreat first to Porto Pisano and then towards Naples. Cardona pursues them; intercepts the Sicilian ships near Ischia; the opponents manage to escape. He goes to Naples and the fleet disperses without achieving anything.
Sept.LiguriaIn Genoa.
…………ChurchMilanPiedmontIs appointed by Pope John XXII as his seneschal and vicar in Lombardy. Reaches Valenza with 500 horses; from here declares war on the Visconti; captures Montecastello, sacks the locality, and leads many men, women, and children as prisoners to Alessandria.
MayPiedmontArrives at Asti with Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto at the head of 1200 horses; occupies Quattordio and Solero. Attacks Vercelli in order to restore the Avogadro there; is repelled by Stefano Visconti. He is forced to retreat to Valenza.
JunePiedmontIn Valenza; conquers Pontecurone: strips the captured German horses of their arms and lets them go free after the payment of a ransom of 6000 florins. Enters Quargnento and takes more Germans prisoner, who are similarly robbed. Demands a ransom of 6000 florins for their release as well. Secures Occimiano on terms, enters Sezzadio, stops near Alessandria for five days, devastates the vineyards and fruit trees of the countryside: his men also kill 150 peasants and many others are wounded.
…………PiedmontHis attempts to take Tortona fail; Franciscan and Dominican friars travel through the cities and countryside preaching the crusade against the heretics of Milan. Raimondo di Cardona does not hesitate to turn against Philip of Savoy-Acaia, attempting to retake Savigliano. The Pope quickly intervenes, leading Raimondo di Cardona to resume his actions against the Visconti.
Nov.EmiliaIs defeated by the Ghibellines at Bardi.
Feb. – Mar.PiedmontNotifies Matteo Visconti, in Bergoglio, of the charge of heresy: the crusade against the lord of Milan is officially preached. In March, he returns to raid near Alessandria.
Apr.LombardyConquers the bastion of Mongerano, guarded by 50 horses; receives reinforcements of 500 Genoese crossbowmen; seizes the castle of Vazolo near Voghera.
MayPiedmont, LombardyLeaves Valenza with 1500 horses and countless infantry, all crusaders. Penetrates into the Pavese; joins his initiative, at least for a short time, also Henry of Habsburg with 2000 horses. However, the German captain is bribed by the Visconti, forcing Raimondo di Cardona to return to Piedmont. Devastates the Alessandria area for ten days, destroys castles and villages, sets fire to houses and crops; crosses the Tanaro, heads to Novi Ligure and captures Pozzolo Formigaro with the support of 500 Genoese crossbowmen: the locality is immediately recovered by Marco Visconti.
JunePiedmontAlong with Bernardo di Monsolito (1200 horses), besieges the fortress of Bassignana on the Po; has trenches dug all around it and places large chains on the river to prevent supplies from entering via the river from Pavia or Piacenza.
JulyPiedmontIs attacked by 2200 horses and many infantry, led by the Visconti, and by a river flotilla conducted by Gherardino Spinola. Under Raimondo di Cardona’s command are only 1200 horses and 2000 infantry. He attacks the Visconti at Bassignana, repelling them at the Po bridge: the first two cavalry charges result in the death of 300 Visconti horses. In the end, the larger number of opponents prevails. Cardona is captured along with 400 horses (among the pontificals, 150 horses and many infantry are killed). The same night, he manages to escape to Valenza, where, with Cardinal del Poggetto, he plans new strategies for the continuation of the war.
Aug.PiedmontAfter forty-five days, he receives reinforcements of 300 horses, with which he moves to Asti. Here he is joined by another 1000 pontifical horses and by another 300 that, having been captured at Bassignana, have been released by the opponents.
Feb.PiedmontBursts into Bassignana and stays there for 20 days. Enters Tortona by treaty with 500 horses and the Guelph exiles of the city.
Mar.Piedmont, LombardyTakes possession of the fortress of Tortona with a brief siege. Also seizes several castles in the Pavese area.
Apr.PiedmontPenetrates Alessandria with his Provençal horses (always by treaty). In the same days, Henry of Flanders joins forces with the ecclesiastical troops.
MayGeneral captainPiedmont, Emilia, LombardyLeaves Tortona; heads towards Piacenza to force Vergusio dei Landi to leave the city. Enters Monza, thanks to a clash between Italian, Provençal, Gascon, and German mercenaries, ending with the death of 50 horses and the desertion from the Visconti camp of Simonino Crivelli.
JuneLombardyMoves away from Monza; heads towards Milan at the head of 8000 horses and 30000 infantry provided by the papal forces, Angevins, and the communes of Florence, Bologna, Parma, Reggio Emilia, along with Milanese exiles and many German horses that deserted from the Visconti camp. At Sesto San Giovanni, Galeazzo and Marco Visconti confront him with 2000 horses: the enemies almost immediately retreat into the city due to being vastly outnumbered. Cardona forcefully captures the suburbs of Porta Nuova and Porta Renza and sets them on fire; he also captures the suburb of Porta Comacina, where he encamps and begins siege operations. He blocks the flow of the Ticinello waters into Milan and positions his entire army around the city walls, with reinforcements at the monastery of Santo Spirito, Porta Vercellina, and Porta Romana. On the day of San Giovanni Battista, the Florentines run a palio in contempt of the defenders; for his part, Cardona moves his war machines closer to the walls, repels a sortie by Galeazzo Visconti aimed at disturbing the sappers’ work, and also tries to bribe the Swiss mercenaries in the enemy’s pay to open the gates or desert to his camp. The plot is discovered; some traitors are killed in a clash and others are imprisoned. Conversely, 500 pontifical horses leave his standard and join the enemy’s.
JulyLombardyThe plague rages in his camp; in a few days, there are 300 dead and 800 seriously ill; in Milan, however, reinforcements of another 1100 horses and 1000 infantry arrive. The increasingly uncomfortable situation leaves Cardona with only 2500 useful horses: he decides to retreat to Monza with the baggage.
Aug.LombardyHe is besieged in Monza.
Sept.LombardyHe disperses a column of Ghibellines coming from Bergamo.
Oct.LombardyHe takes advantage of the plague, which now also rages in the enemy camp, and sends out the infantry and Genoese crossbowmen from Monza. The Visconteans retreat and abandon the baggage train in the hands of the papal forces and their allies.
Nov.LombardyMarco Visconti recovers the fortress of Cassano d’Adda along with its bridge: the defenders surrender despite the presence of Cardona in the vicinity at Gorgonzola.
Jan.LombardyHe attempts to seize Lodi by a surprise attack. He sends some fishermen and soldiers near the city walls: a breach is opened, and the infantry pours into the city along with the exiles from Lodi and Crema. The Vistarini intervene, and the Guelphs are defeated.
Feb.LombardyHe leaves Monza with Enrico di Fiandra and Simone della Torre (1000 cavalry) and occupies the castle of Vaprio d’Adda. Galeazzo and Marco Visconti from Milan confront him with 1200 German cavalry and numerous infantry. He is besieged in the fortress, and with dwindling supplies, Raimondo di Cardona seeks a pitched battle. The enemy archers sow chaos among his men, the cavalry blocks his path, and the swollen river hinders any chance of fording. Meanwhile, the adversaries manage to set fire to the castle. Trapped, he is captured along with the Count of Fiandra, while Simone della Torre perishes drowned in the Adda. They are brought to Milan.
Nov.LombardyHe is released by Galeazzo Visconti with the promise that he would actively engage in initiating negotiations with the Pontiffs, and under the oath not to take up arms against the Milanese Ghibellines and their allies again. Thus, a feigned attempt to escape is staged, during which he reaches the San Marco postern and from there arrives in Monza with two guards and a trusted companion.
Dec.LombardyHe is re-elected as Captain General. The Pontiff releases him from all oaths and commands him to accept the mandate that has been conferred upon him.
…………France, EnglandIn Provence, at Avignon, in the presence of Pope John XXII. Subsequently, he travels to England to gather troops for the upcoming campaigns.
Mar.FlorenceLuccaCaptain of war, 250 cavalryTuscanyHe lands at Talamone and proceeds to Florence with the aim of combating the Lord of Lucca, Castruccio Castracani. He is granted a condotta for 250 cavalry for one year, with a salary of 4800 florins. He is appointed as captain of war, replacing the Marquess Manfredi Malaspina.
Apr. – MayTuscanyHe makes his solemn entry into Florence, where in the square of San Giovanni, he is given the symbols of command. He advances against Castracani, who withdraws to the castle of Montale, equipped with a large tower and many defenses. The departure of Cardona from Florence is grand, marked by the tolling of bells. For the Florentines, the fact that the “Montanina” bell shatters represents an ill omen. Gloomy predictions also arise from an earthquake that occurs during the same days and from a bright comet streaking across the city’s sky. He besieges the castle of Artimino, which had fallen into the hands of the Lucchesi. The defenders surrender to him on terms within a few days (297 prisoners).
JuneTuscanyHe proceeds towards Prato with 2100 cavalry (comprising 500/600 Florentines, 600 French, 200 Germans, 250 Catalans, 100 Burgundians, and 450 from Gascony, Flanders, Provence, and Italy) and 15,000 infantry from the city and its surrounding territories. The daily cost of the army is estimated at 3000 florins. Midway through the month, he departs from Prato and enters the territory of Pistoia.
JulyTuscanyHe besieges Tizzano and secretly sends his marshal Bornio di Borgogna with 500 cavalry to take control of the Guisciana marshes by night. These troops construct some wooden bridges, which are discreetly placed on the Guisciana at Rosaiolo. He then leaves Tizzano, crosses the marshes himself, and forces the garrison of Cappiano to surrender on terms. Montefalcone also falls into his hands, and numerous Guelphs join his forces, increasing his army to 3500 cavalry. He sets fire to and loots houses and villas in the plains, destroying crops everywhere. He ravages the territories of Agliana and Piuvica, and the fortress of San Mato is set ablaze with the death of its defenders. He proceeds to the abbey of Pacciana, seizes it, and orders its demolition, setting fire to the ruins. He arrives near Pistoia, where Castruccio Castracani has barricaded himself. He organizes a horse race under the city walls and challenges the rival captain to battle, but with no outcome. Meanwhile, he assaults the castles of Carmignano and Artimino, obtaining their surrender on terms. He prepares to attack the Lord of Lucca; Castracani then leaves Pistoia, crosses the Val di Nievole, and positions his camp in Vivinaia. The Lord of Lucca, reinforced by Ghibelline militias, fortifies himself on Cerruglio (Montecarlo) with ditches and stockades.
Aug.TuscanyRaimondo di Cardona seizes the castle of Montefalcone, guarded by 500 infantry. The defenders surrender on terms stipulating that no reinforcements can arrive within two days. He continues his campaign by besieging Altopascio, a fortified stronghold housing the wealthy Order of Knights of the Tau. He conducts operations with great vigor, launching foul-smelling corpses and refuse from wooden towers and mangonels day and night, contaminating the environment and causing illnesses. He also orders tunnels to be dug beneath the fortress in an attempt to bring it down. Cardona emerges victorious in Carmignano, resulting in 450 casualties among the Lucca ranks, both dead and captured, and he captures the fortress as well. Altopascio surrenders to him at the end of the month. In recognition of his successes, the residents of Fucecchio name one of the town’s gates after him, calling it “Porta Raimonda.” However, his troops are plagued by malaria.
Sept.TuscanyThe number of men at his disposal diminishes not only due to diseases but also because of his and his marshal’s misappropriations. They grant permission to leave for anyone willing to pay. Furthermore, he is poorly advised by some Florentines who plant the hope in him of becoming the ruler of Florence. Instead of leading the army to Santa Maria a Monte, he decides to attack the Lucchesi without delay. He waits near Porcari at the abbey of Pozzeveri, on the shores of the marshy lake of Bientina, engaging in some skirmishes from there.
Raimondo di Cardona realizes that he is in an inadequate position and sends Bornio di Borgogna and Urlimbacca Tedesco between Montechiaro and Porcari to create clearings for relocating the camp. The first clash takes place near Altopascio: Castruccio Castracani dispatches multiple forces to thwart their efforts, and later, he personally descends from the hills with the bulk of his troops. Contrary to expectations, Cardona does not come to their aid, and Urlimbacca Tedesco is captured.
Following the skirmish, negotiations with the Lucchesi ensue, allowing Castracani to strengthen his forces with 1000 cavalry, including 800 led by Azzone Visconti and 200 by Passerino Bonacolsi. Cardona does not withdraw; instead, he challenges the rival captain to battle, having 2000 cavalry and 8000 infantry against the 2300 Lucchesi. At the end of the month, Castracani descends from Vivinaia. The flight of Bornio di Borgogna (who commands the second contingent with 800 cavalry) and the substantial inaction of Cardona result in the defeat of the Florentines. Two banners of Azzone Visconti’s German cavalry occupy the Cappiano bridge over the Guisciana, cutting off any retreat. Few casualties occur in the battle (110 among the Florentines), but there are many prisoners (770 citizens of Florence, not counting the allies and mercenaries). Cardona surrenders into the hands of Azzone Visconti.
Nov.TuscanyHe is compelled to follow Castruccio Castracani with one of his sons during Castracani’s triumphant entry into Lucca. He walks ahead of Castracani’s chariot, drawn by four white horses, holding lit torches to offer to the city’s patron, Saint Martin. He is imprisoned for three years.
Oct.TuscanyUpon the death of Castruccio Castracani, he and his son are released by Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria, under pressure from King Alfonso the Benevolent of Aragon and upon the payment of a ransom of 4000 florins.
…………Empire100 cavalryTuscanyHe enters the service of the Emperor, who sends him to Pisa to collect a ransom of 100,000 ducats imposed on the city. He is excommunicated and unable to visit Pope John XXIII due to health reasons until King Alfonso of Aragon intervenes on his behalf in April. The king secures his absolution from Pope John XXIII, and in July, the Patriarch of Alexandria, Giovanni d’Aragona, is entrusted with this task.
MaySpainHe returns to Catalonia after making his first visit to Sardinia.
Apr.SardiniaHe serves under King Alfonso of Aragon. He replaces the Catalan Bernat de Boixadors in his role as governor and lieutenant general of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica. He supports the Judge of Arborea in their struggles against the Doria family. He establishes his headquarters in Sassari, a city currently uninhabited by Catalans. He begins addressing the issue of their resettlement in the area and on the island.
Nov.SardiniaHe is killed in Gallura, and the royal official Miguel Martinez de Puy loses his life. His response is harsh, resulting in the punishment of the culprits and the burning of many houses.
1331King of AragonGranadaSpain, SardiniaHe participates in the crusade against the Moors of the Kingdom of Granada and later returns to Sardinia.
…………King of AragonDoria, GenoaSardiniaHe engages in war with the Doria family and the Genoese. He faces significant difficulties against his adversaries both on land, confronting Branca Doria’s offensive, and at sea, as Salagro di Negro seizes four Catalan ships that were bringing reinforcements. He is only able to defend the fortresses.
…………SpainHe returns to Catalonia in search of reinforcements.
Jan.SpainHe is reported to be in Barcelona.
1334He continues to hold the position of Aragonese Vicar in Sardinia. When Niccolò Doria constructs a castle along the road connecting Sassari and the Judge of Arborea’s domain, he leaves Cagliari to destroy this fortress. Doria eventually comes to terms and accepts its demolition.
JuneChurchArezzoUmbriaHe is sent to aid the Perugians in order to counter Pier Saccone Tarlati.
1336King of AragongenoaSardiniaHe emerges victorious in battle against the Doria forces and compels them to submit. Even the Genoese are forced into a peace agreement. Cardona is then able to leave Sardinia. He is succeeded in his positions by Raimondo di Monpavone, who becomes the governor of Logoduro and vicar of Sassari.
1338SpainHe passes away, although the exact date is not known. It is recorded that in October, the execution of his will takes place.


-“Fortis et egregius miles Raymondus et audax,/ Qui de chardona stirpe creatus erat./ Is facere ugonis (Ugo del Balzo) vindictam mortis anhellans,/ Anguigero (angioino) domino grandia bella facit.” ASTESANO

-“Uomo instrutto nell’arte della guerra, e famoso per molte vittorie ottenute contro i suoi nemici.” RONCIONI

-“Huomo in quei tempi valoroso in armi.” PELLINI

-“Vir probitatis est Raymundus promtus adire.” GRANCHI

-“Di nazion Catalano, il quale aveva gran nome in cose di guerra.” SERRA

-“Uomo famoso ed eccellente nell’arte della guerra e della pace.” TEGRIMI

-“Soldato di gran coraggio e ardire.” GHILINI

-“Nobilem militem et doctum ad bellum.” ALFERIO-G.VENTURA

-“Virum dexterrimae humanitatis.” RIPAMONTI

-“Cardonus virtute et scientia novis Ducis.” MERULA

-“Avea fama d’eccellente guerriero.” PIGNOTTI

-“Uomo d’armi esperimentato.” CANSACCHI

-“(Con la fama di) soldato di coraggio e di buon condottiero.” CAGGESE

-“Reputatissimo Capitano.” ANONIMO

-“Nulla di preciso si sa sulla data e sul luogo di nascita del Cardona, e incerta appare anche la sua collocazione all’interno della famiglia dei visconti di Cardona, alla quale comunque egli dovette appartenere come induce a ritenere l’appellativo di “consanguineus” del re d’Aragona con cui è ricordato dalle fonti. Il Sobrequés i Vidal lo considera del ramo Torà della famiglia e figlio di Ramon Amat. Lo stesso autore.. non nasconde la difficoltà di tracciare una precisa genealogia della famiglia. D’altro canto appare dubbia l’identificazione operata dal Sobrequés  i Vidal tra il Cardona e il figlio di Ramon Amat in quanto quest’ ultimo, secondo lo storico catalano che si basa sullo Zurita, ebbe un solo figlio maschio di nome Guglielmo; altre fonti, invece, assegnano al Cardona un figlio di nome Pietro. Inoltre il figlio di Ramon Amat risulta essere governatore della Sardegna dopo il 29 ott. 1329 e fino al 1335, ma le notizie in nostro possesso sul Cardona sembrano escludere una sua presenza nell’isola almeno per il 1329 e l’anno successivi.” ENZENSBERGER

-“Qui magnos ante exercitus suo auspicio in Gallia ductaverat; ubi post res bello egregie gestas, tandem adverso proelio a Mediolanensibus captum redempturumque.” BRUNI

Featured image source: wikimedia

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