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

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Vanissa da Poliza: The Bosnian Warrior’s Journey Through Mercenary Wars

Italian CondottieriVanissa da Poliza: The Bosnian Warrior's Journey Through Mercenary Wars

Bosniak. A valiant man. Skilled in guerrilla warfare. Leading a contingent of Turkish knights, he confronts the adversaries while serving the Venetians, employing the same methods common in Balkan wars: the recognition of an additional monetary reward for the delivery of each enemy head killed in battle.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

A Journey Through the Battles and Intrigues of a Bosnian Mercenary

Giovanni da Poliza (Giovanni Nenadich), a Bosniak. Voivode of Poglizza.

Death: 1512 (January)

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
……….Veneto, CroatiaHe escapes from the prison of Verona and flees to Dalmatia. The Council of Ten decides that he must die.
Sept.The Venetians promise a hitman 500 ducats for his assassination.
……….Private warVeniceCroatiaHe raids in the territory of Poliza to the detriment of the Venetians. He inflicts severe damage on them.
Sept.Croatia, VenetoHe is pardoned by the Council of Ten on the condition that he fights for the Venetians against the troops of the League of Cambrai. He is assigned to the defense of Padua.
Dec.Emilia, CroatiaHe is involved in the defeat at Ferrara: for his actions, he is, nevertheless, knighted. He goes to Venice, is received in the College of the Pregadi, and is given a golden robe valued at 70 ducats.
Feb.CroatiaIn Split to gather 250 light cavalry, partly Hungarian and partly Turkish.
Apr.100 light cavalryCroatiaHe embarks with only 100 horses because the Hungarian horses refuse to fight under his command due to the raids he carried out in the past on their territories.
MayVenetoHe presents himself in Venice at the College accompanied by 80 Turks with 2 captains. The Doge Leonardo Loredan sends him to the field. He attends the review of his company, part at the Lido (Venice) and part from Marghera. He asks for and obtains more money than previously agreed upon; he moves to the Veronese area where he lives with the spoils of war. He leaves Legnago with Andrea Mauras and Giovanni Detrico and clashes with 500 infantry, 100 lances, and 200 light cavalry in search of provisions. When the opponents capture one of his servants and slaughter him, his men attack the opponents, kill 100 horses and capture another 100, most of whom are killed before returning to Legnago; in the fight, 207 infantry among the enemies also fall, whose heads are brought to that location. These skirmishes are followed by others, always near Legnago, often ending with the killing of many opponents. All his men are considered by the Venetians with annoyance also because they are always only in search of money. The General Proveditor Andrea Gritti strongly opposes their financial demands. Giovanni da Poliza harasses the enemy army at Cittadella; he is ordered to go to Bassano del Grappa. He does not move due to the lack of forage. Instead, he joins with Alessandro Bigolino and carries out some raids in the Vicentine area; he clashes with the stradiots of Mercurio Bua and 7 of them are beheaded; at Isola, near Thiene, he recovers the spoils taken by some deserters, of whom 60/70 or 200 are killed according to different accounts: there are few prisoners and 3 are beheaded to avoid hindrance in the march. At the end of the month, 1000 ducats are delivered to him as payment for his men: the insolence of the Turks towards the civilian population continues.
JuneVeniceFrance, Empire110 light cavalryVenetoHe perseveres in his guerrilla activities. Along with Giovanni Detrico, he clashes at Lisiera with numerous men (150 enemies killed and few prisoners); he raids the entire territory near Lonigo without the aid of stradiots. He falls into an ambush near Bovolenta, where many of his light cavalry are killed, including a son of the Pasha of Bosnia: on this occasion, the young man offers a ransom for his release but is beheaded anyway. Along with Piero Monochovich and Giacomo Mamalucco, who lead stradiots of Croatian origin, he encounters 1500 men from Vicenza at Pozzo, near Breganze; 200/350 German soldiers are killed, and 15 horses are captured: the spoils recovered are distributed to the peasants. He carries out raids up to the gates of Vicenza and Cartigliano, increasingly alienating the population: despite this, the Venetians make use of the Turkish horses and deny them repatriation. Giovanni da Poliza also requests to return to Croatia: to placate him, 300 ducats are given to him.
JulyVenetoA Turk is hanged for raping a woman: to calm the protests of Giovanni da Poliza, the Venetians quickly compensate for the losses suffered by his men in combat. He moves to the defense of Padua; often carries out reconnaissance actions on the Bacchiglione.
Aug.129 light cavalryVenetoHe surprises a convoy of carts loaded with wine and provisions between Este and Monselice: 40 soldiers from the escort, both French and German, are killed. He goes to Venice with 5 Turkish captains, protests against the negative reports from the provveditori about him, and asks for permission to return to Dalmatia: a letter is written in his favor to the provveditori and another to the provveditore of Almissa, where a relative of his was recently killed. Giovanni da Poliza, upon returning to the field, is increasingly disobeyed by his men: incidents repeat, with drunk Turks in Padua chasing a friar, and some infantry intervene in defense of the latter. As a result, a man from Giovanni da Poliza is killed, and his body is mauled by dogs: no punitive measures are taken against the soldiers. Giovanni da Poliza returns to Venice to protest; he threatens to leave the territory of the Serenissima; he is asked to remain in Italy for another month.
Sept.VenetoHe is at the camp of San Martino Buon Albergo; he joins Lucio Malvezzi at Montorio Veronese; he charges with 30/40 men against 250 horses that came out of Verona. Mid-month, he purchases a mount from Cristoforo Moro for 200 ducats (which replaces the one killed in combat) and carries out numerous sorties right up to the walls of Verona. With the Venetians’ retreat, he moves to the defense of Montagnana; with other captains, he clashes at San Zeno Bevilacqua with 50 French and Burgundian men-at-arms, 100 French archers, and 400 infantry coming from Legnago. A massacre of the opponents is made.
Oct.VenetoHe arrives at Ficarolo and the dismissals begin; 56 light cavalry return home, taking with them the spoils, and are freely followed by some children who are willing to renounce the Christian faith.
Nov.LombardyAt the camp of Sermide. He supports the papal forces in a raid into the Modenese area.
Jan.EmiliaAt the siege of Mirandola. He meets with Pope Julius II.
Mar.EmiliaHe confronts the French in a skirmish: in the clash, 120 infantry are killed, and another 30 men are captured and handed over to Francesco Maria della Rovere.
Apr.VenetoHe is hosted in Venice at San Canziano by Zaccaria Loredan. In the College of the Pregadi, he offers to gather more Turkish horses. His proposal is discussed in the Council of Sages.
June – Sept.CroatiaHe informs the Venetians that he is ready to return to fight at the head of 300 Turkish horses. In July, he is provided with 1500 ducats in Split so that he can enlist 200 horses. In September, he raises his proposal for the enlistment of Ottoman light cavalry to 1000.
Dec.CroatiaHe is still in Split. Giovanni da Poliza invites the Ban of Klis, his personal enemy, to dinner and kills him with a servant during the banquet.
Jan.CroatiaHe is killed in Poliza by the inhabitants.


-“Persona di gran valore.” DALLA CORTE

-“Huomo valoroso.” SANUDO

Featired image: wikimedia

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