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

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Alberico da Barbiano: Shaping Warfare in 14th Century Italy

Italian CondottieriAlberico da Barbiano: Shaping Warfare in 14th Century Italy

Alberico da Barbiano is a renowned Italian condottiero (military leader) of fortune. In some ways, he is an innovator in the manner of fighting in the second half of the Middle Ages. Very famous in his time, his reputation as a master of military art has subsequently proven to be somewhat exaggerated. Above all, he is a prudent strategist, a good judge of situations, and a sound advisor

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Venetian Alliances and Rivalries.

Alberico da Barbiano (c. 1344-1409) was the pioneering Italian condottiero, mentored by English mercenary John Hawkwood. Born into a noble Romagna family, he formed the Italian-only Compagnia di San Giorgio, revolutionizing mercenary tactics with enhanced cavalry and training. His company, starting with 200 men, expanded to 4,000, diminishing foreign mercenaries’ dominance in Italy. Alberico’s military career included key victories in the Italian Wars, serving leaders like Barnabò Visconti and Pope Urban VI. His legacy continued through his descendants and the Italian Navy’s Condottieri-class cruiser named after him.

ALBERICO DA BARBIANO, Count. Of Barbiano or of Cunio.

Lord of Lugo, Castel Bolognese, Cotignola, Barbiano, Dozza, Tossignano, Granarolo, Trani, Giovinazzo, Conversano, Nogarole Rocca, Montecchio Emilia. Brother of Giovanni da Barbiano, father of Ludovico da Zagonara and Manfredo da Barbiano, son-in-law of Guido da Polenta, father-in-law of Giovanni Colonna.

Born: 1349 
Death: 1409 (april)

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity areaActions taken and other salient facts
1365
Mar.RomagnaHe sends his own procurators to Forlì to take part in the general parliament, convened in the city by the Archbishop of Ravenna, Petrocino, vicar of Cardinal Egidio Albornoz in Romagna.
SpringCunioMilanRomagnaHe enters into conflict with the Visconti over the possession of Zagonara. The dispute concludes with the intervention of the Papal Rector of Romagna, Daniele del Carretto.
1371LombardyHe creates iron and steel armor in Milan.
…………….MilanChurchLombardyHe serves in the pay of Bernabò Visconti. Captured by the Papal forces during a clash, he is ransomed by the Lord of Milan.
1373
Oct.Comp. venturaLombardyIn the Mantuan territory. He is part of the first “Compagnia di San Giorgio” (Company of St. George).
1375
…………….VeniceGenoa, PaduaLombardy, VenetoIn Mantua, he is contacted by Stefano Balbi to enter into the service of the Venetians against the Genoese and the Carraresi in the War of Chioggia. He receives an advance of 8,000 ducats out of the 25,000 requested as his due; he allows himself to be corrupted along with Pellegrino degli Adelardi by the Doge of Genoa, Niccolò Guarco, and soon abandons the field.
…………….ChurchFlorenceHe joins Giovanni Acuto in the War of the Eight Saints against the Florentines.
1376
Mar.RomagnaHe takes part in the massacre of Faenza, during which approximately 4,000 men are killed.
…………….He follows Acuto in his raids.
1377
Jan.He forms his own company, strong with 200 lances, with which he serves under Cardinal Legate Roberto of Geneva (the future antipope Clement VII).
Feb.RomagnaHe enters Cesena with the Company of the Bretons. He participates in a second massacre, during which 5,000/8000 people are killed over three days.
…………….RomagnaHe stays in Cesena with Venturino da Cremona, while the Company of the Bretons is forced to leave the locality.
Nov.MarcheHe stations his company in the territory of Montegiorgio.
1378
June – Aug.MilanVeronaVenetoHe is on the payroll of Bernabò Visconti against the Lord of Verona, Antonio della Scala. Together with Francesco da Correggio and Galeazzo Pepoli, he founds the Company of San Giorgio, strong with 800 lances and 700 infantrymen: it is composed only of Italians. In mid-June, he encamps at Nogarole Rocca. At the end of July, he is spotted outside of Verona at Porta Vescovo; from here, he proceeds to San Michele Extra.
Dec.VeniceGenoa, PaduaHe is in Marmirolo, in the Mantuan territory; he commits himself for 25,000 ducats to the Venetians. He is blocked on the Adige by the Scaliger forces and by the river flooding: thus, he is forced to desist from his attempt to join with the Venetian troops.
1379
Jan.Comp. venturaBolognaVenetoHe overcomes obstacles and effectively counters 10,000 Hungarian cavalry led by Charles of Durazzo in the Veronese area. He moves to the Bolognese territory and is handed 2,000 ducats; he then moves to Romagna.
Feb.Comp. venturaFlorenceTuscany, Emilia, Romagna, LazioHe joins Acuto and Lucio Lando with the aim of threatening Tuscany. The Florentines are obliged to acknowledge to the mercenaries 10,000 florins; in exchange, they obtain the promise that their territory will not be harassed by his men for eighteen months. Barbiano returns to the Bolognese territory with his company of 800 lances: Bologna is forced to grant him the same sum. He returns to Romagna.
Mar.ChurchAntipopeMarche, UmbriaHe switches to the payroll of Pope Urban VI in order to fight the Company of the Bretons, which serves the antipope Clement VII and Queen Joanna I of Naples (Giovanna d’Angiò). He first goes to Montefeltro to meet Antonio da Montefeltro; he is approached by ambassadors from Perugia who convince him with 2,000 florins not to invade their county. He penetrates Assisi through an aqueduct; in the combat, Antonio da Correggio dies.
Apr.LazioThe Perugians send him 2,000 infantrymen. He defeats Giovanni di Maléstroit in an initial clash at Carpineto Romano. He firmly occupies Rome and besieges Castel Sant’Angelo. He advances against the Bretons up to Tivoli. At the end of the month, the decisive battle against the Company of the Bretons, commanded by Giovanni di Maléstroit, Luigi di Montjoie, and Bernardo della Sala, takes place at Marino, in the Valley of the Dead. He arranges the army into two squadrons, one commanded by him and the other by Galeazzo Pepoli. The opponents, however, divide into three ranks. The first Breton line prevails over his squadron; however, it breaks against his second squadron strengthened by Roman infantry and numerous crossbowmen. Alberico da Barbiano leads his men to the attack and achieves a swift victory against the second Breton rank; the confrontation with the third is long and resolves in favor of the Papal forces only in the evening (after five hours) when a small reserve of heavy cavalry manages to strike the opponents on the flanks. In the battle, della Sala and Montjoie are captured along with 1,200 horses; all the opposing captains are taken to Rome. He enters the city and is welcomed in triumph; after a few days, Castel Sant’Angelo also surrenders to him. Barbiano, along with Pepoli, are armed by the Pope as Knights of Christ; he is given a banner in which a red cross is painted with the inscription LI-IT-AB-EXT “Italia liberata dai barbari” (Italy liberated from the barbarians), which becomes the motto of his family and part of the coat of arms of his house.
MayLazioSaint Catherine of Siena sends him a letter, urging him to continue serving in favor of Pope Urban VI.
SummerLazio, UmbriaHe recovers Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome; he joins Cardinal Giovanni Fieschi of Vercelli and attacks Prefect Giovanni di Vico in Viterbo. He sets up camp in three different locations without giving any thought to the city and its garrison. His men avoid any contact with the opponents to ravage the vineyards and destroy the already ripe crops; they plunder men and animals, desolating all the properties and dwellings of the countryside. After two months of raids, Barbiano leaves the siege to move with the legate, Cardinal Giovanni Fieschi, to Montefiascone and Orvieto to take such a fortress from Rinaldo Orsini. With Ugolino da Montemarte (1,200 horses and 200 infantrymen), he penetrates into the Chiugi to the detriment of the Perugians and into the Duchy of Spoleto. Finally, he encamps at Anagni and forces the troops of the antipope to retreat into the Kingdom of Naples.
…………….DurazzoRomagnaHe returns to Romagna with Guglielmo Ferrebach. He enters into the service of Giannozzo da Salerno, a trusted man of Charles of Durazzo.
1380
Feb.Comp. venturaPerugia, Siena, PisaTuscanyHe pushes into Tuscany with his own company and the “Compagnia dell’ Uncino” of Villanuccio da Villafranca, in addition to numerous exiles and a large host of Hungarians (Pietro Cornwald) and Germans (Ferrebach). He threatens the Perugians, who have sent troops to aid the Florentines: thus, he asks the commune of Perugia to loan him 2,000 florins, ultimately settling for half. He arrives in the Sienese territory; now he is approached by the Florentines who remind him of his commitments from the previous year. The Pisans acknowledge another 10,000 florins to him.
Mar.Comp. venturaFlorenceTuscanyUrged by the exiles, he enters Val di Strona: since, contrary to expectations, no disorder occurs in Florence, he places his camp in various locations between Staggia and Colle di Val d’Elsa, at Poggibonsi, and at Tavernelle Val di Pesa. He begins to rob the inhabitants, set fire to dwellings, and take prisoners.
Apr.TuscanyHe reaches Carcheri, Quaranta, Malmantile. He is confronted by Lucio Lando, Acuto, and Everardo Lando. He is defeated at Malmantile, where his brother Giovanni and more than 200 men are taken prisoner. He then leaves the contado (rural district) of Empoli and returns to Val d’Elsa.
MayComp. ventura, OrvietoLucca, AntipopeTuscany, UmbriaHe reconciles with the Sienese and Florentines, who hand him 40,000 florins (10,000 from the former and 30,000 from the latter): for his part, he promises not to plunder their territories for nine months. Having also received 10,000 florins from the Lucchese (after having requested 20,000), he takes the road through the Maremma. At the end of the month, he is in San Giuliano, near Orvieto, to come to the aid of Ugolotto Biancardo, besieged by opponents in the fortress. Barbiano arrives late, so the fortress falls into the hands of Rinaldo Orsini and the company of the Bretons. As a result, the mercorini faction is driven out of Orvieto by the muffati or beffati faction. Barbiano protects the exiles with his men up to the Paglia River; from here, he continues on his way.
JuneDurazzoNaplesMarche, LazioHe promises Rodolfo da Varano not to harass his lands for fifteen months in exchange for 5,000 florins. Along with Ferrebach, he reaches Carlo di Durazzo in Fano and follows him into the Kingdom of Naples against the troops of Joanna I of Naples (Giovanna d’Angiò): the inhabitants of Fano hand over 300 ducats to the two captains to preserve their contado (rural district) from looting. He marches towards the kingdom; devastates the lands controlled by the Abbey of Montecassino; sacks San Vittore del Lazio and San Pietro.
JulyCampaniaIn Naples, he takes part in the Battle of Porta Capuana, in which Ottone of Brunswick is defeated.
…………….RomagnaHe marries Beatrice da Polenta, daughter of Guido, lord of Ravenna.
1381
Jan.Comp. venturaFlorence, SienaTuscany, UmbriaHe stations at Poggibonsi with Villanuccio da Villafranca. The Sienese gather numerous troops to counter a possible incursion by him. He prefers to head towards Perugia.
Sept.NaplesUmbriaHe is in Todi when Arezzo rebels against Charles of Durazzo due to the actions of the Ghibelline faction of the Tarlati and Ubertini.
Nov.Comp. venturaArezzoUmbria, TuscanyHe meets with Meo Bostoli at Ponte San Giovanni; he is invited to Perugia for an official lunch with all his officers. Mid-month, he targets Arezzo with 1,200 horses. Having arrived at Castiglion Fiorentino, he sends 300 horses into the city as a vanguard, enters through the Porta di Sant’Alberto (controlled by the Durazzo faction), and from there bursts into the city with the support of the Bostoli. Arezzo is sacked; even the dwellings of the Guelphs are not spared. Alberico da Barbiano vainly asks the Durazzo governor, Giacomo Caracciolo, to hand over the citadel and the fortress; the fortresses are denied to him. The viceroy calls for help from the Spoleto area, summoning the Compagnia dell’ Uncino of Villafranca.
Dec.Comp. venturaSienaTuscanyStill with Villanuccio da Villafranca, he forms a company of 1,000 lances, many infantrymen, and crossbowmen; together, the two captains scour the Sienese territory up to Asciano.
1382
Jan.Comp. venturaFlorenceTuscanyHe raids cattle and takes prisoners at Sambuco and Tavernelle Val di Pesa. Giovanni Acuto opposes him with 800 lances, 200 crossbowmen, and 600 infantrymen, positioning himself at San Casciano in Val di Pesa, shadowing Alberico da Barbiano and Villanuccio da Villafranca without attacking them, allowing them to return to Arezzo without problems.
Feb.Comp. venturaLucca, SienaTuscanyHe threatens the Lucchese territory with Villanuccio da Villafranca. The Sienese acknowledge 10,000 florins to the company (the total cost for the commune, including some gifts, is 10,153 florins).
Mar.Comp. venturaArezzo, CortonaUmbria, TuscanyIn Perugia, the Lucchese hand over 5,000 florins to the two captains, following the promise of not being harassed in their territory for a year. Giacomo Caracciolo calls him back to Arezzo to oppose the Ghibellines; conversely, Alberico da Barbiano makes an agreement with Marco da Pietramala and helps the members of the latter’s faction to re-enter the city without encountering any resistance. His soldiers devastate, striking both Guelphs and Ghibellines, killing, raping, and torturing the inhabitants for several days. Villanuccio da Villafranca also intervenes, whose men behave like those of Barbiano. The latter persists in his action, pillaging Cortona and extorting more than 500 florins from that commune.
MayComp. venturaPerugiaTuscany, UmbriaTo placate his demands, Florence and Siena allocate to him and Villanuccio da Villafranca 30,000 florins (10,000 from the Sienese) in exchange for the usual commitment not to damage the territories of the two republics for eighteen months as a company and fifteen months as individual soldiers. Villanuccio da Villafranca departs from Tuscany while Alberico da Barbiano stays with his men between Castelfiorentino and the Perugian area. He enters the district of Assisi and demands from the Perugians 3,400 florins for past dues; they hand over 3,500 florins provided he leaves the territory.
JuneNaplesAnjouTuscany, RomagnaThe arrival of Louis of Anjou, coming from France with 15,000 horses and 3,500 crossbowmen to take the Kingdom of Naples from Charles of Durazzo, shifts his field of action, forcing him to abandon Arezzo and move to Romagna with 3,000 horses.
JulyRomagnaHe defends Rimini alongside Galeotto Malatesta. He opposes the supporters of the Angevins, such as the lord of Ravenna, Guido da Polenta; he destroys the castle of Bellaria and enters Cervia and Cesenatico.
Aug.RomagnaHe defends Forlì and Cesena from enemy attacks; he defeats and captures Louis of Montjoie near Bertinoro; however, his attempt to seize the enemy’s forage depots in the Forlì area fails.
Sept.Romagna, MarcheThe French overcome his lines of resistance and penetrate into the Kingdom of Naples. He also moves towards that territory. In the countryside of Ascoli Piceno, he is contacted by a certain Cavallino to lead an assault against Ancona.
…………….CampaniaTogether with Giovanni Acuto, he conducts a substantially weak campaign in the Kingdom of Naples.
1383AbruzzoHe enters L’Aquila in the first months of the year.
1384
Feb.He takes part in the review held by Charles of Durazzo.
Mar. – Apr.Campania, ApuliaThe Durazzo forces are defeated at Campobasso by the Angevins, who make their entry into Naples. Alberico da Barbiano, due to the numerical superiority of the enemies, suggests a tactic aimed at buying time while waiting for their forces, lacking adequate supply lines, to dissolve. He reaches Barletta and stays there for several months. Charles of Durazzo challenges Louis of Anjou to a duel. Suddenly, Amadeus of Savoy, the Green Count, dies; his death marks the departure of the Savoyard militias from the field. A month after the death of the Count of Savoy, the Durazzo forces clash with the Angevins in the gorges of Pietracatella (Campobasso). The outcome is uncertain; there are numerous losses on both sides.
JuneGrand ConstableHe is named Grand Constable of the Kingdom of Naples following the death of Giannozzo da Salerno.
…………….Abruzzo, ApuliaHe obtains as a pledge the revenues of the cities of Trani and Giovinazzo when the Company of Saint George becomes agitated near Pescara due to the delay in payments.
Sept.ApuliaHe defeats the French under the walls of Bari in a battle during which two of his mounts are killed, and he sustains five wounds. He besieges Louis of Anjou in the capital: the latter vainly tries to make friends with him through flattery and promises.
Oct.ApuliaHe clashes again with the opponents between Barletta and Bari; Louis of Anjou dies a few days later in Bisceglie due to five wounds sustained in that clash. Barbiano takes many prisoners, some of whom are killed. He besieges Bari.
1385
Feb.NaplesChurchRomagna, Marche, CampaniaHe leaves Romagna with Azzo da Castello at the outbreak of the conflict between the King of Naples and Pope Urban VI; he crosses the countryside of Fano and the Marca with the standard-bearer of Bologna, Ramberto Bacilieri; for several months, along with the abbot of Montecassino, Pietro Tartaro, he besieges the Pope in Nocera. Charles of Durazzo promises a reward of 10,000 florins for the capture of the Pope.
JulyCampaniaRaimondo Orsini del Balzo and Tommaso da San Severino attack with 3,000 horses the troops of both him and Villanuccio da Villafranca, breaking the siege of Nocera. Thus, Urban VI can abandon the location and retreat, according to sources, to Capo Palinuro, or to the mouths of the Sele, near Salerno, or even to the shore between Trani and Barletta, where he can board some Genoese galleys that take him to safety.
…………….CampaniaHe occupies Nocera. There, he captures the Pope’s nephew, Francesco Prignano, whose ambitions have been the cause of the conflict.
Sept.Apulia and HungaryHe leaves the field with Villafranca and the Count of Alife; he embarks with his men at Barletta on 4 galleys in order to escort the King of Naples to Hungary.
1386
Jan.He returns to Italy following the killing of Charles of Durazzo by the Hungarian barons.
Apr.CunioBolognaRomagnaHe heads to Ferrara with 200 horses to aid his brother Giovanni from the treachery of the Bolognese: his presence induces them to mild counsel. He proceeds to Bologna.
…………….NaplesAnjouCampaniaHe fights the troops of the King of Provence, Louis of Anjou (Luigi d’Angiò), in favor of Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò), son of Charles of Durazzo (Carlo di Durazzo).
…………….CampaniaHe defeats at Montecorvino, in the Salerno area, the Count of Venosa, Wenceslaus of San Severino (Venceslao da San Severino). For the victory, he is again invested with Trani and Giovinazzo.
1387
Apr.CampaniaHe is present at an act of feudal concession with other dignitaries of the kingdom such as the grand justice Carlo Ruffo of Calabria, Luigi da Capua, Roberto Orsini, Luigi di Gesualdo, and Francesco Dentice. He is called to Naples with Federico di Brunforte by the queen mother Margaret of Anjou (Margherita d’Angiò); he arrives with 2 galleys and a Genoese galley; he ventures into the city and in Piazza delle Corregge is defeated by the inhabitants who have rebelled against the Durazzeschi. The houses of the courtiers are sacked, particularly that of the grand justice; prisoners are freed from the jails and all the papers concerning the trials, which are stored in the Vicaria tribunal, are set ablaze.
Sept. – Nov.CampaniaHe stops at Aversa with 300 horses and plunders the territory. He clashes with Tommaso da San Severino and Otto of Brunswick (Ottone di Brunswick). Inferior in forces, he is obliged to return to his possessions in Puglia (Apulia).
1388
Jan.CampaniaWith Otto of Brunswick (Ottone di Brunswick), who in the meantime has switched from the Angevin to the Durazzeschi side, and the Acuto, he leaves Aversa (with 4000 horses and 500 infantry) to come to the aid of the defenders of Castel Capuano in Naples.
Feb.CampaniaLouis of Montjoie (Luigi di Montjoie) in turn leaves Naples with 1600 horses. Alberico da Barbiano is defeated along with the Acuto and Brunswick.
Apr.ApuliaUpon the fall of Castel Capuano, he returns to his possessions in Puglia.
1389Grand ConstableHe is reconfirmed in his position as Grand Constable (Gran Connestabile).
1390
Mar.LazioIn Gaeta. He is present at the ceremony in which Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò) is crowned King of Naples.
…………….He is appointed Viceroy of Calabria. Once more, the fiefs of Trani and Giovinazzo are reconfirmed to him.
Sept.He is considered among the closest collaborators of Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò) along with the Count of Nola and Soleto, Nicola Orsini, Benedetto Acciaiuoli, the marshal of the kingdom, Francesco Dentice, the captain of the galleys, the Genoese Baldassarre Spinola, and Pieretto de Andreis.
Oct.ChurchAnjou600 cavalryApulia, EmiliaHe leaves Puglia to go to Bologna. He switches to the pay of Pope Boniface IX in order to fight the troops of Louis II of Anjou (Luigi II d’Angiò).
1391
Jan. – Feb.Some donations, made by him in favor of some followers of the Durazzeschi party, are confirmed by the court to be valid on the assets of rebels.
1392
Mar.Campania, ApuliaHe takes the way to Campobasso and heads towards Capitanata; at San Bartolomeo in Galdo, he joins with Brunswick and shortly after with Cecco dal Borgo.
Apr.ApuliaHe is confronted, at dawn, at Ascoli Satriano, by Tommaso da San Severino (5000 infantry and 2000 cavalry) who catches him and his men by surprise after having marched for twenty-four hours from the Bradano river and having covered seventy miles. Taken prisoner without his soldiers having the opportunity to arm themselves, to gain freedom he must pay a ransom of 30,000 florins and promise not to militate against the San Severino for ten years. In his place, Luigi da Capua is elected as Grand Constable (gran connestabile).
Sept.He resumes the war in the Kingdom of Naples and is entrusted with the command of the Italian troops. Together with Guglielmo Ferrebach, he sells the land of Pescara for 16,000 ducats to the brothers Napoleone Orsini, grand logothete and protonotary of the kingdom, and Nicola Orsini, counselor and chamberlain. This cession is ratified by Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò).
Oct.Grand ConstableHe obtains reconfirmation in the position of Grand Constable.
1393
Apr.AbruzzoOn the indication of the sovereign, with the marshal of the kingdom Francesco Dentice, he sells the cities of Teramo and Atri to Antonio Acquaviva, Count of San Flaviano, for 35,000 ducats (of which 23,000 are paid immediately). The stipulation of the act takes place in the episcopal palace of Teramo.
MayCampania, AbruzzoTogether with Cecco dal Borgo and Onofrio Pesce (3600 horses), he aids Giovanni da Fabriano in Capua. Louis de Montjoie (Luigi di Montjoie) is forced to lift the siege from the locality. Alberico da Barbiano moves to Gaeta.
JulyLazio, AbruzzoHe encamps at Traietto (Minturno) at the mouth of the Garigliano with 3000 horses and 1600 infantry along with Cecco dal Borgo and Cristoforo Gaetani. After a war council held in Gaeta with Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò), the decision is made to attack L’Aquila. En route, he subjugates the counts of Sora and Alvito to the royal cause, enters the Abruzzi through the county of Celano, and defeats Rinaldo Orsini.
…………….ApuliaIn discord with the Venetians stationed in Trani, as he seeks to scale back the privileges they have long enjoyed.
1394
…………….ApuliaThe fleet of the Serenissima (Venetian Republic) compels him to reach an agreement, subsequently renewed in 1398 and 1401.
MayTuscany, Marche, EmiliaHe passes through Florence with 400 lances: he is headed towards Lombardy. The Florentines contact him to have him on their payroll. In Ancona, he meets with the ambassador Donato Acciaiuoli: he is offered a six-month contract (or longer, at his choice) and a monthly salary of 500 florins. He stops in Bologna to discuss the possible agreement.
…………….MilanGeneral Captain of 100 lancesHe enters into the pay of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who has already assisted him in gathering the money for the payment of his ransom to the San Severino; he is gifted many lands, among which are Nogarole Rocca in the Verona area and Montecchio Emilia in the Reggio area.
1395
Jan.MilanLuccaTuscanyHe moves around Lucca with 5,000 horses. He infests the territory.
Mar.MilanFlorenceTuscanyHe reaches Ponte a Signa. He moves to Pozzolatico, right up to the walls of Florence.
Sept.LombardyIn Milan for the coronation of Gian Galeazzo Visconti as duke by Emperor Wenceslaus of Bohemia (Venceslao di Boemia).
1396
JuneMilanFlorenceLuccaTuscanySeemingly left free by Visconti, he forms a company and, with Leonardo Malaspina, heads towards Tuscany. In his passage, he damages the Ferrarese and Mantovano, allies of the Florentines. Leading 6,000 horses, he aims to provide aid to the lord of Pisa, Jacopo d’Appiano. With his brother Giovanni, he forces Bartolomeo Boccanera to abandon the Pisan and to return to the Florentine. He in turn bursts into such territory without encountering resistance; touches the Sienese and from here directly targets Florence. He leads the spoils into the Sienese; the authorities do not give him permission to touch the capital; he heads to Val di Chiana towards Montepulciano and from there moves into the Aretino, plundering the territories through which his troops pass.
Dec.TuscanyHe enters Pisa with the treasurer of Visconti, Niccolò Diversi (300 lances and 200 crossbowmen); he lodges in the archbishopric; with his presence, he again induces Simone Boccanera to abandon the countryside.
1397
Jan.MilanFlorenceUmbria, TuscanyApparently under the guise of a mercenary leader, he sets out in Umbria with Luca di Canale, Paolo Orsini, Giovanni da Barbiano, Paolo Savelli, Ottobono Terzi, and Ceccolo Broglia. He crosses the territory of Città di Castello, arrives at Monterchi, and descends into the Arezzo area, where he is joined by Bartolomeo da Pietramala.
Feb.Tuscany, RomagnaCeccolino dei Michelotti also joins forces with Giovanni da Barbiano; he stops in Cesena, waiting for San Miniato to rebel against the Florentines, a deed orchestrated by Benedetto Mangiadori.
Mar.TuscanyHe moves towards San Miniato; on the way, he encounters a company of Florentines who are pursuing exiles fleeing from the same city because Benedetto Mangiadori’s conspiracy has been discovered. He then gathers near Siena 4,000 horses and numerous infantrymen, many of whom are exiles, and with Paolo Orsini and Paolo Savelli, conducts a raid right up to the gates of Florence.
Apr. – MayComp. venturaCortonaUmbria, TuscanyHe must remain inactive for two months in Val di Chiana due to a lack of money. This does not prevent him from raiding the surrounding territories. He enters the Perugia area, and Biordo dei Michelotti, in exchange for 10,000 florins, convinces him to plunder the territory of Volterra to the detriment of Uguccione Casali. His men vainly assault Borghetto; they then advance on Melello, where they are defeated and put to flight all the way to the Torrione della Croce by the militias of Volterra.
JuneMilanFlorenceUmbria, TuscanyHaving received money from the Visconti, he heads towards Volterra. He sacks Colle di Val d’Elsa and sets up camp at Staggia. He aims to conquer the castle of Rincine in Val di Sieve. Repelled after several bloody assaults, he returns towards Colle di Val d’Elsa. He appears before the Porta Oliviera. Now opposing him is Captain Goro Dini, who is guarding it. In the end, he comes to an agreement with the latter, hands him some money, and gives him a natural daughter in marriage. However, he remains blocked between the Arbia and Staggia by the actions of Bernardo della Serra, who closely tails him, blocking all his paths. Barbiano resorts to cunning: he threatens Arezzo so that every effort of della Serra is directed that way; in reality, he bursts into Chianti, crosses the Val di Greve, sacks a castle (defended by 100 men) belonging to Giampaolo da Panzano; through the way of Mercatale Valdarno (set ablaze), he emerges into the Lower Valdarno, which is unprepared for his raid. He brings desolation to this territory for ten days. Subsequently, he attacks Biordo dei Michelotti in the Perugia area.
JulyTuscanyHe returns with the loot to the Siena area; the Florentine camp is shaken by severe disorders following the beheading of Boccanera on the order of della Serra. Barbiano takes advantage of this to invade the Florentine area again from the Chianti side; he occupies it and sets fire to Castellina in Chianti; he camps at Certosa, near the capital, and from there sets many dwellings ablaze, filling all the neighboring countries with terror. In addition to the prey, he captures more than 500 enemy men-at-arms: the prisoners, the cattle raided, and everything that is plundered is led into Val di Pesa. He returns under Florence to Santa Maria d’Impruneta, and stops at Pozzolatico at the confluence of the Ema with the Greve. After new damages to Giogoli, Galluzzo, Marignolle, and Soffiano, he heads towards Pisa. He crosses the Arno, camps at Lastra a Signa; sends his plunderers up to San Gaggio; the crops are burned at Colombaia and San Sepolcro by the Florentine exiles, those from Pisa, and by Giovanni da Barbiano. He besieges the castle of Ponte a Signa, defended by Tommaso Rucellai, for two days. He loses many men under the walls, both dead and wounded; the opponents repel the Visconti and seize the standard of Barbiano and that of Broglia. In the end, some infantrymen and Fabrizio da Perugia with 25 horses enter the fortress, overcoming its lines. Barbiano resumes the journey to San Casciano and Siena due to the lack of fodder for his cavalry, horseshoes for the mounts, and other necessities. During the retreat, two women, daughters of Ghiandone Machiavelli, who have locked themselves in a tower at Sant’Andrea in Percussina, are abducted: one is taken prisoner by brother Giovanni and the second by nephew Conselice. This is followed by a new incursion into the Florentine area at Colle di Val d’Elsa, San Gimignano, and other locations: however, the opponents are not caught unprepared. Barbiano is now confronted more decisively by della Serra, whose ranks have swelled while numerous defections are counted in the Milanese army. Ill-started due to the narrowness of the places that hinder every maneuver, he sends 250 horses of the plunderers on a reconnaissance mission. They are pursued by the enemies who, in this way, leave the field free: Barbiano can then move undisturbed along another road with the rest of the troops, prisoners, and loot. In the continuation of the campaign, he repels the Lucchese at Vicopisano.
Aug.TuscanyHe places his quarters in Pisa with 5,000 horses; his attempt to recover the castle of San Gervasio fails, near which Giovanni del Boneca has set an ambush with 500 infantrymen and some horses. He distributes his men between Ponsacco, in Val d’Elsa, at Fosso Armonico, and at Santa Maria del Monte. He also decides to assault Bernardo della Serra; his attempt is repelled by the Florentine archers.
Sept.Tuscany, LombardyHe is recalled to Lombardy by Visconti to join forces in the Mantua area with Jacopo dal Verme. He departs from Tuscany with 1,000 lances; he leaves 300 with Savelli to guard Pisa and as many in Siena with Broglia.
Oct.LombardyHe penetrates into the enclosure of Mantua. Together with Jacopo dal Verme, he defeats the opponents at Borgoforte.
…………….LombardyHe approaches Mantua, destroying the defensive works of the enclosure. The onset of cold and bad weather prompts him to stop at Marcaria.
1398
…………….LombardyHe is ready for the final attack on Mantua. Visconti reaches an agreement with the Count of Mantova, Francesco Gonzaga, thereby bringing the conflict to an end.
MayEmiliaDismissed, he crosses through the Bologna area and heads towards the Kingdom of Naples.
…………….NaplesAnjouCampaniaHe faces the Angevin troops one last time. He camps at Afragola, besieges Naples, and forces the defenders to surrender.
1399
Sept.His brother Giovanni is executed by the Bolognese, instigated by the Lord of Faenza, Astorre Manfredi. Barbiano abandons the Kingdom of Naples to avenge his death.
Oct.Marche, RomagnaHe crosses the territory of Fano and continues towards Rimini.
…………….CunioFaenzaRomagnaHe attacks in Faenza the lord of the city, Astorre Manfredi, guilty of having executed his relative along with other members of his family.
1400
JuneRomagnaHe conducts a fierce war in the Faenza area; he sets fire to the crops and has numerous skirmishes with the opponents. Astorre Manfredi, inferior in forces, avoids every occasion for a pitched battle.
Aug.RomagnaHe seizes the castle of Fusignano.
…………….RomagnaHe besieges Faenza with Pino Ordelaffi. He keeps the city blocked with two bastions.
…………….ApuliaHe returns to his possessions in Apulia (Puglia).
1401
Mar.CunioFaenzaRomagnaReturning from Apulia, he allies with the lord of Bologna, Giovanni Bentivoglio, in order to fight Manfredi again. However, Bentivoglio makes an agreement with Manfredi: Barbiano is thus forced to lift the siege from Faenza, which is about to conclude positively.
Apr.CunioBolognaEmiliaMoved by anger, he invades the Bolognese territory; he reaches Quaderna, Varignana, Medicina; crosses the Idice and pushes his raids up to San Lazzaro di Savena. Prisoners and plundered livestock are taken to Barbiano; all the prisoners (400 men) are forced to pay a ransom. The booty is valued at 60,000 florins.
MayLombardyHe is summoned back to Lombardy by Gian Galeazzo Visconti. He meets him in Pavia.
JuneMilanBolognaEmilia, RomagnaHe rides into the Bolognese territory with Ottobono Terzi. The spoils are brought to Barbiano.
JulyEmilia, VenetoHe arrives at the Idice; challenges Bentivoglio; the latter exits from Strada Maggiore and invites him to enter Bologna. Having taken a son of the city’s lord as a hostage, he goes there and spends the night. He makes agreements with Bentivoglio; having received 30,000 ducats for the amounts due to him for the war of Faenza and the failed purchase of Granarolo, as per previous agreements, he heads to Verona.
Sept.MilanFlorence, EmpireLombardyHe reaches Brescia to oppose, along with dal Verme, Pandolfo Malatesta, Carlo Malatesta, Facino Cane, and Terzi (4,500 lances, all Italian), the troops of Emperor Robert of Bavaria, who is called to Italy by the Florentines and the Carraresi.
Oct.LombardyHe defeats in the Bresciano at Nave the imperial militias led by Francesco Novello da Carrara (16,000 cavalry and 500 infantry).
Dec.MilanBolognaEmilia, RomagnaHe leaves the Modenese and resumes hostilities with Giovanni Bentivoglio; crosses the Reno and horrifically plunders the entire territory between San Giovanni in Persiceto, Cento, Altedo, Granarolo, Cazzano, Riccardina, and Medicina for a week. He routs the Bolognese at Porta Mascarella and has Niccolò da San Piero beheaded for espionage. He sets up camp at San Niccolò with 1,800 cavalry, reaches San Prospero, and obtains Dozza through treaty. He frees the two captains who are guarding it, Bennolo Papazzoni and Marco Cattani: Bentivoglio immediately has the former hanged, while the latter manages to escape to Rimini. Barbiano provides 200 infantrymen for the fortress to guard the locality and gathers all the exiles and enemies of Bentivoglio in his castles of Barbiano and Lugo in Romagna.
1402
Jan.EmiliaAt Altedo with 500 lances; he is here joined by other troops led by Marcoardo dalla Rocca and by exiles guided by Bonifacio and Nanne Gozzadini. Through treaty, he obtains many border castles such as Pieve di Cento, Massumatico, San Prospero, Galliera, and Vergato.
Feb.EmiliaSan Giovanni in Persiceto also rebels against Giovanni Bentivoglio; Alberico da Barbiano unexpectedly appears in front of Porta delle Lame and Porta Galliera in Bologna. He skirmishes with the provisioned enemies. He is defeated at Massumatico by Fuzzolino Tedesco, Scorpione, Tartaglia, Lancillotto Beccaria, and Muzio Attendolo Sforza. Among his men, more than 1,000 are captured, along with several commanders such as Alberto Pio, Gherardo Rangoni, and Marco da Pisa. For the victory, Bentivoglio goes to the Madonna del Santo Monte, outside Porta San Mammolo on the mount of San Paolo, leaving the trophies won in the field there.
…………….MilanBologna, FlorenceEmiliaHe falls ill; this event provides Bentivoglio with the opportunity to surprise his camp with the help of Florentine men-at-arms and to recover the castles recently lost by the Bolognese.
MayEmiliaHaving recovered, he, along with dal Verme (600 cavalry), damages the Bolognese near San Giovanni in Persiceto; he takes many prisoners and, as usual, conducts large livestock raids. He occupies Dozza: a certain Antonio da Santa Lucia negotiates to have a gate of Bologna opened for him. The plot is discovered and many conspirators are executed. Barbiano, with Nanne Gozzadini, sets up his camp three miles from Bologna: however, no uprising in favor of the exiles occurs in the city. Subsequently, he moves with Facino Cane and Pandolfo Malatesta to defend San Giovanni in Persiceto, which Giacomo da Carrara, Sforza, and Lancillotto Beccaria are converging upon. He throws himself against the Compagnia della Rosa, whose captains have defeated and captured his brother Giovanni: they defend themselves vigorously and kill two of his mounts. At night, the contenders separate; Barbiano returns to San Giovanni in Persiceto.
JuneGeneral CaptainEmiliaHe occupies Piumazzo, Sant’Agata Bolognese, Manzolino, and Crevalcore. He decides, together with dal Verme, to attack the opponents at Casalecchio di Reno; he takes command of the fifth column, strong with 3,000 cavalry, and assaults the enemy camp from multiple directions. Bernardo della Serra is taken prisoner; Bentivoglio flees to Bologna. The people rise up, and the Gozzadini partisans open the gates to dal Verme’s cavalry; shortly after, he also enters through Porta Saragozza, which is handed over to him by a supporter of Bentivoglio himself, the butcher Lando d’Ambrogino. The city is sacked, the soldiers of the Compagnia della Rosa are robbed in their lodgings located at the Luna inn near Porta Santo Stefano. Bentivoglio, after fighting, takes refuge in the Palazzo dei Notai; he flees in disguise to take refuge in a small house near the Sant’Arcangelo bridge, on the Aposa where his old nurse lives. A bounty is placed on the head of the former lord of Bologna; Domenico di Procolo discovers where he is hiding and has him arrested. Barbiano has Bentivoglio dragged to the Palazzo della Reggenza; he is insulted and threatened with death; he is forced to ask forgiveness from Barbiano and Nanne Gozzadini. Moved to pity, Gozzadini intervenes, ordering the custody of his ancient rival in a room away from the insults. Meanwhile, the city falls under the control of the Duke of Milan, thanks to the pressures exerted with Francesco Gonzaga, which thwart the ambitions of Gozzadini himself. Barbiano then brings Bentivoglio out of the room where he is guarded, escorts him to the square, and incites the people against him: the body of the former lord is torn to pieces, a barber cuts off his ear: the remains, after the carnage, will be placed in a vat to be taken, without prayers or funerals, to the church of San Giacomo degli eremitani. Lastly, he sends 40 citizens as hostages to Pavia (10 knights, 10 doctors, 10 gentlemen, and 10 merchants). He is enfeoffed with Castel Bolognese, and his son Manfredo is named count.
July – Aug.TuscanyHe bursts into Tuscany with 12,000 cavalry and 18,000 infantry; he conducts the war with such harshness that no one can enter or leave Florence. He is called to be part of the ducal council with Carlo and Pandolfo Malatesta, the bishops of Pavia, Novara, Pisa, and Feltre; Francesco Gonzaga, Antonio da Montefeltro, Giovanni Colonna, Paolo Savelli, Baldassarre Spinola, Leonardo Doria, Jacopo dal Verme, the chamberlain Francesco Barbavara, the chancellor Giovanni da Carnago, and the counselors Pietro di Corte and Filippo dei Migli.
Sept.LombardyVisconti dies of the plague in Melegnano. Alberico da Barbiano goes to Milan and attends his funeral in the cathedral. He stands on the left side of the coffin alongside Antonio da Montefeltro, Paolo Savelli, and Jacopo dal Verme.
1403
Jan.FlorenceMilanEmiliaHe changes sides due to his conflicts with Francesco Barbavara and because of the protection granted by the Milanese authorities to Astorre Manfredi. The Florentines give him 50,000 florins for a two-month stay. He besieges Bologna.
Feb.EmiliaHe returns Montecchio Emilia to the Visconti; he reaches Ferrara to persuade Niccolò d’Este to also enter into the pay of the pontiffs.
Mar.EmiliaHe meets again with the Marquis d’Este in Ferrara.
Apr.EmiliaHe opposes the Visconti forces commanded by Facino Cane and Galeazzo Pio; he attempts, in vain, to seize Castel San Pietro Terme; he takes control of Castel Bolognese.
MayEmiliaThe Florentines hand over 50,000 florins to him. He also obtains Castel San Pietro Terme through treaty, reaches the Sillaro bridge, and is repelled by a sortie of the defenders.
JuneEmiliaIn Ferrara; he attends the ceremony in the cathedral where the baton of General Captain is handed over to Niccolò d’Este. He moves to the Parma area with Paolo Orsini and Carlo Malatesta at the head of 2,200 lances and 1,000 infantry, not counting the supporters of the Rossi, da Correggio, and da Fogliano.
JulyEmilia, RomagnaThe Pope also names him Gonfaloniere of the Papal State. In Romagna, he is reached by envoys from the Lord of Cremona, Ugolino Cavalcabò, who persuade him to attempt a diversionary action in Lombardy.
Aug.Lombardy, RomagnaHe is located with 600 lances and 400 infantry between Lodi and Cremona. Together with Paolo Orsini, Carlo Malatesta, and Niccolò d’Este, he moves against Milan; he contributes to the devastation of Pavia. When Carlo Malatesta signs the peace of Caledio on behalf of the pontiffs with the Visconti, Barbiano returns to Romagna with confirmation from the Pope of his possessions in Tossignano and Castel Bolognese.
Nov.FlorenceMilanRomagna, Veneto, LombardyHostilities resume. The Florentines send him with 400/600 lances to aid Ugolino Cavalcabò: he leaves Romagna; en route, he touches Ferrara, Padua, the Veronese, reaches Cavalcabò in Cremona with 2,000 cavalry and 1,500 infantry. He takes part in the defense of Crema.
1404
JulyFerraraVeniceGeneral Captain of 1500 horsesLombardy, EmiliaHe gathers 1,200 cavalry in Cremona, passes through the Mantuan territory with a safe-conduct from Francesco Gonzaga, and enters the Estense territory via Serravalle.
Sept.He is in Ficarolo in the Polesine, expels the Venetian rectors from Lendinara and Badia Polesine; occupies the villages of Rovigo and besieges the city with Niccolò d’Este and Uguccione Contrari. He moves to head to Padua to support the Carraresi; always with the Marquis of Ferrara and Sparapano, he attacks Savelli’s camp at Limena and scatters the enemy army (capturing 600 horses and 200 infantry).
Oct.CunioFaenza, ChurchVeneto, Romagna, EmiliaHe returns to besiege Rovigo, where he is joined by his son Manfredo; upon hearing that the castle of Sant’Alberto, in the Ravenna area, is attacked by Azzo d’Este, he leaves the field to return to Romagna and resume the conflict with Astorre Manfredi. He reduces the latter to such a point that the lord of Faenza is forced to surrender the city for 25,000 florins to the cardinal legate Baldassarre Cossa. Alberico da Barbiano positions his troops between Castel Bolognese and Imola, while the enemy army, led by della Serra, is located on the bank of the Rio Sanguinario. On the advice of Braccio di Montone, he attacks the pontifical forces: his men are initially repelled until the intervention of Montone, placed at the rear guard, manages to reverse the outcome of the clash. He heads towards Bologna; his march is blocked by the swelling Reno. In difficulty due to the approaching papal militias, he builds, on the suggestion of the captain from Perugia, three wooden bridges and entrenches himself near these strongholds. The maneuver is successful; from the Bolognese area, he can move between Modena and Castelfranco Emilia. He comes to an agreement with Cardinal Cossa, following a payment in his favor of 25,000 florins.
1405
Feb. – Mar.CunioChurchEmiliaHe resumes the conflict with Cardinal Cossa, who now holds the position of legate of the antipope. He prevents supplies from entering Bologna. He is approached by Niccolò Roberti, who is acting on behalf of the opponent: Alberico da Barbiano asks him for the lordship of Faenza and Castel San Pietro Terme. A truce is agreed upon in March.
Apr.RomagnaHe is contacted by emissaries of the Carraresi who want to hire him and his company of 600 lances and 300 infantry; the Venetians, through Uguccione Contrari, also exert similar pressures on him.
MayCunioChurchRomagna, EmiliaIn exchange for 14,850 ducats, he commits to the Venetians not to serve the enemies of the Serenissima for a period of three months: despite this, he sends some troops under the command of Montone, Lorenzo Attendolo, and Rosso dall’Aquila to aid the Carraresi. He recalls Braccio di Montone, who is suspected of treason; he tries to have him killed by his men. The attempt fails; he realizes he has been deceived by Lorenzo Attendolo and Rosso dall’Aquila and recommends Braccio di Montone to Cardinal Cossa. The legate does not honor his obligations; in retaliation, Alberico da Barbiano seizes many wagons of wheat that are being transported from the Marche of Ancona to Bologna to supply the city. Niccolò Roberti is sent to appease him; he has a direct conversation with the cardinal legate, to whom he asks for the sum of 10,000 ducats and the investiture of Lugo, Barbiano, Oriolo dei Mille Fichi (Oriolo), Dozza, Tossignano, Castel Bolognese, Pieve di Sant’Andrea, Fagnano, and Liano. War is declared on him; Niccolò d’Este and Carlo Malatesta intervene as peacemakers. The chapters are not respected by Barbiano due to the non-compliance of Cardinal Cossa.
JuneRomagnaThe pontifical forces seize many of his castles; he is excommunicated; the related papal bull is posted in Bologna at the Gates of San Pietro Maggiore and San Petronio. He is attacked by 7,000 men; in a clash, 100 men from his companies are killed.
JulyEmiliaHe is besieged in Castel Bolognese by Paolo Orsini.
Aug.EmiliaHe is challenged to a pitched battle. Liano and Fagnano are taken from him.
Sept.RomagnaThe opponents also seize Granarolo. A new truce follows.
Oct.EmiliaHe makes peace with Cardinal Cossa; he is recognized the sum of 12,000 florins and all the castles he held (Lugo, Barbiano, Zagonara, Cotignola, Riolo Terme, Dozza, Tossignano, Granarolo, Macincollo, Monte Catone, Fagnano, Pieve di Sant’Andrea, Liano) are confirmed to him as fiefs; for his part, he returns Castel Bolognese and Dozza to the pontiffs and commits to assisting them against the Ordelaffi.
…………….ChurchForlìRomagnaHe encamps at San Martino di Villafranca. He besieges Forlì.
1406
Feb.NaplesTarantoApuliaSummoned by Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò), he opposes in Apulia the militias of the Prince of Taranto, Raymond Orsini Del Balzo (Raimondo Orsini del Balzo); commanding 7,000 cavalry and many infantrymen, he besieges Taranto by land with Antonio Acquaviva, while by sea the city is attacked by 5 galleys and 3 large ships. After two months, he is forced to desist from operations due to high mortality among his men.
1408
…………….NaplesFlorence,
Antipope
He facilitates the alliance between Guidantonio da Montefeltro and the King of Naples. He fights the Florentines and the troops of the antipope Alexander V (Alessandro V), led by Cardinal Cossa. He leaves Apulia.
Dec.UmbriaIn Perugia, at the head of 800 cavalry. The city allocates 44 florins to host him and his entourage.
1409
Jan.Apulia, MarcheHe heads towards Bologna, opposed by the Perugian exiles. The Malatesta block him at Montefiore dell’Aso, so he stops in Urbino. In this location, he is reached by some ambassadors who have been sent to him from Perugia.
Apr.UmbriaHe dies in Città della Pieve due to a bladder disease. Portrayed in the castle of Pavia in the left loggia. His bust is in Mantua, in the San Martino barracks, headquarters of the 4th anti-aircraft artillery regiment. Every year in Barbiano, in his honor, the Palio di Alberico takes place, during which, after a parade through the village streets in medieval attire, the four districts of the village compete in a tug-of-war tournament. The trophy is represented by a reproduction of his helmet and the banner given to him by the pope. The condottiero has been named in the cruiser “Alberico da Barbiano,” built by the Ansaldo Steelworks of Genoa and launched in August 1930. Employed in the Second World War, the ship was sunk in December 1943 off Cape Bon by 3 British destroyers and one Dutch. Of the 784 men on board, 534 perished. Streets are named after him in Marino, Rome, Milan, and Lugo. Alberico da Barbiano’s name appears in the video game “Assassin’s Creed.”

Sources

-“Percioche al tempo suo facendosi tutte le guerre in Italia con soldati forestieri, la qual cosa havea ridotta l’Italia in bruttissima servitù; egli fu il primo che cominciò armare gli huomini italiani in quella maniera c’hoggidì s’usa anchora; e perseguitò, e cacciò tutti i barbari fuor d’Italia.” DOMENICHI

-“Un condottiero cui è stata attribuita una patente di maestro dell’arte militare in gran parte esagerata.” BALESTRACCI

-“Innovò il modo di combattere dei suoi tempi. Introdusse la ventaglia all’elmo degli uomini d’arme e munì il collo di una goletta; coprì i destrieri di barde lunghe sino al ginocchio di cuoio cotto dipinte e indorate, e ornò il frontale di questi con uno stilo di ferro aguzzo; i quali perfezionamenti permisero la vittoria sui tedeschi.” RICOTTI

-“Alberigo da Barbiano continuò ad essere fino alla fine del secolo uno dei condottieri più in vista fra quelli operanti in Italia, ma..non si può affatto dire che tra i condottieri tenesse il primo posto.” MALLETT

-“Celebre Condottieri d’armi in questi tempi.” MURATORI

-“Uomo di grande riputazione.” ARETINO

-“Capitano famosissimo de’ suoi tempi.” RONCIONI

-“Tutta Italia gli debbe essere obbligata, havendola riscossa alla libertà..eccellente Capitano di militia.” ALBERTI

-“Valente e astutto capitano.” BUONINSEGNI

-“Era il più malizioso uomo d’arme che allora fosse in Italia e ‘l più pratico.” MINERBETTI

-“Fece ne la militia Italiana strana mutatione..; ornò la militia in Italia, che dove non usavano ne le guerre, se non corazze, gambali, e bracciali di cuoio, insegnò di farle di ferro, e di acciaro, e così fece armare ne l’esercito suo.” BIONDO

-“Con la sua singolare lode venne a riacquistar lo antico honore della dignità d’Italia..Hebbe il primo luogo di fama illustre tra ‘ Capitani Italiani, e fu veramente eguale all’Aucutho in riputatione di scienza militare, ma di gran lunga superiore d’honori, e di qualità di genti…Costui haveva alhora armati i cavalieri a questa foggia d’armatura, la quale hoggi per una gran parte si vede intermessa, ritrovata, et aggiunta la baviera all’elmetto, la quale per vedere si può alzare, et lascia solamente una fessura a traverso quando ella s’abbassa, per bisogno degli occhi: a cui aggiunse anchora il gozzarino di ferro per difendere la gola: perciochè gli pareva che il camaglio che pende dall’elmetto, non bastasse a difendere la gola contro le punte gagliarde. Coperse anchora d’ogni parte i cavalli fino alle ginocchia con bande grandi indorate, et dipinte di cuoio ricotto, e gli armò la testa con frontali di ferro con una punta in fuori, spronando i cavalli si andasse a ferire il nemico. GIOVIO

-“Tu fosti il più valente capitano;/E fu la tua quasi la prima insegna/Che si drizzasse con armata mano./O fama singolar cotanto degna!/Gran contestabil era e ‘l titol sacro/A tue laudi mio stil s’affetta e ‘ngegna;/Or non ti paia ancor aspro ne acro… O Conte Albrico adorno di giustizia,/Savcio, gagliardo, cortese e leale/Disprezzator di chi nsegue avarizia!” Cambino Aretino riportato da FABRETTI

-Con Jacopo dal Verme, Galeazzo da Mantova, Ottobono Terzi, Facino Cane, Pandolfo Malatesta “Peritissimos belli duces.” BRACCIOLINI

-“Non è facile un giudizio su Alberico da Barbiano, né si ha su di lui alcun lavoro speciale. Certo giovò molto alla sua fama la costituzione della compagnia di San Giorgio, tutta italiana,  e la vittoria di Marino. Ma due anni dopo si trovava cogli  stessi Bretoni da lui vinti e cogli Ungari all’orrendo sacco di Arezzo. Due sono le battaglie vinte da lui, quella di Marino e l’altra di Casalecchio..La seconda, in cui pure mise in fuga la compagnia della Rosa, francese, è dovuta soprattutto alla notevole superiorità numerica. Fra i condottieri della seconda metà del sec. XIV superiori a lui, ci sembra, sono l’Acuto e specialmente Jacopo dal Verme. E quanto alla sua azione di maestro di un’intera generazione di nuovi condottieri, ben poco in realtà sappiamo; così come delle sue innovazioni tattiche. Fu soprattutto stratega prudente e avveduto, buon giudice delle situazioni, valente consigliere; e senza dubbio a lui spetta un posto notevole nella storia dei nostri condottiieri.” PIERI

-Con Giovanni Acuto “Huomini valorosi nell’arte militare, quanto altri fossero in quei tempi.” GIORGI

-Con Ottobono Terzi, Jacopo dal Verme, Facino Cane, Francesco Gonzaga, Pandolfo Malatesta “Condottieri di stima assai in questo tempo.” PORRO LAMBERTENGHI

-“La fede nostra, la quale vedete contaminata per gl’iniqui uomini amatori di loro medesimi, i quali somo membri del dimonio, negando quella verità che essi medesimi hanno data a noi, dicendo che papa Urbano VI non sia vero papa. E essi non dicono la verità; ma mentono sopra il capo loro, come menzogneri: che egli è papa in verità in cui sono commesse le chiavi del sangue. Ben potete confortare, perché combattete per la verità; la qual verità è la fede nostra.” Elogio dopo la battaglia di Marino. Dalle lettere di SANTA CATERINA DA SIENA

-“An adventurer of noble birth who served his apprenticeship-in -arms under Hawkwood, was the first Italian professional soldier of any standing to lead own company.. Barbiano instantly acquired a reputation as an Italian hero who did not harm Italians. Indeed, his company was composed entirely of Italians who had sworn an oath of “hatred and eternal enmity” toward foreigners – except, evidently, if they emerged as the highest bidder.” STONOR SAUNDERS

-“Founder and paragon of the so-called Italian achool of mercenaries.” COOPER

-“Gode forse di una fama superiore ai suoi meriti; ma gli è rimasta tenacemente attaccata e che, idealizzandone la figura, la modella a guisa di campione dell’italica virtù e di nobile coraggio di fronte allo straniero…Come tutti i capitani dell’epoca ha anche lui un certo merito nell’organizzazione della guerra: se Giovanni Acuto aveva introdotto il combattimento a piedi e fatto alleggerire le armature, Alberico introduce un criterio opposto; quei cavalli che inizialmente erano protetti solamente dal cuoio, adesso ricevono una bardatura ferrea in piena regola…I suoi criteri strategici, pur adottando parecchie delle innovazioni venutesi via via facendo luce nei vari anni si discostano abbastanza dagli insegnamenti (di Giovanni Acuto)…Obbliga i suoi.. uomini a portare un elmo con una celata particolare, la cosiddetta “baviera”. Introduce il gorzario, sorta di protezione mobile (naturalmente metallica) del collo. Fissa una punta sull’armatura che protegge il muso del cavallo per tramutare anche il quadrupede in una sorta di terribile ostacolo.” ADAR

-“Il primo che costituisce una compagnia di ventura tutta composta di italiani.” BASSETTI

-“One of the first Italian condottieri.” TUCHMAN

-“Guidava una compagnia prevalentemente italiana, il cui fulcro era formato dai suoi parenti e da romagnoli.” SCARDIGLI

-“Di animo grande e anelando a grandissime imprese, adoprò tutta la sua vita nel domare i barbari; nell’opprimere i tirannelli nostrani, i re e gl’imperatori stranieri; nell’acquistare, difendere e’ conservare provincie; nel togliere e mettere corone sulle teste dei monarchi; e, ciò che è più glorioso, nel restituire all’Italia la quiete, la floridezza, la vigoria, lo splendore e la gloria.” LOMONACO

-“Oltre a essere un soldato dotato di grandi capacità organizzativa e strategica, fu in grado di apportare modifiche e innovazioni che se proprio non rivoluzioneranno, sicuramente impressero una svolta all’arte della guerra medievale. Fu lui a potenziare la cavalleria sia nella tattica offensiva che nell’armatura, con l’introduzione di protezioni supplementari per gli elmi dei cavalieri che si tradussero nelle visiere, nei collari e nelle ventaglie, l’elemento mobile posto alla guardia della parte inferiore del viso. Celebri furono inoltre le lastre d’acciaio che applicò a protezione delle cavalcature, vere e proprie gualdrappe che ricoprivano l’animale fin sotto le ginocchia, per non parlare delle testiere dotate di un lungo spuntone che oltre a trasformare l’animale in una sorta di unicorno, lo rendevano una temibile macchina da sfondamento delle linee nemiche nel corso di una carica..Stratega prudente e avveduto, non solo fu in grado di imprimere alla più celebre compagnia di ventura italiana il carattere che ne determinerà la fama ma, secondo il parere più che lusinghiero del Gregorovius, fu l’artefice di un risveglio che almeno in campo militare segnò un prevalere dello spirito nostrano su quello straniero.” STAFFA

-“Quella di Alberigo da Barbiano fu la prima grande compagnia di ventura italiana, condotta da un italiano e composta prevalentemente non da mercenari raccogliticci, ma da uomini arruolati nelle terre avite da Alberigo, a lui legati da fedeltà personale e che quindi garantivano maggiore affidabilità rispetto alle bande straniere.” GULLO

-“Considerando la sua vicenda senza preconcetti nazionali, c’é poco in Alberico di quelle idealità patriottiche che un tempo gli vennero attribuite. L’interessata spregiudicatezza nel passare da un padrone all’altro, la determinazione ad usare anche i mezzi più brutali per i propri fini lo pongono al pari di tanti altri che l’avevano preceduto. Ma la sua esperienza di trent’anni di guerre italiane e la capacità di mantenere per tanto tempo una compagnia unita e organizzata alle sue dipendenze gli consentirono di veder crescere un’intera generazione di capitani suoi fedeli, che avrebbero riempito le cronache italiane del primo Quattrocento.” TANZINI

-“It was Barbiano who became the folk-hero of Italy’s military renaissance. His conscious Italianism even extended to tactics and the consequent equipment of his troops. Condottieri warfare had always been characterised by dramatic strategy, large-scale manoeuvre, an avoidance of unnecessary battles, and an abundance of inconclusive sieges. Barbiano believed that Hawkwood’s preference for dismounting his men-at arms undermined the status of the knightly class. This prejudice was, however, based on sound military considerations, for a small corps of highly trained cavalry impressed a potential employer far more than did a comparable investment in infantry. Militias could still provide sufficient of these. Italian cavalry armour also now increased in weight, following fashions in France and England, while infantry armour almost disaappeared. Barbiano and others favoured the visored bascinet – which tended to replace both the old great helm and even the newer sallet among heavy cavalry – as well as the use of more extensive horse-armour. Such equipment for horse and rider was primarily a defence against infantry weapons like bows and pikes.” NICOLLE

-“Ce fut le premier condottiere italien qui obtint une brillante victoire: en 1379, à Marino, près de Rome, il défit une armée de soldats bretons redoutés pour leur bravoure et leur cruauté. Bientot, Alberico réussit à débarasser l’Italie des bandes étrangéres.” PEYRONNET

-“Capitano singolarissimo, e degno, a cui l’Italia sia grandemente tenuta, poiché fu egli quel che dalla rabbia d’empie e avare schiere di Barbari la liberasse, e che la disciplina militare, già quasi in lei estinte, non senza grave danno de’ popoli, e de mancamento del decoro, e riputativa la restituì.” CAPRIOLO 

-“E’ chiamato illustratore della militia italiana.” BRIANI

-“Erat vero Albericus viri magnus et princeps militiae Galeactii.” BRUNI

-“Le ombre che offuscano le prime tappe della sua ascesa (ma altre si aggiungeranno durante la sua lunga carriera militare) incidono non poco sulla percezione delle sue gesta se investigate con la sensibilità storiografica contemporanea, ma in passato furono messe in secondo piano, se non addirittura trascurate, per lasciare spazio ad una glorificazione tra le maggiori che gli studi sul mondo delle compagnie di ventura e dei condottieri abbiano mai conosciute…Nel periodo in cui militò in Lombardia Alberico,.., ebbe modo di mettere a punto l’impostazione strutturale e tattica della compagnia con una serie di innovazioni di rilievo. Circondatosi di ufficiali di sperimentata fiducia, impose una disciplina ferrea e serrati ritmi di addestramento. Per le cariche di cavalleria, fondamentali per le battaglie dell’epoca, studiò un avanzamento progressivo di unità che procedevano in ranghi compatti, senza disperdere i cavalieri nelle lunghe file che all’epoca venivano schierate sul campo per coprire un’area dilatata e spingere il nemico ad una valutazione numerica sovrastimata, mettendo a segno in tal modo non una, ma una serie martellante di cariche successive.” SPADA 

-“Alberic appela sa Compagnie La Compagnie de Saint-Georges et c’est sous ses ordres que, pratiquement tous les meilleurs chefs Italiens apprirent l’art de la guerre. Il ne fut pas seulement un grand conducteur d’hommes, mais un maitre dans sa profession, où il introduisit quelques innovations importantes. C’est lui qui inventa la visière à casque et le couvre-nuque derrière. C’este aussi lui qui fit protéger les chevaux par des caparaçons de cuir ouvragé.” COLLISON-MORLEY

-“Con istinto di grande Capitano muta la tattica, raddoppia la disciplina e l’ascendente del proprio esercito, li annulla nella propria Compagnia, li possiede come tanti alberi di un podere.” Alfredo Oriani, riportato da LONGHINI

-“Condottiero famoso ai tempi suoi sia per l’abilità sua e delle sue truppe, sia per la ferocia inaudita e la spietatezza delle operazioni della Compagnia.” BIANCONI

-“Fra i condottieri della seconda metà del sec. XIV superiori a lui, ci sembra, sono l’Acuto e specialmente Jacopo dal Verme. E quanto alla sua azione di maestro di un’intera generazione di nuovi condottieri, ben poco in realtà sappiamo; così come delle sue innovazioni tattiche. Fu soprattutto stratega prudente e avveduto, buon giudice delle situazioni, valente consigliere; e senza alcun dubbio a lui spetta un posto notevole nella storia dei nostri condottieri.” PIRRI

Featured image: British Museum

Topics: Life of Alberico da Barbiano, Alberico da Barbiano military campaigns, Italian condottieri of the 14th century, Medieval Italian warfare innovations

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