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

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Bernardon de la Salle: Warrior and Strategist in France and Italy

Italian CondottieriBernardon de la Salle: Warrior and Strategist in France and Italy

Bernardon de la Salle was a singular figure, a mix between a brigand and a man-at-arms, both in France and Italy, where he gained considerable fame. An enemy of the French in his homeland, he fought in the Hundred Years' War on behalf of the English. In Italy, he consistently defended the cause of his fellow countrymen in favor of the antipope and the House of Anjou against the pope and the king of Naples. His reputation as a skilled warrior led him to become the son-in-law of the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, by marrying one of his natural daughters. A cautious condottiero, sensitive to money, he could never be accused of cowardice. He was considered by John Hawkwood as the best captain present in the peninsula after Giovanni degli Ubaldini.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Bernardo della Sala (Bernardon de la Salle, also known as Bernardo Guascone or Bertrand de la Salle) was originally from Auvergne or, more likely, from the diocese of Agen. A Gascon of noble family, he was nicknamed Chicot or Chikos de la Salle, a deformation of Ciquot de la Saigne. He was the lord of Figeac and Soriano nel Cimino, as well as Mornas and Caderousse in the Vaucluse. He was a relative of Guglielmetto della Sala, the son-in-law of Bernabò Visconti, and the brother-in-law of John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto) and Lutz von Landau (Lucio Lando).

Born: 1339, circa
Death: 1391, June

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
………NavarreFranceFranceHe served in the bands of Capital de Buch, Jean III de Grailly, an ally of the English and an enemy of Bertrand du Guesclin. He was sent to Normandy by the King of Navarre, Charles the Bad. Capital de Buch moved towards Paris to ravage the territory of Beauvais.
Nov.FranceIn the middle of the month, Bernardon de la Salle managed to scale the walls of the castle of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis, which was situated on a steep, seemingly inaccessible cliff, using rope ladders and iron spikes.
MayAfter the Peace of Brétigny, Bernardon de la Salle formed the Great Company with other condottieri such as the captain of Périgord, Séguin de Badefol, the German Albert Sterz, the Englishmen John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto) and John Verney, and the Italian Giovanni Guccio.
Dec.Comp. venturaFranceFranceHe descended the Rhône Valley with John Hawkwood, Robert Briquet, L’Espiote, Creswey, Naudon de Bageran, Lamit, Bataillé, Lesparre, and other English and Gascon adventurers.
Apr.EnglandFranceFranceWith Séguin de Badefol, he faced the royal militias commanded by James of Bourbon and the Archpriest of Velines, Armand de Cervole. He swooped down on Pont-Saint-Esprit and Avignon, scaling the walls of the former and seizing it, slaughtering the defenders.
Nov. – Dec.FranceWith other companies, he controlled the upper Loire Valley. Until December, he robbed merchants traveling along the road from Chalon to Saint-Jean-de-Losne on the Saône. He then proceeded to Tournus between Chalon and Mâcon, besieged Charlieu in vain, and occupied Marcigny-les-Nonnains on the right bank of the Loire.
………Comp. venturaFranceFranceHe joined the Great Company, infesting the County of Mâcon, Beaujolais, Lyonnais, and Forez. He was part of the “Tard-Venus,” a company consisting of 15,000 armed men.
Apr.EnglandFranceFranceHe took part in the Battle of Brignais, in which James of Bourbon, Count of La Marche, was defeated and killed.
………NavarreFranceFranceWith the victory, the company dispersed. Bernardon de la Salle, along with Hortingo de la Salle, who was always by his side in his ventures, now joined forces with Louis of Navarre, the younger brother of Charles the Bad, and other adventurers such as Robert Canolles, Robert Ceni, Briquet, and Creswey. They ravaged the territory between the Loire and Allier, Bourbonnais, and especially the surroundings of Moulins, Saint-Pierre-le-Moutier, and Saint-Pourçain.
Oct.FranceAt the end of the month, he separated from the Navarrese forces and, with 400 cavalry (among whom his brother Hortingo and Manléon were notable), crossed the Loire near Martigny-les-Nonnains. He hid in the woods during the day and marched by night. On a Sunday morning at dawn, he surprised and assaulted the castle of Charité-sur-Loire, scaling its walls. He paused to await the arrival of the new day, fearing an ambush. The inhabitants took advantage of his hesitation, boarding many boats on the Loire with their most valuable possessions and fleeing towards Nevers. The nearly deserted locality was sacked. Louis of Navarre sent reinforcements to Bernardon de la Salle, including Briquet and John Creswell with 300 men-at-arms. Charité-sur-Loire became the logistical base for the Navarrese party in France.
MayFranceHe fortified himself with the Navarrese in Charité-sur-Loire, especially after the defeat suffered by Charles the Bad at Cocherel that month. The King of France, Charles V, sent an army against Bernardon de la Salle, commanded by the Constable of France, Moreau de Fienne, and the marshals Boucicaut and Arnoul d’Audrehem, Mouton de Blainville, and Louis de Sancerre. Bertrand du Guesclin also took part in the siege of the locality.
Sept.FranceThe command of the operations for the French was taken by the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Bold. The defenders, since the promised reinforcements from Louis of Navarre did not arrive, requested to surrender on terms. The Duke of Burgundy initially refused the request. Bernardon de la Salle, John Creswey, and Briquet continued to fight until an agreement was reached. Charité-sur-Loire was surrendered, and the adventurers committed to not serving the King of Navarre against the King of France for three years.
SummerHe met with Bertrand du Guesclin and Hugh Calveley.
………Trastámara AragonSpainAt the end of the year, he followed Bertrand du Guesclin and Marshal d’Audrehem to Spain to fight in favor of Henry of Trastámara against Peter the Cruel, King of Aragon.
………EnglandTrastámaraSpainHe switched sides and fought in Castile under the command of the Prince of Wales, the Black Prince, against the troops of Henry of Trastámara. In a skirmish, he captured Men Rodriguez de Sancho.
Feb.EnglandFranceSpainHe served under the command of the Prince of Wales, John of Gaunt. He opposed Bertrand du Guesclin and Marshal d’Audrehem. He was part of the thirtieth English corps that crossed the Roncesvalles Pass, which also included John of Armagnac, the Count of Comminges, and the lords of Albret and La Barthe.
Apr.SpainDu Guesclin and d’Audrehem were defeated and taken prisoner in the Battle of Nájera.
Dec.Comp. venturaFranceFranceDischarged at the end of the campaign, Bernardon de la Salle, along with his brother Hortingo, Lamit, Briquet, John Creswell, Ceni, Lesparre, and Naudon de Bageran, headed north, plundering every land they passed through. They ravaged Auvergne and Berry.
Feb.Comp. venturaFranceFranceBernardon de la Salle crossed the Loire at Marcigny-les-Nonnains and settled in the County of Mâcon, where he operated with other Gascon captains such as Bérard d’Albret, Gaillart de la Mothe, Bernard d’Eauze, and Séguin de Badefol. The adventurers penetrated the Duchy of Burgundy, but a lack of provisions forced them to retreat. They invaded the territory of Auxerre and seized the fortified churches of Cravant and Vermenton. At Cravant, the bands divided into two groups: one, consisting of 800 English men-at-arms, crossed the Yonne and entered the Gâtinais; the second, comprising 400 men-at-arms and another 10,000 armed men, including infantry and camp followers (not counting the women and children accompanying them), crossed the Seine and the Aube, stopping in Champagne where they occupied Épernay, Fismes, Ay, and Coincy-l’Abbaye. The adventurers then moved towards Reims, Soissons, and Noyon.
Dec.EnglandFranceFranceThe resumption of hostilities between the French and the English led Bernardon de la Salle to Quercy.
Aug.FranceAt Angoulême, the operations concluded, and the Prince of Wales gave the adventurers free rein. To sustain themselves, they sacked the lands on the borders of Auvergne and Limousin. Bernardon de la Salle did not remain idle. In the middle of the month, with the faithful Hortingo and the English condottiero Bernard de Wisk, he attempted a coup against the castle of Belleperche, located in Bourbonnais, where the Duchess of Bourbon, Isabella of Valois, mother of Duke Louis and Queen Joan of Bourbon, wife of Charles V, resided. He rode for a day and a night with only 100 cavalry and arrived at dawn before Belleperche, whose garrison poorly guarded the castle. He infiltrated it on a market day and assaulted the sentries, allowing his armed men to storm inside. On the same day, with the other two captains of the company, he seized Sainte-Sévère, which he handed over to Jean Devereux, the seneschal of the King of England.
Sept.FranceThe Duke Louis of Bourbon, Marshal de Sancerre, and the Lord of Beaujeu led the expedition to recover the castle of Belleperche. The principal knights of Bourbonnais, Beaujolais, Forez, and Auvergne took part in the expedition, and later, militias sent by the Duke of Burgundy also arrived. The English sent the Earl of Cambridge and the Earl of Pembroke with some contingents to assist Bernardon de la Salle.
Oct.FranceWith Bertucat d’Albret, he ravaged the area around Livinhac-le-Haut.
MayFranceThe campaign did not have a positive outcome. The adventurers were forced to evacuate Belleperche, taking their prisoners with them. These prisoners were only freed in August 1372 by Duke Louis of Bourbon, assisted in his efforts by Bertrand du Guesclin and the Duke of Anjou.
Sept.FranceWith Hortingo de la Salle, de Wisk, and Bertucat d’Albret, he joined the Prince of Wales in the siege of Limoges. The city was stormed in the middle of the month and sacked.
………FranceHe rejoined Bertucat d’Albret and entered Quercy, where he occupied numerous small castles and villages.
Oct.FranceIn the middle of the month, commanding 160 men-at-arms and 500 infantry along with Bertucat d’Albret, Bernardon de la Salle scaled the walls of Figeac and seized the city in Quercy. The occupation was facilitated by the plague that had decimated the ranks of the defenders. The company destroyed numerous houses and five palaces; the loot was valued at 50,000 francs in cash and jewels, not counting other goods worth 4,000 florins, such as wheat, wine, and other provisions. After the victory, Bernardon de la Salle was knighted in the breach made in the city walls through which he had led his men. He was appointed captain of Figeac on behalf of the King of England and the Prince of Aquitaine.
1372FranceAttacked by the French and the troops of John of Armagnac, Bernardon de la Salle, along with Bertucat d’Albret, agreed to surrender Figeac to their opponents in exchange for a payment of 120,000 francs from the communities of Quercy, Rouergue, and Auvergne.
JuneFranceWhen the requested sum was largely paid, Bernardon de la Salle left Figeac after receiving assurances on the payment of the remaining amount at Moncuq and Bergerac. Before leaving the locality, he demanded that its inhabitants swear allegiance to the English cause.
July – Aug.France, CampaniaHe left Provence with 15,000 men, both infantry and cavalry, to follow the Duke of Andria, Francesco del Balzo, along with Henry of Gascony, Rinaldo Capospada, and Louis Panzardo, aiming to help del Balzo recover his estates in Apulia from Queen Joanna of Naples (Giovanna d’Angiò) and the San Severino family. He was reported in Aversa and in Terra di Lavoro.
Sept.ApuliaHe remained in Apulia even when Francesco del Balzo left Andria at night, where he had been besieged for some time, to take refuge first in Montescaglioso and then in Avignon. Bernardon de la Salle captured a fortress belonging to the Duchess of Durazzo, which was guarded by Marcello Arcamone, who, being drunk, forgot to post the necessary guards. He approached Lecce and defeated the inhabitants at Tafagnano who had suddenly attacked him. He left the Kingdom of Naples and returned to France only after receiving 60,000 florins.
1374Comp. venturaFranceFranceHe returned to Burgundy. With the Company of the English, he was reported in Chalmonx, on the borders of the County of Charolais, which belonged to the Armagnacs. He settled in the Rhône Valley. He did not benefit from any formal contract.
June – Oct.Churchdel BalzoFranceHe was in the Contado Venassino and entered the service of the Papal States. When the Prince of Orange, Raymond del Balzo, threatened Avignon, Juan Fernandez de Hèredia tasked him and Raymond of Turenne with attacking Gigondas, Jonquières, and Suze-la-Russe. For his service, he was paid 100 francs at the end of June and another 120 in October. A truce followed. The two captains were then hired to fight against the Bretons of Olivier du Guesclin. Their opponents were forced to recross the Rhône.
Nov. – Dec.ChurchFlorenceUmbriaHe was recruited by Pope Gregory XI in the Comtat Venaissin. He returned to Italy following the papal legate Cardinal Guillaume de Noellet to fight the Florentines in the War of the Eight Saints. In the middle of the month, he was in Corneto (Tarquinia), where the inhabitants rebelled against the papal forces and massacred about a hundred of his men. Later, Bernardon de la Salle moved to Perugia with 200 lances and 400 infantry, and he was appointed castellan of the fortress of Sant’Antonio. When the people of Perugia also revolted against the Papal States, he retreated to the citadel with Gérard du Puy, the abbot of Montmajeur, the abbot of Cluny of Marmoutier, the Bishop of Bologna, the Frenchman Hugh de la Roche, the Bishop of Montfaucon, and Gomez Albornoz, along with English, French, and Burgundian troops totaling 1,500 men. Besieged, the enemies managed to sever communications between the fortress at the end of the village of Sant’Antonio, above the monastery of Santa Maria a Monte Luce, and the other one situated on the hill above Porta Sole. Trebuchets and other war machines were constructed. At the end of the month, despite the intervention of John Hawkwood, the defenders were forced to surrender on terms. Bernardon de la Salle was allowed to leave the citadel with all his belongings, including precious fabrics, a purple hood, and a woman’s dress.
JulyEmiliaWith Jean de Malestroit, captain general of the Company of Bretons, he besieged Guido d’Asciano and Rodolfo da Varano in Bologna.
Nov.Romagna, MarcheThe papal army consisted of 1,844 lances, commanded by Jean de Malestroit and Silvestro di Budes. At Cesena, after the massacre of the inhabitants carried out by the Company of Bretons, he left the city and, following the coastal road, headed towards the Marche. He moved with 600 lances to assist Gomez Albornoz, who was besieged in Ascoli Piceno. He was defeated near Camerino.
MayRomagnaHe was put to flight at Solarolo by Astorre Manfredi.
Apr.TuscanyHe was at the camp of San Quirico with John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto).
MayChurchVicoLazioHe served under Pope Urban VI. The pope sent him against Viterbo; to urge him more forcefully into the campaign against the Prefect of Rome and Lord of Viterbo, Francesco di Vico, the pope drew Bernardon de la Salle‘s sword from its sheath and waved it defiantly in the air. However, before Bernardon de la Salle could reach Viterbo, a revolt in favor of the papal forces broke out in the city. Francesco di Vico successfully suppressed the rebellion before the French condottiero arrived and eliminated those who opposed his rule. Bernardon de la Salle stationed himself in Bolsena with Guglielmetto della Sala; he soon switched sides and took service with the French cardinals gathered in Anagni.
JulyAntipopeChurchLazioHe received orders from the Archbishop of Arles, Pierre de Cros, to leave Viterbo and reach Anagni. He rode towards Rome at the head of 200 Breton lances. Five thousand armed inhabitants of the city tried to block his way at Ponte Salario. A clash ensued in which the Romans were defeated by the Company of Bretons, with 500 to 800 men killed and an even greater number captured. Bernardon de la Salle then moved to Anagni, where he joined the French cardinals. For his intervention, he was promised the fiefs of Mornas and Caderousse in the Vaucluse, which he would be officially granted at the end of December the following year. Meanwhile, the Romans, driven by a strong spirit of vengeance, attacked the Bretons, killing many of them. They also sacked the houses of curial officials and imprisoned several bishops.
Apr.LazioWith Jean de Malestroit and Louis de Montjoie, he confronted Alberico da Barbiano at Marino, commanding the second line. Initially, he repelled the assault led by Galeazzo Pepoli; however, after five hours, he was defeated and captured by the men of the “Compagnia di San Giorgio.” Taken to Rome with the other condottieri, he was soon released.
Sept.LazioHe left Vetralla with Francesco di Vico and captured Bracciano.
…………OrvietoPerugiaUmbria, TuscanyHe entered the service of Orvieto with 1,200 cavalry. He crossed the Morra ford, burst into Chiugi, and raided three thousand head of livestock, including cattle and smaller animals, along with one hundred donkeys; he took 400 prisoners. He crossed the Val di Chiana at Valiano and retreated to Cetona, where Piero di Sagra remained with 400 cavalry.
MayUmbriaHe was reported in Orvieto.
JuneGaetaniRomeLazioHe joined forces with the Count of Fondi, Onorato Gaetani, and defeated the Romans at Fondi. The opponents suffered the loss of 1,400 men, either killed or captured.
JulyNaplesDurazzoCampaniaHe was defeated along with Otto of Brunswick by the troops of Charles of Durazzo and Alberico da Barbiano in the Battle of Porta Capuana in Naples. He sought refuge in the Castel Sant’Elmo but was forced to surrender. He was released on the condition that he would not serve against the Durazzo forces for a year.
…………VicoChurchLazioWith Guglielmetto della Sala, he supported Prefect Francesco di Vico in the Patrimony against the papal forces.
…………NaplesDurazzoCampaniaHe left the Kingdom of Naples with 100 lances.
Mar.Comp. venturaSienaTuscanyHe arrived at Monticchiello with the Company of the Bretons. He threatened Chianciano and Montepulciano.
MayTuscany, UmbriaDefeated by the Sienese, he joined forces with Rinaldo Orsini and Corrado Monaldeschi to besiege Corbara. They devastated the countryside, cutting down vineyards and fruit trees in the plain of Sala.
JuneComp. venturaSienaTuscanyStill with Guglielmetto della Sala, he invaded the Sienese territory and assisted the Farnese in seizing Montorio. In Tombolo, he appropriated a large quantity of livestock, valued at around 40,000 florins. Giovanni degli Ubaldini moved against them, occupying the fortress of Ponte del Rigo, controlled by the Bretons. He was forced to retreat, losing 40 horses. Bernardon de la Salle found refuge in Radicofani with Cione da Siena.
July – Aug.TuscanyHe signed a peace agreement with the Sienese, committing not to fight against them as a mercenary. In August, he handed over the castle of Montorio to them for 8,000 florins, which was returned by Leonardo Farnese.
Oct.Comp. venturaMontemarteUmbriaHe returned to the territory of Corbara and seized the tower of Cantaccio from the Montemarte family.
SummerUmbriaHe was in Orvieto with Rinaldo Orsini. An agreement was reached with the Sienese ambassadors.
AutumnAnjou, AntipopeNaples, ChurchCampaniaHe was in Maddaloni with Louis of Anjou to oppose the troops of Charles of Durazzo.
…………LazioHe attacked Montefiascone, which was defended by Simonetto Orsini for the papal forces. He then moved towards Orvieto and ravaged the plain of Sala, targeting Simonetto di Castel di Piero and Ugolino da Montemarte.
…………VicoSienaTuscanyHe once again joined forces with Francesco di Vico and Guglielmetto della Sala to plunder the Maremma.
…………Anjou, AntipopeNaples, ChurchCampaniaHe confronted Domenico da Siena and Angelino d’Austria in defense of the Counts of Caserta, the della Ratta family. He took Mignano Monte Lungo from the first condottiero.
…………Comp. venturaSienaTuscanyHe threatened the Sienese. They paid him 2,000 florins.
Aug.Anjou, AntipopeNaples, ChurchCampaniaHe returned to serve the Angevins. With Francesco della Ratta, he rode to Sant’Antonio Abate, harassing the inhabitants of the countryside. His raids extended to Aversa and Casoria.
Sept.Campania, ApuliaHe entered Afragola with Francesco della Ratta and Bartolomeo da Capua with 500 cavalry, taking their spoils to Caserta. He moved to Apulia, where he remained until the death of Louis of Anjou. He obtained a safe conduct from the Sienese for himself and his small company, ensuring free passage with the assurance that he would not harm the Sienese territory for four years.
Dec.Lazio, FranceHe joined forces with Otto of Brunswick, crossed the Garigliano, and arrived in the County of Fondi, reaffirming the agreement with the Sienese: 50 lances from his companies were hired by the commune (25 florins per lance per month). He then embarked for France and reached Avignon with the Bavarian duke.
May – JuneFranceOn Pentecost, he was in Avignon, attending the ceremony where the antipope presented the Church’s banner to the young Louis II of Anjou. On this occasion, Bernardon de la Salle held the papal flag while Pietro della Corona held the flag of the Kingdom of Sicily. The two condottieri were promised 40,000 francs by Marie of Blois. Bernardon de la Salle immediately received 600 francs; Clement VII, recognizing the financial difficulties of the Duchess of Anjou, assumed part of the cost of the entire contract, which soon rose to 60,000 francs due to some unforeseen expenses. The contract was signed in mid-June, and only in mid-July were the expenses allocated (24,000 francs for the Duchess of Anjou and 36,000 for the antipope). However, these amounts were not fully paid, and even in September five years later, Bernardon de la Salle had received only 500 francs of the promised sum from Clement VII.
JulyFranceIn the middle of the month, together with Châteaurenard, he received the surrender of the inhabitants of Tarascona on behalf of the Duke of Anjou. He regained control of Provence, which had rebelled against the Angevins.
…………AntipopeChurchLazioHe returned to Italy and, together with Rinaldo Orsini, opposed the papal forces near Viterbo.
Jan.ApuliaHe was reported near Taranto.
MayComp. venturaPisa, SienaTuscanyHe plundered the territory of Cetona and raided the Pisan area up to San Donnino. He reached an agreement with the Sienese, who paid him 15,000 florins in installments until February 1387.
June – JulyAntipopeChurchUmbriaWith Francesco di Vico, he defeated Taddeo Pepoli at San Michele in Teverina. The papal forces retreated across the Tiber, reorganized with troops provided by Ugolino da Montemarte and Tommaso d’Alviano, and quickly marched towards Montefiascone. They recaptured the fortress, which was guarded by only a few Bretons and the captain Simone di Battifolle.
Aug.LazioHe fortified himself in Viterbo with Francesco di Vico.
…………AntipopeNaplesHe supported Ugo da San Severino against the Durazzo forces.
Jan.UmbriaThe Perugians intercepted a message sent by the Florentines to him and Everardo della Campana.
Mar.AntipopeChurchLazio, UmbriaHe was with Piero Gaetani defending Viterbo. When the city rebelled against Francesco di Vico in favor of the papal forces, he departed, leaving the prefect to his fate. He then headed to Amelia with 600 cavalry and captured the rector of the Patrimony in Montefiascone.
JuneUmbriaBernardon de la Salle once again joins forces with Rinaldo Orsini. Together with Giovanni da Cremona, he defends Orvieto at the head of 400 cavalrymen. He expels the mercenaries who supported the pope from the city. At this point, due to issues with the payments for the condotta, he returns to being a mercenary leader rather than a loyal executor of Clement VII‘s policies.
Aug.VeronaMilanMarcheHe is hired by Antonio della Scala to fight against the Visconti. He is located around Fabriano and Rocca Contrada (Arcevia). Carlo Malatesta enlists Everardo della Campana, Corrado Lando, Luchino da Casate, and Giovannolo da Genova (with 800 cavalry) on behalf of the opponents. Through Pietro di Poggio, they persuade Boldrino da Panicale, Nello da Camerino, and Milano d’Asti to enter Carlo Malatesta‘s service and together block the road to Bernardon de la Salle.
Sept.Comp. venturaPerugiaUmbriaTogether with Everardo della Campana, he gathers 1000 cavalry and attacks the Perugian territory. With the help of exiles, he incites a rebellion in the castle of Cannara. From there, he wages war on the capital with continuous raids up to the gates of Perugia. Boldrino da Panicale confronts him with 200 lances. The rival unsuccessfully tries to drive him out of the territory. Bernardon de la Salle takes the spoils to Cannara; in this location, the plunder is sold back to the Perugians themselves.
Oct.AntipopeChurchUmbriaTogether with Everardo della Campana, he gathers 1000 cavalry and attacks the Perugian territory. With the help of exiles, he incites a rebellion in the castle of Cannara. From there, he wages war on the capital with continuous raids up to the gates of Perugia. Boldrino da Panicale confronts him with 200 lances. The rival unsuccessfully tries to drive him out of the territory. Bernardon de la Salle takes the spoils to Cannara; in this location, the plunder is sold back to the Perugians themselves.
Nov.LazioHe occupies Civitavecchia and Rocca Rispampani. He attempts to seize Canibo through negotiation.
Dec.Comp. venturaPisa, Siena, Lucca, FlorenceUmbria, TuscanyHe leaves the Perugian territory due to a lack of provisions and heads towards Gubbio and Città di Castello, where Guido d’Asciano is already present with 1000 cavalry. Instigated by the Florentines along with d’Asciano, della Campana, and Corrado Lando, he takes the road to Casoli and Volterra, penetrating into the Pisan territory. He camps at Bagno ad Acqua, capturing men and women and plundering livestock of all kinds. He continues to the Valdarno, passing through San Casciano dei Bagni, San Savino (where he besieges the abbey), Sant’Agostino, and San Giusto alle Monache, then returns to Peccioli. The Pisans agree to pay the mercenaries a ransom of 8000 florins, with 4000 immediately in pieces of velvet and another 4000 to be delivered upon their departure from the territory. This does not stop the mercenaries from continuing their looting, capturing more than 100 people, including men and youths, and raiding over 1000 head of livestock, including donkeys, sheep, oxen, and pigs. Bernardon de la Salle leaves Cascina, stopping at Cevoli, Casciana, and Bagno ad Acqua, continuing his depredations. He unsuccessfully demands compensation of 600 florins for the horses lost during the campaign. The Sienese grant the company 9000 florins (9850 including various gifts for the company’s captains), and the Lucchese provide another 4000. At Peccioli, he also negotiates with the Florentines, agreeing not to harm their territory for fourteen months in exchange for 7000 florins. At the end of the month, he reaches Fabbrica, Laiatico, and heads towards Volterra.
Jan.Tuscany, UmbriaHe stops at Colle di Val d’Elsa and returns to the Perugian territory. He is contacted by the Florentines to enter their service against the Visconti.
………Comp. venturaChurch, PerugiaUmbriaHe harasses the lands of Fontignano and Castiglion Fosco with Corrado Lando and Guido d’Asciano. He descends below the walls of Spello and plunders as far as Assisi.
Apr.UmbriaConfronted by 400 papal lances under the command of Ugolino Trinci, he is forced to abandon Umbria. Together with della Campana, he is contacted again by the Florentines.
May – JuneComp. venturaSiena, Pisa, LuccaTuscany, UmbriaHe joins forces with Bertoldo Saer and Guido d’Asciano to plunder Tuscany, receiving 12,000 florins from the Sienese. He then invades the Pisan territory, reaching Lavaiano and destroying its castle. The men must pay a ransom for their release, while the women are mostly freed, except for some who are forced to follow the mercenaries. Piero Gambacorta gathers 2000 infantry to defend himself, and additional reinforcements arrive for the lord of Pisa from Florence and Bologna. By early June, 450 lances and many infantrymen are defending the city. The exiles incite rebellion in two castles. Gambacorta seeks peace and agrees to pay the mercenaries 13,000 florins. Bernardon de la Salle receives another 9,000 florins from the Lucchese, joins Giovanni Beltoft, and returns to Cannara.
JulyComp. venturaMontecuccoliTuscanyTogether with della Campana, he threatens Alberguccio Montecuccoli, who receives reinforcements from the Lucchese. They are given 6,700 florins to leave. He negotiates to enter the service of the papal forces.
………Comp. venturaChurchLazioHe is defeated near Tivoli by Luca Savelli.
Nov.Comp. venturaPerugiaUmbriaTogether with Everardo della Campana and Guido d’Asciano, he is forced by the Perugians, commanded by Giovanni Beltoft and Corrado Lando, to abandon Cannara.
Jan-Comp. venturaSienaTuscanyHe plunders the Sienese territory with John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto) and Corrado Lando.
Mar.Anjou, AntipopeNaples, ChurchCampania, Umbria, LazioHe faces John Hawkwood and Otto of Brunswick in Naples, who are fighting for the Durazzeschi. During the same period, he is contacted by Francesco Novello da Carrara to enter the service of the league against the Visconti; he refuses and informs Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Count of Virtù, about the proposals he received. He moves to Umbria and, with Corrado di Altinberg, besieges Francesco da Montemarte in Benano. He then provides aid to Bertoldo Farnese, who is besieged in the Rocca di Farnese by his relatives Giovanni and Sciarra.
Apr.1000 cavalryCampaniaThe antipope Clement VII sends him with 1000 Gascon cavalry into Principato Ultra. He enters Naples.
MayComp. venturaUmbriaHe returns to besiege Benano with Corrado di Altinberg. He devastates the counties of San Michele in Teverina, Fabro, Salce, and Corbara.
JuneComp. venturaChurchUmbria, LazioHe heads towards Rome with Bernardo della Serra, continuously harassing the territories of the locations loyal to Pope Urban VI.
Aug. – Sept.Comp. ventura, AntipopeSiena, ChurchTuscany, Lazio, UmbriaHe is urged by the Florentines to plunder the Sienese territory once again. Crossbowmen and cavalry are sent to ostensibly block his path at the border, but in reality, to provide him with provisions and protect him in case of defeat. The Sienese request Gian Galeazzo Visconti to send 200 lances to confront him. Bernardon de la Salle joins forces with the Count of Pitigliano, Bertoldo Orsini. He arranges with Giovanni di Pecora to enter Siena through the Porta di Ovile, advancing from Chianti and reaching the city by night. The plot is discovered, forcing him to retreat with the Count of Pitigliano. The two leaders ride through Val d’Arbia and Val d’Orcia, seizing numerous spoils. The Florentines occupy Montepulciano with Commissioner Rinaldo Gianfigliazzi (1000 crossbowmen and 600 cavalry); contrary to previous promises, they do not provide the necessary provisions to the mercenaries. Bernardon de la Salle is thus compelled to cross the Sienese territory again, aiming for Staggia. He is blocked between this location and Colle di Val d’Elsa by commissioners Lotto Castellani and Filippo Cavicchioli; he abandons the spoils and returns with the exiles who accompany him to the walls of Siena to see if any internal disorder arises in their favor. With no such prospects, he returns to the Patrimony to assist Canino, besieged by the papal forces, while Bertoldo Orsini has to contend with the Sienese alone. He is appointed rector of the Patrimony by the antipope and establishes his headquarters in Todi.
Nov.Marche, RomagnaHe continues his raids even after the death of Urban VI and the proclamation of Boniface IX as pope. He invades the March of Ancona and Romagna, monitoring all the roads leading north. He captures many papal partisans and kills others.
Aug.FranceHe is noted in Mende as a witness to an agreement made in the presence of Jean d’Armagnac between the Bishop of Maguelonne, the antipope’s delegate, and a representative of Duke Raymond of Turenne.
Sept.FranceHe tries to recover the sums he is owed by the antipope (500 florins). He is so indebted to his comrades-in-arms that he has to give his entire payment from the Apostolic Chamber to an old lieutenant of his, who is from the diocese of Comminges.
Oct.TuscanyHe enters the service of the Lord of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti. He requests free passage from the Pisans.
Apr.AntipopeChurchLazioIn the Viterbo area, he faces difficulties against the offensive of Pope Boniface IX‘s troops. He hires numerous captains in the service of the Florentines, and even two papal commanders defect to his camp. He besieges Rome from the direction of St. Peter’s, placing his opponents in extreme difficulty.
MayMilanFlorenceFranceHe returns to France and gathers 500 lances on behalf of the Visconti.
June500 lancesFranceJean d’Armagnac allied with the Florentines to fight the Count of Virtù. Bernardon de la Salle decides to return to Italy to counter the Florentine troops. He gathers 500 lances, crosses the Alps, and reaches Moncenisio, 50 miles from where his opponents are expected to pass. Upon hearing of his arrival, his rival takes 600 lances and, with forced marches, ambushes him in a mountain gorge. Surprised by the Armagnacs, more than half of his men are killed in the clash, and 300 lances are captured. Bernardon de la Salle initially manages to evade capture; however, he is eventually taken prisoner in a forest. After an unsuccessful attempt by Jean d’Armagnac to recruit him, he is treacherously killed by three of his own knights, who were bribed by the monks of Saint-Denis. The main captains of his company are beheaded, and the other prisoners are disarmed and sent to France. He marries Ricciarda Visconti, the natural daughter of Bernabò Visconti.


-“Virum strenuum, qui cum Gregorio Undecimo pontifice in Italiam venerat. Ab Auguto (Giovanni Acuto) post Johannis Actii (Giovanni degli Ubaldini) mortem reliquis Italiae ducibus antefferetur.. Dux prudentissimus.” BRACCIOLINI

-“Capitaneus provisus et expertus.” CHRONICON SICULUM

-“Chapitanio di giente d’arme e gran castelano.” GATARI

-“S’était fait un nom en Italie… Véritable carrière de routier, singulier mélange de haut-faits et d’actes de brigandages; qui nous montre l’aventurier gascon tantot occupant une place importante à la cour d’Avignon et traité avec de grands égards par le pape Clément, les cardinaux et l’entourage du roi Louis II d’Anjou, tantot courant les grands chemins et extorquant, par la violence, l’argent des Siennois, des Pisans et de Lucquois; ou l’on trouve pour ainsi dire de tout, hormis cependant un seul acte de lacheté ou de félonie.” CONTAMINE

-“Early on his career he demonstrated a capacity for military feats of extraordinary audacity, in particular in taking towns by escalade, a skill at which the Gascons seem to have been particularly.” FOWLER

-“Ce Bernardon de la Salle..s’était fait un nom en Italie. Pendant plusieurs années, il avait brillamment exercé, dans la Péninsule, le métier de condottiere, se montrant d’ailleurs aussi peu scrupuleux, en matière de brigandage, que les compagnies installées au coeur de la France. Sa réputation d’habile homme de guerre s’était si bien établie, que Bernabo Visconti, la victime de Jean Galéas, n’avait pas hésité à lui donner en marriage une de ses filles naturelles…L’histoire de Bernardon de la Salle peut se deviser en deux périodes. Dans la première période s’étend Jusq’à son départ pour l’Italie, en 1375, c’est un chef de bande, tout dévoué au parte Anglais, qui opère, en France, tantot pour son propre compte, tantot sous les ordres des généraux ou des alliés du roi d’Angleterre…. Chose curieuse, autant Bernardon s’était jusqu’alors montré hostile aux Français, autant il devait, dans la seconde période de sa carrière, devenir un fidèle partisan de la politique française en Italie… Véritable carrière de routier, singulier mélange da haut-faits er d’actes de brigandage; qui nous montre l’aventurier gascon tantot occupant une place importante à la cour d’Avignon et traité avec de grands égards par le papa Clement VII, les cardinaux et l’entourage du roi Lois II d’Anjou, tantot courant lea grands chemins et extorquant, par la violence, l’argent des Siennois, des Pisans er des Lucquois; où l’on trouve pour ainsi dire de tout, hormis cependant un seul acte de lacheté ou de félonie.” DURRIEU

-“Feroce capitano di bretoni.” VALERI

-“Soprannominato Chicot dai suoi compagni, de la Sale era considerato da John Hawkood il miglior condottiero dopo Giovanni degli Ubaldini mentre Froissant lo ricorda “fort” e “grimpeur comme un chat”, famoso per i suoi colpi di mano audaci al limite dell’incoscienza.” BULTRINI

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