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

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Constantine Arianiti’s Quest for Power and Survival

Italian CondottieriConstantine Arianiti's Quest for Power and Survival

Adventurous, ambitious. Although considered by many historians, even those of his own time, as a man of little worth, he manages to hold important diplomatic and military positions, often marked by scant success. Sometimes imprisoned for his ambiguous behavior, he is occasionally suspected of treason, especially by the French and the Imperials. His life concludes in a small castle in Romagna, Montefiore Conca, where he retreats at the end of a tumultuous life.

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A Life of Contrasts: Costantine Arianiti’s Path Through Diplomacy and Disdain.

Costantino Arianiti (Kostandin Komneni Arianiti, Costantino Cominato, Costantino Comneno), from Durazzo. Duke of Achaia, Prince of Macedonia, lord of Castellino, Marsaglia, Mondovi, and Ozzano Monferrato in Monferrato, as well as of Fano, Mondaino, and Montefiore Conca. Brother-in-law of Niccolò Boccali and George Castriota, the Scanderbeg; uncle of Manoli Boccali and Costantino Boccali. Knight of the Order of Saint Michael.

Born: 1456 ca.
Death: 1530, May

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
…………   ApuliaSon of the feudal lord George Arianiti (Giorgio Arianiti, Gjergj Arianiti, George Komnenos Arianites), an Albanian condottiero known for his battles against the Ottomans. Forced to abandon his domains in Albania due to the Turks, his father moved to Italy, to Lecce, around 1460, where his wife Pietrina Francone, daughter of the baron of Taurisano, owned some properties.
May   VenetoUnder pressure from his mother, who had become a widow, he was recognized along with two brothers as a patrician of the Serene Republic.
Feb.VeniceFerrara100 light cavalry The Venetians reaffirmed his status in the Venetian patriciate.
1484/1486Church  Lazio, PiedmontInitially, his mother returned to Salento, only to finally move to Rome. Costantine Arianiti entered the service of Pope Sixtus IV. With financial aid obtained from the papal curia, he soon, without taking holy orders, attained the position of Apostolic Protonotary. In 1486, he resigned from his position to enter the service of his niece Maria Brankovic, the wife of Boniface Paleologo, Marquess of Monferrato.
1489   PiedmontHe marries Francesca Paleologo, the natural daughter of Marquess Boniface, receiving as her dowry castles and rich lands that ensure him a solid financial base. Thus, he is enfeoffed with Castellino, Marsaglia, and Mondovì. Also, with his wife’s dowry, he acquires in the following years several fiefs such as Refrancore (from Defendente Suardi) and Rivolta; in 1492, he is invested by his father-in-law with Ozzano Monferrato and some joint portions in the county of Terruggia.
…………MonferratoMilan PiedmontHe faces the ducal forces under the command of Antonio Maria da San Severino in a brief conflict.
…………MonferratoRebels PiedmontHe moves from Casale Monferrato to punish those guilty of a sedition in Moncalvo. These individuals are captured and hanged. Only one manages to escape capture and flee to Milanese territory. This person falls into the hands of his men at Castello di Annone and from there is taken to Casale Monferrato. This leads to a diplomatic incident between the Duke of Milan and the Marquess of Monferrato, Boniface.
…………   PiedmontHe seeks to establish good relations with the King of France, Charles VIII, in order to maintain the Paleologo sovereignty in Monferrato by soliciting the protection and favor of the French towards the underage Marquess. Meanwhile, he begins to title himself as Prince of Macedonia and Duke of Achaia.
Sept.   PiedmontIn Asti with 300 horses to join forces with the French, ready to fight the Aragonese in the Kingdom of Naples.
Oct.   PiedmontHe welcomes the French sovereign in Moncalvo; accompanies him to Casale Monferrato; enters Milan alongside the sovereign.
Mar.   Veneto, ApuliaOn behalf of the King of France, he becomes a promoter, along with the Archbishop of Durazzo, Martino Firmiano, of an attempt to liberate the Balkans from the Turks. The Serene Republic opposes his plan to sail from Venice and reach Albania to raise the region against the Ottoman Empire. Arrested, he is soon released as a noble of the Serene Republic. He takes refuge in Apulia.
…………MonferratoMilan, Venice PiedmontHe supports the French militias against those of the Italian League. He is awarded by Charles VIII with the collar of the Order of Saint Michael.
Aug.   PiedmontUpon the death of Marquess Boniface of Monferrato, followed immediately by that of his wife Maria, he assumes the position of governor of Monferrato and the guardianship of the two heir sons of the marquisate, Guglielmo Giovanni and Giorgio Sebastiano. He fortifies himself in Casale Monferrato due to opposition from a considerable portion of the Monferrato nobility. He finds support from the envoy of the King of France, Charles VIII, L’Argenton.
Nov.Empire   He draws closer to Emperor Maximilian of Austria, who confirms him in his role as guardian of the young Marquesses of Monferrato. These relations are strengthened through various diplomatic missions in which he gains the imperial trust.
June    Maximilian of Austria declares in Augsburg his intention to appoint Costantine Arianiti as his vicar in the parts of Italy theoretically under imperial control. Since the project does not come to fruition, the condottiero draws closer again to Charles VIII, encouraging him in his intentions to conquer Italy.
Aug.France 100 lances  
Sept.   PiedmontIn Monferrato, with the responsibility of governor of Casale Monferrato. He ensures passage and provisions for the French to Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio. There is talk of a possible appointment of him as King of Macedonia.
Spring   PiedmontHe is involved in some negotiations that take place between Pope Julius II and the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. He is soon sidelined for being found too inclined towards the positions of the Venetians.
Dec.   PiedmontHe receives the Venetian Niccolò Foscarini in Casale Monferrato on a diplomatic mission to the Duke of Savoy, Filiberto.
Feb.   PiedmontStill in Casale Monferrato, at the review of his company.
Apr.   PiedmontWith the death of Charles VIII, he loses all support at the French court.
Aug.FranceMilan PiedmontHe joins the French near Alessandria; after the flight of Galeazzo da San Severino, he is left by Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio to guard the city with 800 horses.
Oct.   LombardyHe is in Pavia. He falls out of favor with King Louis XII for a permit he provided to some enemies of France, who thus managed to escape capture through Monferrato.
Nov.   LombardyReturning from Milan, he is imprisoned in Vigevano by the French. Judged by Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio, La Trémouille, and other captains, he is confined in the castle of Novara to be taken to France. The governance of the marquisate is entrusted to Ligny. The French confiscate the properties of his wife located in the territory of Saluzzo.
Apr.   Piedmont, LiguriaHe escapes from prison with the complicity of a French servant. He first takes refuge in Ozzano Monferrato and, after the capture of Ludovico Sforza in Novara (April), in Acqui Terme. He unsuccessfully attempts to reconcile with the Serene Republic and reaches the Riviera di Levante.
MayPisaFlorenceGeneral captainTuscanyHe lands in Pisa and is hired by the Pisans. He is soon dismissed under pressure from the French; he is detained in prison to be handed over to the transalpines.
June   TuscanyHe is freed by some youths who hide him in the house of a citizen. A tumult arises, and he is imprisoned again. At the end of the month, following the reconciliation of the French with the Florentines, he is released. He embarks on a skiff and is captured at sea by the Florentines; he is imprisoned in Livorno. He regains his freedom thanks to some Pisan horses with which he returns to Pisa. At the same time, his mother presses the Venetians to intercede on his behalf with the French.
Aug.   Campania, ApuliaHe finds refuge in Benevento. He is later reported to be in San Leonardo, near Manfredonia. He is contacted by the Florentines.
Dec.   VenetoHe appears in Venice after his possessions have been confiscated by the French.
Feb. – Mar.   Veneto, AustriaHe is received by Doge Agostino Barbarigo; he requests the support of the Serene Republic against the French. In March, he returns to Venice and receives evasive answers. He returns to Vienna in the hope of obtaining a position at the imperial court.
Oct.Empire  TrentinoIn Trento, at the service of the Emperor.
Oct.ChurchCondottieri200 light cavalry  
Feb.Empire  TrentinoIn Arco, alongside Maximilian of Austria.
Oct.   AustriaIn Innsbruck. He requests a commission from the Emperor; alternatively, permission to leave his court.
Dec.   LazioHe gains the trust of Maximilian of Austria to the extent of being appointed his ambassador to the papal curia. In Rome, his new diplomatic activity begins, for which he can benefit both from his good relations with the Venetians and from the trust of Pope Julius II, to whom he is connected by family ties: a sister of Costantine Arianiti has, in fact, married a member of the della Rovere family, to which the Pope belongs.
Feb.   Emilia, LazioIn Ferrara, where he is welcomed by Duke Alfonso d’Este, and in Rome. He is received in audience by Pope Julius II.
Mar.   LazioHe meets with Cesare Borgia in Ostia with the aim of convincing him to surrender to the Church State the fortresses still under his control.
Apr.   GermanyHe is promised by Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Captain General of the Church, a command of 80 men-at-arms. He is sent to Germany as an ambassador to negotiate peace between the Imperials and the French.
May   LazioHe returns to Italy. He does not consider his requests regarding the command and the commission to have been satisfactorily met.
July   RomagnaHe is elected governor of Forlì and all of Romagna. The Bishop of Tivoli, Angelo Leonino, accompanies him as legate. In Forlì, he is welcomed with great honors by the Duke of Urbino, Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, and by the Archbishop of Ragusa, Giovanni di Sacco.
Aug.   RomagnaIn Cesena. He is unable to operate due to the plague.
Sept.   Romagna, LazioIn Cesena. He works for a truce between Niccolò Guerra da Bagno on one side and the Tiberti on the other. He encounters significant difficulties in fulfilling his duties due to factional fights. He requests troops in vain to be able to control the situation in Forlì and Cesena. He sends his own emissary to Rome; tired of not receiving any responses, he embarks on a brigantine and arrives in Ostia with the imperial agent Luca Rinaldi and a German bishop. He meets with Pope Julius II.
Apr.   RomagnaHe returns to Forlì. He forces the Orioli and the Morattini into a forced peace.
…………  300 light cavalryLazioHe commands the Palatine Guard in Rome (300 Greek cavalry and mounted crossbowmen).
Sept.ChurchBologna Romagna, UmbriaIn Forlì. In the same month, he accompanies Julius II during his solemn entrance into Perugia with Francesco Maria della Rovere.
Nov.   EmiliaHe enters Bologna in the entourage of the pontiff.
Mar.   RomagnaHe requests permission to leave Forlì and Romagna.
Autumn   GermanyIn Germany to promote in Italy the alliance between the Imperials and the French with an anti-Venetian purpose.
Nov.   LazioHe returns to Rome with Maximilian of Austria‘s request to be recognized by the Pope as Emperor even without having been crowned in the Eternal City. The Venetians carry out some reprisals against him.
Mar.    He complains to the Venetians because some of his messages directed to the Emperor were intercepted in Rimini.
Apr.    During a conflict with the Imperials, the Venetians occupy his castle of Belgrade, near Cormons in Friuli.
…………    The Pope entrusts him with the task of revealing to the Venetians the content of the clauses of the League of Cambrai in exchange for the return of Rimini and Faenza to the Papal States.
MayChurchVenice Germany, LombardyHe travels to Germany to deliver 50,000 ducats to the Emperor so that he may wage war against the Venetians. Costantine Arianiti returns to Italy; he vainly assaults Pizzighettone and Asola.
JuneEmpireVenice VenetoHe negotiates with the Venetians for the Imperials’ acquisition of Padua. He enters the city with Matteo da Busseto.
July  Captain general, 450 cavalryVenetoAt the head of 6,000 German infantry, he conquers Bassano del Grappa and Castelfranco Veneto. Emperor Maximilian of Austria halts at Marostica. Costantine Arianiti recalls from Padua the troops that garrison the city, leaving only Leonardo da Trissino and the German militias of Marco Sittich (1,000 infantry) for its defense. Thus, Padua is recaptured by the Serene Republic. He is noted in Venice for a secret meeting with members of the Council of Ten. He moves to Vicenza and is appointed captain general of the Italian troops in the service of the Emperor. He urges the Venetians to relax the defenses focused on Padua and to reconquer Friuli, Gorizia, and Trieste.
Aug.   VenetoHe gathers his troops first in Cittadella to proceed to the siege of Padua. At Piombino Dese, a review of the army is made, consisting of 6,000 cavalry and 17,000 infantry: Costantine Arianiti commands the Imperial men-at-arms, while the infantry are under the orders of Prince Rodolfo of Anhalt. Other captains include George of Liechtenstein, the French La Palisse, the Burgundian Monsignor della Rosa, George of Lodrone, and the Italians Giovanni Gonzaga, Ludovico Gonzaga da Bozzolo, and Federico Gonzaga da Bozzolo. From Piombino Dese, he moves towards Camposampiero and Castelfranco Veneto. The castle of the former location is conquered: the podestà  Antonio Querini is captured and sent to Trento. In the continuation of his action, Arianiti positions himself first in Limena and then in Padua in front of Portello and Ognissanti.
Sept.   VenetoNumerous conflicts arise in the camp due to the lack of provisions and the delay in payments. The French threaten Costantine Arianiti with death because they suspect him of treason: there are not lacking signs, on the other hand, such as when he orders the German artillery to be lifted from in front of the Codalunga bastion because it damages the enemy fortifications too much. He also enters Padua twice to meet with the provider Andrea Gritti. Finally corrupted, along with Gaspare da San Severino, he abandons the siege, heads to Vicenza, and thus contributes to the withdrawal of the entire army.
Oct.   VenetoHe is tasked with defending Vicenza with 2,000 cavalry and 1,500 infantry. His militias devastate the surrounding countryside.
Nov.   Veneto, LazioHe moves to guard Verona. At the end of the month, he must leave the city and the command of the Italian troops to Gaspare da San Severino due to his disagreements with La Palisse. He is challenged to a duel by the French captain. He returns to Rome.
Dec.   TuscanyOn a mission to Florence.
Jan. – Mar.   LazioHe acts in Rome on behalf of the Venetians, whom he tries to reconcile with the Pope. In March, he has a meeting with the emissary of the Serene Republic, Girolamo Donato. He is tasked with traveling to Germany along with Giovanni Camillo de Montibus.
Apr.Church  Romagna, Marche, GermanyHe acts in Rome on behalf of the Venetians, whom he tries to reconcile with the Pope. In March, he has a meeting with the emissary of the Serene Republic, Girolamo Donato. He is tasked with traveling to Germany along with Giovanni Camillo de Montibus.
May   Marche, GermanyJulius II appoints him general custodian of the Lateran Council to be held in opposition to the one in Pisa wanted by the French. At the end of the month, he is in Germany in Augsburg, where he meets with the Emperor and other dignitaries.
June   LazioHe returns to Rome and has talks with the Pope and the Venetian ambassador Donato. He is soon recalled to Germany by Paul of Liechtenstein.
July   Marche, Romagna, VenetoHe shuttles back and forth to advance peace negotiations. In Pesaro and Rimini. He sails to Venice where he meets with Doge Leonardo Loredan: he is given 300 ducats for travel expenses. On his way to Germany, he stops in Mestre and Treviso; he passes through Serravalle.
Aug.   Veneto, South Tyrol, FriuliHe crosses the Cadore and arrives in Bressanone. The Imperials temporarily block his journey in Pordenone. He can, finally, continue towards Germany.
Jan.   Germany, VenetoFrom Germany, he returns to Cadore.
Feb.    In Chioggia; he embarks on a fusta and arrives in Ravenna; heads to Lugo where the Pope is currently located. The mission yields no result due to the demands of Emperor Maximilian of Austria.
May   LazioHe is in Rome at the opening of the council in San Giovanni in Laterano. Along with Giulio Orsini, Marcantonio Colonna, and Niccolò della Rovere, he is tasked with overseeing the smooth progress of the proceedings.
July   Trentino, PiedmontHe meets in Trentino with Cardinal Matteo Lang of Curtense. He concludes his journey in Monferrato.
Mar.   MarcheHe is granted the lordship of Fano by the new Pope, Leo X.
JuneChurchFrance  He joins the Swiss in the pay of the Papal States against the French.
July   PiedmontHe enters Monferrato at the head of 8,000 men.
…………   MarcheIn Fano. He assists Francesco Maria della Rovere in his attempt to recover the Duchy of Urbino.
Sept.   MarcheHe is effectively stripped of his lordship of Fano by the new Duke of Urbino, Lorenzo de’ Medici. The pretext is the increasingly frequent clashes in the city between factions.
……    He settles in Rome.
Dec.   LazioUpon the death of Pope Leo X, the College of Cardinals entrusts him with the command of 800 infantrymen to maintain order in the city during the conclave.
Feb.   LazioHe offers to lend the College of Cardinals the sum of 800 ducats, necessary to provide a down payment on the salary of the Gonfalonier of the Church, Federico Gonzaga.
July   LazioHe hands over the money to a man from Corfu so that he can perform exorcisms to drive the plague away from Rome.
June   LazioAt the end of the month, he is granted Mondaino and Montefiore Conca with a papal bull by Leo X.
Aug.    The College of Pregadi confers upon his son the castellany of Torrenova.
May   Lazio, MarcheHe flees from Rome and takes refuge in Pesaro following the sack of the city by the Landsknechts. From Fano, he moves his residence to the castle of Montefiore Conca. This place becomes his usual dwelling after having lost or sold one after the other his fiefs in Monferrato.
May   MarcheHe dies at the beginning of the month in Fano. He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles or, according to other sources, in the church of Saint Augustine. His tomb, whose Latin inscription is preserved, has never been found.


-“E’ persona de poco valor, per fama pubblica per tutta Roma, benché l’aspetto suo demostri altramente.” GIUSTINIAN

-“Uomo delicatissimo e di bella statura, ma poco da’ soldati amato e stimato.” DA PORTO

-“Uomo di non poca autorità appo Massimiliano (d’Austria).” BEMBO

-“Era Costantino venuto in glorioso concetto appresso non pochi.” V. DE CONTI

-“Prestante, ma di nessun valore.” RUNCIMAN

-“A relative of Sisto IV, held condotte from Julius for most of the pontificate, but he only exercised subordinate commands and was interested in politics.” SHAW

-“Sopra de tutti il signor Costantino:/ general capitano in veritate/ Che comanda a ciascun in quel confino (il campo imperiale).” CORDO

-“A Roma l’Arianiti s’interessò subito dei conflitti tra la Curia e Venezia per i possedimenti di Romagna, dove si svolsero le ultime vicende della sua avventurosa carriera. La sua efficienza come ambasciatore imperiale fu scarsa: intraprese nuovi viaggi tra Roma e la corte imperiale, ma senza riuscire ad ottenere sensibili successi, il che ebbe come conseguenza la perdita del favore imperiale, dovuta anche al fatto che l’Arianiti aveva sempre manifestato una certa ambiguità nelle trattative diplomatiche con Venezia. Passò allora al servizio di Giulio II, dal quale fu impiegato negli anni seguenti in avventurosi affari presso la Serenissima, mentre l’imperatore, su sollecitazione dei Francesi che vedevano in lui un nemico irriducibile, rifiutava qualsiasi rapporto con l’Arianiti riducendo ulteriormente la sua sfera d’azione diplomatica.” BABINGER

Featured image: wikipedia

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