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

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Fabrizio Colonna: Naples’ Renaissance Warrior and Tactician

Italian CondottieriFabrizio Colonna: Naples' Renaissance Warrior and Tactician

Fabrizio Colonna was one of the most illustrious captains of his time for his contribution to war tactics. He takes part in twenty-two battles, of which he emerges victorious in fifteen. He embodies the ideal of the brave general, also considered a refined and educated patron.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Colonna Influence: Tracing Fabrizio’s Steps in Renaissance Warfare.

Born before 1452, Fabrizio Colonna was a key Italian condottiero from the prominent Colonna family. He married Agnese di Montefeltro and was titled Count of Tagliacozzo and Grand Constable of Naples. Notably active in the Italian War of 1499–1504, especially at the Battle of Cerignola, he later led the Papal States’ army in the Holy League against France. His daughter, Vittoria Colonna, was a renowned poet. Fabrizio is a prominent figure in Machiavelli’s “The Art of War,” recognized for his military expertise.

Fabrizio Colonna, Duke of Paliano, Count of Albe and Tagliacozzo, Baron of Roveto, Marquis of Atessa, Count of Manoppello. Lord of Albe, Tagliacozzo, Oricola, Rocca di Botte, Pereto, Cerro, Verecchie, Cappadocia, Petrella Liri, Pagliara, Corcumello, Scurcola Marsicana, Poggio Santa Maria, San Donato, Scanzano, Santa Maria del Ponte, Castelvetere sul Calore, Marano dei Marsi, Torano, Tussio, Corvaro, Castelmenardo, Rosciolo dei Marsi, Magliano de’ Marsi, Paterno, Luco, Trasacco Civita d’Antino, Marino, Capranica, Genazzano, Carsoli, Avezzano, Tagliacozzo, Manoppello, Atessa, Turi, Casamassima, Controguerra, Afragola, Anticoli, Arnara, Collepardo, Falvaterra, Giuliano di Roma, Morolo, Supino, Vico nel Lazio, Vallecorsa, Rocca di Cave, Rocca di Papa, Pofi, and Piglio. Father of Ascanio Colonna and Sciarra Colonna, cousin of Prospero Colonna, brother of Muzio, uncle of Camillo Colonna and Marcantonio Colonna, father-in-law of Alfonso d’Avalos, son-in-law of Federico da Montefeltro, brother-in-law of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro.

Born: 1460
Death: 1520, March

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
Nov.The King of Naples, Ferrante d’Aragona (Ferdinand I of Naples), confiscates the county of Albe in favor of himself from Virginio Orsini.
…………NaplesOttoman EmpireApuliaFabrizio Colonna, originally destined for ecclesiastical life, flees from home and takes up the profession of arms. He fights the Turks in the War of Otranto.
…………ChurchHe serves under the employ of Pope Sixtus IV. He refuses to surrender some of his castles to the pontiffs. He falls into disgrace.
…………NaplesChurch, Venice134 lancesLazio
Oct.NaplesChurchLazioHe fortifies himself in Marino. He and his cousin Prospero Colonna are warned by the pontiff.
1483ColonnaOrsini, ChurchLazioHe defends his brother Lorenzo Colonna from the attacks of the Orsinis; he leaves Marino, surprises the enemies at Grottaferrata, and inflicts severe damage on them. Facing their overwhelming numbers, he must retreat to Marino where he is besieged by Virginio Orsini and the Tuttavillas (d’Estouteville).
June – JulyLazioThe Aragonese confiscate the counties of Albe and Tagliacozzo from him, which bring in revenue of 40,000 ducats, and invest Virginio and Gian Giordano Orsini with them. Colonna finds himself defending Cave, where with numerous sorties he causes much damage to the Orsinis. He allies with Antonello Savelli and vigorously defends Marino from the assaults led by Paolo Orsini, Girolamo Riario, and Virginio Orsini. To save his brother Lorenzo’s life, he surrenders on terms with Antonello Savelli and yields the fortress. The relative is then beheaded by Sixtus IV against his given word.
Aug.LazioThe pontiff dies; Colonna returns to Capranica and Marino. He then moves to Rome with Prospero and the Savellis: now it’s Girolamo Riario and the Orsinis who retreat to their lands. He is noted at the side of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (the future Julius II) in the Palace of the Holy Apostles.
Oct.LazioHe distances himself from Rome with the election of the new pope, Innocent VIII.
JuneColonnaOrsini, ChurchLazioProspero Colonna treacherously captures Girolamo Tuttavilla; Colonna joins with his cousin and Savelli and occupies the castle of Nemi. He is wounded in the thigh by an arrow during an assault.
JulyLazioAlways alongside his cousin Prospero and Nicola Gaetani (400 infantry and 300 light cavalry), he plunders the territories of Isola Farnese, Campagnano di Roma, Galeria, Bracciano, and Cerveteri. Two hundred inhabitants are taken prisoner, 200 mares and more than 3000 cattle belonging to Virginio Orsini are seized. Confronted by Giovanni della Rovere and Jacopo Conti, he is captured and taken to Rome: he is imprisoned in the Apostolic Palace. He is held there during the peace negotiations.
Sept. – Oct.ChurchNaplesAbruzzoHe enters L’Aquila with Prospero Colonna and Giovanni Savelli. He stays in the city until mid-October.
Dec.LazioHe joins forces with the troops of Roberto da San Severino; he captures a bastion, built by Virginio Orsini between Castelnuovo and Rignano at Monte della Guardia, near the Church of San Leonardo in Via, thereby enabling the entrance of the papal general captain into Rome. He bursts into the city with Prospero Colonna and sets fire to the Orsini houses at Monte Giordano.
Jan. – Feb.Lazio, Campania, AbruzzoIn early January, he is in Cittaducale. In February, he leaves Benevento and penetrates the Marsica; he moves with Giovanni della Rovere towards Tagliacozzo with more than 10 squads of cavalry and infantry. Paolo Orsini, who has camped in the Rieti area, in the Valley of Canemorto, with 4 squads of men-at-arms and a few infantrymen, also targets the locality. Fabrizio Colonna defeats the opponent at Sgurgola.
MayTuscanyHe participates in the battle of Montorio.
JuneAbruzzoHe confronts Virginio Orsini in the Marsica region.
JulyAbruzzo, LazioTogether with Antonello Savelli, he captures Paolo Vitelli with 180 horses at Cese. In the clash, three Roman gentlemen from his entourage and two constables among his men are also killed. He recovers the countryside of Albe, with the exception of the fortress of Corvaro. He attacks Tivoli and is repelled by the arrival of soldiers from Vicovaro.
Aug.He is contacted by the Aragonese along with his cousin Prospero and Cola Gaetani to switch to their service for a fixed term of three years, plus one year at their discretion (a total contract for 250 men-at-arms, an annual salary of 2400 ducats, reduced by a third in peacetime, and the provision of 50 mounted crossbowmen). He cedes the county of Albe to Virginio Orsini.
1488He marries Agnesina, daughter of Federico da Montefeltro, sister of the future wife of Francesco Maria della Rovere, and sister of Guidobaldo.
1490In April, he is noted near Frascati when Girolamo Tuttavilla is arrested and imprisoned in Castel Sant’Angelo by Domenico Doria, governor of Campagna.
1491/1492He consistently sides with the pope to the detriment of the Aragonese. In 1492, he is besieged in Trevignano Romano by the pontifical forces following the acquisition of Anguillara Sabazia and Cerveteri by Virginio Orsini.
1493NaplesChurchDriven by the Duke of Calabria, Alfonso d’Aragona, by Piero dei Medici, and by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, he offers to conquer Rome, together with the Orsini, to the detriment of Pope Alessandro VI.
Mar.Naples50 lancesHe is recognized an annual salary of 6000 ducats.
Apr.ChurchLazioHe is informed, by Cardinal Ascanio Sforza and Prospero Colonna, that Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere has fled by sea to France following threats from the Pope. The prelate confirms to the two Colonnas the task of providing for the defense of Ostia. Despite this, Colonna switches to the service of Alessandro VI.
MayChurchdella RovereLazioHe conquers Ostia with Niccolò Orsini and forces Giovanni della Rovere to surrender. He intervenes in favor of the latter and secures amnesty for him and his brother, the cardinal. As a reward, he obtains for 10000 ducats the permission to keep Grottaferrata, which was previously obtained by Cardinal della Rovere.
…………FranceChurch, Naples100 lancesWith the approach of the French army of King Charles VIII of France (Carlo VIII), he defects to the opposing camp. Influencing this decision are the pressures from Cardinal Sforza and the favor shown by the King of Naples towards Virginio Orsini. Consequently, he accepts, along with his cousin Prospero, 20000 scudi brought to him with letters of exchange by the Frenchmen Perone di Baschi and General di Bidaut.
Sept.LazioHe again occupies Ostia, raising the flag of France alongside that of Cardinal della Rovere. He raids up to the gates of the capital and hinders the flow of supplies. He receives the ratification of a contract from the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza.
Oct.- Dec.Lazio, AbruzzoIn Rome, he is declared a rebel by Alessandro VI. He occupies L’Aquila and facilitates the French invasion in the Neapolitan territory. In December, the Pope deceitfully captures Prospero Colonna who, in order to gain his freedom, promises to persuade his relative to return Ostia. The latter presents himself in front of the fortress for this purpose: Colonna nominally imprisons him and releases him from all commitments. On the last day of the month, he enters Rome with the captains of the French army and Prospero Colonna. The parade lasts six hours. The vanguard is formed by Swiss and German infantry marching in battalions to the roll of drums. The officers wear tall feathers on their helmets as a sign of distinction. The soldiers are armed with short swords and ten-foot-long wooden pikes; a quarter of them carry a halberd instead of a pike. Every thousand men is interspersed with a company of arquebusiers. The first row of each battalion has soldiers equipped with helmets and breastplates; the others do not wear defensive armor. Behind the Swiss march 5000 Gascon, Breton, and French infantrymen from other regions, almost all crossbowmen. The cavalry follows, comprised of the flower of French nobility, distinguished by silk cloaks, helmets, and gold necklaces: in total 2500 men-at-arms and 5000 light cavalry. The former carry a large lance and many steel weapons. Their mounts are large and, according to French custom, have cropped tails and ears; they are not protected by boiled leather armors as is the case with Italian heavy cavalry. Each knight is accompanied by three horses: the first is ridden by a page equipped like his lord, while the other two are ridden by squires. The light cavalry (the so-called mounted archers) are armed with large wooden bows of the English model; their defensive weapons consist of a helmet and a breastplate. Some are equipped with a half-pike suitable for striking horses that are unseated; their cloaks are adorned with small eagles and silver plates. 400 archers, including 100 Scots, march alongside the king. Finally, 200 knights make up the guard of Charles VIII and surround the monarch on foot. They are armed like the men-at-arms; they differ from the latter only in the beauty of their steed and the purple caparison. The procession ends with 36 bronze cannons, culverins, and falconets with their attendants.
Jan.Abruzzo, Lazio, Campania, MoliseThe French recognize him with 4200 ducats. He defeats Bartolomeo d’Alviano along with Antonello Savelli, Giovanni della Rovere, Giovan Paolo Cantelmi, and Guido Guerra da Bagno at Tagliacozzo. He drives the Aragonese from Celano and conquers the counties of Albe and Tagliacozzo, obtaining their investiture at the expense of Virginio Orsini. Charles VIII also enfeoffs him with the baronies of Carsoli and Corvaro, lordships likewise confiscated from the Orsini. From the Apennines, Colonna descends into Terra di Lavoro to attack from behind King Ferdinando d’Aragona, who is attempting to block the French army’s passage at San Germano (Cassino). He pursues Cesare d’Aragona in Molise and forces him to retreat to Puglia towards Brindisi.
Feb.CampaniaHe enters Capua. Days later, together with Piennes, he prevents the Aragonese sovereign from re-entering Naples with 2000 Spanish infantrymen.
Apr. – MayTogether with Prospero Colonna, he refuses to abandon the salaries of the French. In May, the French deliver 2000 ducats to the two condottieri.
JuneLazioHe accompanies King Charles VIII in Rome and at Isola Farnese. When King Charles VIII decides to return to his country, he remains to defend the Kingdom of Naples with half of the Swiss troops, a portion of the French infantry, 800 French lances, and 500 Italian men-at-arms.
Aug.NaplesFranceMoliseThrough the Marquis of Pescara, Alfonso d’Avalos, he establishes contact with the Aragonese. With 30 mounted crossbowmen, 25 light cavalry, and twenty infantry, he engages in a skirmish in the countryside of Venafro against Girolamo Tuttavilla, who commands more than 100 mounted crossbowmen, 60 light cavalry, and 500 infantry. The battle lasts an hour and ends with the capture of 80 men who are robbed; Tuttavilla is wounded in the right hand by a sword blow. Fabrizio Colonna moves to Venafro and besieges the castle; ultimately, he returns to the service of the Aragonese. He is appointed viceroy of the Abruzzi; he excuses his previous infidelity with various reasons such as the delay in pay and the honors granted to his rival Virginio Orsini; to pledge his devotion to the Neapolitan sovereign, he gives his approval for the marriage between his daughter Vittoria, just three years old, and the coeval Alfonso d’Avalos.
Sept.AbruzzoHe drives the Aragonese out of L’Aquila.
Oct.CampaniaHe allies with Annibale da Varano; together with Prospero Colonna, he confronts l’Aubigny, who has moved to aid the castles of Naples. He camps at Santa Maddalena: after various clashes, the French captain desists and retreats towards Gaeta.
Nov.Campania, AbruzzoIn Nola with 250 lances, he defeats Carlo di Sangro and the militias of the Caldora in the Abruzzi.
Feb. – Mar.Lazio, CampaniaHe prevents the French, emerging from Gaeta, from crossing the Garigliano and aims for the Abruzzi to counter the actions of Virginio Orsini there. On the way, he stops at Sessa Aurunca because a treaty favorable to the enemies is discovered. With 300 stradiots and 60 men-at-arms, he joins forces with the Count of Maddaloni (20 men-at-arms and 200 German infantry) to aid the castle of Morcone, attacked by Montpensier with 500 cavalry and 500 infantry. His intervention proves to be too late; by the time he arrives, the fortress has already fallen into the hands of the French. Again with the Count of Maddaloni, Colonna continues to Teano and augments the troops of Viceroy Frederick of Naples (Federico d’Aragona) with 130 lances and 300 light cavalry. He conquers and sacks the castle of Pietra Molara, guarded by 30/40 Frenchmen and many peasants.
Apr.ApuliaHe goes to Troia, unsuccessfully attempting to hinder the departure of 700 German infantrymen who, having just been recruited, march to raid towards Lucera under the command of Wederlin. These troops are all massacred by the enemies.
MayApuliaHe is repelled from Castelluccio dei Sauri and retreats due to bad weather. He strengthens his position in Troia while waiting for the arrival of Venetian reinforcements led by Francesco Gonzaga.
Aug.Basilicata, AbruzzoWith the surrender of Atella, he returns to the Abruzzi. He battles against Graziano di Guerres who, soon after, is forced to retreat to Gaeta.
Sept.Abruzzo, CampaniaHe returns to L’Aquila with Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, da Varano, and Ludovico Franchi. Although intimidated by the cries of the Gaglioffi partisans, he brings the surrender negotiations to a conclusion, which are ratified by the King of Naples. Leaving the city (where he had lodged in the house of Nicola Prato), he recovers the surrounding countryside; he bursts into the Salerno area, conquers San Severino, and approaches the capital, forcing the Prince of Bisignano to surrender.
Oct. – Nov.ChurchOrsiniLazioHe supports Pope Alessandro VI against the Orsini in their states. He is present at a lavish ceremony in Saint Peter’s in Rome, during which the command insignia are given to Giovanni Borgia, Duke of Gandia. In November, he invades the lands of the Orsini.
Jan.LazioHe is defeated at Soriano nel Cimino by Carlo Orsini and Vitellozzo Vitelli. He leads the light cavalry alongside Antonello Savelli, and victory seems to favor the papal forces. He sets off in pursuit of the opponents who have broken their ranks. Guidobaldo da Montefeltro orders him to halt, giving the Orsini the time to reestablish their lines. Vitelli‘s infantry routs the German foot soldiers, and the ecclesiastical army is routed. Colonna takes refuge in Ronciglione with the cavalry, the papal legate Cardinal Lunate, and Giovanni Borgia, who is slightly injured in the face. In the clash, the papal forces lose more than 500 men, including Montefeltro and Giampiero Gonzaga, who are captured.
Feb.FlorencePisaTuscanyHe obtains permission from Frederick of Naples to enter the service of the Florentines. He is granted 4,000 ducats.
Mar.NaplesFranceApuliaHe joins forces with Francesco Gonzaga against the French. He is positioned at the guard of Troia and convinces the commander-in-chief of the anti-French league not to seek a pitched battle.
Apr.AbruzzoHe returns to L’Aquila and allows the exiles to come back.
JuneAbruzzoFederico d’Aragona invests him with Albe and Tagliacozzo. He also receives the fief of Afragola, which was confiscated from Cesare Maria Bozzuto.
…………He is granted an annual pension of 6,000 ducats from the taxes on hearths and salt from his fiefs, with the obligation to maintain 40 armed soldiers in the service of the King of Naples. Additionally, he is invested with the barony of Roveto, which includes Capistrello, Pescocostanzo, Civitella Roveto, Meta, Revereto, and Rocca dei Vivi.
Aug.CampaniaHe goes to Capua for the coronation of the sovereign, with Fabrizio and Prospero Colonna carrying the royal shield and flag, respectively.
Apr.ColonnaOrsiniLazioAt the vanguard alongside Antonello Savelli, he defeats the Orsini at Montecelio.
MayCampaniaIn Naples for the baptism of the firstborn of Federico d’Aragona.
JulyLazioHe reconciles with the Orsini following threats from the Pope.
Nov.He rejects the offer of a condotta made to him by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, to oppose the French and the Venetians.
Feb.The King of Naples, Federico d’Aragona, declares in his favor against the claims of Gian Giordano Orsini for the counties of Albe and Tagliacozzo.
MayNaplesGrand ConstableHe is appointed as the Grand Constable of the kingdom and granted a condotta for 50 lances and 80 light cavalry. He settles in Naples and resides in a palace on Via di Mezzocannone. In the middle of the month, he serves as one of the godfathers at the baptism of the king’s firstborn.
Sept.CampaniaIn Naples.
Jan.CampaniaFabrizio Colonna continues to stay in Naples.
Mar.With Prospero and Camillo Colonna, he unsuccessfully attempts to negotiate a truce with the Orsini.
June – JulyNaplesFrance, Spain, ChurchLazio, CampaniaThe pontiffs invade his lands in Lazio when the French and Spanish form an alliance to divide the kingdom of Naples. Colonna surrenders Marino and Rocca di Papa to them in exchange for 2,000 ducats and relocates to Capua. He defends the city alongside Ranuccio da Marciano, leading 300 men-at-arms, some light cavalry, and 3,000 foot soldiers.
During their passage through Lazio, L’Aubigny (Bèrauld Stuart) sets Marino and Cave on fire because, previously, Colonna had the messengers of some barons, who were enemies of the Aragonese king and supporters of the French, killed in Rome when they came to negotiate with him. Capua comes under attack, and for four days, French artillery bombards the advanced positions, consisting of two strong bastions guarded by 200 Swiss infantry, 200 Spanish soldiers, and Neapolitan artillerymen.
The French conquer two outworks, and none of the defenders escape the massacre. The artillery continues to fire at the curtain wall, and after six hours, a wide breach is created. The terrified inhabitants desire surrender. During the negotiations between Fabrizio Colonna and Giovan Francesco da San Severino, the garrison becomes less vigilant. The enemies (Gascon and Picardy infantry) unexpectedly reach the breach and penetrate the city, which is horrendously sacked.
Colonna, wounded in two places, surrenders to San Severino. According to some sources, he is taken prisoner by de la Trémoille, while others claim it was Mauleon’s men-at-arms. In reality, he is sold from one French man-at-arms to another, and his ransom increases from 1,000 ducats to 14,000 ducats in various transactions. Cesare Borgia offers the French substantial sums to have him in his custody. However, Colonna is ultimately saved by Gian Giordano Orsini, who lends him 3,000 ducats, and the remainder of the ransom is obtained by selling his jewelry in Rome.
He goes into exile with King Federico d’Aragona. When the sovereign chooses to surrender to the French, Colonna enters the service of the King of Spain.
Aug. – Sept.SpainNaplesAlessandro VI issues a papal bull of excommunication against his family for aiding the King of Naples. In September, his properties in Lazio are confiscated in favor of the Borgia family.
…………ApuliaHe forms an alliance with Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (Consalvo di Cordoba) and his cousin Prospero and participates in the siege of Taranto.
Mar.ApuliaTaranto surrenders to the Spanish forces.
Jan.SpainFranceAbruzzoHe conquers Chieti, sends reinforcements to Troilo Savelli, and proceeds towards Penne.
Feb.ApuliaHe fortifies himself in Barletta, engaging in a skirmish with the French that would later become the famous “Disfida di Barletta” (Challenge of Barletta). Personally, he, along with his cousin Prospero, selects the 13 Italian champions who fight against the French.
Mar.ApuliaHe is dispatched with Fra Leonardo Prato to inspect the camp of La Palisse, who, with 200 lances and 3,000 horse archers, is about to join forces with the Duke of Nemours near Barletta. In the same month, he defends Gian Giordano Orsini from the threats of the Borgia.
Apr.Apulia, AbruzzoWith Diego di Mendoza and 400 light cavalry, he protects the flanks of Cordoba’s army as they march against the French. He participates in the Battle of Cerignola, where he commands the light cavalry. After setting up camp, he and Prospero Colonna have a long ditch dug and an earthwork erected along the entire line of the Spanish positions.
The French attack the defensive formation; the heavy cavalry and Swiss troops are held back by the ditch, putting them under crossfire from the arquebusiers. The French formation descends into chaos, and when the Italian and Spanish horsemen charge on both sides, the square formation of the Swiss proves vulnerable. In a battle that lasts no more than half an hour, the French suffer the loss of 50 men-at-arms and over 3,000 infantry, with 600 taken prisoner. The Spanish report the loss of around a hundred men between killed and wounded.
After the victory, Colonna pursues Ivo d’Allègre and Luigi d’Ars for several miles. He then moves toward L’Aquila with Count Ristagno Cantelmi of Popoli. They open the gates to the two condottieri without offering any resistance in Monte Sant’ Angelo, Chieti, and other locations such as Sulmona, Atri, Teramo, Penne, and Celano.
MayCampaniaIn the middle of the month, he triumphantly enters Naples with his cousin Prospero in the company of Cordoba.
JuneAbruzzoFabrizio Colonna confronts Fabio Orsini on Lake Fucino, forcing him to flee into the mountains. Leading 2,500 infantry and 600 cavalry, he overcomes the resistance of Gaspare da San Severino at Rocca di Cambio and arrives in L’Aquila.
JulyAbruzzoHe occupies L’Aquila, where he has a soldier hanged for the murder of the local camerlengo. In short order, Chieti, Sulmona, Albe, Tagliacozzo, Penne, and Celano surrender to him. He drives the supporters of the Orsini out of their castles and comes to terms with Cassino.
Aug.LazioUpon the death of the pope and the simultaneous serious illness of the Borgia, he is able to regain possession of his properties. At the end of the month, he enters Rome with Prospero Colonna.
Sept.Lazio, AbruzzoThe usual disorders characteristic of the opening of every papal vacancy erupt. With the return of Cardinal Giovanni Colonna to Rome, Fabrizio and Prospero become involved in negotiations for the election of the new pope. Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini (Pius III) is elevated to the pontifical seat but passes away after only ten days of pontificate. Colonna reaches L’Aquila and leaves Ludovico Franchi as governor. The French army faces difficulties in Campania due to a lack of supplies. Colonna is dispatched to Aquino with some Orsini (who now also fight for the Spaniards) to spy on the movements of the adversaries. He encounters the rearguard of Ivo d’Allègre, who, with superior forces, forces him to retreat.
Oct.CampaniaWith Italian and Spanish light cavalry and the infantry of Garcia di Paredes and Villalba, they vainly attack a small bridgehead on the Garigliano, bravely defended by Baiardo. In command of 1500 infantrymen, with 6 artillery pieces, they instead seize Rocca d’Evandro, also on the same river, forcing Federico di Monforte to surrender under terms (the arrival of reinforcements within five days), who is there defending with 50 horsemen and 100 infantry. Francesco Gonzaga, general captain of the French, busy constructing a bridge at another point of the Garigliano, does not send the requested reinforcements, and the castle falls into the hands of the Colonnese.
Nov.Juliano della Rovere (Julius II) is elected to the papacy.
Dec.Campania, LazioHe is appointed Viceroy of Abruzzo. Sent by Cordoba to the countryside of Oliveto, likely due to the great jealousy and rivalry that separates him from Alviano. Leading 500 horsemen and 1000 infantry, he pillages the companies of Ludovico della Mirandola and Alessandro da Trivulzio, who have left the French camp, between Pontecorvo and Fratte. He participates in the battle of Garigliano. Placed in the vanguard with Luigi di Herrera, he attacks with 1000 light cavalry against 1500 French who have managed to cross the river. His residence in Naples is the palazzo di Mezzocannone, which is contested by Roberto Orsini because the building had previously been granted to the latter by the Spanish ambassador Francisco de Rojas.
Jan. – Feb.Tuscany, CampaniaHe is contacted by the Florentines who offer him the general command of their troops to face the Pisans. He accepts. In February, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba opposes his transfer to the Florentine ranks. Fabrizio Colonna returns to Naples.
July – Aug.LazioCesare is imprisoned in Naples.
Sept.LazioHe remains in the kingdom of Naples in close contact with Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, frequently moving to Rome and to Marino where he hosts Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. In Rome; he is noted to have dinner with Julius II, along with Prospero Colonna. This is followed by a new meeting with the pontiff the following month.
Oct.CampaniaIn Valmontone, he is again contacted for a command by the Florentines.
Nov.CampaniaSummoned to Naples by Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba to examine some hypotheses regarding the possible return of the Medici to Florence.
Dec.LazioHe is a guest of Julius II who often invites him to the palace, hoping to use his services against Bartolomeo d’Alviano.
Jan.ChurchComp. venturaLazioHe prevents Bartolomeo d’Alviano, who has abandoned his contract with the Spaniards, from continuing to hunt down the local Ghibellines in Rieti. In the various clashes, about forty Guelphs are killed. Fabrizio Colonna restores the exiles to the city, while d’Alviano is forced to leave.
…………LazioHe refuses to join the papal troops and thus to fight against the Bentivoglio of Bologna. He is disappointed in his aspiration to obtain the Duchy of Urbino (as he is the brother-in-law of the late Guidobaldo da Montefeltro), which is instead assigned by the pope to Francesco Maria della Rovere.
Oct.CampaniaIn Naples, where he is elected mayor for the Piazza di Porto. He welcomes King Ferdinand of Aragon to the city. At the head of a solemn procession, alongside the king, are Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba and his relative Prospero; following them are the halberdiers, and behind them, Fabrizio with the royal standard and the nobles of the kingdom.
Jan.CampaniaIn Naples, to pay homage to the King of Spain. Along with Andrea da Capua, Andrea Matteo Acquaviva, Giovan Tommaso Carafa, he is one of the representatives of the baronial delegation tasked with drafting the chapters of graces and supplications to be presented to the sovereign during the proceedings of the parliament.
Feb. – JulyHe cedes a castle in the Abruzzi to Antimo Savelli. At the same time, he obtains from the King of Spain confirmation of the exemption from paying salt and hearth taxes for the Abruzzi fiefs. In June, plans begin for the marriage of his daughter Vittoria to Ferdinando d’Avalos. In July, finally, Ferdinand the Catholic confirms the pensions that had been assigned to him earlier by Frederick of Aragon; he is also invested with the Marquisate of Atessa.
Dec.Following the peace between the Kings of Spain and France, he must return Afragola to Cesare Maria Bozzuto.
JuneCampaniaHe marries Costanza d’Avalos in Naples. Among others, Andrea Matteo Acquaviva and Andrea da Capua are present at the wedding.
JulyLazioIn Rome.
…………ApuliaHe recovers the cities on the Adriatic coast that fell into the hands of the Venetians in 1495.
Apr.CampaniaHe testifies at the trial brought by the treasury against Guido Fieramosca in the Royal Chamber. He is granted the county of Manoppello. During the debate, he asserts that he enjoys an annual income of 6,000 ducats from the fiscal revenues of the kingdom, but it would be a greater honor for him to exchange this for the county of Manoppello, even though the revenues he could derive from it barely reach 4,500 ducats. His request is granted.
…………He and his cousin Prospero are approached by the Venetians to join their service with 300 lances. He receives permission from the King of Spain on the condition that he would leave the service in case of war with the Spaniards. For this reason, he prefers to refuse.
Aug.SpainFrance, Ferrara300 lancesLazioHe signs on behalf of himself, Prospero, and all the Colonna the “Roman peace” concluded with the Orsini following the mediation of the pope. At the end of the month, with the leaders and representatives of various parties, he swears in the Capitol to abolish all enmities and partisanship committed under the labels of Guelphs or Ghibellines, and to work from then on for the peace of Rome. He is sent by the King of Spain with 300 Spanish lances to aid Julius II against Alfonso d’Este and the French. Mid-month, he is reported to be in Ostia.
Sept.Campania, AbruzzoHe leaves Naples and reaches Pescara for the review of his companies.
Oct.Marche, Romagna, EmiliaHe crosses the Tronto, passes through Fermo where he receives grand celebrations. He touches Rimini, Cesena, and enters Bologna, besieged by the French under Chaumont and the Bentivoglio, with his lances, 200 light horsemen, and the stradiots of the Venetians.
Nov.General Captain of 220 lancesEmiliaHe joins the Venetian army at San Giovanni in Persiceto. After the review in Bologna, he moves to the Modenese area against the Estensi. In two days, with artillery, he captures Sassuolo, guarded by 500 Gascon infantrymen; he also takes the poorly defended fortress from Giovanni da Casale. He occupies Formigine; participates in a new war council in Bologna.
Dec.EmiliaAt the siege of Mirandola: his action is characterized by disorder in the camp and significant delays, which leads to the pope, growing impatient, replacing Fabrizio Colonna and Francesco Maria della Rovere with Chiappino and Vitello Vitelli in the command of the artillery.
Jan.EmiliaHe is still at the siege of Mirandola. As his contract expires, he proves not to be up to the task assigned to him, for which he is criticized by everyone.
Feb. – Mar.EmiliaHe stops at Finale Emilia for a war council with the pope and della Rovere: the decision is made to fall back behind the Panaro due to the approaching forces of Chaumont and Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio. The Venetians openly accuse him of his wait-and-see tactics. He refuses to hinder the French who are crossing the Secchia.
Apr.EmiliaHe comes to the aid of his nephew, Marcantonio Colonna, in Bondone, who is attacked there by Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio; he returns to Bologna and once again threatens to return to the Kingdom of Naples. His attitude provokes the sarcasm of Julius II.
MayRomagnaIn Forlì and Lugo with 300 men-at-arms and 3000 infantrymen.
JuneEmiliaHe is stationed in the Bolognese area with Andrea da Capua and Giampaolo Baglioni. Opposing him from the Reggio area are Galeazzo Pallavicini, Giovan Francesco Gambara, and Corrado Tarlatini.
Aug.LazioAlong with Marcantonio Colonna, he presses the pope for the pardon of their relative Pompeo Colonna, who has rebelled against the Papal States.
Nov.General Captain of 100 lancesLazio, Abruzzo, MarcheThe command of the Spanish troops is assumed by the Viceroy of Naples, Raimondo di Cardona; he is relegated to the more secondary role of general governor. He leaves Marino with 130 men-at-arms and 80 light horsemen. At the end of the month, he crosses the Tronto near Ascoli Piceno with the Viceroy of Naples, Raimondo di Cardona.
Jan.Romagna, EmiliaHe crosses the Rimini area with Raimondo di Cardona and reaches the allied troops at Imola. He commands the vanguard (700 men-at-arms, 500 light horsemen, and 6000 infantry), secures Cento through negotiations, and with Pietro Navarro, moves to the siege of Bologna. He positions his men between the Reno bridge on the Via Emilia and the San Felice Gate. Discord among the captains of his army prevails; following the failure of the mine prepared by Pietro Navarro to breach the Castiglione Gate (Barracano chapel), all attempts to attack the Santo Stefano Gate with artillery are also called off.
Feb.Emilia, RomagnaFabrizio Colonna is reported to be in Budrio; he retreats with the entry of Gaston de Foix into Bologna with 1300 lances, 6000 German infantry, and 8000 Italian and French infantry. From Imola, he falls back to Faenza from the Gate towards Ravenna. He proposes a fortified line along the Lugo/Bagnacavallo axis; however, the viceroy prefers to establish a position at Castel San Pietro Terme.
Apr.Romagna, EmiliaFabrizio Colonna commands the vanguard of 670 papal lances at the Battle of Ravenna; accompanying him are 565 lances led by the Marquis of Padula and, in the rear guard, another 490 lances, the Company of the Great Captain under the command of Alfonso Carvajal. All cavalry units are positioned near the bank of the Ronco. Pietro Navarro commands the Spanish infantry on his right (6000 men). Fabrizio Colonna suggests attacking the French during their river crossing; his suggestion is not heeded. The allies, given their numerical inferiority of about a third, lean towards a defensive stance, ready to counterattack when opportune. He has disagreements with Pietro Navarro over the conduct of the battle. The artillery is placed at the forefront of the men-at-arms; Navarro digs a ditch to defend the infantry and places thirty armed carts in front of a pike and flanked by two sharp irons shaped like scythes, loaded with small artillery. The lances in the vanguard are under the crossfire of Alfonso d’Este‘s artillery, resulting in heavy casualties in their ranks. Colonna, without consulting Raimondo di Cardona and against Navarro’s opinion, decides to charge with his cavalry. The Spanish infantry are forced to join him and clash with the Germans of the opposing camp. The battle is decided by the intervention of Gaston de Foix, who breaks the resistance of the Spanish infantry; the French captain pursues Colonna until, thrown from his horse or having his mount fall on him while fighting, he is killed by a lance thrust to the side. According to estimates, 7000/14000 men from the Spanish/Papal side and 3000/4000 from the French side fall in battle. Captured are Colonna, Navarro, Ferdinando d’Avalos, and the papal legate Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici (the future Pope Leo X). Fabrizio Colonna is taken to Ferrara and to Bologna where he attends the funeral of Gaston de Foix in the church of San Petronio.
JuneEmiliaHe is released by Marquis Alfonso d’Este despite repeated protests from the French, who want to take him to Milan and from there to France. He does not even have to pay the initially agreed ransom (30,000 ducats).
JulyLazioHe reciprocates the courteous gesture towards the Duke of Ferrara when, along with Francesco Gonzaga and the King of Spain, he obtains a safe-conduct for the Duke of Ferrara to negotiate peace with Julius II; Vespasiano, Prospero, and his son Ascanio Colonna act as guarantors for the Estense’s safety in Rome. Colonna dines with the pope; when he realizes that the pontiff has no intention of adhering to the agreements, because his objective is to seize the state of Este in exchange for a considerable sum of money and fiefs in the Asti area or a trade with the Duchy of Urbino, he helps Alfonso d’Este escape through Porta San Giovanni with Marcantonio Colonna. He hosts the Duke for three months in Marino. For this interference, he is persecuted by the pope but is protected, on the other hand, by the King of Spain.
Nov.LombardyIn Pralboino, in the Brescia area, with 300 lances.
Feb.LazioHe is called to Rome upon hearing of the worsening health condition of Julius II. His task is to prevent any potential disorder in the city.
Mar.LazioHe offers his services to the Venetians. He is present in Rome at St. Peter’s for the coronation of Pope Leo X: with the pardon from any condemnation, the usufruct of a palace in Rome near the Church of the Holy Apostles is granted to both Fabrizio and his cousin Prospero, which had previously been conceded to Marcantonio Colonna by Julius II.
MayCampaniaIn Naples.
Sept.LazioHe is reported to be alongside the new pope.
1514He is appointed Count of Manoppello.
…………Grand ConstableUpon the death of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, he is conferred the title of Grand Constable.
Aug.He does not accept the invitation of Pope Leo X to command the papal troops against the French.
Jan. – Feb.CampaniaKing Charles I of Spain (the future Emperor Charles V) reaffirms him in his position as Grand Constable. With Fabrizio Colonna, this dignity becomes hereditary for his family. He is also provisionally confirmed in some recent feudal acquisitions.
JuneCampania, AbruzzoHe leaves Naples to head to his lands in Abruzzo. Accompanying him are 500 men-at-arms and 4000 infantrymen. Falling ill, he returns to Naples.
JulyLazioHe goes to Marino for treatment.
Aug. – Sept.Abruzzo, MarcheOnce recovered, he returns to Abruzzo. He stops in Chieti and Penne while his men are stationed on the Tronto. In September, he joins Muzio Colonna in Fermo to facilitate the entry of Ghibelline supporters into the city. He is then again in Abruzzo, in L’Aquila, at the residence of Count Giovanni Carafa of Montorio, waiting to be joined by the Imperial ambassador Alberto Pio with the soldiers’ pay.
…………Marche, LazioHe goes on a pilgrimage to Loreto and then returns to Marino.
JulyLazio, CampaniaIn Rome. Pope Leo X invites him to take up arms against Francesco Maria della Rovere, who is intent on reconquering the Duchy of Urbino. He returns to Naples, bides his time, and does not take any action.
Dec.CampaniaIn Naples, a Sienese individual attempts to kill him in his house with a dagger. The assailant is killed by his servants, and the body is thrown out of the windows.
…………He grants Pietro Caffarelli the fief of Torano Nuovo in Abruzzo.
Mar.CampaniaHe dies in Aversa at the end of the month. The funeral is solemn. For the funeral, attended by all the clergy and nobility of Naples, 5000/6000 ducats are spent. He is buried in Paliano. According to Marin Sanudo, he dies in Naples and is buried in San Giovanni Maggiore. There is a statue of him in the gardens of the Colonna Palace in Rome. Niccolò Machiavelli considers him a principal interlocutor in his work “The Art of War”; Agostino Nifo makes him a protagonist in his work “De regnandi peritia”; Ludovico Ariosto in “Orlando Furioso” (Canto XIV) refers to him as “Gran Colonna of the Roman name”. He marries Agnese da Montefeltro, daughter of Federico, and Costanza d’Avalos. He is a character in the video game “Assassin’s Creed”.


-“Il Colonna al suo tempo fu uno dei più illustri comandanti militari e uno dei principali autori della vittoria definitiva che la Spagna riportò nelle guerre d’Italia. La sua parte nell’”Arte della Guerra” compendia la dicotomia di fondo presente in Italia nel modo di considerare i soldati. Infatti, Fabrizio da un lato era il rappresentante dei condottieri e cioè di quei mercenari senza fede, violenti e privi di scrupoli che avevano monopolizzato in Italia il mestiere delle armi e avevano sfigurato le virtù militari della popolazione, dall’altro egli incarnava l’ideale tardo quattrocentesco del bravo generale che era anche un mecenate raffinato ed istruito e una rispettata personalità sociale.” MALLETT

-“Homo più presto di far che di ordinar.” SANUDO

-“Uomo di chiara virtù.” BEMBO

-“D’animo coraggioso e valente.” GIOVIO

-“Si trovò in 15 battaglie vinte, e in sette perdute, e in ciascuna restò sempre ferito, certo che fu coraggioso.” LETI

-“Congiunse a vigor d’animo intrepido, consiglio prontissimo di vivace prudenza..Fu di carnagione bianca, d’occhio vivacissimo e di pelo castagno chiaro.” ROSCIO

-Con Prospero Colonna “Dignissimi et eccellentissimi Capitani.” ULLOA

-“Capitano illustre.” SANSOVINO

-“Eccellente capitano.” MAZZELLA

-Con Prospero Colonna “Due chiari lumi della famiglia Colonna.” CANTALICIO

-“Il Colonna, che, pur cadetto, divenne uno dei membri più importanti della sua potente famiglia, anche se non riuscì a compiere alcuna impresa bellica veramente considerevole, seppe dare il suo apporto alla tattica se non alla strategia dell’epoca e fu considerato uno dei maggiori capitani del suo tempo.” PETRUCCI

-“Principe romano e Comandante di grido.” G. BONOLI

-Con Prospero Colonna “Bello insignes.” ALBINO

-“Reputé pour ses talents militaires et, contrairement à la plupart des condottieri, pour la dignité de da vie et de son caractère.” BRION

-Con fra Leonardo Prato “Personas que tenian mucha noticia de las cosas de la guerra.” ZURITA

-Suoi rapporti con Prospero Colonna “Tenian Prospero, y Fabricio tanta emulacion entre si, scendo primos hermanos, qui fueron las dos mas senalados personas, que hubo en sus tiempos en Italia, que aunque para conservarse, y contra sus enemigos, o para ganar de otros eran una misma cosa; en lo secreto se quieran tan mal, que peor non podia ser: y en tanta envidia estaba el uno del otro, que no podia ser mayor.” ZURITA

-“Huomo di gran fama nell’armi.” DE LELLIS

-Con Prospero Colonna “Erano allora fra i condottieri generalmente più accreditati.” SHAW

-“Illustre signore.” NOTAR GIACOMO

-Con Prospero Colonna “Ont estez toujours estimez aussy bons capitaines; mais ilz furent blamez d’un des plus grands vices qui soient au monde, qui est l’ingratitude.” BRANTOME

-“D’un’altra fronda v’orna anco la chioma/ L’aver serbato il suo Fabrizio a Roma./ La gran Colonna del nome Romano/ Che voi prendeste e che serbaste intera/ Vi da più onor che se di vostra mano/ Fosse caduta la milizia fiera/ Quanta ne ingrassa il campo ravegnano.” ARIOSTO

-“Visse..Fabritio col grido de primi Capitani d’Europa…L’esperienza del dimostrato valore, e gli spirti martial del Signor Fabritio..fu per bocca de’ soldati celebrato per qualità di costumi dal Signor Prospero suo Coggino, e quasi con egual gloria; perché essendo eglino compagni insieme alla guerra, e di schiambevole consentimento mescolando le diverse virtù loro, si vide come l’uno, e l’altro per quel temperamento reuscì magiore, e più chiaro di stesso. Soleva vincere allo spesso questo magnanimo Duce con usar caldi, e violenti principij nella guerra, onde il chiamavano il nuovo Console Marco Marcello, e per contro il signor Prospero per la sua usata maturità, imitava al Console Fabio Massimo.” MUGNOS

-“Straccho non già quel nobil colonese/ el qual vedea non poter scampare/ perché egli havea la caza (caccia) Francese/ i quali molto li davan da fare/ ma pur per un pezo stete a le difese/ scaramuzando al fin hebe arivare/ dove era il sir Alphonso (Alfonso d’Este) quel vedendo/ disse signor duca a voi me rendo.” Da “Il fatto d’arme di Romagna” in GUERRE IN OTTAVA RIMA

-Alla battaglia di Ravenna”Il colonnese Fabritio gagliardo/ honor d’ogni hom viril chi l’armi adopra/ su d’un grosso caval tutto leardo/ giettava, hor questo, hor quello sottosopra/ sempre saltando come un leve pardo/ acciò che la sua fama se discopra/ da prodo capitan, e difensore/ de la romana chiesa, e del pastore (Giulio II).” DEGLI AGOSTINI

-“…guerrier reale/ signor frabricio pien di nalimento (ardimento)/ che parea un falcon che batte ale/ a molti gran signori donò tormento/ andava avanti e mai voltò le spalle/ che ben parea quel giorno hanibale.” DE’ SORCI

-Sulla sua tomba è posto il seguente epitaffio “Fabritio Columnae duci/ Odoardi Marsorum ducis filio que in expeditione/ Ferdinandi regis Aragoniae pro regno Neapoli/ tano et adversis Gallos operam strenue na/ vavit, proelia ad Lirim, Cerinolae, Ravennae,/mira cum laude commisit. Regni Neapolitani/ magni coniestabilis honore, ducato Taliacotii,/ marchionato Atissae, Manupelli, Albaeque co/ mitatu meruit cohonestari” Più tardi nel palazzo Colonna di Marino verrà collocata la seguente iscrizione in suo onore “Fabritio Talleacotii Marsorumque duci ab anno/ MCDXLII complurium regum in exercitu legato, strenuissimo imperatori oppidum universum,/ ipsius olim principi, observantiae monumentum/ Philippus conestabilis ab avo suo dicet/ siste Campane viator, suscipe heroem/ belli fulmen erupit, nondum tonitura silescunt.”

Feature image: Wikipedia
Images: Historia della augustissima famiglia Colonna; Wikipedia; Wikipedia

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