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

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Fabrizio Maramaldo: A Controversial Figure in Italian History

In Italian, "maramaldo" refers to a person who is cruel to the weak and defenseless, leading to the verb "maramaldeggiare". This term is a contribution from the condottiero to the Italian language, stemming from an incident where he killed the dying Francesco Ferrucci. A renowned captain of his time, a uxoricidal, cruel, prone to anger, he commanded infantry units mostly engaged in looting and thievery, and he also participated in the Sack of Rome. Popular imagination has, for centuries, transformed his name into a bogeyman for children and a noble squanderer of wealth: "Maramao perché sei morto/pane e vino non ti mancava" (in Italian and in English if capable of translating it). This folk rhyme was later adopted in a famous song from the 1930s, where our hero, still referred to as "maramao," is portrayed as a cat.

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Last Updated on 2024/02/01

From Battlefield Triumphs to Renaissance Intrigue.

Fabrizio Maramaldo was an Italian condottiero, a mercenary soldier originally from the Kingdom of Naples, made notorious for the episode of the killing of Captain Francesco Ferrucci on August 3, 1530, during the Battle of Gavinana, while he was a prisoner, wounded, and defenseless.

FABRIZIO MARAMALDO (Fabrizio Maramau, Fabrizio Maramam), from Naples or Calabria, was the Lord of Lusciano and Ottaviano. He was the uncle of Luigi Acciapaccia.

Born: 1494, October
Death: 1552, December

The death of Francesco Ferrucci at Gavinana, 1852, by Sebastiano De Albertis, detail
The death of Francesco Ferrucci at Gavinana, 1852, by Sebastiano De Albertis, detail
Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
1513CampaniaHe is registered in the Neapolitan nobility at the Nido seat as Giovanni Tommaso Carafa.
1521He left Naples to serve under the command of the Marquis of Pescara, Ferdinando d’Avalos.
Mar.EmpireChurchMarcheHe clashed on the Tronto with the infantry of the Black Bands of Giovanni dei Medici (Giovanni de’ Medici).
Mar.CampaniaHe returns to Campania. He kills his wife who has been unfaithful during his absence. He is banished from the Kingdom of Naples.
Sept.EmpireFranceEmilia30/40 horses of his company raid the stables of Torricella and seize over 50 head of cattle: the governor of the Papal States, Francesco Guicciardini, sends the bailiff against them to ensure they return the stolen goods. 20 soldiers are captured. The Marquis of Mantua, Federico Gonzaga (Federico Gonzaga), intervenes in vain on their behalf, urged to do so by Fabrizio Maramaldo.
Jan. – Feb.LombardyDuring the carnival festivities, the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, selects 9 noblewomen who must be revered for eight days by both Milanese and non-Milanese youth: Chiara Visconti, beloved by Prospero Colonna, stands out. She chooses Fabrizio Maramaldo as her cavalier servente; even the second queen of the feast, Ginevra Pallavicini, desires him among her knights. At a banquet, Chiara Visconti treats Fabrizio Maramaldo as if he belonged to a higher rank than his official quarters of nobility indicate. A commander of Prospero Colonna, Giovanni Tommaso Carafa, in an effort to ingratiate himself with his captain, maligns Fabrizio Maramaldo in the eyes of the woman. In response, the commander, confident in the protection of Ferdinando d’Avalos, challenges the Count of Cerreto Sannita to a duel.
………LombardyThe duel takes place near Mantua: the choice of weapons falls to Prospero Colonna. It is decided to fight on horseback, fully armed except for the shoulders, with three rapiers, one in hand, another on the saddle bow, and the last at the side. Giovanni Tommaso Carafa, at the first clash, attempts to wound Maramaldo‘s mount on the forehead so that the beast turns towards the blow, giving him a chance to stab his rival in the back. However, the horse lowers its head, and Maramaldo tries to lift it: at this moment, the handle of his rapier touches the bridle of the count’s mount, causing it to rear up. Fabrizio Maramaldo takes advantage of the situation and, despite his poor eyesight, manages to strike Carafa in the groin. The rival dies as a result of the blow, while Maramaldo is slightly wounded. Since Ferdinando d’Avalos leaves Milan to go to Valladolid, Maramaldo enters the service of the Marquis of Mantua.
Oct.Church, VeniceFrance1000 infantrymenLombardyIn defense of Cremona.
LombardyThe Marquis of Mantua, Federico Gonzaga (Federico Gonzaga), intercedes on his behalf with Emperor Charles V (Carlo V) to have the banishment from the Kingdom of Naples lifted for the murder of his wife.
Jan.FranceLombardyIn Milan; there he meets with the Marquis of Vasto, Alfonso d’Avalos, and the Viceroy of Naples, Carlo di Lannoy. Also during this period, he is put to flight near Lodi by 300 French cavalry.
Apr.LombardyIn Bergamo.
MayLombardyHe has a quarrel with Giovanni dei Medici, who challenges him to gamble 1000 scudi. Fabrizio Maramaldo returns to Mantua; he is dismissed. The Venetian allies thank him for renouncing the compensation that would have been due to him for his rank.
Jan.EmpireFrance, ChurchFranceBeside Ferdinando d’Avalos in Provence.
Feb.LombardyHe takes part in the Battle of Pavia. The Marquis of Vasto arranges for him to have the command of an infantry colonel.
MayHe is approached by Guido Rangoni, who attempts to persuade him to defect in favor of the papal forces.
Feb.EmpireFrance, Church, venicePiedmontHe commands an infantry colonel in Asti and has disputes with Cesare da Napoli and Alfredo Galante. There is a mutiny: Ferdinando d’Avalos is forced to intervene. The leaders of the uprising are beheaded, and 1500 Italian infantrymen are dismissed. Maramaldo pushes his infantry beyond the Po River and compensates for the severe delay in pay with robberies and raids. Guido Rangoni encourages him to move into the Reggio area against the Estensi.
Mar.Lombardy, TuscanyIn Vigevano. At the end of the month, he is appointed governor of Pontremoli.
Apr.EmiliaHe is reported in Borgo San Donnino (Fidenza).
May166 infantrymenEmilia, LombardyHe is in Carpi with 800 infantry; he plunders Correggio and Soliera, threatening Modena. As Giovanni dei Medici and Guido Rangoni approach, he moves towards Milan. With 150 cavalry and many infantry, he escorts the coffin of Ferdinando d’Avalos, who died in the same days, towards the south. The papal vice-legate opposes his passage into the Piacenza region, but the Estes grant him permission and prepare troops to monitor the movements of his men. Rangoni contacts him again to seek his assistance in a potential attack on Reggio Emilia, which is controlled by the Estes. Imperial ministers from Milan intervene, thwarting any offensive plans. Fabrizio Maramaldo is stationed near Correggio and is given command of the Italian infantry, consisting of 14 companies of foot soldiers. Under his command are captains such as Cesare da Napoli, Alfonso Galante, Giacomo da Nocera, Giovanni di Vara, Giovanni Caracciolo, and Giorgio Lampugnani.
June1000 infantrymenEmilia, LombardyHe sacks Brescello, then reaches Carpi again with 1000 infantry. Meanwhile, there are numerous desertions in his ranks, especially among the Italians, due to chronic financial shortages. Fabrizio Maramaldo moves to Casalmaggiore with the assistance of Federico Gonzaga, who not only grants passage to his men but also supplies him with some boats to cross the Po River. He imposes a hefty levy on the residents of Concordia. In Casalmaggiore, he clashes with Luigi Rodomonte Gonzaga, leading to his transfer to Cremona, where there are already 3000 lansquenets under the command of Roberto da San Severino.
During the same period, a revolt occurs in Milan against the Spanish guards. One hundred of his soldiers stationed at Cortevecchia are slaughtered, and others, who are held in custody in a bell tower, are thrown down by the populace. The devastation brought by Maramaldo to Cremona prompts the Imperial forces to move him to Lodi. Even on this occasion, he behaves towards the citizens with great cruelty, forcing Ludovico Vistarini to betray the Imperial cause. The gates of a bastion are opened to the Venetians, who break into the city and conquer it.
Fabrizio Maramaldo is besieged with only 40 men in the fortress by Malatesta Baglioni, who has had the opportunity to plunder most of his infantry. The Marquis of Vasto and Giovanni d’Urbina come to his rescue; he joins them following a fierce sortie in which he sustains four wounds, including one to his arm from a musket ball.
JulyLombardyHe is replaced in the government of Pontremoli. He is among the witnesses of the duel that takes place near Lambrate between Sigismondo Malatesta and Ludovico Vistarini, accused of treason by the son of the former lord of Rimini.
Aug.PiedmontIn Alessandria, he continues to oppress the citizens as usual, forcing them to provide his troops with food, lodging, and money. He sacks San Salvatore Monferrato and sets fire to the houses. He returns after three days; to leave the area without issues, he demands 300 ducats. He moves to Valenza to besiege Giovanni da Birago and block the path of Michelantonio di Saluzzo, who is coming from France with 500 lances and 4000 infantry.
Sept.PiedmontRepelled, he withdraws to Bassignana. He is reported in Castelnuovo Scrivia and Novara.
Oct.PiedmontDriven away even from Asti, he enters Alessandria with 2000 infantry, two companies of men-at-arms, 150 light cavalry, and fifteen artillery pieces. Taking advantage of the fact that the city’s leading citizens are in Milan to pledge allegiance to the emperor, he attempts, under some pretext, to plunder the city. The inhabitants successfully rebel against his demands, and in commemoration of this event, a church dedicated to San Secondo, known as the Church of Victory, will be built.
Nov.PiedmontHe leaves Alessandria and returns to the Asti region. He positions himself at the siege of Asti, defended by captains Paolo Bolla, Ambrogio Schelino, and Antonio Sarrone, coordinated by Matteo Prandone. He encamps at the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie and bombards the city with artillery for eight days. He orders a general attack through a breach in the southern part of the western walls towards the San Pietro district. The Imperial forces are repelled by the inhabitants.
Prandone is killed by artillery fire while giving the final orders for what is attributed to the miraculous intervention of San Secondo. Legend, fueled by a testimony from one of Maramaldo’s army officers, tells of his soldiers being terrified by a mysterious voice commanding them to withdraw. To commemorate this victory, in 1591, the Church of San Secondo, known as the Church of Victory, was built at the very spot where the breach in the walls occurred. Unfortunately, the church, along with its paintings and frescoes, was destroyed in December 1930.
Jan.PiedmontHe arrives in Cassinelle, where he joins forces with the lansquenets of the Connestabile di Borbone. In that location, 800 French soldiers, who had stopped there briefly before heading to Asti, are captured.
Feb.1200 infantrymenEmiliaIn the Piacenza region with Aldana, he halts in Fiorenzuola d’Arda with 1200 infantry at his disposal.
EmiliaHe reaches Salvaterra sul Secchia, and many deserters emerge within his ranks. This is not only due to the customary issue of delayed payments but also because of the lack of bread, as their sustenance mainly consists of seasonal fruits. In a short time, he finds himself with only 300 to 400 soldiers. He escorts the lances and the wagons to the Bastiglia camp.
LazioHe takes part in the capture of Rome and the subsequent sacking of the city. Two days after the conquest, he appears at the palace of the pro-Imperial Cardinal Andrea della Valle, where 200 people, both men and women, have taken refuge with their belongings. He demands a ransom of 100,000 ducats, which is later reduced to 35,000, and is paid within two days.
He also secures a substantial sum from Agostino Chigi to allow him to save the valuables contained in the latter’s palace. The lansquenets rebel because the majority of the loot went to the Spaniards. They sack the Palace of Siena and the Palace of the Chancellery. Alongside Alessandro and Luigi Rodomonte Gonzaga, Maramaldo persuades the Italian infantry to support the Spaniards. They attack the Germans in Trastevere and kill those who resist their fury. Only the Prince of Orange manages to calm the situation.
JulyLazio, UmbriaPope Clement VII capitulates to the Imperial forces, and famine and plague reign in Rome. He moves away from the city and relocates to Umbria, where he continues to commit new acts of plunder and brutal violence. He sacks Narni, Terni, Montefiascone, Bolsena, and captures and loots Monte Rubiaglio following intense artillery fire that creates a vast breach in the northeast corner of the castle.
San Lorenzo, Acquapendente, Baschi, Lubriano, Castel Viscardo, Torre Alfina, Onano are similarly subjected to his attention. He reaches Corbara with 1500 infantry (13 companies).
Dec.LazioNear Rome.
Feb.Lazio , Campania, AbruzzoHe moves away from the Roman countryside to relocate in the Kingdom of Naples. He besieges Rocca d’Evandro and forces the surrender of the Abbot of Montecassino, Crisostomo d’Alessandro, who is also bound by family ties to Fabrizio Maramaldo. He sets up camp in Aversa with 1600 infantry. He is ordered by the Prince of Orange to move to Troia. His Calabrian and Lucanian soldiers refuse to move until they receive their wages. They only move towards Apulia when a mitre, once belonging to the Pope and part of the treasure of San Pietro, is pledged to them as security. He travels to Castel di Sangro with Sciarra Colonna and the Prince of Orange, leading 3000 infantry.
Mar.1600 infantrymenCampaniaIn Atripalda, he joins forces with the troops of the Viceroy of Naples, Ugo di Moncada, and the Prince of Salerno, Ferrante da San Severino. Under his command, there are 14 companies of infantry, totaling around 3000 men, along with 10 pieces of artillery.
Apr.CampaniaHe shifts to the defense of Naples, which is under attack by the forces of Lautrec. With 600 to 800 infantry, he positions himself in the district of Santo Spirito, towards Chiaia, and along the entire hill up to Castelnuovo. His men, like those under Giulio Cesare da Capua, continue to go without their pay, enduring everything in silence during this period. In a skirmish at Somma Vesuviana, Maramaldo captures 50 French men-at-arms.
MayCampaniaHe engages in numerous skirmishes with the infantry of Bande Nere, led by Orazio Baglioni. He pressures the Prince of Orange to pardon a bandit leader known as Il Verticello in exchange for his assistance in secretly bringing supplies into Naples. Together with Ferrante Gonzaga, Dimitri, and Teodoro Boccali, he seizes the wagons of Archbishop Girolamo Vitelli of Amalfi, who was transporting provisions and goods to the French camp. The loot is estimated at 10,000 ducats. He also surprises and captures Bishop Silvio Messalia of Avellino during lunch. In this case as well, the spoils amount to approximately 10,000 ducats, not counting the ransom for the prisoners.
While in Naples, he quells a disturbance provoked by the lansquenets and the Spaniards. He imprisons a Piedmontese individual who incited the riots, and together with the Prince of Orange, they have him hanged at night from a window of the captain of justice’s palace. The body remains in that place for two days as a warning. At the end of the month, he himself is suspected of treason when a Gascon captain named Il Catta abandons Naples with a letter sent to Maramaldo by Giovanni Vincenzo Carafa. The letter encourages him to persist in his intention to change allegiance and hand over a gate to Lautrec’s French forces.
Il Catta delivers the message to a peasant from Montella, who allows himself to be captured by the Spaniards near Porta Nolana. The Prince of Orange believes in Maramaldo’s guilt and has him disarmed and imprisoned under heavy guard, intending to torture and execute him. However, Ugo di Moncada, Alfonso d’Avalos, and many Neapolitans, including Vittoria Colonna, the widow of Ferdinando d’Avalos, intervene on his behalf.
An investigative commission is formed, comprising the Prince of Orange, Ugo di Moncada, Alfonso d’Avalos, Ferrante Gonzaga, Ascanio Colonna, and Fernando Alarcon. The peasant confesses to having seen Maramaldo read the message like a normal person. However, he is not believed because everyone knows the condottiero’s nearsightedness, which always requires him to use glasses for close viewing. The accuser maintains his version even under torture. Ultimately, he is found guilty and hanged. His body is divided into four parts in the Piazza del Mercato. The remains are attached in front of the city’s four gates (Mercato, Capuana, San Gennaro, and Castelnuovo). Maramaldo is acquitted.
Aug.CampaniaHe leaves Naples to sack Somma Vesuviana, capturing 50 prisoners. Leading 400 infantry, he surprises and plunders Benevento, occupies Nocera, and other small territories. He attacks Nola with Count Girolamo Tuttavilla and Prince Ferrante da San Severino. Days later, he assaults Capua. Approaching the city with Giulio Cesare da Capua through the pine forest near Lake Patria, they follow the left bank of the Volturno. Upon hearing of his arrival, many defenders retreat to Aversa. In contrast, 800 infantry desert to join the banners of the Prince of Orange.
When Pietro Navarro arrives near Capua to recapture the city, the residents advise the French garrison to make a sortie to gather cattle and sheep. Taking advantage of their absence, they welcome Fabrizio Maramaldo inside the town. Four hundred enemy soldiers, mostly sick Frenchmen, are killed within the walls, and his men strip the sick from their beds.
The French captain Duguerre is captured by the furious mob, bound, and tortured to death. Ugo Pepoli, also deceased, has the gold necklace of the Order of Saint Michael, the insignia, and even his clothes torn from his body and divided. Maramaldo attacks the castle and forces Giuliano Strozzi, who had taken refuge there, to surrender. Both Strozzi and Francesco Ferrucci are taken prisoner and held in captivity until their ransom is paid. He then goes to Ischia, and his bands also plunder the island.
Sept.CampaniaWith the dissolution of the French army, many infantrymen from Bande Nere, who had previously served the Florentines, join his ranks. He is entrusted with the command of 3000 Italian infantry.
Returning to Capua, one of his first acts is to order the city’s notables to pay 100 scudi to one of his captains, Maldonato, who claims to have prevented the looting of the shops when they first entered the city. Money is handed over to Maramaldo.
Oct.CampaniaHe reappears in Capua with Alfonso d’Avalos and continues to spread fear in the area. To stop him, a considerable amount of supplies, including bread and meat, is sent to his troops stationed in Calvi and Marcianise.
Initially, he is transferred to Genoa with 2000 infantry, but his destination is later changed to Apulia.
Nov.CampaniaHe swoops down on Castellamare di Stabia and Sorrento, constantly living off the local populations.
Dec.1840 infantrymenCampaniaIn Avellino, he commands 1840 infantry divided into 15 companies. He receives 500 ducats personally and 12,397 ducats for his men, equivalent to two months’ pay for veterans and one month for the less experienced soldiers. After the review, he joins forces with Alfonso d’Avalos.
Jan.CampaniaHe spends the Carnival festivities in Naples, awaiting the payment of wages.
Feb.Lazio, ApuliaHe besieges Amatrice for a few days and then turns towards Apulia with Fernando Alarcon, Ferrante Gonzaga, and the Marquis of Vasto. He operates around Andria, facing the troops of Renzo di Ceri, but his attack on Barletta proves unsuccessful.
Mar.BasilicataHe moves through the towns of Ferrandina, Grottole, Craco, and Montepeloso (Irsina).
Apr.ApuliaHe supports Alfonso d’Avalos with 500 men during the siege of Monopoli, defended by Camillo Orsini and Giovanni Caracciolo. There is an unsuccessful assault in which 500 Imperial soldiers, including many sappers, are killed. Maramaldo participates in the siege of the city but fails to prevent the enemy from setting fire to the offensive bastions.
MayApuliaThe assault on Monopoli is renewed, but it is again repelled. Disheartened, he withdraws to Conversano.
JuneApuliaHe ravages Noci, then heads for Martinafranca. The citizens offer his men, known as “cappelletti” because of their shabby appearance and distinct hats, provisions and 2000 ducats, but the donation is rejected in anticipation of greater riches. His assault on the city is repelled, and the exhausted inhabitants take refuge in the Church of San Martino. Legend tells of the appearance of many knights on the walls, led by a fearsome captain, who convinces the attackers to abandon their plans for looting and turn their attention elsewhere.
A similar raid on Francavilla Fontana fails due to flooding. During this time, he is granted an annuity of 2500 scudi against the fiefs of Francesco Carafa, Count of Montecalvo, and Francesco Papacoda. When the two nobles, who were pro-French, realign with the imperial party, Maramaldo is recognized with 12,000 scudi, which he uses to purchase the land of Ottaviano. The fief costs him 14,000 ducats, and he takes possession of it the following month.
JulyCampania, LazioHis infantry is stationed between Marigliano, Airola, and Montesarchio. They have not been paid for a while, and after his futile attempts to pacify them, they mutiny and enter Aversa. They only calm down when they receive four months’ pay (one of which is covered by the territory), totaling 20,544 ducats. He then sets off towards the Terra di Lavoro.
Aug.EmpireFlorenceCampaniaHe leaves Caivano with his militias to confront the Florentines.
Jan.LazioIn San Germano (Cassino), he recruits an additional 600 infantry on the orders of the Prince of Orange.
Mar.4000 infantrymenLazio, TuscanyHe receives an additional 21,204 ducats, equivalent to two months’ pay (plus one in silk and Dutch cloth), and moves towards Tuscany. When news of his bands marching north reaches the inhabitants of Rome, they remain on high alert for two days.
Maramaldo crosses the Viterbo region, where he stops for some time due to illness. He meets with the Sienese ambassador in the capital. He receives another four months’ pay from the Pontifical authorities. Meanwhile, his men persist in their mutinous intentions.
The authorities of the Republic of Siena, in anticipation of his arrival, have been unable to gather the necessary provisions for his troops in time or to adequately defend their territory. Upon entering Tuscany, Maramaldo halts in Buonconvento and Bibbiano with 4000 infantry.
Dividing his men into squads of 300/400 soldiers, they plunder not only Buonconvento but also Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia in the Sienese territory. Maramaldo, along with his brother Giovan Battista, does his best to prevent more serious damage by having some of the loot and stolen items returned. To maintain order, he hangs four or five soldiers after an assault on Chiusure. In Serravalle, he has others hanged after catching them stealing 20 scudi from a farmer.
He pawns a jewel in Siena to pay his respects to the Emperor in Bologna. He obtains four cannons from the Sienese and two from the Lucchesi (which will be delivered to him at the end of April). When he leaves the Sienese territory, the Signoria offers him and a gentleman from his household a grand banquet.
Apr.TuscanyHaving received another 9,700 ducats from the Pontifical authorities, he prepares to attack Pisa, awaiting the delivery of some artillery pieces from Volterra. However, the city is recaptured by Francesco Ferrucci. Maramaldo dismantles San Quirico and other castles, then moves to San Gimignano and approaches Colle di Val d’Elsa, where he is prevented from entering.
He breaks into the territory around Volterra with 500 infantry and 500 cavalry, setting up camp in Villamagna. When attacked by a group of Florentine light cavalry, he repels the adversaries, capturing fifteen of them.
MayTuscanyHe arrives in Volterra at the San Giusto Gate with 4,000 infantry, 400/500 cavalry led by Teodoro Albanese, and numerous exiles. After driving out the Florentine garrisons, he fortifies himself in the borough outside the San Francesco Gate. There, he sets up trenches and shelters, and positions artillery, while waiting for more from the Florence camp. Francesco Ferrucci has the tower next to the gate demolished to prevent debris from artillery fire from hitting the guards. Maramaldo clashes almost daily with Ferrucci, captures the Sant’Andrea convent outside the walls, and sends a trumpeter into the city to demand surrender from the defenders. The Florentine commissioner threatens to kill the trumpeter if he returns. The herald reappears and is hanged with a drum around his neck above the San Francesco Gate. It seems he had brought some letters from Volterra residents favorable to the imperial cause. After a major skirmish outside the gates, Maramaldo occupies the San Giusto borough, builds trenches, digs moats, raises embankments, and prepares a mine. His men’s difficulties increase due to the lack of money, and there are suspicions of fraud. For this reason, two bands of Calabrians desert to the Florentines. Ferrucci sends Goro from Montebenicchi, who drives away the sappers preparing a mine. The defenders mock Maramaldo more and more; they even twist his surname into a meowing sound to taunt him. Maramaldo’s hatred for Ferrucci intensifies; he is accused of attempting to assassinate him and placing a bounty on his head, dead or alive. He repels an attack by Camillo da Piombino at the Sant’Andrea convent.
JuneTuscanyHe repels a second Florentine assault led by Francesco della Brocca and Goro da Montebenicchi. Joined by the Marquis of Vasto and Diego Sarmiento, he resumes the offensive with 4,000 Spaniards and ten cannons. He positions himself in front of the church of San Lino, whose garden borders the walls, while the imperial d’Avalos attacks the Florentine Gate. A heavy artillery fire (four hundred shots) brings down a tower and opens a breach of forty braccia in the walls, but the general assault is repelled. Ferrucci is wounded in the elbow and knee by debris from a cannon shot. Without giving the surgeons time to treat him, the Florentine commissioner has him carried on a chair to all the places threatened by the enemy and continues to direct the defense.
Fabrizio Maramaldo and Alfonso d’Avalos waste time arguing over who should lead the next attack. This delay allows the Florentines to hastily erect new defenses with beds, blankets, and crates in the damaged areas. Two more assaults follow, conducted between the Florentine Gate and the San Francesco Gate, preceded by the fire of fourteen artillery pieces, some of which were recently received from Prince d’Orange. The Marquis of Vasto, who is unwell, returns to Naples and blames Maramaldo for delaying the operations.
The condottiero withdraws first into the boroughs, and by the end of the month, he is forced to lift the siege due to the plague, desertions, and mutinies among his men. The Florentines venture out and find 60 wounded soldiers, including the sick and injured, mostly Spaniards, in a church. They set the church on fire, causing them to die from smoke inhalation.
July1000 infantrymenTuscanyOrdered by Prince d’Orange, he moves from San Gimignano, where he is stationed with 1,000 infantry, to block the path of Ferrucci, who has left Volterra with thirteen companies of infantry (1,500 men). Fabrizio Maramaldo advances towards Prato and Pistoia, while the opposing captain takes the road to Cecina and, following the coastline, passes through Rosignano Solvay and Livorno. Maramaldo heads towards Fucecchio and the Val di Nievole, pausing in the countryside near Pescia. He is supplied with provisions by the Sienese.
Aug.TuscanyHe leaves Empoli with Prince d’Orange and Alessandro Vitelli at the head of 7,000 to 8,000 infantry and 400 men-at-arms. They encounter 3,000 infantry and 400 cavalry under Ferrucci and Giampaolo di Ceri near Gavinana, in the mountains of Pistoia. The battle initially appears uncertain, and even Prince d’Orange is killed, struck by two musket balls. Maramaldo enters the town from the east at the same time as Ferrucci approaches from the north. Initially repelled, he retreats to Forra Armata, where Monsignor di Ascalino has positioned the rearguard with 2,000 infantry, including Landsknechts and Spaniards. Maramaldo joins forces with them, and his intervention, combined with Vitelli’s simultaneous success against the Florentine rearguard, turns the tide of the battle.
The weary Florentines, having fought for three hours, find themselves with no shelter and seek escape through flight or surrender. Both Ferrucci and Giampaolo di Ceri are captured. Fabrizio Maramaldo ransoms the Florentine captain from a Spanish soldier, orders him to be brought forward, and in the square in front of the church, has him remove his helmet and armor, insulting him. In response to the defiant words of his opponent, he thrusts either a sword, a dagger, or a lance into his chest or throat and has him slaughtered by Spanish soldiers in revenge for their fellow comrades who were captured and left to starve to death by Ferrucci himself in Volterra. A tradition, also supported by Benedetto Varchi, reports that Ferrucci, before dying, contemptuously uttered the famous words, “Vile, you kill a dead man,” or more precisely, “Vile, you give to a dead man.” The only source from which Varchi and other Florentine historians draw this information is Paolo Giovio, who seems to have obtained the information from a poetic composition by the Luccan Donato Callofilo, “La Rotta di Ferruccio.” However, older Tuscan chroniclers unanimously state that Ferrucci died in combat. This claim is supported by Ferrante Gonzaga and other contemporary historians such as Marco Guazzo and Leandro Alberti.
Ferrucci’s body is wrapped in an imperial flag and thrown into a field near the church. Later, a skeleton found near the same building will be identified as the body of the Florentine commissioner. With the victory, Maramaldo returns to Pescia with 6,000 infantry, which he disperses in the Val di Nievole. The territories are infested with these militias. He reaches Lucca to consult with Cardinal Cybo and leaves Ceri in the city. Then, he returns to the Pisan territory with Vitelli and Cucchero Albanese and unsuccessfully requests the surrender of the garrison at Ripafratta. He waits outside Pisa, where he is repelled by Michele di Montopoli, who makes a daring sortie from the San Marco Gate. Also repelled from Pistoia, he leads his bands to Montecatini and Pescia.
Sept.Tuscany, LazioHe lingers in the Val di Nievole before finally making his way to Rome to request payment for his wages, totaling 36,000 ducats. He receives kind words from the Pope but not the money.
Oct.Tuscany, LazioIn Florence, the Florentines provide him with 23,000 ducats, and the Pontifical authorities contribute another 10,000 ducats. Not satisfied with these offerings, as he expects 80,000 ducats with a special bonus in his favor, he returns to Rome. However, he is still in Florence and the Val di Nievole. He compels the Signoria to supply him with provisions.
Nov.Tuscany, CampaniaOnly halfway through the month, all his dues are finally paid. He then returns the pieces of artillery borrowed from the Lucchese and Sienese. He dismisses his troops, who depart from Tuscany towards Fucecchio, Poggibonsi, and Staggia, leaving behind terrifying memories of violence and oppression. He is hosted in Siena by the Duke of Amalfi before returning to Naples.
Feb. – Mar.LombardyHe is in Mantua when he is challenged to a duel by Cesare da Napoli. Federico Gonzaga opposes the duel and prevents the delivery of the challenge to Maramaldo by a trumpeter from Antonio di Leyva.
Apr.BelgiumHe resides in Brussels for several months, enjoying the favor of Charles V.
JuneEmpireOttoman Empire3000 infantrymenHe is entrusted with the command of a colonel of 3,000 infantry to confront the Turks in Hungary.
JulyThe Emperor confirms his purchase of the castle of Ottaviano, which was sold to him by the heirs of the Prince of Orange, with an annual income of 1,000 ducats, and he also receives a gift of 6,000 ducats from the Emperor.
Aug.General captain of the Italian infantryLombardy., VenetoHe crosses the Brescia region and reaches Peschiera del Garda with 2,000 infantry and baggage. Upon the advice of Alfonso d’Avalos, Carlo V entrusts him with the command of the Italian infantry. This decision causes resentment among other condottieri, including Piermaria dei Rossi (favored by Ferrante Gonzaga), Filippo Tornielli, Guido Rangoni, who indeed has more experience, and Giambattista Castaldo, to whom the Marquis of Vasto had previously promised the same position.
Sept.AustriaThe army gathers between Krems and Vienna. Cardinal Legate Ippolito dei Medici exacerbates the situation. The soldiers, who haven’t received their pay for a long time, are reluctant to obey a captain known for his violence and excessive strictness in enforcing discipline, often resorting to killing and injuring his own soldiers for minor offenses. His mission is to conquer Buda, but the soldiers revolt, threatening not to move unless they receive four months’ pay and are given the artillery as collateral. He travels to Innsbruck, where the pay is still missing, and the bread served is black and moldy. Out of 14,000 men, only 6,000 remain, comprising his own troops and those of Filippo Tornielli. The Lombard, Romagnolo, and Tuscan infantrymen take the road to Italy, setting fire to many villas and houses along the way.
Oct.Austria, Slovenia, FriuliHe also has to return to Italy. He passes through Graz, Lubiana, Gorizia, and Sacile with 4,000 infantry and goes through Chiusaforte, which is controlled by the Venetians under Battistino Corso. He is suffering from kidney disease.
Nov.VenetoIn the Treviso region, his men continue their unruly behavior. He accompanies the Emperor at Albaredo d’Adige as the army crosses the river on its way to Milan.
SummerCampaniaHe signs a challenge along with Marzio Colonna, which was promoted by Rangoni against Piermaria dei Rossi. In the summer, he is welcomed as a hero in Naples. He sells the fief of Lusciano.
Sept.CampaniaIn Naples, he marries Porzia Cantelmi, the widow of Carlo Carafa, who brings a dowry of 20,000 ducats. On this occasion, Filocalo composes an epithalamium in his honor.
Dec.Marche, LombardyHe leaves the Kingdom of Naples for Lombardy. During the march, he and his men reach Recanati, where the Papal Legate, fearing his passage, puts 500 infantrymen on alert.
Mar.Abruzzo, MarcheHe returns towards the front and arrives in Teramo. There, he imposes on the residents the obligation to accommodate (at their own expense) three companies of soldiers. The community is also forced to provide him with 1,000 ducats to pay the soldiers he is leading to Piedmont. As he approaches Ascoli Piceno, the citizens offer him a gift of preserves and wax. He camps for several days in Offida with 3,000 infantrymen and passes through Recanati.
Apr.Romanga, EmiliaHe leaves Ravenna with 4,000 infantry and 200 light cavalry, moving through Emilia.
MayEmilia, MarcheHe reaches Bologna and stops at San Lazzaro di Savena. Later, he halts near Modena at the Santa Cecilia monastery, causing general alarm. In Modena, he meets with Claudio Rangoni and proceeds towards Reggio Emilia to join forces with Antonio di Leyva. The Imperial forces decide to confront the Ottomans in Africa. Maramaldo moves towards the Kingdom of Naples and reaches Offida with 3,000 infantry, creating unrest in the surrounding countryside.
June – JulySicilyHe embarks from Trapani and takes part in the siege of La Goletta against the Turks. In July, he is present during the capture of the town.
Aug.PiedmontIn the same summer, he fights against the French in Piedmont with the same role as the Master General of the Field. In Ciriè, he sets aside a significant amount of wheat and places 300 infantrymen to guard the granaries. However, Essey, Auchy, and de Cany scale the town’s walls, kill many of the defenders, and seize the supplies, which they transport to Turin. Maramaldo then besieges Turin, but many of his men desert to the French due to delayed payments. He is wounded in the thigh by a musket shot.
MayPiedmontHe arrives in Alessandria and writes to the Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria della Rovere, on behalf of some gentlemen who are imprisoned in the prisons of Venice.
Sept.LombardyHe is reaffirmed in his position as Master General of the Field by the Captain General of the Imperial Army, the Marquis of Vasto, Alfonso d’Avalos.
…………Abruzzo, CampaniaHe returns to the Kingdom of Naples and arrives in the Abruzzo region. Jealous of the increasing influence that Cesare da Napoli gains with Alfonso d’Avalos, he requests permission to leave and seek medical treatment. He arrives in Naples and decides not to leave the city again.
…………Carlo V appoints him as his chamberlain, counselor of state, and counselor of war.
Nov.As a token of appreciation, the Emperor grants him 500 ducats with a letter written from Monzon, where a truce was concluded. Later, an additional 2,000 ducats will be delivered to him.
…………CampaniaFrom this moment on, in the memories of the Neapolitan people, Fabrizio Maramaldo transforms into a hedonistic epicurean and a comedic character at the court of Viceroy Don Pietro di Toledo, intent on dissipating his wealth. Chronicles of the time report his frequent disputes with the treasury. His figure has endured in popular culture with a mocking refrain about him, “Maramao perché sei morto” (Maramao, why did you die). In his final days, he arranges for a substantial sum to be distributed to religious institutions that have assisted him. However, the Theatines refuse the bequest due to his involvement in the sack of Rome.
1551He sells the fief of Ottaviano to Prince Ferrante Gonzaga.
1552CampaniaHe dies towards the end of the year and is buried in the family tomb at San Domenico Maggiore. He was friends with the poet Girolamo Borgia, who dedicated “De bello africano” to him, a work that deals with the Imperial victory in Tunis against Barbarossa. He was also associated with other humanists such as Filocalo, Giano Arisio, Bernardo Tansillo, and Giovan Francesco Muscettolo. In Asti, there is a fresco depicting San Secondo defeating his troops.


-“Capitano di grande riputazione.” NARDI

-“Con la sua morte (di Francesco Ferrucci) ancora fu causa che non per altro servisse il nome dell’infame Maramaldo che per significato d’ogni maggior vitupero..Uomo nelle armi nominato, ma di mali costumi e crudele.” UGHI

-Uccisione di Francesco Ferrucci “La ricostruzione di Girolamo Borgia (nelle sue Historiae), oltre a scagionare completamente il Maramaldo da ogni diretta responsabilità, inseriva l’episodio in una logica di guerra, nella fattispecie determinata, per primo, dallo stesso Ferrucci.” E. VALERI 

-“Barbarissimo: sempre ebbe usanza con masnadieri, ed uomini di malo affare; l’indole ferina lo spingeva al sangue.” GUERRAZZI

-“Fu bello huomo del corpo, ma di corta vista, onde usava, come molti in Napoli si costuma, di portar del continuo gli occhiali. Se le piccole cose alle grandi si possono comparare, par che lui di lui avvenisse quel che di Lucullo celebratissimo capitano Romano si scrive; percioché o stanco delle fatiche militari, o pur di sua eletion mosso, forte si diede agli agi del vivere e a’ piaceri del gusto, come molto fosse dalle gotte travagliato.” AMMIRATO

-“Il suo nome rimase per secoli nella tradizione popolare come spauracchio dei bambini e come nobile dissipatore. Maramau perché sei morto/ Pane e vino non te mancava/ La nzalata l’avive all’ uorto/ Maramau perché si morto.” CANTILENA POPOLARE

-“Huomo valoroso, et di gran fama.” PILONI

-“Dal suo cognome è tratto il verbo “maramaldeggiare”, detto del vile che si finge coraggioso quando in realtà non ci sono pericoli, o di chi esercita prepotenza sugli indifesi.” TOSI

-“Capitano di singolar valore, e per tutto ‘l tempo della vita suo stato affetionato alla parte imperiale.” GIOVIO

-“Capitano di gran valore della parte cesariana..Per il suo gran valore degno di laude.” ULLOA

-“Distinto condottiere d’arme.” LITTA

-“Famoso illustre Capitano.” MAZZELLA

-“Homo molto danoso e capitano della M.tà delo imperatore.” DE’ BIANCHI

-“Capitano..(di) valore e stima.” ROSSO

-“Gentilhuomo Napolitano et cavaliero valoroso.” CONTILE

-“Ferrante della Marra lo dipinge “stizzoso, pronto all’ira et all’andar in collera”. Carlo V, accortosi che per niente s’imbizziva, prese gusto a farlo montar sulle furie. Un giorno, per spassarsi, lo cominciò a contradire in una cosa delle più giuste; e Fabrizio non reggendo alle mosse, gli gridò in napoletano: “haverse una meuza vostra maestà”; venga un mal di milza a vostra maestà.” G. SFORZA

-“Inter Italicos primipilum ducens.” GROLIER

-“….il gran Napolitano/ che poco o nulla suol prezzar la morte/ Signor Fabrizio detto Maremano/ Buon d’alto ingegno valoroso e forte/ Tutto divoto al gran signor Hispano/ Per cui patir gli è grato ogni aspra sorte/ Sì come un core invitto acquistar brama.” CALLOFILO

-“Ammazzò più di cento pedoni, morì di febbre maniconica havendo 51 anni.” Da un codice riportato dal LUZIO

-“Napoletano di famiglia antica.” ROTH

-“Sendo questo capitano un huomo bestiale e molto agguerrito.” GRASSI

-“Il quale seppe acquistarsi un nome terribile fra i suoi compagni d’arme.” VASSALLO

-“Così famoso Capitano de suoi tempi, de’ cui gloriosi gesti ne son piene l’historie.” DE LELLIS

-“Vaillans maistre de camp espagnols.” BRANTOME

-“Valente soldato, un gentiluomo di buon sangue e di alta reputazione, uno dei migliori condottieri di parte imperiale.” FABIANI

-“Famoso per la sua ferocia.” DI PIERRO

-Alla battaglia di Gavinana “Già la prima battaglia e la seconda/ de i nostri è volta fracassata e morta,/ e addosso l’inimico ogn’hor più abunda,/ e ‘l Maramao combatte entro la porta:/ qui la gent’è percossa da ogni sponda/ et sol un bel morir lo riconforta: né può ritrarsi a salvamento al giglio/ che già vi è noto el suo doppio periglio./…./ man fu dato/ a Fabritio el Ferrucci: e per qual scelo/ fusse io non so, della vita privato;/ so ben che, per sua man, qual freddo gelo/ divenne: de zagaglia al cor passato./ s’odio o sdegno non so ch’a ciò l’indusse,/ o acio che ‘l Prince (l’Orange) vendicato fusse.” ROSEO

-Ad un suo ritorno a Napoli nell’estate del 1533 “Quae tuba, quos strepitus qui, dux venit agminis instar:/ Quo se Parthenope tollit in astra duce/ Qui properat? spoliis decoratus opimis/ Ut coram exhiberet Caesaris ora sui/ Hic ille est cuius penetravit fama repostam/ Iclita vel Thulem, Antipodumque domos.” BORGIA

-“La saggistica risorgimentale, sempre alla ricerca di prove della debole fibra morale del Maramaldo, lo ritrasse come un gaudente intento solo a sperperare le proprie sostanze e quelle della moglie in una Napoli che sprofondava in una secolare decadenza sotto il peso dell’oppressione straniera che lui stesso aveva contribuito ad instaurare..Ricco, ammirato dai contemporanei, celebrato da scrittori e poeti, nominato infine anche membro del Consiglio di Stato e della Guerra del regno di Napoli, il Maramaldo fu un personaggio influente e attivo della società napoletana in un periodo in cui questa era scossa da una serie di profonde trasformazioni istituzionali, culturali e religiose. Arrivato in alto grazie all’appoggio dei d’Avalos, avversari tradizionali dei Toledo, nel 1536 egli fu tra i baroni che chiesero, senza successo, all’imperatore di rimuovere il viceré di Napoli don Pietro di Toledo dal suo incarico, e che nel 1547 cercarono di usare i gravi tumulti scoppiati a Napoli per provocarne la destituzione.. Come colonnello di fanterie il Maramaldo fu uno degli imprenditori militari italiani di maggior successo della sua generazione, riuscendo a organizzare intorno a sé per più di un decennio la parte più solida delle fanterie italiane del Regno di Napoli..Il suo colonnello, che giunse a superare le 3000 unità, fu al tempo stesso unità di élite, scuola militare ed espressione degli interessi politici ed economici di una parte importante della nobiltà napoletana.” ARFAIOLI

-“Uomo brutale.” CASALIS

-“Uno de’ Capitani più stimati dall’imperatore Carlo V. Fu molto celebre nell’istorie de’ suoi tempi.” DELLA MARRA

-“Spagnolo famoso.” LAZARI

-“Si spense questa Casa (dei Maramaldo) gloriosamente in Fabritio signor d’Ottaiano General Colonnello degl’Italiani per lo ‘mperador Carlo V. Honor veramente della militia de’ suoi tempi, delle cui prodezze sono piene le carte; fu egli ricevuto tra Camerieri di quel grande Imperadore col soldo di 166 oncie d’oro per ciascun’anno.” DE PIETRI

-“Con la suo schiera/ ammazza ognun che s’allontana o fugge.” CELEBRINO

-“Questo Maramaldo, stando al suo contemporaneo Leonardo Santoro da Caserta, ha molte compagnie di fanti arruolati in quel di Cosenza e nella Basilicata; si tratta di gente crudele, esperta nel ladrocinio; una manica di avventurieri, gentaglia esperta d’ogni ribalderia che vuol soltanto rubare e violentare…Con la figura del Ferrucci scompare anche il coraggio individuale italiano. Nel secolo seguente gli italiani perderanno anche quel poco, quel pizzico d’onore tenuto alto da un combattente senza mercede. La morte del Ferrucci, quindi, sgozzato da un mercenario della specie peggiore, non è solo un fatto di “cronaca storica”: è anche e soprattutto un simbolo.” ADAR

-“Venturiero tra i più disperati, uomo capace di ogni impresa, il Maramaldo è il tipo più caratteristico delle compagnie mercenarie del secolo   XVI… E’ l’uccisore di Francesco Ferrucci a Gavinana. Tutta la sua vita è concentrata si può dire, in questo suo atto crudele, in quanto inutile, empio. Alcuni storici hanno anche tentato di riabilitarne la figura, ma purtroppo le cronache dei contemporanei, attraverso episodi e frammenti di vita attestano l’indole perversa, le abitudini al saccheggio, la sfrontatezza temeraria.. venturiero tra i più disperati, come capace di ogni impresa, il Maramaldo è il tipo più caratteristico degli ultimi rappresentanti delle compagnie mercenarie del secolo XVI.” ARGEGNI

-“Sul gesto di Maramaldo che conficca la lama nel corpo del prigioniero ci sono testimonianze dirette: la lettera che il Figueroa scrive a Carlo V tre giorni dopo la battaglia, una lettera di Giovio, una di martino Agrippa. Tutte e tre affermano che maramaldo ha ucciso Ferrucci per vendicare l’araldo impiccato. Delle ultime parole di Ferrucci scrive solo il Varchi… Il fatto, dopo aver bollato il “colonnello” con il marchio dell’infamia, volle che la fantasia popolare lo trasformasse a poco a poco in una maschera comica, quella dello smargiasso ghiottone, che Callot rappresenta “in tunica succinta, con gambe nude, berretto piumato in testa, il viso mezzo coperto da mascherino”.” CARMINE CIMMINO in


-G. de Blasiis. Fabrizio Maramaldo e i suoi antenati.

-A. Luzio. Fabrizio Maramaldo. Nuovi documenti.

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