domenica, Maggio 26, 2024

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

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Facino Cane: A Condottiero’s Reign of Fear in Medieval Italy

Italian CondottieriFacino Cane: A Condottiero's Reign of Fear in Medieval Italy

His life unfolds adventurous and violent, restless, often dripping with blood and stained with many crimes. His brutality is deliberate, aimed at spreading terror around himself to meet the least resistance to his ventures. He succeeds in conquering a political power that no condottiero before him has managed to achieve.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Strategic Brilliance and Brutality of Facino Cane.

facino cane

Facino Cane was a noble-born condottiero from Casale Monferrato who rose to prominence in Italy’s military circles during the late 14th century. Initially serving various rulers, he eventually allied with the Visconti of Milan, gaining wealth and territory. His career was marked by his self-serving strategy in warfare, prioritizing personal enrichment over fealty. His influence peaked as he assumed control of Milan after Duke Gian Galeazzo Visconti’s death. Upon his death in 1412, Facino’s widow married Duke Filippo Maria Visconti, transferring Facino’s amassed fortune and command to the Duke, thereby consolidating Visconti’s power.

Facino Cane (Bonifacio Cane) of Santhià or Casale Monferrato. Count of Biandrate. Ghibelline.

Lord of Alessandria, Pavia, Como, Valenza, Vercelli, Piacenza, Novara, Tortona, Galliate, Borgo San Martino, Montecastello, Varese, Brebbia, Gavi, Castano Primo, Castiglione Olona, Cassano d’Adda, Vigevano, Mortara, Abbiategrasso, Seveso, Romanengo, Monte di Brianza, Valsassina, Cantù, and the lands of Lake Maggiore up to Vogogna. Brother of Filippino Cane, uncle of Luigi Cane, son-in-law of Ruggero Cane.

Born: 1360
Death: 1412, May

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
……………PiedmontHe belongs to one of the less wealthy branches of the Cane family, an important household from Casale Monferrato in the 14th century.
……………PiedmontHe is noted in Casale Monferrato. He has his first military experiences with his brothers Filippino and Marcolo.
Feb.FlorenceChurchMarcheHe serves in the company of Lucio Sparviero. He assists Guido Chiavelli in the conquest of Fabriano.
Sept.MarcheHe participates in the Battle of Matelica.
Oct. – Nov.MonferratoAstiPiedmontHe is in the service of Marquis Secondotto of Monferrato; he lays siege to Rodolfo of Brunswick in Asti. He can enter the city only due to the intervention of the Visconti militias.
Mar.FlorenceComp. ventura10 lancesTuscanyUnder the command of John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto), he opposes the Company of Saint George led by Alberico da Barbiano.
Aug.NaplesDurazzoCampaniaHe fights under the command of Otto of Brunswick. His task is to attack the Gate of San Gennaro in Naples and to reach Castel Capuano from within the city. Defeated and taken prisoner, he falls into disarray like the rest of the Angevin army.
……………NaplesHe is in the employ of Charles of Durazzo (Carlo di Durazzo).
Sept.NaplesAnjouCampaniaHe opposes the troops of Louis of Anjou (Luigi d’Angiò).
Nov.ApuliaAt the siege of Barletta. In November, he is able to enter the city.
May50 lancesTuscanyHis command now rises to 50 lances. He is noted in Cortona.
Nov.PiedmontHe returns to Piedmont when the King of Naples, Charles of Durazzo (Carlo di Durazzo), travels to Hungary.
JuneVeronaPaduaVenetoUnder the orders of Cortesia da Serego, he takes part in the Battle of Brentelle. Leading the vanguard with Francesco da Sassuolo, they attack the Carraresi and reach the rake of the bridge at Porta Savonarola: the Scaligeri give themselves over to plundering; this allows Giovanni degli Ubaldini to launch a counterattack and strike the Veronese in the midst of their movement crisis. In the battle, there are 821 dead, including those who drown while trying to flee. Facino Cane is captured with 7,910 men, among whom are all the main commanders (Cortesia da Serego, Ostasio da Polenta, Ugolino dal Verme, Giovanni Ordelaffi).
Feb.400 lancesVenetoHe opposes the Carraresi again. He clashes at Piacenza d’Adige with Antonio Balestrazzo.
Mar.VenetoDefeated and captured in the battle of Castelbaldo, he is taken to Padua, where he is imprisoned in a tower of the castle awaiting the payment of his ransom. Once released, he accepts the pay of the Carraresi.
Oct.PaduaUdineFriuliHe is sent to Friuli to support the troops of the Patriarch of Aquileia against the Udinese. He departs from Castelfranco Veneto and stops in Treviso, where he lodges in the borough of the Santi Quaranta and in the monasteries outside the city.
Nov.Veneto, FriuliHe leaves Treviso with Ugolino Ghislieri, his brother Filippino, Antonio Conte, and Brunoro Gattero (500 horses). They reach Perzo di Breda, ford the Piave, and arrive near Sacile. They storm a small bastion near the gate and set it ablaze after seizing many heads of cattle and capturing some men. He continues to Prata and sets fire to some villages; he besieges the castle and only withdraws after the defenders promise a certain sum of money. Facino Cane then acquires some boats and attacks Meduna di Livenza, which is sacked. He continues his policy of devastation, burning villages and countryside because the inhabitants of Prata fail to fulfill their commitments.
Jan.FriuliHe is still in the countryside of Meduna di Livenza near the Tagliamento. He robs near Udine, one hundred and thirty-seven wagons loaded with provisions and goods belonging to some German merchants (cloths of gold and silver, velvets, satins, and silk, almonds, pepper, saffron, and other spices, with a total value of 80,000 to 120,000 ducats. The loot is sold by the soldiers at bargain prices, partly in Belluno and partly in Treviso. At the end of the month, the opponents recapture Meduna di Livenza and seize the goods he had stored there: in retaliation, he captures the fortress and has it leveled.
Feb. . Mar.FriuliHe moves between the Livenza and the Tagliamento rivers. In March, he forcefully takes control of Polcenigo.
Apr.FriuliHe enters Aquileia; he subjects the city to a terrible sack, not even sparing religious buildings. The Lord of Padua is forced to do without his services due to the scandal caused by his conduct.
MayMonferratoCount of SavoyPiedmontHe takes part in the War of Tuchinaggio on behalf of Theodore of Montferrat (Teodoro di Monferrato). He captures Otto of Grandson and obtains Tronzano Vercellese by agreement with the delivery of a certain sum of money to Constable Antonio di Palazzo who is defending it.
June – JulyPiedmontHe conducts frequent raids in the territory of Bianzé to prevent reinforcements from reaching the Savoyards who are besieging Verrua. He has a skirmish at Livorno Ferraris with Amadeus of Savoy (Amedeo di Savoia) and is forced to retreat upon the arrival of the opponents.
Sept.PaduaUdineFriuliHe is recalled by the Carraresi to Friuli. Alongside Antonio Balestrazzo and Antonio Conte, he supports Conte da Carrara in his attempt to capture Spilimbergo.
Oct.PaduaMilanFriuli, VenetoHe fortifies himself in Sacile. He returns to the Veneto region and there confronts the Visconti forces. With Antonio Balestrazzo, he raids the Vicenza area.
Feb.MilanVenetoWith the fall of Padua into the hands of the opponents, he switches to the employ of these latter.
JuneMilanFlorenceEmiliaUnder the command of Jacopo dal Verme, he is defeated and taken prisoner by John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto) on the banks of the Samoggia stream.
SpringLombardyHe is always at the side of Jacopo dal Verme.
JuneLombardyHe is defeated by Konrad von Landau in front of the Porta Cologno of Bergamo: among the Visconti forces, 80 men-at-arms and many crossbowmen are killed, another 150 horses are captured; 200 Milanese cernite drown while attempting to ford a river.
JulyLombardyHe is defeated by John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto) at Paterno, where he is gravely wounded by a crossbow bolt. To save himself, along with his standard-bearer Bellora, he dons a leather jacket taken from a dead Swiss soldier and puts on an English helmet. He hides in a ditch and manages to escape capture by night.
……………MonferratoCount of SavoyPiedmontOnce healed, he returns to Piedmont to continue fighting the Savoyards in the service of Marquis Theodore of Montferrat (Teodoro di Monferrato). He operates in the lower Canavese; he conquers Carisio, Caravino, and Settimo Rottaro, making them for several years not only a solid operational base but also centers for territorial control through the work of his own castellans.
Nov.PiedmontIn his raids, he reaches Borgo San Martino, Cartosio, and Azeglio. He is opposed by the Marshal of Savoy, Bonifacio di Challant.
Dec.PiedmontHe moves to Castagnole Piemonte, devastates the Biellese area; he occupies Cassano Canavese which belongs to the Counts of Masino.
Jan.PiedmontHe conducts a raid at Occhieppo Superiore, marches on Lucedio, and into the countryside of Santhià, where he plunders cattle and kills many inhabitants who are trying to defend their possessions. At Azeglio, he imprisons some relatives of the Podestà of Ivrea, Jacopo Champouis.
……………PiedmontHe occupies Valfenera and targets Pancalieri; he gains control of Vernone and damages the countryside of Fossano. He is named captain of Chieri alongside Antonio Balestrazzo. The Prince of Savoy-Acaia puts strong pressure on the Count of Virtue, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, to have Facino Cane transferred to Lombardy.
Dec.PiedmontHe returns to Monferrato.
Jan.PiedmontIn Casale Monferrato.
Nov.PiedmontHe is dismissed by the Visconti, who lend him 4,000 florins; he commits to return to their service if needed. He demands the inhabitants of Casale Monferrato to pay him the 30,000 florins owed for the wheat he had supplied to the city during the previous winter’s siege by the Savoyards. While in Casale Monferrato, he encourages trade with Milanese territories under the jurisdiction of the commune, establishes price controls on foodstuffs, and implements other beneficial economic measures. However, the abuses and private vendettas continue, causing hatred towards him, which results in a thwarted conspiracy to eliminate him.
Jan.MonferratoCount of SavoyPiedmontHe resumes his raiding; he roams around Riva, Avigliana, Rivoli, Susa, Lanzo Torinese, Ciriè, Caselle, Rivarolo Canavese, Ivrea, Biella.
Feb.PiedmontHe returns to Canavese in agreement with the lords of Masino, reaches Caluso; at the end of the month, he captures some travelers at the gates of Ivrea. In the same instance, 7 people are also killed and 170 oxen are plundered.
Mar.PiedmontHe sets out with 300 horses towards Valfenera and Pancalieri to bring aid to Marquis Federico of Saluzzo (Federico di Saluzzo), who is threatened by the Count of Savoy and the Prince of Savoy-Acaia.
MayPiedmontAt Valfenera: the Savoyards are forced to retreat.
Aug.PiedmontThere is a truce between the parties. Facino Cane remains unemployed.
Sept.FranceGenoa160 lancesPiedmont, LiguriaHe is led by the Duke of Orleans (duca d’Orleans) with 160 lances (480 horses): the contract is set for three months, and he is granted a monthly provision of 100 florins. Facino Cane joins Enguerrand de Coucy in Asti and supports him in the conquest of Savona.
Oct. – Nov.PiedmontHe is given 1,300 ducats. He stations near Novi Ligure to prevent aid from reaching the Genoese from the north.
Dec.PiedmontHe sends 200 horses to the siege of Pareto. He also goes to this center, and with Bertolino da Verona, overcomes the resistance of the Genoese infantry and enters. The castle also falls, possibly due to the information from some defender who revealed its weaknesses for money.
Jan. – Mar.500 cavalryPiedmontIn four months, he is paid 3,750 florins, equivalent to half of his dues. In March, he is dismissed.
Apr.LiguriaHis credits are settled by Enguerrand de Coucy: this occurs only after the French captain manages to borrow a certain sum from the Visconti, against the dowry of Valentina Visconti who is to marry the Duke of Orleans (duca d’Orleans).
MayAdornoFranceLiguriaHe is hired by the former Doge of Genoa, Antoniotto Adorno; Facino Cane, along with Ramazzotto Corradengo della Niella, sets out to counter the French in Genoa. He sets up camp at Albisola and begins to attack Savona.
JuneLiguriaEnguerrand de Coucy convinces him to abandon this initiative.
Sept.PiedmontHe moves to Novi Ligure. At the end of the war, the Genoese deliver 5,250 florins to him as a settlement for what they owe him.
Oct.Genoa1,000 horses and 100 infantrymenLiguriaHis contract is renewed for another three months.
Jan.LiguriaHe is released from all contractual obligations; he is assured provisions, payable, for eight days and the right of passage throughout the territory. He sends a letter of challenge to the Prince of Acaia.
Feb. – JuneMonferratoCount of Savoy, AcaiaPiedmontHe raids with renewed fury in the Chieri area. He occupies Vernone at the edge of the territory controlled by the commune of Chieri, subject to the Savoy; he threatens Gassino Torinese, conquers Vergnasco and Tonengo, defeats the militias of Chieri and captures between 115 and 200 people who are forced, for their release, to recognize a ransom of 16,000 florins. Together with Fra Carlo Busca and Bertolino da Verona, he damages the counties of Moncalieri, Collegno, Pianezza, Carignano, Fossano, Sant’Albano Stura, Trinità, Savigliano, Monasterolo di Savigliano, Moretta, Barge, Villafranca Piemonte, Vigone, and Casalgrasso.
JulyPiedmontHe occupies numerous villages such as Marentino, Mombello di Torino, Moriondo, Montaldo, Pavarolo, Baldissero Torinese, and Riva: the damages are estimated at about 2,000 florins between cattle theft and the ransom of prisoners. Mondovì, however, falls into the hands of the opponents: the same night, Facino Cane and Bellora sack Margarita, Magliano, Trinità, Sant’Albano Stura, Bastia Mondovì, Carrù, Dogliani, and Monchiero. The loot amounts to 1,000 head of cattle and 500 loads of wheat, with 200 prisoners taken: the total value of the damages is estimated at 3,000 ducats.
Nov.PiedmontHe moves away from the Monferrato camp near Gassino Torinese to push towards Turin.
Jan.From the ransom of just 200 people captured in the countryside of Chieri, his men earn 10,000 florins in twelve months.
Feb.PiedmontHe sets fire to some mills in the vicinity of Turin.
Apr.PiedmontHe carries out a new raid in the Turin area. Some of his men are captured near a bridge on the Po River and are locked up in the bottom of the tower of Porta Susa in Turin. They are about to be hanged until the counsel prevails to hand over the prisoners to the inhabitants because many of them have relatives in the hands of Facino Cane’s companies.
JunePiedmontHe joins forces with Ramazzotto Corradengo della Niella and bursts into the Canavese. He is opposed by Gioacchino Francese; Facino Cane conquers Caluso, Cossano Canavese, and Caravino using his usual methods; he storms Settimo Rottaro; and proceeds to the gates of Ivrea.
JulyMilanMantovaPiedmont, LombardyDuke Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan (duca di Milano Gian Galeazzo Visconti) intervenes and rehires him; he leaves Gassino Torinese and joins dal Verme at Borgoforte to confront the troops of the anti-Visconti league. He occupies Luzzara (by treaty) and Suzzara.
Aug.Lombardy, EmiliaHe participates in the Battle of Governolo, where he commands 1,500 horses: in the clash, he fights both on horseback and on foot against Pataro Buzzaccarini. With the defeat, he retreats into the Parma and Reggio Emilia areas.
Sept.LombardyHe arrives at Montichiari where he stops with Jacopo dal Verme at the head of 500 lances.
……………LombardyHe penetrates the encirclement of Mantua and occupies Marcaria and Solferino; he forces Francesco Gonzaga to shut himself inside the capital. His men board the enemy galleys on Lake Mantua and push as far as Porta Pradella.
MayMilanLombardyHe remains on the payroll of the Visconti even after the announcement of the truce between the contenders.
Aug.MilanGuelfiLombardyHe is sent to the Bergamo area to quell the attempts at rebellion by the local Guelphs. He lodges with his men between Vezza d’Oglio and Stezzano.
Jan.MonferratoAcaiaPiedmontHe reappears in the Vercelli area and near Alice Castello; he imprisons nine men before a judgment by the Duke of Milan (duca di Milano) favorable to Marquis Teodoro of Monferrato. He plunders the counties of Gassino Torinese and Chieri, and he lingers with particular fierceness in the lands of Santhià, Vercelli, and Canavese.
Aug.LombardyHe stops with 1,000 horses in the Bergamo area. His men are quartered partly in Mozzanica and partly in Stezzano.
Sept.PiedmontMid-month, Marquis Teodoro of Monferrato (marchese Teodoro di Monferrato) grants him the fief of Borgo San Martino where he can organize and quarter his men during the long winter stays.
Oct.MonferratoCount of SavoyPiedmontHe receives 6,000 florins in back pay and violently invades the Biella area and Canavese. He confronts Rodolfo di Gruyères and descends upon the villages dependent on the castellany of Santhià: Carisio, Balocco, Villarboit, Buronzo, Greggio, Tronzano Vercellese, San Germano Vercellese, and Santhià.
Jan.PiedmontHe once again faces Rodolfo di Gruyères (50 lances), Niccolò le Tartre (200 Armagnacs), Aymone Garindi (100 crossbowmen), and Girardo da Mugnareto, with 50 horses.
Feb. – Mar.PiedmontHe attempts to acquire the castle of San Maurizio through negotiation: the author of the plot is quartered and his wife is burned alive. He plunders Rivarolo Canavese, enters Settimo Rottaro (after scaling its walls), and takes Caravino and Carisio.
Apr.PiedmontHe clashes with Rodolfo di Gruyères. He bursts into the villages of Ivrea. These are set on fire.
MayPiedmontHe crosses the Po River and penetrates into Castiglione Torinese. He advances towards Chieri, intimidates Pavarolo and Montaldo; he takes the road north, passes through Brandizzo and Lanzo Torinese, aiming for Barbania.
JulyPiedmontAt Caravino with 1,000 horses; he is defeated by 800 horses led by Gruyères, Giovanni di Vernay, Amedeo di Challant, Galeazzo da Mantova, and Ugo di Monforte. He attacks the opponents as they retreat, catches them off guard, and captures various captains along with 600 horses. The prisoners are taken to Caravino and Settimo Rottaro.
Aug. – Oct.PiedmontHe raids the territories of Ciriè, Lanzo Torinese, Caselle Torinese, and Rivarolo Canavese, causing widespread alarm. In September, he occupies Barbania. In October, he sacks the villages of Settimo Rottaro, Castellamonte, Occhieppo Superiore, and Carisio.
Nov.PiedmontAn armistice is signed between the Marquis of Monferrato (marchese del Monferrato) and the Count of Savoy (conte di Savoia). Facino Cane is forced to desist from his incursions.
……………PiedmontThe conflict resumes. The condottiero establishes his headquarters in Carisio. He once again threatens Ivrea.
Mar.PiedmontHe is reported between Verrua and Santhià; he repels an attack led by Bonifacio di Vallide with the inhabitants of Santhià, San Germano Vercellese, Tronzano Vercellese, and Buronzo.
JulyPiedmontHe raids a great deal of livestock in the counties of Santhià and Biella.
Sept.MilanFlorence500 lancesLombardyHe is recalled by the Duke of Milan (duca di Milano) to move to the defense of Brescia and oppose the army of the Guelph league led by Francesco Novello da Carrara. Dal Verme sends him with 200 horses and 300 saccomanni to the Brescian mountains to prevent the enemies’ advance.
Oct.LombardyAlongside Alberico da Barbiano, Pandolfo Malatesta, Jacopo dal Verme, and Ottobono Terzi (4,500 all-Italian lances), he defeats the Germans of Emperor Roberto of Bavaria at Nave, who were called into Italy by the Florentines and the Carrara family. The victory is facilitated by the charge of heavy cavalry he leads together with Terzi (1,800 horses), which disrupts the German cavalry. The opponents pursue 200 horses and 300 saccomanni who, having left Brescia, flee at the sight of the enemy and are led into an ambush prepared by Facino Cane. Among the Germans, the marshal of the Duke of Lorraine is captured, brought to Brescia along with 1,000 horses captured in the encounter. During the clash, Carlo Malatesta is unseated by Giacomo da Carrara. Facino Cane, with other commanders, contributes to reseating the lord of Rimini.
Nov.Facino CaneCount of SavoyPiedmontHe returns to Piedmont. He resumes his raids in the Savoyard territories and the Asti area. He menaces San Germano Vercellese.
Jan.PiedmontHis incursions in the region continue.
Mar.PiedmontHe returns the castles of Carisio, Settimo Rottaro, and Caravino to the Count of Savoy (conte di Savoia) in exchange for 7,000 florins in cash.
MayMilanFlorence, BolognaEmiliaAt Cento with the rest of the Visconti army. He positions himself in defense of San Giovanni in Persiceto; together with Barbiano and Pandolfo Malatesta, he clashes with Giacomo da Carrara (armed with a large lance), Muzio Attendolo Sforza, and Lancillotto Beccaria. When the opponents particularly target the mounts to kill them, he orders his men-at-arms to dismount to better confront the enemies. He approaches the Reno to cut off the water supply to Bologna: he is defeated.
JuneEmiliaHe defeats the opponents at Casalecchio di Reno; leading the vanguard with Ludovico Gabriotto Cantelli (2,000 horses), he knocks down Fuzzolino Tedesco and captures him after this commander’s mount is killed. His men also take prisoners Bernardo della Serra, Francesco Terzo da Carrara, Luca Lion, Ludovico Buzzaccarini, and Ludovico di San Bonifacio: all, with the exception of Bernardo della Serra and Carrara, are escorted to Parma. When Francesco Terzo da Carrara takes advantage of a relative freedom of movement in his place of imprisonment to flee, the condottiero claims his rights over the prisoner, imposing on him to present himself within twenty days at his castle of Borgo San Martino in Monferrato and not to leave without his special permission. He receives a refusal. Facino Cane enters Bologna with Galeazzo da Mantova through the Porta di San Donato. In the city, he raises the standard of Saint George among his own banners. He uses deception to facilitate the transfer of power in favor of the Visconti and to avoid a possible popular government.
July – Aug.EmiliaHe continues the war against the Florentines. He besieges Fiorenzuola d’Arda. Defeated, he is obliged to retreat.
Sept.LombardyIn Milan for the funeral of Duke Gian Galeazzo Visconti, which is celebrated in the city’s cathedral.
Oct.MilanChurch500 lancesEmiliaHe operates in the Parma area with his companies, plundering the territory and obstructing the connections on the roads leading to Brescello and Reggio Emilia.
Dec.EmiliaHe enters Parma through Porta Cristina and Porta Benedetta with Malatesta, Tommaso Trotti, Marcoardo dalla Rocca, and Guglielmo della Scala.
Jan.MilanGuelphsEmilia, PiedmontHe joins forces with Lancillotto and Castellino Beccaria to plunder the Guelph lands of the Pavese (Pavia), the Piacentino (Piacenza), and the countryside of Tortona.
Feb.Facino CaneCount of SavoyPiedmontHe extends his raids into the Vercellese (Vercelli area), controlled by the Savoyards (Sabaudi). Having received 8,000 florins from the ducal treasurer as a payment on his credits, he leaves Borgo San Martino and returns to Emilia.
Mar.MilanChurchGeneral captainEmiliaHe is entrusted with the general command of the troops (2,000 infantry and 400 lances) that garrison Bologna. In the city, he maintains authority above the internal hatreds.
MayEmiliaHe organizes a treaty with Bolgaro Boccatorta to seize control of Sant’Agata Bolognese; he has five citizens hanged (accusing them of theft) who have murmured against his regime, thereby quashing any expectation of discontent. At the end of the month, Gaspare di Gian Leone Leoni is hanged, guilty of having introduced into the city several messages from Nanne Gozzadini.
JuneEmiliaHe holds a palio (a traditional horse race) on Strada Saragozza. He leaves the city with 400 lances and 2,000 infantry in search of supplies; he strongly opposes the Papal militias of Alberico da Barbiano, Carlo Malatesta, and Paolo Orsini. He encamps at Casalecchio di Reno and heads towards Castel San Pietro Terme, which has fallen into the hands of the adversaries.
JulyEmiliaPaolo Orsini and Uguccione Contrari break through the wall of a small tower between Porta Castiglione and Porta Santo Stefano and storm into Bologna with 200 armed men. Facino Cane heads to that point and slaughters many of the Papal forces, some of whom are thrown from the walls after attempting to scale them. The bodies of these men, trampled by horses, are left on the ground. Facino Cane then exits the walls with 1,200 horses and attacks Uguccione Contrari, who retreats to the banks of the Idice river. There, he is attacked by Niccolò d’Este, Carlo Malatesta, and Paolo Orsini, who, after two hours, drive him back into the city with heavy losses. Among the Papal forces, 150 men are captured and brought into Bologna, dragging their flags on the ground; among the Visconteans, 300 horses are taken prisoner, among them Filippino (Facino’s brother) and Lancillotto Beccaria. In Bologna, the inhabitants caught on the walls during the enemies’ action are hanged. Mid-month, Facino Cane is named governor of Bologna following the death of Leonardo Malaspina: he orders that the Bolognese who fall into his hands be hanged and organizes expeditions to supply the city. He stations his troops in the city’s churches and orders that the bells no longer ring day and night.
Aug.Emilia, LombardyHe carries out repeated incursions and raids; he moves to Lovoleto, Cento, and Pieve di Cento where he captures 200 infantry; various food supplies and grains, as well as a hundred oxen, are conveyed from these centers to Bologna. He imposes a forced loan of 40,000 ducats at the expense of two wealthy Bolognese citizens, Bartolomeo dei Bolognini and Marchionne dei Marzoli. He moves to Lombardy and with Terzi assists the citadel of Brescia. He attacks Francesco Novello da Carrara, who had also entered the city, and after a fierce fight is pushed back into the citadel. In Bologna.
Sept.MilanAlessandria500 lancesEmilia, PiedmontAfter the signing of the Treaty of Canedio between the Papal forces of Boniface IX and Duchess Caterina Visconti, Facino Cane forms an alliance with the faction of the Scacchesi (aligned with the pro-Visconti Pepoli) to the detriment of the Ghibelline Maltraversi, supported instead by Galeazzo da Mantova and Paolo Savelli. The Scacchesi attempt to set fire to various parts of the city; dal Verme and Francesco Gonzaga arrive in Bologna to persuade the condottiero to lay down his arms. The bells ring tumultuously; the inhabitants of the borough of San Vitale rebel; they seize the gate, tear down the gates that close the main square (Piazza Maggiore), and drive out the garrison commanded by Cermisone da Parma. Facino Cane rushes in with 50 lances and retakes control of the Porta di San Vitale. Pushed back by the crowd, he retreats towards the square; after a four-hour fight in which more than 200 men fall, he is forced to head towards the western part of the city, not before setting fire to a number of houses in the Broccaindosso district (killing 12 men) and having wounded and killed with sword blows anyone who stood in the way of his charge. He takes refuge in the citadel of Pratello, where he joins with Cermisone da Parma. Realizing that resistance is impossible, he leaves; to prevent potential night attacks, he sets fire to over three hundred houses in the San Felice district. The following day, he abandons Bologna and heads towards Piedmont without encountering any obstacles. Cardinal Baldassarre Cossa enters the city in the name of the Church State; he outlaws Facino Cane and the other Visconti captains, although all are far from Bologna. Cane joins with Tommaso Malaspina; at the urging of Duchess Caterina Visconti, he moves on Alessandria, which has raised the French flag with Gabriele Guasco.
Oct.PiedmontThe garrison of the citadel of Alessandria, remaining loyal to the Visconti, is about to surrender to the besiegers: Facino Cane swoops down from the fortress on the Guelphs and the French at the head of 600 horses and the local Ghibellines. In three days, he forces the adversaries to barricade themselves in the fortress of Bergoglio. With the aid of some artillery pieces, received via the Tanaro river, he bombards the castle and compels Gabriele Guasco to surrender on terms. The rival captain is allowed to leave the city with his followers. The Armagnacs who are captured, having broken their word after being captured and released by his militias previously on the promise not to fight against the Visconti again, have their hands cut off. Alessandria is plundered for eight days. The looting operations yield such a large booty that the soldiers limit themselves to stealing only what they can carry away easily; at the same time, numerous merchants from Pavia, Casale Monferrato, and Valenza come to the city to finish stripping the houses of the wealthy Guelphs of their goods. The goods are loaded onto some ships moored in the port on the Tanaro to be transported and sold in nearby locations. Many inhabitants are also captured and forced to free themselves by paying a ransom. Due to the betrayal of the Visconti cause, a fine of 22,000 florins is finally imposed on Alessandria. Pietro Corti from Pavia, who is in charge of collecting the fine, proves unfaithful in the collection of this money; he is immediately beheaded. At the end of the massacres, Facino Cane has the relics of Saint Evasius, which had been stolen by the Alexandrians from the inhabitants of Casale Sant’Evasio (Casale Monferrato) in the distant 1215, removed from the local cathedral of San Pietro. Facino Cane secures them, along with other furnishings taken from the same cathedral, including an ancient crucifix in silver and copper plates, in his fief of Borgo San Martino. From there, after fifteen days, he solemnly transfers them to Casale Monferrato in the church of Sant’Evasio. With his relatives Filippino, Francesco, and Castellino Cane, he takes part in the processional route of 7/8 kilometers that separates Borgo San Martino from the cathedral of Casale. In the church, he is handed the key to the ark containing the relics of the martyr. Illuminations and the ringing of bells for three days celebrate the victory in Milan by the will of Caterina Visconti. As a creditor of large sums, the duchess pledges to the condottiero the lands of Valenza (worth 40,000 florins), Montecastello (8,000 florins), and Breme (7,000 florins).
Nov.Facino CaneOrléansPiedmontTwo friends of Facino Cane (Secondino Asinari and Antonio della Valle) unexpectedly occupy the castle of Burio in the territory of the Duke of Orleans. Cane, who had a hand in organizing the operation, pretends to purchase the fortress from them.
Dec.MilanPaduaPiedmont, LombardyThe troops of the governor of Asti, Giovanni di Fontaines, position themselves in front of Burio; Facino Cane immediately threatens Canelli with his bands and obtains the withdrawal of the French. He signs a truce with the transalpine forces and returns to Lombardy. He joins forces with Pandolfo Malatesta to fight against the Lord of Padua, who has seized Brescia.
Jan.LombardyHe has a bridge built over the Ticino river near Pavia, by the furnaces and outside the city walls, to allow passage to his troops coming from Alessandria. Together with Malatesta and Ludovico Gabriotto Cantelli (7,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry), he captures Pandino, crosses the Adda river, and attacks Brescia: he is repelled.
Feb.Lombardy, VenetoWith Pandolfo Malatesta, he once again attacks Brescia with cannons and enters, overcoming the resistance of the Gambara: 300 Guelphs are killed, and many others are captured. The rivals’ houses are burned and razed. He proceeds to Verona with Malatesta; upon arrival, the Visconti governor of the city, Ugolotto Biancardo, fearing possible disorders caused by the Milanese militias, does not allow them entry. An attempt by the Carraresi to seize the castle of Zevio fails; Facino Cane leaves Verona with Ugolotto Biancardo and attacks a bridge at Porcile (Belfiore) built by Filippo da Pisa. The two condottieri reach Scardovara; here the Visconti troops mutiny for the first time due to the delay in pay. With the remaining soldiers, Facino Cane arrives in the Vicenza area and fortifies Montegalda, where he is visited by the Bishop of Feltre and Belluno, Enrico Scrovegni, and dal Verme, ducal ambassadors to Venice. He tries to break through to San Martino di Lupari, assaults the barrier of Tencarola, and is opposed by Filippo da Pisa, Giacomo da Carrara, and Francesco Novello da Carrara.
Mar.Veneto, LombardyHe attempts to bypass the enemy lines by night with Ludovico Gabriotto Cantelli, leading to a fierce clash that continues until noon the next day. During the melee, Francesco Novello da Carrara requests a meeting; at the end of the fight, Cane has a discussion with the Lord of Padua, who reminds him of their old friendship. Following this remembrance, a mule loaded with flasks full of gold coins is sent; as a result, two days later, the condottiero returns to Lombardy, where he is also called by the echoes of the ongoing civil war between Guelphs and Ghibellines. On the way, he sacks Villaverla and preys on other localities in the Vicenza and Verona areas, capturing 800 men of bounty. Finally, he arrives at Brescia. He stops in front of the Porta di San Nazzaro: Malatesta allows him to enter the city with only 50 horses; indignant, he heads for Ostiglia and crosses the Po.
May – Aug.Facino CaneParmaEmiliaHe enters Piacenza with his wife and family members; he forces the Terzi to withdraw from the city and inflicts severe punishment on the Guelphs, plundering their goods and making many prisoners. He pretends to occupy the center in the name of the Count of Pavia, Filippo Maria Visconti. Within a few days, he takes control of the citadel of Fodesta and the castle of Sant’Antonio; he forcefully takes over that of Sant’Antonino. He is proclaimed by his soldiers as the lord of Piacenza as compensation for the back pay owed to him by the Duke of Milan. To win the favor of the people, Facino Cane brings in many boats from Alessandria loaded with wheat, flour, and wine, which are sold in the city at regulated prices. His wife, Beatrice Cane, who resides in the palace of Filippo Roncovieri, supports her husband’s peace-making policy by making many alms; he too exhibits the same behavior, also engaging with many pious people. He decides to dismantle from the foundations the great monastery of San Sisto, which is part of the fortifications built by the Terzi. Following the insistent prayers of those devoted to the relics of the saint contained therein, he abandons the military reasons that led to such a decision, as well as to demolish the church’s bell tower (whose sharp and thunderous ringing is unbearable to him) to please Marquis Corrado del Carretto.
Sept.Facino CaneGuelphsEmilia, PiedmontHe leaves Piacenza, furiously crosses the Lomellina, and resumes the fight against the Guelphs in the Alessandria area who have rebelled during his absence. He attacks Cairo Lomellina and Frascarolo (the castle is razed to the ground); he tears down the fortifications of Olevano di Lomellina, seizes the lands of Sant’Angelo Lomellina and Cilavegna; he allows his soldiers to return to wreak havoc in the Pavese area, especially in Stradella. Finally, he occupies Valenza without encountering significant obstacles.
Oct.LombardyFollowing the death of Duchess Caterina Visconti in Monza, where she had taken refuge to withstand Ghibelline reprisals, Facino Cane defends the claims of the new Duke of Milan, Giovanni Maria Visconti, against Malatesta and Giovanni da Vignate. The latter abandon Trezzo sull’Adda to set their sights on Milan.
Nov.LombardyHe defeats Malatesta at Pieve d’Incino; he besieges him in Erba with Francesco Visconti. Attacked by other opponents, he must abandon the enterprise.
Mar.Facino CaneGuelphsPiedmont, LombardyTogether with Marquis Teodoro of Monferrato, he attacks Francesco Barbavara in his possessions in the Valsesia. He then moves into the Pavese region.
MayPiedmontHe re-enters the Alessandria area and attacks the Guasco in their castles; he seizes the castle of San Giorgio and, against the agreed terms, arrests the defenders; he destroys the castle of Sant’Antonino, located on a hill four miles from Alessandria towards Valenza, and kills all the Guasco that fall into his hands. He gifts the fortress to the Inviziati; he occupies Valenza, Felizzano, Masio, Castello di Annone, Rocca d’Arazzo, Cassine, Borgoratto Mormirolo, Sezzadio. Conversely, he is repelled from Castellazzo, where Rizzo dal Pozzo and Domenico Trotti have entered in the name of the King of France. He negotiates a one-year truce with the French marshal Boucicaut, and even this center comes under his control. The Duke of Milan grants him the fief of Galliate, located in the Novara area, not far from the towns of Valsesia, on the north-south axis that joins his possessions of Borgo San Martino, Valenza, Montecastello, and Alessandria.
JuneEmiliaWith Francesco Visconti and Ottobono Terzi (1,000 cavalry), he occupies Piacenza and expels Malatesta and Gabrino Fondulo from the city, who had seized it four days earlier with the help of the Guelphs. The enemies are massacred.
JulyFacino CaneCount of SavoyPiedmontHe signs a five-year truce with the Count of Savoy and the Prince of Savoy-Acaia. Nonetheless, undeterred by pacts and conventions, he continues to engage in his personal way of conducting war. He penetrates the Vercellese with his lieutenant, Ambrogio da Casale; he seizes on the right bank of the Sesia the towns of Lenta, Ghislarengo, Arborio, Greggio, Albano Vercellese; on the left bank, Gattinara and other lands belonging to the Savoy.
Aug.PiedmontHe takes control of Alessandria. The Duke of Milan, Giovanni Maria Visconti, appoints him “prefectus” of the city. The condottiero changes the term to “dominus”.
Sept.MonferratoCount of SavoyPiedmontHe supports Teodoro of Monferrato against the Count of Savoy; he assists him in the acquisition of Vercelli: initially, he sends some militias under the command of Ambrogino di Casale and, subsequently, he participates personally in the action.
Oct.Facino CaneGuelphsLombardyHe arrives at Liscate with 6,000 men, including cavalry and infantry, crosses the Adda with Francesco and Gasparino Visconti, and stops at Spirano. From there, his men disperse to plunder the surrounding territory. Mid-month, he bursts into the countryside of Comun Nuovo; a gate is opened for him, and he enters the locality, which is then sacked. In a warehouse, one hundred and fifty loads of grain (rye and wheat), along with significant quantities of millet, spelt, legumes, and wine, four pigs, many chickens, capons, and geese are found; he also seizes some cannons with their ammunition. He then immediately besieges the fortress of Urgnano, held on behalf of Giovanni Piccinino Visconti. For two days, he bombards it with a cannon that launches large stones. He receives a second cannon from the citadel of Bergamo; four more days pass, and the castle’s commander surrenders on terms. Facino Cane continues his raid with 1,000 cavalry, 500 crossbowmen, and many Ghibellines from the Bergamo area; he raids through Pedrengo, Scanzo, Rosciate. He forcefully enters and conducts the usual pillaging; the booty, as always, consists of livestock, wine, forage, salted meats, cloths, chickens, and other animals. Many Guelphs are killed; the centers are set ablaze; the spoils are partly taken to Spirano, where he resides, and partly to Urgnano. He enters Alzano Lombardo with 2,000 horses with banners unfurled; large quantities of livestock of various sizes are seized; the inhabitants’ beds and other furnishings are taken. He takes 100 prisoners with him; in the action, more than twenty of his men are killed. On the way back, he sets fire to Ranica and Torre Boldone; reaches Capriate-San Gervasio; he has some cannons planted on the bank of San Gervasio to demolish an outer tower of the bridge at Trezzo sull’Adda. He besieges Paolo Capelliata Colleoni in the castle. Facino Cane wages war amid his troops and takes part in the storming of a fortification, the so-called Corna di San Gervasio. Also on this occasion, with the victory, significant quantities of wine and provisions are found, which are divided among his soldiers.
Nov.LombardyHe camps on the side of Bergamo and bombards the castle of Trezzo sull’Adda with his artillery pieces; from the Milan side, Francesco Visconti is positioned, who, also equipped with some cannons, leads 6,000 men, including infantry and cavalry, coming from Milan, Olginate, and Galbiate. Defending the castle are 1,200 men and 200 horses. Facino Cane disperses the bands coming from the Valle di San Martino and demolishes the White Tower of the fortress: the Guelphs surrender on terms, and a three-month truce is agreed upon. Finally, he moves to Ciserano and camps under Brescia in the borough of San Giovanni.
Dec.LombardyHe remains near Brescia. He meets with Malatesta and, mid-month, signs a truce with the Guelphs in Milan for a duration of one month and eight days.
Jan.LombardyHe is tasked, along with Giorgio del Carretto, to determine the dowry for the daughter of Marquis Teodoro of Monferrato, who is to marry Filippo Maria Visconti. Facino Cane is invested with the county of Biandrate; for this appointment, he accepts a gift from the people of Pavia which, by the will of the Duke of Milan, must not exceed the sum of 100 florins.
……………LombardyHe takes the castle and the possessions in Candia Lomellina from the Confalonieri.
Apr.Facino CaneParmaEmiliaHe approaches Piacenza; Terzi abandons the city, taking away many goods and numerous hostages with him. On Easter Tuesday, Facino Cane once again bursts into Piacenza and drives out the ducal garrison. He unsuccessfully besieges the castle of Sant’Antonino. He plunders the city. He brings from Alessandria several ships loaded with wheat, flour, and wine: the products are sold in the city at regulated prices.
……………MilanGuelphsLombardyHe penetrates into the Bergamo area in the name of the Duke; he destroys Vignano, Cologno al Serio, and Stezzano; he orders the cutting of vines and plants throughout the countryside.
……………Facino CaneMilanEmiliaGiovanni Maria Visconti seeks the help of Jacopo dal Verme and Carlo Malatesta to curb his insolence.
Sept.EmiliaHe self-appoints in Piacenza as governor and general captain of the duchy on behalf of the brothers Giovanni Maria and Filippo Maria Visconti. Ottobono Terzi recovers the city in the name of the Visconti.
……………LombardyCarlo Malatesta, governor of the duchy, issues a decree forbidding all subjects from serving in his companies and sets a fifteen-day deadline to comply with the order, under penalty of confiscation of goods and banishment. In retaliation, Facino Cane transfers rights, castles, and properties taken from three nobles of the Lomellina to his squad leader Andrea da Mantova.
Jan.LombardyHe finds support from the major Ghibelline leaders. His troops are joined by those of Gabriele Maria Visconti, Francesco Visconti, and Antonio Visconti.
Feb.Ghibellines, MilanGuelphsGeneral captainLombardyCarlo Malatesta distances himself from Milan. Facino Cane seizes Cassano d’Adda and, with the Ghibelline Visconti (Antonio, Francesco, and Gabriele Maria), marches against the capital. He reaches the Certosa di Garegnano and forces the duke to come to him and to restore his three Visconti allies to his favor. He gets himself appointed as the general captain while dal Verme is declared an enemy of the duke. The latter joins with Terzi and, with reinforcements sent by Malatesta, Gonzaga, Fondulo, the Venetians, and Cardinal Baldassarre Cossa, confronts him at Morimondo. The battle initially favors Facino Cane with numerous deaths on both sides; however, a surprise nighttime attack catches him unprepared and forces him to flee across the Ticino bridge, leaving 1,000 men, including Marcoardo dalla Rocca, in the hands of the opponents. Subsequently, Facino Cane reaches Binasco with Castellino Beccaria, but he cannot enter Pavia because Filippo Maria Visconti has the city’s gates closed to him. During the campaign, he demolishes the castle of Albonese.
Mar. – Apr.Facino CaneMilan, Count of SavoyPiedmont, LombardyHe retreats to Alessandria and promptly leads his troops to Biandrate and Galliate. He advances into the Lomellina and plunders all the main centers of that territory (Confienza, Sant’Angelo di Lomellina, Cilavegna, Cairo Lomellina, Lomello, Mede, and Ceranova). He keeps Amedeo of Savoy at bay and launches isolated raids into the Vercellese.
MayPiedmontHe signs yet another truce with the Count of Savoy. He clears the Vercellese area.
Sept.Lombardy, PiedmontHe suddenly attacks the Visconti forces led by Francesco Barbavara, Bonifacio Valle, Francesco, and Tristano di Mede between Frugarolo and Bosco Marengo, putting them to flight.
……………PiedmontThe captured captains (including the Counts of Mede) are thrown into prison and strangled. Facino Cane has Guido dal Pozzo, Tommaso, and Obizzo Trotti arrested, who are likewise tortured and executed.
Jan.LombardyWith the final departure of dal Verme from Milan to Venice, he leads his army against the capital of the duchy; he lays siege to Busto Arsizio.
Feb.Facino CaneCount of PaviaLombardyThe Duke of Milan (Duca di Milano) issues a new edict against the subjects of the duchy who continue to serve in his companies. Facino Cane, along with Castellino Beccaria, wages war against Filippo Maria Visconti. He encamps on the left bank of the Ticino River, thereby interrupting communications and trade between Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) and Milan (Milano).
Apr.LombardyHe once again assaults Busto Arsizio. His militias occupy the countryside around the village, stopping outside the range of the crossbows. He threatens to sack and set fire to the area. The vicar of Seprio (Vicario del Seprio), Benedetto da Marano, supplies provisions to his troops, and Stangalino della Palude secures the release of a prisoner dear to Facino Cane, captured by the Visconti at Busto Garolfo. During the night, he clears his troops out: for the inhabitants, this event is linked to a miraculous intervention of the Magi Kings (Re Magi).
MayLombardyHe moves along the banks of the Ticino river, where he has some bastions constructed to control the movements of the ducal militias. In the same month, he facilitates Francesco Rusca’s entry into Como, and his people participate in the plundering of the Vitani houses. Malatesta, who has held the position of podestà, is expelled from the city. Facino Cane leaves Como after four days due to the approach of the ducal forces.
Aug.LombardyHe attempts to take control of Vigevano: on the same day, Carlo Malatesta abandons the Milanese territory, and his brother Andrea becomes the governor in his place.
Sept.Facino CaneFranceLombardyHe occupies Novara at the expense of Boucicaut. The city is sacked by his men-at-arms.
Oct.LombardyHe persuades the castellan of the great tower, Matteo Mameli, to let him enter Como; he takes over the lordship of the city.
Nov. – Dec.Facino CaneMilanLombardyHe tightens the siege of Milan. By the end of the year, the city is surrounded on all sides: to the north, along the line of Cantù, by the soldiers of Giovanni Piccinino Visconti; to the east, towards Monza and Trezzo sull’Adda, by those of Astorre Visconti and the Colleoni; to the south by the bands of Facino Cane.
Jan. – Feb.CaneMilan, FranceLombardy, PiedmontHe initiates peace negotiations with Giovanni Maria Visconti. The Duke of Milan deceives him and forms an alliance with Boucicaut, the French governor of Genoa. Enraged by the deception, he allies with Marquis Theodore of Monferrato (Teodoro di Monferrato) and takes Vercelli from Giacomo Arcelli; he reconquers Alessandria.
Mar.LombardyHe advances on Pavia with the Beccaria family (expelled from the city) and leads his people to encamp under the castle where Filippo Maria Visconti (Filippo Maria Visconti) has barricaded himself. He plunders the park and the nearby countryside. Carlo and Pandolfo Malatesta march against him.
Apr.LombardyWith the favor of the Ghibellines, Giovanni da Vignate, Astorre Visconti, and Theodore of Monferrato (Teodoro di Monferrato), he fords the Adda River, subdues the Monte di Brianza, and clashes with Malatesta at Rovegnate. The battle lasts two hours; the following day, the two commanders meet and agree that it is not worthwhile to continue fighting each other when the threat of a French occupation of Milan looms. The two captains form an alliance and unite their forces. Facino Cane reconquers Melegnano and besieges Milan with 3,000 cavalry: the pretext is the recovery of a debt of 50,000 florins for unpaid wages.
MayLombardy, PiedmontHe positions his camp at Ronchetto, two miles from Porta Ticinese; repelled, he falls back to Magenta with Marquis Theodore of Monferrato (Teodoro di Monferrato). He surprises 1,500 French men-at-arms at Castellazzo. At the end of the month, Facino Cane is in Cassano d’Adda from where he begins negotiations with the Duke of Milan.
JuneMilanFranceLombardyHaving reached an agreement with the duke, he is granted Varese, Castiglione Olona, Lonate Pozzolo, Castano Primo, and other smaller locations in the County of Seprio, between Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) and Lake Como (Lago di Como). Upon signing the peace, he demands the expulsion of the duke’s counselors and all the French.
JulyLombardyHe takes control of Mortara, bursts into Vigevano, which comes under his control at the expense of the Count of Pavia. With the withdrawal of the Malatesta, Facino Cane is left to deal alone with Boucicaut. The latter leaves Genoa and takes possession of Piacenza.
Aug.Lombardy, LiguriaFacino Cane enters Milan with the Guelphs of Giovanni da Vignate and Giorgio Benzoni. Shortly thereafter, he turns against Genoa with Monferrato, the Doria, and the Spinola families. The commander comes in sight of the city and separates from his allies: he advances with 1,800 cavalry and 200 infantry through Val Polcevera up to Sampierdarena; Marquis Theodore of Monferrato (Teodoro di Monferrato), on the other hand, moves with 800 infantry and 1,800 cavalry through Val di Bisagno and blocks Genoa from the east.
Sept.LiguriaGenoa rises up; during the riots, Boucicaut’s lieutenant, Ugo di Cholet, is killed, having taken refuge in the Castelletto with 2,000 infantry. Marquis Theodore of Monferrato (Teodoro di Monferrato) is offered the governance of the city, and to Facino Cane, who is stationed at Sampierdarena, 30,000 florins are sent to persuade him to move away with his troops from Liguria. During the same days, Boucicaut enters Milan with 5,500 cavalry and 600 infantry: he fails to take control of the Porta Giovia castle. Upon hearing what happened in Genoa, the French captain leaves Milan and moves to Sant’Angelo Lodigiano.
Oct.PiedmontFacino Cane heads to Novi Ligure: the castle, defended by a French garrison, resists him. Boucicaut moves against him, and the two armies clash between Sale and Frugarolo. The French are defeated at Gavi. In the conflict, 800 men are killed, mostly Italians: Boucicaut retreats into the castle while Facino Cane stays in the city. Only the intervention of Andrea Malatesta, returned to the governance of the duchy, restores the lost possessions to the transalpines and allows them to return to Genoa.
Nov.LombardyHe meets in Vigevano with Giovanni Maria Visconti and is appointed governor of the duchy in place of Andrea Malatesta. He enters Milan solemnly, accompanied by all his supporters who had recently been expelled by the duke. He favors the Ghibelline faction and demands the commune to pay 30,000 florins owed to him for the wheat supply he had provided to the starving inhabitants during the winter. As on other occasions, he encourages trade, reforms the currency, and presses delinquent taxpayers. In accordance with the chapters previously stipulated with Vigevano and Mortara, he collects consumption duties on bread, wine, and meat and the merchandise duty from the inhabitants of the two centers (however, he absolves them of the censo). Abuses and private vendettas arouse discontent against him; this soon materializes into a conspiracy, instigated by the duke himself, to suppress him.
Jan.LombardyHe grants Brebbia as a fief to one of his supporters (Pietro Besozzi).
Mar.LombardyHe reaches an agreement with Astorre Visconti, lord of Monza.
Apr.LombardyGiovanni Maria Visconti attempts to have him killed by some provisioners in the ducal palace of Milan while he is crossing the second courtyard of the Arengo. Facino Cane, alert and self-aware, turns his horse, charges at the duke’s men who draw their swords, sustains only a head wound from striking a half-open gate, and exits through Porta Tosa which is controlled by his captain Giorgio Valperga. He moves to Rosate: Carlo Malatesta, the new governor of the duchy, and Andrea da Baggio, who are not involved in the assassination attempt, facilitate a reconciliation between the commander and the duke.
MayLombardyHe invites Giovanni Maria Visconti to a hunting party; during confidential talks held in the thick of a forest, he persuades the duke to grant him the governance of the duchy for three years. The commune also swears allegiance to him. Facino Cane concludes a truce with Giovanni da Vignate and with Filippino da Desio, the rebellious castellan of Melegnano.
JuneLombardyHe signs a truce with Giorgio Benzoni; he also reconciles with Giovanni Piccinino Visconti, Astorre Visconti, and the Colleoni family, who control Trezzo on the Adda River. He orders the bell towers to be set on fire where the rebels from Desio and Gorgonzola have taken refuge.
JulyPiedmontHe secures the surrender of Castellazzo Bormida. He negotiates with the French cavalry.
Oct.LombardyHe attempts to recapture Melegnano, which is in the hands of Filippino, Antonio, and Maffiolo di Desio, allies of Malatesta. The three brothers are accused of treason, their assets are confiscated, their houses demolished, except for the façade, in order to depict them as traitors hanging from the gallows.
Dec.CanePaviaLombardyHe sets his sights on Pavia; with the help of Castellino Beccaria, who guards the small fortress on the bridge, he enters the city without difficulty. Pavia is pillaged with ferocious methodicalness, first in the houses of the Guelphs and then in those of the Ghibellines. The courts with tax records, the registers of doctors, the workshops of artisans and merchants, and the city archives are all destroyed. Filippo Maria Visconti barely escapes to the castle and must resign himself to recognizing the authority of the commander. Tortona is ceded to him, along with the surrounding territory known as the Vescovado.
Jan.LombardyMid-month, a new act of concord is drawn up between Facino Cane and the Beccaria on one side and the Count of Pavia on the other. The commander appoints Giovanni Tornielli and Urbano di San Luigi as the stewards of the Pavia castle.
Mar.Facino CaneCount of SavoyPiedmontHe attacks the lands of the Count of Savoy (Conte di Savoia) with his bands.
Apr.Facino CaneCantùLombardyWith the help of Bernabò Carcano, he drives Giovanni Piccinino Visconti from Cantù. The latter finds asylum in nearby Monza with Astorre Visconti.
SpringFacino CaneBresciaLombardyHe continually opposes Pandolfo Malatesta. Reinforced by Cremonese militias led by Muzio Botta, he resumes the offensive and forces Giovanni da Terzo, who commands a smaller number of men, to retreat across the Oglio River.
…………PiedmontHe purchases Gavi, Montaldo, and Paladio from the French for 15,000 florins.
Aug.LombardyHe attacks Astorre Visconti in Monza. The action fails. After a few days, he prefers to reach an agreement with his rival.
Oct.LombardyIn Abbiategrasso; from here, he demands that the Savoyard captain of Piedmont, Enrico di Colombier, to return Val d’Ossola: otherwise, he threatens to attack the Count of Savoy once again.
Nov.PiedmontHe has Viviano Guasco beheaded; he takes Gabriele and Cristoforo Guasco from the Visconti (with the recognition of a hefty ransom) and has both their heads cut off.
Dec.LombardyHe offers to fight the Hungarians of Emperor Sigismund (Sigismondo) for the Venetians; he sends 25,000 staia of wheat to Venice, well received due to the lack of provisions in the Venetian territories. He moves against Malatesta and defeats him at Quinzano d’Oglio. He attacks the Bergamo area.
Jan.LombardyHe occupies Melegnano and leaves Giovanni Tornielli and Urbano di San Luigi as castellans. He assaults Soncino but is repelled by Giovanni da Covo; he achieves a similar result with his attack on Asola.
Mar.LombardyHe allies with the Boccacci, instigators of a rebellion against Malatesta in Lonato and Rivoltella; he reaches an agreement with Cominzolo Suardi, who, enticed by a large sum of money, kills the constable of a gate of Bergamo. Facino Cane is again repelled by the inhabitants and the Guelphs who quickly come from Sorisole, Ponteranica, and Val Brembana.
MayLombardyHe returns to lay siege to Bergamo. Mid-month, as he is about to enter the suburbs of the city, he is struck by a violent attack of gout. He is quickly taken to the castle of Pavia; here he is informed of the assassination of Duke Giovanni Maria Visconti, which occurred the previous day. He calls for the Archbishop of Milan, Bartolomeo Capra, to entrust him with the care of Filippo Maria Visconti and his wife Beatrice Cane (Beatrice di Tenda). Shortly after, he dies. He is buried in Pavia, in the church of Sant’Agostino, also known as San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, three days after his death, without any ceremony or inscription on the tomb. The monument, later erected by his wife, will be destroyed at the beginning of the 1900s to extract lime from it. Beatrice di Tenda marries Filippo Maria Visconti in a second marriage, bringing as her dowry 400,000 florins, her troops, as well as the possession of western Lombardy and eastern Piedmont. At the end of August 1418, the woman is arrested by her husband, the Duke of Milan, on charges of adultery; transported to the castle of Binasco, she is tortured to extract a confession on the orders of the judge Gasparino de’ Grassi. Finally, she is beheaded along with her alleged lover Michele Orombello, and two horses that were witnesses to their guilt. “Facino Cane” is the title of a story by Honoré de Balzac.


-“Facino Cane fu considerato dai suoi contemporanei come una sorta di flagello naturale: una forza bruta scatenata, contro cui non valevano né difese, né scongiure..ladrone, malvagio, drago… Nella sua azione non è possibile rintracciare alcun disegno stabilito, ma solo il sentimento di una prodigiosa capacità di lottare per raggiungere ad ora ad ora le soddisfazioni della prepotenza, dell’odio, della rivalsa, della vittoria. Tutte le vicende della sua vita..confermano che soltanto il fortunoso cammino delle cose suggerì, di volta in volta, al suo impulso la direzione della..guerra…(Tra le) forme di guerra egli prediligeva..l’assalto ai borghi e alle campagne disperse, le devastazioni, gl’incendi, le rapine di uomini e di animali, le inutili crudeltà dei ferimenti e degli omicidi..Facino ammazzava e rubava sistematicamente: questa era, in una parola, la sua tattica…Il suo ghibellinismo era di un genere tutto speciale, diverso anche da quello ..dei Visconti ribelli e dei Beccaria..Facino era solo un disperato capobanda, sciolto da ogni stabile vincolo di tradizione o di casta o di ceto sociale, come da ogni determinato disegno per l’avvenire che non fosse la brutale aspirazione alla potenza e al dominio.” VALERI

-“Non conobbe mai pace; la sua vita si svolse avventurosa, violenta, senza riposo né tregua, sempre avvolta in lunghe e dure calamità, grondando spesso sangue e macchiate di molte colpe.” ARGEGNI

-“Questo Facino fu grande persecutore de Gelfi, e molti ne fece morire, maxime in Alexandria.” CAGNOLA

-“At neque pace virum celebrem belloque Facinum/ Quem vulgo dixere Canem, testata sagacia/ Ante alios, vigilemque ducem cognomina in armis/ Praeterea intactum.” BATTISTA MANTOVANO

-“Facino era un cavaliere impareggiabile e la sua specialità erano le fulminee incursioni e le operazioni di saccheggio alla testa di contingenti di cavalleria. Correva anche la voce che fosse brutale, ma la sua era una brutalità deliberata, intesa a spargere attorno a sé il terrore più grande possibile e così incontrare resistenza minima alle sue imprese.” MALLETT

-“Capitaine très renommé en Italie.” MONTRELET

-“Ch’era uno ladrone.” CORPUS CHRONIC. BONOMIENSUM

-“Dux copiarum egregium.” PLATINA

-“Eccellentissimo capitano de suoi tempi.” SANSOVINO

-“Di animo grande, intrepido, e per giungere a’ suoi fini, passionatissimo ghibellino.” SERRA

-“Vir (preter hoc quod armorum strenuus aliquando) omni vita nequitiae cultor..Ne quid vel factioni vel sceler deesset.” BILLIA

-“Celebre partigiano e condottiero del secolo XIV.” BOSI

-“Fu Facino Cane soldato di grande coraggio e bravura; né alcuno dei valorosi capitani che sopravvissero a Gian Galeazzo Visconti ebbe un potere più vasto ed assoluto di quello ch’egli seppe esercitare, avendo tratto a sé il governo dello stato, punto badando che ci fossero un conte di Pavia ed un duca di Milano.. Ma egli sortì animo feroce ed avarissimo. Per cupidità di danaro e per spirito di vendetta sfogò la rabbia sua sopra inermi popolazioni, di cui devastò le campagne e gli abitanti. Però all’anarchia del ducato e del contado assaliti da ogni parte da nemici, Facino seppe porre un freno ed impedì che la Francia si piantasse nel cuore della Lombardia.” MAGENTA

-“Nobile casalasco e celebre capitano di ventura.” CIBRARIO

-“Huomo gagliardo di cervello e inquieto d’animo.” MONTEMERLO

-“Nec meo recordatu quemquam alium melius nec pulchrius equitantem vidi..Ipse autem Facinus potuit dicisecundus Alexander.” REDUSIO

-“Visse per lo più di saccheggi e di brutalità compiuti insieme con i suoi soldati..La brutalità dei suoi metodi lo portò al successo in un ambiente politico in cui un condottiero più raffinato e meno spietato di lui, come Iacopo Dal Verme, restò soccombente…Il Cane riuscì a conquistare un potere poltico che mai un condottiero aveva raggiunto prima di lui.. Il suo successo dipese largamente dall’abilità con cui egli riuscì a mantenere e ad accrescere il suo esercito guidandolo in imprese gradite ai soldati; i calcoli dei cronisti differiscono tra loro, ma si può dire che a..partire dal 1405, quando spesso si trovò impegnato su due fronti, il Cane riuscì a mettere in campo 5 o 6000 uomini.” BUENO DE MESQUITA

-“Famoso condottiero.” PAGANO

-“Quem valde Lombardi timebant.” STELLA

-“Capitano valoroso.” VEDRIANI

-“Huomo avaro, bestiale e nimico di ogni ragione, di maniera che per le sue perverse condittioni era grandemente odiato da tutto il popolo Bolognese.” VIZANI

-“Est le premier grand nom du XV siè détestait l’inaction, restait un soldat, un conquérant.” LABANDE

-“Generoso ed inarrivabile guerriero..Austero ed animoso condottiero, che aveva riempito queste regioni (il Piemonte) della gloria del suo nome..L’Italia non vide mai guerriero più generoso, né più valoroso e intrepido l’Europa.” V. DE CONTI

-“La prima virtù di Facino nell’armi fu l’esser ultimo ne gli honori. Non andò al campo come re, ma come soldato, e con l’hasta sola si mise tra ‘fanti nelle prime fila; godendo valore, acquistò anche per sua esperienza la riputazione, e dall’applauso de’ soldati e dell’autorità de’ principi grandi fu eletto Capitano; teneva in perpetuo esercitio i suoi soldati, quasi un altro Corbulone, co’l portar’armi, cavar fosse, correr lancie, maneggiar destrieri; né gl’insegnava ad ornar la chioma, a vestir d’oro, a consigliar gli specchi e starci ne’ conviti o fra le meretrici, ma con severa disciplina a dormire sopra la nuda terra, a indurirsi nelle fatiche, a godere ne’ sudori e ne’ travagli..Premiava i buoni, lodava i forti, confortava i timidi, allettava gli avidi, lusingava i superbi; più dissimulava i vitii che le virtù; più con la vergogna puniva, che co’ fatti; e compagno a tutti del pericolo, inanimava ciascheduno con l’esempio. Talhora etiandio con le pene di pochi castigava i delitti di molti..brevemente la prudenza, ch’era la più bella gioia delle sue virtù, reggeva il suo animo.” MAFFEI

-“Potentissimo condottiero d’armi.” G.ROVELLI

-“Fu uomo brutale.” MUZZI 

-“Di oscuro e semplice milite ch’egli era, venuto al grado di condottiero d’eserciti e poscia di principe, la vita dei campi e delle battaglie aveva in lui ammezzata, non corretta la rozza natura: quindi non cortesia, non umanità, ma intolleranza ed impeto brutale..I mezzi ch’egli adoperò per innalzarsi e sostenersi al suo posto, si restringevano ad uno solo: la forza brutale.” A-VALLE

-“Capitano valoroso in guerra, ma ingordamente rapace e molto partiale.” GIOVIO

-“Gran capitano..Fece al suo tempo di mirabili facti.” BROGLIO

-“Valoroso e sagace, quanto crudele e ambizioso.” BONFADINI

-“Feroce tiranno.” BIMA

-“Figura tipicamente medioevale di partigiano, di feudatario, di capitano di ventura, egli ebbe però le doti di ingegno ed il vigore di temperamento di grande condottiero. Col suo talento seppe acquistarsi molta riputazione, tanto che tutti i principi lo avrebbero voluto al proprio servizio; la fortuna gli arrise sempre..Non migliore né peggiore dei suoi contemporanei e dei principi per quali militava, ambizioso e astuto, feroce e altero, sempre vittorioso…(Di) intelligenza pronta, audacia senza limiti, azione forte e sicura, astuzia inesauribile.” BIGNAMI

-“Owed his nom de guerre, “the Dog”, rather to his aggressive qualities than to his outstanding fidelity…Piedmontese ruffian who was to carve himself so profitable a career under the Visconti.” TREASE

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

-Con Niccolò Piccinino, Uguccione della Faggiuola, Castruccio Castracani, Lodrisio Visconti, Giovanni Acuto, Bartolomeo Colleoni ed il Carmagnola “Furono capi notissimi per le loro imprese.” AGOSTINI

-Con Ottobono Terzi “Nell’armi assai prodi.” FORMENTON

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

-“Cane would soon make his mark as an enemy of Florence in the armies of Milan and as one of the greatest “condottieri” of the fifteenth century.” CAFERRO

-“A condottiere famed for his lightning speed of attack.” STONOR SAUNDERS

-“E’ stato un condottiero italiano, famoso per esser stato un crudele mercenario nell’Italia settentrionale tra il XIV-XV secolo.” WIKIPEDIA

-“Lampi di tragedie, furori e devastazioni, intrighi, crudeltà e delitti fanno da sfondo alla figura di questo singolare personaggio…Uno scenario shakesperiano gli si addice…perché seppe esprimere al massimo le possibilità d’imporsi al vertice del potere da parte di un condottiero.” RENDINA

-“Uomo sbalestrato di cervello.” LOMONACO

“Nominatissimum in armis virum…Praestantissimum in armis virum, magistrum et ducem.” FACIO

-“Smodata sete di guadagno, spietata efficacia militare e grande ambizione di affermazione sociale e politica: probabilmente nessuno fra i grandi capitani di inizio Quattrocento sintetizzò in sé queste caratteristiche quanto lo fece Facino Cane, un personaggio affascinante nel quale si trovano, amplificati al massimo, i caratteri propri di tutta una stagione della politica e delle guerre dell’Italia a cavallo fra Medioevo e Rinascimento.” GULLO

-“(Esempio di coloro che salirono) dagli ultimi a’ supremi gradi della milizia con somma audacia e scaltrezza impareggiabili.” RICOTTI

-“Ardito e vittorioso..astuto capitano..cavalcatore eccellente, coraggiosissimo, nessun pericolo schivò nelle battaglie, sempre primo nell’andarci, ultimo a tornarne, sempre ad un modo esperto capitano e prode soldato…Raggiunse la potenza d’un re, di sommo guerriero la fama.” GHIRON

-“Seppe col suo ingegno acquistarsi tale riputazione.. da diventare in ultimo quasi arbitro del ducato di Milano.” GALLI

-“A Piacenza come a Casale.. ogni manifestazione della religiosità faciniana appare subordinata a un superiore disegno militare e politico. In tale disegno trovano posto le più vistose antinomie di un personaggio che (come tanti altri suoi contemporanei) non esitò a coniugare la religione cristiana alla violenza più efferata, il culto dei santi alle ripetute devastazioni di edifici religiosi, le pie elemosine alle ruberie più inique.” FERRERO

-“Prediligeva le scelte imprevedibili, le azioni feroci e impressionanti, e le sue iniziative, spesso inattese e talvolta misteriose nei loro obiettivi, erano congegnate per generare incertezza, timore e sgomento..Facino Cane fu certamente un distruttore, un predone, ma anche un costruttore di patrimoni materiali e immateriali e un imprenditore fortunato…Aveva messo insieme una compagnia di alto livello, dei quadri di comando di qualità riconosciute, uno staff di collaboratori esperti e fedeli. Aveva messo da parte un considerevole tesoro materiale, e, grazie all’attività militare e a varie operazioni fortunate, controllava diverse città e terre minori, luoghi che in parte riusciva a dominare effettivamente mediante uomini e officiali, in parte realizzava semplicemente come pegno e come cassa da cui estraeva le risorse finanziarie che occorrevano alla compagnia e alla conduzione dell’attività militare…Se si considerano le qualità imprenditoriali di Facino, la sua capacità di selezionatore di uomini, l’adattabilità ai cambiamenti, si può osservare che se davvero il casalese si fosse comportato in modo irrazionale e ottusamente brutale e spietato, come vogliono alcuni biografi, non avrebbe ottenuto i successi che si conoscono, né avrebbe conseguito i ricchi ingaggi che gli furono offerti, né aumentato costantemente la sua compagnia, né formato uomini e amministratori di qualità, né approfittato dei tempi calamitosi in cui visse per acquisire importanti signorie.” COVINI

-“Condottiero molto temuto in Lombardia.” REBUSCHINI

-“Prode e terribile condottiero di eserciti.” CASALIS

-“Facino Cane riuscì a conquistare un potere politico che mai un condottiero di ventura aveva raggiunto prima di lui..Visse per lo più di saccheggi e di brutalità insieme con i suoi soldati, perciò l’opinione generale dei contemporanei lo condanna, così come condannano altri – Ottobono Terzo, ad esempio – certamente non migliori di lui. Uberto Decembrio, che lo chiama “spurchus homo et nequam, de stercore ad tytannidem evectus”, aveva sofferto la sua prigionia. Ma certo altri contemporanei, meno prevenuti contro di lui, lo dipingono negli stessi toni. Tipico è il commento del Billia “vir (preter hoc quod armorum strenuus alquando) omni vita nequitate cultor.””  PIANO

-“Da aristocratico-capitano di compagnia, si rende protagonista di una sbalorditiva scalata al potere che lo porta, alla morte di Gian Galeazzo Visconti, ad esercitare un ruolo pari a quello di un signore a tutti gli effetti.” BALESTRACCI

-“E’ stato messo in luce come Facino Cane fosse un abile imprenditore militare, capace di gestire la propria carriera e la propria compagnia, attraverso un delicato equilibrio di pianificazione strategica e operatività brutale. Saccheggi, devastazioni, prede e bottini erano elementi che garantivano, non solo un’integrazione del salario dei soldati e un elemento di finanziamento dal nemico, ma anche la crescita di una fiamma e di un prestigio che soli potevano garantirgli il saldo comando sugli uomini e un indubbio peso contrattuale nei negoziati con borghi, città e signori.” BERTONI

     Specific Biographies

-B. del Bo – A. A. Settia. Facino Cane. Predone, condottiero e politico.

-M. Granata. Facino Cane.

-E. Galli. Facino Cane e le guerre guelfo ghibelline nell’Italia settentrionale (1360-1400).

-I. Ghiron. Della vita e delle militari imprese di Facino Cane.

-N. Valeri. La vita di Facino Cane.

-P. Piano. Facino Cane. Condottiero italiano. 1412-2012

Featured image: Catalogo Beni Culturali

Topics: Facino Cane military campaigns, Brutality and leadership of Facino Cane, Facino Cane’s political influence in Milan,
History of condottieri in Italy, Facino Cane’s conquests and legacy, Rise of mercenaries during Visconti rule, Facino Cane’s impact on medieval Italian politics

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