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

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Giovanni Unghero, Janos Horvath: The Valor of a Forgotten Condottiere

Italian CondottieriGiovanni Unghero, Janos Horvath: The Valor of a Forgotten Condottiere

Valorous condottiero who has left a deep mark in the Italian wars. On the military front, he is famous for the brutality and ruthlessness of his actions

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Giovanni Unghero/Janos Horvath (Giovanni di Horwaz, Giovanni Samaritano, Giovanni Bano) from Croatia. Wealthy landowner. Count of Zara. Nephew of Stefano Unghero (Stefano di Transilvania)

Death: 1394

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
SummerPaduaVeniceVenetoOn a diplomatic mission to Venice. Since the results prove fruitless, he begins to fight the militias of the Serenissima.
Dec.VenetoHe leads with 700 horses the reinforcements sent by King Louis of Hungary to the Carraresi. The Venetians, informed of his arrival, order Taddeo Giustinian and Gerardo da Camino to reach Cordignano to oppose him on the Livenza near Sacile. The Hungarians are informed by the Counts of Prata of the ambush; they take another road, cross the river at Brugnera, and hurry towards the Piave. The Venetians set up an ambush at Nervesa della Battaglia; with Voivode Benedetto Unghero, Giovanni Unghero decides to divide the army into two parts: one must attempt the ford at Ospedaletto, the other at Nervesa della Battaglia where there are 300 lances and 200 infantry. Benedetto Unghero is repelled at Nervesa della Battaglia; Giovanni Unghero, with a flanking move, falls behind the Venetians and recalls the other Hungarians. After a fierce fight, the opponents flee; Gerardo da Camino must surrender; Taddeo Giustinian, seriously wounded, manages to ford the Piave only to be captured in the following days. In the hands of Giovanni Unghero, all the banners of Saint Mark come; the prisoners, including Rizzolino degli Azzoni, are taken to Cittadella and Padua.
Jan. – Feb.Veneto, HungaryIn Padua, he participates in a war council attended by the city’s lord, Francesco da Carrara, along with Simone Lupo, Luigi Forzaté, the bano Benedetto Unghero, Giorgio Unghero, Giovanni di Polisna, and Federico di Mathelor. He travels to Venice on behalf of the King of Hungary, and in mid-February, he returns to Hungary.
Apr.Veneto400 Paduan sappers begin digging a moat leading from Curano to Camponogara and constructing a bastion at Lova. During his absence, the Venetians launch an attack on the fortifications, but his prompt intervention foils any hostile intentions.
July – Sept.VenetoAfter suffering defeat at Buon Conforto by his uncle, Voivode Stefano of Transylvania Stefano Unghero returns to the Veneto. He crosses the Piave River with 1000/1500 horses and comes to the aid of the Carrara family. He reaches Cittadella and Padua, where he is welcomed with all honors by Francesco da Carrara. In early September, another 5000 Hungarian horses arrive. There are raids in the Treviso region, with towns plundered, houses set ablaze, people captured, and taken far from their homes.
JunePaduaVenice, MilanVeneto, HungaryHe crosses the Piave River with the voivode and 5000 Hungarian horses. Some guides await him at Castello di Godego and lead him to Limena, reached within two days. The decision is made to besiege Mestre, and the siege begins. He plunders the Treviso region near Castelfranco Veneto, resulting in numerous prisoners and stolen livestock. Shortly after, he relinquishes command of the troops to his brother and returns to Hungary.
Jan.Hungary, Veneto, LombardyHe returns to Italy at the head of many horses and joins forces with the Scaligeri family. They embark on a raid in the Brescia region, setting up camp near the capital and fortifying it with moats and bastions. They then move into the Cremona area, causing trouble for Bernabò Visconti, who is allied with the Venetians. He divides the spoils among his men in Mantua, totaling 1700 prisoners and 20,000 head of livestock. They head towards Verona and catch Giovanni Acuto (John Hawkwood) and Lucio Lando by surprise as they cross the Adige River, having just conducted a raid in Valpolicella. They seize a portion of the opponents’ loot.
…………Veneto, LombardyHe repeats the devastations in Lombardy for a second time. Upon his return, he stops in Verona. Here, he is approached by a messenger from Bernabò Visconti, who wishes to meet him in Milan. A substantial sum of money is delivered to him, and the disturbances to Visconti’s territories come to an end.
Aug.VenetoHe arrives in Sandrigo with 3000 horses, passing through Caldogno and Creazzo. He then heads towards Montebelluna, taking the path of Maddalena and the Gazzo district, spreading desolation everywhere he goes.
MayVenetoIn the Treviso region, he captures a convoy of 800 mules carrying supplies to the capital. The men are imprisoned in Friuli.
JulyDurazzoNaplesGeneral captainVeneto, Tuscany, CampaniaAt the end of the conflict, he follows Charles of Durazzo with 8000 Hungarians and 1000 Italians in the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples. He is reported at Santa Lucia in Verona, but the Florentines deny passage to the army. Giovanni Unghero heads to Pisa, where he is provided with sufficient supplies and forage for his needs. In the same month, he arrives in Naples and defeats Otto of Brunswick at the Maddalena Bridge.
Jan.VenetoOn behalf of the King of Hungary, he follows the negotiations for the transfer of Treviso to Duke Leopold of Austria. He becomes estranged from the Carrara family after attempting to persuade them to abandon Asolo. In the end, a compromise is reached where he obtains the fortress from the Venetians. It is temporarily handed over to Arcuano Buzzaccarini pending the Hungarian king’s final decision regarding its fate.
Mar. – Apr.PaduaVeniceVeneto, FriuliHe moves into the territory of Ceneda (Vittorio Veneto), using it as a logistical base for his raids. He stops at Colle and, after a treaty with two constables of the upper castle of Conegliano, approaches with ladders and enters with 280 soldiers. The defenders notice the Hungarians and repel his assault, resulting in the death of 30 men among his troops and the capture of 28, including one of the two constables. All the prisoners are hanged around the castle.
MayVenetoHe besieges Vittorio Veneto, but halfway through the month, he returns to Padua and abandons all initiatives because the troops of the Duke of Austria, an ally of the Hungarians, have entered Treviso.
JuneVeneto, TuscanyWith the departure of the Duke of Austria, he hands over Portobuffolé to the Carrara family, which the Hungarians had previously captured from Guecellone da Camino. He then moves to Tuscany and gathers troops once again on behalf of Carlo di Durazzo.
Aug.TuscanyHe forms an alliance with Giovanni Acuto, who serves the Florentines. In the middle of the month, he leaves Florence and arrives in Montepulciano with 1500 lances, comprising both Germans and Italians.
Oct.Comp. venturaFlorence, SienaTuscany, UmbriaHe is reported in Calcinaia. Alongside Acuto and Corrado Lando (Konrad Von Weitingen), he signs an agreement in the convent of the Franciscan friars in Isola Romanesca (Bastia Umbra). According to this agreement, he promises not to harm the cities of Florence and its allies for three months and not to cross their territories without their authorization. He moves to the Val di Chiana with Acuto, and the Sienese deliver an additional 4000 florins (actually 5600) to various companies in the Perugian region.
Jan.NaplesAnjouMarcheHe faces off with Giovanni Carladorem in Romagna against the supporters of Louis of Anjou. He stations himself in the countryside near Fano for the winter but is driven away by the militias of the Ordelaffi, the Manfredi, and the da Polenta families.
1384HungaryUpon his return to Hungary, he supports Charles of Durazzo in his endeavor to seize control of the kingdom for which the King of Naples has also been named sovereign.
Feb.HungaryCharles of Durazzo is killed by Balasz Forgach, driven by Queen Elisabeth, widow of Louis of Hungary, and her favorite, the bano of Croatia and Dalmatia, Miklos Garai.
…………BaronsBohemiaHungaryHe forms an alliance with the Prior of Aurana, Giovanni di Polisna, and with Tvartko I, the Ban of Bosnia, his former enemy. Together, they take up arms against the central power, marking the beginning of a general uprising in the southern regions of the Kingdom of Hungary. Faced with an army of 30,000 men, he ambushes the enemies near Dicko, capturing Queen Maria, the wife of the Margrave of Brandenburg, Sigismund of Bohemia, as well as Elisabeth, her mother, and Count Miklos Garai. He has Balasz Forgach, the assassin of Charles of Durazzo, and the Ban of Croatia, executed. The bleeding head of the latter is thrown into the carriage carrying Queen Maria; others claim that Giovanni Unghero himself threw the head into a river. Some reports suggest he sent it to Naples, along with Forgach’s head, as a trophy to the widow of Charles of Durazzo, Margherita d’Angiò. Giovanni Unghero proclaims Ladislaus of Anjou, the son of Charles of Durazzo, as the King of Hungary. His two prisoners are initially taken to the fortress of Gomnec (or Ivanc).
1387/ 1388In January, Giovanni Unghero has Queen Elisabeth executed in front of her daughter Maria by the Borzota River. Maria is first imprisoned in the Krupac Castle in Bosnia and then in Castelnuovo (Montenegro, Herceg Novi), under the supervision of Giovanni di Polisna. The conflict continues. Initially, his supporters occupy much of the southern Hungarian domains, while the Prior of Aurana, Giovanni di Polisna, proclaims himself Ban of Dalmatia, Croatia, and Slovenia. The reaction of Sigismund of Bohemia, supported by the Venetians and leading a strong army into Hungary, is swift.
In June, the Count of Veglia, Modrus, and Segna forces Giovanni di Polisna, his ally, to release Queen Maria. With the support of the Kings of Bosnia and Serbia, Stjepan Tvrtko Kotromanic, during Holy Week of 1388, Giovanni Unghero crosses the Sava River with Istvan Hédervari Kont. They enter Sirmia and the County of Valko, waving the flags of the Kingdom of Naples. Their advance is halted by their opponents. Giovanni Unghero manages to escape, while 32 of his companions are captured and taken to Buda. There, they are brutally executed. For instance, Janos Korpadi is dragged through the city streets at the tail of a horse, then beheaded and dismembered, with the pieces of his body thrown down from the walls.
1390/1394NaplesHungaryHungaryIn 1390, he once again supports Ladislaus of Anjou against Sigismund of Hungary. He refuses any compromise and attempts to form an alliance with the Ottomans. After his ally, the King of Bosnia, is defeated, he is forcefully attacked by Sigismund’s troops in the summer of 1394. Defeated, he is captured in Dobor. He is taken to Pecs in the presence of Sigismund’s wife and subjected to prolonged torture. Tied to the tail of a horse, he is dragged for several miles at a gallop. His body is then dismembered, and the remains are hung on the city walls.


-“Cavalliere Unghero  e di molto valore nell’armi.” TARCAGNOTA

Featured image: wikimedia

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