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

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Luigi da Porto: The Renaissance Soldier Who Inspired Romeo & Juliet

Italian CondottieriLuigi da Porto: The Renaissance Soldier Who Inspired Romeo & Juliet

Writer-soldier. Wounded in battle, he becomes paralyzed and is forced to abandon the profession of arms. Author of the novella dedicated to the love of Juliet and Romeo, dramatized for the theater by William Shakespeare.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Renaissance Valor and Literary Legacy.

Luigi da Porto was an Italian writer, condottiere, and historian, renowned for creating the story and characters of Romeo and Juliet.

Born: 1485, August
Death: 1529, May

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
………VenetoLoses his father as a child; he and his brother Bernardino are entrusted to the care of their paternal grandfather Gabriele. The two grandsons are then placed under the care of their grandmother Lucia del Sasso (who is tasked with overseeing his education) and a paternal uncle Francesco.
1503/1505MarcheTo complete his education, he lives for several years in Urbino at the court of Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro. In 1505, he returns to Venice due to the plague.
………VenetoHe finds himself again in Vicenza where he frequents an academic-worldly circle in which the most prominent names of Vicenza’s culture and nobility are present.
MayVenetoIn Abano Terme.
MayVenetoHis grandmother Lucia del Sasso passes away; he then lives with another paternal aunt, Pietra, who will later remember him in her will.
June – Sept.VenetoHe welcomes Leonardo da Trissino to Arlesega, who is about to enter Padua as the emperor’s captain. In September, he is in Vicenza, witnessing the entry of Maximilian of Austria into the city.
………VeniceEmpire25 light cavalry horsesVenetoHe draws closer to the Venetians and opposes the Imperial forces. He commands 25 light cavalry horses.
Oct.VeniceEmpire25 light cavalry horsesVenetoHe draws closer to the Venetians. Opposes the Imperial forces.
Nov.VenetoWith the recapture of Vicenza by the Venetians, his contract is increased.
Jan.50 light cavalry horsesVenetoIn Lonigo. He assists Fra Leonardo Prato in his raids.
Mar. – Apr.Friuli, Slovenia, VenetoHe moves to Gradisca d’Isonzo under the command of the general provider Alvise Dolfin. Along with Baldassarre di Scipione, Vigo da Perugia, and Antonio da Pietrasanta, he operates in enemy territory, conducting numerous raids. He conquers Vipulzano; is noted on the way to San Martino and Crusca, near Cormons, where he recovers many spoils. During the same days, he is summoned to Venice. In the College of the Pregadi, he volunteers for a reconciliation of the Udinese notables Antonio Savorgnano, Giacomo da Castello, and Cervignone. He returns to Friuli; the offensive on Cormons is postponed due to the entry of a significant contingent of Imperial forces into Gorizia.
MayFriuliOn the orders of the provider Andrea Contarini, he goes with Vigo da Perugia towards Gorizia to spy on the movements of the enemy army. He engages in a skirmish with the adversaries in which seventeen Imperial soldiers and five Venetians are killed.
JuneFriuliIn Cividale del Friuli with his company; he also operates near Cormons. In an ambush, several Imperial stradiotti are killed and another 6 are captured.
Sept.VenetoIn Venice to request an increase in his contract: his request is examined by the Council of the Wise. Under his command are 48 light cavalry horses.
Nov.FriuliHe leaves Gradisca d’Isonzo at night to join the provider Giovanni Vitturi; crossing the river and heading towards Gorizia, he leads his raids up to the city gates. Being pursued by 30 cavalry and 200 Bohemian arquebusiers, he leads the adversaries to San Zenone where the Venetians have set an ambush. The Imperial forces are followed by another 200 Bohemian infantry, including arquebusiers and pikemen: they too are repelled by his joint action with Teodoro dal Borgo. In the skirmish, 84 infantrymen and 16 horses are captured.
Feb.FriuliIn Cividale del Friuli. Urged by his uncle Antonio Savorgnano, he ventures to Udine, pretending to be part of an Imperial contingent to facilitate his relative’s schemes against his political rivals. He thus becomes involved in the city feuds that will end with many deaths: he is accused of having made two assassins drunk and then strangling them in their sleep to prevent them from speaking about such events.
June42 light cavalry horsesFriuliHe attacks near Cormons on the Natisone, 400 infantry and 100 Croatian cavalry returning from a raid in the territory of Gradisca d’Isonzo: the Imperial forces suffer heavy losses (380 men, both killed and captured). In the fight, he is severely wounded in the throat by a pike blow and is left for dead on the field. He is treated by Marco di Lazara, who happens to be at the camp; he is taken to Udine and Venice for recovery; he becomes paralyzed and is forced to abandon the profession of arms. He is obliged to remain in the city due to the long period of illness.
1517VenetoLuigi da Porto can return to Vicenza; he enjoys a series of privileges granted to him for his loyalty to the Serenissima. For this reason, envy and rivalry arise with other noble families in Vicenza.
………VenetoIn Vicenza, he holds some public offices, also on behalf of the Venetians.
Jan.VenetoHis villa in Chiarugo catches fire, causing damages exceeding 300 ducats.
Aug.VenetoIn Venice, due to a civil dispute with Matteo dal Toso.
1522VenetoHe holds the position of vicar in Arzignano. He closely follows the issue of fortifications in Vicenza.
………VenetoHis stay in Vicenza alternates with that in the villa of Montorso. He often visits the baths of Abano Terme.
MayVenetoHe passes away in the middle of the month in Vicenza. He is buried in the church of San Lorenzo (or Santa Corona) in the chapel commissioned by Pietro da Porto. A distinguished literary figure, he authored the “Lettere storiche” (dedicated to Antonio Savorgnano, his maternal uncle), a collection of poems, and the novella Giulietta e Romeo,” later adapted by William Shakespeare and published under the title “Historia novellamente ritrovata dei due nobili amanti, con la loro pretesa morte intervenuta già nella città di Verona nel tempo del signor Bartolomeo della Scala.” Luigi da Porto was a friend of Pietro Bembo (who dedicated two sonnets to him) and the poetess Veronica Gambara. Additionally, Matteo Bandello dedicated a novella to him.


-“Valentissimo homo.” SANUDO

-“Giovinetto di forte e di valoroso animo.” BEMBO

-“Pietro Bembo dimostrò sempre molto affetto  verso il da Porto; gli dedicò due sonetti – di cui uno in morte del da Porto – che appunto testimoniano questo legame di stima intellettuale e morale. Possediamo anche dieci lettere del Bembo al da Porto – tutte raccolte nel III libro dell’epistolario bembiano -: in una del marzo 1506, chiede all’amico di intervenire presso il vicentino G.G. Trissino per avere una medaglia, posseduta appunto dal Trissino, con l’effigie di Berenice Gambara, amata dal Bembo. Altre lettere giungono a confortare il da Porto in preda alla malinconia..e a chiedere a Bernardino da Porto notizie sulla salute del fratello..L’attività letteraria del da Porto, tipico personaggio di uomo di corte vissuto tra occupazioni militari e ozi umanistici, sembra essersi svolta tutta negli anni successivi al ferimento e al ritorno a Vicenza.” PATRIZI

Featured image source: Lombardi Beni Culturali

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