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

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The Sword and Strategy: Niccolò Piccinino’s Rise to Commanding Heights

A disciple of Braccio da Montone, he is a condottiero praised by contemporaries not only for his military virtue but especially for his tireless pursuit of combat. Quick in action, he is victorious in many military engagements against formidable adversaries like the Count of Carmagnola and Francesco Sforza. He sees terror as a weapon no less effective than attack. Among the most ferocious condottieri.

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Last Updated on 2024/01/28

Strategist and Fighter: Niccolò Piccinino’s Pivotal Role in Shaping Italian History.

Niccolò Piccinino (1386-1444) was an Italian condottiero. Born in Callisciana, he was nicknamed “Piccinino” due to his stature. He started as a soldier in Bologna, serving various leaders. He fought victoriously in several battles for Filippo Maria Visconti against Venice. He attempted to establish his own feudal state but was defeated by the Florentines at Anghiari in 1440. He led military campaigns in different Italian regions, notably in Assisi and Monteleone. He died in Milan in 1444. His career and military strategies influenced the events of the Renaissance era in Italy.

From Calisciana, now known as Caligiana, a hamlet in the municipality of Magione. He was nicknamed Piccinino, Piccolino, Pusillo, and Petitto due to his short stature.

He is said to be the son of a butcher (who was murdered under mysterious circumstances), although tradition has it that one of his uncles was the Podestà (chief magistrate) of Milan. He held the title of Marquis of Pellegrino and was the Lord of several places including Orvieto, Pontremoli, Borgonovo Val Tidone, Borgo Val di Taro, Pellegrino Parmense, Feligara, Candia Lomellina, Solignano, Varano de’ Melegari, Visiano, Costamezzana, Borghetto, Tabiano Castello, Somaglia, Calestano, Marzolara, Vigolone, Pianello Val Tidone, Albareto, Castelponzone, Varese Ligure, Compiano, Bardi, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Frugarolo, Castell’Arquato, Busseto, and Canale. He was the father of Francesco Piccinino and Jacopo Piccinino.

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Born: 1386
Death: 1444 (October)

Year, monthStateOpponentConductActivity areaMilitary actions and other facts
………….UmbriaThe family originally hailed from the castle of Calisciana (Caligiana) near Perugia and belonged to the commoner class, owning a butcher shop. From a young age, Niccolò Piccinino aligns himself with the exiled noble faction of the beccherini because his father, Francesco, was killed by some men from the commoners’ faction known as the raspanti.
1396Umbria, Tuscany, EmiliaHe takes refuge in Florence with his mother, staying with his uncle Biagio da Calisciana, who serves in the pay of the republic. Left as collateral to the innkeeper who housed his family in the city, Piccinino is forced to work as an apprentice. After settling his debts, he is able to join his relative in Bologna, a city where he now resides with other exiles from Perugia.
1406/1407Man-at-armsRomagnaHe serves with his uncle in the company of Bartolomeo da Sesto, initially as a saccomanno, then as a lancer. Due to his fierce and resolute nature, his relative agrees to marry his daughter Gabriella to Niccolò Piccinino. The future condottiero kills the woman because he suspects her of adultery: he finds her pregnant upon his return from a campaign that lasted eleven months. According to various accounts, he either has her dragged by a galloping horse, strangles her, or has her poisoned. In any case, he adopts her son, Francesco.
1411
MayFlorenceNaplesLazioHe is present at the Battle of Roccasecca.
Aug.PerugiaUmbriaUpon the death of Guglielmo Lancellotti, the captain of the company in which he serves, due to an artillery strike, he enters the pay of the Perugians.
1416
MayMontonePerugiaUmbriaUnder the command of Braccio di Montone, he takes part in an attempt to enter Perugia. With a sword blow, he kills the constable Bassetto who tries to oppose the bracceschi. The assault is repelled by the defenders.
June100 cavalryUmbriaInitially, he leads a group of 5 soldiers, then 10; after saving the life of Braccio di Montone, who was ambushed by the Perugians in a convent, he is entrusted with the command of a company of 100 horsemen.
JulyUmbriaHe participates in the Battle of Sant’Egidio, in which the lord of Rimini, Carlo Malatesta, is defeated. Braccio di Montone becomes the lord of Perugia.
1417
MayPerugiaChurch, NaplesUmbriaHe is noted in Foligno.
Aug.400 cavalryLazioHe follows Braccio di Montone in the conquest of Rome. With the expulsion of the bracceschi from the area, he is left in Palestrina and Zagarolo, where he remains with 400 horsemen. From these two centers, he brings devastation to the gates of the capital; he is defeated in Zagarolo by Muzio Attendolo Sforza. Captured with 37 horsemen, he is taken to Rome; he is imprisoned in the Capitoline Hill by Nanni di Spinello. He is freed in Patrimonio four months later through a prisoner exchange initiated by Tartaglia.
1418LazioMicheletto Attendolo is defeated by Braccio di Montone and Tartaglia: Niccolò Piccinino saves him in Acquapendente, lends him 400 ducats so he can hire 400 horsemen, and escorts him with his company to his lands. Along with Gattamelata, he conquers the fortress of Spoleto.
1419
Mar.PerugiaUrbino, ChurchMarcheTogether with Castellano dalla Rosa, Danese da Siena, Tigrino da Cremona, Giovanni da Sesto, and Pietro Tedesco, he attacks the territory of Cagli in the Marche region, which is under the control of the Count of Urbino, Guidantonio da Montefeltro. His assaults on the city are in vain, as Bernardino degli Ubaldini della Carda stands in defense. However, he manages to defeat his rival in a minor skirmish that takes place near Cagli at the confluence of the Burano and Bosso rivers. The rival, wounded by a sword blow to the neck, barely escapes capture. Subsequently, he heads towards Serra Sant’Abbondio: taking possession of this location, he transforms it into an operational base from which to launch raids into the surrounding territory.
Apr.Comp. ventureAnconaMarcheHe arrives in Jesi, which is garrisoned by Agamennone degli Arcipreti. He begins to harass the surrounding territory with the latter. Ancona is forced to acknowledge a tribute to Braccio di Montone’s company.
JunePerugiaChurch, NaplesLazioHe takes part in the Battle of Montefiascone. He is defeated and captured near Viterbo by Francesco Sforza and Micheletto Attendolo: the Sforza forces capture 562 horsemen, among whom is Piccinino himself with 37 horsemen from his company.
JulyLazioSoon released, he is placed by Braccio di Montone in charge of guarding Montefiascone; he halts Muzio Attendolo Sforza’s advance on Viterbo.
Oct.Lazio, UmbriaWith Tartaglia’s defection to the opposing side, he leaves Viterbo by night; he first retreats to Montefalco and then to Assisi, where he joins Braccio di Montone.
1420
Jan.UmbriaHe supports Braccio di Montone in an attack on Gubbio, which is defended by Bernardino degli Ubaldini della Carda, Pietro da Bagno, Perugino dal Lago, Ludovico dei Michelotti, and Ludovico d’Assisi. The bracceschi manage to penetrate the city. Niccolò Piccinino positions himself in the cloister of the hospital opposite the church. Captured with 4 soldiers by the opponents, only the timely intervention of Braccio di Montone manages to prevent his capture. After three days of fierce fighting, the Perugians are still trapped in the lower part of Gubbio. They then decide to withdraw after setting fire to the village of Porta Marmorea and the village of Porta Santa Lucia. Piccinino remains in the surrounding territory, bringing the usual devastation.
1421
Oct.NaplesAnjouCampaniaHe assists Giovanni Ventimiglia at the bridge of Casolla, where the Sforza forces are defeated. He is also present at the siege of Acerra.
1423
Jan.King of AragonNaples, Church400 cavalryUmbria, CampaniaBraccio di Montone gives him a niece in marriage, who brings as her dowry the castle of Canale (Canale Nuovo), recently taken from the Chiaravalle. He heads to Campania to come to the aid of Alfonso of Aragon.
JuneCampania, AbruzzoHe departs from Naples, and along with Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, he supports Braccio di Montone during the siege of L’Aquila. In a sortie by the defenders, he is wounded in the knee by a crossbow bolt.
Aug.AbruzzoTogether with Ardizzone da Carrara, he launches a heavy attack on the Porta di Barete, capturing 50 defenders in the process. However, he is repelled by Antonuccio dell’Aquila.
Oct.AbruzzoHe departs from Paganica with 400 horsemen; he clashes again with the forces from L’Aquila in the mountains; at Bucchianico, he faces Sforza, who is coming from Vasto.
1424
Jan.AbruzzoAt Lanciano. As soon as he is informed of the drowning death of Muzio Attendolo Sforza in the Pescara, he moves against the opponents, sets an ambush nearby, pursues them for two miles with 100 horsemen, and captures 500 horses. He returns to Paganica; he has a bastion built at San Lorenzo. He is defeated at Civitaretenga by Troilo di San Valentino.
Feb.AbruzzoHe besieges L’Aquila with greater force, hindering its supply from the outside. He sets up three ambushes in the valley of Rosarolo, at Collemaggio, and at San Lorenzo, all of which have disappointing outcomes.
Apr.AbruzzoHe sets up camp in the vineyards of Santa Lia. He is tasked with holding off the forces from L’Aquila with 400 horsemen and 200 infantrymen.
JuneAbruzzoHe participates in the battle of L’Aquila, where he commands the fourteenth squadron. He is ordered to position himself on the hill of Santa Maria di Collemaggio and prevent the residents from leaving the city to join the troops of Sforza and Jacopo Caldora. He inadvertently contributes to the defeat of the bracceschi because, trying to turn the tide of the battle, he abandons the position assigned to him. 5,000 men, led by Antonuccio dell’Aquila, exit the city and start plundering the enemy’s camp. Surrounded by enemies, Piccinino carves a path and escapes (according to some sources, he is captured by the Count of San Valentino, Corrado Acquaviva). Together with Gattamelata, he reaches the castle of Ocre, where Montone’s collected money is stored, including the salary for the conduct of 1,000 lances agreed upon with the Florentines the previous February. He seizes 40,000 florins, relocates to Gagliano Aterno, and there redeems Niccolò Fortebraccio with 11,000 florins, who had been captured by Luigi da San Severino. He then goes to Popoli, to whom he must deliver another 5,000 florins to have free passage. He quickly reconstitutes his own company.
Aug.FlorenceMilanGovernor, 300 lancesUmbriaHe goes to Montone despite the opposition of Pope Martin V. He enters the pay of the Florentines to fight against the Visconti under the command of Oddo di Montone.
Oct.Umbria, RomagnaHe departs from Assisi with Oddo di Montone; taking the route through Fratta Todina and Città di Castello, he crosses the Mugello; he arrives at Dovadola in Romagna.
Dec.RomagnaAt Galeata, he skillfully opposes Secco da Montagnana, arrives at Civitella di Romagna, and raids the countryside up to the gates of Faenza.
1425
Jan.RomagnaHe besieges the castle of Tredozio, forcing Guelfo da Dovadola to surrender. He attacks Rocca San Casciano.
Feb.RomagnaDriven by Ludovico Manfredi, he decides to carry out a raid in Val di Lamone; he leaves a garrison at the bridge of Fognano; at dawn, he enters the valley. He orders Ludovico Manfredi, Niccolò Orsini, and Antonio da Pontedera to penetrate from the top of the hills and meet him on the plain; Antonello Ruffaldi, on the other hand, is tasked with positioning himself on a hill with a captain of infantry. He commands that no one stop to plunder and that utmost attention is given to repelling any potential attacks from the inhabitants. However, the saccomanni and infantry scatter in various directions in search of loot; they are followed by the garrison from Fognano. The valley residents attack the Florentines at the Pieve di Sant’ Ottavio and cut off their every route of retreat. Large boulders are hurled down from above, causing the mounts to panic and plunge into the ravines. In the clash, Oddo di Montone is killed; among the Florentines, 600 horsemen and 1500 infantry are captured, including Piccinino himself, his son Francesco, Niccolò da Tolentino, and Niccolò Orsini.
Mar.RomagnaImprisoned in Faenza, he persuades the lady of the city, Gentile Manfredi, to change her alliance in favor of the Florentines. He also becomes friends with Guidantonio Manfredi, who allows him to move about with few restrictions. As a result, he is able to attend a joust in the town square and purchase weapons and horses.
Sept.FlorenceMilan400 lancers and 200 infantrymenRomagnaOnce freed, the Florentines grant him a command of 400 lancers. He defends Faenza from the attacks of Francesco Sforza, Angelo della Pergola, and Secco da Montagnana.
Oct.TuscanyAlongside Niccolò da Tolentino and Bernardino degli Ubaldini della Carda, he is defeated at Anghiari by Sforza and Guido Torelli: the Florentines capture 300 horses and 500 infantrymen. Nevertheless, Piccinino distinguishes himself; with his intervention, he is able to keep Arezzo and Cortona loyal to the republic.
Nov.MilanFlorence400 lancesTuscany, UmbriaHis contract has expired three months ago, and the Florentines have not communicated about his future; on the other hand, Piccinino does not want to be subordinate to the orders of another inexperienced captain, which Manfredi currently is. He approaches Torelli and requests to be paid by the Visconti; he leaves Santa Maria del Monte to position himself between Fratta Todina and Montone, setting his sights on Perugia. The Ten of the Balia from Florence send ambassadors Matteo Castellani and Niccolò da Uzzano to dissuade him from his plans. To these representatives, Piccinino requests that his command be expanded by 60 men-at-arms and 100 infantrymen; in addition to the usual pay, he demands a personal commission of 200 florins a month, a stipend of 60 florins per lance, and two salaries for the infantrymen. The Ten of the Balia reject his proposal. The final break occurs in Cortona. Niccolò Piccinino settles his debts in Florence and signs a contract with the Visconti in Montone for 1200 horsemen. He begins to ravage the countryside around Arezzo. He is sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment and is depicted in Florence as a traitor, hung by his feet, in the Palazzo della Condotta. He sells a castle under his control to the Papal States for 3500 florins and urges Torelli to attack Florence. He rides in the Arezzo region at the head of 1500 horsemen; he takes Campogialli, Castelnuovo, Giovi, Pontenano, and Chiaveretto; he reaches Rassina and seizes Subbiano and San Mamante. Guido Torelli, distrustful of his sudden shift in loyalty, does not move from Chiassa. Thus, Niccolò Piccinino gathers men, prisoners, and loot and joins the rest of the Visconti army.
Dec.UmbriaHe quarters his troops in the territory of Borgo San Sepolcro (Sansepolcro) and Città di Castello; he then retreats to a secluded house in Lugnano in Teverina. Here, thanks to his quick reflexes, he manages to escape semi-naked; he throws himself off a cliff, thus evading the ambush set for him by Niccolò da Tolentino, who had moved from Cortona for this purpose. Around the same time, the Florentines attempt to poison him through a cook; the attempt fails, and his servant, under torture, confesses to the entire plot before being sentenced to death.
1426
Jan.Romagna, LombardyHe passes through Forlì with 100 horsemen, heading to Milan to meet the Duke Filippo Maria Visconti. He then returns to Romagna.
MayMilanVenice1200 cavalryRomagna, LombardyHe departs Romagna to oppose the Venetians in Lombardy, joining forces with Francesco Sforza, Angelo della Pergola, Secco da Montagnana, and Guido Torelli. Immediate tensions arise in the camp between Piccinino and Sforza on one side, who want to attack the opponents, and della Pergola and Torelli on the other, who advocate for greater caution.
Aug.LombardyTogether with Francesco Sforza, he attempts to enter Brescia between the Torlonga Gate and the Sant’ Alessandro Gate at the “bishop’s meadow.”
Nov.LombardyBrescia falls into the hands of the opponents. Peace negotiations follow, during which the Visconti demand the Florentines remove the defamatory paintings made against him.
Dec.LombardyA truce is agreed upon between the parties.
1427
Mar.Emilia, LombardyHe bombards Brescello with artillery and, through a treaty, secures the location; he then lays siege to its fortress. He is forced to retreat due to the arrival of Francesco Bembo’s Venetian fleet on the Po River, which results in the loss of some of his horses and supplies. Together with Angelo della Pergola and with the support of the ducal fleet on the Po (20 galleons, 3 large geese, and another 12 river vessels), he captures Casalmaggiore, which is defended by the provveditore Fantino Pisani. The Venetians surrender on the condition that they receive no reinforcements within three days. Piccinino forcefully breaks into the area with Fabrizio da Capua and Erasmo da Trivulzio, establishing camp with 4000 horsemen and 2000 infantrymen in the villages of San Giovanni and Santo Stefano.
MayEmilia, LombardyHe once again attacks Brescello: he drains the protective moat of the castle and fills it with bundles of sticks; bridges are also constructed, allowing soldiers to enter the city. The inhabitants rebel and pledge allegiance to the ducal forces. Piccinino then lays siege to the fortress, encircling it with a trench to prevent anyone from exiting. After Francesco Bembo’s naval victory over Pasino degli Eustachi, he prevents the Venetian fleet from disembarking their troops. Informed that Carmagnola is winning over some of the castle guards of the ducal fortresses for the Serenissima, he rushes ahead of his rival to Gottolengo with the aim of ambushing him. Carmagnola positions himself under the castle and allows his soldiers to rest haphazardly in the shade. On Ascension Day, Piccinino suddenly attacks the Venetians: a fierce battle ensues in which Carmagnola stands out for his bravery. The intervention of Gian Francesco Gonzaga eventually balances the tides of the battle. On this occasion, the Visconti forces capture 1500 men.
JulyLombardyHe is defeated at Castelsecco, near Pizzighettone.
Aug.LombardyAt Pralboino, he joins forces with Francesco Sforza to once again confront Carmagnola.
Oct.LombardyHe sets up camp at Maclodio: the prevailing strategy he shares with Sforza (and the general captain Carlo Malatesta, as opposed to that of della Pergola and Torelli) is to lead the troops along a raised road, similar to a levee, surrounded by woods (in which the Venetians have previously placed numerous archers and crossbowmen) and swamps that are impassable for cavalry. Commanding the rear guard, Piccinino realizes the predicament the Visconti forces are in; he orders his men to fight their way through the enemy to escape. The ducal army is decimated; 10,000 men are captured but are immediately released according to the customs of the time.
Nov.LombardyHe is again defeated by Carmagnola at Pontoglio. He returns to Milan and witnesses the signing of the alliance between the Duke of Milan and the Duke of Savoy.
1428
Feb.LombardyHe resumes the war and sets up at Palazzolo sull’Oglio with della Pergola, leading 3000 horsemen and 4000 infantrymen: they start marching. With the help of Avelonio Suardi, taking advantage of the dispersion of the Venetian army in the territory, he regains control of the area starting from the Valle di San Martino: they commit various devastations and acts of violence, especially in Val Calepio. He seizes a bastion defended by Giovanni da Deruta; enters Caprino Bergamasco and captures 300 infantrymen, along with Scaramuccia da Pavia and Petruccio di Calabria, who are imprisoned for some time.
Apr.LombardyLeading 1300 horsemen, 200 infantrymen, and 1500 Ghibellines with Armello d’Ascoli, Antonello di San Paolo, and Antonio della Pergola, he surprises 400 infantrymen in Albino, commanded by Giovanni Matto Baldazzi and his nephew Giovanni di Aledusio. 100 infantrymen are captured and looted, not to mention 60 high-value prisoners; the victors also seize numerous furnishings and 1200 pieces of cloth.
1429MilanAdornoLiguriaIn Genoa, he confronts Barnaba Adorno, who had tried to occupy the Castelletto in the city, leading 300 horsemen and 800 infantrymen. Piccinino captures the adversary, committing all sorts of atrocities against Adorno’s partisans from Val Polcevera.
1430
Oct.GenoaFieschi, FlorenceLiguriaHe declines an offer from Visconti to move to Tuscany to fight against the Florentines on behalf of the lord of Lucca, Paolo Guinigi. Instead, he chooses to serve the Genoese against the Fieschi, who are entrenched in their mountain castles in Liguria, Emilia, and Tuscany.
Nov.Liguria, EmiliaAt the expense of Gianluigi Fieschi, he seizes Correga (or Carriggio), Torriglia, Montobbio, Savignone, and Varese Ligure, as well as other lands in Val di Taro (Borgo Val di Taro). He unsuccessfully attacks Pontremoli, which is defended by Bartolomeo da Gualdo. He then moves towards the Piacenza area and strips the counts of Pellegrino, former supporters of the Venetians, of all their assets in Lunigiana: the counts are subsequently imprisoned and die there. He also drives the Malaspina out of the territory.
Dec.LuccaFlorence, VeniceLiguria, TuscanyHe now moves to aid Lucca; crossing the Magra river, he reaches Pietrasanta. He sacks the Val d’Elsa, particularly the area of Colle di Val d’Elsa. Having been hired by the Lucchese, he appears on the banks of the Serchio river with 3,000 horsemen and 6,000 infantrymen (including 1,000 Genoese crossbowmen). He sends a patrol of 30 horsemen, led by his team leader Stefanone, into the besieged city to inform the inhabitants of his arrival and battle plan. Meanwhile, he divides his army into three parts: Niccolò Terzi and Antonio della Pergola command the first division, each with 400 horsemen; their banner displays three vermillion roses on a white field. The second division is led by Niccolò Orso and Peterlino dal Verme (each with 400 horsemen); both captains have a white deer on a black field as their insignia. Piccinino positions himself in the third division with Antonio da Pontedera, commanding 800 and 400 horsemen, respectively. Their emblem features a bull and a helmet topped with the head of a Saracen. The rest of the heavy cavalry is held in reserve alongside the infantry in the second line. On the other bank, they face a larger army (4,000 horsemen and 7,000 infantrymen). From the opposing ranks, Carapella emerges for a futile sortie, inadvertently revealing to Piccinino where the river can be safely forded. The initial attack is led by Ludovico da Parma and Danese da Siena; they are initially repelled by Guidantonio Manfredi. Piccinino crosses the river with his forces while the Lucchese, with whom he has coordinated, attack the Florentines from behind. The defeat of Guidantonio da Montefeltro, Niccolò Fortebraccio, and Bernardino degli Ubaldini della Carda is complete. Few die in battle, but around 200 drown; 1,500 horses are captured. Piccinino attempts to occupy Pescia; the following day, he enters Lucca and is triumphantly welcomed by the inhabitants. The celebration is so grand that the memory of the event remains in the city’s rituals for at least two centuries. His portrait is painted near the authorities’ palace in a place called Pozzo Torelli, in memory of saving the city from the Florentines. The Lucchese send the Visconti two precious illuminated manuscripts as gifts; Piccinino, in turn, sends the Duke of Milan 800 war horses and as many complete sets of armor from the loot. Around the same time, he releases Fortebraccio and meets him at Montebicchieri. The Genoese and exiles urge him to target Pisa, but the Duke of Milan opposes this plan. Thus, the condottiero sends Antonio da Pontedera to the Pisa region, where he captures various castles.
1431
Jan.TuscanyHe organizes a scheme with some infantrymen stationed in Pisa who, according to the plan, are to open a gate for him. The Florentines are informed of this scheme and attack the deserters at the location where they are entrenched: the captured are drawn and quartered, and their limbs are displayed on the city gates.
Feb.LuccaMalaspina, FieschiLiguria, TuscanyNiccolò Piccinino aims to reclaim Lunigiana on behalf of the Lucchese. He takes control of Nicola, Carrara, Moneta, Ortonovo, and Fivizzano, amounting to a total of 118 castles. Of these, 54 belong to the Florentines, the Fieschi, and local Guelphs, while the rest are owned by the Malaspina.
Mar.TuscanyGian Luigi Fieschi surrenders under terms. Piccinino gains control of Pontremoli and drives out the Fieschi. He soon after moves to the Lucca and Pisa regions.
Apr.MilanFlorenceTuscanyHe leaves Antonio da Pontedera in the Pisa region and heads towards the Volterra area. Finding the Valdarno passes blocked, he takes control of Montebicchieri, Barbialla, Peccioli, Montignoso, Montecastelli, and Ripamarance (Pomerance). He establishes camps in Montecastelli and uses the location as a base for his raiding operations. He is joined by Alberico da Barbiano with 1,000 horsemen. They occupy Castiglione, break into Val d’Elsa, and lay siege to Staggia for several days. Upon discovering that numerous infantrymen have entered the town for its defense, he has a peasant hanged near the walls as a warning to the defenders. He then travels to Siena, where he is presented with lavish gifts.
MayTuscanyTogether with Antonio da Pontedera, he forcibly or through agreements takes control of Santa Maria a Trebbio, Marti, Collegalli, Lari (capturing the podestà Cantino Cavalcanti and the vicar Ludovico della Badessa), the fortress of Monteveltraio, Pietracassia, and the castle of Pietra (la Pietrina) in Val d’Evola, which is handed over to him by Rosso del Boneca. In a single night, the Florentine castle owners hand over the keys to 14 castles to him; he also captures many prisoners. He turns towards Pisa, which he finds well defended. A conspiracy by a Gualandi has no effect, and furthermore, the Florentines close the city gates to the countryside residents. Due to a shortage of provisions, they expel those unfit for defense, including women and children, from the city. Disappointed in his expectations, Niccolò Piccinino approaches Arezzo with 3,000 horsemen and 3,000 infantrymen, trusting in a treaty concluded with some of the city’s nobles. He halts for several days under Gargonza; the delay allows the inhabitants to thwart the conspiracy and prepare for defense. In retaliation, he continues his policy of violence and arson: he conquers Montegemoli, sacks Badia al Pino, seizes Ciaggiano, Uliveto Terme, Pantaneto, and Battifolle. He is recalled to Lombardy and departs from Tuscany with 400 horsemen.
JuneLombardyHe sends some fake deserters into the Venetian camp, who inform Carmagnola that the Ducal forces are about to attack the Serenissima’s camp. This ruse convinces the opposing commander, Carmagnola, not to intervene on behalf of Niccolò Trevisan’s fleet, which is being blocked by the Visconti forces near Cremona. Together with Sforza, Piccinino arranges for part of the troops to board Pasino degli Eustachi’s Pavia fleet, while other troops lie in ambush along the banks of the Po river. Precautions are also taken to ensure that the remaining men can cross the Adda river using a pontoon bridge located near Pizzighettone.
The battle lasts about twelve hours. Only 5 or 6 Venetian ships barely manage to escape. A large number of prisoners are captured: among the adversaries, 1,500 are killed, and soon after, another 400 wounded are transported to the hospital in Cremona (with 500 dead on the Visconti side). Estimates of the total losses for the Serenissima vary, ranging from a minimum of 18 galleys and about 6,000 men to a maximum of 70 vessels and 14,000 men. The captured galleys and prisoners, which include Niccolò Trevisan and the provveditore Marino Contarini, are taken to Pavia. During the battle, Piccinino is wounded in the neck by an arrow, damaging his nerves. From this point on, he will limp for the rest of his life.
Sept.LombardyHe collaborates with the Savoyard captain Manfredi di Saluzzo to repel a potential incursion by adversaries on the Oglio river.
Oct.GenoaBanishedLiiguriaHe confronts the Genoese exiles who have the support of the Florentines. He seizes Torriglia, crosses the Apennines, and once again moves against Barnaba Adorno, who is stationed in Val Polcevera, awaiting Venetian galleys that are supposed to assist him in his attack on Genoa. Piccinino defeats Adorno at Sestri Ponente, besieges him in the castle of Novaro, and captures him along with part of his forces. He kills Adorno, possibly with his own hands. Persisting in acts of cruelty, he slaughters some mountain dwellers and auctions others off as slaves.
Nov.MilanMonferratoGeneral CaptainPiedmont, LombardyHe undertakes another enforcement action in Monferrato, where in just a few days he deprives Marchese Gian Giacomo of Monferrato of all his possessions (around thirty castles and fortresses) with the exception of Casale Sant’Evasio (Casale Monferrato). Upon his return to Milan, the duke grants him permission to add the Visconti surname to his own and to incorporate the “biscia” (serpent) into his coat of arms. He is then appointed as the general captain.
Dec.LombardyHe is tasked with standing in for the Duke of Milan as his lieutenant to receive Sigismondo of Hungary along with the ambassadors Giacomino d’Iseo and Guarnieri Castiglione. He welcomes the emperor at the gates of Milan, accompanied by Alberico da Barbiano and Niccolò Terzi. He then escorts him into the castle of Porta Giovia. The coronation takes place the following Sunday in the church of Sant’Ambrogio, officiated by the Archbishop of Milan, Bartolomeo Capra. Visconti chooses not to attend the ceremony, staying instead in Abbiategrasso. On this occasion, Sforza hands the sword to Sigismondo of Hungary, and Niccolò Piccinino, on behalf of the duke, presents him with a piece of gold brocade, other precious fabrics, and a steed. He advises Sigismondo to leave the city and head to Piacenza, where a meeting with the Duke of Milan is scheduled.
1432
Mar. – Apr.MilanVeniceLombardyHe is stationed in the Martesana. Taking advantage of Carmagnola’s inactivity, he sets up camp in the Cremonese territory and, without any delay, with the assistance of Galeotto del Carretto, Marquis of Finale, seizes control of Bordolano, Torricella del Pizzo (Torricella), Casalmaggiore, Casalbuttano, and other lands.
May – Aug.LombardyCarmagnola is executed for treason by the Venetians. The new general captain of the Serenissima, Gian Francesco Gonzaga, resumes operations by reclaiming Bordolano, Soresina, Paterno, Treviglio, Marengo, Capella, Pumenengo, Fontanella, Romanengo, and Soncino.
Sept.LombardyHe clashes with Lorenzo Attendolo in the Bresciano region.
Oct.LombardyIn the Milanese territory, he confronts Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, Luigi da San Severino, and Luigi dal Verme; he forces them to recross the Adda river at Brivio and to return to the Bergamasco region.
Nov.LombardyHe departs from Milan with Guido Torelli and 400 cavalry and enters Valtellina. Ghibelline militias, led by Giovanni Rusca and coming from the Como region, join his men. He crosses the Adda river near Sorico on a bridge, where Lake Como is narrowest. With an assault, he manages to cross the Adda on a pontoon bridge and surprises the garrison of a fortified camp. The Venetians rush to assist; the Ducal forces are repelled with a loss of 300 men. He returns, bolstered by local Ghibellines. In the meantime, a significant contingent of Valtellina soldiers commanded by Stefano Quadrio di Ponte arrives. Piccinino has most of the ditch protecting the enemy camp in Delebio filled with bundles overnight and orders Giovanni Rusca to attack the Venetians from behind with bands from Lugano and Como. The outcome remains uncertain until Stefano Quadrio di Ponte’s intervention secures a victory over adversaries led by Bartolomeo Colleoni and the superintendents Sante Venier and Giorgio Corner. Among the Serenissima’s troops, 1800 cavalry (with 1200 taken prisoner) and 3500 infantry (with 1500 taken prisoner) are left dead on the battlefield. Various commanders such as Taddeo d’Este, Cesare da Martinengo, Taliano Furlano, Battista Capece, and the two superintendents are also captured. Contrary to wartime customs, the Duke of Milan has superintendent Giorgio Corner imprisoned in the Monza Furnaces, where he is tortured for his accusations against Carmagnola that led to the trial and death of that captain. Corner withstands the torment, leading Visconti to spread rumors of his death, even staging a false funeral. Only seven years later, Corner manages to let his family know he’s still alive through a ruse. Visconti releases him, but the exhausted prisoner dies shortly after.
Dec.LombardyHe moves to Val Camonica. He lays siege to the castle of Mu. When called back, he leaves the command of the army to Guido Torelli.
1433
Jan.LombardyHe is reported at Ripalta, between Lodi and Crema. He orders the captain of Lake Como and other Ducal officers to force Emanuele Malacrida to return five castles to Franchino Rusca, which Malacrida had wrongfully taken. During this period, he also requests the magistrates of the Piacentino region to show consideration for the Val Nure, specifically not to increase the tax burdens due to the poverty characterizing that territory.
…………TuscanyFollowing the killing of Bartolomeo da Rimini in Vedigaro di Filattiera by the local inhabitants, he heads to that location with more than 1000 infantry and numerous cavalry. He sets up his men at the Pieve, some at Rì and some at Pradolo. He lays siege to the center and ravages its surrounding countryside with fire and sword. After taking control, he moves to Pontremoli to prevent the Florentines from advancing towards Lombardy.
1434
Jan.LombardyIn Milan. In the Arengo palace, on behalf of Duke Filippo Maria Visconti, he formalizes an alliance treaty with the Marquis of Monferrato, Giovanni Giacomo.
Feb.MilanChurchGeneral captainRomagnaHe takes possession of Imola and Forlì, commanding 4,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry.
Mar.TuscanyHe requests permission from the Florentines to go to Bagni di Petriolo for treatment; he arrives there with 600 cavalry. Shortly after, another 500 cavalry leave Romagna to join his contingent. In that location, the Perugian ambassadors Agamennone degli Arcipreti and Mariotto Baglioni come to pay him homage.
Apr.Tuscany, UmbriaMalatesta Baglioni and Cherubino da Perugia also reach Bagni di Petriolo to pay him respects. Initially, Niccolò Piccinino appears conciliatory towards Pope Eugenio IV; in reality, he collaborates with Bishop Bartolomeo Visconti of Novara to capture the pontiff. The plot is discovered, and the bishop is arrested; he confesses to the kidnapping attempt, claiming he is the sole perpetrator. The bishop’s accomplices, a Spanish soldier named Riccio and Bastiano Capponi, are beheaded after their tortured confessions. According to another version, he ties the prisoners to a tree, and in a fit of rage, shoots them one by one with a crossbow. Their bodies are then dismembered. The Umbrian commander unexpectedly launches hostilities against Francesco Sforza, who is serving the papal forces, and comes to the aid of Fortebraccio. With the support of the “beffati” (or “muffati”) faction, he expels the mercorini from Orvieto and proclaims himself the lord of the city. He plunders Castelpeccio (San Michele in Teverina) and sells it, along with the fortress of Sberna, to the beffati for 500 florins.
MayUmbria, LazioHe departs from Orvieto with 5,000 men and heads to Ambasione. He declines the battle challenge issued by his adversaries due to his numerical inferiority. Some reinforcements begin to trickle in, such as 100 infantry from Perugia under the command of Rodolfo Signorelli and Renzo della Lita. He joins forces with Fortebraccio and takes position in Vetralla, facing Sforza. He sends his infantry to the top of Monte Fogliano, but they are repelled by the Sforza forces. The Ducal commissioners intervene between Piccinino and Sforza. Piccinino promises to return to Lombardy in exchange for a truce. He reaches Bleda (Biera) to refresh his mounts; informed of a lapse in surveillance by his rival, he sends his saccomanni to gather fodder for the cavalry. He decisively aims for Rome, where agents of the Duke of Milan and the Colonna family are tasked with instigating an uprising in the city and imprisoning Pope Eugenio IV. The goal is to bring the Pope to Lombardy and make him available to the Council of Basel.
JuneLazioThe Pope first takes refuge in Castel Sant’Angelo. He then flees on the Tiber aboard a cargo boat and seeks shelter in Florence, where he is welcomed with full honors and is hosted in Santa Maria Novella. Niccolò Piccinino and Niccolò Fortebraccio seize Rome on behalf of the Duke of Milan. The commander enters Trastevere, overcoming the resistance of the Romans, who suffer numerous casualties. Among the prisoners, many are tortured and executed. In the city, he stays in the Pope’s palace next to St. Peter’s. After receiving another 5,000 florins from the Perugians (bringing the total to 16,000), he advances towards Magliano Sabino, Otricoli, and Calvi, only to retreat hastily as Sforza menacingly approaches.
JulyUmbriaHe is in San Gemini with Niccolò Fortebraccio: under pressure from the Duke of Milan, he first concludes a one-week truce with the adversaries and then a second one lasting five months. According to a source slightly after the events, during this same period, the condottiero attempts to have Sforza killed by the constable Sbardellato da Cittaducale. The attempt is discovered, though no one manages to prove the existence of a conspiracy. He crosses the Tiber, reaches Mugnano, and arrives in Orvieto.
Aug.MilanVenice, ChurchUmbria, Tuscany, Marche, Romagna, EmiliaBefore returning to Lombardy, he wishes to see Perugia again. The city spends 1,000 florins on festivities in his honor. Mid-month, he leaves the city with 150 horses; he enlists Malatesta Baglioni and along the way passes through Fratta Todina, Montone, Città di Castello, and Borgo San Sepolcro (Sansepolcro). Through Montefeltro, he enters the Forlì territory; he passes through Mercato Saraceno, Ronco, and arrives in Forlì where he meets the city’s lord, Antonio Ordelaffi. He is joined by Erasmo da Trivulzio and Bernardino degli Ubaldini della Carda, who lead 2,000 horses. He fortifies himself near Imola at San Lazzaro, while the allied army, of equal strength (6,000 horses and 3,000 infantry), is stationed at Castel Bolognese. He advances towards Gattamelata and Tolentino, whom he knows is at odds with the papal legate, Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi. He sends a force of 800 men-at-arms behind enemy lines; positions other troops for an ambush, and attacks a bridge on the Via Emilia. He orders the vanguard to retreat in the face of the likely counterattack from the Venetians and the Papal forces. Gattamelata, following the plan, easily captures 200 horses from him; the adversaries, despite the protests of Niccolò da Tolentino, pursue the fleeing soldiers. They are defeated on the gravelly banks of a small river, the Rio Sanguinario. Almost effortlessly, 3,500 horses, 1,000 infantry, and their general captain, Niccolò da Tolentino, are captured. The latter, later on and against Piccinino’s wishes, will be thrown from the rugged cliffs of the Val di Taro by order of the Duke of Milan for having abandoned the Visconti ranks two years earlier. Numerous captains are also taken prisoner, including Taddeo d’Este, Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, Astorre Manfredi, Cesare da Martinengo, Giovanni Malavolti, and Guerriero da Marsciano. Only Gattamelata and Guidantonio Manfredi escape capture. In total, 300 men-at-arms and 2,000 infantry are captured; 3,000 horses are part of the spoils. According to official estimates, there are only 4 dead and 30 wounded.
Sept.Emilia, RomagnaHe takes Castel Bolognese after a ten-day siege; he occupies Bazzano and Bagnara di Romagna, imposing a levy on its inhabitants of 2,000 florins and 50 bushels of wheat to avoid pillage; he also has Crevalcore. He lays siege to Granarolo dell’Emilia, which surrenders on terms. The infantry responsible for its defense are imprisoned, and the citizens are forced to hand over 3,000 florins and 5,000 bushels of wheat.
Oct.RomagnaHe loses Castiglione but quickly retakes the area; 150 infantry enter the fortress and reoccupy the village. Later in the month, Doccia and Castel San Pietro Terme also surrender to him; the inhabitants of the latter town hand over 12,000 ducats. The property of a Jew, who lends money at interest in the city, is pillaged. The Florentine vicar, left in the city by Gattamelata, is captured. From Castel San Pietro Terme, 300 Florentine infantrymen emerge and are stripped of their weapons.
Dec.Emilia, Romagna, LombardyHe goes to Borgo Panigale where many Bolognese citizens come to see him. They offer him carts filled with poultry and beef, bread, wine, fodder, and other provisions. He attacks Gattamelata in the stronghold of Castelfranco Emilia; due to heavy rains, after eighteen days, he is forced to abandon the siege operations. He goes to Parma (where he is hosted by Andrea dei Valerii) and from there he moves to Lombardy. He follows the story of Marsilio da Carrara’s return from Hungary to Veneto, who tries to stir up Padua against the Venetians: the plot is discovered and Marsilio da Carrara is executed.
1435
Jan. – Apr.Lombardy, TuscanyHe loses San Gemini to Francesco Sforza, who raids the Umbrian territories controlled by his men. He orders his son Francesco to cross the Apennines to join forces with Niccolò Fortebraccio and together plunder the Papal States. He concludes a thirty-day truce with Sforza; escorted by 300 horses, he returns to the Sienese territory at Bagni di Petriolo.
MayTuscany, LiguriaHe goes to Siena where he is honored by the authorities. He plots new schemes against the Pope; when these also fail, he reaches Talamone and returns to Liguria by sea. En route at Bagni di Petriolo, some Florentines are discovered, who, presenting themselves as ambassadors, have the mission to poison him. Once discovered, they are tied to a tree and personally killed by him using a bow and crossbow. In the end, their bodies, torn in several places, are left hanging from the trunks.
JuneForlìChurchGeneral CaptainEmilia, RomagnaIn Emilia and Romagna; he leaves Lugo and at the end of the month, he encamps with 5,000 horses between Faenza and Granarolo, formally on the payroll of the lord of Forlì. He moves to Casemurate; he raids the Cesena area, causing difficulties for the Malatesta family. Some of Sforza’s men-at-arms, who are protecting the fieldwork, are captured, and several peasants are killed.
JulyRomagna, EmiliaSforza, in turn, captures 36 of Piccinino’s men-at-arms in the Bologna region. At the beginning of the month, Piccinino arrives at Magliano in the Forlì region, where Antonio Ordelaffi supplies him with many war machines. He then moves to the Faenza area, stopping between Faenza and Solarolo, raiding the territories of Russi and Villafranca, while Sforza remains in the Cesena area. Mid-month, he returns to the Bologna region, trying to surprise Gattamelata at Piumazzo. After this ambush fails, he returns to the vicinity of Solarolo in the Faenza area. With the help of the locals, he defeats Manfredi at Morano. He moves to Bagnolo with 6,000 men, both cavalry and infantry, wishing to attack Sforza and assist Fortebraccio. Unfortunately for him, the ducal commissioner Erasmo da Trivulzio dissuades him, causing him to miss a favorable opportunity. This gives Sforza time to reorganize his troops; with the arrival of Gattamelata and Tiberto Brandolini, he is even able to oppose Piccinino with troop contingents equal in number to his own. Niccolò Piccinino occupies Meldola and lays siege to Mercato Saraceno.
Aug.Romagna, EmiliaFortebraccio is killed at Fiordimonte; the Duke of Milan reconciles with Eugenius IV. Niccolò Piccinino returns to the Bologna region and hands over to the Papal forces Bologna, Imola, Castel Bolognese, Castel San Pietro Terme, and other castles in exchange for 2,000 ducats, which he claims he is owed by the residents of the capital.
Sept.Liguria, LombardyIn August, Alfonso of Aragon was defeated and captured by the Genoese in the naval battle of Ponza. Piccinino goes to Savona where the King of Aragon has been taken. Together with Bernardino degli Ubaldini della Carda, he escorts him from Liguria to Milan, to the castle of Porta Giovia.
Dec.MilanGenoa, Florence, Curch, VeniceGeneral CaptainLiguria, EmiliaHe accompanies Alfonso of Aragon to Portovenere, who has just been released by Visconti. He finds himself back in Liguria with 20,000 armed men, both to quell the revolt of the Genoese incited by Francesco Spinola and to assist Erasmo da Trivulzio, who is besieged in Castelletto. He descends through the Val Polcevera, forcing Tommaso Fregoso to retreat into Genoa; he ravages the surroundings and plunders the countryside of Albenga. Due to the resistance offered by the defenders of the area, he is forced to return to Parma.
1436
Spring/SummerLiguriaHe once again focuses on Liguria when the Genoese take control of Portovenere at the expense of the Aragonese allies. He advances towards Genoa, crossing the Val Polcevera, laying waste to everything, and setting fires all the way to Sampierdarena where he burns the ships found in the shipyards located on the beach. Castelletto surrenders to the adversaries. Niccolò Piccinino then targets the Western Riviera: he reaches Voltri and lays siege to Albenga (guarded by Tommaso Doria). Aid sent by the Florentines arrives in the area. He takes prisoners, raids livestock; both the spoils and captives are taken to Finale Ligure, controlled by the Marquis Galeotto del Carretto, an ally of the ducal forces. A certain Valente Focaccia, who is transporting some letters from Genoa to Albenga, is captured by his men. Piccinino ties Focaccia’s legs to his neck and uses a trebuchet to throw him into Albenga. In July, he is challenged by the sorties of Baldaccio d’Anghiari. He is forced to withdraw from the region. The event is considered miraculous by the inhabitants of Albenga, and its memory is commemorated by a procession for several centuries.
Sept.EmiliaAt San Martino dei Bocci (San Martino), Fornovo, and Parma.
Oct. – Nov.TuscanyHe moves to Tuscany with the exiled Florentines, leading 6,000 horses and many infantry; he negotiates in Arezzo with the constable of a gate, Antonello d’Arezzo. The plot is discovered. He arrives in Lucca and asks the Florentines for passage to head towards the Kingdom of Naples to serve Alfonso of Aragon. The adversaries respond by sending Sforza to Santa Gonda, on the banks of the Arno, with 5,000 horses and 2,500 infantry. The two condottieri face off for two months without attempting any decisive clash; in the meantime, Piccinino takes control of various castles in the Pisa area, blocking Sforza, who remains stationary and inactive.
Dec.TuscanyAt the end of the month, an attack he launched on Vicopisano during the night is repelled. Once again, taking advantage of the inactivity of Sforza and the Florentine commissioner Neri Capponi, he plunders the Valle di Buti and sets fire to San Giovanni alla Vena. On Christmas Day, he bursts into Santa Maria in Castello and Filettole, with the usual aftermath of capturing prisoners, raiding livestock, and seizing the provisions contained therein. He sets up camp in Santa Maria in Castello; from there, he continues his raids into Florentine territory.
1437
Jan.Tuscany, LiguriaHe enters Lunigiana; he takes control of Castelnuovo and Santo Stefano di Magra. In four days, he secures Sarzana on terms (where Spinetta Fregoso is defending, assisted by Bartolomeo Lomellini). He returns to the Genoa region when there are hopes of taking control of the capital by treaty. He unsuccessfully lays siege to Pietrasanta and then moves to Garfagnana to occupy Barga.
Feb.TuscanyHe prepares to lay siege to Barga and arranges his troops in three separate camps: one is captured by Sarpellione, Pietro Brunoro, and Niccolò da Pisa, who put Piccinino to flight and force him to abandon two bombards and many munitions.
Mar.Tuscany, LiguriaLucca is besieged by Sforza and Gattamelata. Piccinino reorganizes his militias, reoccupies Santa Maria in Castello, and devastates the Pisa area. He threatens the Pistoia region and re-enters Sarzana, but he can’t stand against the league’s troops. He is summoned by the Duke of Milan, who is concerned about the successes achieved by the Venetians on the Adda.
Apr.Tuscany,
Emilia, Lombardia, 
Romagna
He passes through Pontremoli and reaches Lombardy; he defeats Gian Francesco Gonzaga and Gattamelata at Medolago. The Venetians lose 3,000 men, mostly drowned in the Adda, between prisoners and the deceased. He crosses Emilia and in Romagna threatens the Venetians and the Papal forces between Ravenna and Imola.
MayEmiliaHe drives the Malatesta brothers out of Bologna.
JuneEmilia, RomagnaFrom Fornovo, he sends Angelo Belmamolo to Pontremoli to confront Sforza. He reaches Borgo San Donnino (Fidenza) and bursts into the Cremona region. He takes control of several fortresses, including Casalmaggiore after an eight-day siege. Informed that the Venetians have arrived at Binanuova with carriages and bombards, he directs all his troops towards Cremona. He orders Urbano di San Luigi and Antonello Ruffaldi to follow him.
Aug.Tuscany, LombardyHe arrives near Pontremoli and avenges the killing of Captain Bartolomeo da Rimini at Filattiera. He then moves to the Brescia region, sets up camp in Malpaga, and occupies Monticelli d’Oglio.
Sept.LombardyIn command of 12,000 cavalry and many infantry, he once again defeats the Venetians, led by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta and Gian Francesco Gonzaga, at Calcinato. In the retreat, the adversaries lose artillery, men, firearms, and baggage. Gian Francesco Gonzaga retreats to the Mantua region. Piccinino continues his victorious action, laying an ambush for Gattamelata by the Oglio river; he sets up camp near Malpaga and occupies Monticelli d’Oglio. He forces the opposing captain to take refuge in Pontoglio and sets up another trap for him when he learns that Gattamelata, with inferior forces, is heading to the Mantua region. He forces the Venetian fleet to abandon the waters of the Brescia and Bergamo regions. In various actions, he seizes 500 carts and captures 2,000 men. However, he spends time besieging the castle of Calepio, which he conquers after twenty days. Bartolomeo and Onofrio da Calepio, taken prisoners, are brought to Milan and, by the Duke’s order, are dragged by horse: their bodies are quartered, and the remains are placed on gallows. Piccinino orders the castle to be razed to the ground and destroys the local bridge over the Adda. He then attacks Costa di Mezzate, but the waters of the Serio river suddenly swell; he decides to return to the Milan region to ensure the supply flow to his camp. Many of his soldiers drown in the swollen river.
Oct.LombardyHe takes control of Urgnano, which surrenders unconditionally; he has the constable and 38 infantrymen who had been defending it thrown from the tower. He secures Sarnico and Predore. After a brief artillery barrage, he obtains Cologno al Serio and Brignano Gera d’Adda on terms. He occupies Caprino Bergamasco and Ponte San Pietro, where he orders the castle to be destroyed.
Nov.Lombardy, EmiliaHe attacks Bergamo: he destroys Borgo Pignolo and launches an assault on the fortress, defended by Bartolomeo Colleoni. For eight days, he tries to seize the city with continuous attacks from the direction of Sant’Agostino. Mid-month, he pushes into Val Brembana and is defeated at Sorisole by Diotisalvi Lupi. In the skirmish, he is injured by a stone throw. He moves to the Parma region to monitor the movements of Sforza, who has stopped in the Reggio region. At the same time, Gian Francesco Gonzaga officially abandons the service of the Serenissima for that of the Duke.
Dec.Emilia, LombardyHe sends aid to the people of Lucca; however, they are blocked in the Apennines at Castiglione. He then returns towards Modena and Lombardy, where he has been summoned by Visconti.
1438
Jan.EmiliaHe spends the first two months of the year in Parma. The Duke of Milan appoints him Marquis of Pellegrino and grants him the fiefdoms of Borgonovo Val Tidone, Ripalta, Borgo Val di Taro, Varese Ligure, Somaglia, Pellegrino Parmense, Bardi, and Compiano. These will be followed in June by Castell’Arquato and Castelponzone. His chancellor, Albertino da Cividale (in April), is instead granted the fiefdoms of Calestano, Mazzolara, and Vigolone. The centers that are given to him have been taken from the Arcelli, Landi, Pallavicini, and Scotti families.
Mar. – MayMilanChurchLombardy, Emilia, RomagnaHe feigns a dispute with the Duke of Milan due to an agreement between the Duke and Sforza regarding the latter’s marriage to Visconti’s daughter, Bianca Maria. He departs Lombardy with his squads, pretending to want to serve the Papal State, asking for lordship over Perugia, Assisi, and Città di Castello, as well as the titles of standard-bearer and general captain. He passes through Mirandola, arrives in the Bologna region, and sets up camp on the Idice river; the governor of Bologna supplies his troops with provisions. He reaches Villafranca, crosses the Schiavonia bridge, and arrives at Casemurate. By mid-May, he departs from this location, approaches Forlì, moves from the San Pietro gate to the Schiavonia gate, and returns to Cosina and Villafranca. Among his troops is Antonio Ordelaffi; he joins forces with Astorre Manfredi and raids Oriolo (Oriolo dei Fichi) at the expense of the Florentines. He positions himself between Ravenna and Forlì, reaching out to the Venetians and the Papal State to offer his services. Negotiations are underway; the Papal State advances him 5,000 ducats to fight against Sforza, who is taking control of the March of Ancona. At the same time, his emissaries approach dissidents in several cities of the Papal State, urging them to seek help from Visconti. Niccolò Piccinino returns to Imola, meets with Raffaele Foscarari and other supporters of the Bentivoglio family, who invite him to Bologna. Arriving at the Porta Maggiore with his troops, he sends a messenger to the governor, asking for dominion over the city. Conspirators beckon him to the gates of San Donato and San Vitale, which they open for him. He lays siege to the representative of the Papal government in his palace. The building is ransacked by the inhabitants, and its defenders are forced to surrender. The companies of Domenico Malatesta in the city are plundered, while those of his brother, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, and Pietro Giampaolo Orsini are spared. He besieges the castle of Porta Galliera, having dug a deep moat around it to prevent any potential sorties.
JuneEmilia, RomagnaHis troops ransack Crespellano, Bazzano, San Lorenzo in Collina, and Montemaggiore. He conquers Imola and its entire surrounding territory, with the exceptions of Cento and Pieve di Cento. In Bologna, he gives up the Galliera castle. Despite prior agreements with his supporters, Niccolò Piccinino stations a garrison of 400 infantrymen of his own inside. He subdues Bagnacavallo, Russi, and Fusignano; and imposes a tribute of 3,000 florins on Ostasio da Polenta, the lord of Ravenna and ally of the Venetians.
Receiving a negative response, he prepares to lay siege to the city. He constructs a bridge over the Po River tributary and commences operations. The Venetians dispatch a flotilla of boats by sea with horsemen and infantry under the command of Antonello della Torre. The Serenissima’s troops assault the bridge, but after Maffeo da Molin is injured, they are forced to retreat. After four days of siege, Ostasio da Polenta has no choice but to pay Piccinino the demanded tribute of 3,000 florins. During the same period, Sansepolcro also raises the Visconti banners.
Niccolò Piccinino leaves Bologna and, tirelessly, crosses the Po River at Soncino, aiming to link up with Gian Francesco Gonzaga, another Visconti general. He penetrates the Cremonese territory, where San Giovanni in Croce, Castelletto, Vidiceto, and Rivarolo Mantovano surrender to him. He lays siege to Casalmaggiore, which is defended by the provost Giacomo Antonio Marcello. On the bank of the Oglio River, the Venetian provosts Federico Contarini and Andrea Mocenigo position themselves. The Venetians do not muster the courage to attack the Visconti forces, so after five days, the locality surrenders unconditionally. On this occasion, 60 individuals are either killed or hanged.
JulyLombardyNiccolò Piccinino takes a strategic position along the Oglio River, facing Gattamelata who is stationed at Acquanegra sul Chiese with 9,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantrymen. Piccinino devises a ruse to cross the river by constructing a pontoon bridge, allowing some of his troops to engage the enemy. Meanwhile, with the assistance of Gonzaga, who has prepared three additional bridges, he crosses the Oglio River between Marcaria and Canneto d’Oglio at night, led by Luigi dal Verme. Commanding 45 cavalry squads, he plans to ambush the enemy camp. However, Venetian foot soldiers capture a certain Beretta, a former deserter from the Serenissima, who reveals Piccinino’s plan to save his life. Immediately, the Venetians abandon their camp and retreat to Brescia via Gambara and Isorella, destroying bridges in their wake.
Without facing resistance, Binanuova, Pontevico, Gottolengo, Calvisano, and Quinzano d’Oglio fall under Piccinino’s control. He enters Val Camonica, where Visconti supporters greet him joyfully. Advancing through Val Sabbia, he seizes Gavardo and sets up his base at Nozza. Here, he faces opposition from Paride di Lodrone and Tebaldo Graziotti. Gattamelata comes forward to defend Gavardo and Salò. Piccinino, reinforced by Gonzaga with 2,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry, counters Gattamelata’s move. He defeats Gattamelata at Gardone Riviera, forcing him to retreat to Brescia. Consequently, Piccinino easily captures Rivoltella, Salò (his troops blend in with local peasants upon entry), and Sirmione. Montichiari also opens its gates to him, and after three days of bombardment, he gains control of the fortress. Gian Francesco Gonzaga and Luigi dal Verme also play their part by capturing Valeggio sul Mincio and parts of the Veronese countryside. They take numerous prisoners and seize a vast quantity of livestock, which they transport to Peschiera del Garda.
Aug.LombardyNiccolò Piccinino continues his campaign, capturing Soncino and Pontoglio. He then moves to Franciacorta, where the town of Chiari welcomes him. He also manages to gain control of Chiari’s fortress, but doesn’t immediately release its defenders (300 infantrymen and 600 cavalrymen) as agreed. Instead, he releases them in small groups over time. As Piccinino proceeds, he captures Palazzolo sull’Oglio and then lays siege to Rovato, which is defended by Leonardo da Martinengo with 2,000 men. However, Piccinino is taken by surprise when Gattamelata launches a raid while he’s moving towards Rovato. In this ambush on the hills of Calino, 2,000 of Piccinino’s men are caught off-guard, and he barely escapes, retreating to Cologne. Despite this setback, Piccinino regroups and by the end of the month, he successfully occupies Rovato (whose castle he sacks, as is his custom), Orzinuovi (through a treaty), and Gussago. The latter town is defended by provveditore Giacomo Antonio Marcello and Tebaldo Brusati, along with 200 Brescians.
Sept.LombardyAfter successfully capturing Monticelli Brusati with four consecutive assaults, Piccinino continues his campaign by taking over Iseo and Roncadelle. He establishes his camp in Roncadelle, effectively putting more pressure on Brescia, which is increasingly surrounded. Gattamelata, defending Brescia for the Venetians, initially attempts to break the siege but fails. However, in a second attempt, he manages to strike back decisively. With a force of 3,000 cavalry, 2,000 infantry, sappers, and crossbowmen, he initially appears to be targeting Piccinino’s camp at Roncadelle. However, in a tactical move, he suddenly diverts his forces through the mountainous regions of Lodrone, Arco, and Trento. This maneuver effectively outmaneuvers Piccinino and changes the dynamics of the campaign. Reacting to Gattamelata’s tactics, Piccinino seeks to further tighten his grip on Brescia. He captures Mompiano, aiming to cut off the city’s water supply. Determined to breach the city’s defenses, he then directs a three-hour assault on the Porta di San Giovanni, also known as the “Gate of Piles.” The battle rages on, with both sides determined to secure their objectives in this critical confrontation.
Oct.LombardyNiccolò Piccinino, showing his strategic acumen, establishes a dominant position on the hill of San Fiorano, which was previously occupied by a Dominican convent. He quickly sets up a fortification (bastia) on this high ground, which offers a commanding view of the surrounding area and the city. In addition to this primary fortification, two other bastias are erected at Santa Croce and Sant’Eufemia della Fonte, further tightening the noose around Brescia. Eight days into this positioning, Piccinino begins an intense bombardment of Brescia using sixteen large cannons. The smallest of these cannons is capable of launching projectiles weighing as much as 300 pounds. The city walls, though sturdy, start to show significant damage from the continuous barrage. Wide breaches open up, threatening the city’s defenses. Brescia’s inhabitants, showing resilience, work tirelessly to repair these breaches. Stonemasons and other laborers fill the gaps with bundles of wood and rocks, trying to stave off an imminent assault. Piccinino’s tactical prowess is further demonstrated by his attention to the details of siege warfare. He commissions the construction of various siege engines to aid in the assault. Additionally, he manipulates the surrounding water sources, draining the ditch of Canton Mombello and redirecting the water into the channels of Naviglio and Garza. This maneuver is aimed at both hindering the city’s water supply and creating better pathways for his troops. He also orders the digging of trenches and the construction of additional protective barriers, ensuring that his soldiers can approach the city walls with reduced risk.
With an army of 20,000 men, Piccinino’s forces set up camps in various strategic locations around Brescia, including Sant’ Apollonio, San Salvatore, San Matteo, and Sant’Andrea. The stage is set for a climactic confrontation between the besiegers and the besieged.
Nov.LombardyTaddeo d’Este, with a successful sortie, destroys the Visconti camp located near the church of Sant’Apollonio. Piccinino then strengthens his artillery park, bringing it to 80 pieces. Four new cannons are placed at Canton Mombello near the church of San Matteo; another two are set up at Sant’ Andrea and two at Sant’Apollonio. He moves to San Fiorano and, together with Gonzaga, attempts a new general assault on Brescia, which is directed at Torlonga. This is followed by another attack in the eastern part. Taliano Furlano advances as a scout. The turret of Sant’Andrea collapses due to a mine, the ducal forces cross the ruins, leap over the previously drained moat, and reach the top of the Mombello rampart without encountering resistance from the defenders. The ensuing melee lasts four hours; 200 Visconti and about forty Brescians fall. The number of wounded is also very high. Repelled, he personally leads his most substantial attack, with all the infantrymen supported by dismounted men-at-arms, on Sant’Apollonio: the battle lasts from morning to evening.
Dec.LombardyHe remains near Brescia. He invites the defenders to surrender on terms; he unleashes a violent assault led by 15,000 men, mainly between Canton Mombello and Sant’Apollonio. The action is preceded by a strong offensive at Porta Pile to distract the defenders’ attention. Piccinino himself aims a cannon, and its projectile kills nineteen men in a single shot. The ducal forces are repelled once again; by sunset, the attackers begin to retreat, first from the side of Canton Mombello, then from Torlonga and Rovarotto. The next day, at dawn, Piccinino launches a group of 500 cavalry against Canton Mombello, which is practically defenseless. Its ruins can be ridden over by horses without dismounting. A similar attack is repeated at Rovarotto, supported by soldiers armed with blunderbusses. Against these, the defenders use typical countermeasures, such as throwing flaming bundles, containers filled with molten pitch and boiling lime, rocks, and perforated pots filled with gunpowder. From Torlonga, a squadron of Venetian cavalry emerges, charging the Visconti starting positions, causing confusion among the attackers’ ranks. The ducal forces retreat and are pursued to their lodgings by the defenders. In these various attacks, a total of 2,000 Visconti die. The losses of the Brescians are also high, amounting to 800 citizens, 500 peasants tasked with wall surveillance, and 200 garrison soldiers. Mid-month, Piccinino decides to withdraw; he sets his lodgings on fire and lies in ambush at Pietra del Gallo. With the failure of this trap, he sets up his winter quarters in the foothills, between Castenedolo and Ghedi; he leaves garrisons in Mompiano, Santa Croce, and Sant’ Eufemia della Fonte with the aim of blocking the supply flow to Brescia.
1439
Jan.2500 cavalryLombardyHe moves from Riva del Garda with Gonzaga at the helm of 6,000 soldiers and once again attacks Brescia. He constructs three fortresses in Val di Sabbia and Valtrompia, under the command of Cesare da Martinengo, and one on the Mincio River. He promptly responds to the action of Furlano at Castel Romano, carried out by Paride di Lodrone and Diotisalvi Lupi. Guided by some locals, he gathers a significant portion of the troops and prepares for an expedition into Trentino against the counts of Lodrone. Instead, he ventures into Val Sabbia. He divides the army into multiple sections and, by night, has his men attack Vestone and the Pertica area, which are set on fire. Livestock is plundered, and goods are looted; all the inhabitants (whether they are Guelphs or Ghibellines) are taken prisoner. From Val Sabbia, he skirts the shores of Lake Idro and advances towards Lodrone and Castel Romano.
Feb.Trentino, VenetoHe besieges Lodrone with a furious siege lasting fifteen days. He also captures Castel Penede, Tenno, and Arco. He pushes on to Castel Romano but, after three days, ceases operations due to the harshness of winter and the challenges of the roads, which jeopardize the provisioning of his troops. He retreats to the winter camps located in the Riviera di Salò. From here, he obstructs the movements of the Venetian fleet of 80 ships, both large and small, transported to Torbole by land. He moves to Veneto and, at Villa Bartolomea, meets with Luigi dal Verme and Gian Francesco Gonzaga. The Venetian foes breach the banks of the Adige River.
Apr.VenetoMid-month, he crosses the Adige at Angiari with Gonzaga and spreads into the Veronese territory. Repulsed at Malopera, he moves with the Gonzaga fleet to where the Buso flows into the river. Upon landing, he burns Sanguinetto, Asparetto, Casaleone, Sustinenza, and Concamarise. He plunders Angiari, San Pietro, Malavicina, Cerea, and Bovolone to pay his troops. He seizes Porto and Legnago. The fortress of Legnago surrenders under the threat of having five captured Venetian nobles killed by the ducal forces if the castellan did not comply with his request. The Legnago provider, Pietro Querini, has the banks of the Adige cut to slow down his march. Piccinino takes over in the Vicenza area, capturing Lonigo, Brendola, Montecchio Maggiore, Arzignano, Montorso, and Valdagno. He returns to the Veronese territory with Gonzaga and occupies Soave, Monteforte d’Alpone, Villanova, San Bonifacio, Arcole, Brognoligo, Roncà Castelcerino, Montecchia di Crosara, Colognola ai Colli, and Caldiero.
MayVenetoMuch of the Vicenza area is also under Visconti control. Gattamelata fortifies himself in the Padua stronghold. Niccolò Piccinino takes Illasi and lays siege to Bartolomeo Colleoni in Verona.
JuneVenetoHe is confronted by Sforza, who arrives in Cologna Veneta with 14,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry. Niccolò Piccinino abandons the siege of Verona and fortifies himself in Soave. In just one night, he has a seven-kilometer long moat dug, connecting the area with the marshes formed by the Adige River. A pontoon bridge links his camp with the Mantuan territory, ensuring a stable supply route. He diverts the river waters into the moat, effectively trapping some Venetian galleons at Porto and Legnago, which can no longer maneuver due to the lowering of the Adige’s water level. Some sailors from the crews, taken prisoner, have their hands and tongues cut off because they insulted Gian Francesco Gonzaga as a traitor. Attacked at Roncà at dusk, he has to retreat with the Marquis of Mantova due to the pressure exerted by Troilo da Rossano and Niccolò da Pisa. He sets fire to the defensive works constructed nearby, crosses the Adige, reaches Porcile (Belfiore), and orderly withdraws to Vigasio. Plague strikes his soldiers.
Aug.LombardyHe returns to Lombardy, where he resumes operations against Brescia after Francesco Sforza has withdrawn from the siege of Bardolino to take refuge in Zevio due to the plague. Niccolò Piccinino prepares a fleet in Desenzano del Garda. Within the month, the fiefs of Calestano, Marzolara, and Vigolzone are granted to him.
Sept.Lombardy, TrentinoHe arrives under Goglione (Prevalle) with Gian Francesco Gonzaga commanding 5,000 cavalry; they are joined by Taliano Furlano; together, they set fire to Sale (Serle). He moves to Toscolano-Maderno and seizes Gavardo after defeating the Venetians nearby. Gattamelata manages to transport a lake fleet across Monte Baldo. Piccinino, in turn, launches his boats into Garda at Desenzano on the southern shore. He first tries to destroy the Venetian lake fleet, defended by Troilo da Rossano. In the clash, he is unhorsed and risks being killed in the melee. Undeterred, he gathers a large number of sappers and has them cut down many tree trunks and branches, using them as pilings along the entire Brescian shore of the lake to prevent the enemy fleet from landing. The Venetians are forced to move towards Salò.
Taking advantage of his operational superiority, Piccinino divides his army into three parts: the first is led by Luigi da San Severino, who at dawn attacks the Venetian camp; the second, led by Furlano, marches over the mountains of Toscolano-Maderno, conquers a fort above Salò, and descends upon the enemy camp. Piccinino places himself in the third formation with Gonzaga, marching along the coast. The combined attack of the ducal forces causes disorder and a general retreat. The defenders flee to their ships, leading to another fierce battle as the anchored fleet is attacked. Almost all the ships fall into his hands, with many prisoners taken, including Taddeo d’Este. With this victory, he seizes the castle of Maderno, whose castellan, Andrea Leoni, surrenders even before being besieged. Niccolò Piccinino thus recovers all the castles on Lake Garda, except for Castel Penede. He returns to Riva del Garda, is joined by Luigi da San Severino with 600 cavalry, and re-enters Val di Ledro. The infantry of Diotisalvi Lupi, returning from Val Camonica, and those of the counts of Lodrone, are caught off guard by his nighttime action.
Oct.TrentinoHe is defeated at Lodrone by Guerriero da Marsciano in a clash where 350 cavalry and 150 infantry from the ducal side are captured.
Nov.TrentinoFrancesco Sforza aims to aid Brescia through Trentino. Niccolò Piccinino and Gonzaga move to intercept him beneath the fortress of Tenno. He positions numerous troops on a hill, blocking the enemy’s path. Gian Francesco Gonzaga falters before Troilo da Rossano. Piccinino finds himself increasingly pressured by Sforza. As the battle ensues, Brescians, from the mountaintops, begin hurling boulders onto the Visconti. Panic strikes his men, causing them to scatter. Piccinino takes refuge in a nearby fortress with only 10 cavalrymen. In the battle, over 300 of the ducal forces die compared to 60 Venetians. There are many wounded and prisoners, among them Carlo Gonzaga and Cesare da Martinengo.
He’s besieged by Gattamelata in Tenno. Sforza offers a reward of 5,000 ducats for Piccinino’s capture. His escape from the castle is dramatic: he gets enclosed in a sack by a physically strong, low-ranking German soldier and is carried across the battlefield, evading all checks, by being mistaken for a plague victim being taken for burial. By some accounts, his escape is facilitated by one of Sforza’s commanders, either identified as Ugo da San Severino or Sarpellione. Regardless, Piccinino reaches Rodengo-Saiano and Riva del Garda, boards a small ship, crosses the lake, and arrives at the Peschiera del Garda camp. He receives fresh troops from Mantua.
Mid-month, with Gonzaga, dal Verme, and Francesco della Mirandola, he enters Verona leading 800 cavalry. Ladders are placed at a point of Porta di Santa Croce indicated by a deserter (constable Giacomino da Castel Bolognese). His other men act similarly at the Gates of Sant’Antonio and Rufiolo. Gonzaga plunders the San Zeno suburb; soon the Ponte Nuovo, Ponte della Pietra, Porta Vescovo, Ponte della Nave, Porta Calzari, Sant’ Onorio tower, and the gates of San Grigolo (San Felice) are taken by the ducal forces. Only Castelvecchio, Porta Braida, and the castles of San Felice and San Pietro stand firm.
Three days later, the situation reverses. His soldiers, still engrossed in looting, are surprised by Francesco Sforza and Gattamelata, who arrive hastily from Tenno. Some of his men perish when the Ponte della Pietra collapses into the Adige River under the weight of the people taking refuge on it. Initially, he barricades himself with Gian Francesco Gonzaga in the citadel, but soon decides to abandon the city through the Porta di Santa Croce with the Marquis of Mantova. He flees to Vigasio, pursued by Rossano and Sarpellione, then continues to Valeggio sul Mincio. The venture costs the Visconti 300 cavalry, 500 infantry, 1,000 Mantuans, a large number of baggage handlers, and much baggage during the escape alone. The disaster is attributed less to Piccinino’s oversight and more to Furlano’s disobedience, who did not move from Brescia to cover Piccinino’s rear in Verona as ordered by the Duke of Milan himself, keen on pitting his commanders against each other.
Dec.Lombardy, TrentinoHe retreats to the Brescia region, continually hindering relief operations to the capital. From Roncadelle, he advances to Rebuffone, passes through Rodengo-Saiano and Monticelli Brusati, sets Gussago and Cellatica on fire, devastates Ome, Brione, Abbazia di San Vigilio, Nave, and Val Trompia, reaching Gardone. He returns to the walls of Brescia, threatening the city at Porta Pile, and then heads towards Franciacorta. Along his march, he devastates everything due to the approaching Venetian column that has reached Lumezzane with Sarpellione. He goes to Riva del Garda and defeats Sforza at Arco, thus liberating the center from the Venetian siege. The cold weather compels the adversaries to retreat to their winter quarters. Piccinino does the same, placing his quarters between Castenedolo, Ghedi, and in Valtellina.
1440
Jan.LombardyHe is at the camp of Rivoltella. With Gian Francesco Gonzaga, he ensures the return of 4 mules, loaded with loaves, to Francesco Sforza, intended for the troops of the Serenissima. A foot soldier from Sforza’s ranks is also allowed to return to Verona freely.
Feb.LombardyHe crosses the Oglio river and sacks Pontevico; he crosses the Po with 6,000 horsemen and 5,000 foot soldiers and moves to the Parma region. He summons Annibale Bentivoglio, who, during those days, killed Raffaele Foscarari in Bologna; he dismisses him and heads towards the city. He is noted in his march to Cavriago.
Mar.MilanCesena, Florence, ChurchGeneral captainEmilia, RomagnaHe enters Bologna with 5,000 to 6,000 horsemen and numerous foot soldiers through the Saragozza Gate and exits through the Strada Maggiore Gate to take lodging “at the Crociati”: the senate invites him to come within the walls. Having received 20,000 ducats from the citizens, he readmits the Canedoli and Abbot Bartolomeo Zambeccari into the city. He then heads to Romagna while the Florentine exiles, with Rinaldo degli Albizzi, urge him to move towards Tuscany. He accepts the dominion of Imola on behalf of the Visconti and ventures into the Forlì region: Antonio Ordelaffi meets him at Cosina and hands over the keys to Forlì, which are returned to him. He is reached at the Ronco camp by Manfredi; he proceeds to Meldola to the detriment of the Malatesta; having obtained the locality, he sacks Teodorano and meets in Cesena with Domenico Malatesta from whom he has four fortresses handed over, including those of Cesena and Montefiore Conca. Piccinino also has the Lord of Forlì give him 2,000 ducats; he holds a conversation with Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta in Polenta. The Lord of Rimini yields to his requests, as does Pietro Giampaolo Orsini in Forlimpopoli. He leaves Meldola, passes through Fiumana, and takes the route of the Apennines, capturing prisoners and raiding livestock in the Florentine territory. He stops at Bagno di Romagna.
Apr. – MayRomagna, Emilia, Tuscany, UmbriaHe conquers Pianetto and attacks Modigliana, which surrenders to him under terms; he also gains control of Portico di Romagna, Rocca San Casciano, Monte Sacco, Montevecchio, Riolo Terme, and Premacore; 20 papal castles submit to the Visconti. Upon hearing of a conspiracy in Bologna organized by the Canedoli and Carlo Zambeccari against the Bentivoglio, he returns to the city. He captures Battista, Galeotto, and Ludovico Canedoli, imprisoning them in Borgonovo Val Tidone, Pellegrino Parmense, and Borgo Val di Taro, respectively. He orders the execution of Abbot Zambeccari, disregarding potential excommunication by the papal authorities.
The Florentine commissioner, Bartolomeo Orlandini, cowardly abandons Marradi: this allows the Visconti to invade Tuscany. The exiles accompanying Piccinino are forbidden from setting homes and villages on fire. The commander enters the Mugello region, targets Vicchio, lays siege to Pulicciano; he takes control of Pagliericcio, Mucciano, crosses the hills of Fiesole, secures Mucciano, crosses the Arno, and moves across the plains towards Pontassieve and Remoli, where 120 Florentine “saccomanni” are captured. He loots and devastates up to Vallemagna. However, he spends twenty-eight days besieging Pulicciano. No uprisings in favor of the exiles occur in Florence. Instead, 1,500 Sforza horsemen led by Neri Capponi and the troops of Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, who switches allegiances within a few days, enter the capital. Rinaldo degli Albizzi tries to convince Piccinino to move against Pistoia, hoping for an uprising by the Panciatichi against the Cancellieri, and at the same time, to push the Florentines into open battle. Piccinino, however, listens to the Count of Poppi, Francesco di Battifolle, and chooses to move to Casentino to cut off communications between Arezzo and Perugia, from where Papal State troops are advancing. He seizes Bibbiena, Borgo alla Collina, Romena, and Pitiano near Vallombrosa. In Romena, he avenges the Florentines who, against their agreements when recapturing the castle of Torre a Vaglia, killed all the defending infantry and beheaded the exiled Leonardo Raffacani. Upon hearing this, he brings forward the infantry who had surrendered under terms; those from the Cancellieri faction are hanged, while the Panciatichi supporters are freed. The garrison commander, Bartolomeo da Bologna, is catapulted into the walls of Castel San Niccolò. He begins the siege of this fortress, spending thirty-one days under its walls. Guarding it is Morello da Poppi with 120 infantry; the defenders are heartened by the sight of the hanged men from Romena placed around the castle. Piccinino has the garrison commander’s mother, who was captured in Poppi, brought in chains before the castle walls so her son can see her. The offer to release her in exchange for the castle’s surrender is futile. The siege intensifies and worsens over the days. Many besieged inhabitants try to escape; those captured are placed on trebuchets and catapulted into the castle. In this manner, 37 people die, 25 in one night alone. During this time, the commander captures and sacks Borgo a Stia, Palagio, Ortignano, Giugatoio, Ozzano, and the fort of Reggiolo, which catches fire due to a burning arrow or a firebolt that strikes the straw roof of a house. The fire, fueled by the wind, kills 150 people, including men, women, and children who had previously taken refuge there. He tightens the siege on Castel San Niccolò. The Florentines (Pietro Giampaolo Orsini with commissioners Neri Capponi and Bernardo dei Medici, 2,200 horsemen, equal to a third of the Visconti) move from Figline Valdarno to assist the castle’s defenders. Niccolò Piccinino blocks their path by constructing a strong bastion on the mountain overlooking the castle. By the end of May, the fortress’s defenders surrender under terms, their lives spared. Piccinino only hangs two “saccomanni” who had deserted his ranks to seek refuge there. He targets Rassina, which opens its gates after an eight-day siege. He conquers Chiusi. Informed of the imminent arrival of Micheletto Attendolo, marching from Assisi and Bettona towards Florence, he sends some troops to Sansepolcro (where his son Francesco is) and Montone to block their path; another 1,000 horsemen and 1,000 infantry are similarly sent to Umbria by him. They position themselves two or three miles from Perugia, at Ponte San Giovanni and Piscille, busily robbing nearby countryside of provisions and forage. He raids Monte Castello di Vibio; the looted livestock is brought to Collelungo; he aids the fortress of Sberna and further devastates the neighboring territories.
JuneTuscany, Umbria, RomagnaAt the beginning of the month, he approaches Pieve Santo Stefano, defended by Leale d’Anghiari. He enters Sansepolcro through the Pieve gate, later called Fiorentina. This is opened by the inhabitants, who had rebelled against the Papal authority due to the poor governance of commissioner Antonio Malatesta, bishop of Cesena. From Sansepolcro, he targets Città di Castello, leaving the siege operations to his son Francesco. He then moves to the Perugian territory, aiming to take control of the city; he camps five miles from the walls and enters Perugia, preceded by six trumpets and a large number of citizens, through the Porta di Sant’Angelo with 300 to 500 horsemen. He is received with full honors, staying in the Palazzo dei Priori. He meets with the Papal legate (the Archbishop of Naples) and persuades him to leave the city to convey a message to Pope Eugenius IV. He imprisons the Papal treasurer, the Florentine Michele Benini, on charges of embezzlement. After receiving 8,000 ducats, he returns to his troops.
Mid-month, he approaches Cortona with the exiles, leading 6,000 horsemen and many infantrymen. He halts three days outside the Porta Colonia. He feigns an attack on the village of San Vincenzo, while his supporters inside the city aim to open the opposite gate for his men. The conspiracy leaders (the Boscia) are arrested, and surveillance is doubled. The conspirators, about 50 people, are all beheaded. Niccolò Piccinino tactically withdraws, taking with him the spoils which, upon Perugia’s request, he later returns to the inhabitants of Cortona. He moves to Pian del Carpine (Magione); from there, he touches the Val di Pierla and via Ponte Pattoli sets his sights on Città di Castello. He assaults the location with 2,000 horsemen and many infantrymen. Defenders’ reinforcements arrive: Troilo da Rossano (100 lances), Paolo della Molara (80), some infantrymen, and 30 gunners. A skirmish ensues: the infantry and gunners are captured by the Visconti, as well as 70 of Paolo della Molara’s men-at-arms. The enemies eventually defeat the Visconti forces; della Molara seizes 70 mounts and enters Città di Castello with Trilo da Rossano. Around the same time, the Milanese are defeated at Soncino by Sforza; as a result, the Duke of Milan urges Piccinino to return to Lombardy. At the end of the month, he decides to fortify himself in Sansepolcro at the foot of the mountains separating the high Val Tiberina from the Val di Chiana: 2,000 local men also join him to assist in his expected raids. He inspects the terrain at night and decides on his battle plan.
During the march, it’s said he witnessed a large snake leap from one fig tree to another, impaling itself on a sharp branch and dying instantly. Piccinino wonders if such a sign has a prophetic value, urging him to avoid the clash on the day of the Apostles Peter and Paul. He dismisses the omen and continues his march. Reaching the bridge of a small river, he notices Micheletto Attendolo’s companies stationed there, blocking access. Realizing he can no longer rely on the element of surprise, he modifies his attack strategy, leveraging his numerical advantage. Micheletto Attendolo initially withstands the assault but is eventually forced to retreat, fighting back to the foot of the Anghiari hill. Piccinino quickly occupies the bridge and ford. At this juncture, the Papal State troops of Simonetto da Castel San Pietro arrive, preventing a breakthrough of the fragile defensive line. The arrival of these adversaries forces Piccinino’s forces to retreat beyond the bridge. The Umbrian commander, after three hours, signals the final attack. The allies not only resist but manage to counterattack. Despite all odds, Piccinino manages to reorganize his ranks and hold for another half hour.
At sunset, a strong wind rises from the mountains; the dust blinds and chokes the Visconti. The Florentine and Papal State horses cross the bridge. Chaos ensues. The front line breaks, and soldiers flee towards Sansepolcro. The city is alerted by their cries of “to the straps, to the straps!” With his son Francesco and Guidantonio Manfredi, Piccinino manages to rally part of the scattered forces (1,000 horsemen) and retreat to Sansepolcro. He loses all the spoils from his previous raids since he had to leave his wagons outside the city walls. All the Visconti banners fall into enemy hands. The Florentines display them, turned upside down, in the church of Santa Maria del Fiore. The confrontation, experiencing various phases, ends after four hours. Among the Visconti, there are 60 dead men-at-arms and another 80 light horsemen; 800 are wounded, many of whom would die in the following days from their injuries. The allies report 40 dead men-at-arms and 200 wounded. The Papal State troops of Attendolo and the Florentines of Pietro Giampaolo Orsini capture 22 squad leaders out of 26, 400 constables, 1,540 soldiers, and 3,000 horses. In the Piccinino’s troops’ escape, 60 women, positioned by the Umbrian commander on the sides of the road with water for the soldiers, are also killed, trampled by the horses. Despondent, Piccinino contemplates suicide; the Florentines quickly release his men,
and he can think about rebuilding his army. He retreats to Mola with 2,000 horsemen, sending his son Francesco and Carlo di Montone to Sansepolcro. He first takes refuge in Pistoia, then undisturbedly moves to the Gualdo Tadino region (now commanding 3,000 horsemen) to await (in vain) the Malatesta troops, lord of Rimini. Urged by the Duke of Milan, he heads to Gubbio and is supplied with provisions and weapons by Guidantonio da Montefeltro. He quickly crosses the Apennines and arrives in Romagna, in Rimini.
JulyRomagna, LombardyHe moves between Forlimpopoli and Montecchio; Antonio Ordelaffi, Annibale Bentivoglio, and other Bolognese nobles come to pay him homage. Along with Guidantonio Manfredi, he lays siege to Matteo da Sant’ Angelo in Castrocaro Terme. He meets with his son Francesco in Forlì and then proceeds to Faenza. Leaving his son and Manfredi behind, he returns to Lombardy.
Sept.LombardyHe once again faces Sforza and Gattamelata, who, during his absence, have reclaimed the entire Bresciano region on behalf of the Venetians and freed the capital from the prolonged siege.
Oct.Romagna, EmiliaHe takes up the defense of Forlì. He soon leaves the city to set his sights on Parma.
Nov.EmiliaWhile in Parma, Gaspare and Giovanni Malvezzi visit him, sent by the Bolognese senate. He asks them for 15,000 ducats to be delivered in three installments. Additionally, an agreement is reached between the parties in which Piccinino introduces 100 lances into Bologna. In return, the Bolognese commit to pay not only their salary but also the wages of 100 infantry guards at the Palazzo degli Anziani and the Galliera castle. He then sets his sights on Borgo San Donnino (Fidenza) and Castelvetro di Modena.
Dec.EmiliaIn Parma, he is a guest of Andrea dei Valerii.
1441
Jan. – Feb.LombardyHe provisions himself with men and supplies through taxes and duties that affect all citizens of the Milanese duchy, whether lay or ecclesiastical. Thus, 300,000 ducats are collected by his collaborator, Giacomo da Imola. He crosses the Oglio with 8,000 horsemen and 3,000 infantry and advances against Orzinuovi. Giovanni Sforza opposes him, but Piccinino diverts to the left, moving to Ghiaradadda. Giovanni Sforza returns to Orzinuovi, and the Visconti captain, through a night march, pushes to the ford of Rudiano. By mid-February, he crosses the Oglio again, defeats the opponent, claims Chiari by treaty, and captures its garrison. He releases the soldiers and only detains the squad leaders as prisoners. During these events, Sforza, Gattamelata, and Taddeo d’Este are all in Venice for the wedding of the son of Doge Francesco Foscari, Jacopo. Niccolò Piccinino subsequently seizes Palazzolo sull’Oglio, besieges its fortress for seven days, takes Iseo, and plunders 2,000 Sforza horsemen. He then moves to Franciacorta, securing Bornato, Passirano, and Paterno. Additionally, Manerbio, Pontevico, Binanuova, Calvisano, Gambara, and Pralboino open their gates to him.
Mar.LombardyHe takes control of the bridge and fortress of Canneto sull’Oglio. Though repelled from Asola, he captures Marcaria after six days and occupies Rivarolo Mantovano. Returning to the Bresciano region, Gottolengo and Orzinuovi surrender to him. He conquers the bastion located on the Oglio bridge near Soncino and positions six bombards against the town. He bribes 38 soldiers guarding a gate and enters the city, forcing Michele Gritti, who oversees Soncino with 400 horsemen, to surrender. The overseer is taken as a prisoner to Milan. By the end of the month, due to a lack of fodder for the cavalry, he is compelled to retreat to his quarters. In contrast, Dal Verme and Sarpellione (who has abandoned Sforza) set their sights on Lovere.
Apr.LombardyHe returns to Milan to secure funds for the wages of his troops.
May – JuneLombardyAt the camp, he remains with 3,000 horsemen between Soncino and Orzinuovi until mid-June. He then moves to Manerbio and Gambara to monitor the movements of his adversaries. Upon learning of a potential attack on his position, he silently departs the camp by night and crosses the Pontevico bridge to penetrate the Cremonese region, reinforcing his position along the Oglio river. Two days later, he is pursued by Sforza, who, with a stratagem, manages to cross the river. Piccinino positions himself between Romano di Lombardia and the Serio river, sending 1,200 horsemen and 500 infantrymen under the command of Giacomo da Caivana and Perino Fregoso to defend Martinengo.
He then entrenches himself at Cignano with 10,000 horsemen and 3,000 infantrymen. The encampments are protected by ramparts and ditches. He is attacked by Sforza, who has forces superior to his, boasting 16,000 horsemen and 7,000 infantrymen. Continuous skirmishes take place, during which the Viscontean forces capture 500 mounts and kill 20 men-at-arms. Francesco Sforza finds himself sandwiched between Piccinino’s army at the front and the Martinengo garrison at his back. To free himself from this predicament, Sforza attempts to besiege Martinengo. However, he is closely followed by Piccinino, who, leaving the Cignano camp, also approaches the area. Numerous skirmishes ensue. Piccinino constructs two strongholds near the enemy encampments to cut off their supply lines. In short order, he severely challenges Sforza, reversing the latter’s position from that of a besieger to one being besieged. The two commanders remain in close proximity for eighteen days.
July – Sept.LombardyIn this situation, Niccolò Piccinino made a significant communication blunder when he aggressively demanded the lordship of Piacenza from the Duke of Milan. He was also contending with other suitors for the hand of Visconti’s only daughter, Bianca Maria. On the other hand, Visconti was not only dealing with this request: other Viscontean captains were also staking their claims, with some wanting the lordship of Novara (Luigi da San Severino), some Tortona (Luigi dal Verme), and others the territories of Bosco Marengo and Frugarolo (Taliano Furlano). As a result, Visconti chose the lesser of the evils. He covertly contacted Sforza through his secretary, Eusebio Caimi, and proposed a truce. Piccinino was then immediately ordered to cease all hostilities for a year (starting in August). The commander strongly opposed the decision made behind his back but had to yield when the duke threatened to abandon him. As Piccinino lifted the siege from Martinengo, he met with Sforza, and they secretly agreed on a pact to divide the territories of the Papal States and Siena between themselves. Visconti then reaffirmed Piccinino’s position as the general lieutenant and, unlike other feudatories, exempted him from certain restrictions that were being enforced. This move showed the complex nature of Italian politics during the Renaissance, where shifting allegiances, secret pacts, and power plays were commonplace.
Oct.PiccininoPallaviciniLombardy, EmiliaBitter enemy of the Sforza and his supporters like Rolando Pallavicini, after the marriage of his rival to Bianca Maria Visconti, he accuses the Marquis of Busseto of treason in front of the duke and, with his support, attacks Fidenza.
Nov.EmiliaIn Piacenza, he lays siege to Rolando Pallavicini in Busseto.
1442
Jan.Emilia, LombardyHe continues the campaign against Rolando Pallavicini, who will surrender in September. From Casalbuttano, he sends his men to the winter quarters. The damages inflicted on the houses and possessions of the opponent are estimated at 400,000 ducats.
Feb.EmiliaDismissed by Filippo Maria Visconti, he departs from Fiorenzuola d’Arda with 1,000 horses.
Mar.EmiliaIn Bologna (of which he is practically the lord), he is welcomed by the Elders at the San Felice Gate. In the city, he stays in the Public Palace. He hires many troops and expresses the desire to return to Perugia: he negotiates with some Perugian emissaries (Gregorio Antignola, Guido Morello da Montesperelli, Rodolfo Signorelli) the terms for a potential contract with the Papal State.
Apr.ChurchSforza, Venice, FlorenceStandard-bearer of the Papal State with 4,000 horses and 1,000 infantrymenEmilia, MarcheStill in Bologna. He receives ambassadors from Siena, the Malatesta, the Manfredi, and the Gonzaga. The city senate organizes a joust in his honor. In the meantime, relations between the Duke of Milan and the Sforza deteriorate; negotiations between Piccinino and the Papal State are also finalized. He is appointed as the standard-bearer of the Papal State to fight against the Sforza in the Marche and Umbria. He is granted a contract for 4,000 horses and 1,000 infantrymen for a fixed year and a year of approval; he is recognized with an annual salary of 100,000 florins. Among the conditions in his favor, there’s also the stipulation that he doesn’t have to face the Viscontis, Venetians, Florentines, the Manfredi, the Gonzaga, and the Sienese. Meanwhile, his men operate near Perugia and Città di Castello, ravaging the countryside. Others, like Ludovico Gonzaga, are spotted near Piegaro; still others, like Pazzaglia, block the roads at Ponte San Giovanni.
MayEmilia, Romagna, UmbriaThe Visconti grants him lordship over several fiefs that belonged to the Pallavicini, such as Solignano, Sant’Andrea, Miano, Varano de’ Melegari, Bilzola, Visiano, Costamezzana, Cellula, Borghetto, Lanzobordone, Tabiano, Liano, Bargone, Castellina, Gallinella, Molendino, Felegara, Monte Mormillo, and Monte Palerio in place of Castelponzone, which he never took possession of. He is also confirmed in the territories of Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Candia Lomellina, Villata, Frugarolo, Pianello Val Tidone, Albareto, and Sala Baganza, previously belonging to the Arcelli, Landi, and Scotti families.
From a military perspective, he gathers 2,000 horses for his final campaign. He departs from Bologna, reaching Romagna where he threatens Pietro Brunoro in Forlì. He stops at Villafranca, ravaging its surroundings. He sends some squad leaders to Forlì to scout the situation; they report back that the city and its fortress are well defended. Accompanying Piccinino is also Annibale Bentivoglio. When the latter decides to return to Bologna, Piccinino writes to his son Francesco, whom he left there with many squads of armored men and infantry banners, instructing him to capture Bentivoglio and all his supporters.
A few days later, he moves on, heading to Faenza with Manfredi and meeting Domenico Malatesta in Cesena. He passes through Casemurate and heads towards Perugia through Val di Savio. At the end of the month, at the Ivory Bridge near Città di Castello, the Perugians hand over 3,000 florins to him and generously supply his troops with provisions. In Città di Castello, he ensures the return of the exiles and appoints Pietro Paolo da Spello as the commissioner of the place. Serious disorders arise in the center; two priors, mostly from the Vitelli faction, are mortally wounded. He then penetrates the Bettona territory and occupies Costano.
JuneUmbria, MarcheHe is near Assisi and enters Perugia through the San Pietro Gate, accompanied by 200 unarmed horses, Ludovico Gonzaga, and other captains. He receives the staff of the standard-bearer of the Papal State from the papal governor, the Archbishop of Naples, in the presence of commissioners from the Pope, the King of Naples, and the Duke of Milan. He is handed two banners: one with the emblem of the Papal State (white keys on a red field) and the second with the coat of arms of Pope Eugenius IV. His soldiers move into the Todi region, stopping at San Gismondo and wreaking the usual havoc on the countryside. Joining his forces are Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, Cristoforo da Tolentino, Ludovico Gonzaga with 2,000 horses and more infantry, Carlo di Montone with another 1,000 horses and numerous foot soldiers. Together, they assault Todi to expel Sarpellione (who had returned to serve the Sforza) who is defending the city with a garrison of 1,000 horses. Near Bettona, he intercepts some Sforza reinforcements coming from Fabriano and captures 250 horses. Sarpellione yields Todi and leaves with a safe conduct pass along with his men. Piccinino then captures San Gemini, sacks several castles, and positions himself between Montefalco and Gualdo Cattaneo. He moves towards Foligno, from whose inhabitants he demands 10,000 florins; he then reaches Serravalle di Chienti and enters Camerino. In the same month, he is invested by the Visconti with Busseto, again at the expense of Pallavicini.
JulyMarcheHe carries out a raid in the territory of San Ginesio and captures Belforte del Chienti, which is defended by 200 horses. The town surrenders after twenty-seven days of siege due to a lack of water. Upon hearing that Sforza has arrived at San Severino Marche, he retreats near San Ginesio, where he is preceded by his opponent. He sets up camp at Pian di Piega, takes control of Sarnano and Amandola to ensure that his supply lines across the Apennines are not cut off.
Aug.MarcheHe gains the stronghold of Montefortino through negotiations with Antonello della Torre and Sacramoro da Parma, after forcing the castle’s defender, Scaramuccia da Torchiaro, to surrender with a violent artillery barrage. Now under his command are 16,000 men, both cavalry and infantry: a significant 300 of these are the horses of his family members, his chancellors, and their assistants. He has continuous skirmishes with the Sforza forces in the Monti Sibillini; in one of these, he is defeated at Amandola by Brunoro and Malatesta. During the battles, which last three days, at the invitation of the Florentine commissioner Bernardo dei Medici, he has a brief conversation with Sforza. The following day, he is in Sarnano, and an eight-month truce is agreed upon between the contenders. He occupies Tolentino with the help of Cristoforo da Tolentino and halts in the plains of Rancia; he then moves south, faced by Malatesta between Visso and Sarnano.
Sept.NaplesSforza400 cavalry, 1000 infantrymenMarche, UmbriaAgain, Bernardo dei Medici intervenes, as does Sforza’s wife, Bianca Maria Visconti, who comes to visit him at the camp with an escort of 150 horses. The agreement between the parties is renewed on the plains of Rancia. Niccolò Piccinino stops at Verchiano and, through Colfiorito, returns to Umbria. Now it is Sforza who breaks the truce by plundering Ripatransone; Piccinino becomes aware of this in the Foligno area. In the same month, he enters the service of the King of Naples with a contract for 4,000 horses and 1,000 infantry (5,000 horses and 3,000 infantry according to some sources). The total cost of the contract is estimated at 168,000 ducats per year. He is granted the county of Albe as a fief, which he has yet to conquer.
Oct.UmbriaHe resumes hostilities and occupies Gualdo Cattaneo along with its fortress. The gates are opened to him because, after capturing 40 inhabitants outside the walls, he allows them to return freely. He attacks Assisi with the help of the Perugians. Joined by Patriarch Ludovico Scarampo, he sets up camp at San Damiano with 20,000 armed men. He assaults the city’s fortresses with cannons.
Nov.UmbriaHe prepares for a full-scale assault on Assisi, which is defended by Alessandro Sforza. Pazzaglia, Riccio di Taranto, and Niccolò Brunoro enter the city through an underground conduit of an ancient aqueduct. He breaches the city through a gap opened by the defenders themselves in the city walls. The path is cleared by sappers; through it, hundreds of cavalry and infantry pour in. Pietro Giampaolo Orsini also storms Assisi, placing ladders near the Porta di San Francesco. Only Carlo di Montone attacks the 800 horses of Alessandro Sforza, who take refuge in the main fortress with the city’s wealthiest inhabitants. Many residents seek shelter in San Francesco and Santa Chiara: Piccinino goes to the latter convent and offers the women, who have taken refuge there with their children and belongings, to leave the place and be escorted to Perugia. Faced with the refusal of both the women and the nuns due to the deep animosity the city’s residents hold towards the Perugians, his soldiers descend upon everyone in the monastery, and all the women are sold at auction. The plundering lasts three days and is greeted in Perugia with the festive ringing of bells. Piccinino attacks the two fortresses, forcing out those who have taken refuge there. He opposes the destruction of Assisi, even when the Perugians offer him 15,000 florins for the act.
Dec.UmbriaAlessandro Sforza flees under the cover of night from the fortresses of Assisi. The smaller stronghold surrenders immediately, while the larger one agrees to surrender the following month, on the condition that it does not receive any reinforcements within a span of three days.
1443
Jan.UmbriaHe falls ill due to the hardships and the worry of being betrayed by his captains (Pazzaglia, Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, Cristoforo da Tolentino). A bishop and the governor of Città Castello, Agamennone degli Arcipreti, bring him two gifts from the Pope: a sable hat studded with pearls worth 700 florins and a sword with a gold sheath valued at 200 florins.
Feb.UmbriaHaving recovered, he heads to Perugia. He is hosted by Nello Baglioni.
Mar.Umbria, TuscanyHe leaves Carlo di Montone in Perugia as his lieutenant and departs for Siena. He enters through the Porta Nuova and pays homage to Pope Eugenius IV. He also visits Poggio Malavolti where he is given 500 florins. News spreads of a failed assassination attempt against him, orchestrated by the Florentines at Bagni di Petriolo at the urging of Sforza.
Apr.With the defection of his son, Jacopo, from the Aragonese army, the King of Naples decides to recall the troops serving under his command. He is outraged with Alfonso of Aragon and sends him a message, stating that just as he once helped the sovereign gain the Kingdom of Naples, he can now make him lose it.
JuneUmbria, LazioHe occupies and sacks Montegabbione and Monteleone d’Orvieto: he spares the lives of the inhabitants, the men-at-arms of Ugolino da Montemarte, and the foot soldiers of Andrea Corso, who are forced to surrender due to a lack of provisions. He sets sail from Civitavecchia with 6 galleys and lands in Terracina or Gaeta to meet with the King of Naples and devise a joint plan to overthrow Sforza. Alfonso of Aragon grants him the use of the Aragon surname to add to his usual one. He returns to Corneto (modern-day Tarquinia) and lays siege to Acquapendente and Toscanella (modern-day Tuscania) where Sarpellione is located. At the camp in Tuscania, he has the Count of Aversa beheaded for allowing the entry of provisions and armed men in support of the defenders into the locality.
JulyMarche, UmbriaHe moves to the Marche region. He vainly asks the Perugians for money, infantry, and crossbowmen to continue the campaign; with their refusal, he turns to the inhabitants of Camerino for support. He positions himself near Visso. Brunoro emerges from San Severino Marche and, together with Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, launches a nighttime attack on his camp, leading a large force of cavalry and infantry (between 3,000 and 4,000). Piccinino is forced to abandon the siege of the town and retreat to Norcia.
Aug.MarcheAt Pieve Torina, he joins forces with the Aragonese and commands a force of 24,000 armed men, both infantry and cavalry. With the arrival of Spanish infantry under Giovanni di Lira, he negotiates terms with Visso and then marches along the Chienti river towards San Severino Marche. He enters the city, which has been abandoned by the Sforza forces, conducts a raid in the territory of Cingoli, and halts between Montelauro and Monticello. Matelica, Tolentino, and Macerata raise the flags of the Papal State. Troilo da Rossano and Pietro Brunoro hand over Jesi and Fabriano to him. He attacks Rocca Contrada (modern-day Arcevia), which is defended by Roberto da San Severino. He manages to secure its surrender by cutting off the city’s water supply.
Sept.Marche, RomagnaHe occupies Cingoli. He relocates his camp to the Metauro river to lay siege to Sforza in Fano with 30,000 men on land and 8 galleys at sea. Carlo di Montone captures Antonello da Corneto, who is interrogated but reveals no information about the situation inside the city. The idea of an open field duel between 10/50/100 men from each side arises. Once Antonello da Corneto is released and returns to Fano, Sforza seems to accept the challenge between 100 champions. However, the King of Naples opposes this plan. Sforza, on the other hand, directly approaches the Duke of Milan, who convinces him to veto the duel.
Piccinino shows up with his 100 champions at the designated location, but Sforza is nowhere to be found. He uses the proximity of the Aragonese troops to the field as an excuse for his absence. Piccinino continues his campaign, crosses the Foglia river, and sets up camp at Montelauro. He moves to Romagna, accusing his rival of cowardice and breaking his word. He stations his forces between Rimini and Pesaro, stops at Montecchio, captures and sacks Piandimeleto, and positions himself on the Foglia near the Abbey of San Tommaso. From there, he devastates the territories of San Giovanni in Marignano, Riccione, Misano Adriatico, Villa Vittoria, and Santa Maria di Scacciano, and sets fire to Tomba near Pesaro.
Oct.MarcheHe is at Montelabbate. He attacks Fano. In one of the skirmishes, Luca da Castello is killed.
Nov.MarcheFrancesco and Alessandro Sforza, along with Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, move to meet the reinforcements sent to them by the Venetians and Florentines. Niccolò Piccinino dispatches Domenico Malatesta, Roberto da Montalboddo, Angelo di Roncone, and Pietro da Bevagna (with 4,000 cavalry) to Montelabbate to block their path. However, these troops do not descend from the highlands, and the Sforza forces face no obstructions in their march. Malatesta leads the vanguard and sets up camp at Montelauro on the Foglia river, initiating the attack with infantry. The Sforza forces are joined by Venetians and Florentines (Guido Rangoni, Taddeo d’Este, Simonetto da Castel San Pietro). The Bracceschi (who have already mutinied due to delayed pay) initially have the upper hand. However, they flee in the face of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. Niccolò Piccinino retreats with a few men to San Donato, near Fabriano. Undeterred, he gathers the scattered forces and manages to assemble a new army during the winter months. He then advances to Fabriano.
Dec.MarcheHe captures Pignano and Monte Urano, retakes Montegranaro, and sacks it after expelling its inhabitants. He sends Giacomo da Caivana and Niccolò Terzi with 1,300 men, both infantry and cavalry, to defend Monte San Pietrangeli. Sforza’s victory is soon nullified by his initiative.
1444
Jan.MarcheHe departs from Recanati and arrives at Montecchio (Treia). He sends 300 cavalry to defend Ripatransone. These troops allow 400 Sforza cavalry and some infantry into the villages, then close the gates behind them, leading to the defeat of the adversaries. The enemies suffer losses of more than 300 men, both dead and captured. During the month, the Aragonese renew his contract.
Feb. – Mar.MarcheHe hires new troops and receives assistance from the Aragonese in the form of 2,000 men. He confronts the Sforza forces in the Apennines and frequently clashes with Sarpellione. In March, his troops camp between Monte San Pietrangeli and Montegranaro. Ambushes are set up for 40 residents of Montegiorgio who are transporting loads of wheat into enemy territory in Fermo. Niccolò Piccinino leaves Montegranaro and attempts to surprise Rocca Contrada (Arcevia).
MayMarcheHe rides towards Montemilone (Pollenza) which he is supposed to occupy according to an agreement. Surprised on a bridge over the Potenza river by Sarpellione, he seeks refuge in a small tower and returns to his camp during the night. He hurries to Montegiorgio (or Montefortino, according to various sources) where he is anticipated by Sforza. Five of his supporters are hanged and dismembered, and their heads are impaled on lances to be displayed on the crenellations of the gates of Fermo.
JuneUmbria, MarcheHe moves into the Perugian territory and destroys the castle of Ilci. At Montecchio, he orders Antonello della Torre to be confined in the fortress of Assisi. Antonello is accused of plotting to kill Piccinino or, at the very least, of intending to deliver him as a prisoner to Sforza. The captain is taken to the Marche region in Treia, where he is hung by one foot, with his hands tied, between the tower of the fortress and a nearby tower. Piccinino occupies Falerone and Sant’Angelo in Pontano, sacks San Ginesio, and is called for assistance by Cardinal Domenico di Capranica, who is in Recanati. Preceded by Sarpellione and Giovanni da Tolentino in Castelfidardo, he stops at Loreto. Here, the Sforza forces manage to prevent the supply of provisions to his troops. Sarpellione sets fire to a large quantity of stubble and other flammable materials, which, fanned by the wind, scares the horses and disrupts his formations.
JulyMarche, RomagnaHe seeks revenge against Sarpellione by arriving at Appignano at night and seizing all the wagons amassed by the commander in that location. Upon the return of the adversaries to Fermo, he captures Montefano and besieges Castelfidardo. Sforza is increasingly in trouble, but he is once again saved by the political maneuvering of Visconti. The Duke of Milan recalls Sforza to Lombardy and, despite Sforza’s protests, has him dismissed by the Pope. The condottiero bids farewell to his soldiers in a grand ceremony. He leaves the troops under the command of his son Francesco, travels through Urbino, and moves into Romagna. He is reported in Selbagnone, Magliano, and Fenazzano with Dal Verme. During his stay in Magliano, Antonio Ordelaffi provides him with 1,000 ducats. He then reaches Villafranca and Lugo, where he receives another 1,000 ducats from the Lord of Forlì. These funds are taken as a pledge against a debt of 2,000 ducats owed to the Papal State.
Aug.Emilia, LombardyHe stays in Ferrara, where he is welcomed by Leonello d’Este. He spends two days in Parma at the community’s expense before arriving in Milan. In the capital, he is affected by the hostile court environment. He becomes disheartened and loses confidence.
Oct.LombardyHe is so bitter that in the middle of the month he dies of heartbreak in his villa in Corsico (some suspiciously speak of poisoning), either there or in Milan itself. His death from discouragement is also contributed to by dropsy, to which he is subject, and the dismay over his son Francesco’s defeat at Montolmo (Corridonia). The funeral oration is delivered by Pier Candido Decembrio; the obsequies are solemn by Visconti’s will. Piccinino is buried in the Cathedral of Milan in the presence of Visconti; at the request of his children, a monument is erected for him near the southern sacristy under the statue of Pope Martin V and the image of the Madonna del Parto. This monument (like that of his son Francesco) will be demolished by Sforza in August 1455 in order to erase all signs and memories related to his name. The new Duke of Milan will command the marbles to be dismantled and repurposed. As a memorial to the two condottieri, a plaque remains, placed at the end of 1502, beneath the monument of Pope Martin V. Remembered by Lorenzo Spirito in “Altro Marte” and in the “Lamento di Perugia soggiogata.” There is a Latin biography by Giovanni Battista di Poggio Bracciolini; an unfinished biography is also written by Enea Silvio Piccolomini. There is an equestrian statue in Lucca, which was meant to be in bronze but is actually painted on a wall in the city square. In addition to Pisanello’s medal (in Florence), the portrait by Cristofano dell’Altissimo (Uffizi Gallery, also in Florence), and the portrait in the Vallardi Codex (Pisanello), now at the Louvre Museum, a full-length portrait of him was part of the cycle of “Uomini Illustri,” possibly frescoed by Domenico Veneziano in the Baglioni Palace in Perugia, which was destroyed in 1540. He is also depicted in the “Battle of Anghiari,” a copy by Pieter Paul Rubens of Leonardo da Vinci’s work of the same name. Niccolò Piccinino is also depicted alongside Braccio di Montone in another medallion (which is also in Florence), both being nursed by the she-wolf. Lorenzo Vasari worked at his court. During his military career, Niccolò Piccinino used several coats of arms. The first consists of a rampant bull on a red field. Later, when he takes command of the Braccio’s troops, he adds a seated leopard as a crest to the bull emblem. Starting from 1438, by the Duke of Milan’s concession, he also bears the Visconti coat of arms. Streets are named after him in Piacenza, Rimini, Tenno, Rome, Messina, Tricase, and Corciano, as well as a square in Antria.

Sources

-” La carriera di Niccolò Piccinino fu presa a modello già da storici e panegiristi a lui contemporanei come quella dell’uomo d’armi “totale”, che spese la sua vita guerreggiando senza interruzione. Lodato da Decembrio, Neri Capponi e Poggio Bracciolini, immortalato in una medaglia da Pisanello come “Alter Mars”, Piccinino fu fatto rifulgere per la sua virtù militare, ma soprattutto per la sua instancabile ricerca di battaglia… Con tenacia incredibile, lo sconosciuto Piccinino seppe tessere nei vent’anni in cui percorse l’Italia alla testa di un esercito, azzoppato da una ferita, sofferente alla vescica e agli occhi, poi semiparalizzato ad un fianco tanto da doversi far trasportare e mettere in sella a braccia da due soldati, quasi immagine grottesca della guerra stessa…Nel 1443, la rete di aderenze braccesca, si era estesa considerevolmente oltre i limiti già stabiliti da Braccio (di Montone), e un’intera generazione di soldati o ex-soldati (tra cui c’erano signori romagnoli come Malatesta Novello, patrizi milanesi come Erasmo Trivulzio, elementi della borghesia perugina come il poeta Lorenzo Gualtieri “Spirito”) provenienti da tutta la penisola, vedeva in Niccolò Piccinino un polo politico indipendente, le cui possibilità d’ascesa erano varie e virtualmente principesche. Invece la “fortuna” che governava le vite di coloro che si dedicavano al mestiere delle armi non riuscì a portare “l’Altro Marte” più in alto di dove era arrivato nel 1442…Con la sua lunga e coerente militanza per Filippo Maria Visconti e specie per la guerra di Lucca, Niccolò Piccinino era diventato il simbolo della parte ghibellina toscana e il braccio armato dellle ambizioni di dominio del “tiranno” Visconti nell’Italia centrale. Il culmine di questa identificazione fu raggiunto nella letteratura politica prodotta in occasione della guerra mossa a Firenze dai fuoriusciti filoalbizzeschi e dal duca di Milano, e coclusasi ad Anghiari. L’eroe dei fiorentini a quel tempo era Francesco Sforza..Eppure certi autori come Giovanni Cavalcanti o Neri Capponi sono pieni d’ammirazione per Niccolò Piccinino nei loro scritti, e lo difendono con fermezza dall’accusa di aver tradito la vecchia alleanza braccesco-fiorentina per passare al servizio del “tiranno” milanese.” FERENTE

-“Nonostante gli sforzi di una vita non riuscì a crearsi un proprio dominio autonomo.” N. CAPPONI

-“Il più brillante dei discepoli del famoso Braccio di Montone.” DE LA SIZERANNE

-Con Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, Malatesta Baglioni ed il Gattamelata “Capitani tuti che avevano già dato prova del loro valore.” CUTOLO

-“Capitano di subiti consigli, presto all’odio, all’amore, al biasimo, alla lode, all’ira, alla riconciliazione: più facile a eseguire un’ardita impresa che a ponderarne la difficoltà o la giustizia: pronto, audace, ed anzi che audace, temerario; ma in modo che la temerità e la prontezza gli fosse talora origine, talora rimedio di mala fortuna; non mai soggiogato, non mai abbattuto dalla sorte, ma ritrovando in sé contro ogni sciagura nuove forze, nuovi mezzi, nuovo valore: insomma di coloro che  dovunque posti sono preparati a difendere il loro posto, buono o reo, con uguale bravura..Nessun uomo di sentimenti elevati invidierà né lo Sforza, né il Piccinino; ma, se si dovesse scegliere, preferirei il venturiero sfortunato al suo rivale divenuto signore.” RICOTTI

-“Apparve come il condottiero più forte e abile fra tutti quelli che militavano in Italia.” PICCOLOMINI

-“Ed anco un altro Nicolò secondo/ Ch’è degno esserne scritto in mille carte/ Della sua buona e chiara fama al mondo./ E Fiorenza il sa bene in qualche parte,/ E come a danno suo al mondo nacque/ Che l’armeggiò con nuova forza ed arte.” Lorenzo Spirito riportato da FABRETTI

-Contro Assisi (novembre 1442) “..E venne a poner campo al forte Asese/ popol crudele, e malvicino, iniquo:/ che tanto fece danno al mio paese./ Sempre era stato assai crudel nimico:/ il capitano allor, volonteroso,/ vene per gastigar quell’odio antico./ Intorno la campò quillo glorioso/ in arme sempre nostro capitano/ per darli stato acerbo e doloroso./ La sua persona in sancto Damiano/ stecti e datorno tutto il circustante/ la gente d’arme suoy di mano in mano./ Andarvi cittadini, numero di fante/ assai de la cittade e del contado/ dal capitan veduti tutti quante./ E maggiore e minore e d’ogni grado/ andarono ad Asese volonthiere/ per darlo la pegior volta del dado/ con numero de infiniti balestriere/ e con altre arme molti homini assai/ ad siquitar del papa le bandiere,/ a sostener con gioia pene e guai/ et io mi ricordo giovinetto/ ch’in del mio padre v’andai./ Io viddi el popul d’Asese restretto/ dal capitano e sempre a giorno a giorno/ teneva la cittade in gran difetto./ Elli eran sulle mura intorno intorno,/ sempre con quei di dentro uscendo fora,/ con molti che giammai non fier ritorno./…/ Nicolò Picinino sempr’n flagelli/ tenne la guerra e strinse con bombarde/ avute da Perugia e manganelli./ Qui si mostraro i Perugin gagliarde/ per far vendetta de cotante offese/ né furono al ferir lente né tarde.” Lorenzo Spirito riportato da TABORCHI

-“Prode venturiero il più sperto nelle cose di guerra che uscisse dalla scuola del Fortebraccio..Gli Italiani accusavano Nicolò Piccinino autore dell’annientamento di Braccio nel territorio dell’Aquila, e traditore del conte Oddo nella triste battaglia della Romagna: non i principi e le Repubbliche che del suo braccio avevano necessità, se vero o falso non curando il grido della nazione, volentieri commisero a lui la salvezza de’ loro stati, siccome che a quello che nato in bellicosa provincia erasi segnalato col primo venturiero d’Italia, aveva ordinato parecchie compagnie di valorosi cavalieri, reliquie della grande armata braccesca, e al suo portava congiunto il nome de’ Fortebracci perché sposato a una sorella dei conti di Montone..Meno di Braccio grandioso ne’ suoi concetti, ma più addottrinato nell’arte del guerreggiare, fu vittorioso in molti fatti d’arme, ne’ quali ebbe quasi sempre a robusti competitori il conte di Carmagnola e Francesco Sforza, per tacere di altri moltissimi e valenti: e raramente la fortuna avrebbelo abbandonato, s’egli colla prudenza e saviezza dello Sforza, non con ardore soverchio e con precipitato consiglio, avesse intrapreso e maneggiato le molteplici guerre. Sparse qua e là il suo sangue, venduto sempre, senza desiderio di gloria e libertà pell’Italia; anzi il proprio ingrandimento neglesse, o potenza non seppe acquistare; tanto che non pervenne a tenere scettro e signoria né in patria né fuori. Fu moderatamente severo co’ soldati, e talvolta cortese sino alla familiarità; crudele con quelli incolpati di tradimento: fu artificioso dissimulatore, parlatore infelice, brutto delle forme e dell’aspetto.” FABRETTI

-“Portava nell’odio..la stessa furia selvaggia che metteva negli assalti. Duro e inflessibile verso di sé, usava con gli altri una severità che toccava presto la ferocia. Non lacrime, non le commoventi invocazioni di bontà e di perdono, lo trattenevano dai piani stabiliti. I borghi, i castelli, le città, che in sua lontananza e per tema di danni maggiori avevan ceduto al nemico, erano votati da lui, non al saccheggio, ma all’incendio. Vedeva nel terrore un’arma non meno efficace degli attacchi e delle bombarde. Come si spargeva la voce ch’egli si avvicinava, entrava in tutti lo sgomento, e quell’atmosfera di paura rendeva incerte e pavide le stesse bande avversarie. Ebbe pochissime defezioni nelle milizie. I soldati lo temevano, ma lo amavano. Brontolavano per quella vita aspra e quelle scorrerie senza posa; ma appena lo vedevano alla loro testa, “paratissimo” e sempre primo nei pericoli, lo seguivano con slancio ovunque egli andasse. L’orgoglio di battersi sotto le sue bandiere li compensava d’ogni ferita e d’ogni disagio; l’orgoglio, ma anche la copiosità dei bottini…Non un’opera d’arte in gloria di Niccolò Piccinino: nessuna tela che ne ricordi quegli assalti fulminei che fecero di lui il più animoso dei nostri Condottieri, nessuna statua che lo evochi in quei voli a cavallo ov’era sembrato ai contemporanei qualche sperduto Centauro della leggenda. Solo in via indiretta, e d’età tardiva, la “Battaglia di Anghiari”, cioè una sua sconfitta, benché nel cartone di Leonardo egli non compaia neppure sulla scena; fu anche distrutta la tomba ch’era nel Duomo di Milano, quando il suo acerrimo e più fortunato rivale Francesco Sforza cinse la corona ducale di Lombardia. Unico compenso in tanta manchevolezza e in tante perdite, la bellissima medaglia del Pisanello…Fu fino al tramonto della vita, a cavallo. Soldato oscuro o “imperator” supremo degli eserciti viscontei, amò la guerra per la guerra. Alle battaglie ordinarie preferì gli assalti d’impeto; agli scontri campali, le libere scorrerie, gli agguati perigliosi, i rapidi attacchi di sorpresa. le bande braccesche, già educate in un’aspra milizia, videro ,imporsi una disciplina ancor più ferrea…Portava nell’odio (non si conoscono di lui episodi di bontà, di tenerezza e tanto meno di amore) la stessa furia selvaggia che metteva negli assalti. Duro e inflessibile verso di sé, usava con gli altri una severità che toccava preso la ferocia.” PORTIGLIOTTI

-“Stato più virtuoso che felice capitano; e di lui restarono Francesco e Jacopo, i quali ebbero meno virtù e più cattiva fortuna del padre…Allievo di Braccio, e più reputato che alcuno altro che sotto le insegne di quello avesse militato.” MACHIAVELLI

-“Il Piccinino dev’essere annoverato tra i più illustri capitani che abbia prodotto l’Italia; perciocché fu il più rapido nelle mosse, il più audace, il più fertile ne’ ripieghi, il più pronto a riparare le perdite, il solo in somma che, dopo una totale disfatta, fosse ancora in istato di far tremare i suoi nemici…Il Piccinino, in età già avanzata, non sapeva darsi pace di non aver potuto con tante battaglie, con tante vittorie acquistarsi una terra ove riposare il suo capo. Tutti i grandi capitani del suo secolo si erano successivamente innalzati al sovrano potere; egli pareva averci più diritto d’ogni altro, poiché avrebbe dovuto ricevere a titolo ereditario il principato di Braccio come ricevette la sua armata; pure egli solo non era in sul finire della sua lunga gloriosa carriera né più ricco, né più potente di quello che lo fosse in principio.” SISMONDI

-“Ardito e valoroso Capitano..Uno de’ più insigni Generali d’Armata, che s’avesse l’Italia, a cui niun altro si potea anteporre, se non Francesco Sforza. nelle spedizioni la sua attività e prestezza non ebbe pari; ma egli si prometteva molto dalla fortuna, e però azzardava bene spesso nelle sue imprese: laddove lo Sforza sempre operava con saviezza, e sapea cedere e temporeggiare, quando lo richiedeva il bisogno, né temerariamente mai procedeva in ciò, che imprendeva.” MURATORI

-“Uno de’ più savi e avvisati capitani d’Italia in quel tempo..Era detto Nicolò di piccola statura, bruno e vecchio, con pochi canuti, ed era saggio e sollecito, perduto tutto da lato manco per un berettone (verrettone).” DELLA TUCCIA

-“Fedele uomo e gran Capitano.” CAVALCANTI

-“Ditto Capitano era homo picolo de statura, et era zoppo, et era valentissimo guerriero, et homo de grande ingenio, et aveva fama per tutto el mundo; et gran danno ne fo alla cità de Peroscia, però che dopo la morte sua Peroscia non ebbe mai più quillo ardire che aveva per prima.” GRAZIANI

-“Uno delli più segnalati, e eccellenti Capitani de suoi tempi ..senza dubio alcuno trapassava tutti gl’Italiani, anzi fu tenuto per maggior di Braccio suo maestro, dalla scola del quale uscì tanto valoroso.” SUMMONTE

-“Egregio capitano, che fece gran prove del suo ingegno in trattar l’armi.” ALBERTI

-“Eximius hic Imperator, ac bellicis artibus omnium consensione praestantissimus, Perusinus, obscurae originis, silicet lanio patre.” MANELMI

-“Al tempo mio uno de’ più valorosi Capitani d’Italia, lasciandosi talmente a dietro tutti gli altri che quantunque dalla scuola di Braccio uscissero (come dal vero maestro della militia) molti segnalati Capitani, nondimeno costui solo hebbe ardire di ritenere il nome, l’essercito, e la reputatione del suo Signore, a cui niuno fu più fedele.” CAMPANO

-“Egli solo, fu grandissimo mantenitore di quella fattione (la scuola braccesca), e con sommo valore, e somma fede difese la reputatione di essa contra la forza di ciascuno. Fu oltre acciò nell’età sua in tanta opinione circa le cose della sua professione, che si credeva indubitamente da tutti, che si come egli d’ardire havea superato tutti gli altri Capitani, così di scienza militare non havesse da cedere a niuno..Di tanti capitani, e condottieri di esserciti, che in quei tempi militarono sotto gli altrui stipendi, niuno ve ne fu mai, che maneggiasse le guerre infino all’ultimo della sua vita con più intiera fede, e senza pur dar di se una minima sospitione…Fu uomo poco robusto, e di complessione molto debole, e molto all’infermità sottoposto; perciocché (oltra ch’egli era rimaso zoppo d’una ferita) fu eziandio dal paralitico e dal dolor de’ fianchi e da una escoriazione di vessica talmente vessato, che essendo poi divenuto vecchio, non potea camminare senza l’aiuto altrui..Patì anco talmente di quel male che i Greci chiamano stranguria, che o sedendo o caminando urinava; laonde portava sempre (ancorché andasse a cavallo) uno orcioletto accomodato a questo uso. Et inoltre era continovo molto aggravato dal male degli occhi e del catarro: e perciò frequentava i bagni.” POGGIO

-“Maximus capitaneus et victoriosus gentium armigerarum ductor.” ANNALES FOROLIVIENSES

-“Erat impiger, et animo acri..Etsi rei militaris scientissimus habebatur, tamen cum ceterarum rerum, quae ad recte vivendi usum pertinent, ignarus esset, qui apud eum auctoritate poterant, facile quod volebant illi persuadebant.” SIMONETTA

-“Benché in arte militare fosse excellente, niente de manco non era molto erudito de la rasone e del bene e giusto vivere, et era facile credere, maxime quello che faceva voluntera.” CAGNOLA

-“Personaggio di prestigiosa risolutezza..Condottiero d’indiscutibile valore..Sprezzò agi e ricchezze: prepose a tutto la gloria. I fatti suoi alla laude e splendore d’Italia appartengono…Servavit fidem, pietatem, caritatem, secutus est justitiam, dilexit gloriam, opes omnes pro nihilo semper habuit, famam ceteris rebus anteposuit. Reliquas vero dignitates, quae laudem promoverentur, sponte oblatas consecutus est: vir bello clarus, regibus acceptus, ac Principibus, a nobis tamen imprimis colendus et venerandus.” DECEMBRIO

-“Omnium procul dubio imperatorum nostra aetate audentissimus, moderatissimus, continentissimus, ut merito inter Scipiones, Paulos, Pompeios reliquosque in re militari praestantissimos connumerari possit ac debeat.” G. DA FERRARA

-“Capitano eccellente della parte Braccesca.” SANSOVINO

-“Non vi fu alcuno in quel tempo più famoso del Piccinino nelle cose felici e nell’averse anchora..Era costui di natura d’animo molto bellicoso, ardente e mirabilmente accorto a schifar gli inganni de’ nemici e a tendere insidie.” GIOVIO

-“Hebbe per il suo valore e arte mirabile di guerra nome singolarissimo..Fu il Piccinino di persona molto piccola e anche debole, il volto hebbe colorito, gli occhi vivaci e neri: e di nero colore i capelli.” ROSCIO

-“Homo de grande ingegno er ardire.” ANONIMO VERONESE

-“Era più temudo capitanio che fusse in Ytalia.” CORPUS CHRONIC. BONOMIENSIUM

-“Chi potrà mai delle tue lodi dire/ De la virtù, de le cità difese,/ Et da le forze tue domate e prese./ Che d’alta gloria ogn’hir ti fan forire?/ Chi sia che ‘l tuo valor non lodi e ammire/ Che già mostrasti in tanti illustri imprese:/ Quando timore, e allegrezza prese/ Italia di te solo, e del tuo ardire./ ma ogniun di noi di maraviglia è pieno/ Come a tal peso, e così gran fatica/ Si picciol corpo non venisse meno:/ Et vive pur ancor memoria antica/ Di Tideo, che fu tale, e pose il freno/ Spesso a la gente a lui fiera, e nemica.” Da un sonetto di P. Giovio Il Giovane riportato dal GIOVIO

-“La fortuna gli fu nemica, facendolo nascere contemporaneo del conte Sforza. Questa sola circostanza..sviluppò in lui tali passioni che molto pregiudicarono alla sua gloria.” ALBERI

-“Fu il Piccinino molto valoroso, ma poco avventuroso Capitano, ancorché pratichissimo delle cose  di guerra, e di tanta grandezza d’animo, che con molto giudicio  fu tenuto da tutti dignissimo successore di Braccio Capitano di tanto valore, e fu con la sua morte cagione, che come l’armi Braccesche n’andarono pian piano in ruina, così le Sforzesche n’andassero in suprema gloria salendo. Fu huomo assai piccolo di statura, che perciò nome di Piccinino s’apprese, e era  quasi che zoppo, ma ben d’animo valorosissimo, e d’ingegno acutissimo, e havea fama per tutto il mondo di grandissimo guerrieri.” PELLINI

-“Capo di primo posto nell’esercito del duca (di Milano).” VIANOLI

-“L’un de plus célèbres condottieri de l’Italie.” DU CHERRIER

“Celebrato capitano di ventura.” MAZZAROSA

-“Famoso condottiere di ventura.” CIPOLLA

-“Famoso Capitano del suo tempo.” FRIZZI

-“Uno dei migliori capitani dell’epoca.” DELARUELLE-OURLIAC-LABANDE

-“Ducem praestantissimum..Gloriae cupidus, arque in omnes belli eventus summa cura intentus.” BRACCIOLINI

-“Qui Bracii praestantis copiarum ducibus artibus, ac praeceptis militaribus institutus ipsum etiam Bracium rerum gestarum magnitudine, gloriaque postremo superavit..Nicolaus utique dimicare paratior, proelium ex occasione protinus sumere, hostem celeritate praevenire, excursione fatigare, levis armaturae equite magis, quam pedite uti, fortes modo, atque asperos milites amare, hostium numero non terreri..In re militaris clarus…Unus e Braccianae disciplinae alumnis, omnium celeberrimus.” FACIO

Confronto con Francesco Sforza”Hic est ille Nicolaus..qui Bracii, praestantis copiarum ducis, artibus ac praeceptis militaribus institutus, ipsum etiam Bracium rerum gestarum magnitudine gloriaque postremo superavit. Cum eo de rei militaris principatu qui posset concertare, unus ex omnibus copiarum ducibus suae tempestatis inventus est Franciscus Sfortia, vir in armis plurimum excellens, fecitque dubium uter alteri anteponendum esset. Nam cum scientia rei militaris atque auctoritate pares putarentur, diversa tamen utriusque consilia in bello erant. Nicolaus utique dimicare paratior, proelium ex occasione protinus sumere, hostem celeritate praevenire, excursione fatigare, levis armaturae equite magis quam pedite uti, forte, modo atque asperos milites amare, hostium numero non terreri. Franciscus vero arte ac solertia magis nitens, raro, nisi ex destinato, confligere, sedendo atque obsidendo hostem frangere, peditatum multifacere, argento atque auro cultos milites habere, potentiorem se hostem non temere aggredi.” FACIO

-“Di gran consiglio e valore..Niccolò era piccolo, non però di aspetto disgratiato..poco parlava, ma sententiosamente..Il Piccinino con maravigliosa prestezza preveniva i dissegni del nimico, e perciò si serviva di cavalleria alla leggiera più tosto che di fanteria;..amò fuori di modo i suoi valorosi soldati..Fu valoroso, ma poco aventurato Capitano.” TARCAGNOTA

-“Famoso guerriero.” DELFICO

-“Mancò in lui uno de’ più esperti e valenti Capitani d’Italia, se non de più fortunati, il quale se fu molto temuto in vita, fu anche molto amato dopo la morte.” ROSMINI

-“Illustre condottiero.” GOZZADINI

-“Virum cum ingentis animi, tum militarium rerum peritia cum perpetua quadam felicitate admirabililem.” FOGLIETTA

-“Gran Capitano.” MARTORELLI

-“Come Braccio di Montone si distinse per attività senza pari, grande rapidità nelle mosse e negli assalti e perfetta conoscenza dei luoghi ove combatteva: sovente però fu troppo ardito e temerario, ed in molte delle sue imprese, diede soverchia importanza alle combinazioni che potea attendersi.” PAOLINI

-“Empie di sé tutte le cronache dell’epoca ed ammiratori e detrattori dedicano pagine e pagine alla serie delle sue gesta incredibili.” PASQUALI

-“Etait devenu l’élève favori de Braccio..Dormant à peine trois heures sur la dure et sans quitter ses armes, il était le plus audacieux, le plus rapide condottiere qu’eut encore vu l’Italie, le plus fertile en expédients, le plus habile à réparer ses revers, le seul qui sut, après une défaite, terrifier son vainqueur. Divers obstacles à sa fortune l’avaient aigri. Comme il parlait mal et avec peine, il était devenu taciturne et dissimulé. Petit, son nom l’indique, débile et maladif, boiteux et plus tard paralytique, il fallait le hisser sur son cheval. Après ses plus hardis coups de main il s’arretait court, par besoin de repos. Toute armure lui étant devenue trop lourde, il avait fini par combattre sans armure, et on le ménageait; mais, furieux de da faiblesse, il n’avait nulle reconnaisance. Dur envers tous, on le vit prendre pour bout de ses flèches les traitres qui lui tombaient entre le mains.” PERRENS

-“Vir militans adhuc Braccianarum cohortum memor.” BILLIA

-“Magnus Capitaneus, belli fulgor et tempestas illustris.” RIPALTA

-“Unum ex Brachianis ducibus insignem.” G. CAPPONI

-“Il più prode de’ Condottieri esciti dalla scuola di Braccio ..Senza il conte Sforza, sarebbe riguardato il primo Condottiero della sua età: ma ebbe quasi sempre a contrastare contro questo terribile nemico. Eguale a lui nell’attività, nella celerità, si fidava più alla fortuna.” PIGNOTTI

-“Innumeros bello populos urbesque subegi/ Indomitus viri proelia mille ducum./ Restitui exulibus patriam pietate fideque,/ Cum ducis Anguigeri signa superba tuli./ Signifer Ecclesiae pugnando restitur rem/ Fulsere imperio regia signo meo./ Magnus eram, majorque ducum, sub corpore parvo,/ Nemine in exiguo certe ego magnus eram./ Non tamen ingentes animos in morte reliqui,/ Hostibus in mediis paene sepultus eram./Major avis, atavisque augusta Perusia liqui/ Anguigero moriens pignora cara duci./ Nunc bene gestarum vivit vaga gloria rerum,/ Defunctumque brevis arma cadaver habet.” Da un epitaffio del PORCELLIO

-“Fu il Piccinino prode capitano e di molti talenti militari, quanto era scarso di talenti politici.” MAGENTA

-“Uno dei più celebri condottieri del secolo XV.” BOSI

-“Tantum postea militari laurea clarus evaserit, ut nescias quem illi praeferre in hoc genere possis..Tam brevi clarus, celebrisque imperator in terra Italia effetus est, ut nihil illo clarius aut celebrius diutissime fuerit, fusi saepe ingentes hostium exercitus ab illo.” EGNAZIO

-“Fedelissimo e copioso di somma vertù..Illustrissimo capitano..Il quale a suo tempo ave di magne victorie; sempre con somma lialtà servì el suo serenissimo signore duca Philippo Maria, aquistandoli grande honore. ” BROGLIO

-“Ardito ne’ progetti, rapido nell’eseguirli, inclinato piuttosto ad abbattere con l’impeto gli ostacoli, che a vincerli colla industria.” UGOLINI

-“Vir animo et virtute ingens.” CRIVELLI

-“Spectabilis Nicolaus Picininus noster generalis.., vir mire prestantie atque excelsi animi, ubique semper vincere solitus.” Da una lettera di Filippo maria Visconti riportata da OSIO

-“Era veramente costui un gran guerriero, furioso e terribile..Di animo non trovò mai chi lo vincesse, e negli stratagemmi superò tutti li Capitani di quel tempo e le astutie militari seppe tutte.” PASSI

-“Valoroso e fedel capitano del duca.” SARDI

-“Poi Nicolò Picin, che de hora in hora,/ or rotto, or rompe, sì fortuna fera/ gli fu..” SANTI

-“Dux ante bello invictus.” BRACELLI

-“O ytalico lume o Picinino/ Che facesti tremar ambo le forze/ Ytaliane el tuo nome divino./ Tutte le tue radici e le tue scorze/ Pieno de fedeltà de dirittura/ No par che la tua fama anchor smorze./ La tua senciretà e mente pura/ Mertarebbe un’opra tutta intiera/ E non trascorrer via con pocha cura.” Cambino Aretino riportato da FABRETTI

“Nicolò son quel primo Piccinino/Ch’ebbi nell’armi ingegno forza ed arte,/Lume di fedeltà nel mio cammino,/Un fulgor di battaglia un altro Marte;/Provò mia forza il popol Fiorentino/Ed a Venezia assai tolsi di parte:/E fu di tal virtù mia armata mano/Che tolsi ‘l nome a ciascun capitano.” Da un epitaffio del Matarazzo, riportato da FABRETTI, sotto il suo ritratto un tempo collocato a Perugia nel palazzo di Braccio Baglioni.

-Alla battaglia di Anghiari “O Piccinin, che nella impresa forte/Entrasti né lasciasti cosa alcuna/Che della gloria t’aprisse le porte,/Or farai prova quel che può fortuna!/Però tema ciascun sua dura sorte,/Che se felice penserà suo stato,/Spesso gliel muterà l’avverso fato.” Dalla citazione di un codice della Magliabecchiana di Firenze riportata da FABRETTI

-“Perito guerriero.” VERDIZZOTTI

-“Inafferabile e genialissimo..Fu certo il più geniale capitano del suo tempo. Egli era il più rapido nelle mosse, il più pronto a rimediare agli insuccessi, il solo che dopo una disfatta potesse ancora far tremare il nemico.” BELOTTI

-“Famoso capitano dei suoi tempi.” REPOSATI

-“Uomo di alti spiriti e nelle armi celebratissimo.” A. MARINI

-“Qui brille encore au ciel du condottiérisme..Niccolò est le plus connu de cette dynastie guerrière, en partie grace à la medaille de Pisanello qui, sous un immense et disgracieux chaperon, dessine son nez énorme, son profil buté, brutal et borné.” LABANDE

-“Famoxo capitanio..peruxino, honore del paexe de taliani..grande quanti mai de questo milleximo.” G. DI M. PEDRINO

-“Que era muy valiente soldado, y fué de los sanalados capitanes que huboen Italia.” ZURITA

-“Bravo capitano.” MARCUCCI

-“Qui clarus ea tempestate dux habebatur.” BEVERINI

-“Gran capitano e competitor di Francesco Sforza perché molto tempo stette in dubbio il mondo a quali di loro la palma nelle cose della milizia.” COLUCCI

-“Ingenio magnus, corpus parvus erat.” Da un poema di F. Panfili riportato da COLUCCI

-“Famoso condottiero.” RAFFAELLI

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

-“Celebrato fra i migliori capitani del XV secolo..nell’arte della guerra ebbe vanto per la rapidità delle mosse, per attività, per la fortuna delle riportate vittorie.” SELETTI

-“Competitore in arte di guerra del conte (Francesco Sforza).” NUBILONIO

-“Fu uno de’ più grandi generali dell’Italia nel XV secolo..Era il creatore d’una milizia che conservò lungo tempo il suo nome.” SISMONDI-FABRIS

-“Capitano in quei tempi famosissimo.” AVICENNA

-“La sua natura bellicosa, dinamica si manifesta ben presto, ed egli amò avventurarsi nelle imprese più arrischiate e volle foggiare il suo spirito guerriero mettendosi con audacia in prima linea, con quella foga, con quell’ardore, con quella veemenza che furono inseparabili in lui; dimostrò che era dotato di una tempra eccezionale, tale da spezzarsi, ma non di piegarsi. Carattere di ferro, volontà inflessibile, un’astuzia fine..Il Piccinino fu sempre un ammirabile calcolatore: prodigioso nelle mosse di una rapidità fulminea; paziente e calmo quando le circostanze chiedevano lentezza nell’operare.” BIGNAMI

-“Miniature sire and great spirit. His military abilities never won him the reward he deserved.” TREASE

-Sua fuga dal castello di Tenno “Così di quanto el gran Sforzesco punse/ Nicolò picinin, lui rotto mai/ dalla solertia sua non si disgiunse,/ Spesso se i pochi suoi parer assai/ Fura un castello, assalta una bicocca/ Et con tre roze al vincitor da guai./ Attende el ruppe, el chiuse entro una rocca./ La notte appeso sen fuggì in un sacco/ Verona el sa che certo et toccò in brocca.” CORNAZZANO

-In combattimento sotto l’Aquila “Due battaglie son fatte, ognuna bona;/ Una a Santo Lorenzo fu alla porta,/ L’altra per Monte Luco fi’ alla Cona,/ Prima che fusse la battaglia scorta;/ Lancie, e balestra d’assai vi si torna,/ O quanti verrettoni ognuno porta!/ ‘N Paganica con poco honor tornaro;/ Li nostri preda, a prigioni menano.” CIMINELLO

-“Nicolò Piccinino, perhaps the most famous of Alfonso’s (d’Aragona) condottieri.” RYDER

-“Alter Mars, l’unico centauro cui Braccio aveva affidato la gloria delle insegne: implacabile coi traditori, padre amoroso per i soldati, fedele esecutore dei torbidi disegni politici del Visconti che con la subdola tirannia ne dominò tutta la vita.” M.L. FIUMI

-“Uno dei più celebri capitani di ventura della storia…Era di piccola statura, grosso nella persona e con pochi capelli, di estrazione popolare, figlio di un macellaio…Fu accusato più volte di crudeltà, qualche volta di tradimento. Ma nessuno lo disse mai imbelle o codardo. Era brutto nell’aspetto e nelle forme, di complessione molto debole, fu malaticcio tutta la vita…Era ritenuto uomo d’armi totale…Era rapidissimo nell’azione, e per questo preferiva servirsi della cavalleria leggera, più agile negli scontri. la sua Compagnia di ventura era costituita prevalentemente da militari specializzati, particolarmente istruiti nelle tecniche d’assalto…In ogni luogo portò strage e rovina. Saccheggiò e arse campagne fertili, distrusse città e castelli, spogliò case e templi ricchissimi, pose tributi e taglie impossibili, infoltì le sue schiere di soldati altrimenti sbandati. Pare sia stato effettivamente tra i condottieri più feroci. Si racconta che, per vendicarsi di alcuni soldati che gli avevano opposto una dura resistenza,..li fece catturare, ordinò che fossero legati ad un albero e li trafisse uno a uno con una balestra. Poi li tagliò a pezzi, infierendo in ogni modo sui resti delle povere vittime.” GAZZARA

-“Il principale avversario di Francesco Sforza, l’unico che..poteva tenergli testa. I due erano avversari così acerrimi, che il duello continuò anche dopo la morte dei Piccinino: quando divenne duca di Milano, Francesco Sforza fece rimuovere tutte le tracce degli onori concessi al rivale, compreso l’erigendo sepolcro monumentale in duomo. Oggi a indicare la sepoltura di Piccinino rimane solo una piccola iscrizione, vicino all’effigie di Martino V.” SCARDIGLI

-“Cameratesco coi suoi soldati, ma crudelissimo coi nemici, imprevedibile nella rapidità delle sue mosse, diabolico in ogni suo disegno: mai fra i grandi condottieri di tutti i tempi si è dato un caso uguale a quello di Niccolò Piccinino.” MONTELLA

-“Valente capitano di ventura.” REBUSCHINI

-“Il était petit, boiteux, mais il compensait ses handicaps par une énergie débourdante, une autorité très ferme, une cruauté froide.” PEYRONNET

-“Hebbe pel suo valore, e arte mirabil di guerra nome singolarissimo..Fu il Piccinino di persona molto piccola, e anche debole: il volto hebbe colorito: gli occhi vivaci, e neri; e di tal colore anche i capelli.” CAPRIOLO

-“Nei suoi vasti possedimenti fra il Piacentino e il Parmense (a spese dei Fieschi, dei Landi e dei Pallavicini) Niccolò Piccinino agiva indisturbato, da stato nello stato; più in generale, Bernardino Corio arrivò a scrivere che il duca “quasi gli havea dato tutto il governo de la republica.” GENTILE

-“Uno dei capitani più valorosi e arditi del secolo XV.” COLESCHI

-Con Bartolomeo Colleoni “Essi non capitanarono grandi eserciti, non smembrarono regni, non sottomisero popoli, non ottennero famose vittorie; ma la loro vita è intessuta di scorrerie, prede, uccisioni, miseri assedi, piccoli fatti d’arme, minime beghe, desideri, speranze.” LO MONACO

-“Nicolò era uomo d’arme e rimase soprattutto un uomo d’arme. La sua vita era nelle battaglie, nella fedele applicazione di quel modello braccesco che tanti risultati gli aveva conseguire. Quando volle dare corpo alla sua ambizione era ormai troppo tardi: non si era reso conto che solo attraverso la forza delle armi e dell’astuzia, rinnegando anche patti di amicizia e fedeltà, poteva ottenere iòl suo scopo. Ma in questo, oltre che uomo d’arme era anche uomo d’onore. Non avrebbe mai anteposto i suoi, di interessi, a quelli del ducato di Milano e alle stravaganti mire politiche del Visconti.” TABORCHI

-Iscrizione nella medaglia del Pisanello “Nicolaus Picininus vicecomes marchio/Capitaneus max. ac Mars alter.”

-Sulla sua tomba fu inscritto il seguente epitaffio “Qui ad hanc Dei genitrix aram affundenda prece Nicolaus ob corporis brevitatem cognomento Pizzininus te orat. Philippus Maria Ligur. imperator, qui me totius exercitus praefectum constituerat, ut immensis laboribus, ac fidei illibatae sibi per me praestites gratiam redderet, hoc in loco donec solemni pyramide constructam in altum proferret, corpus meum humani mandavit pyramide apud arboris aram inchoatam; imperatore ad superos elato, demum destructa, una cum Francisco filio exercitus Mediolani unico duce iuxta me posito oblivioni tradita sumus, miserere nostri. MCCCCXLIV. Octobris pater. MCCCCXLIX die XVI. Octobris filius obiit.”

BIOGRAFIE SPECIFICHE

-G.B. Poggio. Vita et fatti di Niccolò Piccinino da Perugia

-L. Taborchi. Nicolò Piccinino. Storia di un capitano di ventura

Featured image: Catalogo Beni Culturali
Topics: Influence of Niccolò Piccinino on Renaissance warfare, Battles led by Piccinino, Condottiero’s impact on Italian history, Niccolò Piccinino life, Niccolò Piccinino biography

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