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Otto der Tarentiner/Ottone di Brunswick: A Portrait of Courage and Courtesy in the Age of Condottieri

Italian CondottieriOtto der Tarentiner/Ottone di Brunswick: A Portrait of Courage and Courtesy in...

Otto was a member of an ancient family of the highest German nobility. He never reduced himself to the condition of a simple adventurer. With a reputation of being one of the greatest captains in Europe. A valiant warrior and courteous knight

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Intriguing Life of Otto (Tarent): From German Nobility to Italian Condottiere.

Otto was the eldest son of Henry II of Brunswick-Grubenhagen (Heinrich II. von Braunschweig-Grubenhagen), known as Henry of Greece, and his first wife Jutta, the Margravine of Brandenburg (Markgräfin von Brandenburg). Due to numerous inheritance divisions within the House of Welf, Otto received insufficient heritage, leading him to seek fortune abroad, like his father. Described as a brave, daring condottiere, he fought for various lords from a young age.

Otto (Tarent), Otto der Tarentiner, Ottone di Brunswick, Ottone di Braunschweig-Grubenhagen, Ottone di Taranto. Di Landshut. Duke, prince of Taranto, count of Acerra. Lord of Asti and Alba (with the nephews, children of Marquis Giovanni di Monferrato), of Saint-Lambert in Provence, and of Taranto, Caluso, Acerra, Marcianise, Teano, Eboli, Guardia Lombardi in the Kingdom of Naples.

Born: 1319
Death: 1393 (april)

Blazon of the Brunswick-Lüneburg Coat of Arms: Divided per pale, the first half in Gules features two passant guardant lions in Or, representing Brunswick. The second half in Or showcases a lion rampant in Azure, amidst a semy of hearts in Gules, symbolizing Lüneburg.
Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
1339Monferrato10 cavalryPiedmontHe moves to the court of his cousin Marquis Giovanni di Monferrato. He enters his service.
Apr.MonferratoNaplesPiedmontHe confronts the Angevins. He takes part in the Battle of Gamenario. On this occasion, the Ghibellines led by Marquis of Monferrato Giovanni, in his honor, adopt the German cry “Rome reiter sus Rome reiter”.
………….PiedmontAt the court of Count of Savoy Amadeo VI.
Dec.PiedmontHe is in Ceva when Tommaso di Saluzzo acknowledges himself as a vassal of Giovanni di Monferrato for a part of Ceva and for other neighboring localities.
JunePiedmontHe witnesses the act of submission of the inhabitants of Valenza into the hands of the Marquis: the ceremony takes place in the church of San Giorgio in Montasio.
Aug.LombardyHe is noted in Milan for the stipulation of a league between Marquis Giovanni di Monferrato and the lord of Milan, Archbishop Giovanni Visconti.
JuneMonferratoAcaiaPiedmontWith Monferrato, he faces Giacomo di Savoia-Acaia in Canavese. He is severely wounded during the siege of Strambino, where the Marquis of Busca is killed.
Oct.PiedmontIn Casale Monferrato. In the castle of Ciriaco, he witnesses the signing of a peace treaty with the Count of Savoy.
………….MonferratoAcaiaPiedmontHe takes control of Caluso. The locality is granted to him as a fief.
Mar.MonferratoAcaiaPiedmontHe subdues Casale Monferrato to Marquis Giovanni di Monferrato. He witnesses the ceremony in which the inhabitants of the city, through Giovanni Cane, acknowledge the lordship of the Marquis of Monferrato and commit to recognizing a sum of 800 imperial lire per year.
1351FranceEnglandFranceHe takes part in the Hundred Years’ War. He fights the English while in the service of the King of France, John II.
1352FranceIn the presence of the French sovereign, he challenges Duke of Lancaster Henry Plantagenet to a duel over certain statements he made regarding the nobles and citizens of Cologne.
………….FranceIn the presence of the French sovereign, he challenges Duke of Lancaster Henry Plantagenet to a duel over certain statements he made regarding the nobles and citizens of Cologne.
Dec.FranceThe duel takes place in front of the kings of France and Navarre, the Duke of Burgundy, and other French nobles. Henry of Lancaster has the upper hand; the King of France is forced to intervene to stop the encounter.
………….FranceHe returns to Piedmont. He enters the service of the Marquis of Monferrato once again.
Feb. -Mar.Tuscany, LazioAlongside Giovanni di Monferrato, he escorts Emperor Charles of Bohemia first to Pisa and then to Rome.
Apr.LazioHe witnesses the ceremony in Rome where Charles of Bohemia is officially crowned Emperor by the Cardinal of Ostia.
MayTuscanyIn Pisa. Charles of Bohemia grants him and the Marquis of Monferrato the imperial vicariate of Pavia and its territory. The Emperor also awards him some fiefs in Provence in the diocese of Carpentras. Otto goes there and occupies the castle of Saint-Lambert, an action which provokes the protests of the local bishop. Pope Innocent VI invites Charles of Bohemia to revoke the enfeoffment. Brunswick is forced to renounce these fiefs and return shortly to Monferrato.
Jan.MonferratoMilanPiedmontHe convinces Count Lando to renew his contract with the anti-Visconti league.
JunePiedmontHe defeats a cavalry contingent commanded by Francesco da Pisa at Valenza.
Feb.PiedmontTogether with Azzo da Correggio, he hires Konrad Von Landau, Count Lando (100 barbutes) with the aim of fighting the Visconteans in Piedmont.
JuneMonferratoLocal noblesPiedmontAlongside the Marquis of Monferrato, he descends upon Caluso, between the Dora and the Orco stream, at the head of 300 barbutes, many crossbowmen and infantrymen, devastating the territory. He takes part in the siege of Strambino, during which he is severely injured. Giovanni di Monferrato seizes Orio Canavese and Marziaria; he then besieges and occupies Caluso, where many Guelph nobles are found defending, such as Martino di San Martino with his family, Bartolomeo di Strambino, and Pietro di Lastra. The land, conquered with a night assault, is donated by the Marquis to Otto in recognition of his valor.
Nov.MonferratoMilan, Count of SavoyPiedmontIn Rivarolo Canavese. He witnesses the signing of the convention between the White Company of Albrecht Sterz (Alberto Sterz) and the Marquis of Monferrato.
1362PiedmontHe sides with the White Company of Alberto Sterz. Towards the end of the year, along with Sterz, he meets in Valenza with the emissaries of Galeazzo Visconti, Giovanni Pepoli, and Count Lando with whom he signs a truce.
Jan.PiedmontHe tries to seize Borgomanero by surprise along with Sterz. Their presence is discovered, so he is forced to fall back to Valenza after suffering some losses.
Oct.PiedmontIn Chivasso, where Albrecht and Bartolomeo di San Giorgio declare themselves vassals of the Marquis of Monferrato.
………….MonferratoMilanPiedmontHe confronts the militias of the lord of Milan, Bernabò Visconti.
Aug. – Sept.EmpireFlorenceTuscanyAt the end of August, he reaches Pisa with the Patriarch of Aquileia at the head of 100 horses. He moves to San Miniato; with the imperial captain Bernabò da Parma, who has command of the German and Italian horses in the service of the Emperor. They are also joined by 1000 cernite from Pisa. Otto (Tarent) makes a brief raid into the Florentine territory. Subsequently, he goes to Siena to meet Charles of Bohemia.
Jan.PiedmontIn Asti.
JunePiedmontIn Mazzè, for the baptism of Giorgio Valperga, son of Antonio. The religious ceremony is officiated in the noble chapel of the local castle dedicated to Saints Gervasio and Protasio.
Mar.Piedmont, LombardyMarquis Giovanni di Monferrato dies in Volpiano. Together with Count Amedeo VII of Savoy, he assumes the guardianship of the late marquis’ children: Secondotto, Giovanni, Teodoro, and Guglielmo. His goal is to repel any threats posed by the Visconti. He goes to Pavia to initiate peace negotiations: the talks are immediately halted upon the request to surrender Asti with its district.
………….MonferratoMilanFranceIn Avignon, at the court of Pope Gregory XI, seeking allies with whom to counter the Visconteans.
JunePiedmont, FranceHe concludes an alliance with Count Amedeo VII of Savoy: the latter, for a compensation of 200,000 florins, commits to driving the Milanese out of Monferrato. Otto (Tarent) pledges to the Savoyards Poirino, Riva, Chivasso, and other lands on the left bank of the Po. He also goes to Avignon, obtaining the support of Pope Gregory XI.
July – Aug.PiedmontHe is attacked in Asti by Ambrogio Visconti, Ruggero Cane, John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto), Jacopo dal Verme, Arnaldo Tedesco, and Francesco d’Este. Conversely, 500 men-at-arms commanded by Gaspare di Montmajeur and Oddo di Villars come to his aid. Otto (Tarent) exits the city to meet them; dal Verme and Ruggero Cane force him to retreat into the locality. Numerous skirmishes occur; in the end, Otto (Tarent) forces the Visconteans to retreat, allowing the reinforcements to reach Asti. The commander is then able to counterattack, defeating the adversaries on the Tanaro river, and seizes some bastions. He joins forces with Guglielmo di Grandson and with 400 men-at-arms carries out a raid beyond the Tanaro in territories controlled by the Visconteans. He positions himself in front of the castle of Malemort where 50,000 ducats destined for the enemies’ wages are located: he is confronted by dal Verme who is surrounded and taken prisoner.
Sept.PiedmontThe Visconteans retreat also because the German Arnaldo, upset by some schemes perpetrated against him at the Milanese court, prefers to abandon the Viscontean pay for that of the papal legate. Otto (Tarent) recovers the fortress of Volpiano, which he obtains from the allies.
Feb. – Apr.LombardyHe joins Count Amedeo of Savoy (Amedeo di Savoia) and Luchino Novello Visconti in their offensive in the Milanese territory. He crosses the Po and the Ticino rivers and reaches Vimercate; from there, he rides under the cities of Milan and Pavia until he raids the stables of Galeazzo Visconti in the park of Mirabello. Subsequently, he moves to the Adda river where a strong wooden bridge is constructed. From this position, further cavalry raids are conducted in the Milanese and Bergamasque territories.
MayLombardyHe is defeated on the Chiesa river at Gavardo by Francesco d’Este (700 dead on both sides and more than 500 horses captured in his ranks). Otto (Tarent) rebounds in the following days with Giovanni Acuto (who has joined the papal ranks), Enguerrand de Coucy, and Amerigo del Pommerio, routing the Visconteans caught marching in disarray near Montichiari. Anchino di Baumgarten escapes, while Francesco d’Este, Francesco da Sassuolo, and Gabriotto da Canossa are taken prisoner.
………….PiedmontHe returns to Monferrato.
Aug.PiedmontHe conquers Centallo.
Oct.PiedmontHe allies with the papal captain Pietro Guichard and the Angevin general captain for Piedmont, Niccolò Spinelli. He takes control of Vercelli.
1374PiedmontHe is appointed by Charles of Bohemia (Carlo di Boemia) as the imperial vicar of the marquisate, jointly with Secondotto of Montferrat (Secondotto di Monferrato).
Dec.PiedmontThe prenuptial agreements with Queen Joanna of Naples are signed in Asti. The negotiations are kept secret, thanks to the efforts of the Chamberlain Count Giacomo Arcucci di Capri. Otto (Tarent) is expressly excluded from royal dignity, the government of the kingdom, and the succession to the throne. He is also prohibited from being crowned as the King of Sicily. In return, he is assured the investiture of the Principality of Taranto, which has reverted to the crown following the death of the last prince.
………….PiedmontThey arrive in Asti with 40 horses to escort him to Naples. Among them are Count Roberto Orsini of Nola, Count Giovanni Sanframondi of Cerreto, Count Giacomo Zurlo of Sant’Angelo, and Count Luigi della Ratta of Caserta.
Mar.France, CampaniaHe embarks in Nice. On the day of the Annunciation, he enters Naples through Porta Capuana. He is warmly welcomed by the people who gather along the route leading to Castelnuovo, where Joanna of Anjou awaits him. He has the opportunity to dub the Count of San Severino and many nobles of the kingdom as knights.
MayCampaniaHe is invested with the County of Acerra, Teano, Eboli, Montella, and Guardia dei Lombardi, properties confiscated from the rebellious Duke of Andria, Francesco del Balzo.
JulyCampaniaHe boards four Neapolitan galleys with his family and courtiers to return to Asti.
Aug.CampaniaHe returns to Naples with his brother Baldassarre.
Oct. – Nov.Liguria, France, TuscanyHe is in Genoa and attends the arbitration arranged by Cardinal Roberto of Geneva for peace between Marquis Secondotto of Monferrato and the Visconti. He embarks from Marseille with Pope Gregory XI and sixteen cardinals. In November, they reach Livorno.
Mar. – Apr.Campania, Liguria, TuscanyHe embarks from Naples on two galleys with Niccolò Spinelli, Grand Seneschal of Provence, and lands in Portopisano. He travels to Pisa to meet with the Pope’s envoy, the Cardinal of Amiens, and the Archbishops of Narbonne and Pamplona to initiate the first peace negotiations in the War of the Eight Saints, which has seen Florentines and Papal forces on different sides. He is gifted with 4 caratelli of wine, 100 pounds of wax, and 50 pounds of sugared almonds. The negotiations take place in Sarzana, where he falls ill. After a few days, the Cardinal of Amiens, the prelates, and Otto (Tarent) move to Pietrasanta. The negotiations reach a standstill, and at the end of the month, news arrives of the Pope’s death in Rome. In early April, he leaves Pisa, heads to Piombino with the Cardinal of Amiens, boards a galley, and sails towards Rome for the conclave.
JuneMonferratoMilanPiedmontHe relocates to Monferrato and supports his wards against the Visconteans. In mid-June, an agreement is reached in Pavia between the opposing parties. This is sealed by the marriage of Marquis Secondotto di Monferrato to Valentina Visconti, the widow of Lionel of Clarence. The dowry is set at 30,000 florins, and Gian Galeazzo Visconti also commits to handing over Casale Monferrato two months after the death of his father, Galeazzo.
………….PiedmontHe captures the castle of Lombardore in Canavese but is soon compelled to return it to the Abbot of San Benigno (San Benigno Canavese) under pressure from the Count of Savoy.
Feb.LiguriaHe continues to follow the peace negotiations in Sarzana.
Mar.Piedmont, Tuscany, LazioHe travels to Asti. Secondotto di Monferrato is formally recognized as the lord of the city by Galeazzo Visconti, while his brother-in-law Gian Galeazzo is appointed as its regent. Otto (Tarent) returns to Pisa upon the death of the Pope. He visits Lucca with Niccolò da Napoli, embarks on a galley from Piombino, and reaches Rome with the Cardinal of Amiens. His wife invests him with the Principality of Taranto, taken from Giacomo del Balzo: his new lordship represents half of the kingdom in terms of territory.
Apr.LazioFollowing the contested election of Pope Urban VI by the French cardinals, and relying on his old friendship with the prelate whom he had known when he was the Archbishop of Bari, Otto (Tarent) leaves Naples and travels to Rome with a grand entourage (2000 lances, 100 foot soldiers, and the best experts in canon law from the kingdom) and rich gifts (provisions for the people of Rome and a sum of 40,000 ducats). His goal is to mediate between the two factions. According to some sources, he went on behalf of Joanna of Anjou to request the grant of the direct title and permission for the young Marquis of Monferrato, Giovanni, to marry Maria of Aragon, the heiress of the Kingdom of Trinacria (Sicily). However, the pope treats him with arrogance and humiliates him in public. During a meal attended by many cardinals and dignitaries of the Curia, Urban VI allows him to pour wine but keeps him on his knees with the wine cup in his hands, without granting him the slightest consideration until a cardinal reminds the pope to drink. Due to this arrogant and rigid behavior, Otto (Tarent) will refer to Urban VI with the epithet “Turbano.”
JulyLazioHe doesn’t give up and, with three Italian cardinals, travels to Tivoli and Anagni in an attempt to reconcile the discord between Urban VI and the French cardinals who had not accepted his election. In the end, Otto (Tarent) is so disgusted by the pope’s behavior that he decides to support the faction in favor of antipope Clement VII (Cardinal Robert of Geneva).
………….Emperor Wenceslaus of Bohemia reaffirms his privileges.
Jan.PiedmontHe intervenes again in Piedmont after the assassination of Marquis Secondotto of Monferrato by a henchman of Gian Galeazzo Visconti. Otto (Tarent) enters Asti. The general parliament of the communes and feudatories, which has convened in Moncalvo, grants him full powers to govern until the majority of the new heir, the deceased Giovanni’s brother. He also negotiates a truce with Dal Verme in Santhià.
………….MonferratoMilanPiedmontHe wants to renegotiate the terms of the Asti issue with the Visconti. This leads to a breakdown in relations and a brief conflict ensues. Count Amadeus of Savoy intervenes and establishes a truce with the Visconti in Santhià, in the presence of the envoys of the antipope.
Sept.Campania, ApuliaHe returns to the Kingdom of Naples. The nobles of Nido and Porta Capuana clash with those belonging to the other districts, resulting in numerous casualties. Only the intervention of his troops manages to prevent a massacre. After quelling the rebellion, he relocates to the Principality of Taranto.
Jan.There are the first signs of an impending conflict with the claimant to the Kingdom of Naples, Charles of Durazzo. Meanwhile, in Vercelli, a truce is signed in the square of Sant’Agata between the Monferrato forces and the Visconti forces.
Mar.TuscanyHe meets with Antipope Clement VII in Lucca and with Bernabò Visconti in Pietrasanta.
JuneNaplesDurazzo, ChurchCampaniaHe welcomes Cardinal Giacomo d’Itri, the legate of the Antipope, to Naples and honors him in Piazza delle Corregge. He positions himself with a small force on the road to San Germano (Cassino) to prevent the Durazzo forces from advancing on Naples. However, he is forced to retreat to Arienzo. He is seen near Nola with Roberto Orsini and positions himself between Cancello and Maddaloni. Due to the superior number of opponents and the loss of twenty men-at-arms in skirmishes, he withdraws further, taking the road to Aversa. He sets up camp at Casa Nova near Porta Capuana in the capital city. Meanwhile, Charles of Durazzo arrives in Naples at the Sebeto Bridge (Maddalena Bridge) between Vesuvius and the city. The inhabitants open the Gate of the Market to his rival. Ottone di Brunswick attempts to block his entry and only manages to intercept the rear guard of the opponents. In the process, 500 mercenaries are killed who didn’t make it inside the city walls. He returns to Sicciano, near Marigliano.
JulyCampaniaHe heads towards Aversa.
Aug.CampaniaHe places his encampments at Dogliuolo (Poggioreale) and cuts off the water supply to the aqueducts of Naples. Giovanna d’Angiò is besieged in Castelnuovo for a month. Ugo da San Severino leaves the castle, meets with the besiegers, and together they agree that if, within four days, Otto (Tarent) does not arrive, the Queen of Naples would surrender at their discretion. On the night of the fourth day, the condottiere decides to assault the adversaries with his German troops to free his wife besieged in Castelnuovo. He heads to the castle of Sant’Elmo, joins his forces with the garrison of the fort; the next morning, he moves to confront the enemy. He divides the army into three battalions, positioning himself in the vanguard, followed by his brother Baldassarre and Roberto d’Artois. The battle proves fierce due to the valor of the adversaries and the sudden rise of the wind, which makes the combat more perilous. Roberto d’Artois abandons him with the crossbowmen and 400 lancers. Otto di Brunswick finds himself increasingly in trouble; he is heavily defeated by Carlo di Durazzo and Villanuccio da Villafranca. Giovanni di Monferrato is killed while fighting at his side; he himself, seriously wounded by an arrow shot at him, it’s not known whether by the enemies or by some deserter, is captured by Andreolo da Sant’Angelo, a squad leader of Villanuccio da Villafranca.
Sept.CampaniaHe is imprisoned in Naples in Castel dell’Uovo with Niccolò Spinelli.
Oct.ApuliaHe is subsequently incarcerated in the castle of Altamura, while his wife Giovanna d’Angiò is taken to the castle of San Felice, in Muro Lucano, where she will be suffocated in September 1382.
………….BasilicataHe is imprisoned in the castle of Melfi.
Mar.ApuliaHe is transferred to the castle of Molfetta.
Apr.Apulia, Lazio, SicilyHe is released on the condition of leaving the kingdom: the claim that he supported Carlo di Durazzo seems unfounded, as does the advice that he is said to have given in Barletta, to not seek open battle with Luigi d’Angiò but to instead wait for the Angevin army to disband due to lack of money or supplies. He is spotted in Rome and in Sicily.
MayFranceHe goes to Provence to the court of Luigi d’Angiò.
Dec.Campania Lazio FranceHe joins with Bernardo della Sala, crosses the Garigliano, enters the county of Fondi, and embarks for Avignon: he offers his services to Maria di Blois, widow of Luigi d’Angiò (who died the previous September), and to Antipope Clement VII. He asks the queen for confirmation of the grants that have been made to him by Giovanna d’Angiò, particularly the investiture of the Principality of Taranto. The woman does not hide her distrust of him.
Oct.FranceHe is assigned a monthly income of 500 francs, half of which is charged to the Apostolic Chamber of Avignon.
Jan. – Sept.FranceHe reaches an agreement with the Duchess of Anjou and Queen of Provence, Maria of Blois: during the negotiations, the antipope awards him the Golden Rose; he is also promised 6,000 florins and a monthly allowance of 500 francs. He accepts the supreme command of the Provençal and Papal troops with which to undertake the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples. However, his demands increase over time, to the point that Maria of Blois considers terminating his services twice.
Oct.Anjou, AntipopeNaples, ChurchGeneral CaptainFrance, CampaniaIn October, everything is settled. Pope Clement VII immediately disburses 6,000 florins, committing to an additional 32,000 ducats, three-quarters of which come from the Papal treasury. Maria of Blois, for her part, promises that upon the successful conquest of the kingdom, Brunswick will be re-invested with either the Principality of Taranto or another equivalent fiefdom. He is appointed alongside Tommaso of San Severino, Count of Montescaglioso, as the general captain for two years. He embarks at Aigues-Mortes and reaches the Neapolitan territory to fight against the Durazzo forces.
………….CampaniaAlong with other barons, he is called to join the Council of the Good State of the Kingdom in Naples.
JuneCampaniaHe marches towards Naples with San Severino, encouraged by the existing disagreements between Margaret of Anjou, widow of Charles of Durazzo, and the city authorities.
JulyCampaniaHe departs from Montefusco with 4,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry and attempts to enter Aversa, which is defended by Raimondo Orsini del Balzo. After a victorious skirmish with 1,000 enemy cavalry, he moves to Volla, near Naples, awaiting favorable movements in the city for his cause. His soldiers are allowed to enter the city in groups of 50 to 60 men at a time for supplies. Partisans of the Pope, as well as those of young Ladislaus of Anjou, seek battle, also supported by del Balzo who is coming to their aid. Brunswick attacks Guizzardo Bridge, reaches the Gate of Corregge, and defeats his rival near the Church of Santa Chiara. Followers of Pope Urban VI and the Durazzo forces join forces, and led by Giacomo and Tuzzillo Caracciolo, they burst into the Market Square. Otto of Brunswick sends his men against them; the two Caracciolos fall, riddled with wounds. The condottiero is finally able to sign a truce with the city government, while Margaret of Anjou (Margherita d’Angiò) is forced to leave Castelnuovo to take refuge with her children in the fortress of Gaeta. Brunswick promptly exiles many nobles and imprisons others among the Durazzo partisans. He leaves Naples due to famine, touches upon Mercato San Severino: upon his return he once again defeats enemies at Guizzardo Bridge and resupplies the city. With the same aim, he sweeps through the counties of Ariano Irpino, Padula, and Benevento, and nullifies the blockade attempts made by the adversaries.
Aug.CampaniaConsequently, his popularity in Naples increases: he commits to defending the city for the entire month in exchange for 6,000 florins and the supply of wheat promised by the Count of Sant’Agata to the Neapolitans. Durazzo troops arrive at the port transported by three galleys; Otto of Brunswick, along with San Severino, rushes to the shore opposite San Pietro Martire and repels the attackers.
Sept.CampaniaExcommunicated by Pope Urban VI, a crusade is preached against him.
Oct.Captain GeneralCampania, LazioHe acquires Castel Capuano from the castellan Ugolino dalle Grotte for 13,000 ducats; he moves towards Eboli and Sarno and occupies the castles of Casamari and San Lorenzo. He leaves Eboli when 30,000 ducats arrive from Provence, sent by Clement VII for the payment of the troops. Tommaso of San Severino pays the allied troops first and resigns from his role as general captain. Otto of Brunswick ravages the lands controlled by the Abbot of Montecassino; he moves to the Benevento area with the aim of enabling the resupply of Naples, which is increasingly suffering from famine. With his maneuvers, he forces del Balzo to abandon Campania and take refuge in Terra d’Otranto. The Provençal fleet led by Louis of Montjoie arrives in Naples.
Nov.CampaniaAlongside Tommaso of San Severino, he captures and sacks Torre del Greco, also acquiring its castle for 4,000 florins intended for the defenders’ wages. On several occasions near Aversa, he confronts Alberico da Barbiano and forces him to retreat.
Dec.NaplesAnjou, AntipopeCampaniaTogether with Tommaso of San Severino, he occupies the castles of Nocera and Castellamare di Stabia. He soon becomes estranged from the newcomers from Provence; offended by the behavior of Louis of Montjoie, he leaves Naples with Angelino of Austria and takes refuge in Sant’Agata dei Goti. He is approached there by ambassadors Giordano Pandone and Giacomo Spadinfaccia, who attempt to reconcile him with the Frenchman. His demands for an immediate 4,000 florins and another 3,000 within a month against his credits, for the University of Naples to be fined 100,000 ounces, and for Clement VII to hand him the Principality of Taranto, are all rejected. He has a meeting with Louis of Montjoie in Caserta; his demands are not considered. As a result, he agrees to fight on the Durazzo side while retaining the title of Prince of Taranto. It is believed that this decision was influenced by the promise of marriage to Queen Margaret of Anjou (Margherita d’Angiò). This plan will later fall apart due to the woman’s wishes, who is the niece of Joanna of Naples (Giovanna d’Angiò). Otto of Brunswick immediately contacts Ugolino dalle Grotte, still the castellan of Castel Capuano.
Jan.CampaniaThe fortress of Castel Capuano is besieged by the Angevins. Giacomo Stendardo, leading the barons and men-at-arms loyal to Margaret of Anjou (Margherita d’Angiò), approaches Naples, specifically Casanova (Casa Nova). Otto of Brunswick initially clashes with the German mercenaries of Louis of Anjou (Luigi d’Angiò); he withdraws toward Acerra without achieving anything significant. Joining his forces are the Count of Alife, the Count of Nola Nicola Orsini, and the men-at-arms of Nello da Camerino and Domenico da Siena. He leaves Nocera, joins forces at Caivano with John Hawkwood (l’Acuto) and Alberico da Barbiano; the three commanders together attempt to aid the defenders of Castel Capuano. He moves toward Naples with 4,000 cavalry and 500 infantry.
Feb.CampaniaLouis de Montjoie exits from Porta Nolana with 1,600 cavalry and defeats John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto), Alberico da Barbiano, and Otto of Brunswick; the German commander stops at Casa Nova with the intent of clashing with the opposing captain. The wait proves fruitless, so he opts to return to Aversa. In the following days, he repeats the operation alone, overcoming the initial defenses. From Naples, 300 cavalry emerge from the Porta di San Gennaro, intending to cut off his retreat routes at Capodichino. He notices the move and proceeds to Secondigliano.
JuneCampaniaWith Luigi da Capua and Giacomo Stendardo, he rides toward Scafati and attempts to gain possession of Castellamare di Stabia through negotiations. However, Pietro della Corona forces him to fall back toward Acerra. In light of these developments, he chooses to return to his own territories, leaving the defense of Capua in the hands of Luigi da Capua.
Oct.PiedmontHe goes to the court of the Red Count, Amadeus of Savoy (Amedeo di Savoia). He instructs one of his castellans, Faussone, to hand over the city castle to the Savoyard vicar of Cuneo, Bartolomeo di Chignin, a castle that had been held in his name for some time.
Nov.CampaniaHe returns to the Kingdom of Naples. He sets up camp in Poggioreale with Giacomo Stendardo, commanding 300 cavalry and many English infantrymen. Pietro della Corona emerges from San Pietro a Paterno and captures some plunderers. Reinforcements also arrive from Naples for the opposing captain: 200 Breton cavalry, numerous Catalan infantry, and Neapolitan crossbowmen led by Francesco della Ratta. He suffers defeat alongside Stendardo at the hands of Pietro della Corona, who captures 60 of his cavalry and numerous infantrymen.
Jan.With Angelino of Austria, he reconciles with Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò).
Mar.CampaniaHe moves with John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto) between Aversa, Liburna (San Pietro a Paterno), and Afragola.
Apr.CampaniaWith John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto), he sends some horses to Casalnuovo di Napoli. These forces clash with 200 Angevin cavalry and 200 infantry who, having left the area, capture two squad leaders. Mid-month, he moves with Hawkwood to provide aid to the defenders of Castel Capuano. With the help of the Durazzo fleet (4 galleys, 6 brigantines, and many light vessels), he positions himself in front of Casa Nova and San Pietro all’Ara. The attackers enter the two locations while 400 armed men exit Castel Capuano to contribute to the battle. The men of Louis de Montjoie are prepared for the clash and, after a long and bloody battle, force Hawkwood and the Brunswick to retreat to Afragola. Immediately, the defenders of Castel Capuano lower the flag of Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò) and that of Butillo Prignano, the Pope’s nephew.
MayCampaniaHawkwood (L’Acuto) leaves the Kingdom of Naples and tries to persuade the Brunswick to join him in the employ of the Florentines. Instead, he allies with Luigi da Capua and the Stendardo, targeting Castellamare di Stabia. He demands the surrender from Abbot Galletto, who guards the place. Galletto stalls, and Pietro della Corona quickly comes to his aid. Defeated once again, Otto of Brunswick (Ottone di Brunswick) retreats to Acerra.
………….CampaniaHe continues to besiege Naples. He wears down the enemy forces with ongoing skirmishes.
Apr.Ladislaus of Anjou (Ladislao d’Angiò) orders all the officials of the kingdom to pay 3,500 florins to the royal court from the proceeds of the salt tax in Puglia. This is to enable him to redeem the fief of Acerra, which he had pawned to pay the wages of a German captain under his command. The sum will only be disbursed to him the following August.
Aug.CampaniaWith Giacomo Stendardo and Giannello Tomacelli, he leaves Acerra and targets Naples with 600 cavalry. He sends some horses on a scouting mission, which are then driven back at Santa Maria Maddalena by 150 men-at-arms.
………….CampaniaHe signs a truce with the adversaries.
………….Campania, ApuliaHe leaves San Bartolomeo in Galdo to join up with Barbiano in Capitanata and there confront, along with Cecco dal Borgo, the troops of Louis of Anjou (Luigi d’Angiò).
Apr.ApuliaHe stops at Ascoli Satriano; at dawn, after a march of 70 miles, he is confronted by Tommaso da San Severino, who arrives from the River Bradano with 5,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. Caught by surprise, without even time for his men to arm themselves, he is captured along with Alberico da Barbiano.
JuneApuliaTo secure his release, he is compelled to pay a ransom of 28,000 florins, obtained through the sale of Acerra, Marcianise and Guardia Lombardi to Raimondo Orsini del Balzo. He is also obligated to promise not to fight against the troops of the Duke of Venosa and other members of the San Severino family for ten years. Otto stays for some time in the Principality of Taranto.
Apr.ApuliaHe dies in Foggia. He is buried in that location.


-“Principe di gran senno e valore..Pochi il pareggiavano nel valore e nella saviezza.” MURATORI

-“Nobile Tedesco di casa imperiale, uomo savio e valente in armi.” DATI

-“Principe dell’imperio e di linea imperiale, signore valoroso.” DI COSTANZO

-“Probuus et sapiens.” AZARIO

-“Era uno savio e valloroso cavallere.” CRON. MALATESTIANA

-“Inter Germanos nobilissimum.” CRIVELLI

-“Membro di un’antica famiglia della più alta nobiltà Brunswick non sfuggì al destino di tanti feudatari, grandi e piccoli, costretti a cercare fortuna nel mestiere delle armi. Erede però di una secolare tradizione di prestigio e radicato negli ideali feudali e cavallereschi ai quali era stato educato, il Brunswick non si ridusse mai alla condizione di semplice avventuriero e riuscì sempre a non confondersi con la folla di capitani di ventura senza fede e senza scrupoli che infestò l’Italia nel secolo XIV. Condottiero di gran fama, riuscì presto a inserirsi con un posto di rilievo nel gioco politico italiano senza però primeggiare mai, e senza mostrare eccessive ambizioni personali. Si contentò di garantirsi una solida posizione patrimoniale e una dignitosa condizione di militare e di cavaliere, offrendo un esempio assai inusitato nell’Italia del temp.” ESCH

-“Era un buono e valoroso soldato, ghibellino di nascita e di educazione..Ottimo uomo d’arme.. Nonostante le sue disavventure napoletane, era sempre in fama di uno dei migliori capitani d’Europa…Prode guerriero e cortese cavaliere.” CUTOLO

-“Qui simplex miles in Italia etiam a sua infantia merendo stipendia militavit.” Da una lettera dei fiorentini al re Ludovico d’Ungheria riportata dal CUTOLO

-“Era questi uomo egregio per la bravura del braccio e la rettitudine dell’animo.” MAGENTA

-“Erat ..miles valde generosus..statura pulcher et admodum strenuus in armis.” VIT. GREG. XI

-“Dux Otto fuit prudentissimus ac strenuus nimis in factis armorum a puericia in talibus potissime in partibus Lombardiae ac pedemontium enutritus, nam a plerisq. audivi, quod ipse in XL bellis campestribus contra praedictos dominos Bernabovem et Galeatium, nec non diversos alios potentes dominos et tyrannos pugnando feliciter triumphasset.” NIEM

-“Valoroso quanto astuto”. VALENTE

-“Signore molto valoroso.” GRANATA

-“De nobilissima progenie.” MINUTI

-“Uomo probo in massimo grado, magnifico, valoroso e capace.” CHRONICON SICULUM

-“Il suo corpo (a Foggia) se vede intero, et a li suoi piedi sei diti per ciascuno sicome da lo inclido Hercule duca di Ferrara, e da molti suoi cortegiani per certissima relatione de veduta, havemo inteso.” COLLENUCCIO

-“Prode militare.” PALMA

-“Valoroso guerriero.” RAIA

-Ottone di Brunswick combatte con il marchese del Monferrato contro i viscontei. “Romme Rheiter va esviant/ Le bon marquiz du coeur vaillant,/ Romme Rheiter sus Romme Rheiter/ Dit son causin de Brunsvechic,/ Hote quans ennemix Huster ic.” Da una poesia riportata dal SAN GIORGIO

-Ottone di Brunswick combatte contro le truppe di Carlo di Durazzo. ” L’una jente, e l’autra si se mosse a ferire,/ Granne remore in quilo canpo si era,/ Abattere de insegnie, e de regali baniere,/ Crudele guerra fone per onne maniera,/ Allora la jente de re Odo le spalle voltove,/ El re Carlo rizzò la sua baniera;/ El re Odo loco presione isso, el frate fone:/ Granne sconfitta in quilo canpo fone.” A. DI BUCCIO

-“Ottone, della imperiale stirpe degli Ottoni di Sassonia, cugino del nostro figlio nobiluomo Giovanni, marchese di Monferrato, del quale ha condotto e conduce energicamente le guerre, cugino altresì dei principi di Cipro, universalmente stimato come uomo probo in massimo grado, magnifico e valoroso e capace, sebbene non disponga di una sua propria potenza, di radunare con la sua prudenza e sollecitudine i soccorsi stranieri.” Da una dichiarazione del papa Gregorio XI riportata dal FROIO

-“Prode condottiero.” PALMA

Feature image source: Comune di Eboli (,Longobardi%20e%20poi%20dai%20Normanni.)

Image source for coat of arms: wikipedia

Topics: Otto Tarent German Nobility, Otto Tarent Italian Condottiere, Otto Tarent Medieval Battles, Henry II of Brunswick Son, Jutta of Brandenburg First Wife, House of Welf Inheritance, Medieval European Captains

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