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

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Renaissance Power Play: Prospero Colonna’s Intriguing Alliances and Rivalries

Italian CondottieriRenaissance Power Play: Prospero Colonna's Intriguing Alliances and Rivalries

Faithful captain, prudent, famous, yet unable to grasp favorable opportunities. He waged war "più co' consigli che con la spada" [more with advice than with the sword]. He does not expose himself, as much as possible, to the risks of a pitched battle

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

A General’s Odyssey: Prospero Colonna’s Impact on Italian Warfare.

Prospero Colonna (1452–1523) was an Italian condottiero known for his military prowess during the Italian Wars. He served various powers, including the Papal States, Holy Roman Empire, and Kingdom of Spain. Colonna’s notable actions include defending Paliano Castle in 1484 and supporting Charles VIII of France’s invasion of Italy in 1495. Later, he helped King Ferdinand II of Naples reclaim the kingdom from the French. Colonna played a crucial role in the Spanish victory at Cerignola in 1503 and regained his territories in the Lazio after Alexander VI’s death. He became a great feudal lord in southern Italy and married Covella di Sanseverino. Colonna’s career ended with his capture by the French at the Battle of Marignano in 1515, and he died in 1523 in Milan.

Prospero Colonna of Lanuvio. Ghibelline. Duke of Traietto, Count of Fondi, Count of Morcone. Lord of Fondi, Ceccano, Sonnino, Carpi, Lanuvio, Nemi, Artena, Itri, Sperlonga, Minturno, Paliano, Capranica, Caramanico Terme, Salle, Agnone, San Giorgio La Molara, Morcone, Cuffiano. Father of Vespasiano Colonna, cousin of Fabrizio Colonna, uncle of Marcantonio Colonna.

Born: 1452
Death: 1523, December

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
1482
……………ChurchNaples
MayNaplesChurch100 lancesLazioHe defects to the Aragonese camp after Pope Sixtus IV demands the surrender of the castles of Paliano and Capranica. The Aragonese grant him an annual allowance of 13,000 ducats; he entrusts them with the fortress of Paliano and promises to place his camp in his territories between Marino and Frascati; at the same time, he withdraws a large sum of money in Rome as an advance on his past salaries with the papal forces.
JuneIn retaliation, the pope has Mariano Savelli and the cardinals Giovanni Colonna and Giambattista Savelli imprisoned in Castel Sant’Angelo. Furthermore, the pope orders the demolition of a palace he owns in Rome. He is declared a rebel, and a bounty of 1,000 ducats is placed on his head for anyone who kills him, which increases to 2,000 ducats for anyone who delivers him alive. The reward can also be complemented with a pardon for three outlaws.
Aug.LazioHe enters Montefortino (Artena) with 40 men-at-arms and 60 infantrymen. He makes contact with Jacopo Conti, who serves in the papal camp. The latter introduces his troops into the castle. All the Aragonese are captured.
1484
Jan.ColonnaOrsini, ChurchLazioWith the support of some Gaetani and the people of L’Aquila, he energetically defends Paliano from attacks by Virginio Orsini and Girolamo Riario. Together with Antonello Savelli, he assaults Torrevecchia, which belongs to Jacopo Conti, and conducts a series of sallies from Genazzano that trouble his opponents.
JuneLazioHe surprises Paolo Orsini’s men-at-arms between Genazzano and Paliano, returning from a raid in the countryside. He recovers the spoils and frees the prisoners; in the skirmish, fifteen men are killed and another 150 are wounded, predominantly among the papal forces.
JulyLazioHe takes by surprise and kills Prospero Conti near Artena, who had stopped with his escort to water the horses of his company. Besieged in Cave, Colonna surrenders on terms to Antonello Savelli and his cousin Fabrizio Colonna.
Aug.LazioHe has Romanello Corso, who surrendered Capranica to Paolo Orsini, hanged. Besieged in Paliano, he takes the children of those suspected of being lukewarm defenders, sends them to Genazzano, and threatens to hang them. Upon the pope’s death, he returns to his states. He later goes to Rome with Fabrizio Colonna and the Savellis, while Girolamo Riario and the Orsinis are forced to leave the city and take refuge in their possessions.
Oct.LazioHe leaves Rome with the advent of the new pope, Innocent VIII.
1485
JuneColonnaOrsini, ChurchLazioHe captures in Frascati the son of Cardinal d’Estouteville, Girolamo Tuttavilla, and brother-in-law of Virginio Orsini. He occupies Genzano di Roma and unsuccessfully attempts to enter Civita Lavinia (Lanuvio), leading his prisoner in front of the walls. He repeats the experiment (now successfully) at Rocca di Papa; shortly afterwards, he also obtains the castle of Nemi (where the wife and children of Tuttavilla are captured) with his cousin Fabrizio Colonna and Antonello Savelli.
JulyLazioTogether with Fabrizio Colonna and Nicola Gaetani (400 infantry and 300 light cavalry), he plunders the territories of Isola Farnese, Campagnano di Roma, Galeria, Bracciano, and Cerveteri. The two commanders capture 200 inhabitants, and 200 horses and more than 3,000 cattle from the herds of Virginio Orsini are seized. The livestock is taken near Ostia. Colonna is confronted by Giovanni della Rovere and Jacopo Conti, who defeat and capture him. He is taken to Rome and imprisoned in the Apostolic Palace for the duration of the peace negotiations. At the end of the month, Tuttavilla is also released.
1485
Sept. – Oct.ChurchNaplesAbruzzoHe enters L’Aquila with his cousin Fabrizio and Giovanni Savelli. He remains in the city until mid-October.
Dec.LazioHe allies with the troops of Roberto da San Severino; he captures a bastion built by Virginio Orsini between Castelnuovo di Porto and Rignano Flaminio at Monte della Guardia, near the church of San Leonardo in Via, thereby allowing the entrance of the general captain into Rome. He then heads towards Lanuvio, where the Orsinis have amassed their spoils. Finally, he bursts into Rome with Fabrizio Colonna and sets fire to the houses of his rivals at Monte Giordano.
1486
Feb.LazioHe recovers Lanuvio, Nemi, and Genzano di Roma, which had previously fallen into the hands of his adversaries.
Mar.LazioHe receives the order to hand over Sgurgola to Girolamo Ugolini.
MayTuscanyUnder the command of Roberto da San Severino, he participates in the battle of Montorio.
JuneLazioHe negotiates a fifteen-day truce with Virginio Orsini and returns to his camp at San Gregorio da Sassola.
JulyLazioHe captures 40 horses from Troiano Savelli in a skirmish; he attempts to seize the castle of Sant’Angelo Romano on the Tiber: many are killed and wounded.
Aug.LazioAt the end of the conflict, he is contacted by the Aragonese to switch to their service along with his cousin Fabrizio and Cola Gaetani. The three commanders are offered a three-year contract plus one year at their discretion, a command of 250 lances, and an annual salary of 2,400 ducats, to be reduced by a third in peacetime, along with the provision of 50 mounted crossbowmen.
1487
SpringChurchOsimoMarcheHe lays siege to Boccolino Guzzoni in Osimo. At the end of the operations, on his return to the Kingdom of Naples, he stops in Fermo where he is received with all honors.
1489
JulyUmbriaProspero Colonna arrives in Amelia with Antonello Savelli. He acts as a mediator between the local factions.
1491ChurchNaples
1492
JulyLazioWhen Innocent VIII is on his deathbed, Gian Giordano Orsini and other Roman patricians appear at the Capitol to Senator Mirabili and offer to maintain order in the city.
1493
Jan.LazioIn Ostia, prompted by the Duke of Calabria, Alfonso d’Avalos, Piero dei Medici, and Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (the future Julius II), they propose to conquer Rome with the Orsini against Pope Alexander VI.
1494
Feb.Church, Milan50 lancesHe is led by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, and is granted an annual salary of 6,000 ducats.
Mar.ChurchFranceGeneral GovernorLazio, UmbriaHe welcomes the ambassador of the King of Naples in Rome and then relocates to the countryside near Assisi.
Apr.He informs his cousin Fabrizio that Cardinal della Rovere has escaped by sea to France. He also provides protection to Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, who, fearing for his life, seeks refuge in the Colonna territories.
……………FranceChurch, NaplesLazioHe deserts from the camp of the allies to the French side. They are handed 20,000 scudi along with letters of exchange from Perone di Baschi and General de Bidaut. Various factors contribute to his defection, ranging from pressure exerted by Cardinal Ascanio Sforza to the favor shown by the King of Naples towards the rival Virginio Orsini.
Sept.LazioHe obtains Ostia through a treaty held with some Spanish infantrymen guarding it. He raises the banners of the King of France and that of Cardinal della Rovere. According to sources, two men infiltrate the fortress, request to speak with the castellan, find him alone, and threaten to kill him. The agreed signal is given, and Colonna, with 200 horsemen, can enter through the gate opened for him by the conspirators. He begins to harass Rome with his men, even up to the city gates. The Pope orders the demolition of the houses owned by him and Fabrizio Colonna in the capital.
Oct.LazioHe is ordered to return the fortress of Ostia, under the threat of property confiscation and being declared a rebel.
Dec.LazioHe is sent, along with Cardinal Sforza, by the King of France to negotiate with the Pope. After a few hours of mutual pleasantries, he is arrested by the guards. He is confined in Castel Sant’Angelo with Girolamo Tuttavilla but is released on the condition that he persuades Fabrizio Colonna to surrender Ostia to the Papal State within two days. In exchange, he is offered safe conduct by the Papal and Aragonese authorities with an annual stipend of 30,000 florins. Colonna goes to Ostia and is nominally made a prisoner by his relative, while the Pope’s official accompanying him is dismissed. He immediately goes to Marino. Meanwhile, French troops commanded by Ivo d’Allègre arrive in Ostia. Colonna still aligns himself with King Charles VIII. On the last day of the month, he enters Rome with the captains of the French army and Fabrizio Colonna. The procession of troops lasts for six hours. The vanguard is composed of Swiss and German infantry who march in battalions to the beat of drums. The officers wear tall plumes on their helmets as a mark of distinction. The soldiers are armed with short swords and ten-foot wooden pikes, and a quarter of them carry halberds instead of pikes. Each thousand infantry is interspersed with a company of arquebusiers. The front rank of each battalion consists of soldiers with helmets and breastplates, while the others do not wear defensive armor. Behind the Swiss, 5,000 Gascon, Breton, and other French infantrymen, mostly crossbowmen, march. They are followed by the cavalry, composed of the cream of French nobility distinguished by silk cloaks, helmets, and gold necklaces: a total of 2,500 men-at-arms and 5,000 light cavalry. The men-at-arms carry a large lance and various steel weapons. Their horses are large and, following French custom, have their tails and ears cropped, unlike heavy Italian cavalry, which uses boiled leather armor. Each knight is accompanied by three mounts: the first is ridden by a page equipped like his lord, while the other two are ridden by squires. The light cavalry (known as mounted archers) are armed with large wooden bows in the English fashion, and their defensive equipment consists of helmets and armor. Some of them are equipped with a half-pike suitable for striking down enemy horses thrown to the ground by heavy cavalry; their cloaks are adorned with small eagles and silver plates. 400 archers, including 100 Scots, march alongside the king. Finally, 200 chosen horsemen make up King Charles VIII’s guard and surround the sovereign on foot; they are armed similarly to the men-at-arms, distinguished only by the beauty of their steeds and their purple trappings. Bringing up the rear are 36 bronze cannons, culverins, and falconets with their attendants.
1495
Jan.Lazio, AbruzzoHe is granted 9,600 ducats by the French. He moves to the aid of Sora, which is currently under siege by Ferdinand of Aragon. In Rome, he is wounded in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt during a brawl incited by French soldiers who have plundered some city buildings. At the end of the month, he is in L’Aquila trying to quell the city’s factional disputes. He is accompanied by Soliers, the French commissioner in the area.
Feb.LazioHe is appointed by the French sovereign as the Duke of Traietto (Minturno). He is granted Fondi as a fiefdom, along with many castles taken from the Gaetani family (Ceccano, Pofi, Falvaterra, San Lorenzo, and Sonnino), which provide him with an annual income of 12,000 ducats. He also acquires Montefortino (Artena) and Castel Mattia, which were previously owned by the Counts.
Mar.CampaniaHe provides surety for the release of Virginio and Niccolò Orsini, who have fallen into the hands of the French. He also occupies Capua with the assistance of Aubigny.
Apr.He is approached by adversaries to switch sides and join their ranks, but he refuses, even though he is dissatisfied with the treatment he has received, which has been full of promises but lacking in tangible rewards, especially of a financial nature.
JuneLazio, AbruzzoHe stands by Charles VIII in Rome, Viterbo, and Isola Farnese. He moves to the Abruzzo region to quell the conflicts between city factions. He remains in the Kingdom of Naples with his cousin Fabrizio, Giovanni della Rovere, and Antonello Savelli, along with half of the Swiss troops, a portion of French infantry, 800 French lances, and 500 Italian men-at-arms when the sovereign sets out on the road to France.
JulyNaplesFranceCampaniaHe deserts to the opposing camp, apologizing to the King of Naples for his past disloyalty and citing various reasons, including the delay in receiving his dues and the honors granted to Virginio and Niccolò Orsini. Ferdinand of Aragon accommodates him in Castel Capuano and welcomes him with many celebrations.
Aug.MoliseHe stations himself near Venafro with Girolamo Tuttavilla and Rinaldo da Capua, engaging in conflict with Fabrizio Colonna, who is still in the French camp, as well as Giovanni della Rovere, Carlo di Sangro, and Berlingieri Caldora. He emerges victorious against Tuttavilla.
Sept.General captainCampaniaHe assumes command of the troops following the death of Alfonso d’Avalos at the fortress of the Monastery of Santa Croce in Naples. He moves to defend Sarno with Girolamo Tuttavilla against Précy and Prince of Bisignano Bernardino da San Severino, who had achieved victory near Eboli against Giovanni Tommaso Carafa. Colonna fortifies the Eccia pass near Posillipo when Précy heads towards Naples to aid Montpensier, who is besieged there. However, the French captain lacks the courage to attack the position, and Montpensier does not move to attack the Aragonese from behind. Précy retreats to Sarno and San Severino, not even noticing the disorder occurring in the opposing camp.
Prospero Colonna lays siege to Pizzofalcone Castle and constructs ditches to hinder potential sorties by the Swiss guarding it. With the cannons, he also fires upon the ships anchored in the harbor, damaging a galley and other vessels. The defenders of Santa Croce request a truce of a few days. A Swiss soldier in the Aragonese army throws two loaves of bread to a brother fighting for the French, leading to his execution by his captain after making him run between the pikes of his fellow soldiers arranged in two rows.
Oct.CampaniaUpon hearing that Aubigny is coming to the aid of the castles in Naples, he moves to Santa Maddalena with his cousin Fabrizio (who has also returned to the Aragonese camp) and Annibale da Varano. Following some clashes, Aubigny is forced to abandon his objective and head towards Gaeta.
1496
Jan.LazioProspero Colonna is preceded in Gaeta by the French.
Feb.Campania, ApuliaHe is stationed in Campania with 100 men-at-arms and 200 light horsemen. He joins forces with Cesare d’Aragona and heads towards Taranto. Along the way, he passes through Lucera, sacks Rosciolo dei Marsi, and proceeds to Avellino, where Ferdinand of Aragon is stationed. When he is joined by 400 Swiss infantry, he returns to Lucera with 100 men-at-arms and a substantial number of infantry. He unites with Viceroy Federico d’Aragona and commands 200 men-at-arms, 500 light horsemen, and 500 infantry. He conquers Orsara di Puglia and two other castles and then moves towards San Severo, where the plunder is gathered.
Mar.ApuliaHe once again joins forces with Cesare d’Aragona and occupies Biccari. Alongside Annibale da Varano and Luigi da Capua, he opposes Virginio Orsini, Paolo, and Camillo Vitelli, facing 400 men-at-arms, 1000 light horsemen (including 400 stradiotti), and 1000 infantry.
Apr.Apulia, CampaniaHe is forced to retreat to Lucera, where he successfully captures and sets fire to a small fortress. During the engagement, 25 men-at-arms are lost. He rides to San Bartolomeo in Galdo upon the fall of Petracatino into the hands of the enemy.
JuneCampaniaHe launches an assault on Fragneto Monforte.
Aug.Calabria, BasilicataHe is initially in Calabria to persuade Antonello and Bernardino da San Severino to lay down their arms. He then moves to Basilicata and is present at the surrender of Atella.
Sept. – Oct.LazioHe participates in the siege of Gaeta. In October, he follows the new king, Federico d’Aragona, into the Duchy of Sora, which belongs to Giovanni della Rovere.
1497
Jan.LazioHe remains in the Duchy of Sora and, with Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (Consalvo di Cordoba) , seizes control of many towns in the vicinity, including Pico, Torella, Belmonte Castello, Atina, San Donato Val di Comino, and Piedimonte Germano.
Feb.ApuliaHe collaborates with the Venetian allies, led by the Duke of Mantua, Francesco Gonzaga, near Lucera.
Mar.Naples180 lances, 20 light cavalryLazioHis contract is renewed by the Aragonese. He supports Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba during the siege of Ostia.
MayLazioHe is bestowed with the Duchy of Traietto, which yields 8,000 ducats in revenue, by the King of Naples.
Aug.CampaniaIn Capua, he and his cousin Fabrizio attend the coronation of Federico d’Aragona: one of the Colonna raises the banner, and the other holds the shield.
Dec.LazioHe goes to Rome and gathers some infantry with the intention of besieging Zancati, a castle held by the Counts.
1498
Mar.ColonnaOrsiniLazioHe sends 600 infantrymen to aid his relatives who are in conflict with the Orsini.
Apr.LazioLeading the rearguard with Giovambattista Caracciolo, he contributes to the victory at Montecelio over the adversaries.
MayCampaniaHe is in Naples for the baptism of the firstborn child of King Federico d’Aragona.
JuneCampania, LazioThe King of Naples gives him 6,000 ducats as an advance payment of his wages. He embarks on a galley and returns to Lazio to confront the Orsini once again. He persuades Pope Alexander VI to arrange the marriage of his daughter Lucrezia Borgia with Duke of Bisceglie Alfonso d’Aragona rather than Duke of Gravina Francesco Orsini.
JulyUmbriaHe moves to Todino with Antonello and Giovanni Savelli and aids the Chiaravalle. He arrives at Castel Rubello with 400 horsemen and many infantrymen. He suddenly assaults Castel Giorgio and captures the nephew of the Bishop of Orvieto, Giorgio della Rovere, who is guarding it with 25 crossbowmen on horseback. All the soldiers are stripped of their weapons and mounts, and the castellan has a horse worth 250 ducats confiscated.
1499
JuneNaplesGeneral captainCampaniaHis contract is renewed, and he is elected as lieutenant and captain-general. He also serves as the godfather at the baptism of the firstborn child of the King of Naples.
Aug.NaplesFrance, VeniceCampaniaFederico d’Aragona sends him to Lombardy with command over 400 lances and 1500 infantry to assist Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza against the French and Venetians.
Sept.CampaniaHe moves slowly, and in Rome, he learns about the defeat of Ludovico Sforza, prompting him to return to Naples.
1500
MayGrand Constable with command over 300 lancesCampaniaIn Naples, he is appointed as the Grand Constable.
Sept.LazioIn Marino, he faces pressure from Pope Alexander VI to reconcile with the Orsini and the Counts.
1501
Jan. – Feb.Campania, LazioIn Naples, he is sent to Rome by Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba.
Mar.LazioAlongside Fabrizio and Camillo Colonna, he attempts to negotiate a truce with the Orsini.
JuneNaplesFrance, SpainLazio, CampaniaHe leaves Marino and Rocca di Papa under surveillance to defend Naples. He confronts Aubigny but, on the advice of Cordoba, the captain of the King of Spain, he does not put up too much resistance.
JulyCampaniaHe surrenders with 2,000 men. He follows Federico d’Aragona to Ischia, and when the latter surrenders as a prisoner to the French, he easily switches to the service of the Spaniards.
Aug.SpainNaplesCampaniaHe is excommunicated by the Pope. Additionally, he is accused of treason for taking up arms against the Kings of France and Spain. While in Naples, he detains 6 galleys sent to the capital by Ferdinand the Catholic to transport the two queens, both named Giovanna, widows of Ferrante d’Aragona and Ferdinand d’Aragona, back to the Iberian Peninsula.
Sept.Alessandro VI confiscates his properties in Lazio in favor of the Borgia family.
……………Calabria, ApuliaHe supports Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba in his actions in Calabria and during the siege of Taranto.
1502
Mar.ApuliaTaranto falls.
……………SpainFranceApuliaHe fails to convince Cordoba to bring the war to Basilicata. Instead, he joins him in Barletta and is present at the duel that takes place between eleven French knights and eleven Spaniards, which occurs between Barletta and Bisceglie.
1503
Feb.ApuliaHe defeats the French in a skirmish. Alongside his cousin Fabrizio, he selects the 13 Italian champions who engage in the famous “Disfida di Barletta” against the French. The victory is attributed in particular to Prospero’s personal choice of weapons. Before the duel, he equips the Italian jousters with two longer lances than the French, as well as two rapiers: one, characterized by a sturdy point, is secured to the left side of the saddle, and the second, used for both thrusting and cutting, is placed on the right side. On the right side, instead of the usual iron mace, a heavy axe is attached. The mounts are covered with iron frontlets, neck armor, and gilded and painted leather bardings. Finally, Colonna has two spears placed on the ground for each knight, ready to be used in case of emergency. The location for the duel is determined, and the field is marked with a plow, in Venetian territory, between Quadrata and Andria. The prize for the winners is set at 100 ducats each, not including the weapons and mounts of the defeated. After the contest, Cordoba knights all the Italians who participated in the tournament, and each of the victors is given a necklace consisting of thirteen gold rings, with the option to add this emblem to their family crest. The French, before the contest, are so confident of victory that they did not bother to deposit the sum of 1300 ducats, the prize of the tournament along with the weapons and mounts, with their judge. When, after the victory, the Spanish judge, Captain Diego de Vera, asks his French counterpart for the delivery of the prize, the latter (named Pocodinari) is unable to meet the demands. Cordoba orders that the French champions be held hostage until the full sum is delivered, which occurs four days later.
Feb.ApuliaProspero Colonna defeats the French in a skirmish. Alongside his cousin Fabrizio, he selects the 13 Italian champions who engage in the famous “Disfida di Barletta” against the French. The victory is primarily attributed to Prospero’s personal choice of weaponry. Before the duel, he equips the Italian jousters with 2 longer lances than the French, along with 2 swords: one with a robust tip, secured on the left side of the saddle, and the other for thrusting and cutting, placed on the right side. Additionally, instead of the usual weighted mace on the right side, a heavy axe is positioned. The horses are adorned with iron facings, neck armor, and leather bardings, gilded and painted. Lastly, Colonna has two spears placed on the ground for each knight, ready for use in case of emergencies.
The location for the showdown is determined, and the field is marked out with a plow, in Venetian territory, between Quadrata and Andria. The prize for the winners is set at 100 ducats each, not counting the weapons and horses of the defeated. After the contest, Cordoba knights all the Italians who participated in the tournament. The Spanish captain also gifts each of the victors a necklace consisting of thirteen gold rings, granting them the privilege of adding this emblem to their family coat of arms.
The French, overly confident of victory before the contest, neglected to deposit in advance the sum of 1300 ducats with their own field judge, which was the prize for the tournament along with the weapons and related horses. When, following the victory, the Spanish field judge, Captain Diego de Vera, requests the French counterpart, named Pocodinari, to deliver the prize, he is unable to meet the demands. Cordoba orders that the French champions be held hostage until the complete payment is made, which occurs four days later.
Apr.Apulia, CampaniaHe crosses the Ofanto River and clashes with the French at Cerignola: he orders the digging of a ditch and the construction of an earthwork along the entire line of the Spanish positions. Behind it, the infantry is stationed; the Landsknechts are placed in the center, while large contingents of crossbowmen and arquebusiers are on the flanks; on both sides of the formation, light cavalry squads are deployed; heavy cavalry is held in reserve and under his command. The French launch a frontal attack; the heavy cavalry and the Swiss mercenaries are held back by the ditch and are subjected to crossfire from the arquebusiers. The French formation is quickly disarrayed. At the end of the battle, Prospero Colonna pursues the fleeing French for 6 miles (many are taken as prisoners) and triumphantly enters the enemy camp, sleeping in the bed of the French captain who died in the clash. Among the French, 50 lances and 3000 infantrymen are killed, and there are 600 prisoners; the Spaniards report losses of around a hundred men between the dead and wounded. In the following days, he is sent on a reconnaissance mission by Cordoba towards Capua, which is soon abandoned by Allègre.
MayCampaniaIn the middle of the month, he triumphantly enters Naples with his cousin Fabrizio, following Consalvo di Cordoba. He besieges Castelnuovo.
JuneCampania, LazioWith Andrea da Capua, he drives the French out of Capua, enters Sessa Aurunca and Pontecorvo, and captures Roccaguglielma.
JulyAbruzzoHe enters L’Aquila with Fabrizio Colonna.
Aug.LazioAt the death of Pope Alexander VI, he is encouraged by the Borgia to join him in Rome. He appears with 100 horsemen at Porta del Popolo despite the opposition of the college of cardinals; his band of armed men almost doubles in number by the time it takes him to reach his palace; he supplies Castel Sant’Angelo with gunpowder. He reaches an agreement with Duke Valentino (Cesare Borgia) and commits to defending him against the Orsini, in exchange for the promise of returning lands belonging to the Colonnas and Supino, which had been confiscated from Francesco dell’Anguillara. On his part, he tries to persuade the Borgia to switch to the service of the Spanish. He is also given 8000 ducats and two horses.
Sept.LazioDisguised, he goes to San Giovanni in Laterano to meet Cardinal della Rovere; he consults with Cardinal Carafa and Count Diomede Carafa of Maddaloni. There are also contacts on his part with Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. The College of Cardinals invites him to leave Rome with the Borgia: the two have an appointment at Ponte Milvio, but the meeting does not take place because they both do not trust each other. Instead, he accompanies Sancia, the sister-in-law of the Borgia, who allows herself to be kidnapped by him.
Nov.LazioAt the beginning of the month, Cardinal della Rovere (Julius II) is elected to the papal throne. With Diego di Mendoza and Pedro Navarro, he aids Villalba, who is besieged by Francesco Gonzaga in Roccasecca.
Dec.LazioHe participates in the Battle of Garigliano and is stationed at the rearguard with Andrea da Capua. In front of the artillery, he commands 200 men-at-arms and 2000 Spanish infantrymen. He pursues the retreating French forces after the battle.
1504
Jan.LazioHe intercepts the French near Scauri and pursues them to Mola (Formia). With 300 men-at-arms and various light artillery pieces, they prepare to face him. However, he is soon repelled and overwhelmed. Fortunately, the timely arrival of infantrymen under Bartolomeo d’Alviano and German pikemen led by Cordoba reverses the situation. With this victory, he regains control of the counties of Fondi, Ceccano, Pofi, Falvaterra, San Lorenzo, Sonnino, and Sgurgola, expelling Cristoforo Gaetani.
Feb.He is contacted by the Florentines, who offer him the position of Captain General to fight against the Pisans. However, he must decline this offer due to opposition from Cordoba.
Mar.CampaniaIn Naples, he is received with great honors by the Duchess of Milan, Beatrice d’Este.
JulyLazioHe is invited to dinner by Julius II along with his cousin Fabrizio. On the orders of Cordoba, he approaches the Florentines to try to detach the republic from the alliance with the French. Otherwise, the Spaniards would have aided the Pisans.
Aug. – Sept.Campania, SpainHe embarks on a fleet under the command of Antonio di Cardona and accompanies Cesare Borgia, who is now a prisoner of the Spaniards, to Spain. He lands in Alicante and from there reaches the court, where he is received with all honors.
Oct. – Dec.SpainIn Segovia, at the court, discussions are held about the Cordoba’s government actions. Prospero Colonna does not tire of flattering Ferdinand the Catholic. He accompanies him on hunting trips, pays visits to show concern for his state of mind, and seeks audiences with influential bureaucrats. The favors Prospero Colonna manages to secure from the king are made public in an early December dispatch, listing the lands granted to him, estimated to yield an annual income of 10,000 ducats. He is enfeoffed with the county of Morcone, which includes Morcone, San Marco di Cavoli, San Giorgio La Molara, Pietra Maggiore, and Cuffiano.
1505
Apr.CampaniaUpon returning from Spain with Giovanni Battista Spinelli, Prospero Colonna goes to Pozzuoli and meets with Cordoba, delivering the appointment document for the viceroyalty of Naples. Additionally, for his services, he is reaffirmed by Ferdinand the Catholic in the lordships of Fondi, Minturno, and other lands in the kingdom, including Itri, Sperlonga, Acquaviva, Campo di Mele, Pastena, Castelforte, Castelnuovo Parano, and Castellonorato. He is also granted a condotta for 500 lances, shared with his cousin Fabrizio.
Aug.LazioProspero Colonna travels to Rome to advocate for the case of Cardinal Giovanni Colonna, who was imprisoned by the Pope despite having a safe-conduct from the same pontiff.
……………LazioHe has numerous disputes with his nephew Marcantonio over the boundaries of Nemi.
1506
Nov.CampaniaIn the autumn, he refuses the invitation from Julius II to join his troops in fighting the Bentivoglio in the Bolognese region. He doesn’t want to be under anyone’s command. In November, he welcomes the King of Spain in Naples and takes part in a procession led by the sovereign, alongside Consalvo di Cordoba. The procession is followed by halberdiers, Fabrizio Colonna, ambassadors from the Pope and the King of France, and finally, the barons of the Kingdom of Naples. The procession stops for some time in front of the palace of the Duke of Termoli, Andrea da Capua. On this occasion, he is appointed as the standard-bearer. During the same period, he enters into a dispute with Andrea da Capua over precedence in relation to Roberto da San Severino and Troiano Caracciolo. At the same time, he is involved in court intrigues aimed at damaging the reputation of Cordoba.
1507
JulyLazioIn Rome, he pays a visit to the Spanish ambassador. During this period, he continues to receive the revenues from the excise tax and salt, which were originally granted to him by Ferrante d’Aragona, confirmed by Federico d’Aragona, and now by Ferdinando the Catholic. This amounts to a sum of 6000 ducats, the same as received by his cousin Fabrizio.
1509
Feb.The Venetians make unsuccessful attempts to recruit him into their service through an emissary of Bartolomeo d’Alviano, Giovanni Cotta.
Apr. – MayLazio, CampaniaThe Venetians promise him 25,000 ducats, but Colonna remains unyielding, even when offered a condotta of 1,200 men-at-arms with a salary of 60,000 ducats after the Battle of Agnadello. He leaves Rome and returns to Naples, summoned by the viceroy to participate, albeit marginally, in the war waged by the Spanish against the Serenissima as part of the League of Cambrai.
JuneSpainVeniceApuliaHe approaches Trani to besiege the city. The over-commander Girolamo Capello climbs the walls with his men from the galley to defend it. The citizens, unwilling to resist, rise up and open a gate to the Spaniards. Colonna besieges the castle, which surrenders after a few days when the order comes from Venice to yield. The castellan Bernardo Balbi abandons the fortress, taking the artillery and ammunition to Venice.
Nov.Lazio, TuscanyHe is in Rome and meets with the Venetian ambassador, sharing a common enmity towards the French. He then travels to Piombino and retrieves his daughter-in-law, the daughter of Jacopo d’Appiano and the wife of his son Vespasiano.
1510
Jan. – Feb.LazioHe is reported to be in Fondi. He is contacted by Pope Julius II to persuade him to join the service of the Papal States. At the end of March, he meets with Marcantonio Colonna in Fondi.
Mar.LazioHe and his cousin Fabrizio are once again approached by the Venetians to join their service (a contract for 1200 horsemen with an annual salary of 600 pounds of gold). He obtains permission from Ferdinand the Catholic with the condition of leaving the service of the Republic of Venice in case of war with the Spanish. However, due to these restrictions and others, he prefers to decline the offer. Instead, in January, he actively works on persuading the Pope to lift the interdict on the Venetian territories that had been in effect since the previous year.
Apr.LazioIn Fondi with Marcantonio Colonna.
JulyLazioHe meets with the Pope, and the King of Spain entrusts him with the command of 300 lances to assist the Papal forces against the French in the region of Bologna. However, he refuses this assignment, perhaps even at the secret behest of Ferdinand the Catholic.
1511
MaySpainHe is destined for an expedition against the Berbers in Tunisia, but it never materializes. He is granted a contract for 500 lances and 200 light cavalry.
Oct.LazioHe refuses to join the Viceroy of Naples, Raimondo di Cardona, against the French in order to avoid obeying his orders. He prefers to remain inactive and withdraw to Genazzano.
Nov.LazioIn Genzano di Roma.
1512
Apr.LazioTo Marino. He is called to his aid by the pope due to the outcome of the Battle of Ravenna. He asks for the title of Captain General of the Church (currently held by Francesco Maria della Rovere), that of Gonfalonier of the Church (Francesco Gonzaga), or the general command of the league.
MayLazio, CampaniaIn his negotiations with the pontiffs, he does not lack other requests, such as the appointment of a cardinal for the Colonna house, a “dish” of 12,000 ducats, and a command of 600 men-at-arms (300 for himself and 300 for other members of his family). Julius II makes a counteroffer of 400 men-at-arms, but the parties are thus far from an agreement. Colonna returns to Naples without reaching an agreement. However, in the same month, during a cataleptic state of the pontiff, the bishop of Rieti Pompeo Colonna, Roberto Orsini, and other Roman barons rebel against papal authority. Prospero Colonna prevents his relative from continuing in his enterprise, forces him to retreat to the castle of Subiaco, and to hand over Artena to Marcantonio Colonna.
JuneSpainFrance300 lancesCampania, AbruzzoWith Vespasiano and Ascanio Colonna, Prospero becomes a guarantor of the safety of Alfonso d’Este, who goes to Rome to discuss a peace treaty with the Pope. However, at the end of the month, he leaves Naples with 300 men-at-arms. Julius II does not allow the Spanish troops to cross his territories, which blocks Prospero at Pescara.
Sept.Abruzzo, UmbriaHe does not cross the Tronto. He diverts towards Rieti and Terni with 300 men-at-arms and 300 light cavalry.
Oct.Tuscany, Emilia, LombardyIn the Lucca area with 350 lances, 400 light horses, and 1000 infantry; via Pontremoli, he reaches the viceroy in Lombardy. During the march, he hides among his men the Duke of Ferrara (disguised now as a servant, now as a hunter, now as a friar) who is sought by the pontiffs; he allows him to return safely to Ferrara, evading the intrigues of a spy of Julius II, Antonio della Sassetta. Mid-month, he is near Modena with 150 horses; from there, he reaches the camp at Ghedi. The French, besieged in Brescia by the Spanish and Venetians, surrender into the hands of the former. Prospero Colonna enters the city and, with Guglielmo di Rogendorf, witnesses the demonstrative parade of the army of the Serenissima desired by Giampaolo Baglioni.
Nov.LombardyAt Soresina with the Viceroy of Naples, Raimondo di Cardona; he meets with the Duke of Milan, Massimiliano Sforza; then returns to the camp at Soncino.
Dec.MilanCaptain General of 300 lances.LombardyHe enters Milan alongside the Duke and Cardinal of Gurk, Matteo Lang. The Venetians accuse him of wanting a war between the Spanish and the Serenissima.
1513
Jan. – Feb.PiedmontHe moves sluggishly towards Asti. In February, he is reported to be in Tortona.
Mar.EmiliaHe returns to Piacenza to join with the Spanish army, strong with 1400 lances, 1000 light horses, and 7000 infantry. He stops on the Trebbia with the viceroy: in front of him, he has the French infantry and behind him the Venetians who have occupied Cremona. He builds a bridge over the Po, but the stradiots of the Provveditore Giovanni Vitturi prevent him from crossing the river.
JuneEmilia, LombardyThe French are defeated at Novara by the Swiss, the Venetians retreat. Colonna can now take the initiative; he conquers Pontevico in three days of intense artillery fire and recovers Castelleone. At the end of the month, he is in Brescia at the head of 300 lances and 4000 infantry. He encamps in the village of San Giovanni, near the church of Sant’Antonio.
JulyLombardy, VenetoIn Verona, in discussion with the representative of the Emperor, the Bishop of Gurk.
Aug.VenetoIn Vicenza, where he is lodged in the houses of the Fioccardi. He ravages the Paduan territory.
Sept.VenetoWith Raimondo di Cardona, he besieges Bartolomeo d’Alviano in Padua, without success despite having a large number of sappers at his disposal. Forced to desist, he retreats with Fernando Alarcon (Captain General of the Spanish infantry), Giacomo Salander (Captain General of the German infantry), and Francesco da Castellalto (Captain General of the artillery). He devastates the surrounding territory, causing severe damage everywhere, burning crops, taking prisoners, and raping women. Marostica and Bassano del Grappa are looted to pay the troops. Prospero Colonna sends 2000 infantry to Vicenza to prevent the looting of the city by the German infantry under his command. He moves to Montagnana and Este; destroys Bovolenta (burned), and lays waste to the territory of Piove di Sacco. In the imperial army, there are 6000 Spanish infantry, 4000 Germans, many adventurers, 500 light horses, 1000 lances. In Bovolenta, he surprises the Venetian patrician Domenico Bon with his lover: Colonna, a hardened womanizer, rapes the woman and lets her go free with some gifts. In the continuation of the scorched earth policy, the imperials cross the Bacchiglione on a pontoon bridge at Mira, bringing their devastation to Mestre and Marghera, from where they fire on Venice with 10 large cannons. 1500 armed peasants try to oppose the imperials at Fusina, where their goods have been amassed. 150 horses led by Troilo Savelli attack them and massacre them; the town is set on fire. The bodies of the slain peasants are thrown from the windows. In revenge, Spanish and German soldiers found isolated during the looting are taken to Venice, locked in a cistern, and left to die of starvation. The Venetians, at this point, decide to give free rein to Alviano. The Umbrian captain positions himself behind Colonna. He retreats to Cittadella, fords the Brenta, and from Santa Croce Bigolina turns towards Vicenza. Colonna is blocked on the Bacchiglione by Alviano; he abandons almost all the booty and some of the wagons; finally, taking advantage of a very thick fog, he can take the road to the mountains of Schio and from there head towards Verona.
Oct.VenetoHe commands the rearguard, which includes Muzio Colonna and Troilo Savelli (1050 men-at-arms, 3000 Landsknechts, 4000 Spanish infantry, and numerous light cavalry); Fernando Alarcon follows with his troops; Raimondo di Cardona positions himself at the center of the formation. He is attacked at Creazzo by Bartolomeo d’Alviano: Prospero Colonna fights in the center with the heavy cavalry. The Venetian skirmishers cannot withstand the impact and scatter, causing the defeat of Alviano: among the enemies, out of 1400 men-at-arms, 1000 stradiots, and 10000 mostly inexperienced infantry, they suffer the loss, in dead and prisoners, of 400 men-at-arms and 4000 infantry. After the victory, Colonna does not pursue the fugitives; he even intercedes for the release of Giampaolo Baglioni, fighting on the opposing side, without any ransom. The imperials split up: Prospero Colonna, Muzio Colonna, Troilo Savelli, Fernando Alarcon, Rizano, and Salander stop at Montagnana with the viceroy, while Ferdinando d’Avalos stops at Este, and Antonio di Leyva at Cologna Veneta. Other troops are lodged at Castelbaldo, Urbana, Merlara, Megliadino, and Santa Margherita d’Adige. The imperials waste twenty days in Vicenza before finally retreating to Verona.
Nov.LombardyHe stops at Orzinuovi and cuts off the city’s connections with Crema, where Renzo di Ceri has entrenched himself. He reaches Soresina and besieges Crema. Ceri, with some successful sorties, defeats the men of his companies, at Calcinato, where Cesare Fieramosca is robbed with 40 men-at-arms and 200 light cavalry, and at Treviglio (another 10 men-at-arms). Colonna is now stationed at Pizzighettone.
1514
Jan.LombardyHe leaves Pizzighettone because he does not feel secure there and returns to Soresina. At Offanengo, where he has continual clashes with his opponents.
Feb.LombardyIn Lodi.
Apr.LombardyIn Romanengo and again in Lodi. He continues the siege of Crema with 200/250 men-at-arms, 200/250 light cavalry, and 2000 infantry.
MayLombardyNear Crema. He sets up his camp at the church of San Bernardino; positions Silvio Savelli at Ombriano; erects a bastion at the tower of Pianengo under the leadership of Cesare Fieramosca; and plunders the Cremasco area up to Santa Maria della Croce.
JuneLombardyHe captures the fortified church of Santa Maria della Croce; 80 Cremasco infantrymen are killed in the fight. The building is set on fire.
JulyLombardyHe is forced to move away from Crema due to the outbreak of the plague.
Aug.LombardySilvio Savelli is put to flight at Ombriano. Ceri, using a stratagem, induces Colonna not to intervene to help the ducal captain. His fear of Ceri is such that, days later, he definitively abandons the siege of Crema, has the San Bernardino convent leveled, and moves to Offanengo and Romanengo. He meets with the Duke of Milan at Pizzighettone.
Oct.LombardyHe leaves Offanengo and moves to Castelleone with 170 lances and 600 Spanish infantry. He repels an attack by Ceri and moves to Pompiano to agree on a common strategy against the Venetians with Raimondo di Cardona.
Nov.Lombardy, VenetoAt Pizzighettone with Massimiliano Sforza. Bergamo falls into the hands of Ceri; immediately, Colonna besieges the city with 400 men-at-arms, 200 light cavalry, and 7000 infantry (3000 Swiss, the rest Spanish, German, and Milanese). With the Viceroy of Naples, he sets up artillery at the Porta di Santa Caterina: Ceri, after an initial success, soon finds himself in a difficult situation and prefers to leave the city: the Bergamascos have to recognize a ransom of 80,000 ducats to the imperials. Colonna formulates a plan to neutralize Alviano: the Marquis of Pescara is to leave Verona (where, incidentally, he goes), skirt the Euganean Hills, and move to Monselice; he, on the other hand, with the forces already operating in Bergamo, should aim as quickly as possible towards Legnago: in this way, the Venetian captain would have had to be caught between two fires and cut off from Padova. Alviano escapes the maneuver, so the Spaniards encamp in the Polesine without undertaking anything further.
Dec.Lombardy, VenetoHe leaves Brescia and heads to Innsbruck with Raimondo di Cardona for consultations with the Emperor Maximilian of Austria. At the end of the month, he is with the Viceroy in Verona and Mantua.
1515
Jan. – Feb.Lombardy, VenetoHis men-at-arms are billeted at discretion in the Lodi area, causing damage to the local population amounting to 40,000 ducats. He is reported in Valeggio sul Mincio and in Bergamo, where the local community presents him with a gift. He spends Carnival in Milan and organizes a grand party (costing 1,000 ducats) in the palace of Lorenzo da Mozzanica, where he has taken up residence.
Mar. – MayLombardyHe moves around Crema. In May, he moves away from that territory to counter the French approaching towards Piedmont.
JuneLiguria, PiedmontHe moves towards Genoa with 500 lances; turns towards Tortona where, in a council of war, he clashes with Cardinal of Sion, Matteo Scheiner.
Aug.PiedmontHe operates between Pinerolo and Saluzzo with 8000 Swiss to prevent (at least officially) them from plundering the territories of the Duke of Savoy. He moves to Carmagnola and Villafranca Piemonte. He ignores the spies who warn him of the imminent arrival of the French, and as a result, he is captured with 300 lances, many light horses, and his best captains. He is made a prisoner while dining, captured by Bayard, Imbercourt, La Palisse, and Aubigny, to whom he surrenders: the French have crossed the Alps unnoticed by the forces of Sforza and the Swiss. Upon hearing this news, a force of 4000 Swiss, which was to join his troops, is forced to retreat. The adversaries capture a booty estimated at 50,000 ducats. Colonna blames Cesare Fieramosca for the defeat. Taken to France, a ransom of 37,000 scudi is imposed on him. In Lyon.
1516
Jan. – Feb.FranceHe is released upon the payment of a ransom of 17,000 ducats, half of which is destined for La Palisse and the rest for the King of France. On this occasion, it is said that he promised not to take up arms against the French, or in any case, to remain neutral in the event of a war in the Kingdom of Naples.
Apr.Lombardy, EmiliaHe leaves Milan and goes to Busseto, a guest of his relative Galeazzo Pallavicini. Subsequently, he moves to the Modena and Bologna areas; he joins with Muzio Colonna.
JuneEmiliaHe leaves Bologna.
Dec.LazioIn Rome.
1517
Jan.LazioHe has a dispute with the former Duke of Traietto, on which two cardinals are called upon to express their judgment.
Mar.Campania, ApuliaFrom Naples, he goes to Bari to visit Duchess Isabella of Aragon, a woman he loved in the past. He begins to gather troops, causing alarm in Rome. The King of Spain, Charles I (the future Charles V), entrusts him with the task of appeasing the barons of the kingdom, who are in turmoil over a rumored order to deprive them of the right to recruit and lead soldiers: he restores calm and agrees that the barons maintain this right, conditioning it on the fact that the regiments be organized like the Spanish “tercios”.
MayLazioHe is called to Rome by Pope Leo X, who tries to involve him in the conflict opposing the State of the Church with Francesco Maria della Rovere, aimed at reconquering the Duchy of Urbino.
JuneLazioHe stays in Rome with the Pope, along with Ugo di Moncada. The objective is to devise a plan to make the Spanish mercenaries in the service of della Rovere desert.
Dec.Apulia, LazioHe arrives in Manfredonia with the Queen of Poland, daughter of Isabella of Aragon. He hosts Cardinal Francesco Soderini of Volterra in Fondi, who fled from Rome for having participated in a conspiracy against Leo X.
1518
MayLazioTogether with Marcantonio Colonna, he meets with the Pope to protest the killing of some Colonna family members, which occurred in Anagni at the hands of the Orsini.
Sept.CampaniaIn Naples, at the review of his companies.
Dec.LazioHe again engages in discussions with Leo X in Rome. He meets with the Marquis of Pescara, Ferdinando d’Avalos, in Marino.
1519
MaySpainHe goes to Spain to visit the king. He requests the general captaincy of the army and the lordship of Castelguglielmo, which is contested by Guglielmo di Croy. At court, he reveals himself to be in favor of war with the French.
Sept.Spain, CampaniaIn Naples. The trip has been fruitful, as he has been granted revenues in the Kingdom of Naples of 3000 ducats per year from the sheep customs.
Oct.LazioHe has a new meeting with the Pope in Rome.
Dec.GaetaniGaetaniLazioHe supports the Gaetani of Norma in their vain attempt to seize Sermoneta to the detriment of Camillo Gaetani.
1520
Mar.Grand Seneschal of the kingdomCampaniaUpon the death of Fabrizio Colonna, he is appointed Grand Seneschal of the kingdom: his annual provision of 2000 ducats, previously granted by the King of Spain, is revoked.
Oct.LazioHe purchases in Rome the palace formerly belonging to the Cardinal of Volterra.
Dec.LazioTogether with his nephew Marcantonio, he occupies some castles that belong to the lord of Sermoneta; this action brings him into conflict with the pontifical authorities.
1521
JuneSpainFrance, VeniceGeneral Captain of the lancesCampania, LazioHe leaves Naples dissatisfied because, contrary to his expectations, Emperor Charles V has granted command of the infantry to Ferdinando d’Avalos and assigned him only the command of the men-at-arms. He travels to Rome, where he is received with great honors by Pope Leo X.
JulyHe has effective command of the Papal troops, which nominally belongs to Marquess Federico Gonzaga. He reaches Bologna and proceeds towards Parma. He passes through Castelfranco Emilia and demands the surrender of Concordia. From Reggio Emilia, he moves on to Parma, where he threatens Federico Gonzaga of Bozzolo with 600/625 men-at-arms, 5000/6000 Italian foot soldiers, 4000 Spaniards, 4000/6500 Landsknechts, and 2000/2500 Swiss mercenaries. He spends several days around the city, waiting for additional reinforcements, disrupting the enemy by diverting streams and destroying mills. He also sends 200 light cavalry to Mantova, along with 2000 provisions and artillery, to meet the German foot soldiers and Grisons who are descending from Trento towards the Baldo range. When these troops do not appear sufficient for his intended purpose, he dispatches Guido Rangoni and Luigi Gonzaga to reinforce them. All these measures prove futile because the Venetians do not possess sufficient forces to hinder the advance of the 6000 foot soldiers. Upon the arrival of Ferdinando d’Avalos, he establishes his camp at Corte San Martino on the road from Parma to Colorno and the Po River. He refrains from besieging Parma, mainly due to the lack of substantial artillery pieces. Furthermore, his ongoing disputes with d’Avalos paralyze any concerted action, despite the mediation efforts of the Papal commissioner Francesco Guicciardini. Several more days pass before two pieces of artillery are finally sent from Bologna.
Aug.EmiliaHe sets up camp in front of the Porta di Santa Croce in Parma. Ferdinando d’Avalos, with the artillery, attempts to create the conditions for an attack on the city through intense bombardments. Lautrec (500 lances and 7000 Swiss foot soldiers, plus another 4000 led by Saint-Pol) and the Venetians (400 men-at-arms and 4000 foot soldiers) under the command of Teodoro da Trivulzio and the General Provveditore Andrea Gritti, have ample time to gather their forces and halt at Zibello.
Sept.EmiliaThe Imperial forces diligently dig trenches and mine shafts around Parma. Due to the artillery fire from Guido Rangoni, the defenders abandon Codiponte and retreat across the river in an orderly fashion. The Imperial troops launch assaults on the outer suburbs, plundering them. However, the sudden approach of Lautrec to the Taro River and Alfonso d’Este’s capture of Finale Emilia and San Felice sul Panaro persuade Prospero Colonna to abandon the initiative. The German foot soldiers mutiny, leading to the dismissal of their captains due to excessive demands. Prospero Colonna decides to cross the Enza River and does not attempt to disrupt the enemy army’s supply lines with timely raids by light cavalry. A new action against Piacenza, where he sends exiles with Ettore Visconti and Pietro Buso Scotti as scouts, proves unsuccessful. Similarly, an initiative by Giovanni dei Medici (200 light cavalry and 300 Spanish foot soldiers) aimed at destroying the bridge of boats constructed by the French in Cremona also fails.
Oct.Emilia, LombardyFinally, he heads towards San Lazzaro Alberoni, crossing the Po River at Brescello on a makeshift bridge of boats. He proceeds to Casalmaggiore without facing an attack from Lautrec. He dispatches Vitello Vitelli with 150 men-at-arms, 150 light cavalry, and 2000 foot soldiers hired by the Florentines to reinforce the defense of Modena. Simultaneously, his disagreements with d’Avalos escalate, despite attempts at mediation by the Papal legate, Cardinal Giulio dei Medici, in Casalmaggiore.
From this location, he approaches the Cremonese region along the Oglio River, reaching the river in five stages. A dispute arises between Italians and Spaniards at Corte de’ Frati. Colonna then proceeds to Bordolano, where he receives information about the proximity of French and Venetian forces. Realizing he is outnumbered, he decides to wait for the recently hired 10,000 Swiss mercenaries by Pope Leo X. He also notes increasing desertions among his ranks and a shortage of essential supplies.
He silently crosses the Po River, arrives at Gabbioneta, and halts at Ostiano to await the arrival of the Swiss mercenaries. Two bridges are constructed over the Oglio River.
Nov.LombardyThe 4000 infantry from Zurich distance themselves from the French army due to delayed payments and their reluctance to fight against their fellow countrymen who serve with the Papal forces. Colonna can now advance to Gerolanuova and cross the Oglio River under heavy artillery fire originating from Orzinuovi. With confidence, he moves towards the Adda River with 1500 lances and 20,000 infantry, encountering minimal resistance from the enemy, who have only 1200 lances and 8000 infantry at their disposal. He reaches Vailate and crosses the river between Rivolta d’Adda and Cassano d’Adda.
Remaining hidden from d’Avalos, some companies of Italian infantry under the command of Medici ford the river at Vaprio d’Adda, overcoming resistance from Ugo Pepoli and Lescun. Prospero Colonna reaches Pandino, advances towards Melegnano and the Abbey of Chiaravalle Milanese, and forces Lautrec to retreat into Milan. Leading the vanguard, he attacks the city near Porta Romana, while the Marquess of Pescara conducts a nighttime assault between Porta Romana and Porta Ticinese. Other attacks are launched by arquebusiers at Porta Ludovica and Porta Vigentina.
The Venetian infantry guarding Porta Romana flee, followed promptly by the Swiss mercenaries. Colonna enters Milan through Porta Ticinese with Federico Gonzaga and Cardinal Legate Giuliano dei Medici. The French, on the other hand, take refuge in the Sforza Castle. From this point onward, the rift with d’Avalos becomes irreparable because the condottiero no longer wishes to obey his orders. On one occasion, he even draws his sword, as if intending harm.
As on previous occasions, Colonna fails to capitalize on victory. He does not pursue Lautrec, who retreats towards Cremona, nor does he attempt to capture Trezzo sull’Adda, despite sending artillery there. His focus is solely on strengthening his position in Milan, anticipating a counteroffensive from the adversaries. He maintains good relations with the Venetians.
Dec.LombardyHe enters Lodi with 725 lances, 750 light cavalry, and 10,000 infantry, and he orders the release of all prisoners captured in the Bergamo region by Bartolomeo da Villachiara without a ransom. He proceeds to Comazzo alongside the Marquess of Pescara.
With the sudden death of Pope Leo X, the College of Cardinals compels him to release Cardinal Bonifacio Ferrera of Ivrea. Colonna had previously arrested the cardinal for being excessively pro-French while he was en route to the conclave.
1522
Jan.LombardyHe dedicates his efforts to strengthening the defenses of Milan. Engaging in a series of operations, he secures the loyalty oath of the Swiss captains then in the city and releases all prisoners without demanding any ransom. Additionally, he returns 30 mules to Giano Fregoso, which had been taken by some Spanish foot soldiers earlier.
He sends Filippo Tornielli with 2000 infantry to guard Novara and Antonio di Leyva with 2000 German infantry and 1000 Italians to guard Pavia. He himself remains in Milan with 700 men-at-arms, 700 light cavalry, and 12,000 infantry. He continues to besiege the French in the Sforza Castle, constructing trenches fortified with palisades all around it.
Mar.LombardyHe dispatches 1000 Corsican infantry and some Spaniards to reinforce the defense of Pavia, which is under siege by the adversaries. However, he finds himself trapped in Milan by a force of 23,000 men, while he commands only 13,000 troops. Additionally, Giovanni dei Medici is now among the adversaries.
Apr.LombardyDescending from the Valtellina to reinforce his troops are 6000 Landsknechts hired by the Sforza family and led by Giorgio Frundsberg. Prospero Colonna moves towards Pavia and positions himself at the Certosa di Pavia, near Lautrec (Odet de Foix), who has laid siege to the city. He clashes with the men-at-arms and light cavalry under Teodoro da Trivulzio and routs them. Lautrec abandons the siege of Milan and turns his focus towards Lardirago and Monza, while Colonna returns to Milan.
At the end of the month, the decisive battle between the two armies takes place at the Bicocca. Colonna is attacked in his fortified camp, protected in the front by a sunken road acting as a moat, on the right and rear by two ditches, and on the left by a marsh. Behind the moat, Colonna places the artillery and 4000 Spanish arquebusiers. Behind them are two squares of 6000 pikemen each, consisting of German and Spanish infantry commanded by Frundsberg and Ferdinando d’Avalos. Further back is the heavy cavalry, consisting of 400 men-at-arms, and finally, the Milanese militias guard the flanks and rear of the fortified camp.
The Swiss mercenaries become agitated due to delayed payments and present the French with an ultimatum: either they receive their discharge or engage in battle. In these conditions, Lautrec is forced to yield to their demands, leading to a disastrous frontal assault launched by the Swiss and Venetian heavy cavalry, accompanied by a complementary action on the right flank of the Spanish troops by 300 men-at-arms, comprising both French and Venetians. There are 1000 light cavalry in reserve, along with 6000 Venetian pikemen, 2000 arquebusiers from the Black Bands (Landsknechts), and a heterogeneous mix of 7000 Swiss and Italian infantry.
The Swiss advance boldly towards the moat with limited artillery support, overcoming the first lines and coming into contact with the two squares commanded by Frundsberg and d’Avalos, respectively. They soon find themselves without the support of the cavalry because Lescun, who leads the 300 men-at-arms, is forced to retreat in the face of the resistance from the Milanese troops under Francesco Sforza. The Swiss are repelled with significant losses, losing 3000 men and 22 captains against a small number of Spanish casualties.
As is often the case, Colonna fails to exploit the victory and does not pursue the fleeing enemy, as Marquess of Pescara had intended. The reason for this lies in a mutinous movement among the Landsknechts, who demand double pay.
MayLombardyHe proceeds to Trezzo sull’Adda and requests 3000 ducats from Francesco Sforza to compensate for the damages suffered by his supply wagons and two months’ pay for his men. He crosses the river and attacks Cremona. Lescun surrenders on the condition that no reinforcements will arrive by June.
JuneLombardy, Piedmont, LiguriaDespite opposition from Medici, Lescun surrenders. Colonna overcomes some temporary difficulties due to the usual delay in payments. He moves to Piedmont, where he negotiates for Novara. Then, he advances towards Saluzzo, disbanding 1500 Landsknechts, and turns his attention to Genoa, defended by 2000 Italian infantry and Pietro Navarro. He camps in Marassi and Bisagno with his men-at-arms and German infantry, while the Marquess of Pescara positions himself with Spanish and Italian infantry near Capo di Faro.
The city walls are heavily bombarded by d’Avalos, and negotiations for surrender begin with the Genoese, on the condition that no reinforcements arrive within forty days. Prospero Colonna moves with Francesco Sforza in front of the Porta dell’Arco and participates in the assault on the city. Simultaneously, the Spanish take advantage of the defenders’ negligence, scale the walls, enter Genoa, and plunder it. Colonna’s men also overcome the resistance of the defenders at Porta San Tommaso and Porta delle Vacche.
The German infantry engages in a brutal pillaging that spares neither churches nor monasteries for four days. Doge Ottaviano Fregoso, who had been suffering from gout for many days, is found in his bed in the Ducal Palace. Declared a prisoner by the Marquess of Pescara, he is led through the city on the back of a mule. He is handed over to an Adorno partisan with instructions to deliver him to the Viceroy of Naples.
JulyPiedmont, LombardyHe operates in the Saluzzo and Monferrato regions, imposing heavy levies on the inhabitants. He ravages the countryside of Mombello Monferrato until the Marquess of Monferrato delivers 25,000 ducats to him. Colonna arrives in Carmagnola and Chieri, where he is equipped with twelve pieces of artillery, 500 men-at-arms, 800 light cavalry, 6000 Landsknechts, and 4000 Spanish soldiers. He then proceeds to Moncalieri and Carignano.
He reaches Pavia and Belgioioso, where he escorts 470 French men-at-arms and 1000 infantry, who have just left Cremona as per the agreements and are heading beyond the Ticino River. He stops in Asti for several days to block the passage of a French contingent led by Claudio di Longueville, which advances as far as Villanova Monferrato but soon returns to the French side of the Alps.
Aug.LiguriaHe returns to Genoa to pay his respects to the new Pope Adrian VI, who hails from Tortosa. Colonna and the Marquess of Pescara attempt to greet the pontiff, but their acts of homage are rejected due to the plundering allowed by their soldiers in Genoa.
Nov.Lombardy, PiedmontHe proceeds to Vigevano and then to Alessandria.
Dec.PallaviciniChurchEmiliaHe sends Giovanni Coscia to assist Luigia Pallavicini, who is under attack by the Papal forces in her holdings in Castel San Giovanni. His men enter the city and inflict heavy casualties on the enemies. In the same month, 500 infantry from his companies seize Carpi, expelling Alberto and Lionello Pio from the town.
1523
Jan.EmiliaHe secures the castle of Novi di Modena and is proclaimed by Charles V as the Lord of Carpi, at the expense of Alberto Pio, who is aligned with the French and Pope Clement VII.
Mar.Piedmont, LombardyInitially, he operates in the Monferrato region. He then travels to Milan, where, along with Girolamo Morone, he conducts negotiations for the surrender of the defenders of the Sforza Castle.
Aug.SpainFrancePiedmont, LombardyDue to pressure from Cardinal dei Medici, the Papal authorities do not renew his generalship over their troops. Colonna falls ill at the Novara camp and is forced to return to Milan for treatment. His troops are protected by dei Medici, who, with two squadrons of cavalry, confronts the enemy vanguard, giving them the necessary time to organize an orderly retreat. He loses Carpi to Lionello Pio, who takes advantage of the lax surveillance by Giovanni Coscia.
Sept.LombardyHe arrests the Bishop of Alessandria, Pallavicino Visconti, in the fortress of Cremona. Pallavicino is the brother of Ettore, who was killed some time ago by Girolamo Morone on orders from the Duke of Milan. Although informed of the alliance between the Imperial forces and the Venetians against the French, Colonna does not diligently and swiftly organize the defense of the duchy.
He positions his army (6000 Lombard infantry and 1000 men-at-arms) between Abbiategrasso, Buffalora, and Turbigo. When repelled, he strengthens his position between Pavia and Bereguardo. Only when the French cross the Ticino River does he send Antonio di Leyva to Pavia with 100 men-at-arms and 3000 infantry. He withdraws to Milan with 6000 Spanish infantry, 4000 Italians, and the Landsknechts.
Milan is besieged, and the French captain sets up camp at San Cristoforo, between Porta Ticinese and Porta Romana, as well as at the Abbey of Chiaravalle Milanese. He prohibits any skirmishes with the enemy, sends Federico Gonzaga to Pavia to cut off the enemy’s supply routes, leaves a small garrison in Cremona, and asks Vitello Vitelli to abandon Genoa and relocate to the area around Alessandria to obstruct the enemy’s supply flow from that direction. Colonna obtains 400 light cavalry and 500 infantry from the Venetians and deploys them in Trezzo sull’Adda.
Oct.LombardyTo sway his old friend Alfonso d’Este away from the alliance with the French, Colonna promises him Modena in exchange for 50,000 ducats. To achieve this, he orders Guido Rangoni to leave the city and go to Milan with his men. However, Rangoni refuses to obey his order, citing that Modena belongs to the Papal State.
In Milan, Colonna now commands 800 men-at-arms, 800 light cavalry, 5000 Spanish infantry, 6000 Germans, and 4000 Italians. On the other hand, Bonnivet has 800 light cavalry, 6000 Swiss troops, 2000 Italians, and 10,000 infantry, including Gascons and French soldiers, stationed in Chiaravalle Milanese. Additional enemy contingents are deployed at the Ticino bridge, Abbiategrasso, Novara, and between Lodi and Alessandria.
Nov.LombardyAs the French retreat due to the harsh winter, Prospero Colonna, true to his temperament, does not pursue the enemy to avoid tempting fate. Instead, he negotiates a truce with Galeazzo Visconti, the father of his recent lover, Chiara Visconti, and with the General of Normandy, Tommaso Bohier. When the truce is rejected, he sends Anchise Visconti to defend Arona.
Dec.LombardyHe becomes seriously ill and is forced to relinquish command to Fernando Alarcon. He dies in Milan, near the current Hotel Clemenceau, under suspicion of poisoning or due to a medication taken to enhance his virility. Initially, he is buried in the city in the Church of San Nazzaro. Later, his body is interred in Fondi, in the Olivetan monastery of San Magno, which he had rebuilt along with the nearby church.
Prospero Colonna is remembered in various novellas by Matteo Bandello for his worldly splendors, witty sayings, and the multitude of captains and gentlemen who surrounded him. His portrait can be found in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, by Antonio Maria Crespi; in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, by Cristofano dell’Altissimo; and in the Colonna Gallery and Palazzo Colonna in Rome, by an anonymous artist. He was married first to Covella da San Severino and then to Isabella Carafa, from the Counts of Maddaloni. His name also appears as a character in the video game “Assassin’s Creed.”

Sources

-“Capitano di alta fede, prudenza e disciplina ed anche di molta fama: quantunque in realtà fosse atto ad evitare sconfitte, che a conseguire vittorie. Morendo lasciò eziandio il nome, benché non affatto a ragione, di essere stato il primo a ben conoscere e praticare i modi di difendere e di espugnare le piazze secondo l’arte novella.” RICOTTI

-“Capitano, certamente in tutta la sua età, di chiaro nome, ma salito negli ultimi anni della vita in grandissima riputazione e autorità; perito dell’arte militare e in quella di grandissima esperienza; ma non era pronto a pigliare con celerità l’occasioni che gli potessono porgere i disordini o la debolezza degli inimici, come anche per il suo procedere cautamente non lasciava facile a loro l’occasione di opprimere lui; lentissimo per natura nelle sue azioni e a cui tu dia meritatamente il titolo di cunctatore: ma se gli debbe la laude d’avere amministrato le guerre più co’ consigli che con la spada, e insegnato a difendere gli stati senza esporsi, se non per necessità, alla fortuna de’ fatti d’arme…Difese due volte..il ducato di Milano.. e offendendo e difendendo, coll’impedire agli inimici le vettovaglie, con l’allungare la guerra, tanto che ‘l tedio la lunghezza la povertà i disordini gli consumavano; e vinse e difese senza tentare giornata, senza combattere, non traendo non che altro fuori la spada, non rompendo una sola lancia: onde aperta la via da lui a quegli che seguitorno, molte guerre, continuate molto mesi, si sono vinte più con la industria con l’arti con la elezione provida de’ vantaggi, che con l’armi…. Innanzi al 1494 erano le guerre lunghe, le giornate non sanguinose, e modi dello espugnare terre lenti e difficili; e se bene erano già in uso le artiglierie, si maneggiavano con sì poca attitudine che non offendevano molto: in modo che, chi aveva uno stato, era quasi impossibile lo perdessi. Vennono e Franzesi in Italia e introdussono nelle guerre tanta vivezza: in modo che insino al ’21, perduta la campagna, era perduto lo stato. Primo el signor Prospero, cacciandosi a difesa di Milano, insegnò frustrare gli impeti degli esserciti, in modo che da questo essemplo è tornata a chi è padrone degli stati la medesima sicurtà che era innanzi al ’94, ma per diverse ragione: procedeva allora da non avere bene gli uomini l’arte de l’offendere, ora procede dall’avere bene l’arte del difendere.” GUICCIARDINI

-“Gian Paolo Vitelli and Prospero Colonna, two of the most famous of the condottieri of the period we are examining, were noted for their opinion that wars are won rather than by industry and cunning than by the actual ckash of arms.” TAYLOR

-“(Lasciò) eterna memoria delle sue gloriose attioni; havendo insegnato i posteri in che modo si fa a vincere i nemiici senza sfodrar la spada e senza sparger il sangue, ma solo con la prudenza temporeggiare.” LAZARI

“Humanistically educated, he is supposed to have applied his classical learning to the military problems he faced….The historian Francesco Guicciardini praised the Italian commander Prospero Colonna as “the delayer” (after Fabius Cunctator, the cautious Roman general who outlested Hannibal) in the context of a discussion of how strategy had become, by the 1550s, more important than feats of arms Colonna’s siege of Milan in 1525 was supposed to have been informed by Julius Caesar’s ancient reduction of Alesia.” ARNOLD

-“Malgrado gli anni..appariva, più che altri mai, spedito e destro cavaliere di galanti imprese. Quando era in Napoli dicevano che avesse spasimato, ma indarno, per Isabella d’Aragona, ed il cronista dice:”A maggior parte del viver suo dispensa in veder visitare e seguire la duchessa di Milano”; adesso nella città dove la figliuola di Alfonso II, vedova dell’infelice Galeazzo Sforza, aveva sfolgorato di bellezza giovanile sul trono ducale, il vecchio capitano abbandonavasi a nuovi amori. E vinto ai vezzi di Chiara Visconti “famosa per la forma egregia del corpo”, non rimase insensibile a quelli di Giulia e Bianca dei Maino anch’esse vaghe oltremodo.” DE BLASIS

-“In Prospero Colonna furono di grandissimo splendore una singolare altezza e grande e salda prudenza d’animo temperato, una incredibile autorità e una disciplina più tosto religiosa che severa, con un certo perpetuo terrore di molto delicata vita. Ma quando per altro non fosse, per questo almeno sarà egli sempiternamente lodato che, come ben convenne a un capitano di sangue romano, sì come amorevolissimo della patria, con instituto tanto pietoso, quanto con impperio severo ne’ soldati massimamente stranieri, tenne sempre lontano gli incommodi della guerra..Huomo non meno religioso che savio, e in ogni consiglio temperato..Il quale per prudenza e arte di general Capitano, non era riputato inferiore a veruno…. In costui che fu nobilissimo fra tutti i baroni Romani, si vide sempre la riputatione d’un gravissimo e considerato Capitano, la quale senza dubbio è riputata d’alcuni che si possa paragonare all’antico valor Romano. Percioche in lui si trovava molto vigore di consiglio militare: honorava bontà d’animo costante, et animo temperato, et desideroso del giusto et dell’honesto. Perché non fu mai nessuno che più temperatamente di lui maneggiasse l’armi tra huomini ancor partiali, nessuno più amorevolmente di lui risparmiò il sangue de’ soldati: e nessun finalmente con maggior astinenza conservò le facultà de gli huomini innocenti e specialmente de’ contadini dalla licenza de’ soldati.” GIOVIO

-“Il quale uomo per la sua natural tardità e femezza di giudizio e sempre perpetua autorità aveva acquistato nome di grandissimo capitano.” MURATORI

-“Uomo nelel cose della guerra di grandissima autorità e riputazione.” VARCHI

-“E’tait un général fort habile, surtout dans la guerre défensive. Il se postait bien, manoeuvrait savamment, et il se rendait capable de l’emporter sur ses ennemis beaucoup moins par la valeur ou la supériorité de ses troupes que par l’art qu’il mettait à les placer, à les conduire, à les angager.” MIGNET

-“S’abbandonò costui più del convenevole nelle cose carnali e concupiscibili, facendo notomia di gran donne e belle in Milano, le quali riscaldate dai baci francesi, non era uopo lungo travaglio per conquistarle. Et amando costui Giulia e Bianca del Maino sorelle giovani e belle oltremodo et istimate dalla Polizza (la Palisse) e lo Scudo (Lescun) fe opera che tocca e punta la duchessa (Isabella d’Aragona) di gelosia, si querela con lui, ed egli si scusa scrivendole, che più di concupiscenza che di amore altri potea incolparlo.” FILONICO

-“Era il primo capitanio di Italia.” SANUDO

-“Questi havendo più spesso co’l consiglio, che con la spada vinti i nemici, s’haveva nelle cose militari acquistata grandissima lode di valore, e di prudenza.” PARUTA

-“Huomo di singolar prudenza, e scienza nel trattar la guerra,” ALBERTI

-“Di libertà di dire, e di grandezza d’animo avanzò cadaun Capitano della sua età.” DE’ CRESCENZI

-“Grand capitaine romaine.” DU BELLAY

-“In tre imprese di guerra il primo loco/ Dianzi a tre Duci havea la fama dato:/ A Fabio trattenere a poco a poco,/ a Pirrho d’accampar forte e guardato,/ A Marcello attaccare il fiero gioco,/ Et mostrar forza e consiglio honorato/ Hor fu Prospero solo à tempi nostri,/ Quel c’hebber tutti e d’haver dimostri.” M.A. Casanova. Da un sonetto raccolto dal GIOVIO

-“Generale veruno non conobbe mai al pare di lui la grand’arte di affaticare il nemico. Era eccellente nella scelta delle posizioni e nella combinazione delle marcie. Avea per massima di nulla accordare al caso; e questa prudenza davagli nella guerra un vantaggio sopra tutti quelli che si espongono ad imprese ardite, e strepitose.” LAUGIER

-“Si mostrò fin dalla fanciullezza ardentissimo nell’inclinatione verso la guerra, onde acquistò la gloria, dopo molti serviggi sotto a Carlo, d’esser posto nel numero de’ primi guerrieri del suo tempo..Uno de’ più conspicui e di più valorosi Capitani del suo secolo.” LETI

-“Nobilissimo tra’ Capitani de’ suoi tempi..Era Prospero di persona alta, e di volto rubicondo, gli occhi havea neri, la barba rossa e i capelli castagnicci.” ROSCIO

-“Il più abile tra i generali d’Italia. La sua lunga sperienza e la estrema sua circospezione lo rendevano l’uomo il più capace di opporsi all’impeto de’ Francesi.” ROBERTSON

-“Huomo veramente di nobilissimo animo, oltra il suo gran valore et grande esperienza delle cose della guerra, et quello, che sopra ogni altro principe Italiano fu sempre geloso dell’honore della sua natione, et che, non mancando della fedeltà che doveva al suo re, in ogni occasione si sforzò sempre inalzarla et favorirla, et per la sua autorità haveva acquistato nome di grandissimo Capitano, et per la sua morte dispiacque molto all’Italia, et specialmente all’imperadore, che per le sue virtù et gran valore l’amava molto.” ULLOA

-“A’ suoi giorni fu il più gran capitano..Era sommamente perito nell’arte di vincere senza battersi, giammai volendo affidarsi al caso. Stancava il nemico in modo che le forze di lui si consumavano senz’ottener un effetto. Nessuno meglio di lui conosceva l’arte della difesa e quella di creare o per lo meno accrescere le proprie forze alla strategia. Scarsi mezzi gli bastavano per battersi contro un esercito forte, e dileguandosi alla vista del nemico or con finte marce, or con stratagemmi, terminava senpre coll’uscir vittorioso.” LITTA

-“Famoso e illustre Capitano..Era in costui molto vigor di consiglio militare, honorata bontà d’animo costante, animo temperato e desideroso dello honesto e del giusto.” SANSOVINO

-“Era tenuto di gran prudentia e giudicio nelle cose militari.” TARCAGNOTA

“De gli eccellenti Capitani.” ROSEO

-“Viro accuratissimo bellicae artis scientissimus..ingenio pollens et bellica virtute clarus.” ARLUNO

-Con Cesare Fieramosca e Silvio Savelli “Celebris nominis, ductoribus.” FARINA

-“Uno de’ più grandi capitani che vantò l’Italia ne’ secoli XV e XVI.” BOSI

-“Fu Prospero gravissimo e considerato capitano, peroché in lui si trovò molto vigore di consiglio militare, honorata bontà d’animo costante, animo temperato, desideroso del giusto e dell’honesto intanto che non fu mai nessuno che più temperatamente di lui maneggiasse l’armi tra huomini, ancorche partiali, nessuno più amorevole di lui risparmiò il sangue de’ soldati, e nessuno finalmente con maggiore astinenza conservò le facultà degli huomini innocenti, e specialmente de’ cittadiini dalla licenza de’ soldati.” MAZZELLA

-“Uno de’ più valorosi ed esperimentati Capitani d’Italia.” ROSMINI

-“Cui et rei militaris scientia et aetate rerum summa deferebatur.” CAPELLA

-Con Fabrizio Colonna “Due chiari lumi della famiglia Colonna.” CANTALICIO

-“Peritissimo delle cose militari.” A. MOROSINI

-“Buen capitan..Hizo el emperador general en Italia a Prospero Colona, por la calidad de su persona y sangre tan ilustre y clara, por las hazanas que por largos anos tenias heches en la guerra, por las canas venerables y larga esperiencia que adornaban su ilustrisima persona y la hacian digna de el junto con la fidelidad y amor con que servia a la casa de Espana.” SANDOVAL

-“Contra Francesi nel ducato di Milano tenne un modo di guerreggiare che schifò i due estremi, l’uno di commetter la somma del tutto alla fortuna della battaglia, specialmente contra natione che molto vale ne’ primi impeti, e l’altro di chiudersi affatto in una città con tutte le sue forze; onde si viene a perdere la reputatione, l’obedienza e il paese.” M. SAVORGNANO

-Con Fabrizio Colonna “Bello insignes.” ALBINO

-“Illustre condottiere.” PELISSIER

-“Valentissimo homo et savio et richo de intracta ogni anno de duchati charanta milia.” CASTELLAR

-Con Fabrizio Colonna “Erano allora fra i condottieri generalmente più accreditati.” SHAW

“Peritissimo Capitano.” MAFFEI

-“Illustre signore.” NOTAR GIACOMO

-“Capittaneo valente et homo de ingenio.” GRUMELLO

-Con Fabrizio Colonna “Ont estez toujours estimez aussy bons capitaines mais ilz furent blamez d’un des plus grands vices qui soient au monde, qui est l’ingratitude.” (Da solo) “Ont dict que ç’a esté luy le premier qui a donné les invantations de fortifier bien des places; M. de Langeay le dict aussy en son livre de l’Art militaire, et aussy pour les bien garder et romparer au dedans, et les opiniastrer.” BRANTOME

-“…Homo assai valente/…/ El savio signor Prospero colonese/ non refudò lo invito per niente/ la lancia abassa et col cavallo se stese/incontro all’alviano cola sua gente/ nel campo venetiano questo se mese/ che drago mai non credo né serpente/ menasse al paro a lui simel furore/ però che seco aveva del campo el fiore.” DELLA ROTONDA

-“El signor Prospero quella francha lanza/ presto a sua gente sì cridava forte/ fratelli inanzi ch’io ho buona speranza/ di redur li nemici a trista sorte/ ponse (spinge) il cavallo che già non fu zanza/ la gente el segue quel baron accorto/ dicendo o tutti el ce convien morire/ o la vittoria nostra conseguire.” BARBIERE

-Alla battaglia di Creazzo “El Signor Prospero non potea soffrire/ Lo assalto più de la Marchesca gente/ Non che li manchi l’animo e l’ardire/ Se ben cognosce al tutto esser perdente/ Pur como franco & generoso sire/ Crida il feroce molto asperamente/ Getando in terra assai de quilli Macheschi/ Se ben la resposta fan maneschi.” Da “Guerre orrende d’Italia” in GUERRE IN OTTAVA RIMA

-“Poi intrò Prosper Colonna/ Bene armato su l’arcione,/ Che per casa di Aragona/ Facto ha già gran destruzione:/ Ben pareva un Scipione/ O un forte Anibalo,/ Mai menava colpo in fallo/ Con la spada insanguinata/ Zena son la tribolata!.” Da un lamento per il sacco di Genova riportato da MEDIN-FRATI

-“Soldato esemplare e fedele servitore della corona (di Spagna)…L’unico sytatega militare alla sua altezza (Consalvo di Cordoba) in quegli anni e, peraltro, profondo coscitore degli arcani della politica romaana.” RUIZ-DOMENEC

-“El quale era gran valentomo e in questi fati d’arme (Creazzo) se portò virilmente.” BUZZACCARINI

-“Un discepolo italiano di Consalvo di Cordoba.” SCARDIGLI

-“La sua mirabil presenza, il volto d’una tinta pallida ed un po’ brunetta, con alta fronte che mostrava esser sede di fortezza e di senno non ordinari, inspiravan quella riverenza che si tributa più alle doti che ai favori della fortuna e della nascita. Aveva ciglia folte, barbetta alla spagnuola, ed un muover d’occhio tardo e risguardato, che lo dava a conoscere autorevole e potente signore.” D’AZEGLIO

-“Tanta fu l’eco delle sue vittorie che Guicciardini, guardando nella sua “Storia d’Italia” alle vicende tra i due secoli, vi riconobbe la figura chiave della storia militare del suo tempo: se l’arrivo di Carlo VIII aveva sconvolto le armi italiane, dimostrando una potenzialità offensiva prima impensabile, al Colonna spettava il merito di aver adeguato le armi di difesa a quelle di offesa, riportando quindi la strategia del tempo a quella raffinata bilancia di azioni che era stata tipica della guerra del Quattrocento.” TANZINI

-“Uno dei condottieri famosi del tempo.” MONTANARI

-Da una canzone francese del tempo riguardo la sua cattura a Villafranca Piemonte “Le maréchal de la Palice,/ qui volontiers son corps traveille/ et ne dort pas quand le chat veille,/ à un diner prit Prospère/ Coulonne et d’autres étrangers.”

-“Offrì il 20 febbraio 1515 nella città lombarda un magnifico convito, che rimase nelle cronache. Infatti alla fine della raffinatissima cena, fu introdotto nella sala del convito un giovane che si fingeva gioielliere, dal quale il Colonna fece vista di comprare tutte le gioie che portava seco, donandole alle dame convenute; ad ognuna di esse il giorno dopo egli mandò un dolce di zucchero. Si disse che tutto ciò era stato da lui fatto per poter donare un gioiello alla donna che amava. Si sa del resto che il Colonna, che viveva lontano dalla moglie da moltissimi anni, fu un uomo galante. Nota è pure la sua relazione con Isabella, duchessa di Bari, e il giudizio del contemporaneo Giovio fu che egli “matronarum amoribus intemperanter indulsisse”;..lo storico Gaudenzio Merula, di poco a lui posteriore, lo definì nella sua Cronica “ad amores mulierum etiam senex propensus…Fu con Bartolomeo d’Alviano il maggior capitano dei suoi tempi e di lui rimase confermato il giudizio del Guicciardini “Capitano..certamente, in tutta la sua età, di chiaro nome, ma salito negli ultimi anni della vita in grandissima riputazione e autorità”, perito ed esperto, ma non pronto ad afferrare le occasioni favorevoli, come del resto per la sua circospezione a non porgerne ai nemici, prudentissimo guerreggiò “più co’ consigli che con la spada”, non esponendosi per quanto possibile all’alea della battaglia.” F. PETRUCCI 

-“Nobilissimo tra i Capitani de’ suoi tempi..Era Prospero di persona alta, e di volto rubicondo: gli occhi havea neri: la barba rossa: e i capelli castagnicci.” CAPRIOLO

-“Tanto celebre per le volanti penne d’Italia mercé l’azzioni illustri militari, e le grandezze del suo magnanimo cuore…Con la zazzera lunga a questo modo, e quasi ricciuta, con un aspetto un poco rozzo d’antica bontà, ma che però negl’occhi, mostrava un certo di nobile, e militare, armato ancora con queste medesime insegne…In costui che fu nobilissimo fra tutti i baroni Romani, si vide sempre la riputatione di un gravissimo, e considerato Capitano, la qual cosa senza dubio, e reputata d’alcuni, che si possa paragonar all’antico valoe Romano. Percioche in lui si trovava molto vigore di consiglio militare; honorata bontà d’animo costante & temperato desiderio del giusto, e dello honesto. Percé non fu mai nessuno che più temperatamente di lui manegiasse l’armi tra huomini ancorché partiali, nessuno più amorevolmente di lui risparmiò il sangue de’ soldati, e nessuno finalmente con maggior astinenza conservò la facoltà degli huomini innocenti, e specialmente da’ Contadini dalla licenza de’ soldati. ” MUGNOS

-“Vieux capitaine axpérimenté.” LOT

-Suoi rapporti con Fabrizio Colonna “Tenian Prospero, y Fabricio tanta emulation entre si, siendo primos hermanos, que fueron las dos senaladas personas, que hubo en sus tiempos en Italia, que aunque para conversarse, y contra sus enemigos, o para ganar de otros eran una misma cosa; en lo secreto se quieran tan mal, que peor no podia ser: y en tanta envidia estaba el uno del otro, que no podia ser mayor.” ZURITA

-“Maitre de la guerre de manoeuvre, désirant vaincre en souffrant le moins de pertes possible.” DUC

-“Fu con Bartolomeo d’Alviano il maggior capitano italiano dei suoi tempi e di lui rimane confermato il giudizio di Guicciardini: perito ed esperto, ma non pronto ad afferrare le occasioni favorevoli, come del resto per la sua circospezione a non porgersi ai nemici. Prudentissimo personaggio guerreggiò “più co’ consigli che con la spada”, non esponendosi per quanto possibile all’alea della battaglia.” WIKIPEDIA

-Epigrafi collocate a Fondi nel chiostro del monastero di San Magno, nella cui chiesa è collocata  la sua tomba e nella facciata della  stessa chiesa. “Qui legis contemplare/ Prosper Columna Fundorum comes, Trajecti/ dux, regiique imperator exercitus,/ domicilium hoc a fundamentis erexit,/ qui ab armis hic locum, in coelum/ autem aliud sibi collocavit. A.D.MD” “Prosper Columna templum hoc divo/ Magno dicatum, vetustate fere/ collapsum a fundamentis instauravit/ A.D. MDXVI”. Più tardi Filippo Colonna farà collocare un suo busto in Paliano con la seguente iscrizione “Quisquis vides Prosperum Columnam/ hic vides Quintum Fabium Maximum ejus aetatis,/ Testes amplissimae victoriae in Neapolitano regno/ ac praecipue per Insubriam reportatae,/ in quibus ille et partibus rem, et patriae/ veterem laudem cunctando restituit.”

Featured image: Wikimedia
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Roberto Damiani
Roberto Damiani
Roberto Damiani è l'autore del sito Condottieri di ventura.