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Roberto of San Severino: Ambition and Skill in 15th Century Italy

Italian CondottieriRoberto of San Severino: Ambition and Skill in 15th Century Italy

Roberto of San Severino was turbulent, ambitious, and accustomed to stirring troubled waters for his own interests. A politician and one of the most skilled and prestigious Italian commanders. In any case, he was the last of the great condottieri and one of the most esteemed figures of the fifteenth century.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Turbulent Life of Roberto of San Severino.

Robert of San Severino (Roberto da San Severino d’Aragona), Count of Caiazzo, Marquis of Castelnuovo Scrivia, Count of Colorno. Lord in the Salerno area of Albanella, Corleto Monforte, Roscigno Vecchio, Felitto, and Serre (Eboli). In northern Italy, he held dominion over Lugano, Mendrisio, Colorno, Castelnuovo Scrivia, Pontecurone, Cittadella, Montorio Veronese, Solaro, Corte Madama, and Villanova di Cassolnovo. Son of Leonetto da San Severino; father of 25 children, including Giovan Francesco of San Severino, Galeazzo of San Severino, Gaspare of San Severino, Antonio Maria of San Severino, Giulio of San Severino, Ottaviano of San Severino, and Il Faccendino; grandson of Francesco Sforza (son of his sister, Elisa); father-in-law of Francesco Maria Torelli, Cristoforo Torelli, Lucio Malvezzi, and Guido dei Rossi. Knight of the Order of the Ermine.

Born: 1418, May
Death: 1487, August

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
1440
JuneMilanFlorenceTuscanyHe follows Niccolò Piccinino into Tuscany. He participates in the Battle of Anghiari, where he is captured by the enemies.
1441
Feb.VeniceMilanLombardyHe enters the service of Francesco Sforza. He fights the Visconti in Lombardy on behalf of the Venetians. He follows Giovanni Sforza; he is defeated and captured by Niccolò Piccinino at Chiari.
MaySforzaNaplesAlfonso of Aragon (Alfonso d’Aragona) takes the County of Caiazzo from him after a brief siege.
1442
Mar.He is declared by Sforza to be his ally in the war against the Aragonese.
1443
JuneSforzaChurch, NaplesMarcheHe is put in charge of guarding Rocca Contrada (Arcevia).
Aug.MarcheAttacked by Niccolò Piccinino, he valiantly defends Arcevia. He is forced to surrender due to the opponents’ blockade of the city’s water supply.
Sept.RomagnaIn Rimini.
1447
…………NaplesFlorenceTuscanyHe receives confirmation from Prince of Salerno Roberto da San Severino that he is invested with Corneto. He confronts the Florentines in Tuscany.
Oct.MilanVeniceLombardyHe enters the pay of the Ambrosian Republic. He is sent by Sforza with Carlo di Campobasso to take possession of Pavia; Matteo da Bologna decides to personally surrender the citadel only into the hands of Sforza. San Severino is forced to comply with this wish.
Nov.EmiliaFrom November to December, he participates in the siege and occupation of Piacenza.
1448
Jan.PiedmontHe moves in the upper Novara area with Giovanni Sforza.
JuneLombardyTogether with Manno Barile, he switches to defending Cremona at the head of a cavalry troop.
Aug.LombardyHe lays siege to Caravaggio. Alongside Antonello da Corneto, he distinguishes himself in an attack carried out by Milanese and German harquebusiers and crossbowmen against the camp of Guido Rangoni.He lays siege to Caravaggio. Alongside Antonello da Corneto, he distinguishes himself in an attack carried out by Milanese and German harquebusiers and crossbowmen against the camp of Guido Rangoni.
Sept.LombardyHe takes part in the Battle of Caravaggio. Together with Corrado da Fogliano (infantry and four squadrons of cavalry), he initially defends the trenches held by Moretto da San Nazaro; he then stands out in the capture of the Venetian camp, also conducted with Fogliano.
1449
Feb.SforzaMilanLombardyDuring the siege of Milan, he positions himself with Amerigo, Bernabò, and Francesco da San Severino first at the Monastery of Baggio and then in front of the Vercellina and Comacina Gates.
MaySforzaMilanLombardyHe is tasked by Sforza with capturing Guglielmo di Monferrato near Pavia, as he is suspected of treason.
…………Switzerland, LombardyAlong with Giovanni Ventimiglia and Franchino Rusca, he penetrates the Lugano Valley with 4,000 troops, forcing Giovanni della Noce to retreat into Como. Leading 1,000 cavalry and an equal number of infantry, he storms into Pizzighettone with the help of the two castellans, Antonio and Ugolino Crivelli; there, he captures 500 horses and 300 infantrymen left there by Francesco and Jacopo Piccinino.
Dec.LombardyAlways on behalf of the Milanese, he connects with Giovanni, Stefano, and Gioffredi Marliani; together, they negotiate for the castle of Trezzo sull’Adda, guarded by Bonifacio, Roberto, and Isopino Villani. From there, he moves with Onofrio Rufaldo (six squadrons of cavalry and many infantry) to reclaim Monte Calco in Brianza, which was surprisingly occupied by Matteo da Sant’ Angelo with a contingent of Venetian infantry. He ascends the mountain by a long route and conquers its summit; however, his attacks on the Church of Saint Agnes are repelled. Peace is signed between the Ambrosian Republic and the Serene Republic; at the same time, a new conflict arises, pitting Sforza against the Venetians. Roberto da San Severino follows Sforza in his venture.
1450
Jan.LombardyHe is wounded in the arm during a skirmish near Calco.
Feb.LombardyHe returns to the siege of Milan, positioning himself at Vimercate. He blocks the road to enemy troops and hampers the provisioning of the city, while also damaging the surrounding territory. He is detached along with Giacomo da Salerno to be sent to the Monte di Brianza to engage the opponents with continuous and effective skirmishes. Finally, Milan rebels in favor of Sforza; still with Giacomo da Salerno, San Severino is now tasked with monitoring the movements of the opponents while Sforza can enter the city.
MayLombardyHe is in Lodi when Guglielmo di Monferrato formally renounces Alessandria and other locations in Piedmont.
1452
JulyMilanVeniceLombardyHe continues to serve under Sforza, now the Duke of Milan. Together with Bartolomeo Colleoni, he defeats the Venetians at Genivolta.
Oct.LombardyHe is present at Leno during a duel between two Sforza men-at-arms, Barone Manzolini and Il Picerio; he prevents the former from killing the latter.
Nov.LombardyHe moves in the territory of Asola. He then shifts to Montichiari where he clashes with Angelo Polibetti.
Dec.LombardyTogether with Bartolomeo Colleoni and Alessandro Sforza, he conquers Abbadia Cerreto. Numerous Venetians die in the conflict.
1453
Jan.LombardyHe opposes Jacopo Piccinino at Castiglione delle Stiviere; he pursues him when the rival decides to retreat; he heads to Carpenedolo where he clashes with Giannuzzo Guarini, Angelo Conti, Paolo della Rossa, and Lazzaro da Pontoglio.
MayLombardyHe is forced by Jacopo Piccinino to retreat into the Mantuan territory with Tristano Sforza.
JuneLombardyHe supports Sforza in his attack on the Brescia area. Leaving Pralboino, he occupies the boroughs of Ghedi, anticipating the actions of Piccinino; he connects with Tiberto Brandolini with whom he launches various assaults on the area. He raids the countryside up to the gates of Brescia; the booty is substantial. He intercepts several convoys of supplies headed for the Venetian camp.
Aug.LombardyHe sets an ambush for Jacopo Piccinino at Montirone; he defeats the opponents near Ghedi; he captures Castelleone from which he expels Matteo da Capua and Orso Orsini.
Oct.LombardyHe fights against Piccinino at Offlaga. The opposing commander is forced by the Sforza forces to adopt a defensive stance.
1454
Apr.EmiliaWith the signing of the peace treaty between the contenders, his troops are quartered in Emilia. Soon, the resources of the territory are depleted. The company is nearly besieged by the inhabitants of Villanova sull’Arda due to the abuses committed by his men.
Aug.MilanDuke of SavoyPiedmontRecalled to counter the troops of the Duke of Savoy, he crosses the Sesia and raids the territory with Tiberto Brandolini up to Vercelli: Bassignana, Valenza, and other centers return under the control of the Duke of Milan. In three days, he reclaims what the Savoyards have long occupied in the Novara and Pavia areas.
Sept. – Oct.Lombardy, EmiliaAt the end of the conflict, 270 horses from his companies are quartered in the Cremona area, 100 in that of Pandino, and 30 in the Parma area.
1455
Mar. – Apr.MilanComp. venturaEmiliaIn the Bologna area with Corrado da Fogliano to protect the countryside from the threats of Jacopo Piccinino, who is stationary in Romagna with his company. He travels to Bologna where he stays at the Osteria della Luna; by the end of March, he is near Cento together with Galeazzo Marescotti.
JulyLazio, TuscanyHe arrives at Lake Bolsena; he joins forces with the papal troops and defeats Piccinino at Castro, commanding 8,000 men (of which 2,300 are infantry). He forces the opposing captain to initially fortify himself in a forest, and then to retreat to Castiglione della Pescaia.
Sept. – Nov.TuscanyThe air of the Maremma decimates both armies; the lack of straw for the cavalry and difficulties in supplying the troops prolong the operations without being able to reach a definitive solution.
………He rents the castle of Villanova di Cassolnovo from the Vallombrosan monastery of San Bartolomeo in Novara. In 1475, he will take full possession of this estate from the monastery with the declared intent of reselling it all to the Duke of Milan. In 1477, the complex will be gifted to him by Galeazzo Maria Sforza, only for him to lose it again due to Ludovico Sforza because of his rebellion against the ducal rule.
1458
Apr. – Dec.Veneto, Croatia, Albania, Greece, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, MarcheRoberto Da San Severino was honored by the Sforza with the fiefs of Colorno and Pontecurone; his mother Elisa was invested with the fief of Biandrate. During this period, San Severino conceived the idea of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He traveled to Venice where he was received with all honors, including the use of the bucintoro; in the city, he had discussions with Alessandro Sforza and the doge; he then set sail, navigating along the coast of Dalmatia until reaching Ragusa (Dubrovnik), where he was hosted by the city secretary, Bartolomeo Sfondrati. He also coasted along the shores of Albania; in early June, he visited Durres. Directing his course towards Rhodes, he escaped the dangers posed by a pirate ship from Genoa. On the island, he stayed at the hotel of the Italians; he had a meeting with the grand master of the Order of St. John and with the patriarch; he continued his journey to the Holy Land and disembarked at Jaffa. Along the way, he visited Lydda, Jerusalem, and other holy sites; in August, he left Gaza, entered Egypt, and reached Cairo where he was able to pay homage to the sultan through the ambassador from Rhodes. In September, he resumed his return journey; encountering considerable difficulties in obtaining the necessary permits. Only after bribing some officials was he able to resume navigation. In Jerusalem, where some of his companions remained; only by mid-October, with the arrival of favorable winds, did he leave Acre; he moved without escort despite the risk of encountering corsair ships. The journey was uncomfortable both because of the lack of water, wine, and wood for heating on board, and because he was weakened by a disease he had contracted in Palestine. After a journey tormented by storms and wind, he encountered at the end of November the fleet of the Knights of Rhodes; he met with the papal legate commanding it, Cardinal Ludovico Scarampo, and was able to disembark on the island of Mello. He sailed near Kythira, landed at Methoni; there was a new forced stop of twenty-two days and only in early December was he able to resume his journey to Italy. He stopped in Ancona, hosted by Rosso da Diano, formerly a soldier of the Sforza. The city authorities asked him to press the rector of the Marca, Cardinal Giovanni Castiglione (Cardinal of Pavia) who protected the corsair Giovanni Gattilusio. He visited Sirolo, Loreto; in Macerata, he met with the prelate. The mission failed; he then reached Osimo (hosted by a Guzzoni) and Ancona.
1459
Jan.Marche, Romagna, Veneto, LombardyHe touches base in Senigallia, meets with Roberto Malatesta in Fano, with Costanzo Sforza in Pesaro, and with Giovanni Malatesta, Marco Pio, and Carlo Pio in Rimini. He then travels to Cesenatico, safeguarded from a distance by the men of Jacopo Piccinino and Federico da Montefeltro, who are at war with Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. The two commanders gift him two steeds. Continuing his journey, he passes through Cervia and Ravenna, where the podestà, Marino Malipiero, visits him at his hotel. He crosses the Po di Primaro and by boat reaches Chioggia and Venice where he is hosted by the Sforza ambassador. He has another discussion with the doge Pasquale Malipiero; travels to Padua where he is greeted by some of his servants and the captains Ludovico Malvezzi and Francesco da San Severino. He visits the basilica of Saint Anthony; proceeds to Vicenza (hosted by Antonio da Thiene), Verona, and Brescia. In the city, he is received by Cesare da Martinengo. He has a final meeting with his friend Antonio da Martinengo and reaches Milan: waiting for him in the borough of the Porta Orientale is Gaspare da Vimercate. From here he goes to the palace, expected by the Sforza and other Sforza captains like Ludovico Gonzaga, Alessandro Sforza, Guglielmo di Monferrato, Corrado da Fogliano, Amerigo da San Severino, and Bernabò da San Severino.
Sept.LombardyWith Gaspare da Vimercate, he attends the baptism of Bernardino Corio. In September, along with Galeazzo Maria Sforza, he welcomes in Milan the Duke of Cleves and the Count of La Marck, who are coming from Mantua and headed to Burgundy.
Nov.Always with the heir to the duchy and Sacramoro Visconti, he meets in Pavia with the French ambassadors headed to Milan to advocate for the cause of Giovanni d’Angiò in Genoa and the Kingdom of Naples.
1460
Jan.LombardyA fierce quarrel erupts between Gabriella Gonzaga, the natural daughter of the Marquis of Mantua and wife of Corrado da Fogliano, and Giovanna da Correggio, the wife of San Severino. The cause of the dispute is over who has the right to precedence at court ceremonies. The disagreement will last several years, involving their respective families. Finally, in May 1464, the issue will be discussed in the secret council and the council of justice: in joint sessions, they will establish once and for all the order of precedence among the two contenders and other women of the Sforza household, including Bona Caterina, the sister of the duke and wife of Troilo da Rossano, and Isotta, wife of Giovanni da Tolentino.
Feb.LombardyIn Milan. He obtains the citizenship of Lodi.
MayNaplesAnjouTuscany, Lazio, Campania, BasilicataHe was sent by Sforza to aid the king of Naples, Ferdinand of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona), against the rebellious barons and John of Anjou (Giovanni d’Angiò). During the journey with his troops (5 squadrons of horses), he stopped in Corsignano (Pienza) to pay homage to Pope Pius II. In Formia, he was received by the king of Naples, Ferdinand of Aragon, who came forward to meet him: he prostrated himself before the king, declared himself his vassal, and was embraced by the sovereign who called him his cousin. He went to Baia and successfully persuaded the Count of Marsico, Robert of San Severino (Roberto da San Severino), who bore the same name, to leave the Angevin faction by promising him the principality of Salerno and the right to mint coins in his states. He moved under Salerno; 3 bombards were aimed at the city. In Foria, he seized 2 castles; from the one called Ghifone, he collected a toll of 1000 ducats. At the end of the month, he moved to aid Venosa.
JuneApuliaNear Troia, alongside the king of Naples, Ferdinand of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona), with 33 squadrons of horses and 2000 infantrymen.
JulyCampaniaIn the Sannio region. He is unable to prevent Jacopo Piccinino from devastating the territory.
Aug. – Sept.Abruzzo, LazioIn the Abruzzi at the head of 100 men-at-arms. In September, in Sabina to oppose Jacopo Piccinino.
Oct.LazioIn Rome with 413 horses. In the city, he contributes to quelling a revolt against the Pope. He moves to Sabina, near Rieti. By the end of the month, he is reported to be in Fondi.
Nov. – Dec.Lazio, CampaniaHe attacks the tower at the mouth of the Garigliano. Having conquered the fortress, he leaves Traetto (Minturno) and heads towards Gaeta and Naples.
1461
Feb.CampaniaHe proposes a plan of attack against the opponents. Ferdinand of Aragon sends Angelo da Monteodorisio to his camp to verify its feasibility. The assessment turns out negative and as such is accepted by the king of Naples.
MayCampaniaHe is near Salerno with Robert of San Severino (Roberto da San Severino). Three bombards are positioned against the city. During the same days, he is granted the County of Caiazzo, taken from the rebellious Lucrezia d’Alagno, and he is honored with the addition of the surname of Aragon to his own.
Oct.CampaniaHe leaves the territory of Flumeri and moves near Gesualdo with the Count of Avellino, Giacomo Caracciolo. Defending the location is Rigo Zurlo with 100 horses and some infantry. The fortress undergoes three days of bombardment. The Count of Avellino negotiates a surrender with the defenders. The inhabitants, unaware of the agreement, rebel and force Zurlo to lock himself back in the fortress. The soldiers forcefully enter Gesualdo and pillage the locality.
1462
Jan.Milan500 cavalry, 300 infantrymenLazioHe is reported to be in Rome. During the same days, Sforza assigns him a command of 500 horses and 300 infantrymen.
Feb.LombardyHaving returned to Milan at the end of the month, he welcomes Ludovico Gonzaga, the Marquis of Mantua, into the city along with other noblemen and ducal condottieri.
MayLombardyHe accepts the reduction of his command in exchange for 14,000 ducats in cash and another 4,000 in the form of checks as compensation for back pay. He sets off again towards the Kingdom of Naples.
JuneTuscany, CampaniaIn Florence, he passes through the Valdelsa region. He invades the territory of Grottaminarda accompanied by Ferdinand of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona), Orso Orsini, Antonio Piccolomini, and Bernabò da San Severino, with a force comprising 45 squadrons of horses.
July – Aug.ApuliaHe lays siege to Accadia, which is defended by a strong garrison. In early August, the castle succumbs to the bombardment and is sacked; 50 out of the 100 defenders are killed. He participates in the Battle of Troia, where he shares command of the heavy cavalry with Roberto Orsini.
Oct.ApuliaHe captures Serracapriola from Cola di Monforte. He quarters in Gesualdo.
Dec.The king of Naples enfeoffs him with the castle of Pivanello. He quarrels in the field with Honorato Gaetani, the logothete and protonotary of the Kingdom of Naples.
1463
JuneLazioIn Gaeta, alongside Ferdinand of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona).
JulyCampaniaHe commands the troops alongside Antonio Piccolomini, consisting of 26 squadrons of horses and 2000 infantrymen, against the Duke of Sessa and Prince of Rossano, Marino di Marzano. They encamp near the Fontana del Pioppo; at dawn, they attack the fortress of Riardo which blocks access to the plain of Sessa Aurunca; a fierce fight ensues in which 50 men-at-arms and many infantrymen are captured.
Aug. – Sept.CampaniaHe operates near the Savone River by the tower of Francolise.
Oct.CampaniaHe positions his camp near Triflisco.
Nov.ApuliaHe supports the King of Naples, Ferdinand of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona), in Apulia. Mid-month, he is first reported near Manfredonia and later in the forest of Santa Maria di Quarantana. The Aragonese forces manage to occupy Manfredonia, Bestia, and the fortress of Sant’Angelo.
Dec.ApuliaHe enters Taranto.
1464
Jan.ApuliaIn Terra d’Otranto. He requests permission from the King of Naples to join his seven squads of men-at-arms stationed in Abruzzi and the Marches.
Feb.LombardyMid-month, he returns to Milan from the Kingdom of Naples with Tommaso Tebaldi. He joins Sforza in welcoming Girolamo Barbarigo, the ambassador of the Serenissima, outside a city gate.
Mar. – MayAbruzzo, CampaniaHe moves towards L’Aquila with Matteo da Capua and Alessandro Sforza: the people of L’Aquila pledge allegiance to the King of Naples. He supports the Aragonese in the final operations against the rebellious feudal lords (Cola di Monforte and Giacomo Montagano).
JulyAbruzzoHe is reported near the Staffoli forest close to Castel di Sangro. Mid-month, he assaults Civitaluparella: following the surrender of the Caldora militias, he moves against Palena and Pescocostanzo.
Oct.CampaniaHe returns to Aversa, where he also stays the following month. At the end of the conflict, the fiefs recognized to him in the Kingdom of Naples include, besides the County of Caiazzo, lands in the Principality of Albanella, Corleto Monforte, and various hamlets (including Rescigno, Felitto, and Serre). However, he is not granted possession of San Pietro al Tanagro, which had been promised to him.
1465
…………CampaniaHe leaves the Kingdom of Naples, irritated with the sovereign because Ferdinand of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona) fails to keep his promises; he returns to the service of Sforza.
JuneLombardyIn Pavia, to bid farewell to Ippolita Sforza who is en route to Naples to marry the Duke of Calabria, Alfonso of Aragon (Alfonso d’Aragona).
…………FranceNoblesFranceHe is sent to France to fight in support of King Louis XI.
1466
Mar.100 men-at-armsLombardyUpon the death of Sforza, his command of 100 men-at-arms is renewed.
…………He obliges the King of Cyprus to join him on the island with 700 horses and 1000 infantrymen to assist in the recovery of the kingdom. He is promised a salary of 60,000 ducats, travel expenses, and the title of General Captain.
June – Sept.Campania – EmiliaHe returns from the Kingdom of Naples with Bosio and Costanzo Sforza and stays in the Bologna countryside until mid-September. He clashes with the new Duke, his nephew Galeazzo Maria Sforza, demanding a command of 1,200 horses in wartime and 600 in peacetime, with an annual provision of 12,000 ducats. In August, he quickly intervenes with Costanzo Sforza when Ercole d’Este and Giovan Francesco della Mirandola position themselves on the borders of Frignano in support of the Florentine exiles, thereby threatening Piero de’ Medici.
Oct.Misunderstandings continue with the new Duke regarding the renewal of his command.
Nov.He is put on alert by the Duke along with other condottieri about a possible conflict with the Venetians.
1467
Feb.He refuses the new terms offered by Galeazzo Maria Sforza. A reconciliation follows, partly because the Duke of Milan, against his mother Bianca Maria Visconti‘s advice, supports his candidacy as the General Captain of the Florentine army. He is offered a command that includes a fixed term of six months with an additional six months at the duke’s discretion.
Mar.TuscanyAt the beginning of the month, he heads to Tuscany.
Apr.FlorenceVeniceGeneral captain of 1000 cavalryTuscanyIn Florence. His companies are quartered in the Pisan territory.
May – JuneTuscany, RomagnaHe leaves the Pisan area; he heads to Romagna with 2500 horses and an equal number of infantry to counter the Venetians under Bartolomeo Colleoni who are supporting the cause of the Florentine exiles. At the end of June, he clashes with a squad led by Deifobo dell’Anguillara, whom he puts to flight.
JulyEmiliaHe participates in the Battle of Molinella where he commands the second squadron; alongside Donato del Conte, he fiercely engages the opponents at their flank. He is noted for his valor.
Aug.At the end of the month, his wife Giovanna da Correggio dies in childbirth.
………MilanDuje of SavoyPiedmontHe supports Guglielmo di Monferrato in a brief conflict with the Duke of Savoy.
Nov.TuscanyHe visits Florence and Lucca with Federico da Montefeltro and the Duke of Calabria. Also within the same year, his first wife, Giovanna da Correggio, one of the foremost ladies of the Sforza court, dies in childbirth.
1468
………FlorenceTuscanyHe is commissioned by the Florentines: 800 horses in times of peace and 1200 in times of war. He is sent with numerous infantry to Prato to quell a city revolt; he arrives at Campi Bisenzio. He is informed that the rebellion has already been subdued: the instigators are taken to Florence to be executed.
JulyLombardyIn Milan for the entry into the capital of Bona of Savoy, the wife of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza.
1469
Feb.LombardyIn Milan as a judge of a joust organized by the Medici.
Aug. – Sept.FlorenceChurch700 cavalryTuscany, RomagnaHe reaches Anghiari. He heads towards Urbino to meet with Federico da Montefeltro. He moves towards Romagna to facilitate the lordship of Roberto Malatesta in Rimini. He participates marginally in the Battle of Mulazzano. In September, his passage through Anghiari is reported again.
………EmiliaHis militias are quartered in the Bolognese area. Robert of San Severino (Roberto da San Severino) establishes his residence in Bologna, where, thanks to the support of the city’s lords, the Bentivoglio family, he enjoys immense authority and influence. This causes some apprehension among the citizens, who view with suspicion the magnificence of his lifestyle and his palatial residences.
Nov.PiedmontIn Borgosesia.
1470
Mar.FlorenceTuscanyHe travels to Florence to request the payment of his debt valued at 10,000 ducats. The Florentines ask him to reaffirm under new conditions (600 horses in peacetime and 1,200 in wartime). He signs the contract at the house of Lorenzo de’ Medici.
1471Having obtained permission from the Florentines, he switches to the payroll of the Duke of Milan at the end of the month, effective at the end of March. He requests a command for four years with an annual salary of 18,000 ducats in peacetime and 36,000 in wartime; 800 horses in the former scenario and 1,200 in the latter. He also urges the investiture of a fief in the Cremonese, near Castelleone, to be added to his other lordships. In the end, he accepts the counteroffer from the Duke of Milan, which includes a provision of 22,000 ducats per year. Galeazzo Maria Sforza also commits to maintaining a contingent of troops in the Bolognese area under San Severino‘s command, ready to be used for the defense of Florence. Lorenzo de’ Medici maintains direct relations with the condottiero, supports his land purchases in the Pisan area, and becomes related to him through the marriage of his son Gaspare to Margherita Orsini, sister of Clarice, who is in turn the wife of de’ Medici.
Jan. – Feb.TuscanyHaving obtained permission from the Florentines, he transitions to the payroll of the Duke of Milan at the end of the month, with the arrangement beginning at the end of March. He requests a command contract for four years, with an annual salary of 18,000 ducats in peacetime and 36,000 in wartime; the command includes 800 horses for peacetime and 1,200 for wartime. He also urges the investiture of a fief near Castelleone in the Cremona area, to be added to his other lordships. Ultimately, he accepts a counteroffer from the Duke of Milan, which includes a provision of 22,000 ducats per year. Galeazzo Maria Sforza, concurrently, commits to maintaining a contingent of troops in the Bologna area under San Severino‘s command, ready to be used for the defense of Florence. Lorenzo de’ Medici maintains direct relations with the condottiero, supports his land acquisitions in the Pisa area, and forms a family connection through the marriage of his son Gaspare to Margherita Orsini, sister of Clarice, who is herself the wife of de’ Medici.
Mar.200 lancesEmilia, RomagnaThe Duke of Milan renews his investiture of Colorno and Pontecurone: Ludovico Sforza, the Duke’s brother, also attends the ceremony. His company, consisting of 600 horses, establishes its quarters between Bologna, Cotignola, and Imola.
JuneTuscanyHe organizes a battle of men-at-arms in Florence, featuring lances without tips and sticks to strike the opponent. The event is held at his own expense on the day of Saint John in the square of Santa Croce. In the days that follow, still in the same location, a joust and a battle for the conquest of a wooden castle take place.
………EmiliaIn Bologna with Tristano Sforza and Antonio da Tolentino, he requests from the city authorities the tax exemptions for horses near the capital for his lieutenants and for 120 horses of his “family,” in order to more easily obtain straw supplies from local farmers; he demands good accommodations for his men in fertile plains, not in barren areas. His presence proves to be quite problematic for the people of Bologna.
1472
Jan.MilanImolaEmilia, RomagnaIn Bologna with his five children for the wedding of a daughter of Pirro Malvezzi. He enters Imola on behalf of the Duke; Taddeo Manfredi fails to keep his commitment to hand over the fortress in exchange for lordship. San Severino prepares to lay siege to him in Imola on the orders of the Duke of Milan. The Ducal Commissioner Alessandro da Foligno intervenes and persuades Manfredi to surrender and to travel to Milan.
Feb.His credit with the Duke amounts to 32,000 ducats. In November, he receives a payment of 1,666 ducats.
Apr.EmiliaHe returns to Bologna for the funeral of Pirro Malvezzi‘s daughter.
JulyMilanHe is on the payroll of the ducal forces. He is given 18,000 ducats to organize his men-at-arms.
Sept.The ducal chancellery plans to increase his provision up to 5,000 ducats and to grant him the fiefdom of the castle of Montecollare (Corte Cavalcabò, today Corte Madama) near Castelleone, previously owned by Bianca Maria Visconti.
Dec.200 lancesEmiliaHe travels to Bologna to join the city’s lord, Giovanni Bentivoglio, in receiving the Tsarina of Russia, who is returning to her country from Rome. In Milan, the ducal secret council sets the order of precedence for lords and condottieri at various official ceremonies: Ludovico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, is first. He is followed by Taddeo Manfredi, Pino Ordelaffi, Roberto da San Severino, Giovanni Conti, and Giovanni Bentivoglio.
1473
Feb.EmiliaHe returns once again to Bologna; he is welcomed at the Porta di Santo Stefano by Giovanni Bentivoglio and other citizens with over 500 horses. He is hosted in the city by Bartolomeo da Sala near San Giorgio. Accustomed to the status of great captains, he cultivates personal diplomatic channels.
Aug.200 lancesLombardyThe Duke grants him a command of 200 lances with an annual provision of 30,000 ducats in peacetime and 50,000 in wartime. No end term is stipulated for his commitment.
Sept.Tuscany, LombardyHe leaves Tuscany, where he was a guest of Lorenzo de’ Medici, to return to Milan. Accompanying him is the poet Luigi Pulci, author of the poem “Morgante.” The journey is commemorated by Pulci in two sonnets that parody the Milanese dialect, whose inhabitants he describes as “mangia-ravizze” (raddish-eaters).
Oct.EmiliaHis companies are quartered in the Bolognese area. Mid-month, he receives orders to make himself available to the Pope to seize a bastion on the Panaro River, contested by both the papal forces and the Bentivoglio.
1474
Jan.Emilia, LombardyIn Bologna for the ceremony where Annibale Bentivoglio is knighted by King Christian of Denmark. Robert of San Severino (Roberto da San Severino) is in turn appointed Marquis of Castelnuovo Scrivia, replacing Taddeo Manfredi. Previously, he had also been granted various assets and revenues in Villanova and an estate in Castelleone.
MayEmiliaHis relationship with the Duke of Milan deteriorates. He lives in the Bolognese area, where his companies are located, and has been receiving his salaries irregularly for some time. He purchases a palace in Bologna. He feels disappointed because his plans for establishing a lordship find no opportunity to materialize.
JuneEmiliaThe Sforza orator in Bologna, Domenico Cerruti, alarmingly reports to Cicco Simonetta about San Severino‘s poor disposition towards Galeazzo Maria Sforza. Indeed, the condottiero is looking around for a good opportunity: he harbors ambitions to gain control of Imola with the support of the Medici (he has familial ties with Lorenzo de’ Medici and seeks support in Florence for his sons Giovan Francesco, Galeazzo, and Gaspare); he maintains frequent contacts with the King of France, Louis XI, who, for his part, offers him a rich command to counter Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy. He also has good relations with Pope Sixtus IV. Due to his diplomatic activities, even the Bolognese fear he may have designs on the city.
1475
MayAs part of the military spending cuts in the duchy, Galeazzo Maria Sforza proposes to reduce San Severino‘s annual provision to 25,000 ducats.
Oct.EmiliaHe is in Bologna for the joust of San Petronio, organized by Antonio Trotti.
Dec.His credit towards the Duke of Milan amounts to 10,000 ducats. During this period, he asks the Duke of Milan to be released so he can return to the service of Florence. The Duke, annoyed and concerned, does not consent to his request.
1476
Jan.200 men-at-armsHe is a creditor for past wages owed by the Duke of Milan in the amount of 10,000 ducats.
JuneEmilia, RomagnaDue to disagreements with the Duke of Milan, he moves permanently to Bologna. He is in Modena for celebrations held in honor of Ercole d’Este. At the same time, his companies are mobilized in Romagna due to the beginnings of a revolt in Genoa.
JulyLombardyHe meets with Galeazzo Maria Sforza in Pavia. His men receive the wages due to them.
Sept. – Oct.MilanBorgogna228 men-at-armsPiedmontHe moves towards Piedmont at the head of 10 squadrons of horses, plus one of mounted crossbowmen (90). During the march, he raises two banners, his own and that of the Florentines; he is given a third by the Duke of Milan featuring a lion. He combats the troops of the regent of the Duchy of Savoy, led by Philip of Bresse, and those of the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. He crosses the Sesia River with 3,000 horses, advances to Asigliano Vercellese; he pillages Santhià and, together with Giovanni Conti, besieges Michele di Piemonte in San Germano Vercellese, who has barricaded himself there with his two sons and 900 infantry. On this occasion, he commands 228 men-at-arms. After five days of intense artillery fire, two vigorous assaults are repelled; San Severino demands surrender, and upon refusal, the bombardment resumes. The inhabitants surrender on terms. Michele di Piemonte and his sons are captured. Galeazzo Maria Sforza joins him in the field. Subsequently, he leaves Santhià, touches Moncrivello, and, still in coordination with Giovanni Conti, moves against Philip of Bresse. He plunders the territory of Vercelli.
Nov.PiedmontHe is reported to be near Turin. He attends, along with the Duke of Milan, a review of the men-at-arms from his companies.
Dec.LombardyWith the murder in Milan at the Church of Santo Stefano of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, he quickly returns to Lombardy. He is called to join the ducal council. Along with Giovanni Bentivoglio, he oversees the citadel of Pavia and the Mirabello park.
1477
Jan.MilanExiles, GenoaLiguria, LombardyHe is sent to Genoa with the companies of Giovanni Bentivoglio and Girolamo Riario upon hearing of the rebellion by the exiles led by Giovanni Battista Guarco and Paolo Fregoso. Meanwhile, he advances his requests to the regents of the duchy. He asks the chancellor Cicco Simonetta for a command and a salary equal to those enjoyed by Federico da Montefeltro. With the negative response, he supports the brothers of the deceased duke, Sforza Maria and Ludovico, to the detriment of the Duchess Bona of Savoy and Simonetta himself.
Feb.Lombardy, EmiliaAt the beginning of the month, with the two Sforza brothers, he orders the assassin Ettore Vimercati to kill Cicco Simonetta in the latter’s rooms located in the Sforza Castle. The chancellor escapes the assassination attempt following a warning from his own spies. In the conspirators’ plan, revealed under torture by Vimercati, Sforza Secondo Sforza was supposed to receive the castle of Sartirana Lomellina, a fief of Simonetta himself. During the same days, Roberto da San Severino and Giovanni Pallavicini support the opposing party to the Rossi in Parma. At the end of the month, the condottiere attends a ceremony in Milan during which the brothers of the deceased duke are granted by the Duchess Bona of Savoy an annual provision of 12,000 ducats each, a command of 100 men-at-arms, and the keys to a fortress.
Mar.MilanFieschi, FregosoGeneral captainPiedmont, LiguriaGenoa rebels under the efforts of the Fieschi and Fregoso families following the release of Prospero Adorno from prison by Cicco Simonetta. Roberto da San Severino advances against the city at the head of 10,000 men (8,000 provisioned troops, 1,000 crossbowmen from the Langhe, 100 German harquebusiers, and 200 Lombards, plus 500 cavalry). He reaches Serravalle Scrivia while Obietto Fieschi in Genoa continues to besiege the ducal governor holed up in the Castelletto.
Apr.LiguriaHe sends ahead Prospero Adorno with 30 lances and Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio with 2,500 infantry to encourage the partisans of the Adorno and Spinola families to join forces with the Sforza supporters. Having thus reached Busalla with an additional 2,000 men, he attacks the opponents. He crosses a stream and at dawn attacks the enemy outposts: the Milanese are repelled by a sortie of the Genoese. Roberto da San Severino orders the men-at-arms to dismount and commands them to demolish the Genoese shelters with axes and ronche; at the same time, these last are attacked from the rear by defenders of the Castelletto under the command of Carlo Adorno. With the occupation of the city, Prospero Adorno is elected governor; San Severino also enters the city with the brothers Ludovico and Ottaviano Sforza. The fortresses of Savignone and Montaggio, belonging to the Fieschi, soon surrender; Obietto Fieschi gathers 5,000 peasants to which the inhabitants of Val Polcevera led by Giovanni Battista Guarco are added. San Severino holds Guarco with false negotiations, giving him time to disperse the Fieschi militias. Obietto Fieschi is thus forced to retreat to the nearby mountains with some losses; shortly thereafter, peace is made between the parties.
May – JulyLombardy, Piedmont, FranceAfter such success, he allies with Ludovico and Ottaviano Sforza to change the government of Milan: within the overall framework of the alliances, the division plans for Obietto Fieschi to hold the lordship of Genoa and for Roberto da San Severino that of Parma. The chancellor Cicco Simonetta is informed of the plot and arrests Donato del Conte, one of the main protagonists of the conspiracy. Upon hearing this, Roberto da San Severino leaves his palace; he mounts a horse along with Sforza Maria Sforza, Duke of Bari, and Ludovico Sforza. He tries to induce Giovanni Borromeo and Pietro Pusterla to take up arms as well; they do not follow him. He arms his partisans, while the Duke of Bari takes control of Porta Tosa. He calls in vain for the people to revolt. Ludovico Sforza opposes the plan to incite the inhabitants to loot the treasury and public granary. In the end, the Duchess Bona of Savoy manages to divide the conspirators: as a result, each doubts the loyalty of the other conspirators, and all are forced to flee. Ottaviano Sforza drowns in the Adda while trying to escape; Sforza Maria and Ludovico Sforza go into exile. Roberto da San Severino, pursued by the ducal forces, leaves with 200 of his veterans through Porta Vercellina. He crosses the Ticino at Boffalora and cuts the bridge behind him. He connects with Obietto Fieschi. Most of the men escorting him are captured. In July, he takes refuge in the lands of Giovanni Francesco di Cocconato, whom he convinces that he is tasked with pursuing Borella da Caravaggio, who, on the contrary, is hunting him on orders from the Duchess of Milan. The latter does not have any ducal mandate, so his words are not believed by Cocconato. San Severino thus has the chance to take refuge with Scarampo Scarampi in Asti, where he is given a safe conduct by the French for four months and twenty days. The Duchess of Milan’s request for his extradition is in vain. In the same month, he continues his journey to France with an escort of 25 Savoyard archers provided by the Duke of Orleans. In Milan, meanwhile, he is sentenced in absentia to beheading, and his possessions are confiscated in favor of Marquis Ercole d’Este (Castelnuovo Scrivia and his Milanese palace). Lorenzo de’ Medici also warns him not to attempt any rash actions.
1478
………FranceBurgundyFranceHe gathers troops on behalf of King Louis XI in order to counter the Burgundians.
Apr.FranceFour archers from Milan attempt to assassinate him. They are discovered and hanged.
JuneProspero Adorno takes advantage of the uncertainty prevailing in the duchy, rebels, proclaims himself Doge, and calls for assistance from Roberto da San Severino (who is in Asti), Gianluigi Fieschi, and the Marquises of Carretto.
JulyGenoaMilanGeneral captainLiguriaHe returns to Genoa and begins the siege of the Castelletto. He strengthens the defenses of the entire mountain range that encircles the city on the west and separates it from the Val Polcevera; notably, he fortifies the Diamante Hill and constructs a dry-stone wall across the saddle that divides this hill from the height of the Due Fratelli. He also bolsters the defenses of the Val di Bisagno by building a similar wall, equipped with towers along the gravelly streambed.
Aug.LiguriaSforza Sforza, Pietro Francesco Visconti, Giampietro Bergamino, and Cristoforo da Montecchio advance against him with 8,000 infantry (including many Swiss), 6,000 selected troops, and 2,000 cavalry. Roberto da San Severino leaves behind the two citadels still controlled by the Sforza garrisons; the gorges of the Apennines in Val Polcevera are closed off. To encourage the citizens to resist, he has a Dominican friar read aloud to the people a letter (allegedly intercepted) in which the enemy soldiers are promised the looting of Genoa. The battle is fought under the hill of the Due Fratelli where San Severino has prepared the most solid defense. Archers and crossbowmen strike the advancing infantry, who struggle due to the narrowness of the terrain and the impossibility of maneuvering. After seven hours, the Sforza forces are disheartened both by the fatigue of the fight and the preceding march through the mountains, as well as by the failure of their supply train to arrive; their discouragement is further amplified by the cries of the mountain folk shouting “meat, meat” at them. According to Genoese sources, the attacking army suffers heavy losses (600 dead and many wounded); according to Milanese sources, no one dies while many are taken prisoner. Roberto da San Severino prevents his men from pursuing the enemy for fear of an ambush; the Sforza forces, on the other hand, begin a disorderly retreat during which they discard their weapons along the way. The Genoese and the mountain folk pounce on them, and the latter roll large boulders down from the mountain tops onto them. The soldiers are stripped of everything, even their clothes, and many are forced to return to their homes covered only in branches.
Oct. – Nov.Liguria, TuscanyDuchess Bona of Savoy resorts to her usual tactics during this crisis, namely stirring up factional struggles in Genoa. Roberto da San Severino orders the hanging of some partisans of the Doria family who support the Milanese cause; the ducal forces financially support Battista Fregoso and Obietto Fieschi who, by the end of November, manage to drive him out of the city along with Prospero Adorno and Giulio Orsini. He first takes refuge on the Riviera di Levante and then in Tuscany. He sets up camp near San Savino in the Sienese territory. He remains inactive.
1479
Jan. – Feb.SforzaMilan, Florence, VeniceTuscany, LiguriaUrged by Pope Sixtus V, he fights the Florentines allied with the Sforzas. By the end of January, he is in Pietrasanta. Along with Ludovico Fregoso and Obietto Fieschi, he crosses the Magra River and attempts to enter Sarzana at the head of 200 cavalry and some infantry: repelled with significant losses, he moves to Lunigiana, positions himself between Avenza and Carrara, and stays in the area for three weeks until he is reached with a substantial sum of money by Sforza Maria Sforza and Ludovico Sforza, who have broken their confinement in Naples. With the support also of the King of France, he is able to gather 500 cavalry and 4,000 infantry with which he approaches Ponzano Superiore. He attacks the locality but is repelled again after six hours of inconclusive fighting (150 of his soldiers dead or wounded, compared to just one man and eight wounded, including two women, among the defenders).
Mar.Emilia, Liguria, TuscanyHe finds himself in poor condition also because, due to the lack of fodder, his men-at-arms are forced to feed their mounts with vine shoots and olive leaves. He is declared a rebel by Giacomo Bonarello, who governs Parma; his men are ordered by the ducal authorities to return to their homes within eight days: in Pontremoli, two of his supporters are hanged, and a third is quartered. His attack on Bullano (defended by 300 infantry) fails, resulting in the loss of another 140 men, dead and wounded; around the same days, he hangs two men-at-arms from Cremona near the walls of that castle who had attempted on his life. He enters La Spezia; from there, he moves to the Val di Serchio and the Pisan area where he raids for livestock. Together with Giulio Antonio Acquaviva, he seizes the castle of Filetto and forces the inhabitants of Santa Maria to surrender; he storms Ripafratta and destroys many mills in the countryside. He constantly lacks provisions and money; trying to cross the Arno to join with the Aragonese, he stops at San Giuliano Terme. He conducts some raids in Val di Serchio where he takes control of Filetto and Santa Maria in Castello. He then moves to Val di Calci where he damages several mills. Defending Pisa are now Sigismondo d’Este and the Florentine commissioners Bongianni Gianfigliazzi and Jacopo Guicciardini.
Apr.TuscanyHe brings a troublesome guerrilla warfare right to the gates of Pisa in an effort to incite the city to rebel against Florentine rule: this activity drags on for a long time, causing severe damage to the territory. At the head of 6,000 men, he defeats 16,000 soldiers led by Ercole d’Este on the Serchio; he captures Marco Pio along with more than 1,000 horses. Finally confronted by the Venetians, led by Carlo di Montone and Deifobo dell’Anguillara, he is forced to leave the Pisan territory.
MayTuscany, LiguriaLeave the Serchio Valley; head to Massa and in Lunigiana; attempt to seize Fivizzano and Castiglione; and negotiate for Carrara. His advance is soon blocked by Ludovico Gonzaga. Harassed also by Ercole d’Este (Ercole d’Este) and Carlo di Montone, he retreats towards Avenza in anticipation of receiving 25,000 ducats promised by the Aragonese to pay his troops. He unsuccessfully attacks the latter castle, defended by Balzarino da Lodi with 300 infantrymen; begins its siege, attempts to bribe the enemy captain, and threatens to hang him if captured; he prepares a bridge over the Magra River in case of an attack by the Florentine militias. The people of Lucca do not supply him with provisions, forcing him to halt operations and once again focus on La Spezia. Ercole d’Este and Ludovico Gonzaga trap him in a valley beneath the castle of Vezzano Ligure.
JuneLiguriaHe manages to break the encirclement and penetrates into the Milanese Duchy. He again attempts Ponzano Superiore and fortifies himself in Varese Ligure; he reconnects with Ludovico Fregoso and Obietto Fieschi at the borders of the Genoese territory with that of Piacenza.
JulyEmiliaAfter a four-day siege, he conquers the Montanaro Castle, owned by Manfredo dei Landi; he penetrates the Compiano Valley and takes its castle; he enters the Taro Valley with Obietto Fieschi, Ludovico, and Sforza Maria Sforza. Giovanni Conti, Giovambattista dell’Anguillara, and Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio, who confront him, position themselves at Borgo Val di Taro. He unsuccessfully besieges the opponents at this location. Upon cessation of operations, the ducal forces attack the inhabitants of nearby villages, accused of having provided aid and supplies to the rebels. Numerous villages are plundered and set on fire; many men are killed in combat, others are hanged, and still others are taken to Milan. San Severino retreats to Varedo, where at the end of the month, Sforza Maria Sforza, the Duke of Bari, suddenly dies, possibly poisoned. The title passes to his brother Ludovico.
Aug.Piedmont, LombardyHe crosses the Cento Croci Pass with 8,000 men, enters Castelnuovo Scrivia and Tortona, where the castellan Donato Raffagnino leaves a gate open for him: the city is captured in the name of the regent Bona of Savoy and the legitimate heir Gian Galeazzo Sforza. Soon after, Pontecurone, Viguzzolo (given to him by Ludovico da Fogliano), Pioppera, Bassignana, Sale, and Valenza come under his control. This happens with the approval of the inhabitants who are promised the abolition of the salt tax and the horse tax. He then crosses the Po River on a bridge of boats set up at Bassignana and bursts into the Pavese. Opposing him are Ercole d’Este, Trivulzio, and other commanders; the troops of Guglielmo di Monferrato set fire to his camps, and in a skirmish capture his natural son Faccendino. He is almost immediately freed by his own infantrymen.
Sept.LombardyHe enters Milan following the reconciliation of Ludovico Sforza with his sister-in-law, Duchess Bona of Savoy. His previously confiscated properties are returned to him; he also receives in fief Lugano, Pieve di Balerna, and Mendrisio. He is called to be part of the ducal council.
Oct.LombardyHe reconciles with Pietro Maria dei Rossi.
1480
Mar.EmiliaIn Bologna with his family, he is received in the city with all honors by Giovanni Bentivoglio, who hosts him in his palace. Numerous members of his court are accommodated in a palace he owns near San Giorgio.
Apr.TuscanyHe travels to Florence with many lances due to news of an alliance between the papal forces and the Venetians. He is granted in fief Solaro, previously owned by Cocco Malatesta.
MayMilan400 men-at-armsEmiliaHe goes to Colorno and Guastalla to meet with a daughter. For his conduct, he is awarded a commission of 21,000 ducats.
JuneTuscanyHe visits Florence, arriving with 60 horses. After a few days, he travels to Siena with three of his children. He meets with Alfonso d’Aragona to whom he delivers money on behalf of the Duchess of Milan. He stays in the Spannocchi Palace outside the Porta Camollia. The authorities provide him with various supplies of fodder, bread, kids (young goats), capons, flasks of wine, candles, marzipan, and sugared almonds.
JulyEmiliaHe visits Ferrara with Bentivoglio: from the balconies of the ducal palace, he watches a joust alongside the Marchioness of Este, Eleonora d’Aragona. His son Gaspare also participates in the joust.
Aug.RomagnaHe goes to Forlì with Bentivoglio following the death of Sinibaldo Ordelaffi. His intention is to take control of the city, but he is preempted in his objective by Girolamo Riario, who takes over as the lord of the city.
Sept. – Oct.Emilia, LombardyHe leaves Bologna; arrives in Parma and Milan. He vies to become the guardian of the ten-year-old Gian Galeazzo Sforza; he maintains order in the capital after the arrest of Antonio Tassini, counselor and lover of Duchess Bona of Savoy. Along with the Ghibelline Pietro Pusterla, he contributes to discrediting the minister Cicco Simonetta; the latter is imprisoned in the Castle of Pavia and is beheaded in October following his refusal to pay a ransom for his release.
………LombardySince he overshadows Ludovico Sforza, he is soon removed from the state administration in favor of a sort of triumvirate composed of Sforza himself, Giovan Francesco Pallavicini, and Filippo degli Eustachi.
1481
Feb. – Sept.Lombardy, PiedmontHe maintains contact with Ercole d’Este, from whom he receives several gifts for himself and for his wife, Lucrezia Malavolti. In Milan, he quarrels with Ludovico Sforza. In September, he leaves the city, citing the regency council’s refusal to approve his request for a pay increase for his men as the reason. He reaches Alessandria, where he is hosted by Antonio Trotti; later, he moves on to his possessions in Castelnuovo Scrivia.
Nov.PiedmontHe increases his credit with the duchy (at least 11,000 ducats). Ambassadors from Milan, Naples, and Florence come to visit him, inviting him to return.
Dec.PiedmontHis requests remain unmet. Ambrosino da Longhignana is tasked with imprisoning him in the Porta Giovia Castle should he return to Milan. For his part, San Severino strengthens the garrison at Castelnuovo Scrivia with 500/600 infantry and the garrison at Pontecurone with another 200. He also has 100 men-at-arms at his disposal. He begins to harass the Milanese Duchy.
1482
Jan.PiedmontGiovan Francesco Pallavicini and Antonio Marliani also approach him to request his return to Milan; this invitation is followed by increasingly threatening warnings as he is accused of rebellion and threatened with the seizure of his assets. Undeterred, he even encourages Pietro dal Verme, Pietro Maria dei Rossi, and Obietto Fieschi to rise up against Ludovico Sforza.
Feb.San SeverinoMilanPiedmont, Liguria, TuscanyHe is given three days to repent. An army of 4,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry, led by Costanzo Sforza, Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio, and Borella da Caravaggio, is dispatched against him. His men-at-arms are threatened with death if captured and originate from the lands of the Milanese Duchy. He is abandoned by his natural son Giorgio (il Faccendino). Even one of his squad leaders, Rizzo da Soragna, who is tasked with defending Colorno with 20 men-at-arms, deserts his ranks to avoid losing the properties he owns in the Parmense area. San Severino unsuccessfully sends messengers to Venice and France in search of aid. He soon finds himself in dire straits.
Besieged in Castelnuovo Scrivia, he leaves the location with 80 horses and many infantrymen, breaking through enemy lines; he takes refuge in the Genoese territory, embarks with 13 men; reaches Piombino and Siena (staying with his father-in-law), where the authorities gift him 500 ducats.
Mar.Umbria, Marche, venetoHe is reported in the Chiugi with 70 horses, arrives at Panicarola accompanied by a Venetian ambassador and the Bishop of Orvieto, Giorgio della Rovere; he enters Perugia where he is welcomed by the papal commissioner, the podestà, and Rodolfo Baglioni. In the city, he stays at the San Marco inn. With an escort of 50 horses, he heads to Ancona where five light galleys commanded by Cristoforo Duodo pick him up; in Venice, he is received with the bucintoro and is escorted to the palace of the Marquis of Ferrara.
Apr.VeniceFerrara, MilanLieutenant GeneralVenetoHe is hired by the Most Serene Republic for three years of active service and one year of reserve; he is appointed as lieutenant. He is granted a command of 1,350 cavalry with an annual salary of 80,000 florins, half of which is advanced to him immediately. Among the conditions of his contract are exemptions from all inspections, recognition of civil and military jurisdiction over the troops under his command with the exception of crimes of rebellion, treason, murder, arson, and counterfeiting of coins, which fall under the jurisdiction of Venetian officials in the cities where the incidents occur. His obligations include fighting anywhere in Italy and surrendering any cities and lands conquered along with captured commanders (half of their ransom is in any case credited to his favor). The contract is signed in the Venetian city. He embarks at Chioggia with his sons Antonio Maria and Galeazzo da San Severino, is received with the bucintoro, and meets with Doge Giovanni Mocenigo. He is made a noble of the republic and is gifted a mount valued at 200 ducats. A council of war is held in Padua with the overseer Antonio Loredan.
MayVenetoHe moves to the banks of the Adige River, simulates an attack on the Marchesana Tower, and has his troops cross the river at night at Legnago and Badia Polesine. The following day, Antonio da Marciano with 300 sappers prepares a road through the marshes in two days, made of fascines and other timber, five to seven miles long: the infantry thus can reach the Canal Tartaro led by Andrea da Parma and Tommaso da Imola, and from there launch a surprise attack. The opposing captain, Federico da Montefeltro, rises to the occasion, quickly barricades the Canal Tartaro and floods the newly built road.
San Severino does not lose heart; he has another levee cut in the Ferrarese area through which the waters flow into the Po River after submerging the fields and houses below the river level. He emerges from the marshes and besieges Melara; he bombards the fortress defended by 50 infantry with constables Bonaventura Tassoni and Demetrio Albanese. The fortress falls in three days; he attacks Bergantino and in eight days also obtains terms at Castelnuovo Bariano, the outpost of Ficarolo: here, Piero da Molin and Niccolò Michiel hand him the commander’s standard and the respective silver baton. Raids follow towards Trecenta and Occhiobello.
When the passage of the Venetian fleet on the Po is blocked by the artillery of the Duke of Urbino placed at Stellata, he moves to Badia Polesine to curb the raids of Cristoforo da Montecchio; he returns to Castelnuovo Bariano and has the crews of 5 Milanese galleons attacked, which had stopped on an island in the Po. He releases the 70 prisoners.
JuneVeneto, EmiliaAt the head of 30 squads of men-at-arms, many light cavalry, mounted crossbowmen, and 6,000 infantry, he besieges Ficarolo, where Paolo Albanese defends with 1,000 infantry and 300 cavalry. He sets up artillery and constructs shelters for his men; he overcomes the resistance at Stellata, and on the tip of Mezzanino bombards the fortress of San Biagio delle Vezzane. While he is busy building a bastion there, he is surprised by an assault led by Ercole d’Este, Niccolò da Correggio, Bentivoglio, and Giovanni Antonio Ventimiglia (12 squads of lances, 300 arquebusiers, and 300 infantry from Federico da Montefeltro). He escapes by jumping onto a boat that takes him to the other riverbank; among his men, 150 soldiers, mostly Slavs, are killed or drown.
He resumes besieging Ficarolo with 8/9 bombards and some swivel guns; even the church bell tower is used to strike the castle. Opposing him are Montefeltro and Federico Gonzaga; the enemies cut the left bank of the Mincio and force his troops to fight in mud and water. During the same days, he thwarts another assassination attempt organized by the Sforzas. This too ends with the hanging of two men and the confession of a third assassin sent into his camp by Trivulzio. On the last day of the month, 150 soldiers die in an assault on Ficarolo.
JulyVenetoHe continues the siege of Ficarolo using numerous war machines, launching fireworks, and through the combined action of Damiano Moro’s flotilla, which breaks the chain blocking the Po River: 30 boats carrying some wagons manage to overcome the obstacle. This allows him to position the artillery under the fortress. There is a new violent cannonade, followed by an attack led by Tommaso da Imola, Pietro Carlino, and the dismounted men-at-arms of Bernardino di Montone, lasting nine hours. After forty days (with 1,647 bombard shots counted), the 600 remaining defenders surrender; there are rumors of treachery, and a Spaniard is hanged. With this victory, he sends his sons Gaspare and Antonio Maria, along with the overseer Piero Marcello, into the Polesine. Following the surrender of Ficarolo, he captures a bastion erected by the Duke of Ferrara at Carola at the confluence of the Castagnaro with the Canal Tartaro.
Aug. – Sept.VenetoHe constructs a boat bridge to cross the Po River at Bonello: Ercole d’Este attacks during the construction, amid a torrential rain, with 3,000 men armed with arquebuses and crossbows. His sappers are forced to abandon their work. Roberto da San Severino orders the destruction of the boats; eleven of them are set on fire. Plague enters the camp; he too is struck by the disease; he is first taken to Trecenta and then to Padua, critically ill, to receive treatment. The College of the Pregadi assigns Sebastiano Badoer and Antonio Vitturi to visit him; a trusted Veronese doctor is also procured for him.
Oct.VenetoOnce recovered, he gathers his army in front of Pontelagoscuro and advises a diversionary action towards Modena and Reggio Emilia; he also moves between Pieve di Cento and Cento.
Nov.EmiliaHe crosses the Po River with 50 squads of cavalry and 2,000 infantrymen on a boat bridge set at Vallice (Bonello), protected by 2 galleys and a galleon. Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio moves away from Pontelagoscuro with 4 to 7 squads of cavalry and 300 infantry to obstruct his advance. The infantry of the Most Serene Republic repel the attackers, who lose 27 men. The Este forces hastily retreat to Ferrara, after abandoning Pontelagoscuro; they set fire to the fortifications and throw the cannons into the river. Roberto da San Severino, with his son Gaspare, drives Trivulzio from a bridge towards Francolino, advances as far as Confortino, and threatens Ferrara closely. The Venetians burst into the Barco (the summer residence of the Estes) and destroy stables, animal pens, and orchards. With no one moving in his favor, he leaves a bridgehead on the right bank and returns to the left bank.
Dec.EmiliaThe military situation changes radically when Girolamo Riario and Pope Sixtus IV reconcile with Ercole d’Este and begin to fight against their former allies.
1483
Jan.VeniceFerrara, Milan, Naples, ChurchVenetoAs the new general captain of the league, Duke Alfonso d’Aragona of Calabria, along with Niccolò Orsini and Virginio Orsini, approaches, San Severino returns to defensive positions on the left bank of the Po River. Within the Aragonese army, there are also 800 Turks, who switched to the service of the opponents at the end of the War of Otranto: of these, 300 desert immediately to the camp of the Most Serene Republic; others will follow their example to join with the stradiots; Alfonso d’Aragona is thus forced to order Niccolò Orsini to kill all the remaining Turks at Ferrara.
Feb.EmiliaHe narrowly escapes an ambush near Ferrara, set up against him by some Aragonese cavalry. He takes refuge in the bastion of Pontelagoscuro.
Mar.EmiliaAccompanied by his son Gaspare, Galeotto della Mirandola, and Rodolfo Gonzaga (20 squads of cavalry and 4,000 infantry), he moves from Francolino and Pontelagoscuro towards the Barco; he advances as far as the Certosa and Belfiore, and stops for two hours at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli: the enemies bombard the building from Santa Caterina. Roberto da San Severino returns to the bastion of Pontelagoscuro, taking possession of numerous pieces of artillery and ammunition. Riots arise in his camp due to delayed pay and lack of supplies: several mutineers are hanged.
Apr.EmiliaHe arranges for the release of Ugo da San Severino in exchange for the liberation of his son Giorgio (il Faccendino), who was captured by the Swiss.
JuneEmilia, LombardyHe leaves his position at Pontelagoscuro with his sons Giovan Francesco, Galeazzo, and Gaspare, 1,000 cavalry and 1,000 provisioned troops, as he is replaced in command by Duke Renato of Lorraine. He moves to Orzinuovi in the Brescia area, and crosses beyond the Oglio River where he tries to invigorate the zeal of the partisans of Duchess Bona of Savoy.
JulyLombardyHe revisits the strategy of using a fifth column and sends several letters to Filippo degli Eustachi, urging him to free the duchy from Ludovico Sforza; however, his trust is betrayed. Roberto da San Severino is declared a rebel for the third time. He crosses the Adda River on a boat bridge, constructed at Verona, with the overseer Marcantonio Morosini and the captain of Bergamo Pietro Diedo; he arrives near Trezzo sull’Adda with 17 squads, 2,000 provisioned troops, and 3,000 infantry; at the head of the bridge, he places a wooden bastion equipped with artillery. The castellan is not persuaded; hence, he returns to the Bergamo area. Here, he recovers Urgnano and Cologno al Serio; he falls back to Bergamo as the enemies approach, checks the state of the city fortifications, and crosses the Oglio. In his march, he touches upon Palazzolo sull’Oglio and stops at Orzinuovi. Outnumbered by the enemy, he wisely avoids open battle, adopting a hit-and-run tactic, which leads him from one castle to another with continual losses and re-conquests. With his waiting tactic, Federico Gonzaga breaks all hesitation and openly shifts to the opposing camp.
Oct.Emilia, VenetoWith the loss of Asola, he confronts the Gonzaga forces heading towards Ferrara; he marches by night to Legnago with his son Gaspare for sixty miles and preempts the enemy at Melara. He reaches Pontelagoscuro; on the return journey, he surprises and plunders 50 cavalry at Melara; he then recovers Vigasio and Villafranca di Verona, along with the castle.
Nov.VenetoHe stops near Valeggio sul Mincio with the overseer Antonio Vitturi; the opponents sack the Veronese area and return to the Brescia area; Roberto da San Severino recovers the lost territory; he reaches Calcinate. Alfonso d’Aragona retreats to Ostiglia; San Severino follows him to guard the banks of the Po River facing Mantova. The Venetians never lose faith in him, even when in June his elder sons Giovan Francesco and Galeazzo defect to the Sforza camp. He camps near a tower at Soncino, which he has taken possession of by payment.
During the same period, Alfonso d’Aragona publicly insults him and even attempts to have him assassinated, eliciting reproaches from his father Ferrante, who, in contrast, holds him in high regard. For his part, San Severino recaptures some castles in the Veronese area and secures (once again) the surrender of Villafranca di Verona through negotiation.
Dec.VenetoMid-month, he is granted the fiefs of Cittadella and Montorio Veronese with the condition of delivering ten pounds of wax to the church of San Marco in Venice for the saint’s feast day. He is enrolled in the Major Council; he is gifted a palace on the Grand Canal, which is purchased from Domenico Pieri for 10,000 ducats and located in the Sant’Agnese district. A monthly provision of 100 ducats is granted to his wife to support her living in Padua (in July), and a dowry of 10,000 ducats is provided for a daughter married to Guido dei Rossi.
1484
Jan.VenetoHe travels to Venice. In the city, he is welcomed aboard the bucintoro. He meets with the Doge and is consulted in the College, where matters of state and strategy are likely discussed.
Feb.LombardyRoberto da San Severino entered Brescia through the Porta di San Giovanni and was welcomed in triumph. He then moved on to Orzinuovi and Verolanuova, accompanied by the provider Niccolò Pesaro, when the Duke of Calabria sprang into action; he left the city with Luca Pisani and crossed the Oglio at Palazzolo. At the head of twenty squadrons, 3,000 infantry, and 500 stradiots, he joined forces with supporters of the Guelph faction (totalling 9,000 men) and captured the castle of Calcio, which was sacked; Fermo Secco and 40 men-at-arms were also captured. He confronted Renato and Gian Giacomo da Trivulzio, threatening Genivolta or Pumenengo from time to time. A treaty of his with Luigi da Vimercate was discovered in Milan, aiming to restore power in the duchy to Duchess Bona. He returned to the Brescian area; he clashed with opponents at the bridge of Maestà in San Zeno: numerous crossbowmen from both sides were killed and his mount was also wounded by a bolt; he sent his son Antonio Maria to the Duke of Calabria to challenge him to a duel. Alfonso d’Aragona was substituted by a man-at-arms who was unhorsed; San Severino challenged the enemies to battle unsuccessfully, approached Bergamo, and with the help of the valley residents, he took control of the surrounding territory.
Mar.LombardyHe moves to Gabbioneta. Mid-month, he is reported to be in Scorzano.
Apr.LombardyAs Alfonso d’Aragona approaches Romano di Lombardia and Martinengo with 46 squads of cavalry, Roberto da San Severino leaves Orzinuovi and, together with the general provider Niccolò Pesaro, positions himself in Verolavecchia.
MayLombardyStationed in Verolavecchia.
June – Aug.LombardyRoberto da San Severino is stationed between Roncadelle, Torbole, and Mompiano; he withdraws his forces to the line of the Naviglio in response to enemy pressure. He clashes with the opponents at the bridge of Maestà: his mount is again wounded by a bolt. Unhorsed, he mounts another charger and encourages his son Antonio Maria to press against the Duke of Calabria. The confrontation ends with many dead after an hour. He continues to unsuccessfully challenge the Duke to battle. Finally, his wife and daughter-in-law Margherita, wife of his son Gaspare, are able to leave Milan; the Venetians, on the other hand, free Todeschina, wife of Antonio da Marciano. At the beginning of July, he leaves Verolavecchia and faces the enemies at Gabbiano. He begins negotiations with Trivulzio. Initially, his actions arouse the suspicions of the Venetians; however, his conduct in the war soon reveals that his actions were in the true interests of the Serene Republic. In July, he is permitted by the Council of Ten to negotiate a truce; he meets Ludovico Sforza in San Zeno, and in August signs the peace treaty of Bagnolo. There is a gala dinner in Brescia hosted by Pietro Gambara for him and the Duke of Calabria; Roberto da San Severino, along with Trivulzio, is tasked with mediating the dispute dividing Galeotto from Antonio Maria della Mirandola; together with the Milanese commander, he is appointed as arbitrator to judge the ownership of properties formerly owned by the Rossi in Parma, which are currently held by the ducal authorities. With the agreement, he is elected general captain of the Italian league for nine years; he is granted a command of 600 lances and an annual salary of 120,000 ducats, with 6,000 charged to the Pope, 8,000 to the King of Naples, 50,000 to Venice, 50,000 to the Duke of Milan, and 6,000 to Florence. Additionally, the properties he held in the Kingdom of Naples and the Milanese are returned to him; his son Giovan Francesco retains the county of Caiazzo. He travels to Cittadella with general providers Luca Pisani and Niccolò Pesaro; his troops (900 horses) are quartered in the Paduan area.
Sept.Roberto da San Severino obtains from Alfonso d’Aragona the restitution of Asola in exchange for lands conquered by the Venetians in Salento. He travels to Venice with his son Gaspare; the Doge Giovanni Mocenigo meets him with the bucintoro at Santa Marta. He is granted 30 ducats a day for his expenses while staying in the city. In the same year, the heirs of Colleoni ask the Serene Republic for permission to lease Malpaga to him on a long-term contract. The Council of Ten denies this action in favor of San Severino.
1485
Jan.VenetoIn Venice with his wife Lucrezia Malavolti.
Feb.VenetoRoberto da San Severino attends a grand joust in Venice’s Piazza San Marco, in which his sons also participate. He appoints the arbiters from among his condottieri and sets the prizes. He welcomes Duke Ercole d’Este to the city. During the festivities, three of his soldiers who had caused serious disturbances in Rialto are hanged at night without his knowledge. He sends his son Gaspare to the Doge to request their release, but in vain; the execution has already taken place. His youngest daughter is baptized in the baptistery of San Marco; a public celebration is also held in the Ducal Palace in honor of his wife. The event is organized by the Compagnia della Calza, which wins a special contract for the occasion.
Apr.VenetoVisiting Verona.
JulyVeneto, LombardyIn Milan, Roberto da San Severino is accused of plotting against Ludovico Sforza: numerous people are hanged, including a ducal secretary. His assets in the duchy, which yield an annual income of 70,000 ducats, are confiscated. He leaves Cittadella and heads into the Brescian territory with 100 mounted crossbowmen. The Venetians oppose every one of his attempts at retaliation, they block the assets he owns in the state, and threaten him.
Sept.FriuliHaving regained understanding, Roberto da San Severino moves to Friuli with 70 lances following threats from the Hungarians. Around the same time, he is contacted by Bishop Tommaso Cattanei of Cervia on behalf of Pope Innocenzo VIII.
Oct.ChurchNaples, Milan, FlorenceStandard-Bearer of the Church StateVeneto, Emilia, Romagna, MarcheGranted permission by the Venetians to join the payroll of the Papal States to combat the Aragonese and their allies, Roberto da San Severino is appointed the standard-bearer of the Church State and is guaranteed a provision of 30,000 ducats. He leaves Cittadella with 34 companies of cavalry and 1,500 infantrymen, arrives at Ficarolo, passes through the Ferrarese at the forts of Zaniolo/Genivolo and Bondeno, and then heads to Bologna. He is accompanied as far as Granarolo by Annibale Bentivoglio; in the Imolese region, he is welcomed by Girolamo Riario and in the Faentine area by Galeotto Manfredi; he then reaches Forlì and Cesena where the Papal ambassador awaits him. He moves towards the March of Ancona, arrives in Fano, and from there takes the road to Rome.
Nov.LazioRoberto da San Severino enters Rome and is received at the Porta di Santa Maria del Popolo by cardinals (including Giuliano della Rovere) and ambassadors. In St. Peter’s, the standard of the Church is handed to him by Gian Francesco da Tolentino, and the staff by the Pope himself. At the end of the month, he leaves the city, overcoming the resistance of the Orsini who try to block his march on the Via Flaminia at the Colle della Guardia; he attacks the Ponte Nomentano alongside Cardinal Giovanni Colonna. After this demonstrative action, he reviews his troops in Campo dei Fiori (thirty squads of lances); soon after, he meets with Pope Innocenzo VIII along with his sons Antonio Maria and Gaspare.
1486
Jan.LazioRoberto da San Severino leaves Sant’Agnese fuori le mura with a few infantry and thirty-two squads of men-at-arms, heading towards Ponte Nomentano. He orders the bombardment of the castle, which is then attacked by his son Gaspare; he renews the assault after a relative is wounded. Some of the few surviving defenders are slaughtered. He conquers Mentana from Paolo Orsini, following intense artillery fire; after destroying civilian homes, he distributes the wheat stored in nearby caves to his soldiers and besieges the palace. He secures its surrender in two days; Paolo Orsini‘s wife leaves with her jewels and clothes, the town’s walls are demolished, and the tower is blown up. Virginio Orsini and the Duke of Calabria, who are nearby, do not dare to intervene. In the continuation of his campaign, he forces the Orsini to hand over Monterotondo to the Pope. Alfonso d’Aragona decides to retreat in the face of his advance and fortifies at San Germano (Cassino). Roberto da San Severino sends his men to winter quarters and reconciles with Virginio Orsini; however, Pope Innocenzo VIII begins to skimp on the payment of wages, causing his troops to take out their frustrations on the civilian population. The commander shows tolerance towards the abuses perpetrated.
Feb.LazioRoberto da San Severino recovers Lanuvio, which was defended by Bartolomeo d’Alviano and Giovambattista Caracciolo.
Mar.LazioRoberto da San Severino besieges various Orsini castles in upper Lazio; he positions himself near Viterbo, Sutri, Toscanella (Tuscania), and Capranica. He assaults Acquapendente and, with forty-two squadrons of cavalry and 2,000 infantry, prevents Niccolò Orsini from linking up with other Orsini forces stationed at Bracciano. He routes Alfonso d’Aragona near Pitigliano, with 440 lances and 2,000 infantry against Alfonso’s 480 lances and 3,000 infantry.
MayTuscany, LazioRoberto da San Severino sets up camp two miles from the camp of the Duke of Calabria near Castell’ottieri in the Sienese area. He moves to Montorio because one of his commanders, Niccolò Gambara, has deserted his camp with 40 horses; he places 1,000 infantry in a forest under the command of Lucio Malvezzi and orders him to attack the opponents and pretend to retreat slowly towards a point where an ambush is prearranged. However, Lucio Malvezzi gets carried away with enthusiasm and enters the enemy camp, leading to an inevitable defeat against Virginio Orsini and Trivulzio; this is followed by a clash of heavy cavalry, which essentially turns out unfavorable for the papal forces. The battle is lackluster on both sides and is interrupted by nightfall. The battle lasts an entire day because the ranks do not clash all at once, but in small groups. San Severino withdraws, and with this movement, allows Niccolò Orsini to reunite with the Aragonese. Through Fabio Malvezzi, he begins to initiate peace talks with the Aragonese, while in the opposing camp, Virginio Orsini and other commanders demand payment of their wages. The Duke of Calabria decides to return to Naples to face the rebellious barons. Niccolò Orsini remains the only one to oppose the papal forces.
JuneLazioMoving from upper Lazio through San Lorenzo Nuovo and Lake Bolsena, Roberto da San Severino takes the road to Rome and enters the city. His soldiers continuously skirmish with opponents; he vainly implores the Pope to provide funds to recruit new soldiers so as to organize resistance; he also requests a cardinal’s hat for his son Federico. Pope Innocenzo VIII, weary of the conflict, begins his own peace negotiations with the Sforza ambassador, Guido Arcimboldi. San Severino‘s unpaid men increasingly harass the civilian population.
Aug.Lazio, Umbria, MarcheSuspected of collusion with the Duke of Calabria—a suspicion deliberately fueled by the Duke—Roberto da San Severino is abandoned to his fate by the Pope. The papal forces conclude a separate peace with the opponents that excludes the condottiero from any agreement. Dismissed, he moves to Monte Sperello near Perugia with thirty squadrons of cavalry and many infantrymen; he sacks the countryside of Torgiano and, still pursued by the Aragonese, takes the road to Fano. This time, he is not allowed into the city due to the plague.
Sept.Emilia, Romagna, VenetoEven the Bolognese, under the command of Pirro Malvezzi, block his passage; he arrives at Cantalupo Selice where he disbands his companies: part of his men switch to the payroll of the Aragonese, and many are robbed by the peasants. He finds safety in Ravenna (where he had sent his carriages) with 100 light cavalry; from there, he travels to Cittadella with 50 horses. He reaches Venice and requests a new military commission; the Serene Republic takes time to consider his request.
Nov.VenetoHe is granted an annual provision of 12,000 ducats.
1487
May – JulyVeniceAustriaLieutenant GeneralVeneto, TrentinoRoberto da San Severino is contracted for one year of active service and one year of standby, specifically to confront Duke Sigismondo d’Austria in a conflict arising from tariff disputes. He is again appointed as lieutenant general; the agreement is concluded by his son-in-law Lucio Malvezzi and his ambassador in Venice, Davide da Basilea, after being contacted by Antonio Grimani and Domenico Bolani. He is exempted from reviews and inspections. At the end of the month, he immediately moves to Serravalle (Vittorio Veneto). A report sent to Venice from the field indicates that during the same days, San Severino is negotiating a contract with the Genoese, then at war with Florence.
Venice initiates a corruption attempt against the enemy commander Gaudenzio di Matsch, promising him the lordship of Trento and other lands belonging to Duke Sigismondo d’Austria; in return, he would work towards a quick resolution of the conflict. San Severino learns of these negotiations, raises his demands, and asks for a significant increase in salary; otherwise, he threatens to abandon his command. By mid-June, the Serene Republic increases his salary to 60,000 ducats, with 10,000 allocated to his sons Gaspare and Antonio Maria; he is also entrusted with the secret negotiations with Gaudenzio di Matsch. By mid-July, the opposing captain dismantles the artillery, rallies the army, and moves up the Adige Valley. He passes through Trento without stopping, sends a contingent towards Valsugana, and targets Innsbruck.
San Severino commands 4,200 infantry and 3,000 cavalry. He leaves Guido dei Rossi at the camp and moves with Giulio Cesare da Varano. The general plan involves advancing along the Val Lagarina, occupying Rovereto, launching an offensive against Arco, and a second one in Valsugana; the ultimate goal is the conquest of Trento. He encamps near Rovereto: only a forest separates the fields of the two armies. He scouts with Giulio Cesare da Varano and 200 cavalry. The Germans attack them at Ravazzone; the sacrifices of his son Antonio Maria and Venanzio da Varano save the two captains from capture. He occupies Rovereto; from Val Lagarina, he targets Trento. He sets up camp in Pomarolo, which becomes the hub of the attack on the fortress system blocking the road to Trento. He conquers Nomi with bombardment after several days of siege; the fortress is sacked. With the arrival of 800 infantry, he reorganizes the companies from which he removes the most undisciplined soldiers; he also receives considerable funds, ammunition, siege equipment, and sappers.
Aug.TrentinoRoberto da San Severino commands 5,000 infantry and many men-at-arms; he constructs a strong bastion at Castel Pietra and builds a pontoon bridge nearby on the Adige River. He occupies Castel Ivano and Beseno; the Venetians promise to request from the Pope the bishopric of Trento and a cardinal’s hat for his son Federico. Since Castel Pietra is impregnable from the south, he decides to ferry the Adige troops using a raft bridge constructed in the plain of Calliano; he sends Francesco Grasso and Marco da Rimini with 1,200 infantry (actually 500) to the flanks of the mountains to support his action; a body of light cavalry heads towards Trento with many baggage carriers. Franco dal Borgo remains to guard the camp.
The men sent towards Rovereto to encircle Castel Pietra from the north reach Mattarello; they spread out over the countryside; at the camp, few follow the orders to dig a ditch to strengthen the defenses. Everyone thinks of resting, and they lay down their weapons without having prepared a proper surveillance system. The Venetians, attacked by opponents, are caught unprepared and flee. San Severino and Gian Francesco da Tolentino try to rectify the situation; he attempts to stop the fugitives and repel the Landsknechts pressing his men; he also strives to withstand under Beseno the onslaught of enemies led by Giorgio Pietrapiana descending from the mountains. After four hours of fighting, the Venetians head towards the Adige bridge, while 12 Colleoni cavalry squadrons (out of the initial 25) leave the field; even Franco dal Borgo contributes to the defeat by cutting the ropes that hold the pontoon bridge. Many soldiers are thus forced to jump armed into the waters of the Adige. San Severino is overwhelmed in the rout, is wounded (there are also mentions of a Colleoni man-at-arms who stabs him with a dagger), his mount collapses and he falls into the river where he drowns. To explain the circumstances of his end, which remain obscure, people resort to a devil’s intervention from the bank of the Adige, enticing soldiers to throw themselves into the river. There are 1,000 dead among the Venetians, mostly men-at-arms, including Malatesta Baglioni, Gian Francesco, and Antonio da Tolentino; the German losses are roughly identical. His body, recovered in a bend of the Adige, is taken to Trento to be buried with solemn rites in the crypt of the cathedral (with a monument by Luca Moro). Years later, with the permission of Emperor Maximilian of Austria, the body is transferred to Milan to be buried in the church of San Francesco Grande, in a chapel he had constructed. Later, the tomb will be destroyed due to one of the various renovations of that building. In Milan, after the conquest of the city by Francesco Sforza, he resides in the square near the Sforzesco Castle. Portrait by Piero di Cosimo. High relief, formerly in the Borghese Gallery in Rome and now in Paris at the Louvre. His armor is in Vienna at the Kunsthistorisches Museum: it seems to belong to a man of small stature, while contemporary sources describe him as tall, robust, and with brown hair. In the cathedral of Innsbruck, his tombstone is preserved. Remembered by Luigi Pulci in his letters. After 1460, the king of Naples allows him to add to his coat of arms the Aragonese emblem, gold with four red pales.

Sources

-“Uomo turbolento e fazioso nei consigli, ma ottimo capitano.” SISMONDI

-“Capitano di gran credito in questi tempi.. Uomo avvezzo a pescare nel torbido.” MURATORI

-“Tunc temporis uno dei primi de Italia in arte militari.” SANUDO

-“Allora.. primo capitano d’Italia.” PORZIO

-“Valentissimo nell’arte della guerra.” CONTI

-“Huomo nelle guerre fra tutti del suo tempo famosissimo.” PILONI

-“Col Sanseverino l’Italia perdé l’ultimo de’ grandi capitani di ventura, una delle figure più notevoli del Quattrocento. Il Sanseverino può tra gli uomini d’arme rappresentar bene il suo tempo, del quale ebbe tutti i pregi e i difetti, le virilità e le debolezze, le virtù e le colpe.. Fu poi un uomo politico forse più ancora che un condottiero, né prese mai le armi per le armi, ma per servire alle sue idee e alle sue ambizioni, e seppe ottenere tanta autorità, che i più grandi stati d’Italia lo trattarono come una potenza. Fu un’anima irrequieta perché si vide sempre sfuggire la meta delle sue fatiche: ed il suo sogno era uno stato proprio, indipendente.” RAMBALDI

-“O il primo o, senza dubbio, fra ‘ primi del suo tempo..Capitano famoso e grande di corpo e d’animo.” BALDI

-“El qual gran capitano di valore/ signor Ruberto da San Severino/ di ‘Talia è stato un sol splendore,/ enfra de’ capitani il guerrier fino/ piacea a ciaschuno il famoso Signore/ ornato et valoroso San Severino/ et ben però sospirar Italia bella/ ch’era il primo campion ch’avessi in sella.” Da un cantare coevo riportato dal RAMBALDI

-“Est le type echevé de ces grands condottieri italiens, toujours prets à combattre pour le prince ou pour la république qui sait payer leurs services.” PICOT

-“Il Marte dell’Italiana milizia.” DE’ CRESCENZI

-“Di molto valore.” GHIRARDACCI

-“Vir in ipsis castris cum imperio semper versatus.” GALLO

-“Vir illustris in agendo diligentia.” DECEMBRIO

-“Tanto celebrato dagli scrittori di nostra età.. Il qual con gran gloria trattò l’armi per l’Italia.” ALBERTI

-“Huomo bellicoso et nella vittoria sempre nutrito.” PONTANO

-“S’acquistò luogo tra ‘ Capitani chiarissimi.. Era Roberto alto e forte, di volto bianco, e d’occhi e capelli castagnicci.” ROSCIO

-Con Alessandro Sforza “In essa guerra (contro Giovanni d’Angiò) fu notabile la virtù excellente de Alexandro et de Roberto, quali non solo se dimostrarono ne la impresa prestantissimi capitanei, ma ancora, dove bisignoe, fecero effecti et opere de gagliardissimi et fortissimi soldati.” SIMONETTA

-“Eccellentissimo capitano e degno d’esser preposto a i grandissimi capitani di quel tempo.” GIOVIO

-“In quel tempo era tenuto intendentissimo delle cose della guerra.” FOGLIETTA

-“El ditto signore Roberto era uno belo homo et era molto grando.” CORPUS CHRONIC. BONOMIENSIUM

-“Capitano fra gli altri nella milizia celebre.” ROSMINI

-Con Alessandro Sforza, Giovanni Sforza, Leone Sforza, Domenico Malatesta “Uomini eccellentissimi in fatti d’arme.” SABELLICO

-“Capitano illustre de suoi tempi.. Capitano in quei tempi di molto grido.. Il cui valore lo fece di gran lunga maggior di molti altri de suoi passati.” SANSOVINO

-“Famosissimo Capitano di quell’età.” DEZA

-“Illustre capitano.” GABOTTO

-“Duci et sanguine et armis clarissimo..Dux quidem clarissimus.” PORCELLIO

-“Capitano famosissimo.” DOGLIONI

-“Vir belli assuetus.” FLORO

-“Non potendo per forza ingegno ed arte/ Spenger il tuo valor constante e forte/ L’empia fortuna s’accordò con Morte/ Che te assediaro da ciascuna parte./ Ma non fé mai di se tal prova Marte/ Qual fatto hai tu con le tue squadre accorte/ Ed hai morendo tante genti morte/ Che di te sarà scritto in mille carte./ Nulla giova acquistare in terra onore/ Ed ogni nostro affaticare è vano;/ Quel solo ha gloria eterna che ben more;/ Morto, Roberto, sei con l’arme in mano:/ Bel fine a te, che gliè gran disonore/ Morir in su le piume un capitano.” TEBALDEO

-“Celebre capitano di quei tempi.” BARBACOVI

-“Condottiero di gran rinomo.” UGOLINI

-“Illustre e famoso Capitano de suoi tempi.” AMMIRATO

-“Capitaine de grand renom, mais turbolent et factieux.” PERRENS

-“Haec monstrare volent sua quanta potentia saeclis/ Plurima preteritis hominum sublimia fecit/ Pectora sed nostro non usa minoribus aevo/ Viribus illustrem belli pacisq., Robertum/ Protulit officiis: se seq. affudit in illum.” BATTISTA MANTOVANO

-“Soldato famoso e principale di quei tempi.” GHILINI

-“Valoroso capitano del secolo XV.” BOSI

-“Qui tot et tanta fecit miranda..Magnus armorum Capitaneus.” RIPALTA

-Con Dolce dell’Anguillara “Ambidue Capitani d’assai chiaro nome.” SPINO

-“Uno de’ più riputati condottieri del tempo.” BATTISTELLA

-Con Roberto Orsini “Insignes eo bello duces (contro Bartolomeo Colleoni).” FABRONIO

-“Sotto la disciplina sua (di Francesco Sforza) era divenuto valorosissimo nell’arte militare.” AFFO’

-“Famosissimo guerriero.” PUCCINELLI

-“D’ardir, d’ingegno e di valor coperto/…/ El qual veramente a gran distino,/ più che signor de Italia, la famiglia/ hebbe feroce e d’ardir pelegrino.” SANTI

-“Famoso condottiero.” GAMURRINI

-“Uno dei comandanti più esperti e prestigiosi d’Italia.” MALLETT

-“Era come condottiero, molto meno valente di quanto volesse far credere la fama che lo circondava; e pur tuttavia, per la sua ambizione a procurarsi uno stato e per le milizie mercenarie che capitanava, era allora ritenuto un elemento insidioso ai normali rapporti tra gli stati.” PONTIERI

-“Celebre comandante d’eserciti.” G. BONOLI

-“Capitano celeberrimo.” AMBROSI

-“Guerriero di fama luminosa, ebbe però tutti i vizi dei venturieri, sleale, traditore, ribelle; non troviamo nella sua vita un atto solo di generosità, ma però il sagrificio di tanti uomini, le rapacità, le distruzioni, gl’incendii acquistarono a lui non invidiabile, ma grandiosa rinomanza.” I. CANTU’

-“Accorto capitano.” GALANTINO

-“Forse con una certa esagerazione – era reputato il miglior condottiero del tempo.” SHAW

-“Capitano di supremo valore.” PEZZANA

-“Perito e vecchio capitano.” VARESE 

-“Non fu del manco scudero et gagliardo del padre.” MINUTI

-“Homo strenuo et in facto de le arme molto experto.” BERNABEI

-“Roberto che fortuna comandi/ e ‘n prode ha Marte.” Bellincioni Ode riportata da MALAGUZZI VALERI

-“Famoso Capitano de i suoi tempi.” CIRILLO

-“Uno dei più brillanti capitani del tempo.” BORTOLAMI-CESCHI

-“El signor Ruberto da San Severino/ per capitan general fu chiamato/ el possente Veneto domin,/ et triomphale bastone gli fu dato/ sì come a francho e vero paladino/ sì come egli è il vero per certo/ gagliardo ne l’arme francho experto.” Da “La guerra di Ferrara” in GUERRE IN OTTAVA RIMA

-“El sir Ruberto il capitano ornato/ ferito era nel pecto & nella fronte/ el campo in rotta tucto fracassato/ correndo venne alla volta del ponte/ & veggendo ch’el ponte era tagliato/ si volle ritirare verso il monte/ dicendo lasso a me ch’io son tradito/ piangendo bater il pecto sbigottito./ El sir ruberto el franco capitano/ vedendo la gran furia de thodeschi/ come un pompeo con la spada in mano/ dicea qualenrhuon mia coglioneschi/ vedere il caso nostro iniquo & strano/ o Dio habbi pietà di noi timoreschi/ & sospirando forte lacrymava/ perché molti nel fiume figiatava/…/ El qual gran capitano di valore/ signor ruberto da san severino/ d’Italia è stato un sol splendore/ enfra de  il guerrier fino/ piacea a ciaschuno il famoso/ signor ornato & valoroso sanseverino/ & ben può sospirar italia bella/ ch’era il primo campion ch’avessi in sella.” Da “La guerra dei tedeschi contro i veneziani” in GUERRE IN OTTAVA RIMA 

-“..ben che ferito, el San Severino/ in mezo de nemici si cacciava/ com’armigero et vero guerrier fino,/ et col cavallo facea come un leone/ che mai tanto non fé Scipione./ El sir Ruberto un po’ d’acqua passoe/ per andare a un greto rilevato,/ ma lui e ‘l cavallo sotto acqua andoe,/ onde fue della sella traboccato,/ alla riva alcuni salci s’attachoe/ dubitando annegare il sire ornato,/ ma Alamanni assai gli fue adosso/ e morto fue sulla riva del fosso.” Da una canzone popolare di ANONIMO composta in occasione della sua morte

-“Un condottiero di rango..Grande condottiero, nobile di origine meridionale, parente stretto degli Sforza.” COVINI

-“Dal 1476 al 1482 tutti gli assedi sono ormai un rimbombare di bombarde; il condottiero Roberto di Sanseverino fa muovere i suoi fanti su ponti costruiti con otri gonfiati, e cavalieri e carriaggi su ponti di barche; per scalare le mura si serve di scale, di macchine e di ferramenta, mentre riesce con accortezza a sfuggire da certe valli anguste e paludose nelle quali era stato imbottigliato dal nemico.” SETTIA

-“Uno dei più titolati condottieri in circolazione…Illustre condottiero, nipote di Francesco Sforza; la tempestosa vicenda politica e militare del Sanseverino, nominato Signore di Cittadella, si conclude sul campo di battaglia nella guerra del Trentino.” GROSSI-JORI

-“Dalla cui (Francesco Sforza) eccellente militar disciplina ammaestrato, s’acquistò luogo tra i Capitani chiarissimi.. di volto bianco: e d’occhi, e capelli castagnicci.” CAPRIOLO

-“Esperto condottiero” MUSSO

-“In San Francesco Grande a Milano..si elevava l’”arca coperta di broccato locato in alto con molti stendardi” del condottiero Roberto Sanseverino, nipote di Francesco Sforza deceduto il 10 agosto 1487 sul campo di battaglia di Calliano. Dopo essere stato sepolto nel coro del Duomo di Trento, dotato prima di un catafalco equestre vestito con la raffinatissima armatura insanguinata del conte (ora al Kunsthistoriches Museum di Vienna), poi verso il 1493 sovrastata da un purpureo monumento marmoreo con “gisant” a bassorilievo per commissione imperiale, infine divenuta oggetto di contrastanti programmi della memoria che travalicarono i secoli con rigurgiti perfino durante il ventennio fascista, la salma del conte di Caiazzo aveva trovato sontuoso riposo, dal 1498 e almeno fino alle riforme borromaiche, nell’antico tempio dei Minori in Milano rispettando le originarie volontà del defunto. Spettava infatti a Roberto l’acquisto e rinnovo di patronato e vestigia della più prestigiosa cappella di San Francesco: un inserimento forzato in uno spazio già visconteo per assicurare l’assimilazione della propria famiglia nella città ambrosiana. La cappella accanto, già Pusterla, era passata nei primi decenni del XV secolo ad un altro condottiero, il conte di Carmagnola, qui deposto con la sposa Visconti e un certo numero di parenti.” ROSSETTI

-“Quel de Italia è al fondo,/ né mai s’é riveduto altro scoperto,/ dal giorno in qua che si morì Ruberto.” Da un sonetto di A. Camelli ripreso dal ROSSETTI 

-“Potente nel reame (di Napoli) per casato, per terre, per congiunti; chiaro per indole, per costumi, per valore.” TOMACELLI CAPECE

-“Spericolato condottiero.” MORO

-La  tomba del San Severino a Trento. “Il condottiero veneziano è ..scolpito nel marmo rosso di Trento, .. rivestito della sua armatura mentre regge nella destra lo stendardo della Repubblica Veneta capovolto e l’asta spezzata. Ai suoi piedi è collocato il suo stemma e sul bordo della lapide è scolpita una lunga iscrizione tedesca in caratteri gotici qui riprodotta (tradotta): L’anno 1487 nel piano di S. Lorenzo l’illustre principe Sigismondo d’Austria sconfisse i veneziani il cui comandante, giace qui sepolto. Che Dio abbia pietà di lui.” RASMO

-“Alla sua epoca come nei secoli venturi, Roberto divenne famoso per l’alto valore militare, il genio strategico e il coraggio. Insieme e dopo Bartolomeo Colleoni fu il primo e il più stimato condottiero della penisola italiana.. Fu d’indole scaltra, approfittatrice e orgogliosa, nonché – proprio come il figlio Fracasso – iracondo, focoso e irruento: cadeva spesso soggetto a violenti attacchi d’ira in pubblico: è noto quando nel 1466, nel giardino della duchessa di Calabria, giunse ad insultare gravemente il principe di Salerno, suo omonimo, per una disputa su alcune proprietà. Era testardo e impaziente, assetato di onori.” WIKIPEDIA

-Epigrafe sulla sua tomba di Trento “Italiae victor Severina stirpe Robertus,/ Sigismundum australem sensit in arma ducem,/ Ter proceres veneti bello petiere Tridentium/ Ter victi, hic victus ecce Robertus adest.”

-A Venezia, nel Palazzo Ducale, sempre a ricordo della sua morte, è posta la seguente iscrizione “Bellorum domitor, Severina stirpe Robertus/ Alter qui nostro tempore Cesar erat,/ Cuius virtutem Feraria ferrea sensit/ Horruit Aemilia celsasque Roma tremit./ Frenavit Janue partes Liguremque superbum/ Italiae terror teutonicusque metus,/ Fortuna invida regat posta fata Tridenti,/ Quod non vita sibi, mors inopina dedit.”

Featured image: caiazzo.gov.it

In the main image: Wikipedia

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