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

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The Life and Legacy of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta

Italian CondottieriThe Life and Legacy of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta

Condottiero violent and unpredictable who possesses a certain dose of genius for matters of war. Of greater value than his rival Federico da Montefeltro, in him are combined vices and passions that make him, at the same time, perfidious, prudent and reckless, according to the circumstances, a simulator, poet, lover, artist. He invents some war machines.

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Last Updated on 2024/03/01

Legacy and Historical Impact: Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta’s Military Campaigns.

Born: 1417 (June)
Death: 1468 (October)

Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468) was an influential Italian condottiero and nobleman from the distinguished House of Malatesta. He governed the cities of Rimini and Fano from 1432, exhibiting his leadership both on the battlefield and in politics. Malatesta demonstrated his military skill in 1465 by directing the Venetian forces in a campaign against the Ottoman Empire, earning him recognition as one of Italy’s most intrepid military leaders of his era. Beyond his military and political pursuits, he was also a patron of the arts and a poet, contributing significantly to the cultural vibrancy of the Renaissance period.

SIGISMONDO PANDOLFO MALATESTA of Brescia. Nicknamed the Wolf of Rimini. Lord of Rimini, Senigallia, Gradara, Cervia, Fano, Bertinoro, San Leo, Macerata Feltria, Sant’Agata Feltria, Scorticata, Mondaino, Casteldelci, Sassocorvaro, Bellaria, San Mauro Pascoli, Gatteo, Montiano, Longiano, Savignano sul Rubicone, Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna, Verucchio, Pennabilli, Pietrarubbia, San Giovanni in Marignano, Cavoleto, Talamello, Serrungarina, Montemarciano, Pergola, Montevecchio, Nidastore, Ostra, Morro, Mondavio, Monteloro, Montecchio, Fratte Rosa, Torre San Marco, San Vito sul Cesano, Reforzate, Barchi, Rupoli, Orciano di Pesaro, San Giorgio di Pesaro, Piagge, San Costanzo, Montemaggiore al Metauro, Sorbolongo, Sant’Andrea, Mondolfo, Cerasa, Montebello, Arcevia, Petrella Guidi, Montecassiano, Corinaldo, Citerna. Natural son of Pandolfo Malatesta, brother of Domenico Malatesta; father of Roberto Malatesta, son-in-law of Francesco Sforza; father-in-law of Carlo di Montone, Cristoforo da Forlì, Cecco Ordelaffi and Giulio Cesare da Varano.

Year, monthState. Comp. ventureOpponentConductActivity areaActions taken and other salient facts
1427
Mar.Marche, RomagnaHe spent the early years of his life in Fano. Upon the death of his father, he moved to Rimini to live with his uncle Carlo, who oversaw his education. This latter (in February 1428) obtained from Pope Martin V the legitimization of Sigismondo and his brothers. Sigismondo was destined to rule over Fano; his brothers Galeotto Roberto and Domenico, on the other hand, were to rule over Rimini and Cesena respectively.
1429MarcheTo finance the war against the Montefeltro, he sells Corinaldo to the very inhabitants. His brother Domenico doesn’t agree with this decision. As a result, the citizens, out of fear of being attacked by the latter, obtain protection from the Holy See.
1430
MayRiminiPesaroRomagnaGiovanni Malatesta allies himself with the Malatestas of Pesaro to stir up Rimini. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, thanks to his skill in riding and the physical exercises he is accustomed to, manages to escape the danger and abandon the city in the throes of revolt; with his brother Domenico, he gathers supporters and followers (from 3000 to 7000 men) in a short time, preventing in Rimini the intervention of the lord of Pesaro, Carlo Malatesta, who is eager to lend strong support to the rebels.
JuneRiminiVenture companyMarcheHe sets off at night beyond the Foglia towards Serrungarina; with admirable readiness, he surprises at Corpolò the condottieri Sante Carillo, Andrea della Serra, Luca da Castello and Ranieri Vibi del Frogia, who, driven by Guidantonio da Montefeltro and Galeazzo Malatesta, are devastating the countryside of Fano. The opponents leave many dead on the field and 300 captured horses with their squad leaders. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta continues his march and takes over Sant’ Ippolito, which has rebelled against Carlo Malatesta.
……………RiminiUrbinoMarcheHe opposes the Montefeltro. With aid received from the Ordelaffi, he prevents the Count of Urbino from occupying Sassocorvaro.
1431
……………Church200 lancesRomagnaHe obtains a command of 200 lances from the pontiffs: the term is set at six months and is renewable: he is tasked with persuading the minor Romagna lords to pay the due census to the state of the Church.
Mar.VenetoHe goes to Venice. He is added to the Major Council with his brother Domenico.
Oct.MarcheHe rushes to Fano with 300 infantrymen with the aim of quelling some riots that have arisen in the city.
Nov.VenetoHe returns to Venice. He gets engaged to Luciana Bussone, daughter of Carmagnola. The latter sends him, as an advance of the dowry, some money, a piece of fine brocade, and a silver helmet.
Dec.MarcheHe must intervene again in Fano to quell a revolt that his brother Domenico has not been able to control: in the town hall, he is attacked by 300 peasants incited by a priest, Matteo Buratelli, parish priest of Cuccurano. In the clash, Giovanni di Carpegna is killed and among his men, Bartolomeo da Brescia, Atto degli Atti, and Marcovaldo Argolanti are injured, who lead 4000 infantrymen and many horses. Carlo Malatesta from Pesaro also intervenes; he, with a valuable array of soldiers, helps free Malatesta from the rebels, occupy the fortress, and restore order in the city. Malatesta is stabbed in the side: the wound does not allow him to attend the exemplary punishment that will mark the end of the sedition. According to a legend, Malatesta would have sodomized the priest in front of witnesses before turning the guilty party over to the justice of the podestà. In reality, Matteo Buratelli is degraded by a council of 7 bishops, is handed over to secular justice and is hanged in the square of the Rimini fountain with 14 of his companions.
1432
MayFollowing the condemnation and subsequent decapitation of Carmagnola by the Venetians, Malatesta not only breaks off the engagement with the daughter, but also refuses to return the dowry on the pretext that, in any case, it would not have gone to the family but to the Serenissima who has confiscated the executed condottiero’s assets. The Venetians intervene with Malatesta; he will have to return the dowry in annual installments of 2000 ducats starting from January 1434.
Jul.RomagnaHe likely orders the murder of his uncle Carlo’s widow, Elisabetta Gonzaga, who has given birth to a girl, Margherita, who is suspected to be the result of his illicit love affair with the relative.
Oct.RomagnaHe is accused of having poisoned his brother Galeotto Roberto: he succeeds him in the lordship of Rimini, in that of Fano and in some lands of Montefeltro.
1433
……………RomagnaHe marries for the first time with Ginevra d’Este.
Sept.RomagnaIn Rimini, he welcomes Emperor Sigismund of Hungary, who is returning from Rome following his coronation by the pope. He hands over the keys to the city to the emperor. Among the royal entourage are Marsilio da Carrara, Brunoro della Scala, and the Duke of Bavaria, with 2500 cavalry and 400 infantry. The golden brocade canopy, adorned with pearls and precious stones, is carried on the shoulders, among others, by Cocco Malatesta, Francesco di Carpegna, Gian Francesco da Piagnano, Antonio da Montesecco, and Carlo da Montalboddo. On this occasion, Sigismund Pandolfo and his brother Domenico are knighted by the sovereign.
Oct.RomagnaHe grants Ramberto Malatesta, Count of Ghiaggiolo, the castle of Monlione and the Tomba di Gambettola in recognition of the services that have been rendered to him.
Dec.RiminiChurchRomagnaHe takes control of Cervia and its salt pans: the Rector of Romagna, the Venetian Tommaso da Traù, doesn’t have sufficient forces to demand respect and the Serene Republic of Venice shows favor to Malatesta. In contrast, Pope Eugene IV declares him a rebel.
1434
Jan., Feb.Emilia, RomagnaHe goes to Ferrara to collect Ginevra d’Este, his bride, with whom he makes a solemn entrance into Rimini in early February. Jousts, triumphs, and tournaments, including battles at a wooden castle, take place in the Foro square to celebrate the nuptials. His brother Domenico and Carlo Malatesta are also present at the ceremonies. The marriage will last six years until Malatesta has his wife poisoned because he falls in love with another woman. His subsequent marriage to Polissena, the daughter of Francesco Sforza, will also meet a tragic end when she is strangled years later (June 1449) with a towel around her neck in Castel Sismondo, in Rimini, at the Scolca convent; on this occasion, he also kills a Franciscan monk, whom he starves to death in a tower because the monk refused to betray the secret of the confession. His most successful marriage will be his last, with Isotta degli Atti.
……………RomagnaHe cedes Cervia and its associated salt pans to his brother Domenico, the lord of Cesena.
Nov.Marche, RomagnaHe goes to Urbino; the negotiations for the marriage of his brother Domenico to Violante da Montefeltro, daughter of Guidantonio, are concluded. He returns to Rimini and welcomes the bride with all the appropriate honors.
1435
Mar.Church200 lancesTuscanyIn Florence, to pay homage to Pope Eugene IV. He obtains the reconfirmation of the vicariate of Cervia. He is commissioned with 200 lances for six months; he is recognized with a monthly provision of 100 florins.
Apr.ChurchMilanGeneral CaptainHe receives from the Pope the command of his troops in Romagna and the Marches. Many soldiers in his companies are from Rimini and belong to the city’s most prominent families.
MayRomagnaHe carries out some raids in the Forlì area with his brother Domenico; near Ronco, with 500 cavalry and many selected troops, he defeats the militias of Antonio Ordelaffi.
JuneTuscany, RomagnaHe facilitates a treaty in Borgo San Sepolcro (Sansepolcro) to incite the city to rebel against Niccolò Fortebraccio: he approaches the city and runs the risk of being overwhelmed by the superior forces of Niccolò and Francesco Piccinino. Francesco Sforza reaches him in Cesena with 3000 cavalry.
Aug.UmbriaHe moves under Assisi; in an action, he is almost captured by some Perugian exiles who are fighting with Taliano Furlano: he is pursued up to Spello.
Sept.ChurchMilanRomagnaHe continues to oppose Antonio Ordelaffi with Sforza; he occupies Forlimpopoli and spreads fires and devastation throughout the territory. He enters Forlì and takes up residence in the Church of San Mercuriale.
Oct.EmiliaHe is called by the Papal Governor of Bologna, Daniele da Treviso; he enters the city with 600 cavalry through the San Mammolo Gate. He lodges in the San Paolo district; in Bologna, he has several notables hanged.
Nov., dec.EmiliaHe stays in Bologna with Francesco and Alessandro Sforza: he is appointed as the governor of the troops.
1436
Mar.TuscanyHe is in Florence for the consecration of Santa Maria del Fiore, which takes place in the presence of Eugene IV: on this occasion, commissioned by the Pope, he bestows the order of knighthood on the standard-bearer Davanzati.
JuneRomagnaHe encamps at San Martino with Taliano Furlano and his brother Domenico. He raids the Forlì area once again.
Aug.ChurchCunioRomagnaHe attacks the Counts of Cunio in Lugo. He forces them to surrender in a few days.
Sept.EmiliaHe returns to Bologna; with his brother Domenico, he leaves the Papal Governor Baldassarre da Offida at the mercy of Sforza’s troops at Riccardina.
Oct.EmiliaOn guard duty in Bologna with Alessandro and Francesco Sforza.
1437
Apr.VeniceMilan200 lancesHe is commissioned by the Venetians for a term of six months, with an additional six months of respect: he is given the opportunity not to have to oppose the troops of the Church State. Stone of Castel Sismondo.
MayEmiliaHe is driven out of Bologna by Niccolò Piccinino. At the end of the month, in Rimini, the foundation stone of Castel Sismondo is laid. Malatesta personally oversees the project; the execution of the work lasts nine years, ceasing only in 1446. Brunelleschi is also involved in its construction.
JulyRomagnaIn the division of his father’s inheritance, he is allotted Rimini and the lands beyond the Marecchia River, including Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna, Scorticata, and Sant’Agata Feltria.
Sept.LombardyUnder the command of Gian Francesco Gonzaga. He is again defeated by Piccinino (with 12,000 cavalry and many infantry) at Calcinato on the Oglio.
Dec.LombardyDuring the winter season, his men, like those of Bartolomeo Colleoni, cause damage to the crops in the outskirts of Gorle. The estimated damage amounts to 225 ducats. Doge Francesco Foscari expresses his dissatisfaction with the actions of the two condottieri.
1438
Apr.Lombardy, MarcheHe leaves Bergamo to return to the Marche of Ancona.
1439
Apr.MarcheHe departs from Rimini with Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, and together they obtain Pergola. They enter Pergola in the middle of the month with Baldovino da Tolentino and Scariotto da Faenza. They then lay siege to Rocca Contrada (Arcevia).
May600 cavalryRomagnaHe arrives at Maiano Monti and later moves with Francesco Sforza to defend Forlì with a force of 200 cavalry and 200 infantry.
Oct.RiminiUrbinoMarcheHe seizes control of three castles in the upper course of the Senatello, which belong to Federico da Montefeltro: Casteldelci, Senatello, and Faggiuola.
Nov.MarcheHe loses Tavoleto, which is plundered by Montefeltro and Baldaccio d’Anghiari. In turn, Malatesta invades Montefeltro and captures eight castles: Castelnuovo, Montefotogno, Piatramaura, Pennarossa, Viano, Savignano di Rigo, Rontagnano, and Tivizzano, which is sacked.
Dec.VeniceMilanRomagnaHe sets up camp at Montegelli with the cannons and takes control of the locality within three days. Fifteen infantrymen, who were sent to aid the defenders by Guidantonio Manfredi, are captured. All the soldiers are hanged at the castle gate.
1440
Mar.Rimini, MilanoUrbino, FirenzeMarcheHe loses Ruoppolo (Rupoli), a territory in the vicariate of Fano, which is plundered, similar to what happens to the castle of Fossa by Baldaccio d’Anghiari. He faces opposition from Piccinino and is convinced to switch to the employment of the Visconti, to the detriment of the Florentines.
Apr.MarcheUnder the pressure of Piccinino, he journeys to Urbino and stays there for four days, where he is magnificently welcomed by Guidantonio da Montefeltro.
MayMarche, RomagnaHe departs from Fano and sets up camp near Cervia with 800 cavalry and 400 infantry. He participates in the conquest of Modigliana.
JuneRomagnaNiccolò Piccinino suffers a heavy defeat by Micheletto Attendolo and Pietro Giampaolo Orsini in Anghiari. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta attempts to take remedial action and hosts Oddantonio da Montefeltro in Rimini.
JulyRomagnaHe enters into a treaty of alliance with the lord of Faenza, Guidantonio Manfredi. He meets Pietro Giampaolo Orsini at the Cotogni Gate in Forlì.
Aug.FlorenceMilanRomagnaHe fights against the ducal forces under the command of Sforza, while his brother Domenico fights for the Visconti. He sets up camp in Ronco and besieges Forlimpopoli, where the defenders often gain the upper hand against his troops. He then camps in Selbagnone and besieges Forlì.
Sept. – Oct.RomagnaHe occupies Bagnacavallo, Massa Lombarda, and other lands in the territory of Imola. With Angelo d’Anghiari, he positions himself between Bertinoro and Cesena. He is either unable or unwilling to prevent Francesco Piccinino from entering Forlì. He damages many villages and attempts to conquer the capital. Seeing the futility of the endeavor, he moves to Forlimpopoli with the other condottieri. In mid-October, the Florentines take the road to Capo del Colle and Val di Savio. Malatesta stays in San Vittore due to being blocked by the swollen rivers. The Florentine militias continue towards Tuscany, while he is forced to pause for a few days since he cannot find shelter in Cesena, given that his brother serves the Duke of Milan. He returns to Rimini.
1441
Feb.VeniceMilan500 lances and 300 infantrymenLombardy, RomagnaHe is brought by the Venetians for a year of service and six months of goodwill. He leaves Lombardy and settles in Santarcangelo di Romagna with Giovanni Sforza.
Apr., MayRiminiPesaro, UrbinoMarcheHe threatens Pesaro and Fossombrone, which are aided by Montefeltro, who moves with 200 cavalry and 300 infantry to support Galeazzo Malatesta, the lord of Pesaro. His presence is reported in Macerata and Fermo.
JuneVeniceMilanRomagnaHe leaves Ruffio in the Ravenna area with 1500 cavalry and 500 infantry, then arrives at Forlimpopoli and the San Benedetto camp near Bertinoro. He later returns to the Ravenna region. In the middle of the month, he approaches the Cotogni Gate of Forlì without the inhabitants noticing. A skirmish ensues in the village, and he is wounded. He is repelled along with the exiles who are fighting alongside him. On this occasion, he was promised 3000 florins to plunder the surrounding countryside for three days. Malatesta returns to Cesena in the service of the Venetians.
Jul.RomagnaHe arrives at Maiano Monti and continues to cause damage in the Forlì region. He meets Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, a chancellor of Francesco Sforza, and Antonio Ordelaffi, who has now become an ally of the anti-Visconti league, at the Cotogni Gate. Afterward, he departs from the territory.
Aug. – Sept.RiminiUrbinoMarcheHe incites Alberigo Brancaleoni against Federico da Montefeltro, with whom he has conflicting interests, and provides him with supporting troops. The ally seizes several fortresses, including Santa Croce near Sassocorvaro and Monte Locco. Montefeltro arrives near Monte Locco, and Malatesta sends him a message assuring his neutrality and promising to intervene against Brancaleoni.
Oct.MarcheUnder the cover of night, he launches an attack with all his forces on a Feltre encampment, dispersing the troops of Giannino da Caravaggio. Federico da Montefeltro is surrounded in his quarters and, wounded by an arrow, barely manages to seek refuge in his third camp. 3000 infantrymen led by Matteo da Sant’Angelo intervene, forcing Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta to retreat. The Riminese condottiero seizes Tavoleto but loses Santa Croce. He passes through Macerata and heads to Fermo, where he marries Polissena Sforza. The wedding takes place in the Girifalco fortress. Meanwhile, Matteo da Sant’Angelo arrives with 400 infantrymen and, in turn, defeats the Malatesta forces, also reclaiming San Leo.
Nov.MarcheHe is compelled by Francesco Sforza to make peace with Federico da Montefeltro.
Dec.He is in Cremona for the wedding of Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti. He remains in the city for a month and a half.
1442
Feb.Romagna, MarcheHe returns from Lombardy and arrives in Santarcangelo di Romagna with Sforza. He then travels to Fermo and Fano with his future wife Polissena, daughter of Francesco Sforza. Festivities, games, and jousts are organized for three days, and even the local shops remain closed.
Mar. – apr.MarcheHe is in Fermo to retrieve his future wife. He then travels to Fano. In April, he leaves the city with a retinue of 160 horses to visit Loreto with his wife. He eventually returns to Rimini.
May – JuneSforzaChurch, NaplesMarcheHe marries Polissena Sforza and holds a joust in the square of Foro. He hosts his father-in-law and Bianca Maria Visconti in Gradara and aids them against the Papal States and the Aragonese. He leaves Rimini with 1600 horses and 400 infantry, heading to Jesi, and sends 800 troops to guard Forlì.
Aug.MarcheHe defeats Niccolò Piccinino at Amandola.
Oct.MarcheHe defends Fabriano and hinders the opponents who seek to transfer from Umbria to the Marche region. Troilo da Rossano is defeated by a sudden attack from Roberto da Montalboddo, but Malatesta intervenes with Pietro Brunoro and routs the enemy.
Dec.RomagnaHe returns to Rimini. He reaches an agreement in Cesenatico with his brother Domenico regarding the division of the Malatesta states. In the same year, he attempts to have Fra Paolo Spannocchi, a Sienese, killed in San Marino. Spannocchi intended to establish a monastery of the Servite Order in Valdragone, but the religious figure opposed Malatesta’s political pursuits in the state.
1443
Jan. – mar.RomagnaHe is in Cesena with his brother Domenico. Days later, he receives his relative in Rimini. There is a subsequent meeting with his brother in March between Fano and Rimini.
Apr.RiminiPesaroMarcheHe attempts to seize Pesaro through a treaty, at the expense of Galeazzo Malatesta. He manages to bring some of his men-at-arms into the city, but seven of them are discovered and immediately hanged. Similarly, his attempt to take control of Frontone also fails.
MaySforzaChurch, NaplesMarche, RomagnaHe continues to aid Sforza, who is besieged in Fano. He breaks through the enemy’s encirclement and enters the city with reinforcements for his father-in-law. He then boards a galley and returns to Rimini, evading the surveillance of the Aragonese fleet.
JuneMarcheHe captures Sant’Anatolia (Esanatoglia), and during the conflict, Pazzaglia, who had spoken ill of him, is killed.
JulyMarcheHe conquers Castelraimondo and camps near Tolentino. When Piccinino arrives near Visso, he moves from San Severino Marche with a force of 3000-4000 infantry and several cavalry units. During a nighttime attack led by Brunoro, they engage the enemy camp. Federico da Sassoferrato, along with some infantry, is killed among the Sforza forces. The captain from Perugia is forced to abandon the siege and retreat to Norcia.
Aug.MarcheIt appears that he is approached by emissaries from Alfonso d’Aragona, to whom he gives hope of betraying Sforza. However, the matter does not come to fruition. He continues to be reported as defending Fano.
Sept.RomagnaHe has a meeting in Rimini with Sforza and Sarpellione. Immediately after, he leaves the city to confront the adversaries in Mondaino.
Nov.General CaptainMarche, RomagnaHe is sent by Francesco Sforza as the vanguard to Montelauro to set up camp there. He leads a courageous frontal attack, routing the enemy troops, forcing them to flee, and capturing a huge booty including 2000 horses, wagons, and weapons. Piccinino is defeated in a damp and drizzly battle. Malatesta himself kills Giannino da Caravaggio but is wounded in the encounter. The victory is not fully achieved as Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta does not pursue the fleeing enemies but instead disperses, according to previous agreements, to engage in small actions aimed at capturing several castles in the Pesaro district. Federico da Montefeltro positions himself to defend the area. Malatesta quickly gains control of Montelauro, Granarola, Pozzo del Piano, and the Tomba di Pesaro. Candelara and Novilara surrender to him after a brief siege, followed by Montelabbate and Gradara. Sforza promises him Pesaro, and he returns to Rimini.
Dec.MarcheWhen Sforza moves to the Marche of Ancona, he allows some soldiers to enter Montalboddo (Ostra) under the pretext of purchasing provisions but instead seizes the castle. He distributes the troops in the winter camps of Fano and Rimini and proceeds to besiege Monte San Pietrangeli, where Giacomo da Caivana and Antonello della Torre are defending.
1444
Jan.MarcheHe clashes near Monte San Pietrangeli with Federico da Montefeltro and Francesco Piccinino, and defeats his opponents in a fierce battle fought under the snow. He then returns to Rimini.
Feb. – mar.MarcheHe resumes his campaign in the Pesaro region and conquers Montegaudio, Frontone, and Casteldelci.
Apr.VenetoHe signs a fifteen-day truce with Galeazzo Malatesta. He travels to Venice in search of reinforcements. Sforza, to enable his departure, pledges his silverware in favor of Malatesta, later redeemed by the Jew Giuseppe, as well as the jewels of his wife. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta is excommunicated by Pope Eugenio IV, along with his father-in-law.
JuneMarcheThe papal forces launch an offensive and take control of Montelabbate and the Tomba di Pesaro. Federico da Montefeltro and Matteo da Sant’Angelo raid Riccione, Scanzano, and Saludecio. A six-month truce is declared with Oddantonio da Montefeltro.
JulyMarcheMeanwhile, his relationship with Sforza worsens. Upon returning from Venice with 35,000 ducats owed by the Serenissima to his father-in-law, he does not hand over the entire sum as he keeps the portion pertaining to his own troops’ pay, lodgings, and provisions. His father-in-law asks him to move towards Osimo and Recanati to prevent reinforcements from reaching Niccolò Piccinino, but Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, on the contrary, delays and focuses on reclaiming Tomba. He leaves Fano but returns after three days, using the pretext of repelling an attack by Federico da Montefeltro on Rimini.
Aug. – Sept.MarcheHe participates in the Battle of Montolmo (Corridonia), but from the very beginning, he flees in the face of Piccinino. In September, he assists Giovanni Gabrielli in returning to Frontone. However, the soldiers of Sforza sack the castle, the inhabitants rebel, and the Sforza troops are expelled. In the same month, he requests Sforza not to renew the year of goodwill, and his request is granted.
Oct.MarcheHe has his chancellor, Gaspare da Sassoferrato, hanged in Fano, displaying his body at the windows of the Palazzo del Podestà. Subsequently, he decides to change his approach towards his father-in-law. He visits him in Fermo, apologizes, and is forgiven.
Nov.MarcheHe is included in the peace treaty signed by the parties as an adherent of Sforza. He obtains the lordship of Gradara, Montelauro, Granarola, and Pozzo del Piano from the Papal States.
1445
Jan.Already alarmed by Federico da Montefeltro’s switch to the employment of Francesco Sforza, he further distances himself from his father-in-law when Galeazzo Malatesta sells Pesaro to Alessandro Sforza and Fossombrone to his longtime rival.
Feb.ChurchSforzaGeneral CaptainMarcheHe sends a challenge to Galeazzo Malatesta, but it goes unanswered. He approaches Duke Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan, who fuels his resentment. Ultimately, he allies himself with the King of Naples and the Pope (switching to their employment) in order to strip Sforza of his possessions in the Marche of Ancona. He awaits in Tavoleto and is challenged to a pitched battle by Sforza.
Mar. – Apr.While awaiting the arrival of the Ducal troops led by Taliano Furlano, Giacomo da Caivana, and Roberto da Montalboddo, he enters into a truce with Montefeltro, with Sforza himself acting as a guarantor.
June – JulyMarcheTogether with his brother Domenico, he attacks Alessandro Sforza in Fano. He joins forces with Taliano Furlano and launches attacks in the Pesaro and Fano regions against Sforza, who has captured and burned several of his castles. He attempts to seize Pesaro through a surprise attack.
Aug.Marche, RomagnaHe concentrates his troops between Fano and Senigallia. He conquers Montelicciano through a nocturnal assault, ransacking and setting the town on fire. He obtains Monte, a hamlet of San Leo, and seizes the wheat belonging to Ugolino Bandi. He meets Carlo di Montone and Roberto da Montalboddo in Rimini during the solemn entrance of the new bishop of the city, Bartolomeo Malatesta. He departs from San Salvatore and once again targets Fano, forcing Sforza to retreat from Carignano and fall back to Fermo.
Sept.Marche, AbruzziHe boards a galley and reaches the Abruzzo region to urge Alfonso d’Aragona to move to the Marche. Upon his return, along with his brother Domenico, Taliano Furlano, and Baldovino da Tolentino, he resumes the offensive in the Marche of Ancona. He occupies Offida after an eight-day siege and recaptures Sassoferrato, Piandimeleto, and Montirone.
Oct.Marche, RomagnaHe leaves Recanati (where the inhabitants donate 500 ducats to him) and successfully marches on Osimo. With Taliano Furlano, Antonio Rido, and Roberto da Montalboddo, he also attempts a surprise attack on Ancona. He launches an assault on the Porta di Capodimonte and the Porta di San Giovanni. He negotiates the surrender of Montesanto (Potenza Picena) and besieges Civitanova Marche. Through a treaty, he enters Arcevia, and the locality is granted to him as a lordship by the Pope. After three days, he captures the fortress and other castles where the papal troops make incursions. For the occasion, he orders grand festivities in Rimini. In the middle of the month, he is reported in the Forlì region with Antonio Rido and Cardinal Ludovico Scarampo, and the troops receive necessary provisions and forage for the cavalry from the capital.
Nov.MarcheHe arrives in Sassoferrato with the legate, Cardinal Scarampo. He enters Fermo, which has rebelled against Alessandro Sforza. His return to Rimini is triumphant.
Dec.Romagna, LazioHe travels to Forlì where he meets with Antonio Ordelaffi and has lunch with the lord of the city. A bridge of boats is specially constructed at Villafranca to allow him and his troops to pass towards Bologna. He then continues his journey to Rome to pay his respects to the Pope.
1446
Feb.Emilia, LombardyHe is invited to Milan by Filippo Maria Visconti. He sets off with 40 horses, but near Cotignola, he manages to escape an ambush set by Astorre Manfredi, who is fighting for the Florentines. He takes refuge in a nearby marsh near Russi before eventually reaching Ferrara and then Milan.
Mar.MarcheHe returns to Fano and promotes a conspiracy in Urbino, which is thwarted by Federico da Montefeltro. All those who manage to escape, as well as those who are banished from the city following the rebellion, find refuge in Rimini and Cesena. Among them are Niccolò Perfetti and his brother Battista, who surrender the fortresses of Casteldelci, Senatello, and Faggiuola to Malatesta.
JulyMarcheHe moves between Fossombrone and Fano and participates in the war council where the decision is made to continue the campaign and drive Sforza out of the entire Marche of Ancona. He obtains Pergola with its fortress, which is handed over to him by the castellan Guastalamarca, and Monte Gherardo. He diverts the Sforza troops from Isola di Fano and approaches Montefabbri. He gains control of a large part of the territory around Cagli.
Aug.MarcheMontefabbri surrenders to him, he takes control of Talacchio, and sacks and burns Colbordolo (25 defenders are killed in the battle, with many wounded). He lays siege to Montefeltro in Urbino and negotiates the surrender of Sassocorvaro and Montegrimano.
Sept.Marche, RomagnaMonte Cerignone, along with its fortress, surrenders to him. He also gains control of Soanne and Montegelli. He returns to Rimini and receives Cardinal Scarampo, whom he meets at Santo Spirito. He sends troops to support the ducal forces engaged in the war against the Venetians.
Oct.MarcheHe defeats Dolce dell’Anguillara at Montelauro, capturing 40 men-at-arms and three squad leaders among the enemy forces (40 foot soldiers are also killed). To aid Sforza, 3,000 cavalry and 1,000 infantry from Florence, led by Guidantonio Manfredi, Simonetto da Castel San Pietro, and Gregorio d’Anghiari, come to their assistance. Their intervention turns the tide of the conflict. Malatesta is forced to abandon the siege of Urbino with Cardinal Scarampo. He is challenged to a battle by Montefeltro, who sends a bloody gauntlet as a sign of defiance. Malatesta apparently accepts the challenge but ultimately avoids direct combat, opting for a defensive stance. Alessandro Sforza and Montefeltro conquer the castles of Pozzo del Piano, Tomba, and Montelauro and begin to lay siege to Gradara.
Nov. – Dec.MilanVeniceMarche, RomagnaGradara remains under siege until the early days of December. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta provides external support to the fortress, demonstrating his expertise in military engineering. He manages to send messages to the defenders through a secret underground passage, continually harassing the besiegers from behind. Hostilities come to an end with a truce when he actively participates in reconciling the Duke of Milan with Sforza. He welcomes Guidantonio Manfredi to Rimini, who returns to Faenza after abandoning the siege of Gradara. Meanwhile, Malatesta leads his troops through the region of Forlì (where he has a meeting with Antonio Ordelaffi), crosses into the Bolognese territory, and reaches Lombardy to provide assistance to the struggling Duke of Milan against the Venetians. Filippo Maria Visconti offers him the position of General Captain of his forces, but he declines the appointment to avoid further fueling Sforza’s jealousy towards him.
1447
Feb. – Mar.Lombardy, Emilia, RomagnaAfter returning from Milan, he goes back to his territories. In Ferrara, he meets with the Venetian Visdomino to offer his services to the league. Through Sforza’s intervention, a truce is negotiated between him and his brother Domenico on one side, and Alessandro Sforza (whom he had attempted to have killed) and Montefeltro on the other side.
JulyRiminoUrbinoMarcheDespite the previous agreements, he incites a rebellion in Fossombrone and besieges the fortress. On the third day, Montefeltro intervenes and defeats him. The city is looted. Malatesta returns to Rimini, where he is welcomed by Raimondo Boilo, an emissary of Alfonso d’Aragona, who is traveling from Lombardy to Naples. He accompanies Boilo for a while outside the San Bartolomeo Gate.
Nov.RiminiUrbinoRomagnaGaleazzo Malatesta, Antonio, and Cecco Ordelaffi are hosted in Rimini. Together with his cousin, he urges the exiles from Fossombrone to attack several castles, namely Montalto, Bellaguarda, San Biagio, Casaspessa, Torricella, and Sant’Ippolito. He writes to the King of Naples, stating that his offensive in the Marche region aims to draw Montefeltro back from Tuscany. Alfonso of Aragon orders him to attend to the matters for which he was brought there, rather than his personal affairs. He receives the command to join the Aragonese forces in Montepulciano. However, he refuses to obey, as he has received only 22,000 or 25,000 ducats so far as payment. He sends his emissary to the king to demand the remaining sum for his services. This envoy is imprisoned in Castel Sant’Ermo, while two other ambassadors suffer similar mistreatment. Malatesta now has a motive to justify the defection he is contemplating and resumes negotiations with the Florentines and Venetians. Alfonso of Aragon sends him another 2,000 ducats.
Dec.Florence, RiminiNaples, Urbino, Pesaro600 lances and 400 infantry soldiersTuscany, MarcheSigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta meets with Angelo della Stufa and Giannozzo Manetti, then travels to Florence and enters into a contract (condotta). He retains the money received from the Aragonese as payment for the past months. Initially, he requests a contract for 600 lances and 400 infantry soldiers (against an offer of 500 lances and 300 infantry soldiers) and the overall command of the troops. The Venetians intervene, and he insists on a clause stating that he will not be subject to any review during times of peace. Finally, he accepts the contract for 600 lances and 400 infantry soldiers for one year of service and one year of discretion. He has command over all the militias except those of Montefeltro. Among the favorable conditions for him are the permission not to confront his brother’s troops or the papal troops. However, this does not prevent him from continuing to harass Montefeltro. He convinces Alessandro Sforza that the latter is about to attack Pesaro. Sforza’s brother asks for his help, and at the same time, Malatesta shows his perennial rival a letter regarding the matter. Together, they decide to preempt the moves of the Lord of Pesaro. Through some signs, Montefeltro realizes he is being deceived. He enters Pesaro and defends the city against Malatesta’s troops. Sigismondo Pandolfo breaks into Urbino and occupies over thirty castles. The Florentines protest.
1448
Jan.MarcheThe Florentines send him the money for the wages. Unfazed, Malatesta continues to devastate Montefeltro. The Florentines propose an exchange to the Venetians, suggesting the sending of Micheletto Attendolo to Tuscany and the transfer of Malatesta to Lombardy to confront the Visconti. Malatesta promises not to harass his rival and, on the contrary, assists Galeazzo Malatesta in attacking Alessandro Sforza in Pesaro and occupying Montelauro. The Florentines exert new pressures on him.
Feb.Marche, RomagnaHe stops in Sassoferrato due to the presence of Aragonese troops nearby. In Rimini, he knights Antonio degli Atti, the brother of his lover Isotta.
Mar.Romagna, Umbria, TuscanyHaving received payment from the Venetians as well, he leaves Rimini with 2,000 men. He arrives at Santarcangelo di Romagna, follows the course of the Marecchia and the upper Tiber, reaches Pieve Santo Stefano, Sansepolcro, and Arezzo for the review of his troops. Upon hearing the news that Alessandro Sforza, with troops from Feltre, has taken some of his castles, he threatens to immediately abandon Tuscany. This time, the Florentines intervene in the matter concerning Federico da Montefeltro. A new truce is established between the two condottieri.
Apr. – MayFlorenceNaplesTuscanyHe departs from Castiglion Fiorentino and leads his army to Cortona. From there, he traverses the Val di Chiana and proceeds to the Val d’Orcia, not failing to plunder the territory and seize livestock along the way. He attacks Montebenichi and approaches Monticchiello, reaching Perignano. In May, the people of Siena demand the return of the plundered goods.
JuneGeneral CaptainTuscanyHe is sent to Poggiole to assist the Sienese allies. He passes through Certaldo, Castelfiorentino, and San Miniato, and arrives in Florence, where he is appointed as the captain general. After returning to the camp, he heads towards Peccioli and advances all the way to Massa Marittima.
July – Aug.TuscanyAgainst his advice, the Florentines heed the advice of Montefeltro and set up their camp near Campiglia Marittima, in a marshy area covered with stones and sand, known as “le Caldane” due to certain hot springs that emerge there. Soon, malaria, poor-quality water, lack of wine, and continuous hardships afflict the army, leading to widespread desertions. However, Malatesta overcomes all the difficulties. With his example, he strengthens the morale of the forces under his command. Through unexpected cavalry charges and nighttime sorties towards the Aragonese camps, he establishes contact with Rinaldo Orsini, who is besieged by the enemy in Piombino.
Sept.Tuscany, LombardyAt dawn, Malatesta launches a vigorous attack from behind on the Aragonese forces who were preparing to assault the walls of Piombino, with the support of the fleet from the sea. Rinaldo Orsini, in turn, leads his forces out of the city and sets fire to the war machines. Alfonso of Aragon is forced to abandon the operation after several hours of combat. The enemies report a loss of nearly 2,000 men, including both dead and wounded. They first retreat to Castiglione della Pescaia and then return to the Kingdom of Naples.
Oct.VeniceMilanLombardyHe is sent, along with Gregorio d’Anghiari, with a force of 2,000 cavalry and 1,000 infantry, to Lombardy with the purpose of providing assistance to the Venetians who are facing difficulties against the Ambrosian Republic.
Nov.RomagnaHe departs from Rimini for Lombardy with a force of 3,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry.
Dec.LombardyHe is reported to be in Orzinuovi. Through Giusto Giusti, he puts pressure on the Venetians to have Gregorio d’Anghiari also appointed as the captain general of the infantry by the Serene Republic. However, the response is negative.
1449
Jan.LombardyHe threatens to bombard Treviglio. He approaches Crema with the provveditore Giacomo Loredan and sets up camp with the artillery in front of the San Bartolomeo Gate. There are some clashes between the gates of Ripalta and Serio. The Venetian cannon batteries are initially repelled by a sortie. The Milanese send reinforcements to aid the defenders, including Carlo Gonzaga and Francesco Piccinino. Malatesta breaks camp and positions himself on the banks of the Adda. Upon seeing this, the two captains retreat back to Milan.
Feb.Captain general of 2,000 cavalry and 400 infantryLombardyHe has his condotta (contract) renewed by the Venetians alone, commanding 2,000 cavalry and 400 infantry, with a monthly salary of 7,040 ducats.
Apr.LombardySigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta finds himself in Ghiaradadda with 6,000 cavalry. He sets up camp near Crema with the provveditore Giacomo Loredan at San Bartolomeo, situated between the gates of Ripalta and Serio. He relentlessly continues to bombard the city walls with artillery. A sortie led by the townspeople, under the command of Gaspare da Vimercate, repels the cannons, sets fire to two bastions constructed by the Venetians, and destroys the trenches. Carlo Gonzaga, who is defending the city, is eventually reinforced by militias led by Francesco and Jacopo Piccinino. As a result, Malatesta is forced to retreat to Fontanella. He establishes contact with Bartolomeo Colleoni in the San Martino Valley.
Aug.LombardyContinuously hindered by Carlo Gonzaga, he moves beneath Crema and halts two miles from the city. He crosses the Serio River, establishes his encampments on the road leading to Ombriano, and constructs the Marchesa Canal to drain the city’s moats. Over the course of sixty days, 1,833 cannonballs are launched against the city walls. In the middle of the month, he enters the locality with Provveditore Andrea Dandolo, Gentile da Leonessa, and Cesare da Martinengo, preceded by twenty heralds.
Oct.VeniceSforzaLombardyHe attempts to provide aid to the Milanese of the Ambrosian Republic, who are now fighting against the Sforza family due to the shifting alliances. As a gesture of gratitude, he is gifted a house in Milan, in the parish of San Protaso. The Venetians promise to assist him in the conquest of Pesaro.
Dec.LombardyHe crosses the Adda River at Brivio on a pontoon bridge and waits near Lecco in the countryside of Monte di Brianza. He is futilely confronted by Giovanni Sforza and Giovanni Ventimiglia. He calls upon Jacopo Piccinino to join forces with the Venetians and reaches Matteo da Sant’Angelo a Monte Calco, where he unsuccessfully attacks a tower. Defeated by Sforza at Monte di Brianza (many of his men are taken prisoner), he despairs of achieving better results and retreats beyond the Adda River.
1450
Jan.2,000 cavalry and 500 infantryRomagna, LombardyHe spends the winter in Romagna. The Venetians reaffirm his position as the captain general of the troops, granting him a monthly provision of 600 ducats and a contract for 2,000 cavalry and 500 infantry. The term is set for one year, with an additional six months of grace. The Serene Republic ensures the protection of his possessions, and in payments, he is granted the clause of the most favored condottiero. He gathers significant supplies with Bartolomeo Colleoni, which they attempt to bring to Milan. He attacks five enemy bastions on the mountains, captures two of them, and sets them ablaze. However, Sforza intervenes and forces him to recross the Adda River, resulting in some losses. At one point, Malatesta finds himself with superior forces compared to the enemy, but when Jacopo Piccinino reaches him in Galbiate, he hesitates to launch any attack.
Feb.LombardyHe commands all the soldiers to gather provisions for five days and transport a large quantity of wheat from Bergamo to Milan. However, during the same period, Sforza enters Milan as the victor, forcing Malatesta to once again recross the Adda River.
Apr.Lombardy, VenetoFrom Brescia, he travels to Venice and is seemingly welcomed triumphantly.
MayLombardyIn Brescia, he departs from Lombardy and heads towards Romagna.
June – JulyRiminiPesaroVeneto, Romagna, MarcheDuring this period, an incident occurs in the Verona region involving an act of violence committed by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta or some of his men against a noblewoman of German or Burgundian origin. She was on a pilgrimage to Rome with a retinue of 200 cavalry. Her escorts are killed, and despite her resistance, she is violated by Malatesta and his men. The woman, devastated by the ordeal, dies a few days later in Verona. Suspected of the crime, Malatesta sends four men-at-arms in chains to Venice, claiming they are responsible for the incident. They are tortured but soon released by the authorities, who deemed them innocent. The condottiero swiftly returns to Romagna, finding himself in Ravenna with Cecco Ordelaffi before heading to Rimini. After a few days, he marches towards Pesaro, which, according to agreements made with the Montefeltro family, should be delivered into his hands. He halts near the Marano River and sets up his camp in the casamento of the Hospital of the Third Order, known as San Lazzaro. He sends Gaspare Broglio to the Count of Urbino to request his assistance. After a meeting with the Montefeltro, Broglio informs Malatesta that he has been deceived by his rival. Malatesta then sends Broglio to Montefiore Conca to gather 300 men and invites Gian Francesco da Piagnano, stationed in Macerata Feltria, to move to Pietrarubbia to join forces with Broglio. However, despite these efforts, 500 Sforza infantry, led by Guido d’Ascoli, manage to enter Pesaro and strengthen its garrison. Malatesta moves through the Pesaro region, camps at Torre del Boncio, and prepares to assault the capital. However, Montefeltro forces him to retreat.
Nov.The Venetians officially notify him that his condotta will not be renewed.
1451
Jan.RiminiUrbinoRomagnaHe welcomes the brother of Emperor Albert of Austria in Rimini and gifts him a warhorse. He sends Antonello da Narni to occupy the castle of Frantico.
JulyMarcheHe meets privately with Pope Nicholas V in Fabriano.
Aug.Marche, TuscanyHe is still in Fabriano, where the pope, Nicholas V, jointly renews with him and his brother Domenico the vicariate grants over Rimini, Cesena, Fano, Bertinoro, Cervia, and San Leo. The territories of Senigallia, Sant’Agata Feltria, Sestino, Pennabilli, Pergola, Gradara, Mondaino, and Talamello are confirmed to him. The pope also grants him legitimization documents for his natural sons, Roberto and Sallustio. Furthermore, his annual fee is reduced from 6,000 to 4,000 florins. This takes place in Florence.
Sept.MilanHe enters the service of Francesco Sforza, the new Duke of Milan. The condotta lasts until September 1452, and he is granted a provision of 25,000 ducats per year.
Nov.TuscanyDuring a visit to Florence, he is welcomed with great honors and ceremony.
Dec.RiminiUrbinoMarcheHe resumes the struggle against Federico da Montefeltro. He orders his troops to invade the territories of Montefotogno, Colbordolo, San Donato, and Montecopiolo. However, the forces from Feltre are not caught off guard. With the assistance of 300 infantry and 200 cavalry who approach Cagli, along with a horse squad led by Giacomo Ferrari from Naples, they successfully rout the Malatesta forces.
1452
Apr.CampaniaSigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta travels to Naples and participates in a joust organized to celebrate the birth of Federico d’Aragona, the son of Duke Ferrante of Calabria, who is to be baptized by Emperor Frederick of Austria. He is contacted by representatives from both the Aragonese (a friar named Puccio) and the Venetians (Zaccaria Valaresso), and he speaks favorably to both parties. Additionally, an attempt by Montefeltro to seize the city of Fano is repelled.
Aug.FlorenceNaples1700 cavalryRomagna, TuscanyHe switches to the payroll of the Florentines. The condotta is negotiated in the castle of Rimini. He is granted a stipend of 15,000 ducats to counter the Aragonese forces commanded by Montefeltro.
……………TuscanyHe confronts his rival at Castellina. Instead of relying on a direct battlefield confrontation, he engages the enemy with various diversionary actions, forcing them to establish their winter camps outside of Tuscany.
1453
MayHe continues to negotiate with both the Venetians and the Aragonese.
JuneFlorenceNaples1,400 cavalry and 400 infantryTuscanyHe accepts the offer from the Florentines, who recognize him with 32,000 florins, and returns to Tuscany.
Aug. – Oct.Captain generalTuscanyHe occupies Rincine and Foiano della Chiana with Alessandro Sforza. However, Sforza enters the town first and seizes a rich loot of 900 horses and an equal number of infantry. Malatesta accuses his rival of plotting behind his back and decides to set the town on fire, except for a church and an adjacent hut, and imprison the inhabitants. The Ten of the Balia intervene through commissioners Giannozzo Manetti and Bernardo dei Medici. The army is divided into two groups: Alessandro Sforza is directed towards Vada with the support of Raimondo and Pietro Antonio Attendolo. Malatesta, on the other hand, is proposed to attack the fortress of Gavorrano with the assistance of Astorre Manfredi, Simonetto da Castel San Pietro, Carlo Oddi, and Gian Francesco da Piagnano. Due to the difficulties involved in this undertaking, he also decides to move to besiege the fortress of Vada, defended by Carlo di Campobasso. He sets up his artillery and with his cannons prevents the Genoese galleys from resupplying the town. He faces off against 1,000 cavalry led by Ignazio di Guevara. At the end of September, the two commissioners, following Sforza’s departure for Lombardy, present him with the baton of the captain general at the camp. On this occasion, Manetti composes a speech in the vernacular language in his honor. In October, the defenders of Vada surrender on negotiated terms.
Nov.TuscanyHe camps at Colle di Val d’Elsa. At the end of his contract, he returns to his own territories without passing through Florence. He attempts to switch his allegiance to the service of the Serene Republic of Venice and the Aragonese. Gaspare Broglio confirms the agreements with the King of Naples, who offers the hand of his niece, Eleonora d’Aragona, to Malatesta’s eldest son, Roberto. However, driven by Giacomo Anastagi, Malatesta keeps the negotiations suspended in order to secure better conditions and sends new ambassadors to Naples with the aim of buying time. Alfonso d’Aragona’s hatred towards him is renewed. Additionally, during the same month, he is invested by the Pope with the territories of Montecassiano and Montemarciano.
Dec.He reopens negotiations with the Venetians. These negotiations last for a long time and are conducted by both parties without significant commitment.
1454
Jan.RomagnaHe meets with the Venetian ambassador, Francesco Contarini, in Rimini. Contarini urges him to move to Tuscany with the Aragonese forces. His advisor, Gaspare Broglio, also encourages him to accept the proposed agreement from Alfonso d’Aragona. This agreement includes a pardon for half of the money he received from the King of Naples, while for the remaining part, Malatesta would have to render his services in Tuscany on behalf of the Sienese against the Florentines, leading 5,000 cavalry and 1,500 infantry. The reconciliation also involves the marriage of Eleonora d’Aragona to his son Roberto. However, Malatesta hesitates and insists on a total pardon of the debt. Alfonso d’Aragona, outraged, definitively closes any possibility of dialogue.
Apr.The Venetians sign a peace agreement with the Florentines and the Sforza family. As a result of these agreements, his brother cedes some territories to him. However, skirmishes continue with his relative regarding the redefinition of territorial boundaries between Rimini and Cesena.
Aug.Alfonso d’Aragona agrees to the peace of Lodi, but he does not want the benefits of the peace to extend to the Genoese, Astorre Manfredi, and Malatesta, as he does not forgive their past wrongdoings. The Lord of Rimini seeks assistance in this situation. Since the Venetians refuse to intervene on his behalf, he is forced to send ambassadors to Naples with the task of promising the restitution of the funds that were previously withheld. He attempts to join forces with Astorre Manfredi and to befriend Jacopo Piccinino through his brother Domenico.
AutumnSienaPitiglianoRomagnaContacted by the Sienese through Gaspare Broglio, he is hired, along with Giberto da Correggio and Giulio Cesare da Varano, to counter the Count of Pitigliano, Aldobrandino Orsini. He is assured a salary of 16,000 ducats. He leaves San Salvatore to fulfill his new engagement.
Nov.Captain generalTuscanyHe arrives in Siena and is presented with the insignia of the captain general. He proceeds to besiege Sorano. He sets up camp in front of the fortress with 12,000 men, not counting the numerous volunteers. He bombards the stronghold with two artillery pieces. After unsuccessful assaults, the Sienese invite him to renew the attacks with greater force, and to convince him, they present him with a horse as a gift. When the siege towers approach the walls to break open a gate, there is a diversionary sortie of 100 cavalry against Giberto da Correggio’s camp. The opponents are surrounded and forced to surrender, with the condition that they will not join forces with the garrison again. In the meantime, conflicts between Malatesta and the commissioner Antonio Petrucci intensify, fueled by a Boccaccian tale-like story. Malatesta falls in love with a pageboy of Giberto da Correggio, a Milanese. A provisioner from Rimini discovers the two lovers in the pavilion and arranges for the Petrucci’s men to be beaten by Malatesta’s soldiers to conceal the incident. The Petrucci, to hide the truth, falsely accuse the pageboy of theft and chase him out of the tent. As a result, Petrucci now favors Giberto da Correggio over the Lord of Rimini, accusing him of negotiating with Everso dell’Anguillara.
Dec.TuscanySorano is on the verge of surrendering, and the Sienese send 12,000 ducats to Malatesta to encourage him to continue the operations. However, he is corrupted by Aldobrandino Orsini and without any authorization, he negotiates a one-month truce with the enemy. He takes a son as a hostage from the Count of Pitigliano and leaves the camp with Carlo dell’Anguillara and Varano, withdrawing troops and artillery. He takes the road to Montemerano and targets Magliano in Toscana, attempting to conquer the town. After a failed similar attempt in Saturnia, he raids the Maremma Grossetana, seizing a large quantity of livestock and bringing it to Pisa. The Sienese begin to suspect his behavior, and one of them goes to Siena in secret to inform a friend who, in turn, informs the authorities. The Sienese decide to send two citizens to Carlo Gonzaga or Giberto da Correggio to assess their willingness to kill Malatesta.
1455
Jan.TuscanyAt the end of the truce, Pietro Brunoro, Ceccone d’India, Leonetto Corso, Padovano Calabrese, Fusco da Napoli, and Antonio Foresta leave Sorano under the command of Giberto da Correggio to intercept Malatesta: they reach him at Giuncarico and force him to abandon his loot in exchange for safe passage across a bridge. The Sienese realize that the Lord of Rimini is not keeping his agreements, so they attack him and capture three out of fifteen companies. As he continues his march in the Florentine territory, Malatesta tries to seize Castel Pasquale, retreats to Piombino and Scarlino, secures passage from the Florentines, crosses the Apennines, and descends into Romagna. During the same days, he is informed by Jacopo Piccinino of a probable raid by the latter and his company in Sienese territory.
Feb.RomagnaAt the end of the month, he is contacted by Pope Nicholas V (Papa Niccolò V) and Sforza, who request that he use his troops stationed in Romagna to block the passage of Jacopo Piccinino’s company, which is marching towards Bologna.
……………Respectful of formalities, he has the courage to ask the Sienese for a regular leave: the Republic grants it to him, without failing to inform all states of his treachery.
SummerRomagnaJacopo Piccinino invades the Sienese territory with his company; Malatesta positions himself at Savignano sul Rubicone and receives some aid from Sforza. He also negotiates with Piccinino’s mercenaries.
1456
JuneRomagnaHe organizes some celebrations in Rimini in honor of Alberto d’Este, his failed son-in-law, who is visiting the city. On this occasion, a battle takes place where fifty men, armed with maces and sticks, defend a castle, while another fifty attack it with the same weapons: Malatesta also enters the fray and runs the risk of being killed.
JulyRomagnaSigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta reconciles with his brother Domenico in Cesenatico.
……………When the Aragonese attack the Doge Pietro Fregoso in Genoa, he feels in danger, especially since he sees himself abandoned by Sforza, who has recently formed kinship bonds with his enemies in Naples. Malatesta sends his ambassadors to the Doge and to René of Anjou (Renato d’Angiò) so that Genoa can fall into the hands of the King of Provence.
1457
MayEmiliaThe Marquis of Ferrara, Borso d’Este, takes the initiative to reconcile him with Federico da Montefeltro. The meeting takes place at the villa in Belfiore and ends with mutual insults.
JulyTuscanyHe requests the intervention of Cosimo de’ Medici to act as a peacemaker in his dispute with his brother Domenico.
Oct.RiminiNaples, UrbinoAlfonso of Aragon sends Federico da Montefeltro and Jacopo Piccinino against him to avenge past insults. Malatesta fruitlessly redeems a jewel of his in Venice to compensate the King of Naples for the money swindled from him years earlier. He asks in vain for aid from his son-in-law, Carlo di Montone. To buy time, he challenges Montefeltro to a duel; Duke Ludovico of Savoy-Acaia gives his consent for its execution.
Nov. – Dec.MarcheFederico da Montefeltro and Jacopo Piccinino conquer several lands in the Vicariate of Fano (Reforzate, Montalbo, Isola di Fano, Casaspessa, la Valle); the siege operations of Senigallia begin. Despite the constant disputes arising between the two captains, Malatesta soon finds himself in a difficult position. He turns to the Florentines through Giusto Giusti for aid. He sends his son Roberto to Naples to initiate negotiations with Alfonso of Aragon. Initially, the sovereign says he will be content with 27,000 ducats plus recognition of the expenses incurred for the expeditions of Piccinino and the Count of Urbino; he progressively raises his demands to 40,000 ducats, plus another 15,000 for other interests. Malatesta receives aid from Everso dell’ Anguillara and the Colonna family, allowing him some resistance.
1458
Feb.The King of Naples asks his son Roberto for the sum of 50,000 ducats, a jewel that has already been promised to him, and some possessions.
Apr.MarcheHe opposes his adversaries at Mondavio.
MayEmiliaHe goes to Ferrara and awaits Pope Callixtus III (Papa Callisto III), who is to go to Mantua for the council; he escorts him to the monastery of Sant’Antonio. At the same time, he gets in touch with John of Anjou (Giovanni d’Angiò) to jointly confront the Aragonese.
JuneOn the war front, he repels enemy assaults as best he can, confronts them, and tries to regain lost lands; he captures the castle of Fratte, which is defended by 200 bracceschi.
JulyMarcheHis condottieri, Antonello da Forlì and Marco Pio, are defeated at Carpegna by the adversaries; Tavoleto is seized and sacked. He reacts by occupying Sassocorvaro and then sets out for Carpegna. He seizes the Castellaccio, with the exception of the fortress; he begins the bombardment of the latter. Montefeltro intervenes, rallying his men at Belforte all’Isauro, joins with six squads of Jacopo Piccinino, and heads towards Carpegna. Malatesta lifts the siege, sends his artillery pieces to Macerata Feltria, while he and his troops take refuge in the fortress of Pietrarubbia. He leaves with his men in disarray and at Molinaccio, he is ambushed by Alessandro Gambacorta, who had moved from Montecopiolo.
Aug. – Oct.Marche, RomagnaThe almost simultaneous death of the Pope and the King of Naples gives Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta false hope. Francesco Sforza and Borso d’Este give him money, enabling him to hire new troops. When he learns that Jacopo Piccinino has abandoned the field to carve out his own state in Umbria, he reoccupies Sassocorvaro and targets Carpegna. Here he is repelled by the resistance of Antonello da Scalogna and six squads of Piccinino. He suffers heavy losses; he then moves by night into Montefeltro and lays waste to Secchiano and Uffogliano. He retreats towards Macerata Feltria. He also opens new peace negotiations with Ferrante of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona), not hesitating to contact the king’s enemies, such as Prince of Taranto Giovanni Antonio Orsini dal Balzo and John of Anjou (Giovanni d’Angiò). He orders Antonello da Forlì to assist Tavoleto: the castle is once again seized and sacked by the adversaries. In the following days, more than 20 castles, including Maiolo, Macerata Feltria, Pennabilli, and Sant’Agata Feltria, suffer the same fate. In the end, the harshness of the weather and the cold season persuade Federico da Montefeltro and Jacopo Piccinino to retreat.
1459
Jan. – Feb.LombardyStill attacked by Federico da Montefeltro and Jacopo Piccinino, he strives to seek peace. He travels to Mantua and Milan; Francesco Sforza waits for him four or five miles outside the capital of Milan. In February, he passes through Mantua.
Apr.TuscanyHe goes to Florence with 60 horses. The Count of Pavia and the rectors of the city meet him. Along with other Romagnol lords (Astorre and Taddeo Manfredi, Cecco Ordelaffi), he supports the litter on which the Pope is transported to the palace of Santa Maria Novella. Malatesta implores Pope Pius II (Pio II) to bring peace between him and Ferrante of Aragon (Ferrante d’Aragona).
JuneTuscanyHe offers Citerna to the Florentines.
JulyHe signs the peace of Mantua desired by the Pope.
Sept.RomagnaFederico da Montefeltro and Jacopo Piccinino, during their campaign, have devastated a total of 115 castles located in the Malatesta territories. The second condottiero continues to ravage the states of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta until a truce is reached that also involves his person.
Oct.LombardyTo secure peace, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta must acknowledge to the King of Naples the payment of a sum between 50,000 and 60,000 ducats to be made within a year: until such time, he must pledge to the Church State the lands of Senigallia, Montemarciano, Mondavio, Morro, Pergola, Sant’Ippolito, and Sassocorvaro; he must give Monte Cerignone, Casteldelci, Senatello, Faggiuola to Montefeltro as compensation for the damage caused; he has the burden of handing over Fonte Avellana, Monte del Raniero and two other castles to Montefeltro in terms of interest. Furthermore, he promises not to fight the Aragonese for the next two years. He abides by the agreements and all locations are returned according to the agreements, with the exception of Pietrarubbia where the inhabitants, at his instigation, rebel against the Count of Urbino.
Nov.Francesco Sforza invites him to send his troops into the Marche of Ancona to obstruct Jacopo Piccinino, who from Cesena is moving towards the Kingdom of Naples to fight there in favor of Giovanni d’Angiò and the barons rebelling against Ferrante d’Aragona. Malatesta meets with Montefeltro in Mondaino to choose a common plan of action.
1460
Jan. – Feb.RomagnaHe also engages in conversation with Jacopo Piccinino during a hunting expedition; at the same time, he sends his son Roberto to Naples and his own ambassadors to Milan and Rome.
Mar.RomagnaHe has further discussions with Alessandro Sforza in Mondaino to prepare a joint initiative against Jacopo Piccinino. The latter leaves Romagna, and Malatesta closely follows him with 200 cavalry and many infantry, not so much to prevent his passage but to provide assistance if needed. Meanwhile, he ensures the provisioning of his troops with 200 sume (a measure of weight) of bread.
MayRiminiUrbinoMarche, RomagnaHe pillages the lands of Montefeltro; the Pope demands from him the payment of overdue rents amounting to 10,000 ducats. He refuses Sforza’s mediation in his dispute. Also, during the month, he goes to Forlì to attend some celebrations held for the birth of Cecco Ordelaffi’s son, Antonio Maria.
JuneMarcheSigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta repels the Feltreschi from Uffogliano (a subject of dispute) and forces them to abandon the refurbishment of the walls. During the same month, he also negotiates with the King of Naples to have half of the outstanding debt of 50,000 ducats forgiven, with the remaining portion covered by a contract for his son Roberto (providing 400 cavalry for one year of service and six months at the king’s discretion).
JulyRimini, AnconaChurchMarcheWith Jacopo Piccinino’s victory at San Fabiano, he breaks hesitation and allies with Giovanni d’Angiò. He cunningly captures the prefect of the fortress of Montemarciano, using the pretext of his tyranny and dishonesty, and occupies the stronghold and the village. Pius II threatens to excommunicate him as an enemy of the Church, demands payment of overdue rents, and simultaneously grants a three-quarter forgiveness of the amount owed to Alessandro Sforza and Montefeltro (equally in default) for four years. Malatesta receives aid from the Prince of Taranto, the Angevins, Jacopo Piccinino, and his brother Domenico, allowing him to open a new front against the papal forces in the Marche region. Ancona provides him with 3,000 ducats following an incursion by the inhabitants of Jesi into the territory of Camerata Picena. He sends his son Roberto to assist the people of Ancona. At the end of the month, he is reported to be in Fano.
Oct.Marche, RomagnaHe enters the Jesi region and clashes with the papal forces led by Ludovico Malvezzi in Pergola. In the same month, with the assistance of his brother Domenico, he recovers Mondaino.
Nov.MarcheHe enters the fortress of Mondavio after corrupting the castellan.
Dec.MarcheHe besieges the castle of Morro but is driven out by Ludovico Malvezzi. He is defeated by the same captain near Fano. He attempts to deceitfully seize Senigallia but fails in his maneuver. In retaliation, he orders the destruction of the mills around the city. On Christmas Day, he is excommunicated for the first time and deprived of his domains.
1461
…………..MarcheHe advances once again into the Jesi region. He conquers Mosciano and lays siege to Barbara.
Apr.The excommunication against him and his brother Domenico is confirmed by the Pope.
JulyMarcheSigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta aims to secure the wheat harvest in the Ancona area. He silently encamps at Castelleone di Suasa and, leading 1,300 cavalry and 1,000 infantry, launches a nighttime attack against the papal forces commanded by Malvezzi and Pietro Paolo Nardini (3,000 infantry and many cavalry). The battle lasts for five hours and sees the use of a new type of small artillery, the spingardella, on his side. Nardini falls among the adversaries, and over 1,500 horses are captured, including Giovanni Francesco da Bagno and Alessandro Ottoni. The casualties amount to 150 on both sides. With the victory, Malatesta (who has also been wounded) sets his sights on Nidastore, obtains it through negotiations, forces the soldiers of the garrison to leave, and allows them to be plundered against the terms of surrender agreed upon earlier, including weapons, horses, and baggage. He seizes two more towns, which are similarly sacked against the established terms of surrender. He then proceeds with 1,000 men towards Potenza, where Jacopo Piccinino has promised to meet him. He reaches Montelupone (but is repelled) and Potenza Picena. Upon hearing news of the imminent arrival of Napoleone Orsini, he turns back to his own territories.
Aug.He engages in futile negotiations with the Pope, who is stationed in Tivoli, and unsuccessfully seeks the mediation of the Venetians. He pledges Montemarciano to Marco Corner of Venice for 5,000/12,000 ducats (or a jewel) and recruits 1,200 men from Venice, Imola, Ferrara, Mirandola, and Cesena.
Oct.RomagnaJacopo Piccinino provides him with 5,000 ducats so that he can recruit 50 men-at-arms.
Dec.RomagnaWith the support of Borso d’Este, he forms an alliance with the lord of Imola, Taddeo Manfredi.
1462
Feb.Pius II issues the papal bull “Cum ex iniunctu,” which releases his subjects from the oath of allegiance. Malatesta persists in his actions: he receives an additional 6,000 ducats from King Louis XI of France, enlists new recruits from his subjects, and sends Gaspare Broglio to Prince Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo of Taranto. The latter provides him with 16,000 ducats to support Jacopo Piccinino in the Abruzzo region.
Mar.MarcheHe promotes a treaty in Pesaro. He presents himself in front of the city, but the outcome is null.
Apr.MarcheHe attacks the lands of Federico da Montefeltro, occupying Carpegna and Castellaccio. He sets his sights on Sassoferrato, attempts Monterotondo, and gains control of Castel San Pietro and a few smaller territories. Throughout this period, he is closely monitored by the papal authorities. He sends Guido Benzoni to the territories of Sassoferrato and Jesi to support Carlo di Montone’s actions against Perugia. At the end of the month, the pope convenes a secret consistory, during which Cardinal Niccolò Cusano reads the verdict of condemnation against Sigismondo. No accusation is spared: the charges range from robbery, arson, and violence to adultery, incest with his daughter, parricide, uxoricide, sacrilege, and heresy. He is excommunicated and declared a heretic, sentenced to be burned alive, while his subjects are released from all allegiance. Paolo Romano depicts him in three wooden and wax puppets, which are set on fire in Rome at Campo dei Fiori, on the square of the Campidoglio, and on the steps leading to St. Peter’s.
……………MarcheHe gathers a strong army (23 or 32 squadrons of cavalry, according to sources, and 2000 infantry) with the help of Silvestro da Lucino, Giovan Francesco della Mirandola, and Pino Ordelaffi. They enter the region of Piceno, reaching Corridonia, and devastate the territory, closely pursued by the Orsini.
JulyMarcheHe is blocked at the Tronto River by the defenses prepared by Malvezzi and Matteo da Capua. In order to persuade him to retreat and not continue towards the Kingdom of Naples, Francesco Sforza arranges a treaty in Senigallia in his favor. Sigismondo Malatesta follows his instincts and swiftly marches towards the city walls. He places the cannons between the tower of San Giovanni and the gate’s tower, quickly creating a significant breach and intercepting the city’s water supply pipes.
Aug.Marche, Romagna, PugliaSenigallia surrenders before the expiration of a truce due to the indecision of the remaining opponents stationed in Montalboddo (Ostra) and the betrayal of the fortress commander, Dota from Siena. Meanwhile, Federico da Montefeltro also arrives from the Chienti region, while the papal forces halt at Ostra. Sigismondo Malatesta loads a significant portion of the baggage onto 7 ships belonging to the Prince of Taranto and decides to secretly leave the city during the night to avoid being besieged. However, an enemy spy becomes aware of his intentions. As he abandons Senigallia, Fantaguzzo, an ally, spots his column and alerts the papal forces. Along the way, he is attacked at the Cesano River crossing in the Marotta plain. Initially, Antonello da Forlì and Corrado d’Alviano engage him, followed by the Orsini and Montefeltro, who eventually force him to flee despite his vigorous defense. Giovan Francesco della Mirandola is captured along with 500 cavalry and 150 infantry. His son Roberto, Cicco Brandolini, and Guido Benzoni hastily take refuge in Mondolfo. Sigismondo Malatesta seeks refuge in Fano and dispatches his agents to Venice, Florence, Modena, and Milan to request assistance, funds, and advice. He also asks Varano and Gian Francesco da Piagnano to come to the defense of his territories. He entrusts his sons Sallustio and Valerio with the governance of the state during his absence. Accompanied by Silvestro da Lucino and a retinue of 15 people, he sets sail to reach Apulia and seek aid from Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo and the Angevin allies.
Sept.Puglia, RomagnaHe arrives at Bisceglie and Trani. However, his potential allies are also in crisis due to their simultaneous defeat in Troia. In fact, the Prince of Taranto is suspected of considering a separate peace agreement with the adversaries. From Apulia, Malatesta disembarks at Ortona and returns to Romagna.
Oct.RomagnaHe quickly loses Mondaino, Montefiore Conca, Verucchio, San Giovanni in Galilea, Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna, and Mondavio. However, he manages to secure some funds and returns to Rimini with Silvestro da Lucino to defend the city.
Nov.VenetoAt the beginning of the month, he reaches Venice in search of diplomatic and military assistance.
Dec.Romagna, MarcheThe Sforza commissioner Bartolomeo Pusterla pays him a visit in Rimini. During this period, the diplomacy of the Duke of Milan and the Serenissima Republic exert futile pressure on Pope Pius II on his behalf. He manages to reclaim some territories in the Fano countryside and, in a skirmish, captures four squadrons of Montefeltro’s men-at-arms. Similar success is achieved by his troops against Antonello da Forlì.
1463
Jan.RomagnaHe is besieged in Rimini. To buy time, he sends his ambassador Giovanni dal Borgo to Rome to seek forgiveness from the pontiff.
Feb.He enters into a two-month truce with the papal forces, which includes, among other things, the release of prisoners from both sides.
Mar.He is excommunicated for the third time, along with his brother Domenico.
Apr.RomagnaAs the truce expires, he sends Giovanni dal Borgo to Venice in an attempt to persuade the Serenissima Republic to exert further pressure on the pope in his favor.
JuneMarcheHe tries to provide assistance to his son Roberto in Fano by sending armed forces and several ships loaded with grain, breaking the papal blockade. He carries out numerous diversionary actions, attacking Pesaro, plundering livestock, and taking many prisoners. As a result, Federico da Montefeltro is forced to ease the siege operations on the city, especially to protect the harvested crops in the territory (as it is harvest time).
JulyMarcheHe manages to bring in reinforcements and supplies to Fano three times, despite the naval blockade by a galley and two ships, providing much-needed troops and provisions.
Aug. – Sept.MarcheHe receives reinforcements from Jacopo Piccinino. He requests two Venetian superiors, Alvise Morosini and Antonio Malipiero, to escort some of his ships, but they refuse. Nonetheless, the ships set sail and are intercepted near Pesaro with a vessel sent by Jacopo Piccinino. Other convoys, with varying degrees of support from the Venetians, manage to reach their destination. In September, Malatesta boards two Provencal galleys and brings further aid to Fano, but it proves to be futile as his son Roberto is also forced to surrender. Towards the end of the month, he crosses the Adriatic, possibly seeking support from the Sultan of Constantinople. However, a storm drives his ship onto the Dalmatian coast.
Oct.Croatia, Friuli, VenetoHe disembarks at Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and continues his journey on land disguised and accompanied by a few companions. He arrives in Friuli and then proceeds to Venice, where he pleads his case. The Serenissima Republic intervenes and takes him and his brother Domenico under its protection. The Dukes of Milan and Ferrara, as well as Florence, also exert pressure on the pope to safeguard his cause. He sends Sagramoro Sagramori and Gaspare Broglio to Rome to negotiate the terms of his surrender.
Nov.RomagnaPope Pius II proposes that he abandons Rimini in exchange for Spoleto and Camerino. However, later on, he is granted only the lordship of Rimini along with the castles of Coriano, Mulazzano, Ceresolo, and the villages of Santa Cristina and Corpolò. He is required to pay the outstanding rents to the Papal States and acknowledge an annual rent of 1000 florins for the new possessions.
Dec.RomagnaIn the church of Santa Colomba, in front of Bishop Angelo Geraldini of Sessa (instead of the cathedral of Rimini as requested), Malatesta confesses his errors and asks for forgiveness. Senigallia, Mondavio, and Montemarciano are given to Antonio Piccolomini, the nephew of the pontiff. Mongardino, Fiorentino, and Serravalle are assigned to the Republic of San Marino. The castle of San Mauro Pascoli and some nearby lands in the diocese of Rimini are granted to Antonello da Forlì. Montebello, Sogliano al Rubicone, Ginestreto, and a few other territories go to Giovanni Francesco da Bagno and his brother Guido Guerra. The vicariate of San Giovanni di Galilea is given to Carlo Malatesta from Sogliano. Gradara and Castelnuovo are assigned to Alessandro Sforza. Macerata Feltria, Sant’Agata Feltria, Maiolo, Sartiano, Torricella, Lebiano, Rocchi, Cogoleto, Fragheto, Pereto, Scavolino, San Donato, Maiano, Monte Pietra, Ugrigno, Monterotondo, Pagno, Massella dei Rustici, Casalecchio, Pennabilli, Auditore, Maciano, Pietrarubbia, Monte Santa Maria, Montedagone, Castellina, Chierignano, Fossa, Ripamassana, Ripapetrosa, Sasso, Torre, Pian di Castello, Tavoleto, Girone, Gesso, Petrella Guidi, and Certalto are granted to Montefeltro under a rent of 1340 florins to the Apostolic Chamber.
1464
Mar.VeniceOttoman EmpireCaptain general, 400 lances, 100 cavalry, 300 infantrymenHe is appointed as the Captain General in Morea (Peloponnese). He is granted a monthly stipend of 300 florins and a contract for 1200 horses. For the recruitment of troops, he receives a payment of 80 florins per lance, 20 florins for each light horse, and 3 florins for each infantryman. The service commitment is set for two years. Cardinal Bessarion officiates the solemn sung mass in the Basilica of San Marco, after which the presentation of flags and the baton of command takes place.
MayRomagnaThe first embarkations for Morea (Peloponnese) begin. From Rimini, 7 merchant ships set sail initially, followed by 6 more ships carrying soldiers and around a thousand horses a few days later. Additional recruited troops from the Paduan region are loaded onto ships at the ports of Conche and Chioggia.
June – JulyGreaceHe boards the galley of the Chief Mate Baldassarre Trevisan along with around forty young men from prominent families in Rimini, serving as “squadriers.” In reality, they act as hostages and a pledge of loyalty given by the citizens. The delay in his departure is due to a conspiracy plotted by some exiles, with the connivance of the Papal governor of Romagna, the Bishop of Sessa. Before leaving Italy, Malatesta expresses his desire for Venice to intervene with the Pope to have some lands in the Rimini countryside returned to him, as promised in the past. The response is, of course, negative. After a journey of fourteen days, passing through Pescara and Brindisi, he crosses the Strait of Otranto and reaches the port of Kalamata. By mid-July, he arrives in Modon. He launches an attack on Mytilene by land and sea, but the Turks prevail, and among the Venetians, Captain of the Gulf Angelo Pesaro and other chief mates are killed. Malatesta commands 4,000 men, including cavalry and infantry, instead of the expected 3,000 cavalry and 5,000 infantry. The soldiers under his command have low morale due to delayed pay, lack of provisions, and forage. Consequently, acts of violence against the local population are inevitable, often leading them to seek protection from the Turks for their defense.
Aug.GreaceSoon he becomes aware of the actual situation of his troops: he cannot resume operations from where Bertoldo d’Este left off and besiege Corinth because he lacks the necessary resources. He must instead focus on restoring discipline by hanging about twenty of the most guilty criminals. He imprisons over a hundred unruly soldiers who refuse to follow orders and sends back to Venice in chains several captains. He trains the troops who are unaccustomed and ill-prepared for the hardships and inconveniences of war. Particularly, he entices his men by sending them to plunder some villages or castles controlled by the Turks. Through subsequent raids, he regains control of the Mani Peninsula and, with a successful maneuver, seizes Mistras, the ancient Sparta, the seat of the Despot of Morea.
Sept.GreaceHe besieges the fortress of Mistras. The intervention of Omar Bey forces him to leave the city and entrench himself in a nearby location with earthworks, ditches, and various obstacles or barriers, surrounded by steep rocky slopes. Malatesta, outnumbered by the enemy forces, remains constantly on the defensive, allowing his men only a few skirmishes.
Dec.GreaceHe decides to withdraw from Mistras due to a combination of factors. These include the scarcity of provisions and ammunition, the prevalence of diseases, the approaching cold weather, and the strengthening of the enemy army, which threatens to cut off his retreat routes. He arranges for the transportation of the ashes of George Gemistus Plethon, the philosopher of pagan revival and Greek culture, which will be interred in Rimini. Amid pouring rain and unfavorable weather conditions, he conducts the retreat of his troops through unusual and less closely monitored routes, avoiding the Turks. Along the way, he attacks Patimo, captures the castle, and destroys the garrison. Among his troops, more than half of the survivors are affected by malaria, and many soldiers perish from cold and hunger.
1465
Jan. – Feb.GreaceHe manages to save himself in Modon (Methoni). He, too, has been afflicted by malaria. He engages in bitter conflicts with the provveditore (provincial governor) Andrea Dandolo, until the latter is removed from his position and replaced by Giacomo Barbarigo. The dispute with Andrea Dandolo, on the other hand, is not new and dates back ten years ago, stemming from a romantic involvement between Malatesta and Dandolo’s wife, Aritea Malatesta, as well as the failure to pay the woman’s dowry despite his formal obligations. He stops in Napoli di Romania (Nafplio) to receive medical treatment.
SpringGreaceDisorder arises in Rimini, fueled by rumors of his deteriorating health. He seeks excuses to complain about the military situation and protests the lack of resources that would enable him to adequately confront the Turks. Once healed, he only embarks on an unsuccessful raid towards Corinth. Additionally, Malatesta maintains conflicting relationships with the new Captain General of the fleet, Giacomo Loredan.
JulyGreaceHe requests to return to Italy for a brief period but is firmly denied. In Kalamata, where he has been entrenched for almost a month, he decides to attack Mistras once again. However, due to the significant disparity in forces favoring the Turks, the attack proves futile. He moves to Mantinea, where he surprises a contingent of 1,000 men encamped near Caritina. Many soldiers are killed and taken prisoner. The loot includes 10 pavilions, 120 warhorses, 600 head of cattle (oxen and cows), 2,000 castrated animals, as well as various domestic animals such as donkeys, mules, and pigs. Due to the lack of forage for the cavalry, he returns to Mantinea. Against Barbarigo’s advice, he transfers the camp to San Sion, then Kalamata, Castel Leone near Corone, and finally to La Cosura, near Castelfranco.
Aug.GreaceHe advances his lines further and reaches Castri, near Mistras, where 14,000 Turks confront him. He retreats to Corone (Koroni) and strengthens the passes leading to the Mani Peninsula with several garrisons. He repels the troops of Omar Bey, who have begun to besiege the local castle, from Longanico.
Sept. – Nov.GreaceHe has only 1,000 able-bodied men at his disposal, including cavalry and infantry. It appears that the majority of his troops have mysteriously vanished in the face of the enemy. The course of the conflict is such that Malatesta gradually loses the esteem of the Venetians. The rulers of Nauplia (Nafplio) accuse him of cowardice and corruption. Their complaints prove successful, leading to the acceptance of his request for leave and the reduction of his contract from two years to eighteen months.
Dec.He returns to Italy with only 30 or 40 men. The rest of the troops he had gathered in Greece will leave the region only upon the arrival of Girolamo Novello, the governor assigned to take his place in Morea (Peloponnese).
1466
Jan.The Venetians keep the horses that are still in good condition and equipped for further military campaigns in Greece.
Mar.Veneto, RomagnaSigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta arrives in Venice and goes to Grancona in the Berici Hills to visit his son-in-law Carlo di Montone. He then returns to Venice, where he receives a testimonial of esteem from the Senate for his actions in Morea. His contract is not renewed, but the Senate assures him that his past wages will be paid once all the accounts have been examined. In Romagna, he resumes his activities.
Apr.LazioHe makes an initial trip to Rome to request the return of his possessions from the new Pope Paul II. As a consolation, he is granted the Rose of Gold (Rosa d’Oro) by the Pope.
JulyLazioHe visits Rome once again, but this time he is not even granted an audience. He meets with a papal emissary and his son-in-law Giulio Cesare da Varano. They demand the surrender of Rimini to the Papal States in exchange for Foligno and Spoleto.
Sept.LazioHe returns to Rome for a third time, seemingly with the intention of assassinating the Pope. He takes lodging at Palazzo Brunaldi. During the audience, he throws his sword, humiliates himself, and begs not to have his lordship of Rimini taken away. On his journey back, he is struck by malaria once again in a miserable inn near Rieti. He is taken to his city, and Pope Paul II arranges for him to be visited by the physician Niccolò da Rimini.
1468
Jan.ChurchLazio, UmbriaStill in Rome, he requests a new contract from the Pope. He is assigned certain police duties in Norcia, where he successfully restores peace between the factions.
June64 lancesRomagnaHe is granted a stipend of 4,000 florins, and the service commitment is set for one year. However, due to his illness, he is quickly rendered inactive.
Oct.RomagnaHe dies in Castel Gismondo in Rimini in the middle of the month. He is buried in the Church of San Francesco, which he transformed into the Malatesta Temple with the collaboration of Leon Battista Alberti. The tomb, however, is the work of Bernardo Ciuffagni and Francesco di Simone Ferrucci. Many artists are involved in the creation of the tomb, including Piero della Francesca (who painted his portrait), Giovanni Bellini (whose portrait is included in a Pietà), Duccio da Buoninsegna, and Matteo de’ Pasti. There is also a medallion of him by Pisanello in Florence (depicting him on horseback, leading the troops with the staff of an “Imperator”) and one by Matteo de’ Pasti in the Malatesta Temple in Rimini. Within the same building, there is an effigy of him supported by an elephant, the symbol of the Malatesta family. He is present in the fresco “The Journey of the Magi” by Benozzo Gozzoli (Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence). He is depicted with the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, slightly behind Cosimo and Piero de’ Medici, who are painted in the foreground. He has the Isotteo written for his beloved Isabella degli Atti, a collection of Latin verses by various authors such as Porcellio, Basinio da Parma, and Trembazio, praising the passion she inspires in him. He hosts notable figures at his court, including Porcellio, Giorgio Gemisto Plethon, Biondo da Forlì, Zaccaria Trevisan, Bonaccorso da Montemago (Antonio Losco), Francesco Filelfo, Antonino Campano, Roberto Valturio, Tobia dal Borgo, Basinio Parmense, and Lorenzo Ghiberti. He is a friend of Leon Battista Alberti and Bonifacio Bembo, and his secretary is Gaspare Broglio. Favorable words about him can be found in the volume “Hesperides” by Basinio Parmense, who also writes an epic poem to commemorate his victory over the Aragonese in Tuscany. Ezra Pound refers to him as “the best loser in history” and mentions him in one of his “Cantos.” Luigi Pulci mentions him in “La giostra,” and Gabriele d’Annunzio evokes him in “Francesca da Rimini.” In 1472, Roberto Valturio dedicates his work “De re militari” to his memory. His motto is “Semper invictus” (Always invincible). Part of his armor is housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Quotes

-“Sigismondo apparteneva alla nobile famiglia Malatesta, benché fosse nato fuori dal matrimonio; era molto vigoroso nel corpo e nella mente e dotato di grande eloquenza e abilità militare..Qualsiasi cosa si accingesse a fare, sembrava nato per essa. Ma le cattive inclinazioni ebbero sempre iln lui il sopravvento: era a tal punto schiavo dell’avarizia che non esitava, non dico a depredare, ma addirittura a rubare; nella lussuria era talmente sfrenato, che arrivò a commettere violenza contro le sue figlie e i suoi generi. Da giovanetto si travestì da donna ed ora faceva la parte della femmina, ora effeminava i maschi. Non c’era matrimonio che fosse sacro per lui. Contaminò sante vergini, si congiunse con donne ebree. I fanciulli e le fanciulle che non consentivano ai suoi desideri li faceva uccidere oppure frustare crudelmente..Sorpassò per crudeltà tutti i barbari. Le sue mani cruente inflissero punizioni efferate a colpevoli e innocenti. Oppresse i poveri, ai ricchi strappò i beni; e non risparmiò neppure vedove e orfani. Nessuno poté vivere sicuro sotto il suo dominio. Bastavano la ricchezza, o una bella moglie, o figli di piacevole aspetto, a trasformare per lui un uomo in reo..Rara sulle sue labbra la verità; maestro eccellente del simulare e dissimulare, uomo perfido e spergiuro..Tale era Sigismondo: insofferente della pace, dedito ai piaceri, benché capace di sostenere le fatiche e avido di guerra, pessimo uomo fra tutti gli uomini che furono e saranno al mondo, disonore dell’Italia e vergogna del nostro secolo.” PICCOLOMINI

-“L’immagine del condottiere, verso la metà del Quattrocento, era sicuramente mutata o per lo meno era mutata per quelli che erano anche capi politici. Torna qui a proposito il contrasto tra Federigo da Montefeltro e Sigismondo Malatesta. Infatti entrambi erano signori di stati indipendenti e quindi avevano la possibilità di reclutare uomini e di attingere a risorse proprie. Tuttavia mentre Sigismondo era un personaggio violento e imprevedibile che possedeva una certa genialità per le cose della guerra, Federigo era di indole prudente, un calcolatore e soprattutto era affidabile. Negli anni centrali del secolo fu Federigo il condottiere più ricercato, anche se era ben noto che Sigismondo era un comandante di maggior vaglia. La reputazione di lealtà, il fatto di comandare una compagnia ben organizzata e con una sicura base d’appoggio, e poi una carriera in cui figuravano non troppo frequenti le battaglie perdute, furono tutti elementi che contarono di più nella valutazione di chi assoldava mercenari che non le virtù militari più tradizionali del coraggio, dell’abilità tattica o anche il più consistente numero di successi.” MALLETT

-“In lui sembrano assommarsi i vizi e le passioni della sua famiglia, tanto che non gli fu risparmiata nessuna accusa: “nemico de omne pace et bono vivere”, secondo una sentenza del Guicciardini, si è visto addossate tutte le colpe e i delitti più orrendi, e certe accuse sono state tradizionalmente accettate e ripetute. Ma la sua figura non può essere considerata solo come quella di un mostro di perfidia, crudeltà e libidine, o, al limite, in questa misura va anche giudicata alla stregua del tempo in cui visse. Del resto è stato lo stesso Sigismondo a riconoscersi colpevole di ogni sorta di delitti e crudeltà in una preghiera a Dio in versi, frutto della sua dilettantesca attività poetica: Io confesso a te padre i miei peccati/ E primamente i toi deci precepti/ Io ghio ho più volte adulterati e infecti/ Cum li miei vitij enormi e scellerati/ I delicti mortali ho tanno usati/ Che se cum gratia più tu no remetti/ Io me veggio caschar ne gli interdecti/ Locchi dintorno abisso o stà i dannati. RENDINA

-“Scaltro quanto prode, ma di rado favorito dalla fortuna, realizzava in sé tutte le qualità che il Machiavelli richiedeva in un tiranno, il quale doveva unire in sé le proprietà della volpe e del leone.” VON PASTOR

-“Sigismondo il gran tiranno/…/ Il chiomato Sigismondo,/ la procellosa anima imperiale/ ch’ebbe poche castella e non il mondo./…/ La sua voce d’amore e di comando/ io vo’ trarre dal marmo, le sue gesta./…/ Ch’io lo veda tornare alla battaglia/ come nella giornata di Piombino,/ cavaliere a traverso l’Apennino/ il pensiero disperato per iscorta.” D’ANNUNZIO

-“Filium suum Robertum cognoscere tentavit.” PONTANO

-“Questo principe era fornito di più splendide doti militari che verun altro capo di questa casa, così feconda di grandi capitani. Egli assaissimo guerreggiò, ora per proprio conto presso Rimini, ora al soldo dei re di Napoli, de’ Fiorentini o de’ Veneziani. Ma la sua perfidia era ancora più famosa che la sua accortezza o il suo valore.” SISMONDI

-“Il quale fu molto chiarissimo nell’arte bellica, e anche nelle liberali, magnanimo quanto alcuno, che al suo tempo fosse.” CORIO

-“Degno di essere collocato tra i più grandi capitani.” CONTI

-“Indole fiera e irrequieta, natura libidinosa ed esuberante cedette troppo spesso colla violenza della passione, ma forse non commise le crudeltà e le scelleratezze imputategli; animo eletto di guerriero, di filosofo e di artista ebbe troppa coscienza dei suoi meriti e del suo valore; principe valente ed energico, fu molto amato e molto temuto; ambizioso com’era si studiò di accrescer sempre il suo dominio, si attirò le inimicizie e l’odio di molti signori, che si sentirono minacciati dalla sua prepotenza; vicario temporale della chiesa tollerava di mal animo la sovranità politica del papato, il governo del clero; amante del fasto e della gloria, desideroso di tramandare in ogni modo il suo nome ai posteri, versò spesso in tristissime condizioni finanziarie, per le quali fu costretto a cercare insistentemente il soldo ora dell’una ora dell’altra signoria italiana, abbandonando magari in difficili momenti quella che gli lesinava o non gli dava puntualmente il denaro pattuito; per questo più volte fu gridato per tutta Italia sleale e traditore.” SORANZO

-“Cresciuto in una Corte e in un paese ove tutto parlava d’armi, di frodi, di odi mortali, educò e sviluppò le sue doti naturali e divenne maestro di tutte quelle arti che sono necessarie a comandare in tempi di violenza e di corruzione..la sua figura non può esser considerata solo come quella di un mostro di perfidia, di crudeltà, di libidine; è ben più complessa e va vista e giudicata anche alla stregua del suo tempo e del suo ambiente.. La sua abilità di condottiero è così conosciuta e apprezzata, che, nonostante i sospetti, tutti fanno a gara per avere il suo valido aiuto e affidargli la sorte delle loro armi. Non solo la passione, ma anche l’arte della guerra è in lui una seconda natura, un istinto che egli ha coltivato e rassodato con la pratica e con lo studio: sa preparare accortamente le battaglie e valorosamente condurle; sa, al momento, del pericolo o dell’imprevisto, trovar rimedio con rapidità. E in mezzo alle truppe di che spirito di sacrificio e di tolleranza dà prova! Non vi è cibo o riposo per lui: la fame, il freddo, il clima malsano, il terreno paludoso, nulla gli dà noia, pur di giungere allo scopo che si è proposto, ed è esempio ai soldati ed esercita su di essi l’autorità e il fascino proprio di coloro che sanno condividere con gli umili fatiche e disagi.” NISSIM ROSSI

-“Senza fede, senza alcun rispetto a cose divine od umane, si macchiò dei più neri delitti e per togliere di mezzo coloro che odiava adoperava indifferentemente la spada, o il pugnale, o il veleno.” VILLARI

-“Sigismondo, come tutti i perdenti, non è un protagonista della storia; è sopravvissuta a malapena la leggenda maledetta che lo presenta come un archetipo di protervia e d’infamia, usata come esempio di abiezione in opere dedicate a principi più illustri o fortunati.” COUSTE’

-“Valoroso capitano dei soldati.” ALBERTI

-“Nemico de omne pacie et bono vivare.” GUERRIERO DA GUBBIO

-“Nobilis Sigismundi perfidia, quam etsi semper praeter cetera eius vitia, novarum rerum cupidum, alieni appetentem et per omnem aetatem apud Italiae dominatus venalem cognoverat.” SIMONETTA

-“Huomo bellicoso.” P. GIUSTINIAN

-“El quale fo homo superbo altiero et multi signiuri e signorie fece la truffa, essendo so condutiero; et per le soe crudeltà non morì che ‘l se vitte el dollore e la perdeda de tutto el so paexe, reservando solo la cità de Rimine.” CORPUS CHRONIC. BONOMIENSUM

-“Hic ingeniosus super omnes principes fuit et sollicitus; valde autem in edificio delectatus est.” BATTAGLI

-“Pauli Secundi benivolentiam non parvam meritus est, quippe pro fide christiana longo tempore adversus Turcos bestiales homines multa incommoda perperpessus est noctesque diesque.” CANENSI

-“Restituet meritis Pauli clementis regnum/ Quod furor arripuit non tibi iure Pii.” da un poemetto di ANONIMO del 1467

-“Acquistò riputation grande..Era di statura grande e forte assai; di carnagione bianca, di occhi azzurri chiari e di capelli rossi.” ROSCIO

-“Huomo per certo valoroso, molto astuto e costante, con aria di terribile ingegno e di volto bravo, ma sopra tutto molto patiente della fatica, pronto e ardito ad essequir tutte le fattioni importanti della militia..Capitano famosissimo oltre tutti quelli che erano in Italia al suo tempo.” SANSOVINO

-“Ex nobili Malatestarum genere: ex quo multi illustres viri belli et paucis artibus orti sunt.” FACIO

-“Guerrier tremendo, artefice dolce di rime,/ a te per hli occhi l’animo ardente brilla.” L. ORSINI

-“Uomo abbondante di valore, ma più di vizi..Vanno concordi gli storici pontifici, l’Ammirato e l’autore della Cronaca di Bologna nel dire che l’alterigia, la lascivia, le trufferie, le crudeltà, deformarono di troppo la di lui vita, oltre alla eresia di cui dicono che egli fu macchiato.” MURATORI

-“Fu tra’ più illustri dei Malatesta..Intelligentissimo delle cose di guerra, fu l’inventore delle bombe da esso nel 1460 fatte fabbricare di bronzo in due emisferi riuniti con zone..Unì alla militare bravura, magnificenza e liberalità, non disgiunte da famigliar pratica coi letterati, dai quali dissimulato il suo costume malvagio, venne con gran lodi encomiato.” BERCHET

-“Fu Sigismondo Pandolfo uno dei più riputati tra i condottieri d’arme dei giorni suoi. Abile nel preparare i piani delle battaglie, valoroso e prudente nel combatterle, pronto di espedienti e ripieghi. Valentissimo nel maneggiare le artiglierie per quanto lo comportasse la infanzia dell’arte, a lui si attribuisce il ritrovamento di un nuovo metodo di puntarle in posizioni malagevoli e disadatte; a lui si dà il merito di avere immaginate le bombe che andavano a portare fra i nemici la distruzione. Ambizioso e cupido di regno, non ebbe però l’audacia pari all’ambizione nel saper prendere pronti ed efficaci partiti; per conseguenza incerto sempre nelle alleanze, spesso sleale. Da questo ne venne la sua rovina, più ancora che dall’odio che cumulò sul suo capo per le incursioni continue nei dominii dei signori di Pesaro e Urbino. Crudele contro i nemici, lo fu pure inverso dei sudditi: peraltro non tutto può credersi quello che l’odio dettò contro di lui a Pio II.” LITTA

-“In quel fiero e bestiale animo l’odio contro i feltreschi era irreconciliabile, e tanto più pericoloso quanto meno si mostrava, e col manto della benevolenza si copriva..Era costui non solo valente nel braccio e nelle arti guerresche, ma valentissimo anche nelle insidie; sicché a giungere a’ suoi fini, stimava lecito ogni mezzo: spergiuri, tradimenti, stiletti, veleni..Era Gismondo di alta e proporzionata statura e signorile aspetto; di colore fra il bianco e il bruno; di naso aquilino; di occhi piccoli, azzurri vivacissimi; scendevagli la folta capigliatura fino al collo: ciò che lo rendeva or fiero, or piacevole..Seguitando le orme del padre, presto venne in gran fama sì per le astuzie militari, di cui era gran maestro, sì per la perizia e per l’impeto negli assalti. Inventò alcune macchine da guerra: fu riverito e amato da’ soldati, ne’ quali aveva l’arte d’infondere il proprio coraggio con focosa eloquenza e con l’esempio nello sprezzo de’ pericoli: servì molti principi; a pochi tenne fede, perché degli uomini sprezzatore e di Dio: fu terribile nelle ire, negli odi e ne’ sospetti; sicché lo avevi nemico pericoloso e crudo, e amico mal fido.” UGOLINI

-“Uomo diffamato per tutti i vizj.” PIGNOTTI

-Con il Gattamelata, Tiberto Brandolini, Pietro Navarrino, Astorre Manfredi, Bartolomeo Colleoni, Guido Rangoni, Guerriero da Marsciano ed Antonio da Martinengo “Condottieri esperti e di provato valore.” BELOTTI

-“Nessuno negava al signore di Rimini un’eccezionale bravura e una capacità nel mestiere delle armi, da farne indubbiamente uno dei più valoroso capitani che allora avesse l’Italia; ma tutti lo dicevano e lo sospettavano fedifrago, misleale.” FRANCESCHINI

-Dall’esame del medaglione del Pisanello “Mince, svelte, visage ramassé qui tranche un long nez, lièvres fines impitoyables, des yeux de fouine ou d’aigle.” LABANDE

-“Acclamato condottiero, fu un tipico “tiranno”.” NASALLI ROCCA

-“Animo..fiero, superbo e di danaro cupidissimo.” AMIANI

-“Uomo di natura inquieto, e che amava la pace se non quando v’era spinto dal tedio della guerra.” BALDI

-“Fu fiero e collerico, risplendeva bensì in esso una bravura e valore indicibile,..fu richiesto per generale da tutte le potenze d’Italia.” COLUCCI

-“Homo impurissimus atque sceleratus et ad omne facinus natus.” FABRONIO 

-“Est le plus illustre de son race; et il la personnifie tout entière, car il réunit en lui toutes leurs vertues, comme il a leurs passions et leurs vices..Il existe à Modéne, chez le marquis Giuseppe Campori, un monument très singulier, une relique de famille, de proprieté privée de Sigismond Malatesta, qui affecte la forme d’un crane de marbre, portant à sa partie postérieure l’inscription suivante: “Ego Sig. Pand. Malatesta, caput avi mei a Sim./ Florentino hoc marmore F.F. MCCCCVIIIL”..C’est la un très curieux document qui nous montre de quels singulieurs contrastes sont remplis les caractères du XV siècle. Voila un homme, attaque costamment ses neveux, empoisonne, dit-on, sa première femme et aurait étranglé sa seconde: qui ordonne à un sculpteur, son pensionnaire, avant de le déposer dans le tombeau qu’il élève à San Francesco, de reproduire ligue pour ligue le crane de son aieul, “afin, dit-il, de ne jamais l’oublier et de dire devant lui, chaque jour, le psarme du profundis.” YRIARTE

-“Capitano di ventura di grandissime capacità.” PERRIA

-“In quel tempo non v’era il più sufficiente capitano né di più, né di maggior animo che lo illustrissimo signore miser Sigismondo..il quale fo bellicoso e ferocissimo nell’arte militaria e alli dì suoi fece de magnanimi facti..Il prefato signore fu uno delli più notabili capitani che fusse stato per lungo tempo nelle parti d’Italia; e quello che con degno stile governò suo exercito; et sempre, mentre che ‘l fo alli servitù d’alcuna potentia, sempre acquistò honore e gran fama. Della persona sua fece nell’arte militaria cose molto notevoli, e degno di gran memoria, ricevendo più victorie. La sua appariscentia, se el fosse stato fra cento signori, seria stato eletto sempre superiore di tucti. L’aspetto suo era feroce e rigido: crudelissimo contro li suoi nemici: era di persona più che comunale,..assai competentemente era dottato di scientia, e di senno naturale..Dal conte Francesco (Sforza) in fuora, in Italia non v’era a quel tempo suo paro.” BROGLIO

-“Ausonie decus atque Italum fortissime gentis,/ ipse tibi ante alios vates non ulterius olim/ Sigismonde canam laudes et magno parentis/ bello genusque tuum regesque et maxima semper/ nomina, septiferosque atavos gentesque superbam./ Post ego magna tue referam praecaria famae,/ virtutemque animisque tuos, tua plurima quondam/ proelia, consiliisque tuis que multa secundo/ numine belle geris: iuvat, o, iuvat ille referre/…/ que nuper dederis Tyrrhenis victor in oris,/ pro qua laude tamen tibi dulcis Aethruria debet/ omnia te solum miratur, et Itala gens te laudat.” Da un’epistola di Basinio Parmense riportata dal BROGLIO

-“Al suo tempo fu molto preggiato guerriero, ma era tenuto huomo vitioso e detestabile, nel qual si trovava poca lealtà e manco fede.” PARTI

-“Abilissimo e valoroso condottiero, grande mecenate, pessimo politico: l’ultimo grande principe riminese.” PASINI

-“Fu fiero e collerico, risplendeva sì in esso una bravura e valore indicibile.” A. ROSSI

-“Oltre alla fama di perizia nelle cose militari s’era anche acquistato fama di uomo senza fede..Con i suoi difetti e tutti i suoi pregi, Sigismondo fu un tipico prodotto del suo tempo e della società in cui era nato e cresciuto.” SIBILIA

-“Most notorious member of a family which for generations combined the rule of a small state with the profession of condottiere.” TREASE

-Alla battaglia di Montolmo “Francesco Piccinino senza mancare/ Fé comandare al signor Malatesta/ Che due squadre gli voglia mandare:/ Il qual, superbo er arrogante testa,/ volse le spalle, e con tutte le sue genti/ Partì, lasciando altrui ne la tempesta.” SPIRITO

-Confronto con Federico da Montefeltro “Due uomini dal fisico prodigioso, induriti come ferro a tutte le fatiche e ai colpi della vita. Esattamente contemporanei, benché Sigismondo fosse maggiore di cinque anni, ambedue figli illegittimi e tuttavia legittimi sovrani di principati press’a poco uguali e incastrati l’uno nell’altro, e condottieri parimenti ricercati delle stesse potenze d’Italia, tutti e due egualmente precoci ed egualmente valorosi; abituati alla dura vita del campo, l’amavano nella stessa misura, nonostante il lusso che si compiacevano di ordinare nei loro palazzi da essi mai abitati; si servivano degli stessi artisti, chiamavano gli stessi dotti, l’uno e l’altro parlavano con facilità e scrivevano con precisione, nutriti di classicità al punto di concepire le cose del loro tempo solo nelle belle forme dell’epoca latina, d’una attività continua e universale e di una curiosità quasi enciclopedica, di stirpi press’a poco simili e continuamente mescolate…Ebbene due individui siffatti differiscono solo sul piano morale…Piero della Francesca li ha dipinti entrambi di profilo e dallo stesso lato, genuflessi, con le mani giunte, in preghiera: l’uno, Montefeltro, in un quadro sacro oggi a Brera, vicino allo Sposalizio di Raffaello,..; l’altro, Malatesta, in un piccolo affresco ancora visibile all’interno della cappella detta delle Reliquie, nel Tempio Malatestiano, a Rimini…Il profilo (di Sigismondo) stagliato nettamente sul cielo nuvoloso, traccia con precisione i contorni di un’anima umana, i suoi limiti e le sue proporzioni. Questo profilo è, d’altronde, identico e sovrapponibile a quelli delle medaglie dello stesso personaggio coniate da Pisanello e da Matteo de’ Pasti, e risulta veritiero. Alto e slanciato, a mo’ di sottile lama, con gli occhi stretti sul naso, che è quasi in linea con la fronte sfuggente, le labbra chiuse e imbronciate, lo sguardo ironico e crudele, l’”aura” d’orgoglio che ne emana, il collo lungo, le spalle cadenti. Un simile ritratto induce a definire l’uomo: temerario, eccessivo, intrigante, insaziabile, insinuante, perfido, cauto, strisciante e simulatore.., gaio, maliardo, poeta, amante, artista, con qualcosa di geniale che manca all’altro, ma che ripaga con uno squilibrio continuo: violento e tenero, coraggioso e inquieto, capace di azioni e reazioni fulminee, con i nervi troppo tesi e crollanti d’un tratto in lamenti e lacrime, spirito attivo e scontento, sempre intento a “cercare cose nuove”. Ognuno di questi caratteri gli si può attribuire senza tema di sbagliare, mentre nessuno pare addosso al conte d’Urbino.” DE LA SIZERANNE

-“The “Wolf of Rimini”, the most treacherous  and intimidating condottiere in Italy.” CROWLEY

-“Fu anche poeta e patrono delle arti. In vita la sua fama fu legata soprattutto all’attività di condottiero e capitano, pur nell’incongruenza di essere signore di uno stato piccolo e tutto sommato marginale, e gradualmente destinato ad eclissarsi. Ben più duratura e cresciuta invece nei secoli è stata piuttosto la sua notorietà legata alla promozione di iniziative artistiche e culturali, spesso assai ambiziose e dispendiose, tutte votate all’esaltazione della sua immagine personale e di quella della dinastia malatestiana, fino quasi a farne una vera e propria religione. Proprio i conflitti col papato lo portarono a promuovere l’elaborazione di una particolare commistione tra mondo classico paganeggiante, cultura cristiana e culto personale, arricchito da suggestioni cavalleresche e cortesi. Non fu dunque un semplice finanziatore di opere, ma fu un elemento attivo nei processi creativi, incarnando quegli ideali che intendeva promuovere: uomo di guerra e di cultura, cavaliere e sovrano assoluto.” WIKIPEDIA

-“Capitano di ventura e signore di Rimini, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta fu uno di quei personaggi irrequieti e bellicosi per i quali la pace di Lodi (del 1454) non significò una conquista e un bene sociale, ma soltanto una decisa riduzione delle entrate e un forte freno alle ambizioni.” SCARDIGLI

-“In Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, the Malatesta characteristics reached their ultimate and most brilliant development. He was the summit. For five hundred years have been told and re-told about the “shadows and splendours” of Sigismondo’s court at Rimini. His contemporary, Cosimo de’ Medici, the cautious and calculating hidden “boss” of Florence, and the founder of the Medici rule, remarked with a banker’s inside that Sigismondo was “a man d’insatiable appetites”. It was true. He had a consuming hunger for everything in life..and he tasted everything. One of his poems began: “The five senses I have acutely-/To hear, to see, to smell, to taste or touch/Every voluptuous or graceful object..”” DEISS

-“E’ forse il condottiero che gode..della peggior fama tra tutti i protagonisti della guerra rinascimentale. Complice di questa nomea di uomo empio fino alla perversione, crudele e sprezzante di ogni riguardo per gli uomini e per Dio, .. Pio II che ne fece un vero eroe negativo nelle pagine dei suoi Commentari…Prestando fede agli usi di famiglia e alle convenienze politiche che richiedeva la sopravvivenza del suo stato, fu condottiero pronto a tutti i padroni, e a dar fede al Piccolomini non vi fu signore italiano che non avesse subito i suoi voltafaccia.” TANZINI

-“Egli – ci viene detto (Vergerio) – aveva coltivato sin dall’infanzia le sue attitudini guerriere con un addestramento e un’istruzione confacente imparando ben presto a “condurre eserciti, stabilire accampamenti, ordinare schiere, organizzare guarnigioni, colpire nemici, erigere macchine d’assedio e fortificazioni”; nel contempo si esercitava nel maneggio delle armi, cioè a scagliare giavellotti, gettare lance, far rimbombare scudi e, vibrando la spada, troncare oggetti incredibili.” (id.) Con non minore abilità sapeva comportarsi negli esercizi equestri: saltava infatti agilmente a cavallo senza staffe e quindi, piegate le mani dietro la schiena, lanciava la cavalcatura in rapidissime corse, interrotte da improvvisi cambiamenti di direzione, scalava ripidi pendii e saltava fossi…Roberto Valturio nel “De re militari libri XII attribuisce senz’altro all’ingegno di Sigismondo Malatesta l’invenzione dei pezzi di artiglieria terminanti a vite, e delle granate esplosive di bronzo a due emisferi, innescate mediante uno stoppino che si accendeva alla vampa.” SETTIA

-Commento all’affresco di Benozzo Gozzoli “In sella a un robusto cavallo baio adatto alla guerra, il Lupo appare in tutto e per tutto un capitano temprato dalle battaglie. Il suo torace, gonfio di orgoglio, è il più possente, il suo collo è di grossezza taurina mentre la mandibola pronunciata dà al suo volto un’aria di energica determinazione. A testa scoperta, Sigismondo appare pronto ad agire, come se da un momento all’altro dovesse sfoderare la spada e andare incontro al nemico. Nello stesso tempo la sua immagine non comunica affatto un’impressione di ruvidezza. Tutto ciò che indossa appare lussuoso e l’intera sua persona irradia non solo forza, ma eleganza e senso della bellezza…Il ritratto di Sigismondo nell’affresco di Gozzoli illustrava una specie di paradosso. Da un lato raffigurava un uomo famoso o, piuttosto, famigerato per “non sopportare la pace..(e per) essere votato al piacere, incurante delle avversità (e) avido di guerre.” (Piccolomini). Dall’altro, quel medesimo uomo aveva l’apparenza di una persona raffinata e amante della cultura.” LEE

-“Se la fama di condottiero e capitano del Malatesta, pur nella sua grandezza, incongruente rispetto al ruolo di signore d’un piccolo Stato, era destinata a lungo a perdere d’importanza, molto più duratura fu quella che si procurò, con un sempre maggior numero di costose iniziative di promozione culturale, in ambito cortigiano e nel più vasto contesto urbanistico ed edilizio cittadino. Il suo mecenatismo fu chiaramente indirizzato all’esaltazione delle imprese personali e alla celebrazione della grandezza della dinastia malatestiana, fino a farli quasi divenire una forma di religione. La novità e l’attualità artistica della politica culturale del Malatesta non si tradussero solo in forme di committenza e di finanziamento di opere, ma lo portarono a rendersi attivo e partecipe nei vari processi artistici e, soprattutto, a ispirarsi a modelli, valori e simboli rivissuti da lui in maniera personale, in una sorta di unione, mescolanza, fra cultura cristiana e cultura classica. Il Malatesta mantenne un certo distacco nei confronti delle istituzioni ecclesiastiche e fu sensibile alle tradizioni cavalleresche e cortesi; affrontò le esperienze culturali vivendo sia le più nuove e diverse emozioni estetiche sia quelle più pragmatiche delle arti belliche. In questa commistione fra arti liberali e meccaniche intervenne l’apporto di un grande numero di artisti, letterati, tecnici e scienziati a dare alle imprese culturali del Malatesta una cera solidità razionale.” FALCIONI

-“Chi ha tenuto il conto delle campagne di guerra annuali effettuate da Sigismondo ne ha registrate 17 fra il 1435 e il 1454…Nel mestiere delle armi, Sigismondo è un ottimo stratega, molto apprezzato e richiesto quale capitano…Combatte sempre in prima fila, con animosità e sprezzo del pericolo..Roberto Valturio ed altri autori sono..concordi nell’attribuire a Sigismondo l’invenzione delle bombe..contenenti all’interno materiale esplosivo capace, al momento dell’impatto, di moltiplicarne la forza dirompente.” DELUCCA

-“Egli era di carne tra ‘l bianco e ‘l bruno, con occhi piccioli, azurri chiari e vivacissimi che l’indiziavano spiritoso, pronto di lingua e di mano, lusurioso e crudele. Haveva il naso aquilino e costumò fin sul collo lunga la capigliatura castagniccia,…Fu grande di corpo, ben proporzionato e di signorile aspetto…L’accompagnava poi una grandezza d’animo tanto elevata che spesso gli era ascritto ad alterezza e a superbia; ma con tutto che fosse colerico, sapeva spesso temprar la subitezza della natura sua; e per ordinario mostrossi con gravità affabile e faceto nelle conversazioni e specialmente di donne.” CLEMENTINI

-“And he, Sigismondo, was Captain for the Venetians/ And he had sold off small castles/ And built the great Rocca to his plan,/ And he fought like ten devils at Monteluro/ And got nothing but the victory.” POUND

-“Più che la mancanza di lealtà, comunissima imputazione fra mercenari, è la salacità delle accuse di sadismo sessuale a marcare a fuoco la memoria: delle malefatte del Malatesta possono “rendere testimonianza quella venerabile donna la quale obstava alla sua deshonestà, et fece ad mezo dì frustare in lo foro de Arimino; quella castissima giovene, che volse sobtomectere ad sua libidine, col suo tessudo proprio spogliata nuda, fece tanto flagellare che morì virtuosa e martira. Dicolo el monastero di Fano, reducto da lui in comune postribulo, se può dire che undici monache ad uno tracto se trovarono gravide: dicolo quella castissima giudea fuggita ad Pesaro, per forza dei soi parenti remenata, da lui fo violentata; et in quella giovene de Fano, el fratello de cui fece morire, per non volere assentire al stupro della sorella che se la materia non fosse così puaulente, seria da tacere.” Da una lettera di Federico  da Montefeltro a Luca Beni, riportata da FRANCESCHINI

-“Agli occhi di tanti storici quei finissimi marmi (il Tempio Malatestiano ove si trova il sepolcro di Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta) restano macchiati di odiosi crimini personali (stupri e uxoricidi), a dispetto e a rinforzo del mito romantico di Isotta degli Atti. la storiografia sigismondea, a cominciare da Giovanni Soranzo, e persino la poesia “pustolosa” de “Cantos” malatestiani di Ezra Pound, hanno cercato di scagionarlo dalle accuse considerandole calunnie. Alcuni storici più equilibrati, nel tentativo di esorcizzare la “leggenda nera” di Sigismondo, talora lo hanno privato di quell’impaziente, voracissimo appetito di vita che Cosimo de’ Medici giustamente considerava il suo tratto fondamentale, al di là del bene e del male.” SIMONETTA

-“El signor Sigismondo ha fama e effecti da essere tanto sfrenato a li apetiti soy, che como gli mette voglia de una cosa, subito la voria e non è patiente a voglierla col tempo suo, e che faria omne cosa per condure ad affecto un suo apetito.” Da Una lettera di Cosimo dei Medici riportata da TURCHINI

-Sul suo sepolcro è inscritto il seguente epitaffio “Sum Sigismundus Malatestae sanguine gentis,/ Pandulphus genitor, patria Flaminia est./ Vitam obiit VII Id. octob. aetatis suae anno/ L.I. mens. III D. XX. MCCCCLXIII”. Sulla tomba sono collocati gli stendardi dei suoi comandi ed un cimiero con due corna di sopra ed un motto che dice “Porto le corna ch’ogn’uno le vede,/ Et tal le porta che non se le crede” in allusione alle mogli fatte uccidere. Sul primo pilastro di ciascuno dei fianchi del Tempio Malatestiano è riportata la seguente epigrafe in greco “A Dio immortale/ Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta/ di Pandolfo, da molti e massimi/ pericoli nell’italica guerra pre/ servato vittorioso, per le cose così ope/ rate fortemente e felicemente, a Dio/ immortale e alla città un tempio, come in/ esso presenza de’ conflitti voti,/ magnificamente spendendo eresse, e memoria/ lasciò celeberrima e santa.”

-“Sigismondo riassunse in sé le caratteristiche del principe rinascimentale; in particolare, seppe distinguersi per l’ingegno sagace, le qualità strategiche, l’abilità nelle armi, doti cui si aggiunse un forte sentimento di autostima che lo spinse a esaltarsi fino a concepire imprese militari di grande valore associate a sfide politiche talmente ardue da rivelarsi insostenibili e fonte di pericolo per il suo stesso potere. lapidaria è la definizione che gli ha riservato: “audacia, empietà, talento militare, cultura intellettuale assai raffinata” (Burckhardt). la sua figura è certamente la più illustre dei Malatesta e suscita un fascino ambivalente tanto per le virtù quanto per le astuzie, per il disprezzo della morte e la brama di conquista: “questo criminale tutto passione e desiderio, tutto ambizione, turbolenza e lussuria, aveva il cuore di un amante e le viscere di un padre” (Yriarte)… Echeggia nel personaggio di Sigismondo un’epopea che lo pone al di sopra delle parti: compaiono i condottieri, gli ecclesiastici, gli artisti, i soldati, i governi poi si delinea lui, il signore, con l’autorevole sfrontatezza che lo innalza oltre le umane cose, non vincolato da un pensiero o da una corrente, ma autoreferenziale in ogni gesto. Annotò Pound che “tutto quello che poteva fare un solo uomo, Malatesta riuscì a farlo andando contro corrente.” MORESSA

-“Un personaggio letterario, questo Sigismondo quasi da fumetto, il cui fascino maggiore risiedeva, e risiede, soprattutto nei suoi incomprensibili e stupefacenti contrasti: nel vivere diviso tra la sua natura diabolica e turpe fatta di sangue, di empietà, di lussuria e di violenza, e la sua dimensione eroica e romantica intrisa di talento e di tensioni poetiche, artistiche e religiose…Con Francesco Sforza, Sigismondo fu legato da una relazione che segnerà non poche vicende del suo “cursus” di signore, di condottiero e di uomo..Oltre al mestiere delle armi, ad unire (i due condottieri) era anche una solidarietà culturale e intellettuale. Tra i numerosi scambi di cortesie basta ricordare la “Laudatio” a Sigismondo che compare nelle “Odi” dedicate allo Sforza da Francesco Filelfo, il letterato più apprezzato alla corte milanese…Nelle cronache e negli annali editi tra il XV e il XVIII secolo che celebravano i grandi uomini di guerra, Sigismondo condottiero, con le sue oltre cento battaglie, si conquistò una conclamata “riputazion grande”. Tutti furono concordi nel descriverlo “excellentissimo ne gli facti d’arme”, guerriero che in battaglia è “come un San Giorgio”, che si getta all’attacco “come un falcone”, fulmineo e micidiale “come un segno alle saette.”” FARINA

-“Una vita singolare dev’essere comunque stata quella della corte di Rimini sotto l’audace pagano e condottiero Sigismondo Malatesta..Sarebbe oggi a stento credibile che un mostro, quale codesto principe fu, sentisse l’esigenza della cultura e della compagnia dei dotti.” BURCKHARDT 

-“Capitano assai pregiato..Era di statura grande, e forte assai: di carnagion bianca: d’occhi azurri, chiari: e di capelli rossi.” CAPRIOLO

-Significato del Tempio Malatestiano “Sigismondo è l’autore della propria immagine di principe vittorioso, anche se spetta agli artisti e ai dotti consulenti della sua corte la responsabilità dell’attuazione della volontà del principe. Sigismondo ha voluto sublimare la sua storia individuale nel mito universale, facendo valere in termini artistici la gloria che si era conquistato sui campi di battaglia. Il suo fallimento di potere feudale, è compensato dall’intelligenza con cui ha perseguito la costruzione artistica della sua immagine di eroe immortale.” DONATI

-Dopo ogni azione di guerra “Entrate ch’egli amava, in forma coreografica, al termine d’ogni spedizione, per le vie della sua Rimini, a cavallo, o a guisa di Cesare sul cocchio trionfale, preceduto e seguito dalle spoglie di guerra, anche quando la condotta si era chiusa senza troppa onustà di bottino e troppi scintillii di gloria: pochi sentivano, più di lui, il fascino dell’antichità. Umanista, pagano, tutto imbevuto del mondo classico, almeno per ciò che ne riguardava l’aspetto esterno, voleva essere, e si credeva, un continuatore di quei grandi uomini nati per la conquista e l’imperio.” PORTIGLIOTTI

-“Violento, impulsivo, testardo, tenace, spesso inopportuno, più facile ai mcolpi di mano che disposto a ragionare freddamente.” TABANELLI

SPECIFIC BIOGRAPHIES

-A. Cousté. Sigismondo

-S. Sibilia. Sigismondo Malatesta signore di Rimini.

-O. Delucca. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta controverso eroe.

-F. Farina. Sigismondo Malatesta 1417-1468

-M. Masini. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta signore di Rimini.

Featured image source: wikimedia

Topics: Renaissance figure Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Italian noble origins, military mastery, art patronage and architectural ambitions, controversial legacy of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta biography

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