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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 Influence of Guidoriccio Da Fogliano

Italian CondottieriThe Life and Influence of Guidoriccio Da Fogliano

A good condottiero, esteemed even by his adversaries. His fame is owed to the splendid fresco by Simone Martini, always present on a wall of the so-called "Hall of the World Map" in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Military Prowess of Guidoriccio Da Fogliano

From Reggio Emilia. Lord of Reggio Emilia. Brother of Giberto da Fogliano, Giovanni da Fogliano, and Guglielmo da Fogliano.

Born: 1290 ca.
Death: 1352, June

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
1311SienaEmpireTuscanyHe moves between Lucca and Sarzana at the head of a strong militia force. The advance of the Pisans is halted at Montemurlo.
1312FlorenceEmpireTuscanyHe serves for the Guelf faction against the army of Emperor Henry of Luxembourg.
1317EmiliaHe holds the position of Captain of the People in Bologna.
1321BolognaModenaEmiliaHe continues to oppose the Ghibellines. He is sent by the Bolognese to Frignano to assist the Montecuccoli, who are in difficulty against the troops of the Bonacolsi.
1326EmiliaAlong with other nobles of Reggio Emilia, he presents himself before the papal legate, Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto (Bertrand du Pouget), to ratify the city’s submission to papal authority.
Feb. – Apr.SienaCaptain of warTuscanyAt the end of the month, he is appointed by the Sienese as their captain of war. He arrives in the city at the end of March and is granted full powers starting in April. The initial appointment is for six months. In reality, he remains in the service of the republic for seven years, being reconfirmed in this role every six months. Although he was called by the Sienese to organize the city’s defenses against Emperor Louis the Bavarian (Ludovico il Bavaro) and the Ghibellines, his military action is based on maintaining order in the countryside, as had previously been the case. Between 1323 and 1324, he is awarded 5910 florins per quarter, which becomes 3970 in 1325, and then decreases to 2985 (always per semester) between 1327 and August 1328. On this occasion, however, he is granted an additional 985 florins for the addition of more horses to his retinue.
Jan. – Apr.SienaCappucciani, LuccaCaptain of warTuscanyHe is tasked with conquering the castles of Sassoforte and Montemassi in Maremma with 200 cavalry and 600 infantry. His adversaries are the Cappucciani, lords of Sticciano, Montemassi, and other lands, who have rebelled against the Sienese to join the Ghibelline faction. Captains like Bernardo di Sicilia, Raimondo di Cornovaglia, Lionetto dell’Avellana, and Gilberto da Cordoba serve under his command. The latter soon leaves his ranks to join the payroll of the Lord of Lucca, Castruccio Castracani. Guidoriccio da Fogliano builds a bastion near Montemassi, equipped with towers, gates, and wooden hoardings, within which the war machines are placed, particularly a trebuchet capable of hurling 1000-pound stones. The castle is reduced to the brink of collapse. In April, Castruccio Castracani intervenes, sending 400 cavalry to supply provisions to the defenders and to extract Nellino and Bustaccio da Sticciano. Guidoriccio da Fogliano, prudently, despite being superior in strength, prefers to retreat towards Roccastrada, Montepescali, and Rocchette. The bastion, however, is left well supplied with troops and everything necessary for siege operations.
MayTuscanyWith the departure from Montemassi of the Lucchese troops sent to reinforce the garrison by Castruccio Castracani, Guidoriccio da Fogliano resumes the siege.
JuneTuscanyHe joins the Florentines with 200 cavalry, who are attempting to provide aid to Pistoia, besieged by Castracani.
JulyTuscanyHe resumes the siege of Montemassi with 900 cavalry and 6000 infantry.
Aug. – Sept.TuscanyThe Florentines intervene once again to assist him by sending 400 cavalry under the command of Testa Tornaquinci. Leading 900 cavalry and 6000 infantry, he easily repels a new attempt by the Lucchese, with 600 cavalry, to provide aid to the besieged at Montemassi. In the following days, at the end of the month, after almost eight months of siege, the defenders are forced to surrender under negotiated terms. Their lives are spared; they are also granted 1000 florins provided they quickly leave the territory. Guidoriccio da Fogliano then moves through the countryside of Massa Marittima, where he is held up for some time by heavy rains. Subsequently, he moves into the Pisan territory between Buriano and Castiglione della Pescaia. The condottiero sets houses on fire and takes many prisoners. Leaving part of his troops in Maremma to guard the strongholds, he returns to Siena in mid-September, where he is greeted with great celebrations and bonfires of joy for the victory.
JulySienaExilesTuscanyHe stations himself at Paganico with Francesco Accanigi to confront some exiles who, starting from Ansedonia, near Orbetello, are plaguing the Maremma region.
Aug.TuscanyHe assaults the castle of Ansedonia, which surrenders under negotiated terms after 17 days due to lack of provisions. The fortress is leveled by the Sienese.
Sept.SienaSanta FioraTuscanyHe leaves Siena with 4,000 men, both cavalry and infantry, to fight the Counts of Santa Fiora who have penetrated the Sienese territory to plunder it. His presence persuades the aggressors to make peace. He is reconfirmed in his position for another six months.
Oct.EmiliaEmperor Louis the Bavarian appoints him as his vicar in Reggio Emilia.
Nov.EmiliaHe delivers the castle of Tealdo to the sons of the late Simone and Guglielmino da Fogliano. In December, the inhabitants of Parma ride towards Correggio and destroy the castle.
Mar.SienaTuscanyHe is reconfirmed once more by the Sienese in his role as captain of war for another six months.
Apr.SienaSanta FioraTuscanyHe advances with Francesco Accanigi against the Aldobrandeschi, the Counts of Santa Fiora, who refuse to recognize the tribute owed to the Sienese. Commanding 400 cavalry and 4000 infantry, he takes Scansano, Castel del Piano, and the castle of Santa Fiora, which is sacked. He lays siege to Arcidosso for an extended period, where he constructs two large siege works nearby.
Aug.TuscanyHe besieges Arcidosso.
Sept.Captain of warTuscanyHe does not oppose 200 Bohemian cavalry sent by Charles of Bohemia to aid the Count Palatine of Santa Fiora, besieged in the fortress of Arcidosso. The Sienese reproach Fogliano for this conduct. However, this does not prevent another renewal of his mandate as captain of war.
Oct.TuscanyWith Francesco Accanigi, he blocks the march of the imperial cavalry between Lattaia and Ravi, who had fought against the Sienese alongside the Counts of Santa Fiora. The adversaries, returning to their bases, are defeated with heavy losses. The following day, he negotiates the surrender of the fortress of Arcidosso from Stefano and Giovanni degli Aldobrandeschi.
Nov.TuscanyPeace is signed with the Counts of Santa Fiora. Siena thus obtains ownership of half of the castle and will purchase the remaining part in 1335 for the price of 10,000 florins. The Aldobrandeschi retain the lordship of Scansano.
Nov.SienaTuscanyHis captaincy is renewed by the Sienese.
Dec.SienaMassa PisaTuscanyAn agreement is organized with some inhabitants of Massa Marittima, who promise Guidoriccio da Fogliano to keep a gate of the city open for him. Upon arriving in Prata, the hope proves to be false, prompting him to retreat. Two days later, the captain of Massa Marittima, the Pisan Dino dalla Rocca, leads an expedition against the castle of Giuncarico. Guidoriccio da Fogliano secretly leaves Siena with cavalry and infantry. He joins with Moscata Piccolomini; at the head of 300 horsemen and many infantrymen, he surprises the adversaries at Giuncarico. Among the Pisans, 200 men, including both horsemen and infantry, are killed; Dino dalla Rocca is captured along with six infantry captains and 90 other soldiers, as well as seven banners. With this victory, Guidoriccio da Fogliano is knighted.
Jan.TuscanyIn Siena with the prisoners, the commune gifts Guidoriccio da Fogliano 500 florins contained in a gold cup, which alone is worth 30 florins.
Feb.TuscanyHe leaves Siena upon hearing that Ciupo Scolari has made a foray into Massa Marittima. Fogliano has 6000 men at his disposal, a force significantly larger than that of his adversaries. Pier Saccone Tarlati sends him 160 cavalry, and others arrive at the camp on behalf of the Perugians. Despite this, he is content to shadow the Pisans without seeking a pitched battle. He is suspected at various times of colluding with the enemy and of cowardice; his conduct remains a subject of criticism.
Apr.TuscanyHe rode through the territory of Pisa, ravaging it; numerous were the spoils and prisoners. The expedition, however, was not enough to regain the favor of the Sienese.
Sept.TuscanyWith the signing of the peace treaty, his term as captain of war in the service of Siena expires. He is replaced in command of the troops by Jacopo Gabrielli. He is accused of cowardice, and there are also murmurs of corruption because, during the siege of Arcidosso, he allowed the counts of Santa Fiora to bring provisions into the castle for the defenders. In turn, Guidoriccio da Fogliano accuses the magistrates because in the previous April, they had prevented him from accepting a challenge for a pitched battle from Ciupo Scolari at Rosia. He leaves Siena without paying debts amounting to 2000 lire.
Oct.EmiliaHe returns to Reggio Emilia. With his brother Giberto and Niccolò da Fogliano, he expels Azzo Manfredi from the co-lordship of the city.
………Reggio EmiliaMantuaEmilia, VenetoExpelled from Reggio Emilia by the Gonzaga, he moves to Verona to the court of the della Scala family.
JulyEmiliaHe returns to Reggio Emilia with his brother Giberto.
JuneReggio EmiliaMantuaEmiliaHis brother Giberto cedes Reggio Emilia to the Lord of Verona, Mastino della Scala. Guidoriccio da Fogliano leaves the city.
Feb.VenetoIn Verona, at the court of the Scaligeri.
………VeronaVenice, FlorenceVeneto
Jan.VenetoHe becomes Podestà of Padua.
Aug.VenetoAlong with Alberto della Scala, he is captured in Padua by Pietro and Marsilio dei Rossi, who entered the city with 500 armed men thanks to the betrayal of Marsilio and Ubertino da Carrara, who, with other conspirators, opened the Porta di Pontecorvo or Santo Stefano to the enemies. He is initially detained in the city in the palace of Marsilio da Carrara.
MayVenetoHe is released in exchange for Gerardo da Camino and other family members of the latter. He goes to Vicenza.
Sept.VenetoWith Spinetta Malaspina, he falls into an ambush at Longara, where he is captured along with 12 family members by Correggio and other members of his family, including Giberto, Simone, Bertolino, and Amedeo da Fogliano (a total of 20 German cavalry and another 200 soldiers). He is imprisoned in the Quarantia prisons in the Palazzo Ducale of Venice with Alberto della Scala.
Jan.VenetoHe was released upon the signing of the peace: he was welcomed in Verona with great celebrations together with Alberto della Scala.
JuneEmiliaGuido, Filippino, and Feltrino Gonzaga confirmed to him the benefits previously granted by Mastino and Alberto della Scala.
Nov.VenetoTogether with his brother Giberto, he was incorporated into the Venetian nobility by the Doge Bartolomeo Gradenigo.
Feb.LombardyIn Mantua, for the wedding of Ugolino Gonzaga with Verde della Sala.
Nov.VenetoIn Verona for the signing of an alliance between the Scaligeri, the Este family, the lord of Bologna Taddeo Pepoli, and the Florentines.
1342TuscanyTogether with Lamberto degli Abati, he was involved in a conspiracy in Florence against Gualtieri di Brienne. The plot ended with the hanging of many conspirators.
Jan.Comp. venturaFerraraMarshalEmiliaHe was part of the Great Company of Guarnieri di Urslingen, holding the position of marshal; he left the Bologna area and headed to Sassuolo, Colombaro, Gorzano, Montale, Formigine, Casinalbo, and Baggiovara in the Modena region. He stayed for eight days near the capital. Urslingen reached an agreement with Obizzo d’Este.
Feb.EmiliaHe crossed the Secchia River and camped near Correggio.
MayVenetoHe went to Montagnana with his brother Giberto and Bonetto da Malvicina; he negotiated peace on behalf of the Scaligeri with the lord of Padua, Ubertino da Carrara. Upon the conclusion of the agreement, he returned to Cologna Veneta to meet with Mastino della Scala. Here, he was joined by Rolando dei Rossi, Giacomo da Carrara, and Giacomino da Peraga, ambassadors of the lord of Padua.
JuneFerraraMantuaEmiliaTogether with his brother Giovanni, Gabriotto da Canossa, Carlotto da Piacenza, and Maffeo da Pontecarali, he attacked Porta Bernone in Reggio Emilia. Five hundred men advanced into the square carrying the standard of the Este family: they were repelled by Filippino Gonzaga, the Manfredi, and the da Sesso. The bridge collapsed due to the overload.
Apr.VenetoHe was appointed Podestà of Verona for one year.
June – Oct.Captain of the PeopleVeneto, TuscanyMastino della Scala died in Verona in the early days of the month. His son, Cangrande, assumed lordship of the city. He and all members of his family were expelled from the locality. He returned to the employ of Siena in October with the position of Captain of the People, despite having been previously accused of disloyalty by the republic. In the same month, the Sienese managed to regain control of Magliano, which had previously rebelled.
JuneTuscanyHe died in Siena in the middle of the month. He was buried in Camporeggio in the church of San Domenico with solemn funeral rites that cost the commune the sum of 500 florins (80 florins for the banner, surcoat, and cover; 80 florins for scarlet and brown garments for his collaborators; 122 florins for repainted covers and banners; 68 florins for vair; 184 florins for wax; 35 florins for other expenses). A fresco by Simone Martini in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena. The portrait occupies the upper part of a wall in the Sala del Mappamondo; in the background appear fences bristling with lances, city walls and castles, well-defended camps, and machines and preparations for the siege. The painter received a payment of 16 lire for his work.


-“L’affresco di Simone Martini fu commissionato al pittore da una città superba che intendeva far risaltare il controllo sotto cui teneva il territorio circostante. la posizione di primo piano che Guidoriccio ha nell’affresco costituisce solo un espediente artistico, poiché Siena non lo stimò sicuramente un trionfante signore guerriero, bensì un comandante mercenario utile e singolarmente leale. D’altra parte la sua carriera non era poi stata particolarmente clamorosa. Guidoriccio proveniva dalla nobile famiglia dei Fogliani di Reggio Emilia, un casato che diede molti capi militari e magistrati ai comuni dell’Italia centrale. Dopo essere stato al servizio di Siena, Guidoriccio aveva militato per i Della Scala veronesi e per un certo tempo era stato alle dipendenze anche di Werner di Urslingen. In lui si può scorgere un precursore di tanti condottieri quattrocenteschi e un rappresentante della continuità nelle tradizioni militari italiane.” MALLETT

-“Fu molto stimato per lo suo valore.” AZZARI

-Alle nozze di Ugolino Gonzaga “Guido da Foiano fo lo primero/ robe tre di pani assa’ devisati,/ Fodrati fono di varo lezero,/ boton d’arzento frisati d’or fino;/ chi li donoe avia cor altero.” ALIPRANDI

-“Non fu probabilmente il più valoroso ed esperto nelle armi, ma certamente è rimasto il più famoso, immortalato da quello splendido affresco di Simone Martini, che tuttora campeggia su una parete della cosiddetta “Sala del Mappamondo” nel Palazzo Pubblico di Siena.” RENDINA

-“Deve larga parte della sua fama all’attività come comandante militare, tanto vi fu chi vide in lui (M.Mallett) “un precursore di tanti condottieri quattrocenteschi e un rappresentante della continuità nelle tradizioni militari italiane.”” BOZZI

-“Fu buon condottiero d’arme, molto reputato, anche dai suoi avversari.” ARGEGNI

-“Non è toscano, ma è il più cavaliere della Toscana, il più bel capitano che abbia mai guidato un esercito in terra toscana. Il più bello e il più famoso nel mondo, perché il ritratto non glielo fece un pittore qualunque, ma Simone Martini, e non su un muro qualunque, ma su una grande parete della Sala del Mappamondo del Palazzo Pubblico di Siena, sulla quale Guido Riccio (o Guidoriccio, secondo altre grafie) da Fogliano sta andando, da oltre sei secoli e mezzo, all’assedio di Montemassi.” BATINI

-“La recente scoperta, al di sotto dell’affresco di Simone Martini con il “Guidoriccio” nel palazzo pubblico di Siena, di un precedente affresco con una “Scena nel castello”, attribuito a Duccio di Buoninsegna, ha dato avvio ad un riesame iconografico dello stesso “Guidoriccio da Fogliano”.. Inutilmente il Moran, poi il Mallory, lo Zeri, il Briganti ed altri, confrontando gualdrappa, armature, insegne cavalleresche, intonaci, hanno messo in dubbio l’identificazione con Montemassi e l’attribuzione al Martini, proponendo soluzioni che andavano dalla considerazione dell’affresco come opera del tardo Trecento o del primo Quattrocento.. all’assegnazione dell’intera opera al Settecento. A queste posizioni si è contrapposta una vivace schiera di storici e di storici dell’arte che, sulla base di restauri e di nuove fonti fatte con energia dagli archivi senesi ed editi .. mostrano come quell’affresco venne commissionato ed eseguito da Simone Martini subito dopo la vittoria del Fogliano a Montemassi, anche se in seguito subì interventi e manomissioni.” GOLINELLI

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