giovedì, Aprile 18, 2024

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

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The Stark Fate of Ottobono Terzi, Medieval Italy’s Bold Tactician

A condottiero of undeniable courage and cunning. Capable of enforcing decisions with his militias without any inhibition. Ferocious, treacherous, vengeful. Killed by his opponents, his body was quartered. Three quarters of his limbs were placed on the gates of Modena and Cremona, and a quarter was delivered to a personal enemy. His entrails were fed to dogs; his ears divided among his enemies; the severed head was delivered to the Bishop of Parma, John of the Rossis (Giovanni dei Rossi), who had the skull impaled to display it on the battlements of his castle of Felino.

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

Last Updated on 2024/02/23

The Gruesome Fate of Ottobono Terzi and Its Impact on Italian Cities.

Count of Tizzano, Count of Reggio Emilia, Marquis of Borgo San Donnino. Lord of Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Montecchio Emilia, Tizzano Val Parma, Brescello, Colorno, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Sant’Ilario di Baganza, Gaida, Cavriago, Boretto, Gualtieri, Fidenza, Bazzano, Rossena, Gombio, Lentigione, San Sisto, Campegine, Corneto, Cogruzzo, Meletole, Taneto, Olmo, Enzola, Fidenza, Guardasone, and Traversetolo. Son of Niccolò Terzi (Niccolò Terzi), father of Niccolò Terzi (Niccolò Terzi), brother of Giovanni Terzi and Jacopo Terzi, nephew of Antonio Terzi, son-in-law of Carlo da Fogliano.

Death: 1409

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
…………The firstborn, he is destined for a military career while his brother Jacopo pursues a career in jurisprudence. Ottobono Terzi has his first military experiences with John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto).
1378/1379He served, until the spring of 1379, in the Company of Saint George led by Alberico da Barbiano.
Nov.ccHis contract was renewed by Gian Galeazzo Visconti.
Mar.MarcheOn the payroll of Antonio Acquaviva. He was spotted in Offida with Marino of Santa Vittoria and Malcorpo.
Apr.FermoExilesMarcheHe was contacted by the lord of Fermo, Antonio Aceti, who convinced him to defend the city against the exiles fighting alongside Luca di Canale and Mostarda da Forlì. He moved towards Montegranaro; his opponents preferred not to meet him in the field. At the end of the month, he joined forces with Ceccolo Broglia‘s company.
MayChurchForl¡RomagnaUnder the command of Ceccolo Broglia, he opposed the Ordelaffi in the defense of Bertinoro.
…………MilanFlorence, LuccaTuscanyAlongside Paolo Orsini and Giovanni da Barbiano, he supported Alberico da Barbiano in his raids into Tuscany. He confronted the militias of Bernardo della Serra.
Dec.TuscanyHe left the Pisan territory with Paolo Orsini and broke into the Lucca area. There, he linked up with Giovanni da Barbiano to raid the countryside.
Jan.TuscanyHe left the Perugian territory with Ceccolino dei Michelotti and Guido d’Asciano; reaching the Pisan area, where he passed through Capannoli, Cevoli, Lari, and Crespina. He joined Alberico da Barbiano in Tuscany to the detriment of the Florentines.
Feb.TuscanyAn attempt of his to seize San Miniato through negotiation was thwarted; he invaded the Lucca area and had some skirmishes near the capital. Blocked on the Serchio at San Quirico di Moriano, he was forced to retreat with Paolo Orsini and Ceccolo Broglia after conducting some raids.
Mar.TuscanyHe rode into Florentine territory. He sounded the trumpet, killed, and set fire to houses and palaces. Numerous were the prisoners and heads of livestock pillaged.
Aug.LombardyHe moved to the Mantuan area; he participated in the Battle of Governolo where, together with Frignano da Sesso, he commanded the fifth column, strong with 1000 horsemen. Knocked to the ground by a lance blow from Conte da Carrara, he fought on foot with an axe until he was remounted by Frignano da Sesso, Francesco Visconti, and Filippo da Pisa.
MayLombardyA truce was concluded between the parties. The Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, renewed his contract.
Feb.TuscanyHe entered Pisa with Antonio Porro, Corrado Lando, and Galeazzo da Mantova (3000 cavalry and 1500 infantry) on the occasion of the transfer of the city’s lordship from Gherardo d’Appiano in favor of Gian Galeazzo Visconti.
MayMarcheWith Fuzzolino Tedesco, Mostarda da Forlì, and Astorre Manfredi (800 cavalry) and 1200 infantry provided by the Bolognese, they support the Papal and Malatesta forces. They clashed at Cingoli with the company of Broglia and Conte da Carrara. They were defeated after nine hours of combat.
Oct.UmbriaHe is in Perugia with 800 cavalry and the Visconti commissioner Pietro Scrovegni to support the action of Michelotti and the raspanti who want to hand over the lordship of the city to the Duke of Milan. He arrives near the city; he camps along the right bank of the Tiber, at Ponte San Giovanni.
Jan. – Mar.MilanChurchUmbriaHe enters Perugia at the time deemed most auspicious by astrologers, an hour before sunset. Gian Galeazzo Visconti is proclaimed lord of the city. The flag with the biscione, emblem of the Duke of Milan, is raised in the pretorio palace and then carried in procession around the walls. Terzi stops at Ponte San Giovanni and lodges at Monte Petriolo; he occupies Gualdo Tadino, Nocera Umbra, and Spoleto.
Apr. – MayUmbriaHe lays siege in Assisi to Broglia, captain of the Florentines. He takes control of the castle of Bastia Umbra on the banks of the Chiastro, a fortress equipped with 17 towers, which rises in the plain three leagues from Assisi. This center also surrenders to him. Broglia barricades himself in the major fortress towards Subasio. In May, the adversary agrees to terms and surrenders the fortress in exchange for 4,000 florins.
…………Throughout the year, Gian Galeazzo Visconti allows him and his brothers to acquire the rights held by Giberto da Correggio in the castellany of Nigone.
SpringRiminiBolognaEmiliaHe assists Carlo Malatesta in conducting some raids in the Bolognese territory to the detriment of Giovanni Bentivoglio. He withdraws when Florentines and Carraresi come to the aid of the Bolognese.
JuneMilanBolognaEmilia, UmbriaWith Alberico da Barbiano, he plunders the Bolognese territory up to San Lazzaro di Savena. He returns immediately after to Perugia.
July – Aug.TuscanyHe moves his troops to the Lucca area in support of Paolo Guinigi, who aspires to the lordship of the city.
Sept.MilanFlorenceLombardyHe is appointed along with Facino Cane to the defense of Brescia, which is attacked by the troops of Emperor Roberto di Baviera allied with the Florentines and Carraresi.
Oct.LombardyTogether with Barbiano, Pandolfo Malatesta, Jacopo dal Verme, and Facino Cane, he defeats the opponents at Nave, leading 4,500 all-Italian lances. The victory is facilitated by his intervention and that of Facino Cane (800 cavalry): they attack the enemy saccomanni who had left the camp in search of forage, pursue them, and easily put the Germans to flight. In Brescia, 1,000 horses with 2 banners as well as many captains, including Leopoldo d’Austria, are taken prisoner. The latter is released after three days because he is willing to start secret negotiations.
…………VenetoHe moves with his company to Verona, where his men are accommodated at the expense of the inhabitants. He subsequently moves to the fortress of Villa Bartolomea, a fief inherited from his father, confiscated by Francesco Novello da Carrara and returned to him by the Venetians.
Jan.MilanBologna, FlorenceEmiliaHe raids in the Bolognese territory with Barbiano without encountering any opposition from the enemy captain, Antonio da Camerino, who, instead, shares a portion of the spoils with the two Visconti condottieri.
Mar.EmiliaHe has a serious dispute with Ugolotto Biancardo; the men of the two companies clash in a fierce battle during which 180/200 of Biancardo’s men and 150/200 of his company are left dead on the field. Ottobono Terzi is also wounded. It is Jacopo dal Verme who calms the spirits.
Apr.450 lancesEmiliaHe is stationed in the Carpigiano area. The Visconti army, led by Francesco Gonzaga, dal Verme, and Barbiano, is stationed near Mirandola. Terzi commands 450 lances. He is tasked, along with Ludovico Gabriotto Cantelli, to deliver the official declaration of war to Giovanni Bentivoglio.
MayEmiliaIn Cento with the other Visconti condottieri at the head of 10,000/12,000 men.
JuneEmiliaHe takes part in the Battle of Casalecchio di Reno, where Bernardo della Serra is overwhelmed and captured. Along with Prencivalle della Mirandola and Anderlino Trotti, he commands the fourth squadron, strong with 2,000 cavalry; he seizes a bridge over the Reno and drives away the “Compagnia della Rosa,” forced to flee to Bologna. He is confronted by Lancillotto Beccaria. Both fall to the ground. They are immediately remounted by their squires.
July – Aug.TuscanyHe follows Barbiano into Tuscany with his brothers Jacopo and Giovanni Terzi. For his deeds, the Duke invests him with several castles formerly owned by the da Correggio, such as Guardasone, Traversetolo, Montecchio Emilia, Brescello, Bazzano, Rossena, Boretto, Gualtieri, Cavriago, and Colorno. The Terzi are also granted the power to exercise civil and criminal justice there. These concessions are reiterated in favor of the Terzi even after the death of Visconti by the council of regency.
Sept.LombardyIn Milan, for the funeral of Gian Galeazzo Visconti which takes place in the cathedral. He is present in the front row at the ceremony, included among the most illustrious ducal captains. Other Terzi are also in a place of honor at the funeral: his cousin Antonio, along with 36 nobles and lower-ranking condottieri, carries the coffin, while his brother Jacopo, the Rossis, the Pallavicinis of Scipione, the San Vitales, and the da Correggios are entrusted with holding the poles of the golden cloth canopy that overshadows it.
Oct.TuscanyHe moves to Tuscany at the head of 500 lances.
Nov. – Dec.MilanChurch – FlorenceEmilia, UmbriaHe heads towards Perugia to counter the Papal forces. He crosses the Bolognese territory, raiding and causing incalculable damage. He camps at Ponte Pattoli, at the first ford of the Tiber. With 1200/1300 cavalry and 300 infantry, he repels from the city Giannello Tomacelli, brother of Pope Boniface IX, who with 1500 lances is supporting the exiles. The Papal general captain retreats to Todi upon hearing of his arrival.
Jan.UmbriaHe reoccupies Assisi; there he defeats Paolo Orsini, Mostarda da Forlì, Conte da Carrara, and Braccio da Montone in a three-hour clash (150 dead among the opponents). He stops again at Ponte Pattoli.
WinterUmbriaJoined by Pandolfo Malatesta (600 lances) and Giovanni Colonna (300 lances), he continues to raid the Perugian territory up to Spoleto.
JuneEmiliaHe ascends with his troops through the passes of the Apennines and enters Parma by night with 500 lances and 300 infantry. The following morning, he exits through the Porta di San Michele with 300 cavalry, attacks the partisans of the Guelph cause up to Reggio Emilia and Sassuolo; he raids a large amount of livestock. At the end of the month, he reaches Costamezzana to aid the Pallavicinis; he is defeated by the militias of the Rossis at Varano de’ Melegari. He joins with the Avogaris and furiously raids the Carpigiano and the lands of the da Correggios: the booty is taken to Reggio Emilia.
JulyMilanRossi, FlorenceEmiliaHe is attacked in his possessions by the da Fogliano, the da Correggio, and the Rossis with the help of the Florentines. He obtains, with his brother Jacopo, from Duchess Caterina Visconti, the governance of Parma and that of Reggio Emilia. When he realizes that the Rossis are quietly bringing a large number of their supporters into the former city to stir up Parma, he assaults the Guelphs who are garrisoned in the citadel; he expels them for ten years and gives them the time of a twelve-denari candle, placed to burn atop the community bell in the square, to take their belongings and leave. A gallows is erected in the public square, ready to be used on those who transgress his order. After this, with 1,000 Visconti cavalry and 1,000 infantry, he plunders their houses for a month; the inhabitants are forced to recognize him 10,000 florins for the quartering expenses of his men. The Rossis, with over 2,000 of their followers, reach the Florentine camp and continue the war in the Parma area.
Aug.EmiliaHe expels another 660 inhabitants from Parma, who leave through the Porta di Santa Croce. The Pallavicinis destroy a pontoon bridge over the Po controlled by his men: Ottobono Terzi assaults them near Mezzano and captures 60 of their horses.
Sept.MilanPadua, FerraraEmilia, LombardyHe leaves Parma with 300 cavalry and 200 infantry, with whom he sets fire to San Secondo Parmense and Viarolo: he captures more than 1000 peasants and shepherds while appropriating 400 heads of cattle and 200 of another type. At the end of the raid, he aims to join forces under Brescia with dal Verme and Galeazzo da Mantova at the head of 500 cavalry and 1000 infantry. He plans to provide assistance to the defenders of the citadel besieged by the Carraresi. They have decided to surrender on terms if they do not receive tangible aid from outside within eight days. At Casalmaggiore, he is reached by the Ghibellines from Brescia; Ottobono Terzi heads to the Porta di San Giovanni; is repelled; falls back to Porta Pile where he can enter and supply the citadel’s garrison with arms and provisions with the help of the Ghibellines. Two days pass, and Francesco Novello da Carrara and Niccolò d’Este leave Brescia by night. Terzi goes to Milan, concludes a truce with the Guelphs, moves to Guastalla, to which he appoints Guido Torelli as governor. He marries Francesca da Fogliano, daughter of Carlo: while leading his wife from the castle of Dinazzano to Castelnovo di Sotto with great pomp, he is informed that Gherardo Aldighieri, a follower of the Rossis, is coming from Castelfranco Emilia with 150 lances. He leaves his wife, rushes to meet the opposing condottiero at Montecchio Emilia, captures him, and has him locked in the dungeons of the fortress of Guardasone, where he soon has him killed. In the same days, Simone da Canossa and Antonio Vallisnieri capture Pietro dei Rossi while he is returning from Bologna to his possessions with only 17 horses. Terzi leaves Castiglione dei Terzi with 60 horses, takes Rossi, imprisoned at Montevetro, and has him brought to Montecchio Emilia. He reconciles with his rival.
Oct.EmiliaHe allows the partisans of the Rossis to return to Parma.
Nov. – Dec.EmiliaHe releases Pietro dei Rossi at the beginning of the month; he makes an agreement with his rival to remove Parma from the dominion of the Viscontis: at the same time, he is recognized by the new Duke of Milan, Giovanni Maria Visconti, as the lord of Montecchio Emilia, Boretto, Brescello, Gualtieri, Borgo San Donnino (Fidenza), and Fiorenzuola d’Arda in settlement of his credit of 50,000 ducats. He also obtains the rights to collect tolls at the ford of the Po, the possibility to install mills along the course of this river, and the right to use its waters for irrigation. He orders all the inhabitants of the capital to return and has everyone (for the moment) swear loyalty to the Duke of Milan. He recovers the castle of Viniano degli Arduini, which had been seized by Ludovico della Palude. Upon hearing that the San Vitales intend to strengthen the defenses of Gaione and that the Rossis plan to do the same at Porporano, he convinces Pietro dei Rossi to intervene in protection of their common coexistence.
Jan.Terzida CorreggioEmiliaFlorentines and Carrara (Carraresi) sought to hire him for their payroll: he couldn’t reach an agreement with the Florentines because he demanded a command of 600 lances and 300 crossbowmen, while the republic was willing to grant him 500 lances. Other contacts occurred over the following two months. He made an agreement with Pietro dei Rossi for joint dominion over Parma; the latter’s supporters devastated the lands of Fontanellato. Many men were captured for ransom. Meanwhile, Piero da Correggio took control of Montechiarugolo at the expense of the ducal authorities. Immediately, Terzi led an assault with 300 lances, 800 infantry, 60 sappers, and some cannons, besieging da Correggio in that castle, which was quickly conquered.
Feb.TerziMilanEmiliaPietro dei Rossi enters Parma. Ottobono Terzi follows him the next day, coming from Castelnuovo dei Terzi: he breaks in at dawn through the San Barnaba Gate with 600 horsemen. Together with Rossi, he becomes the lord of the city in the name of the Guelph faction. The documents of the archives are set aflame, the prisons opened, and the prisoners released; many houses of the Ghibellines are looted; political rivals are expelled.
Mar.EmiliaThe keys to the city and the fortresses are delivered to the two captains in the Parma Cathedral; Ottobono Terzi and Pietro dei Rossi swear brotherhood to each other and share communion with the same host. They attack the city fortresses and threaten to hang the defenders if they do not surrender; following a brief siege, two castles remain under his control, and two under that of Rossi; both introduce 200 infantry into the citadel. With his rival, he also divides the city gates: Terzi takes New Gate (Porta Nuova), Bologna Gate (la Porta di Bologna), and San Michele Gate; Pietro dei Rossi is allocated San Barnaba Gate, Santa Croce Gate, and San Francesco Gate. Terzi counters the companies stationed at Fidenza; together with Rossi, they gather 2000 infantry in Montecchio Emilia and Montechiarugolo to threaten the area of Reggio (reggiano).
Apr.Guelphes, TerziMilan, Rossi700 lancesEmiliaVarious lords of Lombardy grant him a command of 700 lances. Manfredi Scotti enters Piacenza under the pretext of defending the rights of the Duke of Milan, Giovanni Maria Visconti. Terzi leaves Lodi and enters the city at night through a breach in the walls between Porta Cremonese and Porta San Lazzaro. He drives out Scotti and besieges the Visconti captains Pietro da Bagno, Niccolò Crivelli, and Cornelio da Rho who have barricaded themselves in the citadels of Fodesta, Stralevata, and Sant’Antonino. During the siege operations, he hangs a priest, called Campanino, in the town square for some vulgar words spoken against Margherita Scotti at the moment the lady was speaking with the prior of the San Sisto church. Seeing his attacks as futile and at the same time fearing that Rossi might play a trick on him in Parma, he reconciles with the Visconti and returns to Parma through Porta Nuova with Giberto di San Vitale leading 600 men, both infantry and cavalry. He plunders the enemy’s militias and seizes bridges, castles, and city gates except for the Santa Croce castle where Rossi’s wife, Giovanna Cavalcabò, takes refuge. He is acclaimed as the lord of the locality.
MayParmaFerrara, Rossi, FirenzeEmiliaHe recaptures Reggio Emilia, which had fallen into the hands of the Este family; he enters the city through the Santo Stefano Gate: 100 people and a large amount of livestock are led to Montecchio Emilia. Soon after, he returns to Parma and attacks the Santa Croce fortress, defended by Antonio dei Rossi and Antonio Balestrazzo. The defenders are forced to surrender when five large cannons are positioned against the fortress from the direction of San Giovanni a Codiponte. At the end of the month, he must leave Piacenza: celebrations and processions in Bergamo to commemorate the event.
JuneEmiliaHe gains control of the citadel of Reggio Emilia; he compels Muzio Attendolo Sforza and Uguccione Contrari to abandon their siege operations conducted with 800 horsemen and 2000 infantry. In Parma, he orders all supporters of the Rossi and their families to leave the city within three hours: they must pass through the San Michele Gate where they are stripped of their belongings. With their departure, the Rossi houses are once again looted. In the city, Terzi orders the closure of churches, shops, and all gates except those of San Michele and San Francesco. After three days, he returns to raiding against the Guelphs; he heads to Porporano and conquers the towers of the Catellani, Guazzardi, and Valeriani; he engages in a fierce skirmish with the inhabitants of Alberi. He rides to Montechiarugolo, and at San Gemignano captures 42 soldiers in an ambush, of whom 36 are imprisoned in Parma. The Pope sends him reinforcements in the form of Paolo Orsini with 400 horsemen. He issues a new decree that all Rossi supporters, including women, must leave the city. On the same day, he receives the castle and the citadel of Reggio Emilia as a fief from the Duke of Milan. The Florentines send Tartaglia to aid the Rossi. Terzi waits for the enemy at the Selvapiana Pass, between Rossena and Rossenella, and routs them, capturing 360 horses. In response, the Rossi cut off the water supply to Parma.
JulyEmiliaHe orders the destruction of the crops in Alberi and Porporano; he imprisons numerous supporters of the Rossi. In retaliation, his opponents kill a certain Merlino, his friend, and bring the body to Parma. For revenge, Terzi has 7 houses leveled and all the prisoners of the Rossi faction in his custody killed (170 or 314 according to sources): their bodies are taken to Porporano after being loaded onto 17 carts. He is also believed to have committed other misdeeds, such as killing an infant by throwing it against a wall or a boy snatched from his mother whose throat is cut: it’s likely that such tales are not true but are part of a legend to make his image even more cruel. He clears Codiponte of its inhabitants and repeats his raids in Felino, Mamiano, Pariano, Alberi, and Porporano.
Aug.EmiliaHe heads to Felino; he once again defeats Tartaglia in a significant skirmish. His incursions into the Modena area cause damage amounting to 100,000 ducats.
Sept.EmiliaHe targets the children of the opposing faction, imprisoning in Parma all those over the age of five; he releases them upon the condition of a bail of 200 florins to ensure their presence in case of any future summons. He besieges the Mozzatella castle, owned by the Manfredi family: he secures it on terms within eight days. Due to his excesses, the Venetians, Florentines, and the papal legate Bartolomeo Cossa intervene; he is persuaded to sign a six-month truce with the Rossi. He receives Parma as a pledge from the Visconti for one year, in exchange for suspending a credit of 78,000 florins for unpaid wages.
Oct.VenicePadua500 lancesEmilia, VenetoPrompted by the Duke of Milan, Giovanni Maria Visconti, he once again appears outside Piacenza: he scales the walls at night between the San Nazario Gate and the Cremonese Gate at a point where the moat is dry; the houses of the Ghibellines and the Guelphs are looted. Dal Verme arrives; the Veronese commander calms his fury (fueled by the need to find money for his men’s wages) by delivering an advance on the sum of 40,000 florins he is owed by the Duke of Milan. The city fortresses are promised as collateral. The financial rescue (albeit at half pay) comes from a Venetian command to fight the Carrara family. He leaves Antonio Terzi and Giberto di San Vitale with 400 infantry to guard Parma; he joins forces with Francesco Gonzaga and Dal Verme to plunder the Verona area. He camps at Bussolengo where, together with Galeazzo da Mantova and Ugolotto Biancardo, he closes all the passes of Valpolicella to prevent the opponents from being supplied.
Nov.VenetoTogether with Dal Verme, he takes control of the Chiusa castle, conquers Crovara, and the fortress of Rivoli Veronese; a very strong bastion is built between Bussolengo, Pescantina, and Castelrotto, he seizes Nogarole Rocca and Isola della Scala. He follows Dal Verme into the territory of Piove di Sacco.
Dec.VenetoGiacomo da Carrara leaves Verona with 800 horsemen and 1000 infantry to reach Montagnana and build a bastion there: Terzi moves against him with superior forces, defeats him, and captures 300 horses along with all the baggage.
Jan.VenetoHe negotiates with some sentinels overseeing the section of the walls of San Zeno in Verona. The Venetians approach undetected and through a breach, 300 men enter the city, occupying three small towers at the Porta Calzari. Giacomo da Carrara confronts them spiritedly and with a lance thrust injures Francesco Gonzaga; reinforcements for da Carrara arrive in the form of Cecco da San Severino and Paolo Lion, who, with the help of the inhabitants, retake the position.
Mar. – Apr.MilanGuelphes1200 cavalry, 200 infantrymenLombardyHe goes to Milan after leaving Antonio and Jacopo Terzi in charge of Parma. Upon his return from Lombardy, he has Pietro dei Rossi and his brother Giacomo depicted hanging by one foot on the facade of the Palazzo dei Notai. In November, these paintings will be removed at the request of Ugolotto Biancardo, Carlo da Fogliano, and Giberto di San Vitale.
May – JuneLombardy, EmiliaHe connects with Francesco Visconti; he opposes the Guelphs. He marches on Lodi; to the aid of Giovanni da Vignate come Pandolfo Malatesta and Gabrino Fondulo. Battle ensues around the city; suddenly, the opponents conduct a raid in the Piacenza area and seize the capital with the help of the Lombard Guelphs. Upon hearing the news, Terzi abandons Lodi where he is awaited with 1000 horsemen and 1000 foot soldiers; he joins forces with Francesco Visconti and Facino Cane; enters the city where Giberto di San Vitale is podestà and drives out the opponents. He obtains once more in fief Parma and Fidenza from the Duke of Milan as compensation for back pay.
JulyParmaPallaviciniLombardy, EmiliaHe returns to besiege Lodi; a disagreement with Francesco Visconti leads both commanders to abandon the siege. Fidenza rebels against him; Terzi is repelled by the inhabitants, to whom Rolando Pallavicini lends assistance. He attacks the lands of the new opponents.
Aug.EmiliaHe concludes a truce with the Pallavicinis; his men continue to harass the countryside of Scipione, Tabbiano, Bargone, and Solignano all the same; he besieges Fidenza.
Sept.VenetoHe is aggregated into the Venetian nobility along with his brothers Giovanni and Jacopo Terzi.
Oct. – Nov.EmiliaHis first wife, Orsina (family unknown), dies. In October, the conflict with the Pallavicinis resumes. Around Fidenza, bloody skirmishes take place. He has a bastion built at Castione and another at Carabiollo. In November, he marries Francesca da Fogliano, daughter of Carlo.
Feb.EmiliaHe arranges a twenty-day truce with the defenders of Fidenza: this will soon be extended for another twenty-six months.
Apr.ParmaFacino CaneEmiliaFacino Cane launches a surprise attack on Piacenza and expels its troops. Terzi abandons the city before the arrival of the opponent, taking away with him many goods and numerous hostages.
MayEmiliaHe secretly aids Obizzo da Montegarulli to the detriment of the Estensi. He meets in Reggio Emilia with Gabrino Fondulo, who is preparing to take Cremona from the Cavalcabò.
JulyParmaCremonaEmiliaHe meets in Parma with Niccolò da Tolentino, sent by Gabrino Fondulo with the offer of the lordship of Cremona. He sends Sparapano with 2000 infantry and orders them to stay in the vicinity until they receive a specific signal from Fondulo himself. The latter disappoints his expectations and takes control of Cremona for himself after evading Sparapano’s surveillance with a stratagem. Upon the return of such a commander to Parma empty-handed, Terzi will have him beheaded and quartered. He allies with Giovanni da Vignate, lord of Lodi, and wages war against Fondulo with limited success.
Aug.EmiliaHe assists Giacomo and Pietro dei Rossi; he helps them to recover San Secondo Parmense, taken from them by their relative, Leonardo. During the same period, the Florentines hand over 25,000 florins to ensure he does not switch to defending Pisa.
Sept.MilanFacino CaneEmiliaHe re-enters Piacenza at the expense of Facino Cane. The city is sacked.
Oct.ParmaCremonaEmilia, LombardyHe aimlessly leads numerous troops towards Cremona. He is repelled. In the same month, he is appointed by the Duke of Milan as the Count of Reggio Emilia, with the investiture of Boretto, Brescello, Castelnuovo, Cavriago, Montecchio Emilia, Gualtieri, Campegine, Cogruzzo, Sant’Ilario d’Enza, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, in exchange for the cancellation of an old debt of 78,000 florins. Terzi orders the authorities of Reggio Emilia to have his coat of arms painted on the public palace, framed with the Visconti viper.
Dec.EmiliaHis son Niccolò Carlo is born. The baptism is celebrated on Christmas Day in the presence of illustrious godfathers such as the Prince-Bishop of Trent, Giorgio di Liechtenstein, the Cardinal of Bologna, Baldassarre Cossa, Giacomo dei Rossi, brother of Pietro and Bishop of Luni, a representative of the Serenissima, and the commanders Dal Verme, Biancardo, Carlo Malatesta, Francesco Gonzaga, the Duke of Milan, and the Marquis of Ferrara, Niccolò d’Este. For the occasion, the prisoners of Parma and Reggio Emilia are released. The celebrations extend throughout the countryside, involving also the castles of the Apennines.
Jan.He assists Jacopo Dal Verme against Facino Cane and the other leaders of the Ghibelline party such as Antonio and Francesco Visconti and Gabriele Maria Visconti, the natural brother of the Duke. He provides support to Dal Verme with 7000 men, including soldiers and exiles from various locations.
Feb.GuelphesFacino Cane, MilanEmilia, LombardyUnder pressure from Dal Verme, he reconciles with Gabrino Fondulo. He crosses the Po at Torricella and heads into the Bergamo area; he conquers Comun Nuovo, forcibly enters Spirano, Lurano, Brignano Gera d’Adda. In Pignano, twelve men from his company are killed by the inhabitants; he attacks the castle of Lurano, has its defenders killed, and sets it and the one in Pignano ablaze. He crosses the Adda at Trezzo sull’Adda, arrives in Vimercate with the support of the Colleoni, Pandolfo Malatesta, Fondulo, the Venetians, and the papal legate Cossa. He occupies Desio, Saronno, Magenta, and Rosate; crosses the Ticinello and encounters Facino Cane at Morimondo, who commands 3000 men-at-arms. Defeated in an initial clash that ends with many men killed on both sides, during the night, Terzi receives reinforcements from Jacopo Dal Verme. With these forces, he assaults the enemy camp. Facino Cane is caught unprepared; however, he manages to escape to Binasco, leaving in Terzi‘s hands 1000 prisoners, including Marcoardo dalla Rocca. Terzi kills the latter with a sword thrust to the throat for his contemptuous answers. In Parma, near the communal bell, a small gallows is erected where, to the sound of trumpets, a dog is hanged. The carcass is then burned with straw: all this is done to offend the opposing captain who claimed he wanted to roast a Parmesan. At the same time, the Bishop of Trent requests his intervention to help quell a revolt in the Non and Sole valleys, led by Rodolfo Belenzani. The negotiations do not succeed due to his commitments on the Milanese front.
Mar. – JuneParmaPallaviciniLombardy, EmiliaHe enters Pavia with Dal Verme and shortly thereafter in Milan: he immediately besieges the Ghibellines in the Castle of Porta Giovia; two of his political opponents, Giacomo and Francesco Grassi, are killed; he insists on exterminating all the Milanese Ghibellines and forcefully demands the looting of the houses and goods of the defeated faction members. Dal Verme, just appointed governor of the duchy, firmly opposes him. The inhabitants offer Terzi 100,000 florins and 400 oxen to persuade him to leave; he considers the offer insufficient; he threatens to sack the city; finally, he departs. He frees Astorre Visconti, one of the many natural sons of Bernabò, and goes with him to Monza to plan new ventures. He returns to Parma and wages war again against the Pallavicinis. He plunders the countryside of Fidenza and Torre del Marchese, near a ford of the Taro; in six days, he forces the defenders to surrender. He orders the restoration of the castle and has the merlons painted with lilies, replacing the imperial eagles. Thirty-six supporters of Pallavicini are beheaded. The name is also changed, and from this moment it assumes the name of Castelguelfo. He returns to Fidenza and destroys its crops.
JulyEmiliaHe conquers Scipione at the expense of Pietro Pallavicini, Castellina, and Borgo San Giovanni, of which he is named Marquis. This is followed by peace with Rolando Pallavicini, he returns Scipione and Cortemaggiore; however, he retains the fortress of Fidenza; he razes Poviglio. Following this latest acquisition, he adds to his titles of Count of Reggio, that of Marquis of Borgo San Donnino.
Aug.Parma, Comp. venturaMilan, MirandolaEmiliaThe Duke of Milan changes his attitude towards him; Ottobono Terzi has his men commit an act of piracy on the Po that affects the trade between Milan and Venice, just resumed the previous year after a three-year blockade. He grants a safe-conduct to 7 large Milanese and Venetian ships headed to Venice with goods worth 50,000 florins onboard and has them captured by his soldiers. Still, for the same need to procure money, he moves with more than 2000 horses through the territories of Mirandola and San Felice sul Panaro. For a month, his raids affect the entire lower Modena area (Spilamberto and Vignola).
Sept.ParmaPiacenzaEmiliaHe expels Giacomo Arcelli from Piacenza, having him depicted as a traitor.
Dec.EmiliaHe vainly assaults the fortresses of Piacenza. He returns to Parma and expels part of the Rossi supporters, particularly the most belligerent ones.
Jan.MilanEmiliaHe returns to the payroll of the Duke of Milan. He temporarily stops on Monte Colombano, in the Piacenza area, to train his troops in order to make them highly efficient.
Feb.EmiliaHaving cleared the streets of Parma of ice, snow, and mud, he transforms them into a sort of armory. He too jousts with his horses in the city’s main square.
Mar.ParmaRossiEmiliaWork begins to erect a bastion in San Quirico, between San Secondo Parmense and Trecasali. Ottobono Terzi faces off against the Rossi, from whom he takes Carona (after a two-day siege) and the bastion of Sant’Andrea in Bagni.
Apr.EmiliaHe reconciles with the Rossi thanks to the mediation of his father-in-law, Carlo da Fogliano.
MayParmaFerraraEmiliaHis impudence and the crossing of every limit of humanity facilitate the formation of a hostile alliance against him, which includes the lords of Ferrara, Mantua, Milan, Brescia, Cremona, the Rossi, and the Pallavicini. The objective of his adversaries is not only the extermination of the Terzi family and its supporters but also that of his subjects. Terzi initiates hostilities with a new raid into the Modenese towards Vignola and Spilamberto; the spoils are taken to Reggio. Leading 2500/3000 cavalry and 400 infantry, he attacks the lands of the da Correggio and the della Mirandola, damages the surroundings of Rubiera and other parts of the Modenese with Carlo da Fogliano and Francesco da Sassuolo. Niccolò d’Este hires Muzio Attendolo Sforza with 250 lances to counter him. Sforza eludes Terzi’s surveillance and enters Modena. Terzi attacks the city at Porta Baggiovara: the inhabitants come out, and with the help of the newcomers, they are able to repel his men after a fierce clash lasting two hours.
JuneEmiliaHe captures an Este ambassador who is heading to Facino Cane despite the diplomat (Aldobrandino Giocoli) being equipped with his safe conduct. He sends a contingent of armed men to Scandolara Ravara commanded by Guido Torelli. Mid-month, he is defeated at Castelponzone by the allies led by Pietro Fusi: in the clash, 200 men are killed, and another 300, including cavalry and infantry, are taken prisoner.
JulyEmiliaAssaulted again by the Estes, he is abandoned by his allies like Ato di Rodiglia, Francesco da Sassuolo, and the da Canossa. He reaches Poviglio and sacks it because the ducal forces, instigated by dal Verme, refuse to settle his dues.
Aug.EmiliaThe Estes arrive in Rubiera, and the Pallavicini seize control of the bastion of Castione. As a reprisal, he orders the decapitation of 36 supporters of the Pallavicini (of whom 11 were already confined in Parma and 25 in Reggio Emilia). Upon hearing that the Rossi has been captured in Grondola by Luca Fieschi, he swiftly raids Felino.
Sept.EmiliaHe once again raids Felino, conquers Vigatto, and razes the castle of Malandriano. Jacopo dal Verme tries to suborn his troops. He sends his emissary to Parma with this objective: the man is discovered and blinded, his hands are cut off. Dal Verme is depicted as a traitor, hung by the feet on a wooden board four arms long and high, affixed to a column planted in the middle of the square in Malcantone, towards the tavern and brothel. Additionally, Ottobono Terzi has a second board painted, carried on the shoulders of an armored man, who always precedes him in his movements to remind him of the betrayal suffered.
Nov.EmiliaHe surprises some soldiers guarding the construction of a bridge near the bastion of Cantone with 150 horsemen: 100 horses and 100 infantrymen are captured. In the same month, he takes prisoners in an ambush Micheletto Attendolo, Lorenzo Attendolo, and Santo Parente, who were engaged in a raid in the Parmense. All are imprisoned in Parma to undergo various tortures.
Jan.Veneto, EmiliaHe travels to Padua with Guido Torelli. As soon as he learns of the escape to Felino of the three Sforza condottieri and the protection granted to them by the Rossi, he returns to Parma and menacingly heads to Felino with 4000 men. He is assisted on this occasion by militias of Cardinal Ludovico Fieschi. He soon has to desist because he is wounded in an assault on the foot by a bolt.
Feb.EmiliaHe takes steps to strengthen the defensive works of Parma. Upon hearing of the death of Jacopo dal Verme, he has the image portraying the rival condottiero as a traitor burned in the city square and writes defamatory verses on his memory. He collects the ashes in a container, which is placed on the tallest tower of Parma, and the ashes are scattered to the wind.
Mar.EmiliaHe orders the construction of a bastion in Poviglio to oppose the league’s troops; he sets fire to the houses and straw in San Sisto, Meledolo, Boretto, and Fontane. In the same month, he reconciles once again with Gabrino Fondulo.
Apr.EmiliaHe is contacted by the Florentines to join their payroll. He travels to San Secondo Parmense, Reggio Emilia, and the Modenese.
MayEmiliaAt the end of the month, he leaves Reggio Emilia with 1800 horsemen and 2000 infantrymen; he fords the Secchia and enters the territory of Formigine with the intention of surprising Niccolò d’Este. He captures 400 men with Alberto Boschetti, 30 prominent citizens of Modena, and 60 nobles from Reggio Emilia and Parma heading to Magreta. On Easter Monday, he requests to parley with the Marquis of Ferrara to initiate peace negotiations at a location on the road between Reggio Emilia and Rubiera, at the bridge of Vallisella or Pontalto, called by some Tagliata and by others Valverde. Este chroniclers report his attempted ambush at Salvaterra. Niccolò d’Este, forewarned, places some armed men in a nearby forest near the meeting point. Ottobono Terzi arrives at the appointment with a hood over his head, riding a humble horse, with 90/100 horsemen, accompanied by his son Niccolò Carlo, Guido Torelli, Carlo da Fogliano, Francesco da Sassuolo, and Antoniuccio dell’AquIla. Niccolò d’Este also arrives with 100 horsemen, accompanied by Uguccione Contrari, Sforza, and Micheletto Attendolo. While the two lords of Parma and Ferrara are engaged in the customary courtesies unarmed except for their swords, Sforza approaches Terzi and treacherously stabs him in the back with a dagger; Micheletto Attendolo finishes him off by splitting his head. Among the prisoners sent to the prisons of Ferrara are, besides Torelli, the captains Giovanni dei Pezzoli, Pietro Cantelli from Parma, Rampini da Cittadella, and Giovanni da Cremona. His brother Jacopo, carrying his son Niccolò Carlo on his saddle, manages to escape capture and reaches Parma. Terzi’s corpse is taken to Modena, where it is quartered: three-quarters of his limbs are placed on the gates of Modena and Cremona, and a quarter is delivered to a political adversary; his entrails are fed to the dogs; his ears are divided among his enemies; the severed head is taken to Giacomo dei Rossi, Bishop of Parma, who impales the skull on the ramparts of Felino Castle; others still consume part of his flesh. He is depicted by Paolo Uccello in the Gualfonda in the orchard of the Bartolini Salimbeni with Paolo Orsini, Luca di Canale, and Carlo Malatesta. He is remembered by Enea Silvio Piccolomini in his work “De viris illustribus” and by Ludovico Ariosto in the “Orlando furioso”. He marries Donnina and Francesca da Fogliano, both daughters of Carlo da Fogliano.


-“Uomo di innegabile forza d’animo e di finissima astuzia, Ottobuono disponeva di milizie agguerrite ed era in grado di imporre la sua volontà con una decisione, che si guardava bene dal correggere con qualche sfumatura di inibizione morale. Ma il lato più caratteristico della sua personalità, in tempi tutt’altro che miti e scevri di violenza, fu la spregiudicata ferocia, passata alla storia attraverso il vaglio degli episodi più disparati. L’elenco dei suoi inganni, dei suoi provvedimenti tirannici, delle sadiche perfidie, delle torture, delle vendette è assai lungo.” CHIAPPINI

-“Fu grandissimo persecutore de Giebelini, e molti ne fece morire. Così de quelli de la parte Rossa a Parma.” CAGNOLA

-“S’introdusse nella militia sotto la disciplina di Giovanni Aucuto: con sì buon maestro divenne in breve egli ancora celebre Capitano.. Fu Otho di volto pieno e di quadrata statura.” ROSCIO

-“Valoroso Capitano.” GAMURRINI

-“Uomo veramente a quei tempi nell’armi senza paragone terribile.” SPINO

-“Terribilis armiger.” REDUSIO

-“Uomo feroce e vendicativo.” ROSMINI

-Con Alberico da Barbiano, Jacopo dal Verme, Galeazzo da Mantova, Facino Cane, Pandolfo Malatesta “Peritissimos belli ducis.” BRACCIOLINI

-Con Facino Cane “Nell’armi assai prodi.” FORMENTON

-Con Facino Cane, Galeazzo Pepoli, Bertolino da Cremona, Paolo Savelli “Tutti valorosi capitani.” MUZZI

-“Reggiano e gran Capitano.” NICOLIO

-“Vir impiger et natura ferox.” CRIVELLI

-“Hominem ferme, si tamen hominem, humani generis parricidam convenit appellari, quem diu caesum oportuit.” BILLIA

-“Vir sane, quo bello nullus ea tempestate habilior.” CORNAZZANO

-“Tre Capitan Parma ha, l’un messer Otto,/ Antonio l’avol mio, il Balestraccio,/ Rardo Aldighier, e Biancardo Ugolotto.” CORNAZZANO

-“Uno dei generali formatosi nel secolo XIV alla scuola di Alberico da Barbiano.” BOSI

-“Condottiere di gran nome e fiero ghibellino.” LITTA

-“Crudelissimus tyrannus..pessimus ille Otho delectatus in sanguine hominum, ut fera sylvestris.” SANT’ANTONINO

-Con Jacopo dal Verme, Alberico da Barbiano, Francesco Gonzaga, Facino Cane, Pandolfo Malatesta “Condottieri di stima assai in questo tempo.” PORRO LAMBERTENGHI

-“Egli fu buono e perciò chiamossi Otto buono e buon Otto. Fu di pelo rossigno e rufo per questo fu detto. E fu de più avventurosi capitani e di maggior nome che havesse l’età sua.” ANGELI

-“Fu.. un mostro di crudeltà.” GOZZADINI

-“Egli fu pessimo tiranno, e tanto più efficacemente pessimo quanto a grande prodezza accoppiava maestria di frode!” PEZZANA

-Con Jacopo dal Verme e Niccolò da Tolentino “Capitani assai celebrati per valor guerriero.” V. DE CONTI

-“Capitano parimente di gran nome.” TONDUZZI

-“Fu in arme fiero e crudele Taliano della dicta scola (del Broglia)..Questo valente capitano,..usò di grande crudeltà alli suoi dì, ma di sua persona (fu) gagliardissimo.” BROGLIO

-“Ve’ Nicolò (Niccolò d’Este), che tenero fanciullo/ il popul crea signor de la sua terra/…/ Farà de’ suoi ribelli uscire a voto/ ogni disegno, e lor tornare in danno;/ ed ogni stratagema avrà sì noto,/ che sarà duro il potergli fare inganno./ Tardi di questo s’avedrà il terzo Oto,/ e di Reggio e di Parma aspro tiranno/ che da costui spogliato a un tempo fia/ e del dominio e de la vita ria.” ARIOSTO

-“Rei militaris peritissimus.” FACIO

-“Singolarmente refrattario alle regole della convivenza civile, responsabile di trasgressioni ed errori clamorosi.” COVINI

-“Si accanì sui rivali Rossi tanto sanguinosamente che un intero quartiere di Parma non bastava a contenerne i cadaveri, e in un’altra circostanza fece bruciare sulla pubblica piazza l’effigie di Jacopo dal Verme, reo di avere tradito l’alleanza per il dominio su Piacenza.” TANZINI

-“Molto celebre in guerra.” CAPRIOLO

-“Tanto celebre quanto famigerato.. Un subitaneo declino (il suo) che tuttavia era stato preceduto dal dilatare di una eclatante fortuna, conquistata sul campo delle armi dal protagonista di spietato pregio militare, ma di esiguo talento politico, incarnato in Ottobono: un tipico condottiero del Quattrocento, della rude psicologia imperscrutabile, la cui storia personale, nella sua terribilità singolare ma non inconsueta, si svolge, quanto mai densa di accadimenti, in un quadro storico composito, tanto frazionato quanto percorso da dinamiche tumultuose…Incarna il tipico condottiero del Quattrocento, dalla rude psicologia imperscrutabile, la cui storia personale, nella sua individuale spietatezza e terribilità svolge, quanto mai densa di avvenimenti, in un quadro, politico e bellico delle varie signorie dell’Italia padana e centrale negli ultimi lustri del XIV secolo e nei primi del XV. Ottobono, andando oltre le constatazioni concernenti l’indiscussa eccellenza del suo profilo militare e di gestore d’imprese belliche è stato raccontato da una fitta schiera di storici e letterati, diversamente partigiani. Meritò l’ammirata stima dell’umanista Enea Silvio Piccolomini, poi papa Pio II, che lodò la “magnificentia”, la “potentia” e la “prudentia” del condottiero, ma quello rimase un caso isolato d’indulgente giudizio.” CONT

-“Il Terzi fu accompagnato per secoli da una fama sinistra, che individuava nelle nequizia e nella tirannia i tratti distintivi del suo dominio. Una nomea, questa, alimentata per primo dall’umanista Antonio Loschi – che all’indomani dell’eliminazione di Ottobuono preconizza addirittura meriti eterni per il suo uccisore Niccolò III – e poi costantemente perpetuata da letterati e storiografi vicini alla casa d’Este… Al Terzi  si deve la riforma degli statuti di Reggio e dei consigli di Parma, nonché un’interessante disposizione volta a favorire l’integrazione politica fra le due città: nel 1407, infatti, i rispettivi consigli municipali ratificarono la norma secondo cui ciascun abitante dell’una poteva possedere beni nell’altra. Contestualmente fu concessa la cittadinanza reggina a cento cittadini di Parma e quella parmense a novanta cittadini di Reggio.” GAMBERINI

-“Ottobuono era di coloro che non hanno occhi per conoscere ragione, né animo per abbracciare il giusto, pascendosi solamente dell’iniquità…Era uoomo crudelissimo, nato solo a far male.” MURATORI

-“Rei militaris peritissimus..Nemo tot proeliis eius signa retro conversa semel vidit, Parmensium, Placentinorum ac Reginorum princeps. Ad postremus a Nicolai marchionis Ferrariensis copiisinopinato intefectus est.” Facio riportato da ALBANESE 

-“Armigerum strenuum honoris avidum et exerciti magia appetentem quietis.” Da un documento d’archivio senese riportato da MULINACCI

-Tiranno di Parma, uomo mediocre.” LO MONACO

Featured image: wikimedia

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