Condottieri (singular condottiere (in English), condottiero or, less frequently, condottiere (in Italian) were mercenary leaders employed by Italian city-states from the late Middle Ages until the mid-sixteenth century. A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict who is not a national or a party to the conflict and is "motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by A city-state is a Region controlled exclusively by a City, usually having Sovereignty. The word means "contractor" in renaissance Italian. The Renaissance (from French Renaissance, meaning "rebirth" Italian: Rinascimento, from re- "again" and nascere Italian ( or lingua italiana) is a Romance language spoken by about 63 million people as a First language, primarily in Italy.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Italian city-states were becoming enriched by their trade with the Orient. A city-state is a Region controlled exclusively by a City, usually having Sovereignty. See also Names of the Levant The Levant (lə'vænt is a geographical term that denotes a large area in Western Asia, roughly bounded on the north by the These cities, such as Venice, Florence, and Genoa, had woefully small armies and were increasingly becoming targets of attack by foreign powers as well as envious neighbours. The Most Serene Republic of Venice ((Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta or Repùblica de Venesia Serenissima Repubblica Florence ( Italian: Firenze Florentia and Fiorenza) is the Capital City of the Italian region of Tuscany Genoa ( Genova, ˈdʒɛːnova in Italian; Zena in Genoese and Ligurian; Genua in Latin and archaically in English The noblemen ruling the cities soon resorted to hiring companies of mercenaries known as condotta ("contract") to defend their territories. Each condotta was led by a condottiere, a term which soon became synonymous with "captain".
The very first of these bands (called in contemporary Italy masnada, plural masnade) appeared between the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of fourteenth centuries and were not of Italian origin. Soldiers came mainly from Germany, Brabant (brabanzoni), Aragon and Catalonia: the last, for example, had come to Italy following King Peter III of Aragon in October 1282 and had remained there afterward searching for employers. Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany ( ˈbʊndəsʁepuˌbliːk ˈdɔʏtʃlant is a Country in Central Europe. The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Aragon ( Spanish: "Aragón") is an autonomous community of Spain. Catalonia (Cataluña Catalunya Aranese: Catalonha) is an Autonomous Community in the northeast part of Spain. Peter the Great ( Catalan: Pere el Gran, Spanish: Pedro el Grande; 1239 &ndash 2 November 1285) was the King of Aragon Other mercenaries came in 1333 alongside John of Bohemia, and therefore served Perugia in its war against Arezzo with the name Compagnia della Colomba ("Dove Company"). John the Blind ( Luxembourgish: Jang de Blannen; German: Johann der Blinde von Luxemburg Perugia is the capital City of the region of Umbria in central Italy, near the Tiber river and the capital of the Province of Perugia Arezzo ( Latin Arretium) is a city in central Italy, capital of the province of the same name, located in Some of these masnade were merely a grouping of bandits and other desperate men.
Later these bands were joined by the first true organized Ventura Companies, those of Duke Werner of Urslingen and Count Konrad von Landau. A duke is a member of the Nobility, historically of highest rank below the Sovereign, and historically controlled a Duchy or a Dukedom A count is a Nobleman in European countries The word count comes from French comte, itself from Latin The Italian noble Lodrisio Visconti countered by creating the "Company of St. Lodrisio Visconti (c 1280 &ndash 1364 was an Italian Condottiero. George. " Werner's company differed from the previous ones by a code of laws which imposed a rigid discipline and an equal division of income. This company was increased until it turned into the fearsome "Great Company", which had up to 3,000 barbute, each barbuta including a knight and a sergeant. This article is about the German mercenary company For the Catalan mercenary company see The Great Company (Catalan.
The bands of condottieri became notorious for their caprice. They soon realized that they held a monopoly on military power in Italy and began dictating terms to their ostensible employers. Many, such as Braccio da Montone and Muzio Sforza, became powerful political figures in the fourteenth century. Braccio da Montone, born Andrea Fortebracci, and also known as Braccio Fortebraccio ( 1 July 1368 &ndash 5 June 1424) was Muzio Attendolo Sforza ( May 28, 1369 - January 4, 1424) was an Italian Condottiero. Since many of the condottiere were fairly educated men and they had acquainted themselves with Roman military manuals, such as Vegetius's Epitoma rei militarii, they began to view warfare more on scientific viewpoint rather than bravery, a departure from the traditional Medieval model of chivalry. Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus was a writer of the Later Roman Empire. Chivalric order Chivalry is a term related to the Medieval institution of Knighthood. As consequence, most condottieri viewed it a better idea to out-maneuevre the opponent and fight his ability to wage war rather than risk the fortune at actual field battles. Since the condottieri developed the Medieval art of war and tactics further than anyone before, and rather fought the enemy indirectly than directly, the condottieri also became reluctant to place themselves or their men in harm's way and rather avoided battles than fought them. This was mis-interpreted by Machiavelli that condottieri fought each other in grandiose but often pointless and nearly bloodless "battles". They still retained grand armored knights and medieval weapons and tactics long after the rest of Europe had converted to more modern armies composed of pikemen and musketeers. A pike is a Pole weapon, a very long thrusting Spear used two-handed and used extensively by Infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as A musketeer (mousquetaire was an early modern type of Infantry Soldier equipped with a Musket.
Cola di Rienzo had Werner executed in Rome in 1347, and Landau took over the Great Company. Cola di Rienzo or di Rienzi ( c 1313 – October 8, 1354) was an Italian medieval politician and popular leader Tribune Landau, betrayed by his Hungarian soldiers, was defeated in 1362 by Albert Sterz and John Hawkwood's "White Company", which used more advanced combat tactics and formations. Sir John Hawkwood (1320 &ndash 1394 was an English Mercenary or condottiero in 14th century Italy. The barbuta was replaced by the lancia comprising three men: a capo-lancia and groom, both mounting a battle horse, plus a boy using a lesser quality horse. Five lance formed a posta, five poste a bandiera ("flag"). Now the condottieri comprised as many Italian companies as foreign, creating soon a host of national companies: they included the Astorre I Manfredi's Compagnia della Stella ("Star's company"), a new Company of St. Astorre Manfredi (c 1345 &ndash November 28, 1405) was an Italian Condottiero. George under Ambrogio Visconti, Niccolò da Montefeltro's Compagnia del Cappelletto ("Little Hat Company"), and Giovanni da Buscareto and Bartolomeo Gonzaga's Compagnia della Rosa, the last using a name of its own.
From the 15th century onward the companies' leaders were mainly Italian: they were nobles who for some reason had not been able to succeed in their lands and had therefore chosen the fighting life. In that century, the most famous condottiero was Giovanni dalle Bande Nere from Forlì, son of Caterina Sforza. Giovanni de' Medici, also known as Giovanni dalle Bande Nere ( April 5, 1498 - November 30, 1526) was an Italian Condottiero Forlì ( Latin: Forum Livii) is a Comune and city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy famed as the birthplace of the great painter Melozzo da Forlì Caterina Sforza (1463 &ndash May 10, 1509) countess of Forlì, was an illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Lucrecia Landriani He was also known as "the last condottiero". His son was Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Cosimo I de' Medici (June 12 1519 &ndash April 21 1574 was Duke of Florence from 1537 to 1574 reigning as the first Grand
Sometimes even princes fought for some periods as condottieri in order to increase their revenues: the most notable cases are Sigismondo Malatesta, lord of Rimini, and Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino. Sigismondo Malatesta (November 1498 - December 1553 was an Italian Condottiero. Rimini is a city in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and capital city of the Province of Rimini. Federico da Montefeltro, also known as Federico III da Montefeltro ( Castello di Petroia, June 7, 1422 &ndash Ferrara, September Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region in Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical Incomes were high indeed, though it should be noted that inflation was high in Italy during the period:
The leaders of these new condottieri companies were not chosen by their men, but vice versa. In economics inflation or price inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services over a period of time Micheletto Attendolo (c 1390 &ndash c 1451 was an Italian Condottiero. Florence ( Italian: Firenze Florentia and Fiorenza) is the Capital City of the Italian region of Tuscany William VIII Palaiologos ( July 19, 1420 - February 27, 1483) was the Marquess of Montferrat from 1464 until his death Francesco I Sforza ( July 23, 1401 - March 8, 1466) was an Italian Condottiero, the founder of the Sforza dynasty in Milan (Milano Milan (listen) is one of the largest cities in Italy, located in the plains of Lombardy. The scudo (pl scudi) was the name for a number of Coins used in Italy until the 19th century Francesco II (or IV Gonzaga ( 10 august, 1466 &ndash March 29, 1519) was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua from Florence ( Italian: Firenze Florentia and Fiorenza) is the Capital City of the Italian region of Tuscany Florence ( Italian: Firenze Florentia and Fiorenza) is the Capital City of the Italian region of Tuscany The condotta become a consolidated form of contract. When the contract period (ferma) ceased, the company had to wait another period called aspetto ("wait") in which the State kept the possibility of renewing it. If the contract ended in a definitive way, the condottiero could not declare war upon the other contracting party before two years had passed. This usage was well respected: the reputation and credibility was everything to the condottiero, and if he deceived his employer, his reputation was essentially ruined.
The condotta was also applied for sea mercenaries. This was called contratto d'assento, and assentisti were the captains and venturers hired in this way. These were mainly used by Genoa and the Papal States from the 14th century. Genoa ( Genova, ˈdʒɛːnova in Italian; Zena in Genoese and Ligurian; Genua in Latin and archaically in English The Papal States, State(s of the Church or Pontifical States (in Italian Stato Ecclesiastico, Stato della Chiesa, Stati della Chiesa Venice considered it a humiliating way to hire sailors and never used it, even in the most dangerous periods of her history. The Most Serene Republic of Venice ((Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta or Repùblica de Venesia Serenissima Repubblica
The condottieri were masters of the battles fought in Italy for the whole 15th century. By the time of the wars in Lombardy, Niccolò Machiavelli observed, "None of the principal states were armed with their own proper forces":
|“||Thus the arms of Italy were either in the hands of the lesser princes, or of men who possessed no state; for the minor princes did not adopt the practice of arms from any desire of glory, but for the acquisition of either property or safety. The wars in Lombardy were a series of conflicts fought in central-northern Italy between the Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Milan, and their different The others (those who possessed no state) being bred to arms from their infancy, were acquainted with no other art, and pursued war for emolument, or to confer honor upon themselves.||”|
Throughout the 15th century Italian armies had defeated most, though not all, incursions by hostile neighbors, be they French, Swiss, German, Austrian, Hungarian or Turkish. This article is about the country For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic France topics. Switzerland (English pronunciation; Schweiz Swiss German: Schwyz or Schwiiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra officially the Swiss Confederation Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany ( ˈbʊndəsʁepuˌbliːk ˈdɔʏtʃlant is a Country in Central Europe. Austria (Österreich ( officially the Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich Hungary (Magyarország 'mɔɟɔrorsaːg) officially in English the Republic of Hungary ( Magyar Köztársaság, literally Magyar (Hungarian Republic The Ottoman Empire (1299–1923 ( Old Ottoman Turkish: دولتْ علیّه عثمانیّه Devlet-i Âliye-yi Osmâniyye, Late Ottoman and Modern Turkish At Calliano in 1487 the Venetians met, and more than held their own against, German landsknechte and Swiss infantry, troops who were then regarded as the best in Europe. The Most Serene Republic of Venice ((Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta or Repùblica de Venesia Serenissima Repubblica Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany ( ˈbʊndəsʁepuˌbliːk ˈdɔʏtʃlant is a Country in Central Europe. Landsknechts (singular Landsknecht, German plural Landsknechte, sometimes also in English publications were European most often German, Mercenary Switzerland (English pronunciation; Schweiz Swiss German: Schwyz or Schwiiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra officially the Swiss Confederation
As time passed, the financial interests and the increasing political role the captains were playing led to some serious drawbacks: often the condottieri behaved treacherously and tended to solve the clashes by bribing or asking for bribes themselves instead of combat. The condotta being such a lucrative activity, the contenders had little interest to risk their army in a bloody clash: if a pitched battle was unavoidable, they tended to avoid heavy losses and leave the field preserving as much as possible of the army.
The end of the condottieri age began in 1494 with the first great foreign invasion in more than a century: Charles VIII's national French army proved quite a match for the divided Italian states and smaller condottieri armies. Charles VIII, called the Affable (l'Affable 30 June 1470 &ndash 7 April 1498 was King of France from 1483 to his death The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre (Land Army is the land-based component of the French Armed Forces and its largest Some of the most renowned condottieri chose therefore to fight for foreign powers: Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, for example, abandoned Milan for France, while Andrea Doria became admiral of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles. Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (1440 or 1441 &ndash December 5 1518) was an Italian aristocrat of the Duchy of Milan who held several military Milan (Milano Milan (listen) is one of the largest cities in Italy, located in the plains of Lombardy. This article is about the country For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic France topics. Andrea Doria or D'Oria ( 30 November 1466 &ndash 25 November 1560) was a Genoese ''condottiere'' and Admiral The Holy Roman Emperor (Römischer Kaiser or Römisch-Deutscher Kaiser Romanorum Imperator was the elected monarch ruling over the many varying numbers of states Charles V (24 February 1500 &ndash 21 September 1558 was In the end, however, the failure was political rather than military, and stemmed from a disunity and a lack of political determination.
The condotta had disappeared by 1550. The term condottiero remained to indicate great Italian generals mainly fighting for foreign states. Figures like Marcantonio II Colonna and Raimondo Montecuccoli were prominent well into the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Marcantonio (II Colonna ( 1535 - August 1, 1584) Duke and Prince of Paliano, was an Italian general and admiral Raimondo Count of Montecúccoli or Montecucculi ( German: Raimondo Graf Montecúccoli; February 21, 1608 or 1609 - As a means of recording the passage of Time, the 17th Century was that Century which lasted from 1601 - 1700 in the Gregorian calendar
The practice of hiring foreign mercenaries did not die out altogether, even in Italy. To this day, the Vatican's Swiss Guards are the remnants of a once-effective hired army. Swiss Guards Swiss mercenary is the name given to those soldiers who have served as Bodyguards, ceremonial guards and palace guards at foreign European courts since