Battle of Agnadello
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|Battle of Agnadello|
|Part of the War of the League of Cambrai|
|Kingdom of France||Republic of Venice|
|Commanders and leaders|
Louis de la Trémoille
Charles II d'Amboise
|Bartolomeo d'Alviano (POW)
Niccolò di Pitigliano
|30,000 - 50,000||15,000 - 35,000|
|Casualties and losses|
|Unknown||4,000 - 6,000 dead, wounded, or captured
20 guns lost
On 15 April 1509, a French army under the command of Louis XII left Milan and invaded Venetian territory. To oppose its advance, Venice had massed a mercenary army near Bergamo, jointly commanded by the Orsini cousins, Bartolomeo d'Alviano and Niccolò di Pitigliano. The Orsini had orders to avoid a direct confrontation with the advancing French, and spent the next several weeks engaged in light skirmishing.
By 9 May, however, Louis had crossed the Adda River at Cassano d'Adda. Alviano and Pitigliano, encamped around the town of Treviglio, disagreed on how to deal with Louis, since Alviano wanted to attack the French in defiance of his orders; they finally decided to move south towards the Po River in search of better positions.
On 14 May, as the Venetian army moved south, Alviano was confronted by a French detachment under the Charles II d'Amboise, who had massed his troops around the village of Agnadello. Alviano positioned his forces, numbering around eight thousand, on a ridge overlooking some vineyards. Charles II attempted to attack, first with cavalry and then with Swiss pikemen, but the French, forced to march up a hillside crossed with irrigation ditches, which were soon filled with mud from the pouring rain, were unable to breach the Venetian lines.
Pitigliano had been moving ahead of Alviano, and was several miles away when the French began their attack. In reply to Alviano's request for help, he sent a note suggesting that a pitched battle should be avoided, and continued his march south.
Meanwhile, Louis, with the remainder of the French army, had reached Agnadello. The French now surrounded Alviano on three sides and proceeded to destroy his forces over the next three hours. The Venetian cavalry collapsed and fled, and Alviano himself was wounded and captured. Of his command, more than four thousand were killed.
Although Pitigliano had avoided engaging the French directly, news of the battle reached him by that evening, and the majority of his forces had deserted by morning. Faced with the continued advance of the French army, he hurriedly retreated towards Treviso and Venice. Louis then proceeded to occupy the remainder of Lombardy.
- Machiavelli, "The Prince", 77.
- Norwich, John Julius (1989) A History of Venice New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-72197-5;
- Bruce, George (1979) Harbottle's dictionary of Battles (2nd. revised edition) London: Granada. ISBN 0-246-11103-8;
- Machiavelli, Niccolò (1514) The Prince Translated by Rufus Goodwin, 2003, Boston: Dante University Press. ISBN 0-937832-38-3.