Battle of Campaldino

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Battle of Campaldino
Part of the conflict between Guelphs and Ghibellines
Date 11 June 1289
Location Campaldino, Tuscany, present-day Italy
Result Decisive Guelph victory
Belligerents
Florence
Pistoia
Lucca
Siena
Prato (small Guelph factions)
Arezzo (Ghibelline Army)
Commanders and leaders
Amerigo di Narbona
Guillaume da Durfort
Guglielmino degli Ubertini
Strength
10,000 infantry
1,160 cavalry
10,000 infantry
800 cavalry
Casualties and losses
300 killed 1,700 killed

The Battle of Campaldino was a battle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines on 11 June 1289.[1] Mixed bands of pro-papal Guelf forces of Florence and allies, Pistoia, Lucca, Siena and Prato, all loosely commanded by the paid condottiero Amerigo di Narbona with his own professional following, met a Ghibelline force from Arezzo including the perhaps reluctant bishop, Guglielmino degli Ubertini, in the plain of Campaldino, which leads from Pratovecchio to Poppi, part of the Tuscan countryside along the upper Arno called the Casentino. One of the combatants on the Guelph side was Dante Alighieri, twenty-four years old at the time.

Background to the battle[edit]

Later, in the mid-14th century, Giovanni Villani recorded the long-remembered details— as Florentines remembered them— in his chronicle, though the casus belli he offers are merely conventional "outrages" on the part of Arezzo; the elaborately staged raid and fight led by aristocrats on both sides sounds like stylized gang warfare, though carried out, according to Villani, under the battle standard of the absent Charles, the Angevine King of Naples. The immediate cause of the battle were reports that the Guelphs were ravaging the places of Conte Guido Novello, who was podestà of Arezzo, and, worse, threatening the fortified place called Bibbiena Civitella. This led to an Arentine force being quickly assembled and marching out to counter the threat. It was reported by Villani that a plot had been intercepted at Arezzo, by which the bishop agreed to give over to the Florentines Bibbiena Civitella, and all the villages of his see, in return for a life annuity of 5,000 golden florins a year, guaranteed by the bank of the Cerchi. The plot was uncovered by his nephew Guglielmo de' Pazzi, and they hustled the bishop onto his horse and brought him to the battlefield, where they left him dead among the slain of the battle and its aftermath: Guglielmino de' Pazzi in Valdarno and Buonconte, the son of Guido I da Montefeltro.

The armies[edit]

The Florentines and their allies had 10,000 undisciplined armed rabble on foot, including light-armed infantry, and crossbowmen, and unmounted lancers, but 1,600 knights and 600 mounted burghrers of Florence,

the best armed and mounted which ever sallied out forth from Florence; and 400 mercenaries, together with the following of the Captain M[esser] Amerigo, in the pay of the Florentines; and of Lucca there were 500 horsemen; and of Prato 40 horsemen and foot soldiers; and of Pistoia, 60 horse and foot; and of Siena, 120 horse; and of Volterra, 40 horse; and of Bologna, their ambassadors with their company; and of Samminiato, and of Sangimignano, and of Colle, men mounted and on foot from each place; and Maghinardo of Susinana, a good and wise captain in war, with his Romagnoli.[2]

The forces were equal as far as the large groups of foot-soldiers were concerned; the mounted knights of the Aretine forces only came to 800, but those were "the flower of the Ghibellines of Tuscany, of the March, and of the Duchy, and of Romagna; and all were men experienced in arms and in war" (Villani).

The battle[edit]

Deployment[edit]

The Florentines deployed an advance guard of cavalry, behind which, in the centre of their line stood the bulk of their cavalry. On each wing they placed their infantry, slightly forward so the line was crescent shaped. Behind this force, they drew up their baggage and, behind that, a reserve of infantry and cavalry. The Arentines drew up in four lines; the first, second and fourth of cavalry, the third of infantry.[3]

The course of the battle[edit]

The Arentines attacked with their first three lines, scattering the Florentine advanced guard and pushing back the main body towards the wagons. However, they now came under crossfire from the flanking infantry. The Florentine reserve now made a flanking attack, trapping the Aretines.[4] According to Villani, Corso Donati, podestà of Pistoia. though under orders to stand ready in reserve, shouted “If we lose, I will die in the battle with my fellow citizens; and if we conquer, let him that will, come to us at Pistoia to exact the penalty!” and charged the Aretine flank, helping break up the lines and win the day for the Guelphs. Instead of coming to the rescue, the Aretine reserve fled. Aretine casualties were high. Ploughing the Campaldino plain used to turn up human remains and bones as recently as eighty years ago [5]

Result of the battle[edit]

The Battle of Campaldino secured Guelph dominance in Florence, though internecine fighting among the Whites and Blacks among the Florentine Guelphs resulted in civic disturbances and the exile of many, including notable medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri (a member of the Whites, the faction more opposed to papal power).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Herbert L. Oerter, "Campaldino, 1289," Speculum, 43:3 (1968), 429–50, provides a complete account, with maps.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Mallett, Michael (1974). Mercenaries and their Masters. London: Bodley Head. pp. 21–3. ISBN 0-370-10502-8. 
  4. ^ Mallett (1974), p. 23
  5. ^ [2].

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°44′15.40″N 11°45′09.43″E / 43.7376111°N 11.7526194°E / 43.7376111; 11.7526194