Georg von Frundsberg

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Georg von Frundsberg
Frundsberg, by Christoph Amberger.

Georg von Frundsberg (24 September 1473 – 20 August 1528) was a South German knight and Landsknecht leader in the service of the Imperial Habsburg dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire.

Frundsberg was born to Ulrich von Frundsberg and his wife Barbara von Rechberg at Mindelheim, into an old line of Tyrolean knights who had settled in Upper Swabia.

He fought for the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I against the Swiss in the Swabian War of 1499, and in the same year was among the Imperial troops sent to assist Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, against the French. Still serving Maximilian, he took part in 1504 in the war over the succession to the duchy of Bavaria-Landshut, fighting against the Pfalz-Counts Philipp and Ruprecht. He distinguished himself during the Battle of Regensburg. Maximilian I personally bestowed knighthood on him. Later, he also fought in the Netherlands.

Convinced of the necessity of a native body of trained infantry, Frundsberg assisted Maximilian in the organization of the Landsknechts. One year later, he became the commander of the Landsknechts in the low countries. Thereafter, Frundsberg lived an uninterrupted life of war, campaigning for the Empire and the Habsburgs. In 1509, Frundsberg became the "Highest Field Captain" of the Landsknecht Regiment (occupation force) and participated in the war against Venice, winning fame for himself and his men after defending the city of Verona against numerous attacks. In 1512 he was, together with Jakob von Ems, leading the Imperial contingent sent to aid Gaston de Foix to retake Brescia.

After a short visit to Germany, he returned to the Italian peninsula, where between 1513 and 1514 he gained fresh laurels by his enterprises against the Venetians and the French. He was heading the Landsknechts at the side of Fernando d'Avalos at the Battle of La Motta. Peace being made, he returned to Germany, and at the head of the infantry of the Swabian League assisted in driving Ulrich, Duke of Württemberg, from his duchy in 1519.

At the Diet of Worms in 1521, he spoke words of encouragement to Martin Luther, and during the Italian War of 1521–1526, Frundsberg helped lead the Imperial Army into Picardy. When King Francis I of France appeared on the battlefield with a force of approximately 40,000 men, the clever withdrawal of Emperor Charles V's army saved its existence. Frundsberg considered the withdrawal on Valenciennes as "the greatest luck and most appropriate measure during war."

After the French campaign in 1522 ended and Frundsberg resigned from the leadership of the Landesknechts, he returned to lead the march of 6,000 men on upper Italy. A difficult alpine crossing through deep snow led to the Battle of Bicocca near Milan in April. Swiss nationals on foot fought alongside Frundsberg, who led and fought from the front. The emperor's victory at Bicocca allowed the return of the old Kingdom's Parliamentary Cabinet Lands of Genoa and Milan and brought the greater part of Lombardy under the influence of Charles V.

In 1525, after a brief stop in Mindelheim as the "Highest Field Captain" of the entire German Nation (with a force consisting of 12,000 men and twenty-nine flag bearers), Frundsberg moved again towards upper Italy to relieve Pavia and to save the Empire's Duchy of Milan. Despite an additional 6,000 men, of whom some were Spanish, in battle against an enemy that was twice as strong, Frundsberg won his most famous victory at Pavia, with the capture of the French king.

Only one year later, when the war in Italy was renewed in 1526, Frundsberg received a call for help from the Emperor's Army in Lombardy, to help decide the war. Albeit an insufficient amount, he obtained 36,000 German Thaler to organize the new army. During his occupation of Mindelheim, Frundsberg borrowed money and sold off his silver table settings and his wife's jewelry, in order to acquire the remaining funds to raise the army. In less than three weeks, Frundsberg organized over 12,000 men and crossed the Alps during the middle of November. He joined the Constable de Bourbon near Piacenza and marched towards Rome. However, order and discipline broke down near Modena on 13 March 1527, when no decisive battle developed after months of campaigning in Italy. Payment for the mercenaries remained overdue and, in the end, even Frundsberg was unable to rally the Landsknechts and restore order. The matter shook the old commander to such an extent that he suffered a stroke. Unable to regain his physical strength, Frundsberg was moved to Germany after a long struggle in Italian hospitals. Tormented by great anxiety over the situation with his mercenaries or "beloved sons", the loss of his personal estate and death of one of his sons, Frundsberg died in his castle in Mindelheim. He was considered a capable and chivalrous soldier, and a devoted servant of the Habsburgs.

His son Caspar (1500–1536) and his grandson Georg (died 1586) were both soldiers of some distinction. With the latter's death, the family became extinct.

During World War II, the Waffen-SS's 10th Panzer Division was given the honorific title Frundsberg.

References[edit]

  • 10.SS-Pz.Div. "Frundsberg", Abt.VI/Az.37g/Lt./Dr; Div.St.Qu., dtd 6.11.43, National Archives, Record Group 242, Berlin Document Center, Microfilm Publication T354, Roll 150, Frames 791940-791948
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.