The siege was part of an offensive launched by pope Julius II as part of his alliance with the Republic of Venice against France. In October 1510, he had moved with his court to Bologna, but here he found himself with little troops to counter the advance of French general Charles II d'Amboise, he started negotiations for a truce. However, once joined by a sized army, he stopped any diplomatic activity and moved against Sassuolo, while the French retreated to Rubiera. Sassuolo fell in two days; next was the fortified citadel of Mirandola, which he besieged from 19 December 1510.
The pope took personal command of the papal army after his nephew and commander-in-chief, Francesco Maria I Della Rovere, had showed a suspicious negligence. The papal forces stormed the citadel taking advantage of the iced ditches on 20 January 1511.