Mercurio Bua

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Portrait of Mercurio Bua by Lorenzo Lotto[1]

Mercurio Bua, Count of Aquino and Roccasecca (Nafplion 1478 – Treviso c. 1542) was a famed condottiero (stratioti captain) and commander of the Venetian army.


Flag given in 1510 to Mercurio Bua by Emperor Maximilian I. It features a double-headed eagle, symbol of both Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire, the Cross of Burgundy and four "B"s or firesteels, used in the Palaiologos arms, but also linked to the House of Habsburg's Order of the Golden Fleece.[2]

Born in Nafplion in the Peloponnese Bua was a member of Albanian Bua and Arianiti families. His father was Theodore Bua, also a stradioti, co-warrior of Krokodeilos Kladas. His uncle Constantine Arianiti, a nobleman of the Holy Roman Empire, was the Count of Montferrat.[3] Due to his martial prowess, he was eventually made Count of Aquino and Roccasecca (of the Holy Roman Empire). In 1519, he married the Maria Boccali, the daughter of Niccolò Boccali.[3] Maria died in 1524 leaving one son with the name Flavio. She was buried in Santa Maria di Treviso. In 1525 Mercurio married Elisabetta, daughter of Alvise Balbi. With her Mercurio had four children: Helena Maria, Curio, Polyxena and Alessandro. Elizabeth died in or before 1528.[4]

The life of Bouas' had been dramatised in the works of Tzanes Koronaios. Koronaios, who had been stradiotti-troubadour of Zantiote origin, was a companion of Merkourios Bouas. In his work, a long epic poem in vernacular Greek on the exploits of Merkourios Bouas, Koronaios gives Bouas' mythological pedigree, which includes Achilles, Alexander the Great and Pyrrhus. This poem was found in a manuscript in Italy and was published partially by C. Hopf and entire by K. Sathas. It was written in 1519 when Coroneos was in Venice and refers to Bua's history till 1517. It consists of about 4.500 rhyming verses and contains valuable historical information. Coroneos wrote and sent to Bua also a smaller poem (“pittakion”) of about 125 verses in Greek language, too. .[5][6] The language of the poem, the pedigree and other allusions, give an indication of the process of Hellenization of the Albanian stradioti.[7]

Another mention of a Mercurio Bua exists in the Histoire des guerres civiles de France by Enrico Caterino Davila. There a man named Mercurio Bua was active in the service of the king of France in the 1580s. He was present as a commander of a unit of light cavallery at the Battle of Coutras in 1587, leading an ill-fated cavallery charge that led to his unit being diverted away from the decisive action, thus contributing to a catastrophic defeat of the royal army.[8] Nevertheless, it is unknown if it is the same person.

M. Bua died in Treviso, (Italy), between 1527 and 1562, where earlier he served as captain of a unit of 50 soldiers. He is buried in Santa Maria Maggiore in the same city. In 1562 a marble monument was erected on his tomb, made by Antonio Lombardo. In 1637 the following inscription was made on the monument:

"Mercurio Bua Comiti E. Principibus Peloponnesi
Epirotarum Equitum Ductori,
Anno Salu. MDCXXXVII."

Which means "To Count Mercurio Bua, Prince of Peloponnesus, Leader of the Epirote Horsemen, Year of our Salvation, 1637". The monument also lists some of his military career.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fossi, Gloria; Bussagli, Marco; Reiche, Mattia (2000). Italian art: painting, sculpture, architecture from the origins to the present day. Giunti Editore Firenze Italy. pp. 182–3. ISBN 88-09-01771-4. 
  2. ^ K.N., Hellenika Anekdota, Athens, 1867, vol. 1, Original in a manuscript written by Ioannes (Tzanes) Coroneos. It was studied and copied at the library of the King of Italy between 1856-1861 by various Greek researchers and published by K. N. Sathas in 1867.
  3. ^ a b Bassani, Lucia Nadin (2008). Migrazioni e integrazione: il caso degli Albanesi a Venezia (1479-1552). Bulzoni. ISBN 978-88-7870-340-7. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Ricciardi Maria Luisa (1989) Lorenzo Lotto, "Il Gentiluome della Galleria Borghese", Artibus et Historiae, vol. 10, No 19, p. 96. Available through JSTOR.)
  5. ^ Hopf Charles (1873) Ex Jannis Coronei Rebus a Mercurio Bua gestis, in Chroniques Greco-Romanes, Librairie de Weidmann, Berlin, pp 367- 370. (Contains the first 136 verses).
  6. ^ Sathas K., chapter A, pp 1-153.
  7. ^ Pappas, Nicholas C. J. "Stradioti: Balkan Mercenaries in Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century Italy". Sam Houston State University. 
  8. ^ Davila, Enrico Caterino (1657). Histoire des guerres civiles de France. 1. Paris. p. 563. 
  9. ^ Sathas K. (1867), Andragathemata of Bua, by Tzanes Coroneos, Hellenika Anekdota, vol.1, p.123, in Greek language
  10. ^ Edward Hutton: Venice and Venetia. Read Books, 2009. Page 229. ISBN 1-4446-4992-2. [1]

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