The Battle of Piacenza, 1480 AD


This was the second battle fought in the CWS 1480 Condotta campaign. Following the triumph of his forces over the Savoyards at Torino earlier in the year, the Duke of Milan (played by Brent Regan) recalled his victorious general Carboni Lagobambino (played by Corbon Loughnan), fearing an attack from the east by the Florentines. He had hoped to garrison Torino and integrate it into his Dukedom, but settled instead for a tributary payment.

It was a wise move, for as soon as they had heard of the Savoyard defeat at Torino, the Florentine senate (played by Ion Dowman) ordered their military forces, presently marshalled at Modena, north across the Po, and then westwards towards Piacenza in an effort to distract the Milanese from their expansionist plans. Supreme command of the Florentine forces was in the hands of a senate-member, although the notable condottieri captains Berterelli (played by Mark Otley) and Asti de Spumante (played by Brent Burnett-Jones) enjoyed great authority within the army.

The Florentine army was well-supplied with footmen, including several pike companies, and its horse were nothing to be sneered at either, for the rich Republic had spent its funds in a most profligate fashion recruiting men for the campaign.

On the opposing side, the well-trained and numerous Milanese provisionati militia had joined the army that had been victorious at Torino. This meant that Lagobambino's former lack of infantry would not be as keenly felt in the coming battle. The provisionati, while quite numerous and well-equipped, were all light crossbowmen and handgunners however, so the Milanese army lacked any solid foot contingents. A large force of labourers had also been drafted for the campaign to prepare entrenchments around the Milanese camp.

Wary of the Milanese galleones now patrolling the Po, the Florentines marched somewhat north of the great river, passing through Cremona, and making for the ford over the smaller river Adda. There they found the Milanese army encamped on the far side. Both armies remained motionless for the rest of the day, trying to assess each other's strength.

The captain-general of the Florentines was in favour of a frontal assault upon the Milanese position, where their heavier infantry should have the advantage. The two condottieri captains, horrified at the prospect of the huge casualties that were likely to be involved in such an assault, disagreed, pointing out that the Milanese artillery pieces would likely blow them to kingdom-come as they moved up. A cunning flank-march is what is required, Berterelli declared - and a large one at that. The river would then work to their advantage, since the rest of the army should then be able to hold off the Milanese until the flank-march arrived.

In the Milanese camp, Lagobambino, having surveyed the enemy's position, and compared it to his own, decided that the Adda in front of him wasn't actually doing him any favours. His entrenchments were strong, it was true, but his real strength lay in his horse, especially the Ducal guards, the famed famiglia fuori casa. The river combined with the entrenchments would do nothing to help the fluid cavalry action that would suit his army best.

He decided that he would have to send the best part of his army on a sweeping flank march, while holding the enemy's main thrust with his weakened centre. Since it was summer, the Adda was running lower than usual, and he knew the enemy would find it but little obstacle to their advance. Therefore he decided not to man the river bank, but rather let the enemy's advance elements across, and then to hold them up in the rough ground between the river and his camp.

Thus it was just before dawn, that both armies sent virtually half their forces out of their respective camps, north along the Adda, to fall upon the enemy's flank. The night was unusually cold for mid-summer, and a slight mist arising from the Po muffled all sound.

After breakfast, Logobambino detailed a few crossbowmen forwards occupy the fields to his right, telling the men to hide in the tall crops that had been growing splendidly this year. Most of the rest of his men he marched out of the camp, but no further, waiting for he unseasonal mist to clear.

The Florentines too did little, waiting for the mist to clear. Finally, at two hours before midday, the mist had cleared enough for the two amies to see each other. Both commanders were equally horrified to discover half the the enemy's forces missing! It could only mean that the other side was also flank marching - and since the Po stopped all movement to the south, the flank-marchers were surely to meet at the ford higher up the Adda, out of sight; or, even worse, they had already met, and the issue was as good as decided without either of them being able to do anything to influence things!

Deployment Map

The Florentines immediately pressed forwards towards the river, but they had not even made it there when clouds of dust to the north pressaged the arrival of one, or both, of the flank marches. All eyes strained northwards, and could eventually make out troops streaming south down both sides of the Adda. As they got clearer, it became obvious that those fleeing were Florentine, while those hotly chasing them were Milanese.

Upon coming within hailing distance of the rest of the army those Florentines closest to their general Berterelli were able to about-face in some semblance of order and prepared to make a stand in front of their bagagge, but the majority, horsemen for the most part that had been able to cross the river, were pursued closely.

Seeing their chance, Lagobambino's mounted crossbowmen galloped to cut the escape route off for the fleeing Florentine horse, who were taken both in front and rear by the Milanese. A few Florentine mounted crossbowmen from the main army managed to cross the river in an effort to lend assistance, but being greatly outnumbered, were soon scattered and routed.

The Florentine foot put up a surprisingly valiant stand in front of their baggage, withstanding the Ducal horses' repeated charges, but soon the entire Florentine army was starting to melt away as it became obvious that their position was totally untenable. Nearly a quarter of their army was killed in the ensuing panic, although the valour of the Florentine foot in withstanding his charges earned the approval of the Duke's 'nephew', and he allowed them to withdraw off the field unmolested.


This page last modified: October 31, 1998

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