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condottiere(kōndōt-tyā`rā) [Ital.,=leader], leader of mercenary soldiers in Italy in the 14th and 15th cent., when wars were almost incessant there. The condottieri hired and paid the bands who fought under them. They dealt directly with the cities or states that requested their services and were responsible solely to them. They fought for the highest bidder, passing easily from one lord to another; this game proved dangerous and even fatal to more than one. Some condottieri had small states of their own, either inherited or acquired. The most famous were the Attendolos (founders of the SforzaSforza
, Italian family that ruled the duchy of Milan from 1450 to 1535. Rising from peasant origins, the Sforzas became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics.
..... Click the link for more information. family), ColleoniColleoni, Bartolomeo
, 1400–1475, Italian soldier of fortune. A condottiere, Colleoni fought in the wars between Venice and Milan, often changing sides and distrusted by both.
..... Click the link for more information. , CarmagnolaCarmagnola, Francesco Bussone da
, c.1380?–1432, Italian condottiere. He fought for Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, in his wars against Florence and Venice but later fell out with Visconti and entered the service of Venice.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Sir John de HawkwoodHawkwood, Sir John de,
d. 1394, English soldier. He fought in the French wars of Edward III and was knighted, although it is not known when or where. With his "white company" of mercenaries, he entered (1362) Italy and became a condottiere.
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See studies by J. J. Deiss (1966) and G. Trease (1971).