Condottieri(redirected from Condottiero)
leaders of mercenary military detachments (or companies) in Italy from the 14th through 16th centuries in the service of individual rulers and popes.
The condottieri became very important in the continuous warfare between the Italian states. In the 14th century most of the recruits were foreign knights, but at the end of the 14th century Italian condottieri began displacing the foreigners. Some condottieri seized power in cities and established tyrannies, like Francesco Sforza in Milan. The condottieri, who plundered and devastated Italy, contributed to the weakening of the country. In the late 15th century, when infantry and artillery became more important than cavalry (the main force of the condottieri), the institution of the condottieri gradually began to disappear.