First time artillery played a major part in warfare
|A scene from the Battle of Molinella depicted by the artist|
Il Romanino in frescoes at Malpaga Castle, near Bergamo
On one side were infantry and cavalry representing Venice and on the other side there was an army serving Florence.
It was the first battle in Italy in which artillery and firearms were used extensively, the main weapons being cannons fired by gunpowder that could launch heavy stone or metal balls. The barrels were 10 to 12 feet in length and had to be cleaned following each discharge, a process that took up to two hours.
Leading the 14,000 soldiers fighting for Venice was the Bergamo condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni. He was working jointly with Ercole I d’Este from Ferrara and noblemen from Pesaro and Forlì.
|A portrait of Bartolomeo Colleoni by the|
Italian artist Cristofano dell'altissimo
Condottieri were professional military leaders hired by the Italian city-states to lead armies on their behalf.
The fighting took place between the villages of Riccardina and Molinella and so the event is also sometimes referred to as the Battle of Riccardina
It is not certain which side won, but as a result Colleoni abandoned his plans to conquer Milan. There were hundreds of casualties and it is thought up to 1,000 horses were killed.
The following year Pope Paul II managed to broker a peace between the two sides.
Molinella is a small town to the north east of Bologna in Emilia Romagna and was of strategic importance because of its hilltop position between Bologna and Ferrara. It now has a railway station on the Bologna-Portomaggiore line.
|Colleoni's castle at Malpaga, south of Bergamo|
Bartolomeo Colleoni spent the last years of his life living with his family at his castle in Malpaga to the south of Bergamo, which has frescoes depicting scenes from the Battle of Molinella that are attributed to the painter Il Romanino. The castle is open to the public at weekends between March and November.
Colleoni the honourable condottiere
Da Montefeltro used earnings from war to sponsor the arts
(Photo of fresco by Giorces CC BY-SA 2.5it)
(Photo of Colleoni portrait by Sailko CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of castle by Mercurioblu CC BY-SA 3.0)