Alberico da Barbiano
Alberico da Barbiano was the first of the Italian condottieri
thumb|Depiction of [[Farinata degli Uberti]] by [[Andrea del Castagno]], showing a 15th century condottiero's typical attire.Condottieri were the mercenary soldier leaders of the professional, military free companies contracted by the Italian city-states and the Papacy, from the late Middle Ages...

. His master in military matters was the English mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 John Hawkwood
John Hawkwood
Sir John Hawkwood was an English mercenary or condottiero who was active in 14th century Italy. The French chronicler Jean Froissart knew him as Jean Haccoude and Italians as Giovanni Acuto...

, known in Italy as Giovanni Acuto. Alberico's compagnia fought under the banner of Saint George
Saint George
Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

, as the compagnia San Giorgio.


Born in Barbiano di Cotignola
Barbiano di Cotignola
Barbiano di Cotignola is a frazione of Cotignola, in the province of Ravenna, Italy. It is a small village, known as the birthplace of the medieval condottiero Alberico da Barbiano.It is home to a Romanesque pieve.-History:...

, a commune of what is now eastern Emilia-Romagna
Emilia–Romagna is an administrative region of Northern Italy comprising the two historic regions of Emilia and Romagna. The capital is Bologna; it has an area of and about 4.4 million inhabitants....

, Alberico was son of Aldisio. The family were nobles of Romagna
Romagna is an Italian historical region that approximately corresponds to the south-eastern portion of present-day Emilia-Romagna. Traditionally, it is limited by the Apennines to the south-west, the Adriatic to the east, and the rivers Reno and Sillaro to the north and west...

 of long standing, claiming descent from Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 times. They were hereditary lords of Barbiano, Cunio and Lugo di Romagna and claimed as kin the lords of Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, Forlì
Forlì is a comune and city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and is the capital of the province of Forlì-Cesena. The city is situated along the Via Emilia, to the right of the Montone river, and is an important agricultural centre...

 and Carrara
Carrara is a city and comune in the province of Massa-Carrara , notable for the white or blue-grey marble quarried there. It is on the Carrione River, some west-northwest of Florence....

. He married Beatrice da Polenta of Ravenna, and had by her two sons, Manfredo and Ludovico.

Alberico gained his first military experience in the compagnia of the English captain John Hawkwood
John Hawkwood
Sir John Hawkwood was an English mercenary or condottiero who was active in 14th century Italy. The French chronicler Jean Froissart knew him as Jean Haccoude and Italians as Giovanni Acuto...

, taking part in the famous slaughter at Faenza
Faenza is an Italian city and comune, in the province of Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, situated 50 km southeast of Bologna.Faenza is noted for its manufacture of majolica ware glazed earthenware pottery, known from the name of the town as "faience"....

 and the "Cesena Bloodbath" in the 1370s. Allegedly touched by these excesses, Alberico left the foreign compagnia, deciding to form a military corps constituted only by Italian mercenaries.

Barbiano's Compagnia di San Giorgio ("St. George Company") renovated the military style of the mercenary companies of the period, with sharply improved cavalry armor and tactics, and with a strong attention paid to the training aspect. Famous condottieri like Facino Cane
Facino Cane
thumb|Facino Cane.Facino Cane da Casale , born Bonifacio Cane, was an Italian condottiero.-Biography:Cane was born in Casale Monferrato to a noble family....

, Jacopo dal Verme, Braccio da Montone
Braccio da Montone
frame|Braccio da Montone.Braccio da Montone , born Andrea Fortebracci, and also known as Braccio Fortebraccio, was an Italian condottiero.-Biography:...

 and Muzio Attendolo began their military career in the St. George Company. Starting with 200 men, Alberico could soon boast 4,000 soldiers under his command, prompting a quick decline of the foreign companies that had dominated the Italian grounds till that moment.

The first condotta ("contract") for Alberico's force was in 1378, at the service of Barnabò Visconti of Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, against the Scaliger
The noble family of the Scaliger were Lords of Verona. When Ezzelino III was elected podestà of the commune in 1226, he was able to convert the office into a permanent lordship...

 and the Carraresi. The following year Alberico was called by Pope Urban VI
Pope Urban VI
Pope Urban VI , born Bartolomeo Prignano, was Pope from 1378 to 1389.-Biography:Born in Itri, he was a devout monk and learned casuist, trained at Avignon. On March 21, 1364, he was consecrated Archbishop of Acerenza in the Kingdom of Naples...

 to fight against Antipope Clement VII
Antipope Clement VII
Robert of Geneva was elected to the papacy as Pope Clement VII by the French cardinals who opposed Urban VI, and was the first Avignon antipope of the Western Schism.-Biography:...

, the slaughterer at Cesena. The latter's infamous Breton
Breton people
The Bretons are an ethnic group located in the region of Brittany in France. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Brythonic speakers who emigrated from southwestern Great Britain in waves from the 3rd to 6th century into the Armorican peninsula, subsequently named Brittany after them.The...

 troops were crushed in the neighbourhood of Rome on 29 June 1379, after five hours of battles.

Alberico was later involved in the war for the Crown of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

 between Queen Joan I
Joan I of Naples
Joan I , born Joanna of Anjou, was Queen of Naples from 1343 until her death. She was also Countess of Provence and Forcalquier, Queen consort of Majorca and titular Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily 1343–82, and Princess of Achaea 1373/5–81....

 (and her husband Otto of Brunswick) and Charles of Durazzo, backed by Urban VI. On 18 June 1381, Alberico defeated Otto and subsequently besieged Joan in the Castel Nuovo
Castel Nuovo
Castel Nuovo , often called Maschio Angioino, is a medieval castle in the city of Naples, southern Italy. It is the main symbol of the architecture of the city...

 of Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

. After the Queen was captured and imprisoned in the Abruzzi, Barbiano was named gran conestabile ("chief of staff") by the new king Charles III, and in his new role he had to face Louis I of Anjou, Joan's heir, who had arrived in Italy with an army of 40,000 men. Alberico managed to protect Forlì
Forlì is a comune and city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and is the capital of the province of Forlì-Cesena. The city is situated along the Via Emilia, to the right of the Montone river, and is an important agricultural centre...

 and Cesena. However, Louis defeated Charles III at Campobasso
-Main sights:The main attraction of Campobasso is the Castello Monforte, built in 1450 by the local ruler Nicola II Monforte, over Lombard or Norman ruins. The castle has Guelph merlons and stands on a commanding point, where traces of ancient settlements have been found...

 and was declared king of Naples.

Louis eventually died after a pestilence, while Urban VI changed sides declaring Alberico, who was besieging him in Nocera
Nocera Inferiore
Nocera Inferiore, formerly Nocera dei Pagani, is a town and comune in Campania, Italy, in the province of Salerno, at the foot of Monte Albino, 20 km east-south-east of Naples by rail.-History:...

, tom be an enemy of the church. Charles was assassinated on 24 February 1386, but Barbiano declared his loyalty to the latter's son Ladislaus. The latter had to face a new French invasion, this time led by Louis II. Alberico for the first time in his career was defeated, at Ascoli Piceno
Ascoli Piceno
Ascoli Piceno is a town and comune in the Marche region of Italy, capital of the province of the same name. Its population is c. 51,400.-Geography:...

, in 1392. Gian Galeazzo Visconti
Gian Galeazzo Visconti
Gian Galeazzo Visconti , son of Galeazzo II Visconti and Bianca of Savoy, was the first Duke of Milan and ruled the late-medieval city just before the dawn of the Renaissance...

 paid 3,000 florin
Italian coin florin
The Italian florin was a coin struck from 1252 to 1533 with no significant change in its design or metal content standard. It had 54 grains of nominally pure gold worth approximately 200 modern US Dollars...

s for his freedom, engaging him for the war against Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 and Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

. During this campaign his brother, Giovanni, was captured and beheaded by the enemy condottiero Astorre I Manfredi.

Alberico, eager for vengeance, won a series of battles in 1397 and was ready for the final siege of Mantua. However, a treaty of peace signed by Visconti with Francesco I of Gonzaga stopped him.

On 26 June 1402, he defeated a combined Bolognese-Florentine army at the Battle of Casalecchio
Battle of Casalecchio
The Battle of Casalecchio took place on 26 June 1402 near the town of Casalecchio di Reno, near Bologna. At this battle, a Bolognese army under Giovanni I Bentivoglio opposed Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, and his allies, the Malatesta of Rimini and the Gonzaga of Mantua...

, leading to the Milanese conquest of Bologna. The following year he left Milan to re-enter service to Ladislaus of Naples.

Alberico da Barbiano died in the spring of 1409, on the way to meet his king at Città della Pieve
Città della Pieve
Città della Pieve is a comune in the Province of Perugia in the Italian region Umbria, located about southeast of Perugia. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 7,366 and an area of ....

Umbria is a region of modern central Italy. It is one of the smallest Italian regions and the only peninsular region that is landlocked.Its capital is Perugia.Assisi and Norcia are historical towns associated with St. Francis of Assisi, and St...



His son Ludovico was count of Lugo from 1411. The latter's son Alberico II was ousted from the city in 1431, and moved to Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

, where his heirs become feudataries of Belgioioso
Belgioioso or Belgiojoso is a town and comune in the Province of Pavia, region of Lombardy , with a population of 5,914 .It is 12 km east of the city of Pavia, between the Olona River and the Po River...

 (current province of Pavia
Province of Pavia
The Province of Pavia is a province in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. Pavia is the capital.It has an area of 2,965 km², and a total population of 493,753...

). In 1566 the Barbiano-Belgioioso received the title of "Grandees of Spain"

Cruiser Alberico da Barbiano

In 1930 the Italian Regia Marina
Regia Marina
The Regia Marina dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 after Italian unification...

 launched a cruiser Alberico da Barbiano
Italian cruiser Alberico da Barbiano
Alberico da Barbiano was an Italian Condottieri class light cruiser, that served in the Regia Marina during World War II. She was named after Alberico da Barbiano, an Italian condottiero of the 14th century....

 of the Condottieri class
Condottieri class cruiser
The Condottieri class was a sequence of five, different, light cruiser classes of the Regia Marina , although these classes show a clear line of evolution. They were built before World War II to gain predominance in the Mediterranean Sea...

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