Bartolomeo Colleoni
Bartolomeo Colleoni was a Venetian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 condottiero, who became Captain-General of the republic of Venice, where there is a famous statue showing him on horseback.


Colleoni was born at Solza
Solza is a comune in the Province of Bergamo in the Italian region of Lombardy, located about 35 km northeast of Milan and about 14 km west of Bergamo. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 1,570 and an area of 1.2 km².Solza borders the following municipalities: Calusco...

, in the countryside of Bergamo
Bergamo is a town and comune in Lombardy, Italy, about 40 km northeast of Milan. The comune is home to over 120,000 inhabitants. It is served by the Orio al Serio Airport, which also serves the Province of Bergamo, and to a lesser extent the metropolitan area of Milan...

 (Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

), where he prepared his magnificent mortuary chapel, the Cappella Colleoni
Cappella Colleoni
The Cappella Colleoni is a church/mausoleum in Bergamo, northern Italy.Dedicated to the saints Bartholomew, Mark and John the Baptist, it was built in 1472-1476 as the personal shrine for the famous condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni, a member of one of the most outstanding families of the city, and...

, in a shrine that he seized when it was refused him by the local confraternity, the Consiglio della Misericordia. The family was a noble one, exiled with the rest of the Guelphs by the Visconti. Bartolomeo's father Paolo seized the castle of Trezzo by wile and held it by force, until he was assassinated by his cousins, probably acting on order of Filippo Maria Visconti
Filippo Maria Visconti
Filippo Maria Visconti was ruler of Milan from 1412 to 1447.-Biography:Filippo Maria Visconti, who had become nominal ruler of Pavia in 1402, succeeded his assassinated brother Gian Maria Visconti as Duke of Milan in 1412. They were the sons of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Gian Maria's predecessor, by...

, duke 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 ,...


The young Colleoni trained at first in the retinue of Filippo d'Arcello, the new master of Piacenza
Piacenza is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Piacenza...

. Then he entered the service of various condottieri, beginning with 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:...

, who was skirmishing in Apulia, profiting from the struggles between Alfonso of Aragon and Louis of Anjou during the weak sovereignty of Queen Joan II
Joan II of Naples
Joan II was Queen of Naples from 1414 to her death, upon which the senior Angevin line of Naples became extinct. As a mere formality, she used the title of Queen of Jerusalem, Sicily, and Hungary....

 by taking Alfonso's cause, and then of Carmagnola
Francesco Bussone da Carmagnola
Francesco Bussone, often called Count of Carmagnola , was an Italian condottiero.- Biography :Francesco Bussone was born at Carmagnola, near Turin, in a humble peasant family....

. After the latter was put to death at Venice (1432), Colleoni passed to direct service of the Venetian republic
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, entering on the major phase of his career. Although Gianfrancesco Gonzaga was nominally commander-in-chief, Colleoni was in fact the true leader of the army. He recaptured many towns and districts for Venice from the Milanese, and when Gonzaga went over to the enemy, Colleoni continued to serve the Venetians under Erasmo da Narni (known as Gattamelata) and Francesco Sforza, winning battles at Brescia
Brescia is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, between the Mella and the Naviglio, with a population of around 197,000. It is the second largest city in Lombardy, after the capital, Milan...

, Verona
Verona ; German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona...

, and on the Lake of Garda.

When peace was made between Milan and Venice in 1441, Colleoni went over to the Milanese, together with Sforza in 1443. Although well treated at first, Colleoni soon fell under the suspicion of the treacherous Visconti and was imprisoned at Monza
Monza is a city and comune on the river Lambro, a tributary of the Po, in the Lombardy region of Italy some 15 km north-northeast of Milan. It is the capital of the Province of Monza and Brianza. It is best known for its Grand Prix motor racing circuit, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.On June...

, where he remained until the duke's death in 1447. Milan then fell under the lordship of Sforza, whom Colleoni served for a time, but in 1448 he took leave of Sforza and returned to the Venetians. Disgusted at not having been elected captain-general, he went over to Sforza once more, but Venice could not do without him; by offering him increased emoluments, Venice induced him to return, and in 1455 he was appointed captain-general of the republic for life. Although he occasionally fought on his own account, when Venice was at peace, he remained at the disposal of the republic in time of war until his death.

He set his residence in the castle of Malpaga, which he had bought in 1465 and restored in the following years.

Although he often changed sides, no act of treachery is imputed to him, nor did he subject the territories he passed through to the rapine and exactions practiced by other soldiers of fortune. When not fighting, he devoted his time to introducing agricultural improvements on the vast estates with which the Venetians had endowed him, and to charitable works. At his death in 1475 at Malpaga, he left a large sum to the republic for the Turkish
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 war, with a request that an equestrian statue of himself  should be erected in the Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco , is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally known just as "the Piazza". All other urban spaces in the city are called "campi"...

. The statue was modelled by Andrea del Verrocchio
Andrea del Verrocchio
Andrea del Verrocchio , born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de' Cioni, was an Italian sculptor, goldsmith and painter who worked at the court of Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence in the early renaissance. Few paintings are attributed to him with certainty, but a number of important painters were...

 and cast in bronze after his death by Alessandro Leopardi, but, as no monument was permitted in the Piazza, it was placed near the Scuola Grande of St Mark
Scuola Grande di San Marco
The Scuola Grande di San Marco is a building in Venice, Italy. It originally was the home to one of the six major sodalities or Scuole Grandi of Venice. It faces the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, one of the largest squares in the city....

 outside the church of SS Giovanni è Paolo.

Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni

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
Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni
Bartolomeo Colleoni was an Italian Condottieri class light cruiser, that served in the Regia Marina during World War II. It was named after Bartolomeo Colleoni, an Italian military leader of the 15th 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...

named after Bartolomeo Colleoni.

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