Florence art guide

Giovanni dalle Bande Nere

filippo brunelleschi

Military leader
Forlì 1498 - Mantua 1526

He was the son of Giovanni dei Medici (Giovanni "Popolani", of the cadet branch of the family, founded by Lorenzo the Elder) and Caterina Riario Sforza, one of the most celebrated viragos of the Renaissance. A brilliant military leader - Machiavelli saw him as the only man capable of uniting Italy - so many legends have surrounded his name that his truly savage nature has long been forgotten.
He was given his nickname when he changed the stripes on his condottiere's emblem from white to black as a sign of mourning for the death of the Medici pope Leo X. He was a real mercenary and would only fight for whoever paid him the highest sum; he changed sides as many as four times in four years, from 1522-26: first he was in the pay of the Pope, then the French, followed by the Empire and then the French again. He commanded the army of the League of Cognac, a French-Venetian-Papal alliance created by Pope Clement VII (another Medici) against the Imperial armies, but was killed by a shot from a culverin, leaving the path open for the German mercenary soldiers and the Sack of Rome (1527).

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