The Battle of Castagnaro

  • Wars And Conflict
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

Fought on March 11, 1387 (near modern day Veneto, Italy), it was part of an Italian nobility/line of succession feud - between the Cities of Verona and Padua. Part of an Era in Italian history known as "The Condottieri Age", it was identified with Mercenary combat (hired by the highest bidder). Most nobility in the many Italian principalities were extremely wealth. This, coupled with the fact that there really was no serious standing army of sorts - noble families would hire professional soldiers, commanders and armies to fight their disagreements.

 

The Condottieri Armies were well trained and armed. The Swiss and Germans were prime examples of highly sought after professional soldiers. As for this engagement, the Verona Army - led by Giovanni Ordelaffi, had met and were previously  defeated by the Paduan Army. A matter of revenge for them (and continued honor for the Veronians). Verona's forces composed of slightly over 6,500 and was bolstered by the famed English mercenary Sir John Hawkwood and his army of 600 cavalry and 500 archers. The field chosen was idea for this kind of engagement. Relatively flat (with some small hills), a moderate river was located next to the entirety of the battlefield (Northwest).

 

A half functioning irrigation ditch ran the length of the field (partially dried). A few trees seen, a larger stand (or small forest) was noted on the far Northeast. The Paduans and Hawkwoods "White Company" (composed of English and Germans), posted in the field and baited the Veronians to attack. The taunting worked. Formed up in multiple line formations, they advanced to the attack. The sounds of clashing weapons filled the air and the dying began to litter the field. Suddenly, Hawkwood and the Paduans began to fall back. The Veronians could not believe their luck - victory was theirs! As they continued their advance (over the dried irrigation ditch), they saw Hawkwood's "banner" fall. The time was now....

 


Unfortunately, it was not the Veronian's time. As part of Hawkwood's tactic, (and place hours before the battle) his contingent of cavalry was hidden from few in the stand of trees to the Northeast. Upon the "sight" of the banner falling, they knew this was their order to attack. They charged the Veronian flanks. Shocked, the Veronians staggered back. Harkwood's battle cry to his troops was "Flesh! Flesh!" (or No Quarter!) The Paduans began wholesale slaughter. As part of the battle legend, Hawkwood was said to have thrown his commanders baton into the Veronian ranks. He loudly cried to his men "Fetch!"
Roughly 7,000 to 8,000 Veronians died at Castagnaro. This was be a defining chapter in John Hawkwood's colorful Condottieri career.