He first put guns on carriages
В history Bartolomeo Colleoni entered the war as the creator of field artillery, the first to put guns on carriages in an open battle. This condottiere, the son of the condottiere, that is, a mercenary who was treacherously murdered after taking the Tressa castle near Milan, is much more famous as an unashamed robber than a commander.
No wonder: he had a difficult childhood and great hardships, and the very essence of the then wars was, as you know, a legitimate robbery. However, in Renaissance Italy, condottierism acquired a certain romantic halo. The Italians were still very far from national unity, although they fought with the same Habsburgs and Hohenstaufens for some semblance of independence. But they fought more among themselves, preferring otherwise more “respectable" occupations.
Condottiers and soldiers. Fresco of the XV century. Malpag Castle Bergamo
As a result, the demand for military mercenaries, who made a profession out of the war and were ready to serve anyone who paid the most, was rapidly growing. Numerous ready-made detachments formed, but more often something like mobile headquarters, ready to promptly put together entire armies. And the commanders of such headquarters, the condottiers, gained authority comparable to that of the princes, kings and dukes.
Nevertheless, of the many condottieres, it was Bartolomeo Colleoni who was mentioned in the fourth volume of the textbook “The History of Military Art in the Framework of Political History” by Hans Delbrück, a true classic who was so appreciated by K. Marx and F. Engels. Until Colleoni, artillery remained either serf or siege for a long time, and by the way, it was already involved in the siege of Moscow by Khan Tokhtamysh in 1382, that is, long before the wars waged by the Venetian Republic with its neighbors, the Habsburgs, and the Ottoman sultans .
For some reason, Colleoni, who was born in 1400 in Bergamo, is listed in history exclusively as a Venetian mercenary, although he started in the army of the Kingdom of Naples, and later for many years served almost the main enemies of the Most Serene Republic - the Milanese dukes, and Visconti, and succeeded them Sforza.
Intravital portrait of B. Colleoni. Artist J. Moroni
It seems that in Venice this true landsknecht was offered more than in Naples, and he immediately distinguished himself in the siege of Cremona - a fortress on the banks of the Po, which was considered the gateway to Lombardy. After his commander, Francesco Bussone, who appropriated the title of Count Carmagnola, was cut off his head, Colleoni, being not so young, commanded the entire Venetian infantry. He was extremely careful, fought in many battles, including at Brescia, which was liberated from the siege by the Milanese, which dragged on for many months.
The Duke of Milan Filippo Visconti, having made peace with Venice, immediately outbid the experienced warrior, who, it seemed, was no longer afraid of anything. However, after several years of service, the aging duke was frightened of Colleoni’s popularity among the soldiers and sent him to prison. This ruler, whom contemporaries unanimously called brutal paranoid, on the verge of death did not hide his fears that his military leader would take the side of competitors - the Sforza family.
Duke of Milan Filippo Visconti
And so it happened. With the transfer of the ducal throne to Francesco Sforza, Colleoni was released and fought with the army of Karl of Orleans, another contender for power in Milan. A series of victories in 1447 followed, and a temporary alliance with Venice helped Bartolomeo Colleoni return to the banner of the Doges. The Grand Council of Venice solemnly handed him the rod of the commander in chief of all the armed forces of the Most Serene Republic with the assignment of the rank of captain general.
At this time, the Ottomans made their last efforts to finally get rid of the Byzantine Empire, more precisely, with what remained of it on the European continent. There is historical evidence that Colleoni was one of those who expressed their readiness to take part in the next Crusade and even visited many European monarchs for recruitment into the army.
The help of the Europeans to Constantinople was, alas, clearly insufficient, not least because Europe was still recovering from the plague, and England and France were exhausted by the Hundred Years War. Well, the condottier Colleoni, from whom neither a diplomat nor a recruiter turned out, meanwhile gets all new laurels and new trophies in endless wars in Italy.
Being already almost an old man, the Venetian captain-general won his last victory at the town of Molinelli, not far from his hometown of Bergamo, where he was opposed by the troops of Florence, Bologna and even the Kingdom of Aragon, apparently also hired. It was under Molinelli that the condottiere first made extensive use of light field artillery, which led to horse losses unseen in those wars. They fell more than a thousand, while warriors, and on both sides - no more than 700.
The battle of Molinelli. XNUMXth Century Fresco, Malpag Castle, Bergamo
It is interesting that in the Russian edition of “History ...” by G. Delbrück there is no characteristic remark by the author that one of the opponents of the condottier’s army, Count Montefeltro, forbade sparing the surrender, since Colleoni “used artillery too much”. And military historians even doubt the victory of the Venetian captain-general under Molinelli, especially since after the battle he decided to abandon the grandiose plans of a campaign against Milan.
However, this did not prevent the Grand Council of Venice from declaring the commander "the savior of the Republic of Venice" and proposing to erect a monument to him in the city. There was no long wait for an answer from the condottier, although he was very busy - again as commander of the united Christian army for the Crusade. The campaign, however, did not take place - because of disagreements in the ranks of the allies.
Colleono from Bergamo
Don Bartolomeo Colleoni, or rather, Colleono, by that time was perhaps the richest man in Venice, this far from the poorest city in Italy. His fortune in terms of modern currencies obviously reached several hundred million euros or dollars. And the condottiere, not paying attention to numerous relatives, right down to the adopted nephew, expressed his readiness to donate almost all of his wealth to Venice.
But provided that the monument to him will not stand somewhere, but right on San Marco. It is clear that this was precisely the square of San Marco, next to the Doge's Palace, Piazzetta and the Cathedral of the Holy Evangelist. However, prudent Venetians, seemingly not as thieves as Neapolitans or Sicilians, managed to deceive even their "savior".
In fact, in the republic it was never customary to erect monuments to anyone, but an equestrian monument for a city where the main transport is gondolas, and it’s completely nonsense. In those days, to say to the Italian that he “sits on a horse like a Venetian” did not mean to compliment, but to insult. By the way, monuments to the author of wonderful comedies Carlo Goldoni not far from the Rialto Bridge and the King-Liberator Victor-Emmanuel II on the promenade of San Zakaria will appear much later.
Condottier Colleoni. Monument in Venice
Instead of Piazza San Marco, the equestrian monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni was erected in 1496 near a scuola with the same name - San Marco. Sculpted by the great Andrea Verocchio, and cast in bronze twenty years after the death of Colleoni is not such a great master - Leopardi. And since then, a bronze condottier stands on Piazza Giovanni and Paolo (in Venetian - Zanipolo).
The monument was then carefully measured, removed from it and to this day continue to make copies, but more on that below. And the ashes of the commander, who died 75 years old in his magnificent Malpag Castle, were returned to Bergamo. Bartolomeo Colleoni was originally from this city - that is, Bergamas, that is the common name of the townspeople.
The relatives of the captain-general, whom he quite shamelessly deprived in favor of Venice, did much to make Bergamo a Venetian, but it turned out that rich Venice simply kept poor Bergamo for hundreds of years. However, the situation was about the same as with Verona, Padua and several other cities, which were simply given for feeding to rich Venetian families. Just in the case of Bergamo, it turned out to be local - Colleoni-Martiningo.
It is well known that the “servant of two masters” was originally from Bergamo, with a comedic name, more precisely, the nickname Truffaldino. At least it can be associated with the root of truffa, which translates as "fraud." The names of Colleoni are trying to somehow appropriate indecent linguistic roots, and based not only on the triple image of the lower part of the male genital organ on the family coat of arms. However, with a rather consonant local curse, no “eggs” or “scrotum” are found by native speakers in this surname. Further coll - necks, as well as colla - hill, the business of the unfortunate translators does not move.
Colleoni family crest
Today, Bergamo is better known as the epicenter of a pandemic in northern Italy, but this Italian city has for many centuries managed to give the world a lot of celebrities. Starting with the ingenious author of “Love Drink” and “Don Pasquale” Gaetano Donizetti and ending with Massimo Carrera - the last in a cohort of successful coaches of the Moscow football “Spartacus”. Originally from Bergamo, by the way, one of the builders of St. Petersburg is Giacomo Quarenghi.
However, the main tourist attraction there still remains the tomb of the Colleoni family in the upper city. And this is not surprising - almost half of the sights of old Bergamo was built with the money of Bartolomeo Colleoni. And this despite the fact that almost everything that he had left, he gave Venice.
From Moscow to the Polish suburbs
Bartolomeo Colleoni, more precisely, his monument, or more precisely, a plaster copy masterfully painted in bronze, settled in Moscow a little over a century ago. In the Italian courtyard of the Museum of Fine Arts, once named after Alexander III the Peacemaker, and now for some reason Pushkin, probably only because Alexander Sergeyevich is “our everything”.
Don Bartolomeo peacefully adjoins in the Italian courtyard with another condottiere - Gattamelata from Padua, who gave fame and trophies of the same Venice several decades before Colleoni. And the monument to him, much earlier, the work of Donatello, respectively, is well arranged in the historic center of Padua. Other neighbors in the copy of the Verrocchio monument are much more famous - "David" by Michelangelo and two more David - the work of the same Donatello and Verrocchio. But also - copies, although excellent.
In fact, the place of Colleoni or Hattamelata in the Italian courtyard could well have been taken by Marcus Aurelius, again - a copy of the statue from the Capitoline Hill in Rome. However, as a teaching tool for the branch of the university, which was originally considered the museum of Alexander III, more suitable masters from the Renaissance.
Many of the Russians who have visited Venice are happy to find in its labyrinths the “original” work of the great Verrocchio. Moreover, in many places, starting from the Athenian Acropolis and Florence and ending with the Venetian (again. - AP) Cathedral of St. Mark, these statues have long been removed somewhere. For the sake of safety, of course, for which special thanks to the restorers.
Not to say that the Venetian monument of Colleoni, in fact, an indisputable masterpiece, was very popular. If in Bergamo the tomb of a family with a dubious surname is visited by all the tourists who find themselves in the city, then perhaps the most stubborn get to the Venetian Zanipolo. The author, who first arrived in Venice more than ten years ago, did not miss the monument to Gattamelate in Padua, but did not bother to remember that the second condottier had settled quite close to St. Mark's Square.
Monument to Condottiere Gattamelata in Padua
On subsequent trips, and there have already been three of them since then, the condottiere was perhaps the main attraction in Venice. But what a surprise it was when the author realized that he could have seen Bartolomeo Colleoni twice more. And where - in Poland! However, it is not surprising - for some reason today it is considered not quite decent to replicate copies, no matter how brilliant the original.
Today, preference is given to something new, even if it is absolutely mediocre or tasteless. Therefore, one cannot but give credit to the Poles, who at first really only got one copy of Verocchio’s work, and even that from the Germans. Poland received a cast statue of a condottier along with Pomeranian Stettin, which after World War II, it was decided to transfer to Poland and rename it in the Polish manner - to Szczecin.
It was in Stettin back in 1913, just a year after Colleeni's plaster copy was settled in the Volkhonka museum that another cast copy of the condottier was born. The Germans did not stint on a new casting, and in the city, which was once visited by Condottier Bartolomeo Colleoni, who tried in vain to recruit troops for a new crusade, a new monument settled.
This was done not by the example of the Russians, but according to the tradition of the beginning of the XNUMXth century, when all the major cities of Europe and America acquired their museums and classic collections. The sculpture was adopted by the Stettin Modern Museum - at that time it was just the capital of one of the districts of Pomerania. During the years of the First and Second World Wars, the monument was kept intact. The British and Americans hardly bombed Stettin, and the troops of the Third Belorussian Front under the command of Rokossovsky stormed the city usually did not shoot.
After the war, the Poles actively populated Szczecin-Stettin, but for some reason it was decided to send the Colleoni monument to the capital, Warsaw, where the restoration of the city was in full swing. The condottier was first placed in the storeroom of the National Museum, then in the Museum of the Polish Army and finally in the courtyard of the Academy of Fine Arts, which occupied the former Chapsky Palace in the Cracow suburb.
Cast Colleoni stood in this cozy courtyard for a long time, although already in the late 80s, representatives of the museum in Szczecin began to claim it again. The disputes between the museum workers drastically dragged on, and the casting of the sample of 1913 went to the western edge of modern Poland only in 2002.
Szczecin, monument to Condottier Colleoni
The condottier was hoisted on the Aviator Square, but its low pedestal cannot be compared with the Venetian one. But there is an inscription on it, which by definition does not belong in Venice - that Captain General Colleoni, at the age of 54, was visiting the north of Germany. There he tried to enlist the support of the Pomeranian dukes and recruit Landsknechts to the Crusade, but to no avail.
However, the Warsaw was also decided not to be left without a condottier, and for them it was decided to quickly cast another copy. Now she flaunts not in the courtyard, but before entering the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, all in the same Krakow suburb, where it is much easier to find it than the epic original at Zanipolo in Venice.