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JerseyGiants88

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Most Recent Entry: Chapter 35: The Calm Before the Storm, 1634-1639

Foreword​


Welcome to Un Sogno d’Italia! This is an AAR about Modena and its quest to become an independent kingdom, unite Italy, and become a major European power. This is my first AAR and so there will certainly be some growing pains. To make matters worse, while I consider myself a rather serious student of history, my knowledge of Europe and the world prior to the American and French Revolutions leaves much to be desired. I plan on researching things as I go along and hope to turn this into learning experience as well as a recording of my Modena Europa Universalis IV campaign.

The story begins on 11 November 1444 with Modena a minor duchy ruled by Ferrara under a personal union. Modena was a relative backwater in Italy when compared to the cultural and political heavyweights that were Florence, Venice, Rome, Milan, Naples, etc. It is from this background that our story begins. I have chosen Modena for two reasons. First, I have familial roots in Modena on my mother’s side and I thought it would be interesting to see if I could turn it into a major power. The second reason is the game play challenge of starting with a one province minor, especially one that is a junior partner in a union.

This AAR will be in a history book format and elaborate on the events that occur in-game in the context of the greater story of Modena's rise. There will be narrative supplements as well in which I will attempt to add more depth and insight into various characters and events that come up in the course of the story. These are the "Historical Vignettes". I plan on making the writing as crisp and entertaining as possible so I hope this becomes entertaining to read. Enjoy the story and thank you for reading.

 
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GreatUberGeek

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Subbed! Modena is in an exceptionally hard place, even for an Italian OPM. Good luck. :)
 

JerseyGiants88

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Un Sogno d'Italia: A History of Modena and Italy from 1444





FAC FORTIA ET PATERE




ALIS AQUILAE

Top: Flag of the Kingdom of Italy
Middle: The Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Modena above the kingdom's motto; translated: "Do Brave Deeds and Endure"
Bottom: The Coat of Arms of the House of Este above the family motto; translated: "On an Eagle's Wings"


Contents

Introduction: It Was All a Dream

Part I

Chapter 1: The Clash of Clans, 1444-1446
Chapter 2: The King of Modena, 1446-1467
Chapter 3: A Bond with the French, 1467-1469
Chapter 4: War with the Republics, 1470-1487
Chapter 5: The First Franco-Burgundian War, 1488-1492
Chapter 6: An Unwilling Conqueror, 1492-1513
Chapter 7: The Reformation Arrives, 1513-1523
Chapter 8: The Church Strikes Back, 1523-1532

Part II

Chapter 9: Against All Enemies Part 1: A Call to Arms!, 1532-1537
Chapter 10: Against All Enemies Part 2: Italy in Flames, 1537-1541
Chapter 11: Against All Enemies Part 3: Do Brave Deeds and Endure, 1541-1545
Chapter 12: Reconstruction, 1545-1552
Chapter 13: Reform, Trade, and Innovation, 1552-1559
Chapter 14: Making a Statement, 1559-1561
Chapter 15: From Vienna to Rome, 1561-1563
Chapter 16: Mediolanum Captum Est, 1563-1566
Chapter 17: The Guardians of Wisdom, 1566-1571
Chapter 18: Bavarian Wedding, 1571-1575
Chapter 19: The Dalmatian War, 1575-1580
Chapter 20: Heads, Pikes, Walls!, 1580-1581

Part III

Chapter 21: L'Italia Unita, 1581-1586
Chapter 22: In Brightest Day, In Darkest Night, 1586-1587
Chapter 23: The Archbishop and the Queen, 1587-1590
Chapter 24: War of the Hanseatic Coalition, 1590-1594
Chapter 25: The Habsburgs Strike Back, 1594-1599
Chapter 26: "A Fire From the Pyrenees to the Atlantic", 1599-1602
Chapter 27: A Time of Serenity, 1602-1609
Chapter 28: The Armata dei Balcani, 1609-1613
Chapter 29: "We Shall have our Vengeance", 1613-1615
Chapter 30: Trophies, 1615-1619
Chapter 31: A Republic Conquered, an Alliance Reborn, 1619-1623
Chapter 32: Prince Francesco's Egyptian Adventure, 1623-1628
Chapter 33: Family Business, 1628-1633
Chapter 34: The Livonian War, 1633-1634
Chapter 35: The Calm Before the Storm, 1634-1639

Historical Vignettes*

Historical Vignette 1: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship, 1469 (Chapter 3)
Historical Vignette 2: "Your Mother's a Whore!", 1501 (Chapter 6)
Historical Vignette 3: All the Sinners, Saints, 1513 (Chapter 7)
Historical Vignette 4: Sun's Out, Guns Out, 1532 (Chapter 9)
Historical Vignette 5: True Inquisitor, 1540 (Chapter 10)
Historical Vignette 6: Philosophy, Wine, and Girls, 1568 (Chapter 17)
Historical Vignette 7: Night Moves, 1572 (Chapter 18)
Historical Vignette 8: "The Rains of Cremona", 1581 (Chapter 20)
Historical Vignette 9: The Council of the Six Families, 1582 (Chapter 21)
Historical Vignette 10: "The World is Yours", 1587 (Chapter 22)
Historical Vignette 11: Banners in the Dust, 1597 (Chapter 25)
Historical Vignette 12: Correspondence, 1609-1619 (Chapter 28-30)
Historical Vignette 13: Courtly Life, 1633 (Chapter 34)
* - Associated Chapter in parentheses


The Kings of Modena & Italy

Alfonso I "The Father of Modena" - 20 June 1445 -- 27 January 1467
Almerigo I - 27 January 1467 -- 13 September 1492
Francesco I - 13 September 1492 -- 14 June 1513
Alfonso II - 14 June 1513 -- 31 December 1523
Almerigo II "The Mad" - 1 January 1524 -- 14 April 1537
Alfonso III "The Warrior King" - 15 April 1537 -- 12 January 1541
Alberto Carlo II "The Scholar King" - 15 April 1544 -- 20 September 1578
Azzo IX* "The Great" - 21 September 1578 -- 9 November 1616
Francesco II - 10 November 1616 -- 1 January 1622
Galeazzo Maria I - 2 January 1622 -- 7 February 1632
Francesco III Stefano - 1 April 1632 --
* - King Azzo IX was crowned the first King of Italy on 6 April 1586


 
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JerseyGiants88

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Subbed! Modena is in an exceptionally hard place, even for an Italian OPM. Good luck. :)
Thanks! It has been going surprisingly well so far, though I've definitely gotten some lucky breaks and, as I've mentioned, my alliance with France has been absolutely essential.
 

blklizard

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An AAR about an Italian OPM is always interesting (even though you're no longer an OPM). It always help to include screenshots in the AAR to help the reader. I've played quite a bit of EU 3 which means I have a rough idea where everything is at. For people who aren't as familiar, a map of Italy would help greatly. You could even add things in the map to show your future goals.

Not sure about others but I don't mind reading shorter paragraphs. Having everything stuffed into a huge paragraph can be a pain to read. Looks like you are having a good start. I have a question though: is Ferrara part of the HRE in your time period? Is so, won't taking their province get you unlawful territory?

Anyways, keep up the good work. First AAR is always a tough one and it takes time to find the style you're good at.
 

Arstemis

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Hmm subbed. Can you try to add some screenshots? It's hard to read without screenshots, for me atleast.

Another tip is too generally write more, 1444-1467~ should probably be longer than 2 paragraphs and a bit, considering 20 years is a long time. It's not easy to write long AAR's, and however good quality may be, quantity is also a good thing.
 

JerseyGiants88

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Post removed due to new format, see below.
 
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JerseyGiants88

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blklizard and Arstemis: thanks for the tips, I will try to follow that advice. I was going to add screenshots earlier but wanted to get some stuff down. I will try to add some in and maybe go back and add stuff to the 1444-1467 period. I will also try to limit the paragraph lengths
 

GreatUberGeek

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Just so you know, screenshots are F11 for regular screenshot and F10 for map of the world. :)
 

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blklizard and Arstemis: thanks for the tips, I will try to follow that advice. I was going to add screenshots earlier but wanted to get some stuff down. I will try to add some in and maybe go back and add stuff to the 1444-1467 period. I will also try to limit the paragraph lengths
I have a few AARs which you can check to see the format. They're not great but they might give you inspirations for how you want to write your AAR. As for the amount of content, I don't think you should be forced to make it long. Just add what you think is important and add screenshots.
 

JerseyGiants88

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I have a question though: is Ferrara part of the HRE in your time period? Is so, won't taking their province get you unlawful territory?
Oh, I forgot to answer this. Yes, Ferrara is a part of the HRE though for some reason I never got asked for it back as an unlawful territory when I annexed it. I'm not sure why or if it has anything to do with them having been in a PU with me. I did get the unlawful territory penalty however when I annexed Mantua which is why my relationship with Austria has been rocky, though by that point I had worked on it enough that the negative points from an unlawful territory did not hurt me too badly with them, though it has actually been more problematic for my relations with other HRE states.

Also, I saw a couple of other AAR’s written in history book format (such as GreatUberGeek's new one about Austria) and, since those are my favorite types of books, I have decided to take that course with this AAR going forward. I had initially wanted to mix in some like story-type entries with dialogue and characters but I’m of the opinion that may fiction writing sucks and that I’d have a better go of it if I went with the history book format. In the next couple of posts I’m going to rehash some of the stuff I’ve already written but in a more prettied up, stylized format. As I go along I am going to go back and delete some of the redundant stuff from the earlier posts but I am going to leave them for now just to make sure the stuff is covered. I apologize for the lack of screenshots but I did not take any early on in my game. I started doing it later on and will certainly insert them once I get to writing about the time period for which I have them. Hope you enjoy it.
 
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JerseyGiants88

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Introduction: It Was All a Dream

In the middle years of the Fifteenth Century Modena was a rather insignificant Italian province that was ruled by the Duchy of Ferrara. However, in the mid-1440’s, the Modenese branch of the d’Este family, overthrew their Ferrarese cousins and began to transform Modena from a little known backwater into the capital of one of the most powerful states in Italy and in Europe.

The rise of the d’Este family was premised on the dream of Alfonso I, the man who led the Modenese to independence and the first ruler of the Kingdom of Modena. One night, so the story goes, when Alfonso was just a boy, he had a dream that all of the people of the Italian peninsula would be united under one banner against a common foe. While the identity of the foe changes depending on who tells the story and when they are telling it (the Austrians, Turks, Hungarians, Neapolitans, and even the Pope have been used as Alfonso’s dream enemies), it is always a united Italian army that he is leading. While Alfonso knew he would never see a unified Italy in his life time, it was his hope that one of his descendants would one day be able to unify the peninsula and ensure the Italians could protect themselves from foreign interference and invasion.

This is the story of Modena.
 
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Chapter 1: The Clash of Clans, 1444-1446


The situation in Italy, 11 November 1444

In the mid-1440’s Modena was under the rule of Leonello I, King of Ferrara, in a personal union. Leonello was not a popular king, accused by his subjects of laziness, neglect, and general mediocrity. These sentiments were especially true in the Duchy of Modena. The House of Este, of which Leonello was the head, had two main branches: the Ferrarese branch, which ruled over Ferrara, and the Modenese branch, which ruled over Modena. The d’Este family traced its lineage in Italy to Fulco d’Este, Margrave of Milan, established the family’s holdings over Ferrara. Fulco’s descendent, Obizzo II, became the first hereditary ruler of the family when he was made Lord of Ferrara in 1264. Ferrara reached the height of its power under Leonello’s father, Niccoló III (1384-1441), becoming a significant center of culture. During Niccoló’s rule, Ferrara became a center of arts and culture and was visited by Pope Eugene IV. However, Leonello did not measure up to his father as a ruler and he let the power and prestige of Ferrara start to waste away.


King Leonello I of Ferrara​

While Leonello was king of both Ferrara and Modena, the latter city and its surroundings were ruled locally by Duke Alfonso d’Este, a cousin of the king and the head of the Modenese branch of the family. The two branches shared as a common ancestor Aldobrandino II, Marquis of Ferrara. Aldobrandino’s sons, Obizzo III, Rinaldo, and Niccoló led the Ferrarese conquests of Modena, in 1336, and Reggio in 1339. Obizzo, as the oldest, was made king of all the family’s holdings following his father’s death, while Rinaldo and Niccoló ruled locally in Modena and Reggio respectively. Duke Alfonso and the Modenese branch were descended from Rinaldo d’Este.

In 1444, Duke Alfonso began to plan to overthrow his Ferrarese cousins, break his branch of the family away, and establish an independent kingdom. The Modenese d’Estes and the rest of the Modenese population felt that their city was not receiving proper treatment relative to Ferrara. Niccoló III’s investments in infrastructure and culture had not reached Modena, which was poor and backwards. Additionally, Niccoló III and, subsequently, Leonello had been raising taxes, thereby upsetting the peasantry and demanding greater and greater amounts of tribute from Modena. The final spark that set off the Clash of Clans of the House of Este occurred at a dinner on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when Leonello and his son Borso publicly insulted Alfonso and his brother Ricardo before the entire court at Ferrara. After that night, the breach between the two sides of the family was complete.

The first step Alfonso took to prepare for war was to secure a series of secret loans from the Republic of Genoa and the Republic of Ragusa. Leonello was on bad terms with both and they were not against a change of regime in central Italy. With the money he got from the merchant republics, Alfonso and Ricardo began recruiting and training an army. The recruits came largely from the Modenese peasantry and, along with money, were promised lower taxes and more equitable treatment than they were getting under Leonello I. Within a year, Alfonso managed to nearly double the size of his army from 4,000 to 7,000 men.

In June of 1445, Duke Alfonso declared war upon his cousin Leonello and independence for Modena. He and his brother Ricardo then marched their new army across the Apennine Mountains and into the Po River Valley. They met the Ferraresi outside the town of Comacchio on 12 August 1445. The Ferrarese army was poorly trained, plagued by desertion and low morale, and was significantly outnumbered. Alfonso, leading the Modenese army himself, routed his cousin’s troops and forced him to retreat back into Ferrara.

The Modenesi laid siege to Ferrara for 224 days until, in the end, Leonello’s forces gave up on him and the Modenesi marched triumphantly into the city. Alfonso occupied the palace and had Leonello and his family brought to him. He proceeded to have the deposed king beheaded along with his oldest son and presumptive heir, Borso d'Este. Alfonso then forced the rest of the males of the Ferrarese branch of the family to renounce any claims upon the throne of Ferrara and pledge loyalty to Alfonso as King of Modena. After securing the backing of the Pope, Alfonso was crowned King Alfonso I of Modena on 1 July 1446. He completed his war by annexing Ferrara, doing away with the personal union and making the holdings of the House of Este a unified kingdom under his rule.


The Palazzo Estense in Ferrara, captured by Alfonso d’Este in 1445
With that, the Clash of Clans of the Este family was over. King Alfonso I had his own kingdom that spanned across the Italian peninsula from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic and could look to the future with confidence.


Alfonso I, King of Modena​
 
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Chapter 2: The King of Modena, 1446-1467

With his kingdom established, Alfonso I moved to consolidate his power internally but also looked to expand his territory. With his childhood dream of uniting the Italian peninsula in his head, he sought to strike at the states around Modena. The first opportunity for a war of expansion came shortly after independence.

The Kingdom of Mantua, to the northwest of Modena, made a tempting target. With his army still strong following the war against the Ferrarese d’Estes, and using an existing claim on Mantua as a pretext, Alfonso invaded the kingdom in 1448. The superior Modenese army managed to defeat the Mantuan army, led by their king, Ludovico III il Turco Gonzaga, at the battle of Ravenna. While the Mantuan forces put up a much tougher fight than the Ferrarese did, the battle was decided when the Modenese cavalry managed to turn the Mantuan left flank and Ludovico III ordered his troops to retreat back to the city. After laying siege to Mantua, the enemy forces surrendered on 2 February 1449. Alfonso I had great respect for Ludovico III and, though he annexed the latter’s kingdom, allowed Ludovico to stay on as Duke of Mantua as long as he pledged loyalty to Alfonso as his king. Ludovico agreed to this and the Gonzaga family would turn into strong allies of the House of Este within the kingdom.

Despite two consecutive decisive military victories, the Modenese knew that they were too small to be a major military power yet. They would soon learn this the hard way when Venice attempted to conquer Ragusa and Modena entered the war on their side. Alfonso saw Venice as the strongest power in Italy at the time and sought to gain favor with them and use them as a buffer between Modena and Austria. The Venetians, for their part, sought to conquer Ragusa, one of their main trade rivals. However, Ragusa was allied with Hungary and Aragon, both of whom represented a steep military challenge for the Most Serene Republic. Doge Francesco Foscari felt he could defeat the Hungarian and Aragonese fleets and mount a successful land campaign against the Hungarians and the Ragusans with his newly strengthened army. Traditionally a naval power, Doge Foscari wanted to turn Venice into a major land power as well.

However, the war turned into a disaster for the Venetians and, consequently, for the Modenesi. Alfonso saw his army, the one that had fought brilliantly against the Ferrarese and the Mantuans, smashed and routed by Aragonese forces crossing Italy to attack Venice. Later in the war, Hungarian armies marauded over Modena’s territories unopposed, laying siege to nearly every important city in the kingdom. The sack of Modena was prevented only when the Venetians capitulated following the fall of Venice, and the war came to an end. Luckily, Modena was only a minor belligerent in the conflict and despite being utterly outclassed in the field, suffered no major consequences in the peace.

Following the war, Alfonso sought alliances to make sure that his kingdom would never again suffer the way it had during the previous war. Despite knowing that they were far from being a military power, the Modenese knew that some good diplomacy could sometimes be more effective than the best weapons and warriors. Accordingly, King Alfonso invested heavily in his diplomatic corps and hired advisors that would be diplomatically inclined. The result was the rise of a new crop of skilled diplomats, who would help the king build and strong and lasting network of alliances.

Though he was now a king, Alfonso was still unmarried and he knew that he needed an heir. Alfonso found the woman he was looking for in Princess Eugenie, third daughter of King Charles VII of France. The French were involved in the Hundred Years’ War with England and Charles sought an ally in Italy to protect up his southern flank. While marrying a third daughter was not normally considered an important or prestigious marriage, the French king was especially fond of Eugenie. Alfonso quickly fell in love with the beautiful, charming, and much younger princess and leapt at the opportunity to wed her.

Alfonso married Eugenie on 17 May 1451 and their wedding marked the beginning of the most important international relationship that Modena would have. Shortly thereafter France and Modena inked an alliance, one that would bear great fruit for both sides and enable Modena to carry out an unlikely rise to power in the Italian peninsula. Within a year of their wedding, Eugenie gave birth to the couple’s first son, Almerigo, and the King of Modena now had an heir to his throne.


Eugenie of Orleans, daughter of King Charles VII of France and first Queen of Modena
Alfonso also sought alliances elsewhere. He thought it would be important to develop a strong relationship with the Holy Roman Emperor and made overtures to Austria though with little success. The Emperor was suspicious of the upstart little kingdom and even more so following the alliance with France. Within Italy, Alfonso sought to ally with the Kingdom of Savoy and set up his brother Ricardo to marry Luisa, Duchess of Cuneo, sister of the Savoyard king.

Along with increasing Modena’s diplomatic influence, Alfonso also sought to turn Modena into a stronger trade power. Following their defeat in the war against Aragon and Hungary, the Venetians had been badly crippled both on land and at sea. Alfonso saw an opportunity to increase Modena’s trade power at Venice’s expense and ordered the construction of a navy. In the final years of his reign, Alfonso increased the size of the Modenese fleet from two ships to eight and began patrolling the seas around Genoa and Venice. While the fleet was still quantitatively and qualitatively inferior to the navies of the great merchant republics, it was still a sign that Modena intended to be a new player in the Mediterranean trade game.


King Alfonso I sought to make Modena into a trading power.

King Alfonso I of Modena died in the early hours of 27 January 1467 at the age of 54. His son Almerigo, still a teenager, was crowned the new king. Alfonso had set a tremendous example for future kings of Modena to follow. He had unified his family, forged a kingdom, and executed a careful and forward looking diplomatic agenda. He left his son a kingdom with a strong position in Italy. Alfonso I had a dream to unite Italy and had laid out his vision for a united Kingdom of Italy in his writings shortly before he died. While he expired long before that kingdom came to be, his visions and achievements left his descendants in position to turn it into a reality.
 
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GreatUberGeek

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I can see my influence already. :D but good job, you seem to have a knack for this kind of writing. :)
 

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I can see my influence already. :D but good job, you seem to have a knack for this kind of writing. :)
Hey, at least I cited my sources. But yeah, when I saw your Austria AAR written in book format I was like, "oh damn, if I do mine this way I don't need to come up with cheesy Renaissance-era dialogue." Even though I may still try my hand at that too.
 

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Also, I'm about two chapters from the point where I started taking screen shots so bear with me a bit longer and I will make it more colorful.
 

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Chapter 3: A Bond with the French, 1467-1469

After Alfonso I’s death, Almerigo I became King of Modena. While he was not as brilliant or capable a ruler as his father, he was wise in choosing the people he surrounded himself with. While Alfonso I was a great statesman, general, and thinker all in one, his son ‘s strength lay in his ability to find and work with advisers and generals who could complement his skills and help him rule. He would still turn out to have a legacy which would have made his father proud.

Early in his reign King Almerigo I took Modena to war for the first time since the disastrous conflict against Aragon and Hungary. This time however, the opponents would not be nearly as formidable and Modena would be aided by their powerful new ally, France. Almerigo’s father had long had designs on the province of Romagna. First, it would increase Modena’s access to the sea and further increase her trade clout. Second, it was not a province of the Empire and could be taken without any serious complaints from Vienna. Finally, Alfonso I had always considered the Pope to be the biggest threat to Italian unification and had passed this dislike of the Papacy on to his son. Accordingly, Almerigo was eager for a chance to humiliate the Pope in the temporal realm.

Alfonso had begun to rebuild the Modenese army following its destruction in the last war, and Almerigo finished this task. However, the Papal States were allied with Tuscany and Switzerland. While Almerigo felt that his armies could defeat any of the three individually, he knew that fighting all three together could turn into another military disaster for his kingdom. However, Almerigo did have a potential card to play. His mother, Eugenie, was the sister of Charls VII, King of France and the Modenesi had an alliance with him. Though neither side had yet called the other to war, Almerigo thought the chances for bringing France into the war against the Papacy were good. He sent his mother to Paris to speak to her brother personally. Queen Eugenie’s visit paid off as she presented a strong case for French support for her son’s war. A combination of strategic considerations and familial fondness helped convince the King of France to send his mighty armies to Modena’s aid. When Eugenie returned from Paris with a promise of French assistance, Almerigo prepared his army for war.

To lead his army into battle, Almerigo showed that his knack for putting others into position to succeed. Almerigo made a commoner, Ennio Colonna, his top general for the war. Colonna, a simple foot soldier and the son of a butcher from the small town of Poggio Rusco, had distinguished himself in a battle tournament the king had held, which culminated in him beating Enzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, in a joust. Almerigo took great risk in naming Colonna his general and actually risked a revolt from some disgruntled nobles. However, Almerigo believed in Colonna’s abilities and stuck with his choice. It would pay off many times over in the coming decades.


Portrait of a young General Ennio Colonna.
Colonna would go on to have an illustrious military career and became the Duke of Ferrara.

The war began with the Modenesi invading Tuscany. The 10,000 strong Modenese army met a combined force of Tuscan and Papal soldiers outside of Florence and defeated them in the ensuing battle, with Colonna outmaneuvering the Pope himself, who was commanding his armies. The defeated Tuscan and Papal forces retreated south into Lazio. The Modenese army then moved east into the Romagna and began laying siege to Bologna. All seemed to be going well for King Almerigo when scouts brought dire news: a large Swiss army, 17,000 strong, had crossed the Alps and was headed south to engage the Modenese forces. To make matters worse, the Papal and Tuscan armies had regrouped and were preparing to help the Swiss crush the Modenesi. All of the gains in the war thus far were in jeopardy of being lost and the integrity and survival of the kingdom itself was suddenly at risk.

To gain a better defensive position, General Colonna called off the siege, moved his forces into the hills surrounding Bologna, and prepared his hopelessly outnumbered army for battle. On 4 October 1469, the Battle of Bologna began, with the Swiss, Tuscan, and Papal armies outnumbering the Modenese nearly three to one. Colonna knew that if his army was destroyed the war was lost.

The battle raged for two days, with both sides inflicting heavy casualties on each other. Colonna led several charges into the enemy himself, in an attempt to galvanize his troops. However, at the end of the second day of fighting, the situation seemed untenable. However, just when all seemed lost, at dawn on the third day of fighting, a massive French army was spotted approaching from the northwest. The King of France himself, Charles VII rode at its head. The French forces smashed into the Swiss right flank sowing panic and disorder. By the end of another heavy day of fighting, the enemy armies were broken and in full retreat. Charles VII and Colonna met on the battlefield where the French king congratulated the Modenesi for their bravery and dogged fighting, which had bought enough time for the French to arrive.


The Battle of Bologna
Following the Battle of Bologna, the Swiss-Tuscan-Papal coalition fell to pieces quickly. The Swiss withdraw their army back over the Alps and did not return south for the remainder of the conflict. Tuscany sued for peace and left the war after paying an indemnity to Modena. After that, the Modenese forces were free to complete the siege of Bologna while the French armies moved south to capture Rome. The Pope sued for peace and ceded the Romagna to Modena.

Following the war, King Almerigo founded Modena’s first chivalric order: L’Ordine dell’Aquila Estense (English: The Order of the Eagle of Este). General Ennio Colonna was made its Knight Grand Cross and a number of other heroes of the Battle of Bologna were made knights in the order. King Almerigo also rewarded Colonna for his service by making him Duke of Ferrara.


The Grand Cross of the Order of the Eagle of Este,
first awarded to General Ennio Colonna for his bravery and skill at the Battle of Bologna.

This conflict cemented the Franco-Modenese Alliance and set the stage for even greater Modenese expansion in Italy with the support of their French patron. The French armies were given a grand parade through the city of Modena on their way back to France and a great feast was held for Charles VII in the royal palace. The French monarch saw Almerigo's kingdom as a rising power and also felt a strong bond with his nephew, the son of his favorite sister. Charles hoped that a strong state in Italy that was a loyal ally of France would help counter Austrian designs on the peninsula while the French were busy fighting England and consolidating their vassals in France. The French were on bad terms with the Venetians and the Milanese and there was no other state north of Naples capable of mounting serious resistance to Austria other than Savoy, which was a rival of France. For Modena, the alliance was an even bigger advantage, it gave them a powerful partner that could be called in to help them vanquish any foe nearby. Conflicts that would require a titanic effort to win on the part of Modena were an afterthought for the French. The war that had just concluded would be the first of many conflicts where the French and the Modenesi fought side by side.
 
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JerseyGiants88

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Historical Vignette 1: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship




6 October 1469, the hills outside of Bologna

General Ennio Colonna finished fastening his armor and put his sword in his scabbard. Despite his rank, Colonna had always insisted on dressing himself. A commoner, he could not understand these nobles who had their squires prepare them for battle. How could a grown man want someone else to dress him?

General Colonna stepped out of his tent into the chilly pre-dawn darkness. His captains were waiting for him and the Modenese army was already drawn up in battle formation. The sky was just starting to lighten up as the sun prepared to peak out from behind the horizon. The young general looked out over his men and felt a surge of pride as he watched them standing in well ordered formation, weapons and armor ready, their banners snapping in the autumn wind.

The Modenese forces faced overwhelming odds. A Swiss, Tuscan, and Papal army over 20,000 strong stood across from them on the battlefield. For two brutal, bloody days, the two sides had slugged it out. His men had fought well and bravely but had lost nearly half their force in the process.

“This will probably be the final day,” said Colonna to his officers, “but no matter what happens, we will fight with discipline.” If this had to be the day to die, he thought to himself, it was as good a day as any. He was just determined that he and his men not embarrass themselves in the process.

He mused about how his life had already turned out more successfully than he could have ever imagined. The son of a butcher from Poggio Rusco in the province of Mantua, he had joined the army at the age of 16 and been in battle against the Aragonese and the Hungarians. He had distinguished himself against the army of Aragon when he rallied his broken unit of infantry and held off the Aragonese cavalry until the remnants of the Modenese army were able to retreat across the Po River. He and a dozen other survivors then swam across the strong currents of the river using pieces of a smashed wagon as floatation devices.

His big career break had come later at the military tournament held by King Almerigo to determine the leadership of his rebuilt army. Shockingly, Colonna was in first place at the conclusion of the first nine events, placing him in the finals against his own duke, Enzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. The two had a joust and, to the horror of the assembled nobles and the delight of the teenaged King Almerigo, Colonna knocked the duke off of his horse to win the tournament.

The winner was to be given a command commission. Though the Duke of Mantua himself was gracious in defeat and personally congratulated Colonna, many other nobles were enraged that a commoner would be commanding troops. A revolt was even threatened but King Almerigo held firm in his decision and threw a lavish dinner for his new champion. In a show of solidarity, the Duke of Mantua offered to host the feast and after the two most powerful families in the kingdom showed a united front, the grumbling of the other nobles died away.

General Colonna had wanted to repay his duke and his king but here he was about to suffer a crushing defeat in his first war as a commander. He took a deep breath as he watched the sky begin to turn pink with the coming dawn. At least he could die an honorable death, one that would at least force the scribes to put the name of a butcher’s son into the history books.

As the general was scanning the horizon trying to make out the enemy’s battle line, a loud cheer went up from his left. General Colonna and his captains snapped their heads in that direction. In the distance, coming around a hill, the officers could see a large host moving in their direction. Then they heard the cry of “It is the French! The French are coming!” A rider sped along the Modenese lines, rode up to the awestruck group of officers, dismounted, and threw up an extravagant salute. “My general, sir!” he shouted breathlessly, “it is the French army! King Charles himself rides at their head! They mean to enter the battle!”

Colonna stood there in shocked silence. How could this be? he thought to himself. Just seconds ago he was contemplating shameful defeat and he had been suddenly given a stroke of luck beyond his wildest dreams. He looked up, saw the expectant faces of his officers, and snapped back into the moment. “Very well,” he said trying to mask his relief with feigned stoicism, “send word to our French friends that we would be honored to fight alongside them. And welcome them to the Romagna!” A cheer went up from his men. General Colonna turned back to his officers as the rider jumped back on his horse.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “we have been given a new lease on life. Now let us show our rescuers how good we are at killing!” Another loud cheer went up as the Modenese army, reinvigorated by the arrival of the French, steeled itself for battle once again.

(several hours later)

With one final swing of his sword, General Colonna struck down his adversary, a young Papal officer, who crumpled to the ground before him. Colonna then looked around him and saw his men finishing off the rest of the enemy troops around them. The melee was beginning to clear. Then he heard someone shouting his name, “Ennio! Ennio!” The general turned around and saw Tommaso Rampollo, his old comrade from the Aragonese war and now his aide-de-camp, running towards him. “General,” he said with a wide grin on his face, “the enemy is in full retreat, we have won.”

Almost as if on cue, the remaining Papal troops around them either turned to run or surrendered to the Modenese.

“My old friend,” said Colonna to Rampollo, “we have had some great luck in the past, but can anything beat today?”

“Well, there was that one time when I had lost my sword and the Hungarian cavalryman who was about to cut off my head inexplicably fell off his horse about ten feet in front of me, but aside from that, no.”

Colonna gave a laugh, “we must find this French king. I have never been one to enjoy kissing the rings of nobles, but I will gladly do it a thousand times over today for his Majesty the King of France.”

“You and every other man in this army,” replied the other. Colonna and Rampollo had horses brought to them and along with four other officers they rode towards the French lines. The French soldiers raised their weapons and cheered as the Modenese rode towards them. They managed to find the king’s retinue and dismounted. King Charles VII was talking and laughing with his generals when the Modenese arrived.

“Ah, my Italian friends!” bellowed the king, “welcome to the middle of the French army!”

Colonna bowed deeply and the other Modenese officers followed suit. “Your Majesty,” said the general, “the Kingdom of Modena is forever in your debt, my men and I are at your command.”

“At my command?” responded the king still laughing loudly, “if I were to take command of your army then my nephew would get upset and soon afterwards I’d be getting angry letters from his mother denouncing me as no better than a common thief. No, no general, I have always wanted to see Italy and I figured this was an excellent chance. Plus, I have not seen my beloved sister Eugenie in years and I figured that I could visit her once we finished up with this war business.”

“Your majesty’s magnanimity--” Colonna was cut off by the king before he could finish.

“Oh stop with all the majesty this, majesty that business,” he said, “now get off your knees and share a drink with us, all of you. We have just fought in a great battle together, we can dispense with all the court pleasantries and just be comrades. Well, until we return to polite society of course.” The king’s officers gave a laugh. “Now someone bring these men some wine!”
 
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