Giovanni dalle Bande Nere (of the Black Bands)

He was born in Forlì on 5. April 1498 son to Caterina Sforza and Giovanni de’ Medici also known as il Popolano.

Giovanni de’ Medici, “il Popolano”

Caterina Sforza

Giovanni dalle Bande Nere

He belonged to the cadet branch of the Medici family descended of Lorenzo the Eldest brother of Cosimo, founder of the senior branch of the family.

He is known as the last of the great Italian Condottiero of the Renaissance, being the symbol of the end of the heavy chivalry age and the introduction of the fire weapons such as the mobile field cannon.

Trained to arms, according to Pietro Aretino chronicles, he inherited the energy and the strength of his mother and of the Sforza’s ancestors, the founder Muzio Attendolo was indeed a remarkable Condottiero.


When he moved to Rome, became the Captain of the Papal forces and founded a company of his own being featured by purple and white stripes bands which later on after Pope’s death turned to black, whence comes his nickname “of the Black Bands”.

He was an excellent military strategist thanks to the adoption of light horses in order to make movements easier, especially for the ambushes and tactic actions, so he successfully served Princes during the Italian wars.

During the last period of his life, as we can see in the beautiful Ermanno Olmi’s 2001 movie “The profession of Arms” he fought against the Landsknechts troops led by Georg von Frundsberg in the Italian conquest campaign of the Emperor Charles V.



Emperor Charles V

A falconet in the XV Century

At Governolo near Pavia he was hit at the right leg by a shot of falconet so he was taken to Mantua in the Aloisio Gonzaga’s palace, marquis of Castel Goffredo, where the surgeon amputated his leg.

Despite this he died few days later, on 30. November 1526 supposedly of gangrene.

He was buried first in Mantua and then in Florence in the Medicee Chapels beside his wife Maria Salviati.

Aloisio Gonzaga

By using this website, you agree to the use of cookies