Medieval Armies DBA Page

Italian Condotta: DBA 169 Army Variants

By David Kuijt


The DBA army lists are often a little simple; at the back of the DBA manual the authors admit that, and recommend that omissions be corrected by taking the DBM army list for a given army and translating it into a 12-element DBA army list.

The maritime powers of Italy held great influence in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Fourth Crusade captured Constantinople in 1204. Although the Byzantine Empire managed to recover from the disaster and survived another two and a half centuries, their fleets never seriously contended with those of Venice or Genoa thereafter, not even in the Aegean.

Naval power and mercantile influence went hand in hand, and both Venice and Genoa established a broad array of ports and island strongholds throughout the Greek Archipelago, Cyprus, and Crete.

Italian armies in the Eastern Med are quite different from those fielded on the mainland. Italian city militia forces, which made up a large part of the infantry complement of Italian armies, are entirely absent. Some of the foreign mercenaries like pikemen (Swiss or other nationalities) or English longbowmen likewise do not appear.

The huge store of Italian armour discovered at Chalcis, largely 15th century, included some plate leg harness designed for dismounted combat (and inappropriate for use mounted). As obtaining and training suitable destriers for the full charge would likely be difficult and expensive in Crete, Cyprus, or Greece; and as the primary mission of contingents in the East was defensive (defending fortified outposts), it seems likely that a small number of men at arms fought dismounted.

Composition of DBA Army #169 Italian Condotta (1320 AD - 1494 AD)

This is the unmodified DBA #169 army list, for comparison.

#169a: Genoese in Cyprus 1373 AD - 1464 AD

also used for Venice in the Eastern Mediterranean before 1440 AD.

Venice had small (and some large) fortresses throughout the Greek Peloponesian Islands, and often in mainland Greece. Genoa had a sufficient army in Cyprus from 1373 to 1464; this army was fairly large (bigger than anything Genoa could field at home), big enough to frustrate Venetian ambitions there.

The Enemies list above is more speculative than researched, but all the enemies listed are historically reasonable opponents. The Navarrese Company was a mercenary group originally from Navarr, and should use the Navarrese army list (DBA #156). It seems to have conquered the Catalan Duchy of Athens in 1388, and lasted until it was conquered by the Morean Byzantines around 1420. The Mamluks of Egypt raided Cyprus and were raided in return. The major opponent for Genoa and Venice in the long run were the Ottoman Turks, of course. The Catalan Duchy of Athens (#165 Catalan Company) and Knights of St. John were military powers in the region and had conflicting goals with the Venetians; conflict was certainly possible and reasonable. Similarly for conflict with the Late Byzantines (#153). If you are using the Late Byzantine Army Variants I have created, the Italians could have come into conflict with the Palaiologan Byzantines (#153d) and Morean Byzantines (#153e).

3Kn are condottieri or lanze spezzate elmeti; professional mercenaries in either case. One element of Condottieri is permitted to deploy dismounted before battle. Although speculative, this seems reasonable, given the presence of armour for dismounted men-at-arms at Chalcis, the established practice of dismounting at Sempach, the fortress-defending role of Italian armies in much of the East, and prossible lack of good horseflesh.

3Bd represent mercenary sword-and-buckler men. 4Bd could be mercenary billmen after 1400, or dismounted men at arms.

4Cb are mercenary crossbowmen.

2Lh are mounted crossbowmen.

Artillery was a common element in Italian armies from very early, and I believe an omission from the Italian Condotta regular list.

#169b: Venice in Greece, 1440 AD - 1494 AD

As mentioned above, the Enemies list above is speculative but historically reasonable. Conflict with the Late Byzantines (#153) would be in the Morea; if you are using the Late Byzantine Army Variants I have created, the enemy would be Morean Byzantines (#153e). Although the Later Hungarians (#166) fought with Italian Condotta, they did were separated from Greece by a greater threat, the Ottomans. Conflict between Venice and Hungary would have been near Istria or along the northern Dalmatian coast, rather than in Greece itself, and so would probably be better represented by the normal Italian Condotta list (#169) rather than the Venice in Greece list.

Knights are condottieri or lanze spezzate elmeti; professional mercenaries in either case. One element of Knights could represent Dalmatian feudal chivalry.

3Bd represent mercenary sword-and-buckler men. 4Bd could be mercenary billmen or dismounted men at arms.

4Cb are mercenary crossbowmen or Dalmatian city militia crossbowmen.

2Lh were available to Venice through many sources. Most of them (at least 2 elements; possibly all of them) would be Albanian Stradiots. Some (up to one element) might still be Italian mercenary mounted crossbow. An element of Turkish mercenary light horse would also be possible.

2Ps would be either mercenary handgunners or unarmoured Greek/Albanian archers.

Page created: January 26, 1999

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