Medieval Armies DBA Page

Italian Condotta -- DBA 169

By David Kuijt

Note: all images are thumbnails, and are clickable to see the larger original.

Italian Army

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

The DBA options:


Foes of the Italian Condotta are the Later Ottoman (#160b), Early Swiss (#161a), Later Swiss (#161b), Later Hungarian (#166), Later Imperialist (#167), other Italian Condotta armies (#169), Free Company (#172), and French Ordonnance (#178).

Condotta Men-at-Arms

I have two suggestions regarding the Enemies List above. First, the Medieval French (#170) should be added to the list of historical enemies of the Italian Condotta. The French threatened invasion a variety of times in the period before they became the French Ordonnance around 1445 AD; in particular the forces of Milan fought and obliterated out a major French invasion force in 1394 at Alessandria.

I further suggest that the Early Imperialist (#136) be added to the list to reflect conflicts between the Northern Italian city-states and their Austrian and German neighbours before 1450 AD (the starting date of the Later Imperialist army).

Army Notes

Light Horse in this army could be mounted crossbowmen, Hungarian horse archers, Turkish horse archers, or Venetian stradioti equipped with a light lance. Psiloi could be equipped with crossbow, handguns, bow or javelin. Crossbow would often be protected by pavises. The auxilia represent Aragonese targeteers equipped with sword and buckler. Spear elements are city militia spear.

The Italian condotta started using artillery very early, and I believe its lack in the Army list is an error. As early as the battle of Castagnaro (1387) a condotta is well-equipped with artillery; in the battle of Maclodio (1427) siege-crossbows mounted on frames served a devastating role in a defensive engagement. The DBM Army List (book 4) includes significant artillery as an option from the earliest period of the condotta.

If you wish to experiment with Artillery as an option for a DBA condotta, I suggest allowing it as follows:

Notes on Tactics

The power and the strength of the Italian Condotta army comes from their six Knight elements. This provides enough smashing power to vie with the big bruisers. Unlike the French and Germans, Italian men-at-arms rarely dismounted to fight.

For some ideas on the advantages and disadvantages of Knights in DBA, take a look here.

The Condotta have an enormous variety of combined-arms support for these Knights -- English longbow, a wide variety of light horse, Italian City Militia spear and crossbow, Swiss pike, and so on. Depending upon which version of the army is chosen, a Condotta army can have between zero and two light horse, up to four missile troops (one longbow and three crossbow), or some creditable foot (one auxilia and two spear or pike to go with the mandatory two crossbow and one psiloi).

Militia Spear

My favorite disposition is the one illustrated at the top of the page, with 2x 4Sp, 1x 2Lh, 2x 4Cb, 1x 2Ps. This is partly because I am really pleased with the paint job on my spear, but there you go. Aside from that, the spear give you a little heavy-infantry kick that this army is otherwise lacking. Spear are better general-purpose heavy foot than pike; more useful single-ranked, against missile fire, or in bad going.

Another interesting option is to maximize the available Light Horse. A pair of light horse elements on the end of a line of knights makes for an effective and flexible addition. The only problem with this deployment is that you end up with three crossbow elements, which is a little of an embarrassment of riches against most foes. Against a cavalry-heavy army without much heavy foot this is an effective array. Three of the Condotta historical enemies fit this bill -- Later Hungarians, Medieval French, and Ottoman Turks.

One of the problems of this army is its lack of light troops. The single element of psiloi is not enough to control or contest any rough terrain. Although an element of auxilia can be taken to supplement this lack, it seems a little better to take the light horse instead. In desperation it is possible to press a pair of spear elements into this role, although it isn't the best use for them.

light horse

Notes about Figures and Pictures

All figures are by Essex except the Siennese City Militia (Spear with large shields, per fess argent and sable, a crossbow proper), which are by Irregular. I am very pleased with Essex's late medieval range, although I'd be happier if they had some figures with large convex oval shields for the Italian City Militia. The figures shown with those shields are modified Essex -- I clipped off the original heater shield, filed some roofing nail heads to an oval, clipped them off, then banged them into a slight curve on an anvil before gluing them to the spearmen.

Similarly, I cut the torso off one of the Cuman light horse (the one in a red tunic with a faint gold pattern) and reglued him into a more forward-shooting position. I also removed his beard, although I left his moustache. Note also the bowstrings on the Cumans -- just a bit of black thread glued down with gap-filling cyanoacrylate glue.

The shield decoration on the red oval shields is taken from the Osprey book on Armies of Medieval Italy 1300-1500. The shield pattern on the Irregular figures is taken from a famous fresco by Simone Martini (c.1328) showing the victorious army of Sienna.

A Speculative Variant based upon Leonardo da Vinci

For a change of pace, here is a Da Vinci Speculative Condotta based upon the inventions and military engineering of one of the great scientific minds of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci. It is fantasy in the true sense that it never existed, but it easily could have done.


Steven Goode has a DBA Italian Condotta page of his own here. Check it out.

Last Updated: January 25, 1999. Added the link to Steven Goode's Italian Condotta page.

July 22, 1998. Added the link to the Da Vinci Speculative Condotta page.

July 16: Some minor formatting changes and a link to the tactics page for Knights.

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