Battle of Ravenna 11 Apr 1512

On Easter Day 1512 (11 April) a French force stormed the fortified camp of the Holy League – Spanish and Papal – outside the city of Ravenna. In a hard fought battle lasting six hours the French drove the Spanish and Papal forces from the field.

Historical Situation

Setting: Ravenna, Italy; 11 April 1512

Beginning in February 1512, the French forces in Italy, newly commanded by Gaston de Foix, Duc de Nemours, had been engaged in capturing cities in the Romagna and the Veneto, in an attempt to deny control of those regions to the forces of the Holy League (Wikipedia: Battle of Ravenna (1512)). Although he had been successful in a number of sieges, Nemours was aware that the impending invasion of France by Henry VIII of England would cause much of his army to be withdrawn, and he was determined to force the main army of the Holy League into battle before that occurred. Thus, in late March, Nemours, together with an Italian contingent under the Duke of Ferrara, marched east from Bologna and laid siege to the city of Ravenna, which was defended by Papal troops.

Julius II, alarmed at the prospect of losing his last stronghold in the Romagna, demanded that an army be sent to relieve the city; Ramon de Cardona had to comply, and the Spanish army set out for Ravenna with a company of Papal troops in tow (Wikipedia: Battle of Ravenna (1512)). By April 9, they had passed Forli, and were advancing north along the Ronco River towards the city, and on the next day had reached Molinaccio, only a mile south of the French positions, but still separated from them by the Ronco. Nemours, short on supplies and increasingly anxious to give battle before he was forced to withdraw from Italy, ordered a general attack for the following day.

Orders of Battle

Holy League Order of Battle

The defenders were a combined Spanish and Papal force. They were heavily outnumbered by the French but entrenched behind a bank and ditch near the Ronco river, which also had a wide and high embankment. They had dug the entrenchment the night before.

Holy League Order of Battle

  • Vanguard (Fabrizio Colonna)
    • 670 Papal Lances
  • Battle (Marquis della Padula)
    • 575 Spanish Lances
  • Rearguard (Don Alfonso Caravajal)
    • 490 Spanish Lances
  • Spanish Infantry (Pedro Navarro)
    • 4000 Pikemen
    • 1300 Swordsmen
    • 1300 Arquebusiers
  • 2000 Papal Italians (Ramassot)
    • 1600 Pikemen
    • 400 Arquebusiers
  • 30 War carts
  • Light Cavalry (Marquis de Pescara)
    • 1500 Light Cavalry
    • 500 Papal Arquebusiers
    • 1000 Genitors
  • Artillery
    • 30 Guns
  • Ditch and bank

French Order of Battle

French Order of Battle

  • Rear (Yves d’Alègre)
    • 1000 Infantry (unknown type and didn’t participate)
    • 400 French Men-at-Arms
  • Vanguard (Alfonso de’Este)
    • 910 Italian Lances
    • 24 guns
  • Battle (Thomas Bohier)
    • 780 French Lances
  • Extreme left (Caraciolo)
    • 2000 light cavalry
    • Arqubusiers
    • French Crossbowmen
    • Stradiots
    • 1000 Dismounted archers
  • Infantry
    • 5000 Landsknecht (Jacob Empser)
    • 4500 Pike and Halberdiers
    • 500 Arquebusiers
    • 8000 Gascons and Picards (Seigneur de Molart)
    • Gascon Archers [Xbow]
    • Picard Pikemen
    • 3900 Italian foot (Federigo da Bozzolo)
      • Pikemen
      • Arquebusiers
  • Artillery (Ferrara)
    • 24 Guns

Note: Taylor says 9000 Landsknecht, Stevenson says 5000.


Stevenson, P. (1991). The battle of Ravenna 11th April 1512. Wargames Illustrated, 46, pp. 11-14.

Taylor, F. (1993). The art of war in Italy 1494-1529 (originally published 1921). Essex, UK: Partizan Press.

Wikipedia: Battle of Ravenna (1512)

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