Bartolomeo Colleoni

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Colleoni, Bartolomeo (14001475)

Italian mercenary born in Solza, northern Italy. His father, Paolo Colleoni, was a local nobleman who was killed by his own cousins in a dispute over an estate. Bartolomeo trained as a soldier in the city of Piacenza and then became a professional soldier. He fought in southern Italy for Alfonso of Aragon, who was disputing the throne of Naples with the Angevin dynasty. He then joined the army of Venice, where he quickly rose within the ranks. He led the Venetian army to victories against the city's arch rival, Milan. After Venice and Milan reached a truce, Colleoni entered the service of Milan, where he was arrested for suspected treason by the Visconti family, the reigning lords of the city. He returned to Venice, where he was made captain-general of the army. Venice rewarded him with profitable estates and lands and, on his death, honored his memory with an impressive statue of himself created by Andrea del Verrocchio that still stands.

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Bartolomeo Colleoni (bärtōlōmĕ´ō kōl-lāô´nē), 1400–1475, Italian soldier of fortune. A condottiere, Colleoni fought in the wars between Venice and Milan, often changing sides and distrusted by both. In 1454 he deserted Milan for the last time and became generalissimo of Venice, a post he held until his death. The beautiful Colleoni Chapel is in his native city, Bergamo, and the celebrated equestrian statue of him by Verrocchio is in Venice.