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Marzia (fl. 1357)

Marzia (fl. 1357)

Italian noblewoman and military leader . Name variations: Marcia. Flourished in 1357 in Italy; married Francesco Ordelaffi, lord of Forli; children: son and daughter.

Marzia boldly defended the town of Cesena during her husband's war against the papacy. An Italian noble of the Ubaldini family, Marzia married Francesco Ordelaffi, lord of Forli, and became one of his most trusted allies in his struggle against papal rule. He stationed her in Cesena in 1357, with orders not to surrender the town under any circumstances. She was accompanied by her young son and daughter, and by Sgariglino, a counselor of the Ordelaffis.

Marzia and her troops, about 400 in number, held the town against the papal soldiers' attacks for several months, despite the siege laid on the town. She was single minded in her desire to not let the town fall under any circumstances, and to punish any supporters who turned against her. When she discovered that Sgariglino had secretly been plotting against her, she had him arrested and beheaded. Marzia refused to surrender but eventually the starving townspeople of Cesena pressured her into negotiating with the enemy; the papal forces were able to take Cesena, and imprisoned its brave defender and her children. Nothing is known of Marzia after her capture.


Starling, Elizabeth. Noble Deeds of Women. Boston: Phillips, 1857.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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