Carlo Malatesta (1368 - 1429)

The following is from Simonde Sismondi's entire series of entries on the family Malatesta from the Biographie Générale, around 1855 (translated by Ross Caldwell). The interesting passage for the Michelino deck is short before the end and says simply: "But Ange de la Pergola, general of the Duke, beat them before Ragonava the 27 July 1424. Pandolfo escaped only with great difficulty, and Carlo, made prisoner, was taken to Milan. The Duke, of whom he had once been tutor, received him with an unexpected generosity: he gave him his freedom, heaped gifts on him, and thus engaged him to enter into his alliance."

Filippo Maria had a further military victory in July 1424, a few monthes after the visit of Emperor John Palaiologos. Carlo Malatesta, his prisoner, was treated very well.: all, what we read out of this, is, that Filippo Maria had a great time in this year and was in good mood. The right mood to commission a worthful playing card deck, intended to be used in the course of a great festivity, a Trionfo (which took place in June 1425).
In the context "of the good mood of Filippo" one should think of Bianca Maria, born 31st of April 1425, and calculate 9 monthes back, which gives a date around 1st of July 1424 - as we don't know, when the pregnancy was realised , we don't know, when the "good mood started". But we assume, that "having no heir" and feeling perhaps not qualified to get one was a crucial point in the development of Filippo Maria's soul. The pregnancy - Filippo Maria didn't know, that Bianca Maria was only a daughter - was a relieve, reason enough to feel pleasant and think about funny card decks, reason enough to have good feelings towards the prisoner Carlo Malatesta

MALATESTI (Carlo and Pandolfo III), the first, lord of Rimini and a part of Romagna; the second, of Brescia and Bergamo, reigned from 1385 to 1427 and 1429. Carlo, son of Galeotto and Gentile de Varano, princess of Camerino, was born the 5th of June 1368, and his brother Pandolfo the 2nd of January 1370. These two princes began to reign together in 1385, while their cousin Malatesta, son of Pandolfo II, had been left Pesaro and Fossombrone.

Carlo was one of the most accomplished sovereigns in Italy: he had lively taste for letters, and knew ancient history well; he had taken the heroes of Greece and Rome as models for his conduct. To the same degree that the reproached the ambition and perfidy of his ancestors, he showed disinterestedness and loyalty in all his actions. He was brave and lacked no talent for war; however he was unfortunate in nearly all his campaigns.

His brother Pandolfo had more skill, more ambition and fewer virtues.As if he had found the inheritance of his fathers too slight, he took to serving Gian Galeazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan, and he soon acquired the reputation of being one of his best generals.

The two brothers Malatesti, after having carried, the 8th of August 1393, a victory over the Ordelaffi, signores of Forli, forced them to a disadvantageous peace; the following year, they took Todi and Narni, and ravaged the territory of Spoleto and Terni. In 1397, Carlo Malatesti, who had made an alliance with the republics of Florence and Bologna, and with the signores of Padua, Ravenna and Ferrara, to curtail the ambition of the Duke of Milan, was put at the head of the League's army. He was beaten the 14th of July at Borgoforte, on the Po; but he rose soon enough from this disgrace, and the 24th of August he carried three consecutive victories near Governolo, over three armies of the Duke of Milan. A truce of ten years, concluded by the League the 11th of May 1398, made him lay down his arms, and, in the following war which flared up three years later, Carlo Malatesta put himself in the service of the Duke.

He distinguished himself in the army which, in the month of October 1401, stopped Robert, King of the Romans, on his entry into Italy; and, when Gian Galeazzo died suddenly the following year, Carlo and Pandolfo Malatesti found themselves, in his testament, named among the tutors that he gave to his sons. Carlo Malatesti negotiated in fact, for these young princes, an advantageous peace with the Pope.
Pandolfo thought more of his own interests: people owed him a lot of old debts; in 1404 he made give up, in payment and as recompense for his services, the town of Brescia by the Duchess mother. Soon afterwards, the revolutions of Milan and the death of this Duchess rendered him essentially independent. In 1408, Bergame was also sold to him by Giovanni Soardi, who was lord of it.

Yet the Duke of Milan, pressed by numerous enemies, put himself under the protection of the two brothers Malatesti. Carlo and Pandolfo went to Milan and took his defense: they carried a great victory over Ottobono Terzo, and they affirmed the authority of the young Duke.

But Gian Maria Visconti, whom they so served, wast he most vicious and the most ferocious of the tyrants of Italy: they could not remain long in his debt, and they left him one year after the other.

During the schism, Carlo Malatesti had undertaken to protect Pope Gregory XII against his competitors; he received him at Rimini in the month of March, 1412. At the same time he had been called by the Venetians to be their general, and he had defended them valorously against Sigismond, Emperor and King of Hungary. Wounded the 9th of August 1412, he was obliged to retire to Rimini; but his brother Pandolfo took his place and filled it honorably.

Carlo Malatesti is next found (4 July 1414) at the Council of Constance as a representative of Pope Gregory XII, and to this council it was he who, in the name of this Pope, renounced the pontificate for the peace of the Church. On his return to Rimini, Carolo Malatesta found there the ambassadors of Perusa, who came to beg his protection against Braccio de Montone: this general had already started the siege of their town, of which he was later ruler.
Carlo assembled an army indeed considerable, and he presented himself before Perusa; but he was tangling with the most able warrior of his century, and the 7th of July 1416, after a combat of seven hours, he was completely beaten, taken prisoner, and forced, after many months of captivity, to pay sixty thousand florins for his ransom.

During this time, Pandolfo Malatesti was scarcely better off. Although Filippo Maria, Duke of Milan, had recognized him as the ruler of Brescia and Bergamo, he did not renounce in the slightest the desire to take back these two towns, which had belonged to his father. Already Carmagnola, the Duke's general, had despoiled the other tyrants of Lombardy; Pandolfo Malatesti, their ally, had suffered many setbacks; at last Bergamo was taken from him 24 July 1419. All the strong chateaux of the area of Bergamo and Bressan were subdued successively by the Milanese army; and Pandolfo, unable to obtain any assistance, neither from the Venetians nor the Pope, was constrained to hand over Brescia to the Duke of Milan, the 16th of March 1421, for thirty-four thousand florins.

He withdrew next to his brother, who had in vain helped him with all his forces, and who shared again with him the rulership of Rimini. The Florentines, attacked by the Duke of Milan, found the two Malatesti irritated against this prince and completely ready to embrace their quarrel: they engaged both of them in their service, and they gave them an army to command to chase the Milanese from Romagna. But Ange de la Pergola, general of the Duke, beat them before Ragonava the 27 July 1424. Pandolfo escaped only with great difficulty, and Carlo, made prisoner, was taken to Milan.

The Duke, of whom he had once been tutor, received him with an unexpected generosity: he gave him his freedom, heaped gifts on him, and thus engaged him to enter into his alliance.

Pandolfo Malatesti died at Fano October 4, 1427, leaving three bastards, Robert, Sigismondo and Malatesta IV, who succeded to his brother Carlo, when the latter died also, without leaving children September 14, 1429.

Carlo had carried the house of Malatesta to its highest period of glory: the elegance of his court, the generosity with which he patronized the arts and letters, and the number of distinguished persons he had brought close to him, contributed as much as his exploits and his virtues to extend his reputation across all of Europe.
Arco augusto, Rimini
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- related to the Michelino Deck

1424/1425 - Michelino Deck 1447 / ca. 1470 - Decembrio Manuscript 1449 - Marcello's letter Great Condottieri (1424) Great Foes (1424) Filippo Maria's wifes The French Side, the great Context