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Gian Giacomo Trivulzio.

Wellhead with the armorial devices of Trivulzio and Sforza (Palazzo Trivulzio, Milan).

Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (1440 or 1441 – December 5, 1518) was an Italian aristocrat and condottiero who held several military commands during the Italian Wars.


Trivulzio was born in Milan, where he studied, among the others, with Galeazzo Maria Sforza. In 1465 he followed the latter's army in France to help King Louis XI. He also took part in the Milanese campaigns against Bartolomeo Colleoni and fought alongside Federico III da Montefeltro in the wars in Romagna.

In 1478 he supported the Florentines against Pope Sixtus IV's expansionism. Two years later he acquired the castle of Mesocco. In 1483 he abandoned Ludovico Sforza and switched his allegiance to Charles VIII of France. In 1484 he defeated the Venetians army at Martinengo.

In 1488 he married Beatrice d'Avalos, after his first wife (Margherita Colleoni) had died. In June of the same year he moved to southern Italy, at the service of the Kingdom of Naples and its ruler Ferdinand of Aragon. As Isabella of Aragon had married the young Gian Galeazzo Visconti, heir of the family who had held Milan before the Sforzas, Ludovico asked Charles VIII of France to invade Naples. Charles swept away any resistance in Italy and soon forced the Neapolitans to sign a treaty of peace; the latter was dealt by Trivulzio, who in the meantime had been named commander-in-chief of the Neapolitan army. Impressed by Trivulzio's capabilities, Charles decided to engage him, with Ferdinand's permission, for a wage of 10,000 ducats a year.

Trivulzio then followed Charles' army in its return to France, and fought in the victorious battle of Fornovo (1495) against the Italian league. On June 15, 1495 he was appointed governor of Asti and was given noble titles and territories in France. After Charles' death, his successor Louis XII mustered a large army under Trivulzio to conquer the Duchy of Milan. After the latter's defeat, Trivulzio was in fact created governor of Milan and, on September 29, 1499, Marshal of France.

He also took part in the victorious Battle of Agnadello against the Republic of Venice, and commanded contingents of the French army at Novara and (this time allied with the Venetians against the Swiss) Marignano. In 1516 he successfully defended Milan from the assault of Emperor Maximilian I.

However, voices about his behaviour as governor had him fall in disgrace soon afterwards. He moved to France to support his position with King Francis I of France, but in vain. He died at Arpajon (France) in 1518.

His nephew Teodoro Trivulzio was also a military commander under France, who was shortly governor of Milan, Genoa and Lyon.

Patronage of art

Trivulzio accumulated huge amounts of money, which he used in part as a patron of arts, in particular of works by Bramantino: these include the Trivulzio Chapel in the Basilica of San Nazaro in Brolo, where he was buried, and the tapestries cycle of the Twelve Months now in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci had designed a large equestrian statue of Trivulzio, which was never begun.


  • Rendina, Claudio (1999). I capitani di Ventura. Rome: Newton & Compton. ISBN 88-8289-974-8. 

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