On April 11th, 1512, on Easter Sunday, one of the most terrible battles of the medieval and modern history took place near Ravenna.
In the plain between Ronco and Montone rivers, just outside the city, the French army fought for eight hours and defeated the so-called Holy League, composed of Spanish and Neapolitans. About twenty thousand Spanish, Neapolitan, German, Venetian, Ferrara and French infantrymen and cavalrymen were killed, among them the brave Duke Gaston de Foix.
It was one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time because it marked the advent of a new era in the modern world, due to the introduction of heavy artillery by Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, ally of the French army.
After the battle Ravenna experienced the slaughter and the violent plundering and came out of it completely devastated.
Seemingly, famous characters like Boiardo, de La Palisse and Ludovico Ariosto have taken part in the battle too.
In memory of the epic battle, a marble stele was placed on the left bank of the Ronco river (not far from the city centre of Ravenna in the direction of Madonna dell'Albero), surrounded by tall cypress trees: La Colonna dei Francesi (Column of the French), which was carved and erected in 1557 by Cardinal Pier Donato Cesi, Archbishop of Narni.
On the column, an inscription reads: "In memory of the French and the Spanish killed here, so that time does not destroy the memory of this event".
The column and its location were once considered a place worthy of note. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) describes it as follows: "... solitary, on the high plains. It marks where the brave knight of France was killed, where his bright youth flowed on the ground".
Edited by the editorial team
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Last modified date: 11/12/2015