The Colonna dei Francesi (French column) is a memorial sculpted in 1557 by Cardinal Pier Donato Cesi, archbishop of Narni, along the bank of the river Ronco in memory of one of the most terrible massacres in medieval and modern history: the Battle of Ravenna.
It is a square column made of Istrian stone on top of which is a carved Ionic capital holding a stone cube and sphere. In addition to the Latin inscription commemorating the client and the date of the battle, there are also two brief descriptions of the battle. At the base is the inscription: “In memory of the French and Spanish who were killed here and so that time will not destroy the memory of this event”.
It seems that important figures such as Cavalier Baiardo, de La Palisse and Ludovico Ariosto took part in the battle, and it is known that 20,000 soldiers lost their lives, including Duke Gaston de Foix-Nemours.
In the battle, which took place on 11 April 1512, Easter Sunday, on the plain between the rivers Ronco and Montone, the French and Estensi fought for eight hours against the Holy League, the Kingdom of Naples and the Papal States.
At the end of the battle, Ravenna was ransacked by the victorious troops. During the Napoleonic occupation, the column was hidden from view and then moved a few metres. Since 1972, after the most recent restoration, the monument has regained its original position.