The Beseno Castle and the first appearance of the Landsknechts
At the end of the 15th century, near the Beseno Castle between Trento and Rovereto, an army of ferocious mercenary foot soldiers made its first appearance in the history of Italy: the Landsknechts, hired to fight for the Holy Roman Emperor (and unfortunately remembered most often for their devastating sack of Rome in 1527).
On August 10th 1487, at the foot of the magnificent medieval fortress – of which we have records dating as far back as the 12th century – the Battle of Calliano put an end to any aspirations the Venetian Republic had for Tyrol, when the Venetians led by Roberto Sanseverino d’Aragona were harshly defeated by the troops of Sigismund, Archduke of Austria.
The heroic Sanseverino died in the Adige with many of the soldiers deployed on the riverbank, who were pushed into the water by the Venetian cavalry as it desperately retreated from the Landsknechts’ attacks. Sigismund, recognizing the enemy’s value as a condottiero, gave him honorable burial in a church that was built for the occasion in Calliano.
Here is the wonderful fortress that looked over this historical “first appearance”.