Ottavio Piccolomini, 1st Duke of Amalfi (11 November 1599 – 11 August 1656) was an Italian people, Italian nobleman whose military career included service as a Spanish general and then as a Generalfeldmarschall, field marshal of the Holy Roman Empire.

Early life

Ottavio was born in Florence as youngest son of Silvio Piccolomini and Violante Gerini. He received a military education as a young boy and became a tercio pikeman for the Crown of Spain at the age of almost seventeen. 1618 saw the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War. Piccolomini was appointed Captain (OF-2), captain of a cavalry regiment in Bohemia, sent by the Grand Duke of Tuscany to the Holy Roman Emperor, emperor's army. He fought with distinction under Count Charles Bucquoy at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620 and later in Hungary. In 1624 he served for a short time again in the Spanish army Siege of Breda (1624), besieging Breda and then as lieutenant-colonel of Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim's cuirassier regiment in Northern Italy. In 1627 he returned to the Imperial service as colonel and captain of the personal guard of Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duchy of Friedland, Duke of Friedland. In this capacity Piccolomini fell into disgrace for attempting to extortion, extort money from people of Stargard Szczeciński, Stargard in Pomerania. But his dedication and contrition saw him returned to the rank of "colonel of cavalry, horse and infantry, foot", commanding both a cavalry and an infantry regiment. In 1628 his younger brother, Ascanio II Piccolomini, Ascanio Piccolomini, was appointed Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d'Elsa-Montalcino, Archbishop of Siena which secured the older Piccolomini brother a position of influence in the diplomacy, diplomatic world. Italian people, Italians were at the centre of diplomacy in Europe (due in no small part to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church) and this was even more so the case for a family that had seen two of its members elected to the papal throne (Pope Pius II, Popes Pius II and Pope Pius III, Pius III). Wallenstein made use of his subordinate's capacity for negotiation and intrigue. During the Mantuan War, Piccolomini took a prominent part in the dual role of subtle diplomat and plundering Mercenary, soldier of fortune. In 1630 came the Thirty Years' War#Swedish intervention (1630–1635), invasion of Germany by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Piccolomini could not directly return to Germany because he was held hostage at Ferrara until September 1631 to guarantee the Peace of Cherasco that ended the Mantuan War. Despite his support for Wallenstein, he was not included in the list of promotion (rank), promotions when the Duke resumed action against Electorate of Saxony, Saxony, Margraviate of Brandenburg, Brandenburg and Swedish Empire, Sweden. Thereafter, Piccolomini served as a colonel under Feldmarschallleutnant Heinrich Holk, a Kingdom of Denmark, Danish officer, in the Battle of Lützen (1632), battle of Lützen and other operations. Nineteenth-century authors were so impressed by Piccolomini's role in the battle of Lützen that they falsely ascribed to him the command of the entire Imperial left wing. He did, though, play a pivotal role at the head of his cavalry regiment, leading numerous cavalry charges against the Swedish army, having five horses shot under him, and receiving six painful bruises from musket balls that deflected off his armour.

As a commanding officer

Piccolomini's efforts at Lützen were recognised by his contemporaries too – on reading the official report of the battle, the emperor made him ''General-Feldwachtmeister'' (a rank equivalent to major-general). At the same time, however, Holk, who had played an even more crucial role in holding the Imperial army together at Lützen, was promoted to field marshal at Wallenstein's insistence, much to Piccolomini's chagrin. In the campaign of 1633 Piccolomini was appointed commander of a detachment posted at Hradec Králové, Königgratz assigned to bar the enemy's advance from Silesia into Bohemia. In May, Piccolomini accompanied Wallenstein and the main army on their way to Silesia in an attempt to compel the electors of Brandenburg-Prussia, Brandenburg and Electorate of Saxony, Saxony to join the Emperor against the Swedes. Because Piccolomini disapproved Wallenstein's policy and its results, he joined in the military conspiracy to oust the Duke. On 24 January 1634 Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II signed a decree dismissing Wallenstein and instructed Matthias Gallas, Count Gallas and Piccolomini to determine a course of action for removing the Duke, but did not specifically demand his death. Nevertheless, the conspiracy developed into a plot to assassination, assassinate the Duke; Wallenstein was killed on 25 February 1634 at Cheb Castle. Piccolomini's reward was his marshal's baton, 100,000 Goldgulden, gulden and the estate of Náchod in the Orlické hory, Orlické mountains in East Bohemia. Piccolomini's part in the assassination was set out in fictionalised form in Friedrich Schiller's play, ''Wallenstein (play), Wallenstein''. On 5 and 6 September of that same year, Piccolomini distinguished himself at the Battle of Nördlingen (1634), Battle of Nördlingen. In his first independent commando following the battle, he expelled the opposing troops of Sweden and the Heilbronn League from Franconia. From 1635 to 1639, Piccolomini commanded an Imperial auxiliary corps supporting Spain in the Southern Netherlands and Northern France. In this position, he achieved a number of military successes but often complained about lack of support from the Spanish authorities. In 1636, his corps supported the Spanish offensive in France that Crossing of the Somme, crossed the Somme and captured the important fortress Corbie. After his own troops took Roye, Somme, Roye and approached Paris as far as Compiègne, Piccolomini urged Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, the leader of the Spanish operations, to advance further, but the Cardinal-Infante was determined to end the offensive. Piccolomini's achievements included relieving French sieges of Siege of Saint-Omer, Saint-Omer in 1638 together with Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano and especially of Relief of Thionville, Thionville on 7 July 1639 in a crushing victory over the Isaac Manasses de Pas, Marquis de Feuquieres, Marquis de Feuquieres. He was rewarded with the status of Count of the Empire in 1638 and the elevation to the office of privy councillor and the dukedom of Amalfi from King Philip IV of Spain in 1639. Still in 1639, Piccolomini and his corps were recalled from the Southern Netherlands by the emperor to end the Swedish invasion of Bohemia. Despite own hopes to replace Matthias Gallas as main commander of the Imperials, Piccolomini was ordered to assist the emperor's brother, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria. Together they repelled the Swedes under Johan Banér and secured Bohemia and Saxony in 1640. However, they failed in their main goal to beat the Swedish army in battle. After Banérs failed attempt to attack the Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Regensburg Reichstag in January 1641, Piccolomini chased him with the united Imperial and Bavarian force. Nonetheless, he could only catch and defeat the rear of Banérs army in Neunburg vorm Wald and Battle of Preßnitz, Preßnitz while the rest escaped. In November 1642, the Imperials finally faced the entire Swedish army, but lost the Battle of Breitenfeld (1642), second battle of Breitenfeld against Lennart Torstensson. Thereafter he spent several years in the Spanish service and received the title of grandee and induction into the Order of the Golden Fleece. After being recalled to Spain in 1647, he resigned as Spanish commander with the intention to return into the Imperial army.

Promotion to Generalissimo

When the Imperial commander Peter Melander, Graf von Holzappel, fell in battle at battle of Zusmarshausen, Zusmarshausen in May 1648, Piccolomini was at last appointed lieutenant-general of the emperor. He conducted the final campaign of the Thirty Years' War in which he stopped the Swedish and French advance at the rivers Inn (river), Inn and Danube and forced them to retreat out of Bavaria across the Lech (river), Lech. After the Peace of Westphalia, Piccolomini served as Imperial plenipotentiary at the executive congress of Nuremberg that discussed and oversaw the execution of the peace regulations. Three days after the congress had finished its labours in October 1650, emperor Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand III addressed a letter of thanks to the "Prince Piccolomini", declaring him Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of the Empire and awarding him a gift of 114,566 gulden.

Marriage, death, and legacy

On 4 June 1651 he married Maria Benigna Francisca of Saxe-Lauenburg, daughter of Duke Julius Henry of Saxe-Lauenburg with no legitimate children. Piccolomini had adopted his distant nephew Josef Silvio, most likely Schiller's inspiration for the fictional son Max Piccolomini in ''Wallenstein''. Josef Silvio was murdered by the Swedes after the battle of Jankau, Battle of Jankov (near Votice in the district of Tábor) in southern Bohemia in 1645. Piccolomini's titles and estates passed to his brother's grandson. With the death of the latter's nephew Octavio Aeneas Josef in 1757, the line became extinct. Piccolomini had two known illegitimate sons – Ascanio and Diego, who left descendants, one in Bohemia the other in Italy. His elder son Ascanio died as a captain of infantry in the battle near Mírov in September 1643, while the younger son Diego died in Italy, gaining the title "Don (honorific), don" and becoming a "noble" married to Nobile Donna Maria Anna Tarragona Ruxoto. Ascanio himself had an illegitimate son with Liduska Nyvlt. Piccolomini died after an accident on 11 August 1656 (falling from a horse).

References and notes


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in Libro de Oro de la Nobleza del Mediterráneo

External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Piccolomini, Ottavio 1599 births 1656 deaths Nobility from Florence Counts of Austria Counts of Italy Spanish generals Knights of the Golden Fleece Dukes of Amalfi (Spanish title), Ottavio Military personnel of the Thirty Years' War Generals of former Italian states House of Piccolomini, Ottavio 17th-century Italian military personnel Field marshals of the Holy Roman Empire Military personnel from Florence Military personnel of the Franco-Spanish War (1635–1659)