Battle of Legnano, 29 May 1176 (Italy)

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Battle between Frederick Barbarossa and the Lombard cities allied with Milan. Frederick had called for German aid in his struggle in Italy, and the army that had responded had reached Como. The Emperor was based at Pavia, with Milan lying on a direct line between the two places. Barbarossa quickly made to Como, and determined to march back to Pavia with his new army, skirting around Milan. The Milanese heard news of Barbarossa's movements, and moved their own army into a position where they could intercept Barbarossa's line of march. Despite the German troops, Barbarossa was still outnumbered. On 29 May, the two advance guards met. Barbarossa had an entirely cavalry force, while the Milanese had four corps of cavalry, and an infantry reserve which was guarding the carroccio, the sacred car of Milan, a wagon containing the cities banners. Barbarossa took the offensive, and his cavalry defeated each of the Milanese cavalry corp, before falling on the infantry reserves, who fought well, but would have been defeated if their cavalry had not regrouped and returned to the fray. The already tired German troops were further disheartened by the fall of the Imperial banner, and when Barbarossa himself appeared to have been killed, they broke and fled, taking serious casualties. Barbarossa himself escaped, and reappeared three days later, but his cause in Italy was greatly weakened.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (20 October 2000), Battle of Legnano, 29 May 1176, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_legnano.html

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