Georg von Frundsberg, 1473-1528

Georg von Frundsberg (1473-1528) was a German mercenary leader who fought for the Hapsburg emperors Maximilian I and Charles V during a career that lasted for thirty years and saw him take part in the great Imperial victory at Pavia.

Frundsberg's biggest contribution to the Imperial cause was the part he played in the creation of the Landsknecht, the force of German pikemen created in an attempt to cope with the impressive Swiss pike formations that briefly dominated the battlefield.

Frundsberg was born at Mindelheim in 1473. He entered the service of the Emperor Maximilian I and took part in his campaign against Venice in 1499 (part of the Second Italian War/ Italian War of Louis XII). Maximilian supported Ludovico Sforz, duke of Milan in his struggles with the French and Venetians, although he was unable to provide much assistance. Frundsberg was in the small force that the Emperor was able to send to help Ludovico, but the duke was forced to flee Milan in 1499 and captured by the French in 1500. In 1499 Frundsberg also took part in Maximilian's unsuccessful war against the Swiss, and fought in the Imperial defeat at Dornach.

In 1504 Frundsberg fought in a war triggered by the succession to the duchy of Bavaria-Landshut. He then campaigned in the Netherlands.

Frundsberg commanded forces of Landsknechte during repeated Imperial campaigns against Venice (1509 as part of the War of the League of Cambrai, 1513 and 1514 during the War of the Holy League).

In 1519 he played a part in the election of Charles V to the Imperial throne, serving as joint commander of the army of the Suabian League which was positioned near Frankfort in an attempt to convince the Electors to vote the right way.

Frundsberg fought in Picardy in 1521 at the start of the First Hapsburg-Valois War (1521-25), then in Lombardy in 1522, where Imperial forces forced the French to evacuate Italy. He fought at the Imperial victory of La Bicocca (27 April 1522).

Frundsberg took part in the unsuccessful Imperial invasion of the south of France of 1524 and the siege of Marseille (July-August 1524). When Francis I arrived with the French Royal Army the Imperial army was forced to retreat back into Italy, with part of the army going into Pavia while most of it retreated to the line of the Adda. Frundsberg, along with the Constable of Bourbon, travelled to Germany to gather reinforcements for the army.

Over the winter of 1524-25 he led a force of Landsknechts through the Tyrol to join the Imperial army in Italy, and then took part in the great Imperial victory at Pavia (24 February 1525).

Frundsberg was then forced to rush back to Germany to help put down the great Peasant's Revolt. He took part in the suppression of the revolt in the Allgau in July 1525

At the start of the Second Hapsburg-Valois War/ War of the League of Cognac (1526-30) Charles V was faced by a powerful coalition in Italy, but the allies moved sluggishly. This gave Charles time to send Frundsberg into Italy with reinforcements, and the new troops arrived in November. The arrival of Imperial reinforcements convinced the Duke of Urbino, commanding the League army, to lift his siege of Milan. He attempted to intercept Frundsberg, but instead suffered a minor defeat at Borgoforte near the Po (25 November 1526). The able Italian commander Giovanni de Medici was mortally wounded in this fighting, and died a few days later at Mantua. Urbino gave up his efforts to stop the two Imperial armies uniting and in February 1527 Frundsberg's men joined up with those under Charles, the Constable of Bourbon.

The Imperial army might have been united, but it was also short of money and supplies. Frundsberg's landsknechts threatened to get out of control, and during an attempt to restore order Frundsberg was struck down by apoplexy (possibly a stroke). This ended his active military career and left the army without one of its more capable commanders. He returned home to Germany and died in his home town of Mindelheim on 20 August 1528.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 December 2014), Georg von Frundsberg, 1473-1528 ,

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