Siege of Novara, 5-21 March 1500

The siege of Novara (5-21 March 1500) was Ludovico Sforza's last success in his attempt to expel the French from the Duchy of Milan (Second Italian War/ Italian War of Louis XII).

Ludovico had become Duke during the first French intervention in Italy, (First Italian War/ Italian War of Charles VIII, 1494-95), but he had also earned the hostility of the French, having switched sides after Charles VIII's rapid invasion of Naples. When Louis XII came to the throne in 1498 he spent a year preparing for an invasion of Milan, and then in August 1499 struck. Ludovico was forced to flee into the Tyrol, and in October Louis made his entry into Milan.

In November Louis returned to France, leaving Gian Giacomo Trivulzio in charge in Milan. He was soon faced by a resurgent Ludovico, who managed to raise an army 20,000 strong in the Tyrol, before launching an invasion in January 1500. Trivulzio was forced to abandon Milan on 3 February and retreated west to Novara and Mortara. On 5 February Ludovico re-entered Milan. He was soon on the move again. After taking Vigevano he moved north-west and on 5 March began a siege of Novara.

Novara was defended by a sizable French garrison commanded by Yves d'Allègre, who had originally been sent to Italy to help Cesara Borgia. Although he had a strong garrison, he was short of supplies, and was surrounded by a hostile population. He still managed to gold out for two weeks, before surrendering on good terms on 21 March 1500.

This was Ludovico's last success. On 23 March French reinforcements, under Louis de la Tremouille, reached Mortara, where they were joined by a Swiss contingent on 3 April. When the French moved north to attack Ludovico his army dissolved (Battle of Mortara, 8 April 1500), and he was captured two days later, spending the rest of his life in captivity in France.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 September 2014), Siege of Novara, 5-21 March 1500 ,

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