Historical re-enactment of the Siege of the Stampace Bastion

Rievocazione storica dell'Assedio del Bastione Stampace
Rievocazione storica dell'Assedio del Bastione Stampace
Cittadella - Bastione Stampace
Start date: 
End date: 

On Sunday 18 September, the historical re-enactment of the siege of the Stampace Bastion in 1499 will be staged.

On the death of the King of France Charles VIII (7 April 1498), who had restored freedom to the Pisans, creating the conditions for the beginning of the Second Republic (1494-1509), his successor Louis XII felt he had to satisfy the Florentines' demands to take back the City of Pisa.

He therefore commissioned the Duke of Ferrara, Ercole d'Este, to pacify the contending parties and above all to conclude an armistice between Florence and Venice, which had flanked the Pisan republic with more than 11,000 soldiers until December 1498. On 10 April 1499, Venice withdrew its entire army, leaving the Pisan people in loneliness and despair.  A peace was brokered between Pisa and Florence by the Duke of Milan in June 1499, but the Florentines attacked and conquered Cascina, ordering the general of their army, Paolo Vitelli, and his lieutenant, Vitellozzo Vitelli, to proceed without delay to seize the city, with the harshness necessary to definitively subdue the entire population.

Paolo Vitelli led an army of 18,000 men, including infantrymen and cavalrymen, under the walls of the City of Pisa, and initially achieved notable successes, even conquering the Stampace Bastion on 10 August, from which he easily beat the internal defences built by the Pisan population, with the women in the front line in the construction of trenches, ditches and ramparts.  It was the Pisan women, after that inauspicious date that had seen the men's will falter, who gave strength back to the resistance of the fighters, with their continuous presence in the trenches holding banners, provoking the enemy and urging the defenders to battle.

Paolo Vitelli had to bow to the desperate resistance of the Pisans, flanked by three hundred infantrymen from Lucca, and to the malaria that was beginning to spread among the Florentine ranks. So after thirty-eight days, he was forced to withdraw the siege, leaving men and material in great multitudes on the field, saving only part of the artillery. He retreated to Cascina where he was arrested by the Florentines and subsequently put on trial, condemned and beheaded in Palazzo Vecchio on the 1st of October.  His brother Vitellozzo, who would have met the same end, was able to escape with two hundred infantrymen and knock on the San Marco Gate, where he was received, hosted and cared for. He showed his gratitude to the Pisans by helping them repel the French siege of 1500.

The jubilant Pisan people saw in the sudden abandonment of the besiegers, the sign of the Virgin's intercession, thanking the patron saint in the following days.


9.00 a.m. - Arrangement of camps;

12.00 a.m. - Laying of a laurel wreath on the walls by the City Authorities, with the presence of the City's Banner with Valets in historical costume, a troop of honour from the "Crossbowmen of Porta San Marco" and the other participating historical groups.

4.00 p.m. - Departure of the historical procession from the Fortilizio della Cittadella, Ponte della Cittadella, Chiesa San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno for solemn blessing of the ranks, Via Romiti, Via Bixio, Bastione Stampace.

4.30 p.m. - Representation at the Stampace Bastion of the victorious sortie of the Pisan forces to Largo dei Marinai d'Italia, with narration by the Compagnia di Calci of the most significant episodes of the siege days (1 August/8 September 1499).

5.00 p.m. - PALIO between the Crossbowmen of the Crossbowmen Company of Lucca and the Crossbowmen of Porta San Marco, inside the Sostegno.

6.00 p.m. - Proclamation of the Winners and flag-waving of the Victory at the end of the Re-enactment, return to the dressing rooms.