During the Renaissance, Italy was divided into numerous independent city-states, sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile. The best known of these were Genoa, Florence, the Duchy of Milan, and the Republics of Venice.
This is the era in which the Condottieri appear: leaders of mercenary armies who offered their ser- vices to the most powerful cities. Formidable strat- egists and highly skilled soldiers, the Condottieri were not content to just hire out their command and their troops; they reshaped the political map of Italy with their intrigues, alliances, battles, and sieges. The most daring among them founded new dynasties: Francesco Sforza took possession of the Duchy of Milan, and Giovanni de Medici made Florence his kingdom. â€¦