1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pescara, Fernando Francesco Davalos, Marquis of

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 21
Pescara, Fernando Francesco Davalos, Marquis of by David Hannay

PESCARA, FERNANDO FRANCESCO DAVALOS, Marquis of (1489-1525), Italian condottiere, was born at Naples, his family being of Spanish origin. Rodrigo (Ruy) Lopez Davalos, his great-grandfather, a noble of Toledo, who had taken an active part in the civil wars of Castile in the reign of John II. (1407-1454), had been driven into exile, and died at Valencia. Iñigo (Ignatius), his son, entered the service of Alphonso of Aragon and Naples, followed his master to Italy, and there, making an advantageous marriage with a lady of the family of Aquino, was created marquis of Pescara. His son Alphonso, who succeeded him in the marquisate, married a lady of the Sicilian branch of the Spanish family of Cardona, and when he was treacherously killed, during a French invasion of Naples, his only son Fernando, or Ferrante, was a child in arms. At the age of six the boy was betrothed to Vittoria Colonna (q.v.), daughter of the general Fabrizio Colonna, and the marriage was celebrated in 1509. His position as a noble of the Aragonese party in Naples made it incumbent on him to support Ferdinand the Catholic in his Italian wars. In 1512 he commanded a body of light cavalry at the battle of Ravenna, where he was wounded and taken prisoner by the French. Thanks to the intervention of one of the foremost of the French generals, the Italian J. J. Trivulzio, who was his connexion by marriage, he was allowed to ransom himself for 6000 ducats. He commanded the Spanish infantry at the battle of La Morta, or Vicenza, on the 7th of October 1513. It was on this occasion that he called his men before the charge to take care to step on him before the enemy did if he fell. From the battle of Vicenza in 1513, down to the battle of La Bicocca on the 29th of April 1522, he continued to serve in command of the Spaniards and as the colleague rather than the subordinate of Prosper Colonna. It was only by the accident of his birth at Naples that Pescara was an Italian. He considered himself a Spaniard, spoke Spanish at all times, even to his wife, and was always surrounded by Spanish soldiers and officers. His opinion of the Italians as fighting men was unfavourable and was openly expressed. After the battle of La Bicocca Charles V. appointed Prosper Colonna commander-in-chief Pescara, who considered himself aggrieved, made a journey to Valladolid in Spain, where the emperor then was, to state his own claims. Charles V., with whom he had long and confidential interviews, persuaded him to submit for the time to the superiority of Colonna. But in these meetings he gained the confidence of Charles V. His Spanish descent and sympathies marked him out as a safer commander of the imperial troops in Italy than an Italian could have been. When Francis I. invaded Italy in 1524 Pescara was appointed as lieutenant of the emperor to repel the invasion. The difficulties of his position were very great, for there was much discontent in the army, which was very ill paid. The tenacity, patience and tact of Pescara triumphed over all obstacles. His influence over the veteran Spanish troops and the German mercenaries kept them loyal during the long siege of Pavia. On the 24th of February 1525 he defeated and took prisoner Francis I. by a brilliant attack Pescara's plan was remarkable for its audacity and for the skill he showed in destroying the superior French heavy cavalry by assailing them in flank with a mixed force of harquebusiers and light horse. It was believed that he was dissatisfied with the treatment he had received from the emperor, and Girolamo Morone, secretary to the duke of Milan, approached him with a scheme for expelling French, Spaniards and Germans alike from Italy, and for gaining a throne for himself. Pescara may have listened to the tempter, but in act he was loyal. He reported the offer to Charles V. and put Morone into prison. His health however had begun to give way under the strain of wounds and exposure, and he died at Milan on the 4th of November 1525. Pescara had no children; his title descended to his cousin the marquis del Vasto, also a distinguished imperial general.

Authorities.—The life of Pescara was written in Latin by Paolo Giovio, and is included in the Vitae illustrium vivorum, printed at Basel 1578. Giovio's Latin Life was translated by L. Domenichi, the translator of his other works, and published at Florence, 1551. The Spanish Historia del fortissimo y prudentissimo capitan Don Hernando de Avalos, by El Maestro P. Vallés (Antwerp, 1553), is also a translation of Giovio. See also Mignet, Rivalité de François Ier et de Charles Quint (Paris, 1875), which gives references to all authorities.  (D. H.)