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In the event that foreign powers and envious neighbors attacked, the ruling nobles hired foreign mercenaries to fight for them.The military-service terms and conditions were stipulated in a condotta (contract) between the city-state and the soldiers (officer and enlisted man), thus, the contracted leader, the mercenary captain commanding, was titled the Condottiere.On the conclusion (1360) of the Peace of Bretigny between England and France, Sir John Hawkwood led an army of English mercenaries, called the White Company, into Italy, which took a prominent part in the confused wars of the next thirty years.Towards the end of the century the Italians began to organize armies of the same description.

Once aware of their military power monopoly in Italy, the condottieri bands became notorious for their capriciousness, and soon dictated terms to their ostensible employers.From the eleventh to the thirteenth century, European soldiers led by professional officers fought against the Muslims in the Crusades (1095–1291).These crusading officers provided large-scale warfare combat experience in the Holy Land.On the Crusades’ conclusion, the first masnada (bands of roving soldiers) appeared in Italy.Given the profession, some masnade were less mercenaries than bandits and desperate men.

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