Re-enactment of the Siege at Bastione Stampace and Cross Bowers Contest | Pisa
Via Porta a Mare, 17
On the death of the King of France Charles VIII (7 April 1498), who had restored freedom to the Pisans by 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 Pisa back.
He therefore instructed the Duke of Ferrara, Ercole d’Este, to draw up an armistice between Florence and Venice, which had until then helped Pisa with more than 11,000 soldiers. In April 1499 Venice withdrew its entire army, leaving Pisa alone. The Florentines attacked the walls with troops commanded by Paolo Vitelli, an army of 18,000 men including infantrymen and cavalrymen, conquering Bastione Stampace on 10 August. At the most difficult moment of the siege, it was the Pisan women who gave strength back to the male 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 he was forced to withdraw the siege, leaving men and material on the field. He retreated to Cascina where he was arrested and beheaded in Palazzo Vecchio. His brother Vitellozzo, fearing the same fate, sought refuge in Pisa for himself and his infantrymen. In the future, he would show his gratitude to the Pisans by helping them repel the French siege of 1500. The jubilant Pisan people saw the sudden abandonment of the besiegers as a sign of the Virgin’s intercession.
PROGRAMME OF THE RE-ENACTMENT OF THE VICTORIOUS SIEGE OF THE PISAN PEOPLE AT THE STAMPACE BASTION
9.00 am – Arrangement of camps;
12.00 noon – Laying of a laurel wreath on the walls by the City Authorities, honour squad of the “Balestrieri di Porta San Marco” (Crossbowmen of Porta San Marco) and 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 the 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 Pisans to the Largo dei Marinai d’Italia, with narration of the episodes of the siege (1 August/8 September 1499).
5.00 p.m. – Palio between the Crossbowmen of the Lucca Crossbowmen Company 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.