Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Montaperti Battlefield 2

Some more photos of the area around the Montaperti battlefield.

This is the ridge which continues roughly south of Monselvoli. The photo was taken from the top of one of the curious mounds which can be found at various points. I suspect these are a combination of mineral outcrops added to with shifted material.
The apartment blocks are part of Arbia and are roughly north west of the camera position, The river is around 400m beyond and Siena is in the distance. There is direct line of sight with the city so the tale of a keen eyed observer watching the battle from a tower are not infeasible. The steepness of the slope can be judged.

Slightly south of the previous panorama. The mound I mentioned above can be seen. The line of trees beyond the green field shows the position of the river. There is virtually no flat land between the river and the start of the slope anywhere south of the village. The fairly new apartments have been built on land which appears to have been partially levelled.

Slightly north of the first panorama. The mound can again be seen. As a sense of scale the path around it was at least 2m wide.

This is around half a mile to the south east. It shows the ridge shown in the other photos from the eastern side.

When playing the battle, I assumed that the Florentine forces were not on this ridge to begin with. There would be little room for the Sienese army to cross the river and assemble if the Guelphs were already in command of this ground.

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Montaperti Battlefield 1

Lorenzetti's Good Government - detail

As can be seen from various posts, I've read about - and painted armies for - the Battle of Montaperti in 1260. Last year's Society of Ancients game was based on the battle and, after spending a good amount of time researching the battle, I thought I'd spend a holiday in the area.

I was able to spend quite a bit of time driving and walking around the battlefield.

Seven and a half centuries have made some changes to the area, mainly in the last 100 years or so. The E78 autostrada cuts across the plain where the Florentine army probably camped and where some of the action probably occurred. The town of Arbia occupies the area to the east of the bridge and this seems to have expanded in the recent past. The amount of tree coverage which may have covered the flank attack has probably decreased.

The landscape shown in Lorenzetti's fresco may give a guide to the type of terrain of the battlefield.

However most of the area is still clear enough to show the lie of the land so I've posted some shots of the area.

This is the River Arbia. It is difficult to be sure how much change has happened and there are records of alterations being made in the late middle ages to decrease flooding. In its current state the river is narrow - perhaps 5 metres - and in August it was shallow - less than half a metre deep with a firm bed. As a terrain feature it would present little hazard to infantry although the banks are fairly steep in places. The trees and other undergrowth presently lining the river would be more of a disruption though there may have been more browsing by farm animals in the 13th century, especially if the fresco is any guide.

These show the area north of the E78. This is the flattest area not occupied by the autostrada, with fairly gentle slopes. There is a chapel next to the slope which may have been there at the time. I wasn't sure if public access to the chapel was possible.

This was taken from a steep hill next to the lake at Acqua Borra. It is about a kilometre to the east of the river.

More soon...