Battle of Faenza

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Battle of Faenza
Part of the War of the First Coalition
Date 3 or 4 February 1797
Result French victory
France France Papal States Papal States
Commanders and leaders
France Claude Victor-Perrin Papal States Michelangelo Colli
9,000 7,000
Casualties and losses
100 2,000, 14 guns

The Battle of Faenza or Battle of Castel Bolognese on 3 or 4 February 1797 saw a 7,000-man force from the Papal States commanded by Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi who faced a 9,000-strong French corps under Claude Victor-Perrin. The veteran French troops decisively defeated the Papal army, inflicting disproportionate casualties. The town of Castel Bolognese is located on the banks of the Senio River 40 kilometres (25 mi) southeast of Bologna. The city of Faenza is also nearby. The action took place during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.


The Siege of Mantua came to an end on 2 February 1797, when Austrian Feldmarschall Dagobert Sigismund von Würmser capitulated to the army of General of Division Napoleon Bonaparte. Only 16,000 members of the garrison were capable of marching out as prisoners of war. Leaving General of Division Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier to handle the surrender, Bonaparte invaded the Romagna, part of the Papal States.[1] The Papal army was led by Austrian Feldmarschall-Leutnant Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi,[2] a veteran of the Seven Years' War. Colli had served in the army of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont from 1793 to 1796 and had faced Bonaparte in the Montenotte Campaign. He was an intelligent and capable officer, but sometimes had to be carried on a stretcher due to old wounds.[3]

On 3 February, Victor brought Colli's troops to battle on the Senio at Castel Bolognese near Faenza. The French made short work of their adversaries. For an admitted loss of about 100 casualties, Victor's soldiers inflicted 800 killed and wounded on the Papal troops. In addition, the French captured 1,200 men, 14 artillery pieces, eight caissons, and eight colors. Victor's corps included a grenadier reserve commanded by General of Brigade Jean Lannes.[4][5]

The port of Ancona surrendered to Victor on 9 February with its Papal garrison of 1,200 men and 120 guns. There were no French casualties. By the Treaty of Tolentino on 19 February, Pope Pius VI was forced to deliver works of art, treasures, territory, and[2] 30 million francs to France.[1]

In literature

The defeat was recorded not only by revolutionaries such as Francesco Saverio Salfi (who wrote a satirical pantomime about it),[6] but also with sarcasm by the reactionary count Monaldo Leopardi[7] and much later by his son, the poet Giacomo Leopardi.[8]


  1. ^ a b Chandler (1966), 121
  2. ^ a b Smith (1998), 133
  3. ^ Boycott-Brown (2001), 135-136
  4. ^ Smith (1998), 133. Smith gave the date as 3 February. He called Lannes a general of division.
  5. ^ Broughton, Lannes. This source noted that Lannes was a general of brigade.
  6. ^ Salfi, Colli
  7. ^ Leopardi, M. Battaglia di Faenza
  8. ^ Leopardi, G. Paralipomeni alla Batracomiomachia


  • Boycott-Brown, Martin (2001). The Road to Rivoli: Napoleon's First Campaign. London: Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35305-1.
  • Broughton, Tony. "Generals Who Served in the French Army during the Period 1789-1815: Labadie to Lazowski". The Napoleon Series. Retrieved 17 April 2012. [permanent dead link]
  • Chandler, David G. (1966). The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York, NY: Macmillan.
  • Leopardi, Giacomo. Paralipomeni alla Batracomiomachia, Canto Primo, vols. 17-18 (in Italian).
  • Leopardi, Monaldo. Autobiografia, vol. XXII "Battaglia di Faenza" (in Italian).
  • Leopardi, Monaldo. Autobiografia, vol. XXIII "Presa di Ancona" (in Italian).
  • Salfi, Francesco Saverio (1797). Il general Colli in Roma. Pantomimo eseguito dal cittadino Le Frève in Milano. V.R.F. / F.S. (PDF) (in Italian). Milan. [permanent dead link]
  • Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.

Coordinates: 44°19′N 11°48′E / 44.317°N 11.800°E / 44.317; 11.800

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