Gavardo Castle

there was the presence of two very distinct fortifications between them; one the real castle and the other the fortified village.

Gavardo Castle: In speaking of castles in Gavardo, we must distinguish between the ancient isolated castle or fortress of S. Martino and the actual walled and fortified village of Gavardo. The first one was placed above the mound that rises on the Chiese river about three kilometers south of the village if near the Rampeniga locality: there is still some ruin in the form that recalls the ancient fortress that had a brief period of celebrity during one of the descents in Italy of Henry IV, the emperor of Canossa. Then the tortuous but safer route of the Sarca valley, of the Giudicarie and of the Valle Sabbia was still crossed by the imperial armies, then it went into disuse when the Adige valley became completely safe, guaranteed by the Castelbarco and the Scaligeri. In 1110 when Henry V went to Rome for the coronation, he left here a contingent of soldiers in support of the Brescian forces loyal to him, in order to ensure the way back. This was also repeated in 1116. This troop, enclosed in a fortress, gave not a little thought to the Lords of the Municipality of Brescia and so it happened that in 1121, when the emperor was forced not to move from Germany for the internal struggles, the Brescians they moved and “surrounded the castle, unpacked the garrison, left to the Germans free pace so that they could go with God, they dismantled that fortress” usque ad solum “. Since Gavardo was an episcopal fiefdom it is easy to see that the fortress was the residence of the bishop’s steward. That then this steward was of the Medici family, the pre-eminent in the village certain valvassor of the bishop, or of the Gavardo family, as G.B. supposes. Bruni, this is not very easy to solve. It may be that the Gavards, who emigrated to Istria, were a branch of the Medici. The real castle of Gavardo instead had a very lively life in the century XII and XIII during the raging of city factions. In 1201 under the castle there was a victory of the Brucella part, but immediately afterwards it was defeated in the battle of AJbusago between Bedizzole and Calcinato; in 1212 since the leaders of the Brucella, Confalonieri and Boccacci sides had taken refuge in the castle of Gavardo, the Municipality of Brescia, having gathered its troops, attacked the castle, conquered it and destroyed it, “fundirus destruxerunt”. The Cremonese were allies and the pacts “in ecclesia ipsius castri” were signed with the consuls of the Municipality. The destruction had to be very relative. In fact not many years later, in 1238, while Frederick II besieged Brescia and could not conquer it, he sought diversions by sending the Castles of the territory into submission. Among these was Gavardo where the Brescians had sent Alberto Giudice jurist, philosopher, one of the most prominent men in the city. He defended himself strenuously but had to yield; he was taken prisoner and sent to prison in Cremona. The Ghibellines, who had always had the pre-eminence in Gavardo, kept it in the name of the emperor; but two years later they had to give it to the Municipality of Brescia, which was going to regain the lost positions. The sec. XIV with the conquests of the Lordships to the loyal with the weakening factions of the city. First there was the white feudalization of Gavardo to the ashlars of Castelbarco for the sum of 15,000 gold florins by John of Luxembourg (there was together the coast of Salò and Vobarno); then it fell into the hands of Cansignorio della Scala during his struggle against Bernabò Visconti, but was for a short time. Finally Gavardo was the scene of a bloody battle, an appendix to the battle of Montichiari (7 May 13 7 3). Since the troops of the antiviscontei associates had been taken refuge here from Francesco d’Este condottiero of the Visconti, these insegul them until the castle, conquered it and began to sack it. It was then that coldly, with a bold move, the conquered commander, the English captain Giovanni Awkwood (in Italy called the Acute) with soldiers gathered at the end of the battle of Montichiari, came and killed the enemy, capturing the same Marquis of Este and many of his most illustrious captains. Then the castle was also abandoned by Acuto and left full of corpses. In the hard struggle between the Venetians led by Gattamelata against Piccinino in 14.38, the castle of Gavardo, which represented the gateway to the Valle Sabbia, was first occupied by the Brescians together with the Venetians in order to keep free the way for the supply of wood to the city, through the Naviglio; but then, when the Brescians closed at their summit and Gattamelata left, Gavardo was easy prey for Piccinino. After the victorious liberation of the city from the harsh siege of the Visconti, the struggle moved to the province and around Gavardo in whose castle the armies of Brescia and Valle Sabbia had gathered, a battle took place between Taddeo d’Este for Venice and Tatiano of Friuli for Milan and so in July 1439 the road to the lake was liberated. Two months later there was a victorious return of the Visconti and Gavardo was recaptured and sacked by Taliano. The following year, after Venice had the whole territory of Brescia back, even Gavardo Libero was among the deserving centers and reported to the benevolence of the Serenissima “. As we have seen for all these castles or fortified villages, their importance from the point of view of military tactics, decayed or almost disappeared with the century. XV. So also for Gavardo. However, this does not mean that due to its strategic position at the entrance of the Sabbia Valley and of the Riviera, for its bridge, with its important “divider” Lechi of the waters of the Chiese river, the country was always an important point even in the struggles that were fought in the following centuries in the Brescia area in the dominion of the Serenissima. Which for three centuries saw various foreign armies fighting against its state, keeping it always prudently neutral. Politics that brought it to ruin. Thus Gavardo will see the passage of the imperial troops, which meant looting, during the War of the League of Cambrai and also later (1509-1517), then in 1526 of the Lanzichenecchi of Fronsberg, finally during the war of succession of Spain (1700-1705) .

Historical sources: Fausto Lechi “The Brescian dwellings in five centuries of history”