Three battles in medieval Italy
Guelphs & Ghibellines

Guelphs and Ghibellines simulates the traditional clashes between 13th century armies with an original system which is both simple and accurate, allowing to reproduce typical tactics of the battle of the era, and focusing on progressive combat fatigue and loss of cohesion of formations on the battlefield.

The Story

Guelphs and Ghibellines (see Wikipedia) drives you through the art of warfare in XIIIth century Italy. The game captures at a tactical level the climax of the long struggle for the predominance of Italy during this century. After the death of the German Emperor Frederick II, the struggle extended for the predominance of the most important cities in Tuscany, passed through the death of Manfred in the battle of Benevento, which marks the end of the Swabian dominium in Italy and the take-over of the Angioin dynasty over the Reign of Naples, and finally the defeat of the last Ghibelline cities in Tuscany at Campaldino.

Cavalry remains the Queen of the battlefield, but the Italian communal infantry (the best in its period) manages to have a sound impact on the outcome of the fight.

The Battles

  • Montaperti 1260: The Arbia colored in red
  • Benevento 1266: The twilight of the Hoenstaufen
  • Campaldino 1289: The Saturday of St. Barnaba

The game system
The game is based on a continuous sequence of activations of formation leaders on the battlefield, limited by their intrinsic command capacity and the battle fatigue. The traditional sequence of play is replaced by uninterrupted sequence of activations where each leader trying to bring victory to his side. However the exact sequence of activation of friendly troops is unpredictable, that makes the game difficult to master and always uncertain. The game system is relatively simple, but the different tactics of the era are rendered in an elegant way; cavalry against cavalry or against infantry, effect of missiles, etc. Even the main personalities (and heroes) which enlightened those climatic days are present on the battle map All the main protagonists of the battles and all the different types of troops are considered, included cavalry with various level of armour protection, infantry, archers, crossbowmen, palvesari, the Comunal Carroccio, etc.


* three different medieval battles, each one at an increasing level of complexity
* a detailed and "realistic" medieval game system unique for the three battles
* all types of arms are represented: light, mediuam, heavy cavalry, palvesari, foot, etc.
* two 22" x 34" fine-art map, for the three battles
* gorgeous iconic counters representing all the real troops which took part to the battle
* detailed (as it is possible) order of battle
* low counter density and limited play time


  • Two 22"x34" maps of the battlefields
  • 160 LARGE 5/8" die-cut counters
  • 120 1/2" die-cut counters
  • Standard rules and Instruction for the 3 historical battles, 3 alternative set-ups, 1 "fast-and-furious" scenarios
  • Charts, tables
  • Boxed

Designer: Piergennaro Federico

Montaperti 1260: The Arbia colored in red

The battle of Montaperti, one of the biggest battles in the Italian Middle Ages, was fought on Sept 4th, 1260 near Siena between the troops of the Siena-leaded Ghibelline coalition and those of the Guelph alliance, under the command of Florence. In the first hours of the morning, the Ghibelline army, inferior in numbers, crossed the river Arbia taking the Guelphs by surprise, which did not expect to fight just on that day. The fight began when the Ghibelline cavalry, mainly composed of German cavalrymen, attacked the Guelph cavalry, deployed on the right flank, generating a furious melée. Soon after the Senese infantry attacked the Guelphs too and the fight generally spread over the battlefield. The formation of the Earl of Arras made an encirclement manoeuvre and then attacked the Florentines in the flank: this was decisive. The same Arras killed the Florence leader Iacopino Rangoni da Modena and so the Guelphs began to fly. The Ghibellines started to pursue and began the great carnage which turned the Arbia in red ("lo strazio e 'l grande scempio che fece l'Arbia colorata in rosso", Dante, Divina Commedia, Inf. X, 84-85) and lasted until night. Losses are estimated as 10,000 casualties and just as many prisoners for the Guelphs, while only 600 casualties and 400 wounded for the Ghibellines.

Benevento 1266: The twilight of the Hoenstaufen

Following the crusade banned by pope Clement IV against Manfred, king of Sicily, a French army commanded by Charles of Anjou invaded Italy. The decisive battle took place in Benevento, Feb 25th, 1266. The battle began in the morning with a saracen archers attack which repulsed Charles’s infantry; but soon a decisive charge of the French heavy cavalry defeated the enemy infantry. The first wave of Manfred’s cavalry charged too and the fight easily spread all over the cavalry formations: mostly due to the Swabian greater difficulties in manoeuvring (the river Calore was probably a major impediment for them) , soon the course of the battle revealed unfavourable for Manfred. The victory of Charles of Anjou marked the beginning of the Angioin dynasty in Italy. Manfred being defeated and killed on the battlefield, the Swabian power crushes and the Ghibelline party in Italy is definitively compromised for many years to come.

Campaldino 1289: The Saturday of St. Barnaba

The Guelph army, mainly composed of Florentine troops and commanded by the angioin Amerigo of Nerbon, and the army composed of Arezzo (the last Ghibelline power in Tuscany) troops and other many Ghibelline lords of Central Italy, commanded by the Bishop of Arezzo Guglielmino degli Umbertini, clashed again in the plan of Campaldino, Saturday, June 11th 1289. The initial charge of the Ghibelline feditori, shouting "San Donato Cavaliere!", patron of Arezzo, compelled the Guelph formation to set back, but the Arezzo troops, even if deeply penetrating into the enemy rows, did not manage in shattering them and remained trapped between two wings of Guelphs skirmishers. In the meanwhile, the Florentine Corso Donati, commanding the Gueplhe reserve cavalry of Pistoia and Lucca, rejecting his orders to maintain his position, made his mind to attack the enemy lines engaged in the melee. The Ghibelline cavalrymen so found themselves completely encircled and were totally routed. Among the many personalities who lost their lives in the plan of Campaldino, there were Guillaume Bertrand de Durfort, an old veteran of Charles I, and two illustrious Ghibelline captains: Buonconte da Montefeltro and the warrior bishop Guglielmino degli Ubertini, which is still buried in the near church of Certomondo.