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Michelotto Corella Historical Profile
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| ||MICHELOTTO CORELLA||Historical Profile|
| Probably born in Corella, Navarre at an unknown date, most likely between 1460 and 1470. Although it has been suggested that he was assassinated in Milan in January 1508, the date and cause of his death are unknown. |
According to the historian Sarah Bradford, Miguel de Corella was an illegitimate son of the Count of Corella, a Navarrese nobleman. Navarre was then an independent state coveted by both France and Spain, and its inhabitants were noted as tough warriors. Miguel was acknowledged by his father and appears to have received a good education. The Corellas seem to have favoured Spain over France and Miguel's legitimate brother was a captain in the Spanish army. Other writers have suggested that Miguel came from another branch of the Corella family who settled in the area of Valencia in the early fifteenth century, and became Marquises of Concentaina. Whichever version is correct, it seems clear that Miguel was not a rough peasant but came from a Spanish noble family, although by illegitimate descent.
Very little is known of Miguel's career prior his employment by Cesare Borgia. In Mario Puzo's novel, Michelotto is an illegitimate nephew of Rodrigo Borgia, a native of the Aragonese kingdom of Valencia, who becomes a companion and bodyguard to the Borgia children. Puzo's version has a young Michelotto standing up to bandits, whose leader slashed him across the face, leaving his mouth in a permanent grimace. Years later when the same bandits attempted to re-enter the village, they were captured by Don Michelotto. He hung their leader from a tree. However, there is no evidence that the real Miguel de Corella was related to the Borgias or that he spent time in Valencia before his appearance in Italy as a captain and friend of Cesare Borgia.
It is likely that Miguel fought at some point in the war to conquer the Moorish kingdom of Granada, which lasted from 1481 - 1492. He may well have learned his skills as an assassin during the long guerrilla campaign, as well as developing his military and leadership talents. It is not known when Miguel left Spain, but as the last Moorish stronghold of Granada fell after a prolonged blockade in January 1492, he may have journeyed to Italy seeking employment as a condotierre round about this time. It has been suggested that he met Cesare in Pisa whilst the latter was a student there in 1492.
Miguel de Corella quickly became the most fierce and loyal of Cesare's captains. The Italians called him 'Don Michelotto', and he was renowned as the condottiere, friend, accomplice to and primary executioner for Cesare Borgia. He is said to have strangled Gaspare Malatesta aka the "Lion of Rimini" and opposer of Pope Alexander VI. Don Michelotto murdered Alfonso of Aragon, Duke of Bisceglie, Lucrezia's second husband. This murder was done on Cesare's orders. Don Michelotto is also responsible for the grisly murder of the poet Filofila, whom he had dismembered and delivered to the Palazzo Orsini in a bloody bag.
Shockingly but impressively, Don Michelotto strangled both Oliverotto de Farma and Vitellozzo Vitelli SIMULTANEOUSLY with a SINGLE violin wire on 31 December 1502, at Cesare's behest.
The actual amount of murders Don Michelotto had committed are unknown, but one could imagine that the amount is more than substantial.
Even after Cesare's fall from power, Michelotto remained fanatically loyal to him and refused to betray his master when tortured. He was last heard of fighting as a condotierre for Florence in 1506. There is a small town called Corella near Florence, which may be derived from lands that Michelotto purchased or was granted in that area. Thereafter, his name vanishes from historical record. It has been suggested that he died in Milan in 1508, but the source cannot be verified. He may have returned to Navarre, sought military employment further afield or even journeyed to the Americas. Curiously, the 1510 census of the city of Valencia shows one inhabitant by the surname of Corella, along with three with the surname 'de Borja': it may be that 'Don Michelotto' or one of his relatives settled in the Borgia's native area.
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Keyword tags: Alfonso of Aragon Cesare Borgia Filofila Gaspare Malatesta Lion of Rimini Lucrezia Borgia Michelotto Michelotto Corella Oliverotto de Farma Pisa Rodrigo Borgia Spain The Borgias the Garroter Valencia Vitellozzo Vitelli
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