Condottieri (singular condottiero and condottiere) were the mercenary soldier leaders (or warlords) of the professional, military free companies contracted by the Italian city-states and the Papacy, from the late Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance. In Renaissance Italian, condottiero meant "contractor", and was synonymous with the modern English title Mercenary Captain, which, historiographically, does not connote the hired soldier’s nationality[clarification needed]. In contemporary Italian, "condottiero" acquired the broader meaning of "military leader" (e.g., not restricted to mercenaries).
These Italian words were standard usage in English writing of the Napoleonic times that remained current in written histories until the late 20th century; because formally-employed, standing, professional armies were uncommon until late in the Napoleonic Wars (1800–1815) thus, the word Condottiere in the English language has come to denote, in the modern sense, any hired soldier.
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