In the 15th century, Italy was divided into countless small city states, similar to ancient Greece, and divided among themselves.
Spain had its Reconquista ended in 1492, the Muslims were expelled from the Spanish peninsula and France had won the 100-year war against England. Now the rulers of the European big states were searching for new opportunities for glory. Here, the French King Charles VIII had quickly taken a look at the Italian Naples and wanted to enforce his claim to the crown in dire straits even militarily. The death Ferrante I of Naples in 1494 was very convenient for him. With the support of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, whose claim to his duchy Ferrantes son and heir Alfonso II denied, Karl marched with a 25.000 -strong force in Italy and made his way south to Naples. The small armies of "warriors" who fought for the respective city-state holders hardly met any serious resistance to the well-trained army of Karl. So it happened that in February 1495 Charles was already wearing the crown of Naples.
After the Milanese Duke Ludovico Sforza became aware that Charles had his own plans with the Duchy of Milan, he switched sides and asked Pope Alexander VI. to support the formation of an alliance and the expulsion of the French occupation of Charles from Italy. The alliance then set up an army and met Karl. At Fornovo, 30km southwest of Parma, the armies met and Karl suffered a heavy defeat. Defeated, he had to retire to France and give up Naples. On April 7, 1498 he died from an accident at Amboise Castle.
As Charles's successor also tried Louis XII. To enforce his claims militarily and fell in 1499 in Lombardy and was able to conquer the Duchy of Milan. He deposed Duke Ludovico and let his army march further south. With the Spanish King Ferdinand I he agreed a division of Naples so as to be able to take the area. However, the agreement did not last long and Ludwig saw himself a few years later in the war with Spain. In April 1503, there was a decisive battle with the Spanish commander Gonzalo Fernández de Córdaba, in whose course Ludwigs Heer was destroyed. Spain then occupied Naples, the area lost its independence to Spain after the Treaty of Blois of 12 October 1505.
On December 10, 1508, the rulers Pope Julius II, Maximilian I, King Louis XII, Henry VII of England and Ferdinand I of Naples joined together to the League of Cambrai to now draw against the Republic of Venice in the war and to incorporate its territory. In 1511, Pope Julius II, Maximilian I, Ferdinand I, his son-in-law Henry VIII of England, Venice and the Swiss joined the Holy League in the fight against France and were able to drive them out of Milan. In March 1513 Venice allied with France. However, they suffered defeat on 6 June 1513 against the Swiss in the Battle of Novara and could not prevent the Sforza family from being reinstated as Dukes in Milan. On October 7, 1513, the Venetians were defeated at the Battle of La Motta by the Spaniards, on 13./14. September 1515, the French again defeated the Swiss at Marignano and conquer Milan again.
In the following decades, Italy was the scene of changing alliances and territorial conquests between France, Spain, Switzerland and England. Between these big states, the Italian city-states constantly changed their allies. It was not until the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis that the conflict finally came to an end. In this peace treaty, the French king renounced all claims in Italy, but continued to retain the 1552 occupied bishoprics of Metz, Toul and Verdun. Philip II of Spain was able to keep his territories in Italy and got back some conquered territories from France. France was anxious for the peace treaty to secure its foreign policy in order to be able to fully devote itself to internal turmoil.
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The Italian Wars 1494-1559
The Italian Wars of 1494-1559 had a major impact on the whole of Renaissance Europe. In this important text, Michael Mallett and Christine Shaw place the conflict within the political and economic context of the wars. Emphasising the gap between aims and strategies of the political masters and what their commanders and troops could actually accomplish on the ground, they analyse developments in military tactics and the tactical use of firearms and examine how Italians of all sectors of society reacted to the wars and the inevitable political and social change that they brought about.
The history of Renaissance Italy is currently being radically rethought by historians. This book is a major contribution to this re-evaluation, and will be essential reading for all students of Renaissance and military history.
The French Invasion of Italy in 1494
*Includes contemporary accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
In 1494, there were five sovereign regional powers in Italy: Milan, Venice, Florence, the Papal States and Naples. In 1536, only one remained: Venice. These decades of conflict precipitated great anxiety among Western thinkers, and Italians responded to the fragmentation, forevermore, of Latin Christendom, the end of self-governance for Italians, and the beginning of the early modern era in a myriad of ways. They were always heavily influenced by the lived experience of warfare between large Christian armies on the peninsula.
The diplomatic and military history of this 30 year period is a complex one that one eminent Renaissance historian, Lauro Martines, has described as "best told by a computer, so many and tangled are the treatises, negotiations and battles." At the same time, the fighting went in tandem with the Renaissance and was influenced by it. Most historians credit the city-state of Florence as the place that started and developed the Italian Renaissance, a process carried out through the patronage and commission of artists during the late 12th century. If Florence is receiving its due credit, much of it belongs to the Medicis, the family dynasty of Florence that ruled at the height of the Renaissance. The dynasty held such influence that some of its family members even became Pope.
Lorenzo de Medici may have not been a king, prince or duke, but he nevertheless held significant influence over all of the noble houses of the region, from Milan and Naples to the King of France. Between 1482 and 1484, Lorenzo’s influence prevented a close alliance between King Louis IX of France and the city of Venice, which was at war with Ferrara. Lorenzo’s personal influence helped reduce Venice’s power in the region. During the Baron’s War of 1485 and 1486, while Florence sided with the pope, Lorenzo favored Ferdinando of Aragon, who had close ties with Naples, giving Lorenzo the chance to attempt to negotiate an improvement in relations between the pope and Naples. While the two had once been allied against Florence, their alliance had ended with the war. Lorenzo proposed a new agreement between the two, largely centered around financial obligations, in 1489. It was accepted in 1492, creating an enduring peace for some time. Perhaps fittingly, once Lorenzo the Magnificent died, the tenuous peace would go with him, touching off the Italian Wars.
The French Invasion of Italy in 1494: The History and Legacy of the Conflict that Started the Italian Wars chronicles the decisive campaign that forever changed the Italian peninsula at the end of the 15th century. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the First Italian War like never before.