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Italian Wars,1494–1559, series of regional wars brought on by the efforts of the great European powers to control the small independent states of Italy. Renaissance ItalyItaly
, Ital. Italia, officially Italian Republic, republic (2015 est. pop. 59,504,000), 116,303 sq mi (301,225 sq km), S Europe. It borders on France in the northwest, the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, the Ionian Sea in the south, the Adriatic Sea in
..... Click the link for more information. was split into numerous rival states, most of which sought foreign alliances to increase their individual power. It thus became prey to the national states that had begun to emerge in Europe. Foremost among those were France and Spain, whose prolonged struggle for supremacy in Italy was to curtail Italian liberties for more than three centuries.
The wars began when, in 1494, Charles VIIICharles VIII,
1470–98, king of France (1483–98), son and successor of Louis XI. He first reigned under the regency of his sister Anne de Beaujeu. After his marriage (1491) to Anne of Brittany, he freed himself from the influence of the regency and prepared to conquer
..... Click the link for more information. of France invaded Italy and seized (1495) Naples without effort, only to be forced to retreat by a coalition of Spain, the Holy Roman emperor, the pope, Venice, and Milan. His successor, Louis XIILouis XII,
1462–1515, king of France (1498–1515), son of Charles, duc d'Orléans. He succeeded his father as duke. While still duke, he rebelled against the regency of Anne de Beaujeu and was imprisoned (1488), but was released (1491) by his cousin King Charles
..... Click the link for more information. , occupied (1499) Milan and Genoa. Louis gained his next objective, Naples, by agreeing to its conquest and partition with Ferdinand V of Spain and by securing the consent of Pope Alexander VIAlexander VI,
1431?–1503, pope (1492–1503), a Spaniard (b. Játiva) named Rodrigo de Borja or, in Italian, Rodrigo Borgia; successor of Innocent VIII. He took Borja as his surname from his mother's brother Alfonso, who was Pope Calixtus III.
..... Click the link for more information. . Disagreement over division of the spoils between the Spanish and the French, however, flared into open warfare in 1502. Louis XII was forced to consent to the Treaties of Blois (1504–5), keeping Milan and Genoa but pledging Naples to Spain.
Trouble began again when Pope Julius IIJulius II,
1443–1513, pope (1503–13), an Italian named Giuliano della Rovere, b. Savona; successor of Pius III. His uncle Sixtus IV gave him many offices and created him cardinal.
..... Click the link for more information. formed (1508) an alliance against Venice with France, Spain, and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian IMaximilian I,
1459–1519, Holy Roman emperor and German king (1493–1519), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. As emperor, he aspired to restore forceful imperial leadership and inaugurate much-needed administrative reforms in the increasingly
..... Click the link for more information. (see Cambrai, League ofCambrai, League of,
1508–10, alliance formed by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, King Louis XII of France, Pope Julius II, King Ferdinand V of Aragón, and several Italian city-states against the republic of Venice to check its territorial expansion.
..... Click the link for more information. ). But shortly after the French victory over the Venetians at Agnadello (1509), Julius made peace with Venice and began to form the Holy LeagueHoly League,
in Italian history, alliance formed (1510–11) by Pope Julius II during the Italian Wars for the purpose of expelling Louis XII of France from Italy, thereby consolidating papal power.
..... Click the link for more information. (1510) in order to expel the French "barbarians" from Italy. The French held their own until the Swiss stormed Milan (1512)—which they nominally restored to the Sforzas—routed the French at Novara (1513), and controlled Lombardy until they were defeated in turn by Louis's successor, Francis IFrancis I,
1494–1547, king of France (1515–47), known as Francis of Angoulême before he succeeded his cousin and father-in-law, King Louis XII. Wars with the Holy Roman Emperor
..... Click the link for more information. , at MarignanoMarignano, battle of
, 1515, in the Italian Wars, fought by Francis I of France and his Venetian allies against the Swiss Confederates, who then controlled the duchy of Milan. It was fought (Sept. 13–14) near the town of Marignano (now Melegnano), 10 mi (16.
..... Click the link for more information. (1515). By the peace of Noyon (1516), Naples remained in Spanish hands and Milan was returned to France.
The rivalry between Francis I and Charles VCharles V,
1500–1558, Holy Roman emperor (1519–58) and, as Charles I, king of Spain (1516–56); son of Philip I and Joanna of Castile, grandson of Ferdinand II of Aragón, Isabella of Castile, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and Mary of Burgundy.
..... Click the link for more information. , king of Spain and (after 1519) Holy Roman emperor, reopened warfare in 1521, and the French were badly defeated in the Battle of Pavia (1525), the most important in the long wars. Francis was forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid (1526), by which he renounced his Italian claims and ceded Burgundy. This he repudiated, as soon as he was liberated, by forming the League of Cognac with Pope Clement VIIClement VII,
c.1475–1534, pope (1523–34), a Florentine named Giulio de' Medici; successor of Adrian VI. He was the nephew of Lorenzo de' Medici and was therefore first cousin of Pope Leo X.
..... Click the link for more information. , Henry VIII of England, Venice, and Florence.
To punish the pope, Charles V sent Charles de BourbonBourbon, Charles, duc de
, 1490–1527, constable of France and governor of Milan. He distinguished himself at the battle of Marignano (1515) in the Italian Wars between King Francis I and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
..... Click the link for more information. against Rome, which was sacked for a full week (May, 1527). The French, after an early success at Genoa, were eventually forced to abandon their siege of Naples and retreat. The war ended (1529) with the Treaty of Cambrai (see Cambrai, Treaty ofCambrai, Treaty of,
called the Ladies' Peace,
treaty negotiated and signed in 1529 by Louise of Savoy, representing her son Francis I of France, and Margaret of Austria, representing her nephew Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
..... Click the link for more information. ) and the renunciation of Francis's claims in Italy. France's two subsequent wars (1542–44 and 1556–57) ended in failure. Francis died in 1547, having renounced Naples (for the third time) in the Treaty of CrépyCrépy, Treaty of
, 1544, concluded by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France at Crépy-en-Laonnois (formerly spelled Crespy), Aisne dept., N France.
..... Click the link for more information. . Complete Spanish supremacy in Italy was obtained by the Treaty of Cateau-CambrésisCateau-Cambrésis, Treaty of
, 1559, concluded at Le Cateau, France, by representatives of Henry II of France, Philip II of Spain, and Elizabeth I of England. It put an end to the 60-year conflict between France and Spain, begun with the Italian Wars, in which Henry VIII
..... Click the link for more information. (1559), which gave the Two Sicilies and MilanMilan
, Ital. Milano, Lat. Mediolanum, city (1991 pop. 1,369,231), capital of Lombardy and of Milan prov., N Italy, at the heart of the Po basin. Because of its strategic position in the Lombard plain, at the intersection of several major transportation routes, it
..... Click the link for more information. to Philip IIPhilip II,
1527–98, king of Spain (1556–98), king of Naples and Sicily (1554–98), and, as Philip I, king of Portugal (1580–98). Philip's Reign
..... Click the link for more information. .
The wars, though ruinous to Italy, had helped to spread the Italian Renaissance in Western Europe. From the military viewpoint, they signified the passing of chivalry, which found its last great representative in the seigneur de BayardBayard, Pierre Terrail, seigneur de
, c.1474–1524, French military hero, called le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche [the knight without fear or reproach].
..... Click the link for more information. . The use of Swiss and German mercenaries was characteristic of the wars, and artillery passed its first major test.
See F. L. Taylor, Art of War in Italy, 1494 to 1529 (1921).