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Portal:Italian Wars

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The Italian Wars Portal

Introduction

The Battle of Pavia by unknown Flemish artist (16th century).

The Italian Wars, often referred to as the Great Italian Wars or the Great Wars of Italy and sometimes as the Habsburg–Valois Wars or the Renaissance Wars, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, the Republic of Venice, most of the major states of Western Europe (France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and England), as well as the Ottoman Empire. Originally arising from dynastic disputes over the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples, the wars rapidly became a general struggle for power and territory among their various participants, and were marked with an increasing number of alliances, counter-alliances, and betrayals.

Relying on brilliant diplomacy as well as on the military commanders and techniques forged in the war against Granada, King Ferdinand was chiefly responsible for making Spain into a major European power. The main opponent was France, both along the frontiers that separated the two states and also in Italy, where Aragón's traditional interests were threatened by French efforts to dominate the peninsula. The struggle began with the successful campaign of 1494 to 1498 in southern Italy and continued intermittently for two decades, until Ferdinand’s death. By then Spain had won control of southern Italy, all Navarre south of the Pyrenees, and farther north, the regions of Cerdagne and Roussillon. Ferdinand's anti-French strategy was continued in a series of wars (1521–1526, 1526–1530, 1536–1538, 1542–1546, 1551–1559) that made Spain a dominant power in northern as well as southern Italy.

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Siege of Florence
The Siege of Florence took place from October 24, 1529 to August 10, 1530, at the end of the War of the League of Cognac. A large Imperial and Spanish army under Philibert of Châlon, Prince of Orange surrounded the city, and, after a siege of nearly ten months, captured it, overthrowing the Republic of Florence and installing Alessandro de' Medici as the ruler of the city.

The Florentines had thrown off Medici rule and established a republic after the Sack of Rome in 1527; the Florentine Republic had continued to participate in the war on the side of the French. The French defeats at Naples in 1528 and Landriano in 1529, however, led to Francis I of France concluding the Treaty of Cambrai with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. When Pope Clement VII and the Republic of Venice also concluded treaties with the Emperor, Florence was left to fight alone. Charles, attempting to gain Clement's favor, ordered his armies to seize Florence and return the Medici to power.

The Republic resisted this incursion; but, left without allies and betrayed by many of the mercenaries in her employ, Florence was unable to keep fighting indefinitely. After the capture of Volterra by the Imperial forces and the death of Francesco Ferruccio at the Battle of Gavinana, further resistance became impractical, and the city surrendered in August 1530.

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Instead of the peace and tranquillity that many hoped must result from it, the truce gave rise to endless calamities among the Italians and even bloodier and more devastating wars than in the past. For although there had already been, for fourteen years in Italy, so many wars and so many changes of state, yet because these things often ended without bloodshed, or else the killings took place, for the most part, amongst the barbarians themselves, the people had suffered less than the princes. But now the door opening to new discords in the future, there followed throughout Italy, and against the Italians themselves, the cruelest accidents, endless murders, sacking and destruction of many cities and towns, military licentiousness no less pernicious to their friends than to their enemies, religion violated, and holy things trampled under foot with less reverence and respect than for profane things.

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Study of Fortification for the Porta al Prato of Ognissanti

Study of Fortification for the Porta al Prato of Ognissanti. Pen and ink, watercolor, and red pencil by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1529–30.

Selected biography

Guillaume Gouffier, Seigneur de Bonnivet
Guillaume Gouffier, Seigneur de Bonnivet (c. 1488–February 24, 1525) was a French soldier. In the imperial election of 1519 he superintended the candidature of Francis, and spent vast sums of money in his efforts to secure votes, but without success. An implacable enemy of the Constable de Bourbon, he contributed to the downfall of the latter. In command of the army of Navarre in 1521, he occupied Fuenterrabia and was probably responsible for the renewal of hostilities resulting from its not being restored. Bonnivet succeeded Odet de Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec, in 1523, as commander of the army of Italy and entered the Milanese, but was defeated and forced to effect a disastrous retreat, in which the chevalier Bayard perished. He was afterwards one of the principal commanders of the army which Francis led into Italy at the end of 1524, and died at the Battle of Pavia.

Major topics

Events People
Italian War of 1494–98
Battle of Seminara
Battle of Fornovo
Italian War of 1499–1504
Battle of Ruvo
Battle of Cerignola
Battle of Garigliano
Featured article War of the League of Cambrai
Battle of Agnadello
Siege of Padua
Battle of Ravenna
Battle of Novara
Battle of Flodden Field
Battle of Marignano
War of Urbino
Featured article Italian War of 1521–26
Featured article Battle of Bicocca
Battle of the Sesia (1524)
Italian campaign of 1524–25
Battle of Pavia
War of the League of Cognac
Sack of Rome
Siege of Florence
Battle of Gavinana
Italian War of 1536–38
Featured article Italian War of 1542–46
Siege of Nice
Featured article Battle of Ceresole
Siege of St. Dizier
First Siege of Boulogne
Second Siege of Boulogne
Battle of the Solent
A-Class article Battle of Bonchurch
Italian War of 1551–59
Battle of Marciano
Battle of Renty
Battle of St. Quentin
Battle of Gravelines
Religious leaders
Pope Julius II
Pope Leo X
Pope Clement VII
Thomas Wolsey
Martin Luther
National leaders
Henry VIII of England
Andrea Gritti
Ludovico Sforza
Maximilian Sforza
Francesco II Sforza
Charles VIII of France
Louis XII of France
Francis I of France
Henry II of France
Ferdinand I of Spain
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Philip II of Spain
Military leaders
Niccolò di Pitigliano
Bartolomeo d'Alviano
Prospero Colonna
Giovanni dalle Bande Nere
Francesco Ferruccio
Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard
Gian Giacomo Trivulzio
Gaston de Foix
Charles III, Duke of Bourbon
Guillaume Gouffier, seigneur de Bonnivet
Anne de Montmorency
Odet of Foix, Viscount of Lautrec
Piero Strozzi
Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba
Fernando d'Avalos
Georg von Frundsberg
Others
Francesco Guicciardini
Michelangelo
Leonardo da Vinci
Armed forces Other topics
Types of units
Gendarmes
Pike and shot
Mercenary groups
Black Bands
Condottieri
Landsknechts
Swiss mercenaries

Franco-Ottoman alliance
Arquebus

Trace italienne

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