Italian Wars 1/10 - The 15th Century - Prelude

Italian Wars 1/10 – The 15th Century – Prelude

Welcome to the Renaissance It’s summer, 1494. Charles VIII, king of France is gatheringa large army acros the Alps, poised to invade Italy. Italy is a collection of independent citystates, a land of wealth and culture. Warfare is still dominated by medieval principles,but the Renaissance,

and its empiricism has already sawn the seeds of rapid progress. Pike squares and gunpowder had been used forquite a while; however these will truly come of age in the battles to come. European politics is dominated by the conflictbetween the Habsburgs who rule the Holy Roman Empire and the Valois kings of France – allthis on the backdrop of the looming threat of the ever expanding Ottoman Empire.

To understand what will happen, one must goback some 50 years and see what took place since then. Fall of Constantinople In 1453 the Ottomans led by Mehmet II capture Constantinople, ending the Byzantine Empire once and for all, and laying the framework for their own Ottoman Empire.

Constantinople, now renamed Istanbul would soon grow to be the greatest city of the age, dominating trade from the East, and becoming the economic engine of the empire. After settling in to their new capital, the Ottomans move on to their next nemesis, the Kingdom of Hungary. At the siege of Belgrade they suffer a devastating defeat . This sets them back for a time, but in a generation they are back on the offensive again.

End of the Hundred Years War In the same year the Hundred Years War finally comes to an end. The English are vanquished, and driven from the continent – save for the small enclave of Calais. England is bankrupt, and two years later acivil war breaks out.

The war lasts until 1487 largely removing England from continental affairs. France With its arch enemy gone, the French crown can finally focus on its internal affairs. The French king, Louis XI, a shrewd and cunning statesman begins his policy of centralization, extending crown lands at the expense of hisbarons.

As a result, France would soon become themost powerful kingdom of Christendom. Unification of Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella For Spain 1469 is a crucial year. The two kingdoms of Castile and Aragon arebrought together in personal union under Ferdinand and Isabella, making unified Spain the secondmost powerful kingdom. Holy Roman Empire In contrast to the centralization of Franceand Spain,

the Holy Roman Empire is a patchwork of innumerable smaller and larger, clerical and secular states, enjoying a quasi-independence and partial sovereignty. Holy Roman Emperor is more a title of prestige,then a function of power. Frederick III,

The 15th Century – Prelude

the first Hapsburg holding this office relies rather on his hereditary lands of Austria and Tyrol, however these provinces are rather marginal on the European stage. What Frederick lacks in terms of real power,he makes up for by careful politics. Burgundian Wars Positioned between the HRE and the Kingdom of France is the Duchy of Burgundy. Although a fief of both the Holy Roman Empire and France,

Burgundy is in fact a de fact independent kingdom in its own right, anda major player in European affairs. This rich and multilingual kingdom was buildup by a series of ambitious dukes who unscrupulously exploited the chaos of the Hundred Years War,and the weakness of the Holy Roman Empire. Charles the Bold is the latest in this line of princes. His great ambition is to create a sovereign state stretching from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. The centralizing policies of France are the greatest threat to his plan.

To this end, Charles decides to capitalize on the growing discontent of the French nobility. He organizes the so-called League of the Public Weal, and goes on the attack in 1465. He fights an inconclusive battle south of Paris, but is forced to retreat when a rebellion breaks out in Liege. He tries again in 1468, but Louis XI outmaneuver shim politically. A stalemate ensues, as Charles is forced to concentrate elsewhere. After occupying the lands of his former ally Loraine, Charles turns his attention to the allied cities of the Swiss Confederacy.

The 15th Century – Prelude History

He imposes a trade embargo attempting to bring them to heel. The Swiss declare war and execute Charles’s local governor. Charles marches against them, and is decisively defeated at the Battle of Grandson. Having rallied his army, he is defeated again by the confederates at Morat. In 1477 at Nancy he is defeated for the third time by an army of Swiss mercenaries and the forces of Loraine. He himself perishes in the battle.

His naked and disfigured body is found in the river some days later. Maximilian and Mary the Rich After Charles’s death Mary, his only child inherits his lands. Mary – often called Mary the Rich, owing tithe wealth she possesses is the most coveted bride to be at this time. Louis XI wants her to marry the Dauphin – theater King Charles VIII. This would allow France to claim all of Burgundy,those parts belonging to France and also those belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. Fearing French expansion, Mary chooses Maximilian Habsburg,

Italian Wars1
Italian Wars1

the son of Frederick III instead. Enraged, Louis decides to secure Mary’s lands by any means possible, launching a war against Burgundy. He occupies the Duchy and County of Burgundy’s well as Artois. Maximilian, an equally shrewd and relentless politician decides to retaliate. He gathers his forces in Flanders and defeats the French in 1479 at Negate. Despite winning the battle Maximilian is forced to make concessions, after Mary dies as a result of a hunting accident. A treaty is signed at Arras, stipulating that Maximilian’s daughter,

Margaret of Austria is to marry Louis’s son, and Maximilian’s to cede the County of Burgundy as dowry. Treaty of Sentimentalist Wars Begin This seems like a good compromise for Maximilian,however he wants more. Being a widower, he decides to secure some new lands by way of marriage. His choice is Anne, the heiress to Brittany. Anne is happy to accept his proposal, as this marriage would protect her lands from French efforts of encroachment. But this is obviously unacceptable to the new king, Charles.

With Brittany in the hands of Maximilian, France would be hopelessly encircled by Hapsburg lands. He decides he should marry Anne of Brittany a measure to prevent this. Brittany is taken by force, and Anne is reluctantly married to Charles. Maximilian’s daughter Margaret is returned to Flanders. War is only avoided because Charles has other things on his mind. The invasion of Italy is imminent, so he needs to appease his neighbors. In 1493 he signs a treaty with Maximilian at Senlis, giving him Flanders, Tortoise and the County of Burgundy,

Prelude History In English Step By Step

only keeping the Duchy of Burgundy for himself. The same year he signs a treaty with Spain giving Spain territorial concessions. A treaty with England had been signed the previous year. Charles hopes these treaties will secure the neutrality of France’s neighbors giving him free hand in Italy. Non of the signatories think much of Charles’s plans, so they are all happy to make empty promises in return for real profit. Discovery of America and the End of the Conquistador Meanwhile in Spain in 1492 the Catholic Monarchs,Ferdinand and Isabella manage to conclude the Conquistador – an 800 year effort torid Spain of Moorish rule. The fall of the Emirate of Granada now rids Spain from enemies within, freeing her to pursue an active foreign policy abroad

. The discovery of the new world by Columbus in the same year would yield unforeseen levels of wealth, and further augment Spain’s power and influence. Philip the Handsome and Joanna of Ca stile Four years later, another event with unforeseen consequences would take place. Joanna of Ca stile,

third in line to the Spanish throne will marry Maximilian’s son, Philip the Handsome. Nobody at the time thought much of this marriage,Joanna being third in line; however time will prove this to be perhaps the most important-political marriage in history. Or as the Hamburgs would say – power grows out of a marriage rather than from a barrel of a gun. But that’s another story…

Italian Wars 2/10 – The 15th Century – Prelude

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *