The Italian Wars Essay

1776 words - 8 pages

Italy was the background for outside powers between the French invasion of 1494 and the accession of Francis 1 in 1515 for different reasons.
Between these years, the States of Italy were invaded on a number occasions by armies from France, Spain and other countries. At this time, the Italian States were very vulnerable; there were conflicts in Italy itself, they had out of date military equipment and Italy had insecure frontiers and unreliable allies – “That Italy failed to organise herself against invaders was due to the selfish policies.” This gave outside powers reason to use Italy as their battleground. Italy was a very wealthy country, showing this wealth, a Florentine Historian, ...view middle of the document...

It can be disputed that the most important reason for Italy being the battle ground was that it was wealthy, but I feel that even though it was wealthy, there were certainly other wealthy states which could have been the battleground, had Italy not been such an easy target, with certain assets other countries did not have.
This leads me to the next important reason why Italy was the battle ground; wealth. Italy was probably one of the wealthiest countries of the time, and was well worth ruling. The Italian cities were advanced, prosperous and the centre of trade and manufacture. A French political philosopher once said “Those who are called to be rulers of states should have glory, expansion and enrichment as primary aims” – Italy offered all of these in one go! Every country wanted a share of Italy’s riches - which were well recognised by all European rulers. Although this wealth could have been received through trade, most foreign powers felt the only way was by invasion.
The third most important reason for Italy being the battle ground is, in my opinion, because it was where the Pope was. The Pope meant power, wealth and influence. This also shows religious importance in Italy being the battleground – “The Germans, who comprised over half the force, included many followers of the fiery Reformer Martin Luther, they had and extra interest in entering Rome for the pleasure of despoiling churches and abusing Catholic clergy” This source gives us insight to the reason for fighting in Italy without much influence by the writers own feelings and thoughts etc. This quote has been taken from a book written by a man who was neither there at the time let alone part of the wars, thus would not have as strong or as influenced thoughts as others. This reason is also linked to how the soldiers felt towards the Pope; “They had been short of money since Pavia and the idea grew at the end of 1526 that the Pope was to blame for all their distress.” Thus causing the soldiers to want to fight in Italy – mainly Rome – where the Pope was.
Equally as important is the fact that foreign powers had (or at least thought they had) dynastic claims to some of the Italian states. Foreign leaders who had these dynastic claims felt obliged to fight for their rights e.g. Charles V’s claim to Naples through the House of Anjou. These dynastic claims lead to more foreign powers fighting in Italy.
As a bonus for foreign powers, Italy had out of date military equipment and standards – adding to the already unstable and disunited states. In France “his men-at-arms were almost subjects of the king and not low born but gentlemen whom the captains could not enlist or dismiss at will” this made the soldiers “want to work hard; serve honourably; glory; bravery and no other goal than to win praise from the king” As opposed to the Italians where “many of the men-at-arms were either peasants or commoners subject to some other prince and completely dependant on the captains with...

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