The Italian Wars Portal
The Italian Wars
were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, all the major states of western Europe (France
, the Holy Roman Empire
, the Republic of Venice
, the Papal States
, and most of the city-states of Italy
) 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 degree of alliances, counter-alliances, and regular betrayals.
Warfare in the Italian Wars was a complicated and ever-changing art. Much of the period saw revolutionary developments in formation, equipment, and tactics as the great powers of Europe attempted to gain a decisive advantage against each other.
The Battle of Bicocca, sometimes known as the Battle of La Bicocca, was fought on April 27, 1522, during the Italian War of 1521–26. A combined French and Venetian force under Odet de Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec, was decisively defeated by an Imperial, Spanish, and Papal army under the overall command of Prosper Colonna. Lautrec then withdrew from Lombardy, leaving the Duchy of Milan in Imperial hands.
Having been driven from Milan by an Imperial advance in late 1521, Lautrec had regrouped, attempting to strike at Colonna's lines of communication. When the Swiss mercenaries in French service did not receive their pay, however, they demanded an immediate battle, and Lautrec was forced to attack Colonna's fortified position in the park of Bicocca, north of Milan. The Swiss pikemen advanced over open fields under heavy artillery fire to assault the Imperial positions, but were halted at a sunken road backed by earthworks. Having suffered massive casualties from the fire of Spanish arquebusiers, the Swiss retreated. Meanwhile, an attempt by French cavalry to flank Colonna's position proved equally ineffective. The Swiss, unwilling to fight further, marched off to their cantons a few days later, and Lautrec retreated into Venetian territory with the remnants of his army.
The battle is noted chiefly for marking the end of the Swiss dominance among the infantry of the Italian Wars, and of the Swiss method of assaults by massed columns of pikemen without support from other troops. It was simultaneously the first of a series of engagements which established the decisive role of firearms on the battlefield.
In such a state of mind and in such confusion of affairs, likely to lead to new distubances, began the year 1494 (I date according to the Roman usage)—a most unhappy year for Italy, and in truth the beginning of those years of misfortune, because it opened the door to innumerable horrible calamities, in which, one could say, for various reasons, a great part of the world was subsequently involved.
Guillaume Gouffier, Seigneur de Bonnivet
–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