Portal:Italian Wars

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The Italian Wars Portal


Introduction

Battle of Pavia, oil on panel.jpg
The Battle of Pavia. Oil on panel by an unknown Flemish artist, 16th century.
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, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, Scotland, 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.

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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.

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They went back to their mountains diminished in numbers, but much more diminished in audacity; for it is certain that the losses which they suffered at Bicocca so affected them that in the coming years they no longer displayed their wonted vigour.

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Battle of Pavia

The Battle of Pavia. Oil on panel by an unknown Flemish artist, 16th century.

Selected biography

Portrait of Andrea Gritti by Titian, c. 1540
Andrea Gritti was a distinguished Venetian diplomat and administrator. In 1509, after the Venetian defeat at the Battle of Agnadello, Gritti was appointed as proveditor to the Venetian army in Treviso; ordered by the Council of Ten to support revolts against the invaders, he successfully engineered the return of Padua to Venetian hands, and its subsequent defence against the Emperor. In 1510, following the death of Pitigliano, Gritti took command of Venice's army, but was forced to withdraw to Venice by French advances. He continued as proveditor through end of the League of Cambrai and the subsequent war of the Holy League. In 1512, he led the negotiations with Francis I that resulted in Venice leaving the League and allying with France.

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
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 de Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec
Piero Strozzi
Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba
Fernando de 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