The Italian Wars Portal
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.
The Battle of Ceresole
was an encounter between a French
army and the combined forces of Spain
and the Holy Roman Empire
during the Italian War of 1542–46
. The lengthy engagement, which historian Bert Hall
characterized as "marvelously confused", took place on April 11, 1544, outside the village of Ceresole d'Alba
in the Piedmont
region of Italy
; the French, under François de Bourbon, Count of Enghien
, defeated the Spanish-Imperial army of Alfonso d'Avalos d'Aquino, Marquis del Vasto
. Despite having inflicted substantial casualties on the Imperial troops, the French subsequently failed to exploit their victory by taking Milan
Enghien and d'Avalos had arranged their armies along two parallel ridges; because of the topography of the battlefield, many of the individual actions of the battle were uncoordinated with one another. The battle opened with several hours of skirmishing between opposing bands of arquebusiers and an ineffectual artillery exchange, after which d'Avalos ordered a general advance. In the center, Imperial landsknechts clashed with French and Swiss infantry, suffering enormous casualties. In the southern part of the battlefield, Italian infantry in Imperial service were harried by French cavalry attacks and withdrew after learning that the Imperial troops of the center had been defeated. In the north, meanwhile, the French infantry line crumbled, and Enghien led a series of ineffectual and costly cavalry charges against Spanish and German infantry before the latter were forced to surrender by the arrival of the victorious Swiss and French infantry from the center.
Ceresole was one of the few pitched battles during the latter half of the Italian Wars. Known among military historians chiefly for the "great slaughter" that occurred when columns of intermingled arquebusiers and pikemen met in the center, it also demonstrates the continuing role of traditional heavy cavalry on a battlefield largely dominated by the emerging pike and shot infantry.
But we found that they were as ingenious as ourselves, for behind their first line of pikes they had put pistoleers. Neither side fired till we were touching—and then there was a wholesale slaughter: every shot told: the whole front rank on each side went down.
(Ludovico il Moro, "The Moor") was a member of the Sforza
dynasty of Milan
, and the second son of Francesco Sforza
. When Gian Galeazzo died in 1494
, Ludovico received the ducal crown from the Milanese nobles on October 22
. The same year he simultaneously encouraged the French under Charles VIII of France
, and the Holy Roman Emperor
, Maximilian I
, to become involved in Italian politics, hoping to control the two and reap the rewards himself—so starting the Italian Wars
. Things did not go as planned, and finding his own position endangered by the French, he joined the league against Charles VIII, giving his niece Bianca
in marriage to Maximilian I
and receiving in return imperial investiture of the duchy. Lodovico was driven from Milan by the new French king, Louis XII
. In 1500
, Louis XII lay siege to the city of Novara
where Ludovico was based. The armies of both sides included Swiss
mercenaries, fighters who had been virtually undefeated in battle for over two centuries. The Swiss did not cherish the idea of fighting each other, and therefore chose to leave Novara. Ludovico was handed over to the French and died a prisoner in the castle of Loches.