Neapolitan War, 1494-1495

A.) Causes for the War

In 1494 France (King Charles VIII.) began a series of French invasions of Italy. The primary objective was to secure the Kingdom of Naples; the French, however, had aspirations reaching much further, expecting their army to be greeted as liberators in the various regions of Italy. The French even hoped to continue their conquests on the Balkans peninsula (where the Ottoman Empire recently had established itself), hoping on the peninsula's christian peoples to rise in support of the French.

B.) The Wars

A French army, 37,000 men strong and well-equipped, crossed the Alps. Piemont, Milan and Genoa allied with the French, whose army swelled to 60,000. Florence, rather than risking a conflict, ceded to France her coastal cities of Pisa and Livorno. Rome was occupied; the only potentate taking measures against the French were King Alfons II. of Naples (resigned Jan. 23rd 1495) and his successor, King Ferrandino. However, his forces did not commit to fight; Naples was occupied on February 22nd 1495. Charles VIII of France assumed the title King of Naples.
While Charles VIII. now prepared the expedition against the Turks, an anti-French alliance was concluded by Pope Alexander VI., Venice, Milan, the Emperor and Castile-Aragon. The strategy was to cut Charles' communications with France and for the Emperor to invade the latter. On July 7th the Battle of Fornovo (Tuscany) saw a 10,000 men strong French army meet an Imperial army 30,000 strong. The French were able to repel the enemy and withdrew to France. However, Naples could not be held; the French withdrew; the plans for an expedition against the Ottoman Empire had to be cancelled.

C.) The Legacy

King Ferrandino resumed his rule over Naples. France did not give up her ambitions in Italy, but limited them to Northern Italy.

Florence and Venice in Renaissance, from Univ. of Warwick, has detailed bibliography
Die Erste Periode der Italienkriege (1494-1504) (The first Phase of the Italian Wars, 1494-1504), from Die Entwicklung der Kriegskunst in den Italienkriegen (The Development of the Art of War in the Italian Wars), in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 3rd 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004

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