The Duchy of Milan, 1535-1563

The Battle of Pavia 1525 in fact decided the fate of Milan; French King Francis I. was taken prisoner, and, in the Treaty of Madrid 1526, gave up the French claim on Milan. The French-Habsburg war resumed; 1535 Francesco II Sforza died; the year marks the begin of Habsburg rule over Milan.
Not until 1541 did Emperor Charles V. visit Milan and formally assume the title of Duke of Milan. In Worms (Germany) he passed ordonnances for Milan (1541), followed in 1545 by the "Nuove Costituzioni" (new constitutions), a law code which intended to establish a set of laws generally applicable to Lombardy outside of the capital city of Milan. The Emperor, and since 1556 his successors, the Kings of Spain, were represented by governors.
The Habsburg administration pursued two policies, one striving to centralize the administration by undermining/questioning local privileges, the other raising revenues to finance the frequent wars; as a result, parts of the population were alienated because their rights were infringed upon, others because of heavy taxation. Milan and Lombardy registered considerable emigration; many nobles emigrated, others resorted to banditry; the early decades of Habsburg rule over the Duchy of Milan are described as characterized by anarchy and chaos, the government being unable to restore law and order.
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was instituted in Milan in 1554. Carlo Borromeo founded the Borromeo College in Milan, turning the city into a center of the Counterreformation. He was to rise to the position of archbishop and his activity would influence regions beyond the Duchy of Milan.

Cronologia di Milano dal 1551 al 1575, from Storia di Milano
Storia di Milano : I governatori della Milano spagnola (The Spanish Governors of Milan), in Italian
History of Milan, from Milanoweb, from Ciao Milano
Biography of Carlo Borromeo, from EB 1911, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Biography of Ferrante Gonzaga, from Memoria delle cose di Cento, in Italian; image : F.G., from MATEO (Desbillons)
REFERENCE Alessandro Visconti, Storia di Milano, Milano : Ceschina 1937

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 3rd 2004, last revised on March 24th 2006

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