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Useful Notes / Italian Wars

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King of France François I at the battle of Marignano, 13 September 1515.

The Italian Wars were a series of conflicts, lasting from 1494 to 1559 (with a few peacetime gaps in between) that involved the Italian city-states, The Papal States, and most of the major Western European states (including France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, and Scotland), and even the Ottoman Empire.

All fought over, as the name would suggest, the Italian peninsula. Originally fought over dynastic conflicts in the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples, the wars quickly became an attempt for all sides involved to increase power and territory, and gave way to many alliances and betrayals. They ended for good with the peace treaties of Cateau-Cambrésis on April 3, 1559.

These conflicts also had the effect of increasing the exportations of discoveries and artistic styles of The Renaissance outside of the Italian peninsula, in France with King François I most famously.


Depictions in fiction

Live-Action Television

  • Soldier of Fortune (Il soldato di ventura, 1976) is a comedy that follows the adventures of condottiero Ettore Fieramosca (played by Bud Spencer), who is given the task of leading a mob of bungling warriors against the French army
  • Flesh+Blood follows two warring groups of mercenaries and their longstanding quarrel in Italy in 1501.

Live-Action Television

  • A small part of it is portrayed in some episodes of The Borgias.

Video Games

  • The Forgotten expansion to Age of Empires II features the Italians, which have the Condottieri as one of their unique units. To signify their status as mercenaries, the Italian team bonus makes Condottieri available to all players who are allied with them.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is set during the early Italian Wars (from 1499 to 1503), namely at the time of the War over Naples and Cesare Borgia's conquests in Emilia-Romagna and Marche. The antagonists of the game are Cesare Borgia's Papal forces and the French army sent to buttress him. Note, however, that multiple historical issues are present. For example, Cesare Borgia is portrayed as a mildly psychotic incestuous bastard, whereas actual history is slightly more sympathetic.
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  • One of the starting scenarios available for Europa Universalis is the War of the League of Cambrai.
  • Can happen in Medieval II: Total War though the game mechanics make it unlikely it will be half as enduring or powerful. In addition, several mods are set to showcase it. In addition, the vanilla "Historical" Scenario battle of Pavia is based on the Imperial Curb Stomp of that name, though any relations to history are rather strained.
  • The first campaign of Rise of Legends is probably the closest you'll get to a tactical game of this, or at least the Italian-on-Italian side of it. If you look past the Steampunk and Clock Punk, the first campaign basically puts you in the role of Fantasy Milan fighting against Fantasy Venice, and wheeling/dealing/killing your way through the other city states in order to take down your enemy.


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