The Italian War of 1521-1526
The Italian War of 1521-1526 was one of the conflicts that were part of the Italian Wars (1494 -1559), which were fought between France and Spain over the control of the Italian Peninsula.
The war was caused by the election of Charles I of Spain as Holy Roman Emperor over King Francis I of France after Emperor Maximilian I’s death in 1519. This posed a threat to France, as the country was now surrounded to the north, east, and south by Habsburg territories. In 1521, after England had tried unsuccessfully to mediate in the conflict, France prepared itself to go to war. The French armies launched two offensives against the Habsburgs in the imperial territories. On one side, they tried to reconquer Navarre, which it had lost in 1512, but were forced to retreat after the defeat at the Battle of Esquiroz. On the other, they launched an attack on the Muse River in order to gain control of the Habsburg Netherlands. However, this campaign also failed.
In the meanwhile, Charles V allied himself with King Henry VIII of England and Pope Leo X. Even though the Papal States initially supported Francis I, their interest in gaining support against Martin Luther and expelling the French from Lombardy made them switch sides. As a result, France was left with just the support of the Republic of Venice. Nevertheless, this alliance didn’t last for long, as Venice made a separate peace after the French were defeated and expelled from Lombardy in the Battle of Bicocca in 1522.
In 1523, England invaded France and Francis tried to raise money for warfare by imposing a lawsuit against Duke Charles de Bourbon. Angered by this, the Duke decided to betray the King of France and ally himself with the Imperial army. In 1524, after Francis attempted unsuccessfully to invade Italy, Bourbon invaded Provence and took the title of Count of Provence.
The Battle of Pavia
In 1525, Francis I launched another military campaign to invade northern Italy. However, he suffered a great defeat at the hands of the Imperial troops at the Battle of Pavia. After having regained Milan, the French troops advanced to the Italian city. There, they seized it for several days. The course of the conflict took a turn after Imperial Commander Charles de Lannoy arrived on the battlefield with a reinforcement of several German troops. During the fight, France suffered heavy casualties, as half of its army and several commanders were killed. Francis I then tried to retreat to Milan but was captured and taken to Madrid.
On January 14 1526, after several negotiations with Emperor Charles V, he signed the Treaty of Madrid, in which he agreed to cede his claims to Burgundy, Flanders and Milan. Moreover, he agreed to marry Charles’s sister Eleanor and to give back the territories that he had taken from the Empire. However, Francis broke the Treaty in that same year and allied himself with the Papal States to fight against the Spanish Monarchy and the Holy Roman Empire. This led to the outbreak of the War of the League of Cognac (1526-1529) during which Charles V invaded Rome.
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