The Italian war of 1536-1538 was a conflict between King Francis I of
France and Charles V, King of
Spain and Holy Roman Emperor. The
objective was to achieve control over territories in Northern Italy,
in particular the Duchy of Milan. The war saw French troops invading
Northern Italy, and Spanish troops invading France. The Truce of Nice,
signed on June 18, 1538, ended hostilities, leaving Turin in French
hands but affecting no significant change in the map of Italy.
Spain increased its control over Italy, signifying the end of
Italian independence. The war strengthened animosity between the
Spanish and French, and reinforced ties between France and the Ottoman
Empire which had sided with Francis I against Charles V.
1.1 Long Term
1.2 Short Term
Louis XII made an agreement with Ferdinand II on dividing the
Kingdom of Naples, as Frederick IV was removed from the Neapolitan
throne. This was known as the Treaty of Grenada. This decision was
heavily criticized by influential figures such as Niccolo Machiavelli,
whose opinion was embraced by many of Italy’s citizens as well. When
Charles V came into power in 1519, he gained more of a reputation in
Italy, as he joined
Spain together with the Holy Roman Empire.
The war began in 1536 between Charles V and Francis I of France
commenced upon the death of Francesco II Sforza, the duke of Milan.
Sforza had no children and died of a long and painful illness in 1535.
Because he had no heirs, Francesco’s dynasty was brought to an end
by Charles V, whose niece, Christina of Denmark, was Francesco’s
wife. There were no protests when Charles V took over the Duchy of
Milan from either the people or other Italian states. This shift in
power marked a new era for France, as
Jean de la Foret
Jean de la Foret was brought in
as an ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, a territory coveted for its
wide range of goods and large amount of power. Foret and Francis I
secured an alliance with the Ottoman Empire, giving France a strong
army, ready to attack targets such as
Marseille and Piedmont, areas
close to the Italian province of Genoa.
When Charles's son Philip inherited the duchy, Francis invaded Italy.
Philippe de Chabot, a French general, led his army into
March 1536, and proceeded to capture Turin the following month, but he
failed to seize Milan. In response, Charles invaded Provence, a region
of France, advancing to Aix-en-Provence, and took Aix in August 1536
but his movement was halted by the French Army blocking routes to
Marseilles. Afterwards, Charles withdrew to
Spain rather than
attacking the heavily fortified Avignon. There is also a story that
French troops deliberately left over-ripe fruit on the trees in an
attempt to give Charles's troops dysentery.
While Charles V was busy fighting for territory in France, he lost
focus on events taking place in Italy. Francis I’s armies received
massive reinforcements in
Piedmont in terms of generals, troops, and
horses on a march headed for Genoa. France had secured an alliance
Ottoman Empire in 1536 through the diplomatic efforts of Jean
de La Forêt, France's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. A
Franco-Turkish fleet was stationed in
Marseille by the end of 1536,
threatening Genoa, by planning to attack simultaneously with the
French troops marching on land towards the city. Unfortunately for
the French and Ottomans, when they arrived in
Genoa in August 1536 the
defenses of the city had been recently reinforced. Instead, the troops
marched onto Piedmont, capturing many towns there. In 1537
Barbarossa raided the Italian coast and laid a siege at Corfu,
although this provided only limited assistance to the French.
With Charles V unsuccessful in battle and squeezed between the French
invasion and the Ottomans, Francis I and Charles V ultimately made
peace with the Truce of Nice on 18 June 1538.
The Truce of Nice, signed on June 18, 1538, ended the war, leaving
Turin in French hands but affecting no significant change in the map
of Italy. The Truce of Nice was notable because Charles and Francis
refused to sit in the same room together because of their intense
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III was forced to carry out negotiations by
going from room to room, trying to reach an agreement between the two
leaders. Tension from this war led to Charles V turning to fight
against the Ottomans, only to lose at the
Battle of Preveza
Battle of Preveza on
September 28, 1538.
Spain gained significant control over Italy. This Italian War
meant that the independence of several Italian states had ended and
that most of the Italian peninsula would be ruled (or influenced) by
foreign monarchs. The political fragmentation of Italy, and the lack
of an unified response to pressures from both France and Spain, made
it highly susceptible to European politics and foreign invasions.
Future Italian wars emerged from this conflict, specifically the
Italian War of 1542-1546. Moreover, different parts of the peninsula
experienced severe degrees of devastation on the territory, cities and
infrastructures. On occasion, Armies plundered cities and slaughtered
along the countryside.
This war entrenched hostilities between the Spanish and French, as
they would continue to vie for control over territory and influence
throughout the world. For example, even after the death of Francis I
in 1547, Henry II, Francis’ successor, continued aggression against
the Imperial/Spanish and Charles V. The war weakened both countries
Italian War of 1536–38
Italian War of 1536–38 strengthened the alliance
between the Ottomans and the French, for it took the both of them
working together to make Charles V desire peace, in order to avoid a
^ Potter 2008, pp. 30-37.
^ Mattingly 1955, p. 155.
^ a b c Bury 1902, pp. 72–73.
Bury, J.B. (1902), "Chapter 3: The Ottoman Conquest", in
Dalberg-Acton, John; et al., The Cambridge Modern History, Volume 1:
The Renaissance, Cambridge University Press, pp. 72–73
Mattingly, Garrett (1955), Renaissance diplomacy, Penguin Books,
p. 155, ISBN 978-0486-25570-5
Potter, David (2008), Renaissance France at War, Woodbridge: Boydell