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Old August 18th, 2015, 11:04 AM   #1

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What made France lose interest in Italy?


Sadly the Italian renaissance is not anywhere near my terrain. Still from reading Machiavelli and a paper here and there I have come to understand that for a long time in the middle ages France was quite keen on slicing a piece off of the Italian pie.
How did this work out? Besides that, what made them lose interest?
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Old August 18th, 2015, 11:29 AM   #2

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For sure the French Royal houses were interested in controlling the Church [up to keep Popes in captivity in France ...].

I'm not totally "tuned" with whom indicates the German Emperors as main reason why France stayed far from the peninsula in Middle Ages. I tend to see a basic reason in the competition with England. The war of 100 years [ XIII - XIV century CE] was an not easy matter to manage for France.

With such a problem in the North we can put the not so proper control of the South ...

Once the France solved the problem with England and the state was consolidated ... Spain appeared at the horizon as a great power, with its explorations, discoveries and enormous new resources coming from the New World. In fact, Spain has been a dominating power in the Italian peninsular for a lot of time.

But ...

France did dominate in some important areas of Italy during those centuries:

Charles VIII of France run the so called "Italian War" [end of XV century CE]. He was even crowned King of Naples [1495, if I remember well].

The power showed by the French King concerned the Italian Lordships and they created an anti-French league [League of Venice]. So among the reasons why the French power was not so present in Italy it was that it did too much [while the Spanish power was more "diplomatic" in a certain sense].
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Old August 18th, 2015, 11:36 AM   #3
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Repeated military debacles and defeats followed by the French Wars of Religion.
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Old August 19th, 2015, 02:59 AM   #4
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Repeated military debacles and defeats followed by the French Wars of Religion.
What defeats?
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Old August 19th, 2015, 06:29 AM   #5
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What defeats?
From the 1490s to Cateau-Cambresis (1559) France struggled with the Habsburgs in numerous wars, both in Italy and in Flanders. More often than not France got the short end. The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis is the usual event that 'confirms' Spanish hegemony in Italy through the 17th century. Control or major influence in Italy meant economic and dynastic benefits for the "winner."

France remained involved in Italian affairs of course, even up until the Risorgimento, 1860-70. Napoleon, and Napoleon III intervened militarily in Italy on numerous occasions and French troops propped up the Papal States to retain French influence on the Peninsula prior to 1870.

France never lost interest in Italy. It was a back door for French adversaries. Genoa and Milan together were the start of the Spanish Road to the Netherlands ("Chemin des Espagnolz" as described by a French military engineer), a threat to French interests in southern and northern Europe until the later 17th century. Habsburg influence in Italy remained until the French Revolution, and then reappeared after it. France fought a war against Austria in northern Italy in 1859.
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Old August 19th, 2015, 06:33 AM   #6
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Repeated military debacles and defeats followed by the French Wars of Religion.
In addition to post #5, this is also an important factor. Although Italy was crucial to French (Valois) interests and policy, the disruption and effects of about eight civil wars over religion diverted much of French energy and resources until the beginning of the 17th c.
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Old August 19th, 2015, 06:52 AM   #7

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France never lost interest in Italy. It was a back door for French adversaries. Genoa and Milan together were the start of the Spanish Road to the Netherlands
This is of vital importance during the 17th century. Spain had to keep the road open to supply its army in the Netherlands and therefore could not make major concessions in northern Italy whilst the French had less need of Italian territory. Therefore land swaps stemming from peace treaties favoured Spain and the HRE in northern Italy and France along her Northern borders.
It must also be remembered that militarily Spain was at the height of her powers. Up until the battle of Rocroi Spanish forces reined supreme in open warfare.
Despite this being the era of Richelieu, Mazarin and the Sun King France was not as united as people might think as shown by the French religious wars and later the Frondes.
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Old August 19th, 2015, 08:26 AM   #8

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What defeats?
Most notably at the Battle of Pavia which witnessed the total rout of the French army and the capture of the French king. Francis was imprisoned by Charles V and forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid, surrendering significant territory to his captor. The outcome of the battle ensured Spanish-Habsburg ascendancy in Italy.
Although successive French kings sought to regain a foothold in the area, the Hapsburgs remained in the ascendancy until the time of Bonaparte.

Last edited by funakison; August 19th, 2015 at 08:32 AM.
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Old August 19th, 2015, 02:01 PM   #9

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What defeats?
As well as those already mentioned, the French did not perform well in the war of Sicilian Vespers, being constantly bested by the kingdom of Aragon.
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Old August 19th, 2015, 04:55 PM   #10

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France lost its fever for Italy with Mazarino... still with Richelieu they had high ambitions there.

After Mazarino, they got involved in Italy less often, but still had interest in the boot.
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