IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > B. Early Modern Europe, 1479–1815 > 1. Europe, 1479–1675 > f. Italy > 4. Other Italian States
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1479–1500)
4. Other Italian States
After the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559; (See 1559, April 3), all the Italian states, with the possible exception of Venice, were more or less directly under Spanish influence. By the end of the 16th century Italy was losing the intellectual and cultural primacy that it had held during the Renaissance.  1
MILAN declined rapidly in economic and political importance after 1525. The death of the last Sforza (Francesco II) in 1535 brought Milan under direct Spanish rule. Having failed to respond to the challenges of foreign competition and international industry, the cities of Lombardy atrophied economically and politically; but rural agriculture, which laid increased emphasis on technological improvements (fodder crops) and commercial production, thrived. Hence, political power shifted from the urban patriciates to the rural nobility. The countryside became the cradle of modern Lombard (and Italian) industry.  2
GENOA had been, in the later 15th century, a bone of contention between France and Milan. Torn by internal struggles of rival families (Adorno and Fregoso), it had lost its great commercial power and was important chiefly as a base of operations for France. In 1528 (Sept. 9), however, the great Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, having left the French service, seized the town and reestablished the republic, with a pronouncedly aristocratic constitution. Efforts of the French to recapture it failed. In a conspiracy (1542) Andrea Doria was forced to flee but returned as doge and the constitution was restored. On Andrea Doria's death (1560) he was succeeded by Gian Andrea Doria. The loss of Chios to the Ottomans (1566) marked the end of Genoese power in the east.  3
SAVOY was an independent state whose rulers also governed Piedmont. Lying astride the Alps and commanding the passes from France into Italy, the state was one of considerable importance, but the feudal organization resulted in such weakness that the dukes were long unable to pursue an independent policy. In the early 16th century Savoy was decidedly under French influence, and when in 1536 the duke departed from the traditional policy, his dominions were overrun and for the larger part occupied by the French. Emmanuel Philibert (1553–80) was the first really outstanding ruler. By following the Spanish lead he secured his dominions again in 1559, and in the course of his reign acquired Asti and other territories by negotiation. He made much progress in breaking the power of the nobility and in organizing a central government and an effective army. His successor, Charles Emmanuel I (1580–1630), squandered much of his father's achievement, waging war and neglecting the economic development of the country. Victor Amadeus I (1630–37) was a wise and just ruler, but his short reign was followed by a civil war, and when finally Charles Emmanuel II (1638–75) ascended the throne, his mother Christina (daughter of Henry IV of France) dominated the situation as regent.  4
MANTUA played a fleeting role on the international stage in the years 1627–31, when the death of Vincenzo II (Gonzaga) without heirs provoked the War of the Mantuan Succession. The best claim was that of Charles of Nevers, of the French branch of the Gonzaga line, but the emperor, at Spain's suggestion, sequestered the territory in order to keep the French out. The invasion of Germany by Gustavus Adolphus finally turned the scales in France's favor and by the Treaty of Cherasco (April 26, 1631), Nevers was invested with the duchy.  5
FLORENCE, like Milan, sank in importance during the 16th century. The Medici, restored in 1512, were expelled for a second time in 1527, when the republic was reestablished. But in 1530 Charles V appointed Alessandro de' Medici hereditary ruler. Cosimo de' Medici became duke in 1537 and ruled until 1574. During this period Siena was incorporated with Florence (1555), and Florence became the grand duchy of Tuscany (1569). Elite descendants of great Renaissance merchant families retained control of the government and laid the foundations of a modern state bureaucracy.  6
NAPLES, conquered by the Spaniards in 1504, became an appendage of the Spanish crown and was, throughout this period, the headquarters of Spanish power in Italy. Though unpopular, the Spaniards were not threatened in their position except by the revolt of Masaniello (Tommaso Aniello, a fisherman) in July 1647. The medieval pattern of feudal landholding continued: aristocratic families in the 17th century exercised judicial and economic rights over peasants working their lands and bent their efforts toward retaining familial lands. With the rise in grain prices, richer peasants, who could afford more land, got richer; poor, indebted peasants unable to pay rents sank in status. (See Naples) (See Lombardy) (See Tuscany)  7
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.