The French invasion of Italy in 1494 is widely seen as the beginning of the end of the Italian Renaissance. Charles VIII invaded Italy to lay claim to the Kingdom of Naples, which composed most of southern Italy.
The French army marched through Italy with only minimal resistance. The invasion had a profound impact on Italian society and politics. The invasion of Charles VII changed the development of Italy and can be considered one of the primary reasons the Renaissance ended. The French Invasion was to lead to a series of wars that greatly weakened the Italian City-States, prompted a greater role for Spain in the peninsula and eventually led to the domination of Italy by the Spanish Monarchy.
Pope Innocent VIII, had fought with King Ferdinand I of Naples over his refusal to pay feudal dues to the papacy. The Pope has long claimed that Naples was a fiefdom of the Papacy. Ferdinand was an unusually cruel and brutal prince even for the times, refused and this led to a conflict with the Papacy. The Pope excommunicated Ferdinand and thus he effectively stated that Ferdinand was no longer the legitimate ruler. Pope Innocent who had a good relationship with the French asked their king to intervene and he offered the throne of Naples to Charles VIII. The French monarch had a weak claim to the throne through his grandfather, who had married a member of the Angevin Dynasty, the ruling family in Naples. Later Innocent was reconciled with Ferdinand but the French monarch now believed that he was the legitimate king of Naples.
Categories: Renaissance History