In 1494, there were five sovereign regional powers in Italy: Milan, Venice, Florence, the Papal States and Naples. In 1536, only one remained: Venice. These decades of conflict precipitated great anxiety among Western thinkers, and Italians responded to the fragmentation, forevermore, of Latin Christendom, the end of self-governance for Italians, and the beginning of the early modern era in a myriad of ways. They were always heavily influenced by the lived experience of warfare between large Christian armies on the peninsula.
The diplomatic and military history of this 30 year period is a complex one that one eminent Renaissance historian, Lauro Martines, has described as "best told by a computer, so many and tangled are the treatises, negotiations and battles." At the same time, the fighting went in tandem with the Renaissance and was influenced by it. Most historians credit the city-state of Florence as the place that started and developed the Italian Renaissance, a process carried out through the patronage and commission of artists during the late 12th century. If Florence is receiving its due credit, much of it belongs to the Medicis, the family dynasty of Florence that ruled at the height of the Renaissance. The dynasty held such influence that some of its family members even became Pope.
The First Italian War: The History and Legacy of the Italian Wars' Initial Conflict at the Height of the Renaissance chronicles the various nations and city-states that jousted for power throughout the peninsula during the late 15th century.
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