Ferrante of Naples the Statecraft of a Renaissance Prince

David Abulafia reassesses the life and motives of a notorious ruler and the complex web of Renaissance diplomacy involving him which led up to the Italian wars.

The invasion of Italy by Charles VIII of France in 1494-95 has acquired a special reputation as the start of a new era in Italian politics after the forty-year settlement between Milan, Venice, Florence, the papacy and Naples that supposedly followed the Peace of Lodi in 1454. For the great sixteenth-century Florentine historian, Francesco Guicciardini, the French invasion marked the beginning of an unending Italian tragedy, continuing through the reigns of Louis XII and Francis I of France and of Ferdinand II and Charles I of Spain; 1494 was:

... a most unhappy year for Italy, truly the beginning of the pears of wretchedness, because it opened the way for innumerable horrible calamities which later for various reasons afflicted a great part of the rest of the world.

It was against the kings of Naples, members of the Spanish royal house of Aragon, that the French king directed his campaign, amid talk that Naples would also be the springboard for a crusade to recover Constantinople and Jerusalem. In order, then, to understand Charles' plans it is important to understand who his enemies in Naples were and what crimes were attributed to them.

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