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Western Civilization 10, Lesson 170 – The Italian War of 1494-1498

King Charles the VIII of France (r. 1483-1498) was a very ambitious king.  He was a young king, who was crowned at the age of 13 and died at the age of 28.  During his reign, there was one major event that is marked as his most memorable act.  In this essay, I am going to discuss the Italian War of 1494-1498, which was caused by King Charles.

In 1494, Charles started to make claims to Naples through some of his ancestors.  He voiced his desire to take Naples as his own.  The ruler of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, was egging on Charles and even invited him and his forces into Italy.  In Sforza’s mind, the threat of the French king would supress his enemies who were threatening him.

However, Charles was more successful than Sforza had expected.  Not only did he conquer Naples, he conquered other Italian city-states.  Suddenly the French king was a threat not only to Sforza’s enemies, but to Sforza himself.

Charles’ war quest led to an alliance of some Northern Italian city-states, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire.  This alliance was known as the League of Venice and was created as a way to protect the Italians from French invasion.  The League eventually forced Charles back and regained the city-states he had conquered.

The war ended in 1498 when Charles died, but his successor, Louis XII, tried to claim Milan as his own.  As expected, none of the other Italian city-states came to rescue Milan or Sforza when the French invaded again, marking the unofficial end of the war.

As you can see, the war was relatively small, for a war, and was not overly significant.  The whole ordeal started because of the poor insights of a man who wanted to scare his enemies.  Perhaps this is a lesson to not get too ambitious when dealing with those you dislike.

Thanks for reading!


Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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