England and Europe 1485-1714 -By M.R. Dacombe And V.M.S. Heigham

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The year 1494 marked the beginning of a new period of much warfare. Louis XI. was dead (1483), and the boy Charles VIII. had succeeded him on the throne
of France. Charles, now a young man, had a good army and the best cannon in the world. He wanted to test his power and to prove to his subjects that he
was a great general. In 1494 he saw that his opportunity lay in Italy. He revived an old French claim to Naples, led his army across the Alps, and startled the Italians into submission by his show of force.
Fifteenth-century Italian warfare had been an elaborate game, with many rules but little bloodshed,carried out by hired soldiers who made fighting their
profession. Charles broke all the rules of the game:his soldiers fought to kill rather than to take prisoners ;his cannon did terrific damage. For the moment he
seemed to dominate the whole peninsula. But Charles was not a really good leader; almost before his troops had turned to make their journey home his influence was fading, and when he died in 1498 all results of his enterprise seemed to have vanished completely.Nevertheless he had shown the weakness and the wealth of Italy to the rest of Europe. Where he led in 1494 others followed again and again during the next sixty years. The French kings each in turn vainly hoped to extend the boundaries of their kingdom until they included some part of the fertile and wealthy country south of the Alps, while the ambitions of other rulers had been strongly aroused in opposition.By the year 1519 all the old group of rulers had died, and young men had taken their places. Francis I. of France had already led a great and victorious expedition into Italy, which had given him the duchy of Milan. He was determined to continue this warlike policy, and hoped to make himself the strongest monarch of Western Europe.

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