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The First and Second Italian Wars 1494–1504 (Hardback)

Fearless Knights, Ruthless Princes and the Coming of Gunpowder Armies

Ancient History Colour Books Military 16th Century 15th Century

By Julian Romane
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 14 colour and 6 black and white pictures
ISBN: 9781526750518
Published: 15th September 2020


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The First and Second Italian Wars describes the course of military operations and political machinations in Italy from 1494 to 1504. The narrative begins with the French conquest of much of Italy. But the French hold collapsed. The second French invasion gained Northern Italy. This time, the French allied with the Pope’s son, Cesare Borgia. Cesare managed to double deal too many people; his efforts ended in disaster. The French agreement with the Spanish allowed them to retake Naples only to be defeated at the Garigliano by the famous general, Gonzalo de Cordoba.

These wars were not just another series of medieval fights. These battles were different from what had gone before: the French utilized a new method of artillery transport; the Spanish commander formulated a new system of military unit organization, and Cesare Borgia sought different systems of raising troops and forming states. And all the powers managed to spend vast amounts of money the likes of which no one had imagined before. This was the emergence of the so-called Military Revolution.

I'll be honest, most of my knowledge about this history in this geographical area comes from watching Showtime's The Borgias. Not a bad show, but not always accurate. But, I enjoyed reading this because I was familiar with the events through the show, although things were obviously different and smashed together. So, this was a very quick, enjoyable read. I found it interesting and I appreciated how Romane took me as a reader through the events. It never felt overwhelming and I was able to track a lot of it, from the chronology to the main players and how they changed as people died and fortunes shifted. Very good book on the topic!

NetGalley, Caidyn Young
 Julian Romane

About Julian Romane

Julian Patrick Romane has a BA from Beloit College Wisconsin and an MA from the University of Colorado. He has been fascinated with Byzantine history, particularly their military history, for half a century. He has published articles in several journals and is the editor and/or translator of several books on historical and political subjects. He lives in Illinois, USA.

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