Italian Medieval Armies 1000–1300 by David Nicolle, Angus McBride

By David Nicolle, Angus McBride

As early because the eleventh century, Italian war was once constructing alongside strains that have been detailed in medieval Europe. This fragmented, cosmopolitan area, more and more wealthy from overseas exchange, observed the increase of self sufficient towns in a position to fund armies of city military, occasionally defying the conventional feudal aristocracy.

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All changed, however, in January 1515 when Louis died. His successor, the twenty-year-old Francis I, was as dedicated to war as Henry himself and determined to secure the return of Tournai from England as well as the conquest of Milan from the emperor and Navarre from Spain. None the less, between 1515 and 1522 Henry remained at peace Honour and Reputation 19 with France, even at the cost of surrendering Tournai in 1518. The same year he also became the champion of international peace in Europe by sponsoring the Treaty of London, which upheld the principle of universal and perpetual peace.

In this context it is significant that the king mustered some 40,000 men, creating the largest 24 England and Europe in the Sixteenth Century army to be sent abroad in England's history, one clearly designed for show rather than utility. It is also significant that despite his ulcerated leg and obese body Henry decided to join the expedition personally in 1544. At the same time, too, there were political opportunities to exploit. Charles V tried to persuade Henry that the mere existence of an AngloImperial alliance might force Francis to make concessions such as the payment of the arrears of pension he owed to the King of England.

There was outward courtesy, even friendly exchanges, between the two monarchs, but an underlying yet unmistakable competitiveness lay between them. Despite French irritation, in February 1519 Henry refused to allow the Marechal de Chatillon to enter Tournai with banners and trumpets, as 'the cytie was neither yelded nor gotten but delivered for confederacion of mariage'. 37 Soon afterwards, Henry decided to stand against Francis and Charles as a third candidate in the imperial election of 1519.

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