The Italian Renaissance marked a period of political and military turmoil. Many regional wars were fought between the states ruled by Milan, Venice, Genoa, Florence, the Papacy, Siena and Naples. For more than 50 years starting in 1494, major foreign powers also exploited these divisions to invade Italy; both France and Spain made temporary alliances with city states to further their ambitions, and early in the 16th century the Emperor Charles V sent armies from his German realms to support the Spanish. These wars coincided with the growth of disciplined infantry – carrying not only polearms and crossbows but also hand guns – which proved capable of challenging the previously dominant armoured knights. The widespread use of mercenaries ushered in the early development of the ‘pike and shot’ era that succeeded the ‘High Middle Ages’. During this period costumes, armour and weapons varied greatly due to their national origins and to the evolution of tactics and technology. This masterfully illustrated study offers a fascinating insight into the many armies which fought in Italy during this turbulent period, explaining not only their arms and equipment, but also their structure and successes and failures on the battlefield.
Renaissance Armies in Italy 1450-1550