Military Wiki
Second Italian War
Part of the Italian Wars

Flag of the Kingdom of Naples under Trastámara dynasty.
Result Spanish victory
  •  Kingdom of France
  •  Papal States
  •  Republic of Venice
  • Castile and Aragon (to 1501)
  • Duchy of Milan
  •  Kingdom of Naples
  • Castile and Aragon (from 1501)
Commanders and leaders

The Second Italian War (1499–1504), sometimes known as Louis XII's Italian War or the War over Naples, was the second of the Italian Wars; it was fought primarily by Louis XII of France and Ferdinand II of Aragon, with the participation of several Italian powers. In the aftermath of the First Italian War, Louis was determined to press his claim on the thrones of Milan and Naples. In 1499 Louis XII invaded Lombardy and seized Milan, to which he had a claim in right of his paternal grandmother Valentina Visconti, Duchess of Orléans.[1]

The war

In 1499 Louis concluded an alliance with the Republic of Venice and Swiss mercenaries and invaded the Duchy of Milan under the condition that the Lombardian territories be split between Venice and France. Papal support was given for the campaign in exchange for Louis XII's military support for Cesare Borgia's Romagna campaigns. Ludovico Sforza, having hired an army of Swiss mercenaries himself, returned to the city to find it occupied by Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, who had joined the French; Ludovico's army was soon scattered, and he himself imprisoned in France.

Fearful of the new rapprochement between Louis XII and the Italian powers, Ferdinand II of Aragon offered an alliance against Frederick IV of Naples whom Ferdinand II of Aragon considered an illegitimate inheritor of the Neapolitan title upon the death, without direct male heirs, of his nephew Ferdinand II of Naples. Louis XII and Ferdinand II agreed to these terms on 11 November 1500 and Pope Alexander VI, nominal overlord of the Kingdom of Naples, provided his approval on 25 June 1501.[2]

In 1501, French and Aragonese armies seized Naples. The two kings now quarreled over the division of the spoils; Ferdinand's insistence that he be recognized as king of both Naples and Sicily soon led to war between France and Spain. When the conflict broke out again in the second half of 1502, Don Gonzalo de Cordoba lacked numeric superiority, but was able to apply the lessons learned in 1495 against the Helvetic infantry; moreover, the Spanish terceros, accustomed to close combat after the Reconquista, addressed some of this imbalance.[3] Cordoba avoided encounter with the enemy at first, hoping to lure the French into complacency. Later, the conflict became characterized by short skirmishes. During this campaign, a French knight, il La Motte, was captured by Spanish forces and later used this time as a hostage to declare his famous Challenge of Barletta on 13 February 1503.[4] Chronic in-fighting between the Italian and French knights, as well as a better supply-line guaranteed by the Spanish navy, gave Cordoba the upper hand against the French, who suffered defeat at Cerignola (April 1503) and Garigliano (December 1503). Louis XII, forced to abandon Naples, withdrew to Lombardy.


The Treaty of Granada was a secret pact, agreed to on 11 November 1500, by Louis XII of France and Ferdinand II of Aragon, in which the two parties agreed to divide the Mezzogiorno between themselves after removing Frederick IV of Naples from the Neapolitan throne. Their plans were realized on 25 June 1501 when they were both invested by Pope Alexander VI. On the 25 July 1501, Frederick IV of Naples, hoping to avoid another military conflict between the two national monarchies on Italian soil, abdicated Naples and Campania in favour of the French King.[5] It is worth noting that, as Francesco Guicciardini points out in the Discorso di Logrogno, the partition of the Mezzogiorno between the houses of Aragon and Orléans neglected to take into account the economic system of a region dominated by sheep-rearing and its concomittant transhumance [6] The Treaty of Lyon was signed on January 31, 1504 between Louis XII of France and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Based on the terms of the treaty, France ceded Naples to Spain. Moreover, France and Spain defined their respective control of Italian territories. France controlled northern Italy from Milan and Spain controlled Sicily and southern Italy.

The Treaty of Blois of September 22, 1504 concerned the proposed marriage between Charles of the House of Habsburg, the future Charles V, and Claude of France, daughter of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany.

If the King Louis XII were to die without producing a male heir, Charles of the House of Habsburg would receive as dowry the Duchy of Milan, Genoa and its dependencies, the Duchy of Brittany, the counties of Asti and Blois, the Duchy of Burgundy, the Viceroyalty of Auxonne, Auxerrois, Mâconnais and Bar-sur-Seine.


  1. Her marriage contract with the Duke of Orleans stipulated that in failure of male heirs, she would inherit the Visconti dominions.
  2. Marco Pellegrini, Le guerre d'Italia (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2009), pp. 63-4.
  3. Pellegrini, p. 67.
  4. Pellegrini, p. 68.
  5. Marco Pellegrini, Le guerre d'Italia (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2009), 64-5.
  6. Pellegrini, pp. 64-5.


External links

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