The direct possessions of Philip II lack not only territorial continuity but also institutional homogeneity. Although a Supreme Council of Italy was established in Madrid in 1563, there was a lack of efficient coordination in the action of the Spanish representatives. Already under the institutional profile they are different: in Naples, Palermo, Cagliari governs a viceroy, in Milan a governor; the Sicilian viceroy or the Milanese governor often find a brake on their excessive power in the previous constitutional situation of the country. This brake, on the other hand, does not exist or is almost completely inoperative in the Kingdom of Naples and Sardinia, even if the Parliament exists in both countries. But the lack of coordination and legal diversity do not mean less weight of the decisions taken in Madrid on the concrete life of Italian possessions,
The Grand Duchy of Tuscany, among the Italian states the weakest but economically perhaps the most prosperous, finds its able guidance in the son of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, the Duke and later Grand Duke Cosimo I (1537-74). He leaves the ancient magistracies intact, but completely defeats them, governing through the ‘secret practice’, or the advice of people of his strict trust and authentic organ of his personal power; reorganizes the state by leveling the city and countryside, and submitting everything to the central government of Florence; moreover, it supports the transformation of Tuscany from manufacturing to agricultural. The contribution of capital to agriculture is remarkable in this period, coming largely from the return home of the fortunes that once bankers such as the Corsini or Torrigiani had invested in the markets and stock exchanges of London and Nuremberg, and which now instead make them large landowners in Tuscany. Just under Cosimo I, Tuscany became the classic land of emphyteusis, dead man and fidecommissary bonds. Cosimo I was also responsible for the enlargement of the port of Livorno and the subsequent possibility of developing maritime trade. Finally, he lends considerable attention to the defense of the Tyrrhenian coasts from the incursions of the Barbary pirates, and for this purpose he establishes the military order of the Knights of Santo Stefano, based in Pisa. Faithful vassal of Charles V and Philip II,to obtain the Grand Ducal title (1569). A setback occurs with his successor Francesco I (1574-87). The process initiated by Cosimo I is instead powerfully taken up by his other son, Ferdinando I (1587-1609), who leaves the cardinal purple for the throne on the death of his brother. The new Grand Duke completed the reclamation works in the Maremma and the creation of the port of Livorno, whose inhabited area was elevated to a city in 1577. The period of Ferdinand I also marks the end of Tuscany’s vassalage towards Spain and the beginning of a pro-French orientation.
The Duchy of Savoy, a true buffer state between France and Spanish Lombardy, initially felt all the disadvantages of its position, so as to transform itself during the long war of 1521-59 into a constant battleground, which saw the Spaniards and the French take over as masters, while its sovereign is seen snatching Chablais and Genevan from the Swiss. The weak duke Charles III (1504-53) only kept a few lands, and soon his son Emanuele Filiberto had to go to the Spanish-imperial camp and conquer the conditions for one day regaining the state of his ancestors with the skills of commander. This happens with the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis: Emanuele Filiberto has the duchy of Savoy, the principality of Piedmont and the county of Nice, but must grant the fortresses of Turin, Chivasso, Pinerolo, Chieri and Villanova d’Asti to the king of France and those of Asti and Santhià to the king of Spain, as well as making a commitment to be neutral and friendly towards one and the other. With energy, the new duke dedicated himself to reorganizing his state, making his own many of the administrative and judicial changes introduced by the French and starting a marked process of monarchical absolutism. It dismantles numerous feudal castles, abolishes serfdom upon ransom, and replaces the previous mercenary militia with one made up almost entirely by its subjects. With the monetary reform of March 1562 he gave new impetus to the destroyed Piedmontese economy. On the strength of this internal reconstruction, he can carry out a cautious but decisive foreign policy, which is worth the restitution of some fortresses by France, of some lands by the Swiss cantons and, finally, the purchase of the county of Tenda, which clears the road from Cuneo to Nice, and that of Oneglia, which provides the duchy of a second outlet to the sea. In 1563 the capital was transferred from Chambéry to Turin. A further enlargement of the duchy was made in 1588 by the new duke Carlo Emanuele I (1580-1630) with the annexation of the marquisate of Saluzzo, made possible by the weakening of the Kingdom of France troubled by the wars of religion.
According to ITYPEAUTO.COM, the papal state owes its freedom to its particular character as a patrimony of the papacy and to the internal logic of the Counter-Reformation itself, of which Spain is the most faithful interpreter. For this reason, even if at times the popes are in open conflict with the king of Spain, their territorial possession, which a bull of Pius V declared inalienable (1567), never runs serious risk. The internal situation is different, which is under the repercussions of the reluctance of the nobles to submit to fiscalism and pontifical absolutism and the situation of poverty of a part of the population: during the pontificate of Gregory XIII (1572-85) discontent exploded in 1577 in a formidable wave of banditry and lasted until 1595; Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) uses all his energy against it, raising the gallows several times in Rome itself and coming to agreements with neighboring states for a common action against the brigands. Rather than by terror, banditry is tamed by the reclamation of the Pontine marshes initiated by Sixtus V himself, by the economic improvements of the northern part of the Papal State and by an easing of famines. On these fragile state foundations stands the great counter-reform effort of the papacy of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, of which Rome renewed by incessant building activity (Sixtus V, Paul V and above all Urban VIII Barberini, protector of Bernini and of Borromini) and the constant work to subtract many lands from the feudal mosaic, claiming them to the direct dominion of the Church: in 1598 Clement VIII took over the city of Ferrara, Urban VIII in 1631 the duchy of Urbino and in 1641 he occupied the duchy of Castro by force, but he had to return it after three years to the Duke of Parma and Piacenza Odoardo Farnese, having with this occupation provoked an anti-pontifical league of Italian princes; the duchy was then definitively occupied in 1649 by his successor, Innocent X. However, this reconstruction of the unity of the papal state should not be exempt from the resurgence of the ancient phenomenon of nepotism: no longer the great nepotism of Alexander VI or Paul III, but the little nepotism of favors, pensions and bribes.