The Republic of Venice is effectively free from Spanish interference and, although now blocked forever in its expansion towards the Italian mainland, it continues to be formidable on the sea, as demonstrated in 1571 with the fundamental contribution given to the victory of the Catholic league over the Turks in Lepanto. Furthermore, the initial sclerosis that began to affect his robust organism, manifesting itself both in the economy around 1570 with the first signs of fatigue in the wool and shipbuilding industry, and in the social way of life with the ever more numerous withdrawal of nobles from the active life of the shop and the sea to live off the land rent of the mainland, it also finds, for at least half a century, youthful and enthusiastic forces that manage to contain it. The so-called ‘youth’ party, zonta, organ of a very small oligarchy, and by resizing the powers of the Council of Ten, gives a momentary halt to the process of oligarchic involution.

With the 17th century. there is the return of France on the scene of active European politics, and this causes a weakening of the hegemony of Spain over Italy. In fact, in those years, the first pacts took place (Treaty of Bruzolo in 1610 between Carlo Emanuele I and the King of France Henry IV) and the first wars were fought between Italian states outside the Spanish orbit (first war for the succession of Monferrato in 1612-17, which ends with the victory of the Gonzagas and Philip III; Venice’s war against the Habsburgs of Austria and the Usocchi in 1615-17; Venice’s energetic reaction in 1618 to the so-called conspiracy of Spanish ambassador Bedmar).


According to LOCALTIMEZONE.ORG, the Thirty Years War reveals the existence of key points for the Spanish dominion in Italy in the Duchy of Savoy and in the direct Spanish possessions of Italy southern.

In 1621 a daring coup gives the Valtellina to the Spaniards, enabling them to join forces directly with those of the Habsburgs of Austria; but Richelieu’s France with a vigorous reaction restored the status quo and draws reason from the accident to justify the need for a presence on the peninsula. In 1635 the treaty of Rivoli forced Duke Vittorio Amedeo I (1630-37), who in 1613 had to surrender Pinerolo to France, to take sides against Spain on the promise of a part of Lombardy and the royal title; finally, the death of the duke and the regency of the widow Maria Cristina di Borbone (1637) mark the absolute infeudation of the duchy to France, paid for with the outbreak of a real civil war by Prince Tommaso di Carignano and Cardinal Maurizio, with the consequent armed intervention of Spain: both ends the peace treaty of 1642, which confirms the French interference in the duchy.

In southern Italy, the international conflict finds a favorable opportunity in the re-feudalization process underway in the Kingdom of Naples. Under the increasing pressure of financial needs, the crown not only subjected the tax burden in Naples to a heavy increase but was forced to authorize, in the collection of taxes, the most blatant speculation by private bankers. The fruits of these speculations often take the path of the purchase of fiefdoms and rights of noble jurisdiction, contributing to a massive enchantment of the sovereign powers. This situation ends up determining the reaction of the different ‘parties’ present in the city: the aristocratic groups, the merchant classes, the artisans, the ‘togates’, the juristsengaged in the judiciary of the Kingdom, the rural world exposed as never before to the oppression of greedy feudal income recipients, the citizens of state-owned ‘universities’ often sold to old and new barons. On this internal situation, marked by the rancor of the provinces towards Naples and Spain, by the administrative chaos and by a wave of bankruptcies of commercial companies particularly intense in the decade 1636-46, the calls of the propaganda of France are inserted, very happy to encourage internal revolts in the territory of enemy Spain: the situation precipitates on 7 July 1647 in a revolt that spreads from Naples to the entire Kingdom and of which the episode of Tommaso Aniello (Masaniello) is the most sensational and certainly the most picturesque, but not the most important. The revolt, erupted as a spontaneous uproar against yet another tax, it ends up having, with the passing of the months, many political values. In the previous months, Sicily also moved with the Palermo revolt of the Giuseppe Alessi gold-beater (July-August 1647): Spain was thus forced to commit itself fully to the repression. Enrico di Guisa, Duke of Lorraine, decides to support the anti-Spanish revolt: arrived in Naples he manages to be recognized as the head of the city, but the diversity of internal objectives of the rioters party ends up making his attempt fail. The normalization process, which began in April 1648, and carried out by the new Spanish viceroy, the Count of Oñate, thus put an end to the revolt.

The greatest dynamism of the Italian political scene around the middle of the 17th century. it coincides with what historiography defines as the crisis of the seventeenth century. For the Italy, other factors are now added to the reasons already highlighted: the wars of religion and, above all, the Thirty Years’ War have impoverished Germany, whose market no longer absorbs the products of the trade of the Italy northern; the Ottoman market is also in conditions of net impoverishment, and this makes Mediterranean trade even more difficult; the serious financial crisis affecting Spain causes frequent needs for money on the part of the crown and the consequent worsening of the living conditions of the subject populations.

Italy Between Second Half of 16th Century and Early 17th Century 2

Italy Between Second Half of 16th Century and Early 17th Century Part II
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