Tag Archive | italian wars

Somebody finally wrote something about Renaissance Italy

A new book has been published on that age-old question of whether Italians were lovers or fighters.

Shaw, Christine. Barons and Castellans: The Military Nobility of Renaissance Italy. Leiden: Brill Academic Pub, 2014.
The military nobility – “signori di castelli”, lords of castles – formed an important component of the society of Renaissance Italy, although they have often been disregarded by historians, or treated as an anomaly. In Barons and Castellans: The Military Nobility of Renaissance Italy, Christine Shaw provides the first comparative study of “lords of castles”, great and small, throughout Italy, examining their military and political significance, and how their roles changed during the Italian Wars. Her main focus is on their military resources and how they deployed them in public and private wars, in pursuit of their own interests and in the service of others, and on how their military weight affected their political standing and influence.

The Italian Wars as you’ve never seen them

So what do you do if you teach a variety of early modern European courses over and over (in this case, Reformation Europe, European Warfare 1337-1815, Religion War and Peace in Early Modern Europe), need to quickly get up to speed on the narrative every time you teach it, and fancy yourself a visualizer of historical information? Something like this:

Italian Wars timechart

Italian Wars timechart

A bit of overkill, perhaps, but I’ve always liked my data dense. I’ve shared other examples of my timecharts before, and this is a more recent version of my overview of the Italian Wars (Wars of Italy if you prefer) in all their nauseating complexity. A topic, it so happens, that I’m covering in class today.

To slightly repeat myself from my earlier posts: this cheatsheet combines information on the names of the wars, their chronology, the combatants involved in any given year, the alliances, the rulers, and the main military movements and combats (battles, sieges) in each war year. I give a copy to students for reference purposes, and display it on the screen as we discuss the narrative of the war. You can also just use the colorful timeline (on left side) as a strip in the margin of a Powerpoint slide if you want to display other material on the slide (you can also trim the columns down to just the main belligerents).

Next up: figure out a way to simplify all this narrative detail down, without dumbing it down. Ideally I’ll add a few maps as well, or at least the same map of Italy with the various alliances, occupations, and major combats as they change over the course of the wars. Now will somebody write a good narrative of the wars in English please? Or even French.

Let me know of any factual corrections, embarrassing omissions, or design tweaks. Be sure to check out the Symbol page at the top of the blog header if you’re not familiar with my symbolism. (On that note, I got Bertin’s Semiology of Graphics for Xmas. Whoopee!!)

This was an earlier version, and I still like the maps (though I need to make my own):

Older version of Italian Wars cheatsheet

Older version of Italian Wars cheatsheet

Feel free to use the top graphic in your own courses, with appropriate attribution of course. And let me know! But no publications please (see the Citing the Blog page for general comments).