Italy Between Second Half of 17th and 18th Century


According to Transporthint, the weakening of the power of the double branch of the Habsburgs represented by the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the Pyrenees (1659), while not for the moment forcing Spain to make any territorial renunciation in the peninsula, quickly changes the data of the territorial-diplomatic problem of the Italy and opens some vital ganglia to the influence of France.

The presence of the French fleet in the Mediterranean during the Dutch war made the Messina rebellion, soon supported by the French, particularly formidable for Spain; the Peace of Nijmegen (1678) however marks the restoration of Spanish rule.

Genoa, until then almost a fiefdom of Spain, was forced to move from the camp: in 1684 Louis XIV had its forts bombed for 10 days and Doge Francesco Imperiali-Lercari had to make a humiliating trip to Versailles.

For the marriage of Maria Gonzaga with the young son of Charles of Nevers, origin of the second war for the succession of Monferrato (1627-31), the king of France has a faithful allied dynasty in the Gonzaga Nevers. Furthermore, in 1681 Louis XIV was granted by the Duke of Mantua Ferdinando Carlo the city of Casale, the true gateway to Spanish Lombardy.

The French preponderance in Italy reaches the point that Louis XIV, although pursuing a policy of absolute Catholic orthodoxy in France (revocation of the Edict of Nantes, persecution of the Jansenists), did not hesitate to enter into acute conflict with the papacy: in 1664 for the special prerogatives of the French ambassador to Rome, and in 1682-91 for the declaration of the four articles of the Gallican Church.

18th Century

1701-13: when the War of the Spanish Succession broke out, the Duke of Savoy Vittorio Amedeo II (1675-1730) believes that the time has come to be able to realize his great aspiration to annex the whole of Lombardy and to embrace the royal crown. While most of the Italian states remained neutral, without however saving the territory of the peninsula from being a battlefield between the contenders, the Duke of Savoy allied himself with France (another ally was the Duke of Mantua), but in 1703 he passed on the side of the Imperials. The war events are not favorable to him (French invasion of 1704, defeat of Susa, siege of the citadel of Turin saved in 1706 by the heroic act of the miner Pietro Micca);

1713-14: the Peace of Utrecht and Rastatt take away all the Italic possessions from the new king of Spain Philip V, assigning the Milanese, Sardinia, Naples and the State of the garrisons to Austria, which already occupied Mantua since 1708 ; Sicily with the royal title to Vittorio Amedeo II, who also obtained the districts of the former Spanish Lombardy, Lomellina and Valsesia and kept Monferrato, occupied in 1708.

1717-20: this territorial framework is about to be modified by the enterprising policy of the Spanish Prime Minister, Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, who has Sardinia (1717) and Sicily (1718) occupied, but the Quadruple Alliance (France, England, Holland and Austria) does not tolerate this occupation: the English fleet defeats the Spanish one in Sicilian waters and Philip V, fired by Alberoni, must sign the Hague Treaty (1720), definitive recognition of the territorial structure established in Utrecht. The exchange between Sicily and Sardinia by King Vittorio Amedeo II and by the emperor is also fixed in the Hague, essentially due to balance policy reasons; Sardinia is officially handed over to the former in August 1720.

1733-38: the War of the Polish Succession takes place almost essentially in Italy, unwilling the king of France Louis XV, strong alliance with all the Bourbons (family pact of 1733) and with the king of Sardinia Carlo Emanuele III (1730-73), alarm England with a direct attack on the Austrian Netherlands (occupation of Lombardy, Parma and Guastalla by the Franco-Sardinian troops, Sicily and Neapolitan by the Spanish). With the Peace of Vienna (18 November 1738) Carlo Emanuele III of Savoy obtained the districts of Novara and Tortona and the Langhe area; the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily are taken away from Austria and assigned to the son of Philip V and Elizabeth, don Carlos; the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, where the Medici dynasty died out, passes to Francesco Stefano di Lorena, husband of the future empress Maria Theresa of Habsburg, to compensate him for the duchy of Lorraine, which France had assigned to Stanislao Leszczyński; finally, the duchy of Parma and Piacenza, which from 1731 to 1736 was held by Don Carlos, passes under the dominion of Austria.

18 October 1748: the Peace of Aachen ( fig7 ), which puts an end to the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), brings the border of the state of King Carlo Emanuele III to Ticino (annexation of the districts of Voghera, Vigevano and Alto Novarese), and took the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla from Austria to make it into possession of the second son of Elisabetta Farnese, Don Filippo.

1756: the so-called overthrow of the alliances puts an end to the centuries-old quarrel between the Habsburgs and the Bourbons; there. it ceases to be the battlefield of the European powers and has fifty years of peace, which the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) does not disturb.

Italy Between Second Half of 17th and 18th Century