A collection of manuscript and printed material pertaining to French territorial ambitions in Italy.

[c. 1537–c. 1630].

(i) ‘La raggione che pretendi il Re di Francia sopra lo stato di Milano, per via che parentado’, manuscript in Italian on paper, a single sheet, folio (340 x 222 mm), in a late sixteenth-century Italian hand; sometime folded, edges slightly dust-soiled, numbered ‘166’ in a later hand at foot.
(ii) Text beginning ‘Nel tempo quasi che’l Re Carlo viii. di francia andò in Italia . . .’, manuscript in Italian on paper, a single sheet, 4to (274 x 196 mm), in a late sixteenth-century Italian hand; numbered ‘167’ in a later hand at foot.
(iii) The same text as item (ii), manuscript in Italian on paper, a single sheet, folio (340 x 220 mm), in a slightly later hand than item (ii); sometime folded, numbered ‘168’ in a later hand at foot.
(iv) Printed dynastic table, ‘Ex hac tabula lector dilige[n]s iudicare potest, ad quos Burgu[n]diae, et Mediolani Ducatus, et Amedei Sabaudiae Ducis haereditas pertineat’ [Paris, Robert Estienne, 1537], large oblong 4to (296 x 445 mm); folded, strengthened on verso where once folded down centre, numbered ‘79’ in manuscript at foot.
(v) ‘Nell’Abboccam[en]to di March uccino á Cales fu trattato per li deputati ut infra’, manuscript in Italian on paper, folio (340 x 222 mm), ff. [2], in a late sixteenth-century Italian hand; numbered ‘XXII’ at head of first leaf in a later hand and foliated ‘183’ and ‘184’ at foot.
(vi) Text beginning ‘Regnava pacificamente nel Regno di Napoli . . .’, manuscript in Italian on paper, a single sheet, folio (340 x 220 mm), written by the same hand as item (v); numbered ‘196’ at foot in a later hand.
(vii) A copy of the Peace of Regensburg (or Treaty of Ratisbonne, 13 October 1630), manuscript in Latin on paper, folio (315 x 215 mm), pp. [8], written in a mid-seventeenth-century Italian hand; foliated ‘443’ to ‘446’ at foot in a later hand; damp-stained, damaged and crudely repaired with loss of some text on all leaves, paper still fragile.

All items evidently once bound into a larger volume and (with the exception of the printed table) loosely stitched together; in a modern maroon cloth portfolio.


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A collection of memoranda concerning French ambitions in the Italian peninsula during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

The first four items deal with the intricate hereditary problem posed by Duchy of Milan. Established by the Visconti family, the Duchy passed on to the condottiero Francesco Sforza and his family in 1450, but in 1494 the throne was usurped by Ludovico il Moro, uncle of the legitimate heir. As a result, Louis XII of France successfully marched against Ludovico, claiming the ducal title on account of the marriage contract between Valentina Visconti and his grandfather, Louis I, Duke of Orleans. Milan subsequently changed hands several times between the French Kings and the Sforza family supported by the Holy Roman Emperors. In 1535 it was captured by Charles V and attached to the Spanish Empire.

As outlined in item (vi), the French monarchy also had some claim to the Kingdom of Naples, since this had been ruled for twenty years in the thirteenth century by the Anjou family. The kingdom was disputed between France and Spain, the latter winning control over it first in 1503 and then, more lastingly, in 1555. By then, after more than half a century, the Italian Wars were coming to an end. The conference of Marck in the late spring of 1555, recounted in item (v), was the first step towards this, leading to the Truce of Vaucelles in 1556 and, eventually, to the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559. The latter agreement effectively ended any French hopes of expansion into Italy, although dynastic claims continued to be made. For instance, they were put on the table as terms of negotiation at the Peace of Regensburg in 1630; see item (vii).

The printed dynastic table (iv) appears to be taken from the Exemplaria literarum, a collection of propagandistic writings in favour of Francis I’s bold foreign policy published by Robert Estienne in Paris in 1537; however, it is possible that the table circulated independently as a placard.

Provenance: Sir Thomas Phillipps, from his MS 21133.

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