France History – The Wars of Italy and the Struggle for Hegemony in Europe Part V
However, this was not the beginning of a systematic Rhenish policy of the king of France. The maximum center of activity of French politics was still Italy. In Piedmont the Brissac took up arms again, gained ground over the imperials, occupied Ivrea and other places; in Siena, Piero Strozzi, a Florentine exile, and Monluc were trying to save the city against Cosimo de ‘Medici; in Corsica the Marshal of Thermes headed the Corsicans who, rebels in Genoa, had declared themselves for the king of France, while Kheir ed-dīn Barbarossa, ally of Henry II, devastated the island of Elba. Indeed, at this moment French politics appears in some details drawn in tow by Italian influences and interests: as is the case of the Siena enterprise, inspired by Strozzi. But the enterprise failed; and in the Netherlands, where Charles V had concentrated his forces, Montmorency had already allowed itself to be torn off, as early as 1553, by Thérouanne and Hesdin. The Vaucelles truce (February 5, 1556) was only an ephemeral suspension. Attracted again to Italy by the solicitations of Paul IV, by the incitements of the Duke of Guise himself, who dreamed of taking over Naples, Henry II let himself be dragged to take up arms: in March 1557 the Duke of Guise was in Rome, at the head of a French army. Reopened for Italian issues, the war was to be decided in Picardy. Leaving Guise to venture towards Naples, the new king of Spain, Philip II, had concentrated his troops in the Netherlands: and from there the offensive of Emanuele Filiberto started who on 10 August 1557 in San Quintino crushed the
According to Homosociety.com, the Guise, who immediately returned to France, mitigated the consequences of the defeat, removing from the English, allies of Philip II, Calais and Guines (January 1558) and occupying Thionville (May). But now he yearned for nothing but peace. The financial situation was dire; tired souls. And the exhortations of the favorite Diana of Poitiers, and her faithful adviser, Montmorency, taken prisoner at San Quentin, were no less effective on the king’s mind. Thus came the peace of Cateau Cambrésis (April 3, 1559). For it, Henry II renounced any claim on the Milanese, abandoned Corsica to the Genoese, returned Piedmont and Savoy to Duke Emanuele Filiberto, while retaining Turin, Chieri, Pinerolo, Chivasso and Villanova d’Asti as a pledge; but recovered instead the cities on the Somme, and Calais – this last only for eight years, after which either the restitution to the King of England or the payment of 500,000 scudi had to follow. And above all he kept – with the title of protector – Metz, Toul and Verdun. The peace of Cateau Cambrésis therefore sanctioned the failure of the Italian policy followed by the kings of France, from Charles VIII to Henry II. Even Piedmont, occupied for more than twenty years, and validly defended against the Spaniards by Brissac, was abandoned. The advantages, not small, that France gained from the long and exhausting struggle, were at the frontier of the east and the north: Metz, Toul, Verdun, Calais. For Italy, on the other hand, the plenipotentiaries of Henry II had taken note, in the diplomatic forum, of the failure of French politics.
However, if in foreign policy the kings of France, from Charles VIII to Henry II, had distanced themselves from the directives of Louis XI, in internal politics they had instead continued the work of their predecessor: that is, the monarchical centralization, at the expense of feudalism. Having tamed the rebellion of the princes during the Beaujeu regency, the monarchy undermined the prerogatives of the feudatars, ruining their political power: both by favoring, in the judiciary, the claims of the rural people against their lords, and by imposing its magistrates who supplant the feudal curias. In this period, the economic conditions of many of the small feudatories favored the royal policy, led badly by the rapid increase in prices, while the rent censuses remained unchanged, generally stipulated for long periods of time. to the benefit of the rural people. The tendency to absolutism under Francis I is much more decisive. In fact, the exaltation of monarchical power which had already been a characteristic of Philip the Fair’s France, begins again on the part of the jurists of the Toulouse school; and the revival of the studies of Roman law leads to the reappearance of the formula of princeps legibus solutus. The theory corresponds to the practice. The action that Francis I carries out against the constable of Bourbon (see Bourbon, Charles of), the most powerful of the French feudatories, is a clear indication of the king’s will to be only master in the land of France. And, having forced the constable to leave France, the sovereign’s distrust turned against all the other members of the Bourbon family, who from that moment took second place and saw themselves placed before the great public offices, or men of not ancient nobility and therefore loyal to the monarch to whom they owed their fortune, such as Montmorency, or even nobles of foreign origin, such as the Guise. And this was not the least cause of the rise of huguenots d’estat (see below), and complicated the religious crisis, starting from 1559, with a political crisis.