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Wydawca: HELION

It was a commonplace that Italy offers little of interest to military historians after the full flower of the Renaissance, and that it had been deservedly forgotten. Italian Risorgimento desperately wanted to repudiate the values of the previous centuries. In place of a politically fragmented and militarily weak collection of small states, in the thrall of Counter-Reformation Catholicism, the 19th century historians dreamed of a united, secular, industrial and well-armed country that could withstand comparison to France, England and Germany. The lack of interest on this period increased even more under the fascist regime, which preferred to elude a period in which Italian states appeared as political entities dominated by foreign interference and focusing on the unreal Imperial myth reworked from the vestiges of the monuments of ancient Rome.

However, in the 17th century Italy was the third-largest country by population in Europe, after France and Germany, passing into second position for a century after 1650. Northern as well as southern Italy constituted a key place in the strategic duel between Spain and France, and the Peninsula lied on the front line in the struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, Italian states constituted good examples of fairly efficient governance machines, which developed many matters, included the ‘Military’. Some of these states experienced long periods of wars, to the point that the claim regarding social elites progressively demilitarized to an unequalled extent anywhere else in Europe should be considered no longer valid.

This first part of Volume 6 places Italian political and military within the wider European context and examines the armies of Savoy-Piedmont and the Republic of Venice.