But the league did not have a great life. She was harmed by the absence of Florence, stubborn to stay out of it, especially now that she saw Sforza, and, moreover, Venice, competing to help the rebellious Pisans. Relations between Naples and Venice were clouded by the republic taking possession of the Apulian ports when the French had evacuated them. Then the old antagonism between Sforza and the Venetians was reawakened, due to the greed for territorial enlargements that they harbored to the detriment of that. Venice was therefore naturally inclined to get closer to France; while France, on her part, could not fail to evaluate the enormous importance of a collaboration with Venice, for her politics that increasingly, beyond Naples, fixed Milan. Thus the anti-French front built in Italy at the beginning of ’95 was losing all vigor. Foreign adherents also broke away from the league. In November ’97, according to mbakecheng.com, Spain came, with France, to a separate armistice, that is, with the exclusion of the Italian allies: and certainly, in view of settlements in Italy, to the detriment of those allies themselves. In February 1998, Charles VIII also prepared a Savoy cooperation with Duke Filiberto II in his war exploits: in exchange, a command, a salary and, having taken Milan, lands for 20,000 ducats of income. It is the first sign of a French policy aimed at involving the custodians of the Alpine passes in the Italian companies of the monarchy. After April 1998, Louis XII, the new king, proceeds even more decisively in the field of diplomatic training. In June, he restored the old agreement that Charles VIII had made with England; in August, he changed the armistice with Spain of November 1997 into a treaty of peace and alliance; in March, he took advantage of the embarrassments in which the Swiss Confederation found itself due to the war waged by Maximilian of Austria and concluded an alliance with it, obtained authorization to enlist infantry; in April of ’99, with the friendly mediation of Cardinal Della Rovere, he overcame the last reluctance of Venice, which did not escape the dangers of bad foreign company, and obtained his competition for the Milanese company, in exchange for Cremona and other lands on the Adda (Treaty of Blois); a month later, he also earned Pope Alexander VI and the Borgias for himself, and obtained, among other things, freedom of action for the Milan enterprise, granting Duke Cesare the duchy of Valentinois and future marriage with a d’Albret, as well as military and diplomatic aid for the reconquest of the Marches and Romagna from the hands of local lords. Thus France, already isolated, constituted around itself, in Italy and in Europe, a network of friendships and solidarity. The first and maximum objective, this time, was Milan, as well as Naples: indeed, Milan, before and more than Naples, not only to have the support of the Venetians, but also for the experience that the keys to the south were in the Valley Padana, especially when you don’t have your own fleet.
Thus Louis XII, assuming the title of Duke of Milan, conquered the duchy between August and September of ’99. On 2 September, the citadel of Milan capitulated. Sforza was isolated. The alliance with Maximilian, committed against the Swiss, was worth little. However, he welcomed the fugitive Moro as a guest, provided him with a certain quantity of men and artillery, made it possible for him, also hired bands of Swiss, to reappear in Lombardy and return to Milan. But the Swiss del Moro betrayed and handed over their lord to the enemy: then the French returned to the rescue. They also turned to the enterprise of Naples. But here things were more complicated. The intervention of France in the kingdom had already prompted a Spanish intervention in 1994. As a century earlier Aragon had claimed Sicily to its direct dominion, taking it away from the Aragonese dynasty that governed it autonomously, so now Spain has no different designs for Naples. Therefore, initially, a secret treaty between the two kings, in Granata, for the division of the kingdom: Puglia and Calabria in Spain; Abruzzo, Terra di Lavoro, Naples in France (November 1500). Shameful treaty for the crown of Spain, in whose trust the Aragonese rested: but also a little for Venice and for the pope, who sold their neutrality, receiving in exchange that the right to keep its Apulian ports, this new aid of arms for Romagna. King Federico of Naples who in Consalvo di Cordova, presenting himself as defender from the French, had restored many fortresses, saw himself betrayed and lost the kingdom. In July 1501, the French entered Naples. There was a few months of Franco-Hispanic condominium. And then, discord and war. And for a year or two, the French prevailed, they were almost masters of Italy, directly or indirectly, since Florence was loyal to them, Genoa kept its fleet at their disposal, the pope had signed an advantageous contract with King Louis, and Cesare Borgia placed the lily of France above his shield. Then the Spaniards regained vigor. The resistance of Barletta immobilized the French for some time; Consalvo’s victory in Cerignola in April 1503 and the others in Seminara and Garigliano in December prostrated them.