According to microedu.com, the policy of settling and internal strengthening of the Italian states, especially some of them, is not always an end in itself. Among other things, it is a means of securing the state in international relations, of depriving Spain of any occasion or pretext for interventions and alterations. Relations with Madrid were good. But there was a need to be vigilant and beware. Respect for the mighty sovereign; and his needs are met with loans which also serve to bind the princes more closely to Spain, as always the creditor to the debtor; the children are sent to Madrid to do their education and grow up in the reverential respect of Spain; customs and styles and often the language of Spain are followed; that king asks himself when a daughter is to be married, because it matters a great deal to him what ties the Italian princes have with other European sovereigns and with each other. And yet, Medici, Savoy, as well as Estensi, old friends of France, maintain good relations with the nearby court, Italian princesses go to France, French to Italy. And one of the reasons why Philip II did not allow Emanuele Filiberto to assume the generalate of the Christian forces in the war that led to the victory of Lepanto, was the fear that, absent the duke, French influences would be felt in Piedmont, through the wife Margherita di Valois who would assume the regency and who was considered little less than an agent of that court in Turin. Even relations between the Italian courts, despite the disputes over titles and primacies, are good: several family ties; certain political solidarity. The presence of Spain creates, in Italy, a kind of united front, imposes common problems on all, creates, alongside the equal condition of protection, an equal work of prudent defense. This is a condition of things that gives some cause for concern to the Spanish court and governors: who indeed want peace between the Italian states, but not too many ties; they believe a little tares to be useful, but not that the superiority of one or the other emerges from the contrasts. Status quo , balance, all directly linked to it, this is what Spain wants. Therefore it is not without some concern for the things of the peninsula, where the princes are close by many relatives, have ample financial means and, convinced that they are able to defend themselves and be able to follow that flag that they like, “they are no longer as obedient and obedient as they once were “.
Certainly a frond wind was blowing in the Italian courts. At the end of the 16th century, the desire to go out of protection grew. The strengthened internal situation stimulated more than one prince to pursue a policy of his own, or even a policy of initiatives. The first example was given by Carlo Emanuele I, who succeeded his father. Moreover, Sixtus V, a man also of great thoughts and plans, also proposed to send an army to France, put an end to the disorder, call Carlo Emanuele to that throne himself. But while he was waiting, the duke also took advantage of that French disorder and, walking in his own way on the directives of the pope, thanks to the friendship of the king of Spain, whose daughter he had married his daughter Catherine, suddenly attacked the marquisate of Saluzzo (1588), conquered Centallo and Carmagnola: in two months he had the whole town in his hands. The enterprise was against France that threatened and, powerless it, revolted the Swiss against the Savoy; but the king of Spain didn’t like it either, who had never wanted to do much to free Piedmont from that rest of French occupation (and Emanuele Filiberto complained about it); the other Italian gentlemen did not like it, even if they were friends of the Savoy. Saluzzo in the hands of the French, constituted that relative balance between the two crowns in the peninsula, which was considered the foundation of the “freedom of Italy”. It was considered as a service to Spain, which would remain the only mistress in Italy and perhaps could have obtained from the Austrian relative what she desired, that is, the general vicariate of the empire in Italy, with relative dependence on the feudal empire. There was also the case that Savoy also fell into greater dependence.
Then there was the new situation in France, the rise of Henry IV, the end of the wars of religion, the king’s acquittal from excommunication, new political and matrimonial ties with Italian governments. Internal fact of France and due to internal reasons: but in France, it rarely happens that religious or church attitudes are not also determined by foreign policy concerns. And now, it was a question of breaking the link between Rome and Spain, of taking away the monopoly in the defense of Catholicism and the strength that came from it, of resuming the lost European position with the support of the Holy See. The Holy See also contributed to this change. And we know what Sixtus V did in this sense: here too, for religious but also political reasons, that is to re-establish the lost balance in Europe and the peninsula and lighten the Spanish pressure on Italy. And in Italy there was an immediate sense that any ambition for universal domination of Spain was over. Those who did not have political initiatives to implement, such as Mantua, Parma, Tuscany, felt more secure and felt the possibility, now that Spain was less sure of itself, to restore their friendship and gain autonomy. Those who prepared or wished for these initiatives took comfort in speeding up the times. Thus the Holy See. The Spaniards could no longer dictate pacts in Rome, now that there was a strongly united Catholic France. And there was, with Clement VIII Aldobrandini, the confiscation of Ferrara, on the death of Duke Alfonso II without male descent (1598). As for Carlo Emanuele, he continued the war with France for some years; then, inferior in strength, he induced himself to the peace of Lyons (1601), ceded his lands on the Rhone and the Saone, and retained almost the entire marquisate of Saluzzo. This solution is advantageous for France. The French eagerness to have dominion in Italy was much lessened. There remained the aspirations to the Alpine border, to freedom of access to Italy, to the possession of some base of operations in the peninsula, especially in the Po valley, to Italian friendships and clienteles, among the small states, to be kept awake against Spain and coalition as needed. against it, as was the program that Henry IV expected, after making peace with the Savoy. The vision of new objectives, towards the Rhine and the Netherlands, and the consolidation of the Savoy family explain this evolution of French politics. But even Charles Emmanuel I, although reluctant to that peace and that change, took advantage of it. It settled a whole series of issues. It was safer in one’s home. He could propose closer and more concrete objectives. He began a policy of rapprochement with France which would have given him more freedom in Italian affairs. Since the new European situation suggested to most of the other Italian governments thoughts and hopes of greater peace, while remaining neutral between the two powers. And even the Duke of Savoy was expected and hoped by the others that he would follow this policy. But Carlo Emanuele now understands that the antagonism between France and the House of Austria is no longer enough to ensure the independence of the Italian states.