European Empire of Charles V, ca. 1556.

        Italy’s relative tranquility, established by the Peace of Lodi in 1454, was shattered by the French invasion in1494.  For the next 35 years, Italy was a battleground where France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire fought among themselves, as well as with the papacy and most of the Italian States.

        These political struggles and economic changes had important consequences for the Western humanities: Renaissance arts and ideas were carried to France and spread throughout the rest of Eurpope; the cultural center shifted from Florence to Rome and to Venice; patronage of the arts was dominated for a while by the papacy again, before this source of patronage was ended for a decade; the dream of Charles V of a united European culture was shattered; and the Meditterranean base of commerce shifted to the Atlantic, propelling cities such as London and Antwerp into leading cultural roles.