German-Italian Relations During the Renaissance

My dear friend and fellow reenactor, known to some as Herr Nicolas, portrays a Burgundian (of all things!).


We both love persona development and want to attend some event activities “in persona”. The following is what I have found so far during my recon research into how our respective personae would have thought of each other.

Late Quattrocento Map of Italy

It is likely that Giorgio Vasari’s (circa 1550) views and prejudices were popularly held. In his book he denounces the “German manner”. He writes of a “sort of work called German, which …is [not] adopted now by the best architects but it avoided by them as monstrous and barbarous  and lacking everything that can be called order. … May God protect every country from such ideas and styles of buildings”. He wrote that their abominable and deformed architecting “sickened the world”. His perjorative use of the word ‘German’ and the heroes he speaks of who are almost exclusively Florentine (Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, etc) is understood by Italians as being the ultimate insult. As early as 1492 Italian superiority incensed and impressed arch-humanist Konrad Celtis. The Italian claim to superiority begins on the issue of language, with Italian claims to primacy as direct heirs of Latin.

“The destroyers of ancient Rome were also the ancestors of modern Germans and it is the destiny of the true descendants of ancient civilization to lead in the renewed quest for perfection in the arts and sciences” (

1494 – Ferdinand King of Naples dies
1494 – Sforza of Milan sought ally against Venice, encouraged Charles VIII to invade
1494 – Pisans ousted Florence
1495 – France sacks Naples
1495 – League of Venice formed in March, Milan, Spain, Hapsburg, Papal, Florence, Venice, Mantua join to resist France
1495 – July battle of Fornovo with League vs. France
1496 – Maximilian I  invaded Italy to resolve Pisa vs Florence
1499 – Louis XII, successor, invades Lombardy and seizes Milan. Angry that pro-France Florence didn’t help.
1500 – Louis XII conquers Milan and then helps Florence take back Pisa. Forced to retreat in July.


Thomson, David. 1993. Renaissance ArchitectureCritics, Patrons, Luxury. Pages 111-113.


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