https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-u.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9780429292354/3abb420d-80da-4aed-a9cf-ae5c42b997f9/content/ifig0001.tif"/>“The wines of Italy were sour this year, and therefore not at all agreeable to the French, any more than the excessive heat of the atmosphere.” The year was 1494. The French were the soldiers of King Charles VIII, invading Italy on their way to the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples. The writer was Philip de Commines, Lord of Argenton, a Flemish diplomat and bureaucrat who had served Louis XI for many years and had also served Louis’s feckless son. Charles’s long march from Lyons to Naples and his long retreat back again is one of the key events in European history. It marked the end of an era and the beginning of another, the end of the independence of the separate states of Italy in which the Renaissance had flowered and the beginning of the domination of Italy by foreign powers and the ravaging of Italy by French, German, Spanish and Swiss troops.