Charles VIII, king of France

Charles VIII, 1470–98, king of France (1483–98), son and successor of Louis XI. He first reigned under the regency of his sister Anne de Beaujeu. After his marriage (1491) to Anne of Brittany, he freed himself from the influence of the regency and prepared to conquer the kingdom of Naples, to which his father had acquired a claim through Charles, duke of Maine, from René of Naples. Urged by Ludovico Sforza, he invaded (1494) Italy; after a triumphal march through Pavia, Florence, and Rome, he took (Feb., 1495) Naples. A league against him, formed by Milan, Venice, Spain, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and Pope Alexander VI, forced his hasty retreat, in which he distinguished himself against odds at the battle of Fornovo (July, 1495). His remaining troops in Naples were defeated, and at the time of his death he was forming new plans of conquest. He left no male heir and was succeeded by his cousin Louis XII. The conflict of France and Spain in Italy marked the beginning of the Italian Wars. Charles's expedition fostered the introduction of the Italian Renaissance in France. The history of his reign was recorded by his contemporary, Philippe de Comines.

See J. S. C. Bridge, A History of France from the Death of Louis XI, Vol. I-II (1922–24).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies