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Definition: Holy League from The Macmillan Encyclopedia

Any of several alliances formed in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries usually for the furtherance of papal or Roman Catholic interests. The best known are those formed against the French invasion of Italy (1494) and against the Huguenots in the French Wars of Religion (1576).


Summary Article: Holy League
from Thames & Hudson Dictionary of the Italian Renaissance, The

Any alliance which was aggressive in intent and had a pope as a signatory was likely to be dubbed a Holy League. The 3 most commonly so called are those of 1495, 1511 and 1571. The first comprised Ferdinand of Aragon, Maximilian I, the Duke of Milan, the republic of Florence and Pope Alexander VI. It was their forces that failed to defeat the invading French on their return journey from Naples at Novara. The second brought together, again in opposition to France, Maximilian, Venice, Ferdinand, Henry VIII of England and Pope Julius II – switching from his previous support of France. As well as relieving Venice from the united forces of the League of Cambrai, this League defeated the French at Ravenna in 1512 and, in the same year, forced Florence to take back the exiled Medici. The third was more accurately ‘Holy’ in that its signatories, Venice, Philip II of Spain and Pope Pius V, did combat the infidel, jointly defeating the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. J. R. Hale

© 1981 Thames and Hudson Ltd. London. Reprinted 2003.

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