Renaissance Mass Murder: Civilians and Soldiers During the Italian Wars

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Renaissance Mass Murder explores the devastating impact of war on the men and women of the Renaissance. In contrast to the picture of balance and harmony usually associated with the Renaissance, it uncovers in forensic detail a world in which sacks of Italian cities and massacres of civilians at the hands of French, German, Spanish, Swiss, and Italian troops were regular occurrences. The arguments presented are based on a wealth of evidence—histories and chronicles, poetry and paintings, sculpture and other objects—which together provide a new and startling history of sixteenth-century Italy and a social history of the Italian Wars. It outlines how massacres happened, how princes, soldiers, lawyers, and writers, justified and explained such events, and how they were represented in contemporary culture. On this basis the book reconstructs the terrifying individual experiences of civilians in the face of war and in doing so offers a story of human tragedy which redresses the balance of the history of the Italian Wars, and of Renaissance warfare, in favour of the civilian and away from the din of the battlefield. This book also places mass murder in a broader historical context and challenges claims that such violence was unusual or in decline in early modern Europe. Finally, it shows that women often suffered disproportionately from this violence and that immunity for them, as for their children, was often partially developed or poorly respected.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages304
ISBN (Print)9780198832614
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2018


  • war
  • violence
  • civilians
  • soldiers
  • Italy
  • Renaissance
  • sacks
  • murder
  • rape
  • culture


Dive into the research topics of 'Renaissance Mass Murder: Civilians and Soldiers During the Italian Wars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Why mass murder happened

    Bowd, S., 22 Nov 2018, Renaissance Mass Murder: Civilians and Soldiers in the Italian Wars. Bowd, S. D. (ed.). Oxford University Press

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

    Open Access

Cite this