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Since the 1490s the great rivals France and Spain (and briefly the Swiss) had fought in Italy for control of the peninsula. The various Italian city states and the Papacy were divided and they were often allied to the Hapsburgs, Spanish and the French<ref> Lopez, Robert Sabatino, The Three Ages of the Italian Renaissance Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1970., p. 89 </ref>. The struggle for Italy had entered a new phase during the reigns of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his great rival Francis II of France. In 1527 Italy was the scene of the War of the League of Cognac and this involved France and the Papacy on one side and the Holy Roman Emperor, Spain and her allies on the other. Pope Clement VII supported the French Monarch, Francis I in order to protect the independence of the Papacy<ref> Lopez, p. 112</ref>. Pope Clement feared that Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and the Spanish king was becoming too powerful. He was commonly regarded as the most powerful man in Europe since the days of the Caesars. The Imperial troops, who were mainly composed of German mercenaries and Spanish troops, defeated the French and the Papal armies in 1527. However, the Emperor was in no position to pay the army and they mutinied. This was typical of Charles V, despite his vast Empire he was often short of cash and usually nearly bankrupt. The Imperial army had been led by a powerful French nobles, of the Bourbon Family, who had rebelled against the French Monarch. He was unable to quell the revolt and was soon forced to do the bidding of the mutinous troops. The soldiers sought food and money and they began to pillage large areas of Northern Italy and they terrorized many towns and villages <ref>Tuchman, Barbara W. The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (London, Random House Trade Paperbacks, 1985), p. 345</ref>.
[[File: Sack of Rome Two.jpg |thumbnail|200px|Portrait of Emperor Charles V, 1527]]
==Sack of Rome- The Terror==
After a few weeks, the loot and food available in the area began to run low and the soldiers looked for other targets. They selected Rome. They believed that they could get all the money and food that they needed in the Eternal City <ref>Tuchman, p. 344</ref>. Many of the mutinous soldiers were German mercenaries, famed for their bravery, many were also sympathisers of Martin Luther and they believed that the Pope was corrupt and even the ‘Anti-Christ’ who had distorted the message of Christ. They wanted to seize Rome for religious reasons and possibly believed that they could deliver a fateful blow to the Catholic Church, even though Martin Luther stated that this would be wrong. Soon 33,000 Imperial troops were on their way to Rome in the spring of 1527. The army was composed of Germans, Spaniards and Italians<ref>Tuchman, p. 345</ref>. The army was reinforced by deserters form the French army and bandits. It was largely unopposed as an Italian army, under Venetian command also mutinied. The army became more disorganized as they advanced on Rome. The sacked several towns on the way and on the 5th of May, they had reached the Walls of Rome. By this stage the army was largely under the control of the common soldiers as their erstwhile leader of the Charles Bourbon was only heeded by his men when it pleased them<ref> Chastel, Andre, The Sack of Rome (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 78</ref>.