They defended themselves as best they could, despite having lost primacy in the system of the anti-French forces of Europe and Italy. Now, they often appealed to the Italian princes, soliciting agreements between themselves and with Spain. In 1670, they suggested an Italian league to the Duke of Savoy; in 1675, they tried other tastings for a league with the princes, “for the peace of Italy”. Nothing was concluded, although in those years the Italian governments lived in the nightmare of an increasingly powerful and intrusive France. And in 1674, there was a meeting in Venice of many envoys from Italian states, to advise on ways to prevent the misfortune of a new dominion that would have been worse than the old one, given the greater proximity and, through almost vassal Piedmont, continuity territorial of France. It was feared for Mantua, did not become a French base and did not also attract the Germans. Great and widespread was the aspiration to a state of neutrality in Italy, recognized by the European powers. In so much multiplicity of European contrasts, in so much difference in forces between the great powers and the Italian states, almost all of them felt their surviving ambitions or ambitions to take advantage of the wars of others, to meddle with them, to try to take advantage of them. And an Italy out of the fray, secure in a neutrality ensured by Europe, seemed, to most, the ideal.
But France continued to grow in Italy after the peace of Nijmegen and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which brought it considerable territorial acquisitions in the Netherlands and on the Rhine. It had now reached its peak, as a military power and reputation. . Many German states, including those of electoral princes, were linked to King Louis. For the head of the Sun King, many drawings passed, vast fantasies: the East, the kingdom of the Romans for the dolphin, French and German associates for the purpose of a new crusade. While waiting for all this to mature, the secret treaty with the Duke of Mantua took place on 8 July 1681, prepared by skilled agents, with a long work of flattery and corruption exercised on the weak, wasteful, indebted Duke Ferdinando Carlo. Which treaty authorized the king of France to occupy the citadel of Casale, in exchange for a sum of money, an annual pension and, in the event of war, the title of generalissimo of the king. After that, a French column, through Savoy and with the help of the regent duchess, but with tricks that they knew of fraud towards the duke, occupied Casale: at the same time that, on the Rhine, Strasbourg was occupied. And it was a threat of even greater servitude for the Savoy who, fifty years earlier, had already had to cede Pinerolo to France; threat to the Milanese, now also locked up between Mantua and Casale; threat to Genoa, which had that great French fortress behind it and in front of it the fleet, still dominant in the Mediterranean, of the king of France. Who in 1684, citing a true or presumed partiality of the republic for the European coalition drawn up against him, he had his ships bomb the city and ordered the doge to humble himself at his feet. Genoa was not just a port: it was a rich Levantine tradition, it was Corsica. At Versailles the times in which Genoa had “its true and legitimate lord” in the king, before Andrea Doria “betrayed” him, are not forgotten; nor those in which Corsica had given itself, with Sampiero da Bastelica, to Henry II, and Henry II had ceded it to Genoa. And the French representative, who had taken up residence in Genoa in 1682, closely monitors what is happening in Corsica. The French agents in Italy always make room, in their relations, for the things of the island: a rich country, it is said, that the Genoese ruined.
According to itypeauto.com, the cannon fire against Genoa marked the maximum of French pre-eminence in Europe and in Italy. And they also marked the beginning of the recovery. After the exhaustion following the peace of Nijmegen, the new and greater coalition that gathered the empire, Holland, princes of Germany detached from France and approaching the empire, England was constituted. England, indeed, with its new king, William of Orange, animated by a powerful anti-French spirit, was its main driving force. The king of France then returned to the projects of Richelieu and Mazarin in Italy, all the more so since the intention of collecting the Spanish inheritance for his nephew had already matured. Although his political and military action gravitated especially to the Rhine and the Netherlands, he also sent the Viscount of Rébenac to Turin and to the other Italian courts, he exhorted to arms and harmony, he spoke of territorial enlargements and of freedom of Italy. Everyone remained cold. Indeed Vittorio Amedeo II, who had already had some negotiations with his associates, when King Louis asked him for the citadel of Turin as a guarantee, broke with him and joined the coalition. He carefully observed the affairs of Europe, from which, alone, some upheaval could come to the affairs of Italy. And while the others, from that great mass of conflicting interests circling around and over the peninsula, were drawn to yearn for disinterest and neutrality, it was pushed to more energetic action, like someone who, wanting to advance at all costs, throws himself into the current that it can, yes, overwhelm it, but it can also lead it to port. The coalition soon asserted its superiority and in May 1692 England, with the Battle of Hogue, he wrested maritime primacy from France. The duke, on the other hand, neglected by the allies, was beaten, lost Savoy and Nice and Susa. However, he occupied part of the Dauphiné, bombed Pinerolo. And since the king wanted to detach him from the coalition and resumed the conversations of 1690 through the Rébenac; so the duke, who did not even want too much victory for his associates in Italy and feared that the fortress of Casale, besieged by them, would fall into their hands, made secret agreements with the French governor of the square and obtained, with tricks and simulations, that it was surrendered to the Gonzagas, ancient lords, rather than to the coalition forces. For himself with further agreement, he had or got back Pinerolo, an old French thorn in the heart of the Savoy duchy; he got back Nice and Savoy and Susa. He undertook to obtain Italy’s neutrality from the allies or, failing to obtain it, to join France with the pact of acquiring the Milanese and ceding the Savoy to it, when, on the death of Charles of Spain, there were no children to take over the succession. The Allies at first refused to concede or recognize this Italian neutrality. But faced with the strengthening of the Franco-Savoy agreement, they ended up giving in. On the contrary, they commissioned Vittorio Amedeo to negotiate the peace which was concluded on 7 October 1696 and established the evacuation of Italy and respect for neutrality. At the end of ’97, then, general peace to Ryswick: which marked the retreat of Louis XIV.