A comprehensive history of Renaissance military architecture cannot depend solely upon the evidence of built works and theoretical models. The revolution in gunpowder warfare that rendered medieval city walls obsolete around 1500 affected virtually all towns and cities, including those which failed or refused to construct fortifications in the modern manner. Bologna offers a good case in point: although large, wealthy, and strategically located within the Papal State, it consistently and successfully opposed new fortifications throughout the tumultuous 16th century. Drawing upon unstudied visual and written sources, this essay profiles the Bolognese anti-fortification tradition. On three notable occasions Bologna rejected advanced built defenses. Early in the cinquecento the city endured and then demolished a great citadel erected by Julius II; in the 1520s, when Bologna was menaced by the army of Charles V, it was able to avert attack without recourse to the kind of bastioned enceinte envisioned for it by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger; and during the 1560s the city's magistrates successfully frustrated refortification by diplomatic means. On each occasion political and economic considerations triumphed over the putative advantages of modern military architecture.

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