There were Swiss in both armies, and it was likely that they would refuse to fight against their countrymen. The French levy had official authority; the French chests were full. Thus when the French army moved forward against the Milanese at Novara, almost the whole ducal army abandoned him. Further resistance was impossible. Ludovico attempted to escape in disguise among the Swiss, but was detected and became a prisoner (April 10). His captivity was only terminated by his death. His brother Ascanio was captured by the Venetians and handed over later to the French. The sons of Ludovico were safe in Germany. The little son of Gian Galeazzo fell into the hands of France.
For the reorganisation of the duchy the King sent his own right hand, the Cardinal of Rouen, Georges d'Amboise. Trivulzio was superseded in the civil government by Charles d'Amboise, Seigneur de Chaumont, the Cardinal's nephew, and in the military command by Aubigny.
With the completed conquest of Milan French predominance in the peninsula was established. Venice was content to accept the situation for the present, and to make use of her powerful friend, who sent ships to cooperate in her war with the Turks during the years 1499-1501. The Pope was fain to lean on France. French troops assisted Cesare in the conquest of Imola and Forli and afterwards served him against Rimini, Pesaro and Faenza. His further conquests were limited by French sufferance. When he threatened Bologna or Florence, he was warned off by their august protector. In the enterprise of Naples, Cesare followed the French banner as a willing ally, almost as a subject. During the time of Ludovico's success several of the Italian States had given him help, or shown him goodwill. After his fall, the Duke of Ferrara, the Marquis of Mantua, Bentivoglio of Bologna, and others, were forced to pay compensation to France for their incautious actions. Florence reaped the reward of her more correct behaviour, when the King sent Beaumont with French troops to assist the Florentines against Pisa. The failure of the expedition brought Florence into temporary disgrace, but later she was allowed to buy her pardon. Thus in Lombardy, in Tuscany, in the Papal States, there was no power that did not accept as a fact the predominance of France.
It may be doubted whether Louis aimed at converting predominance into sovereignty. But he was determined to conquer Naples, and he hoped that an occasion would offer to establish the Cardinal of Rouen as pope. These ends achieved, he might be content with the substance, while the Emperor still enjoyed the shadow. Meanwhile no great effort would be required to keep Maximilian in check. But with regard to Naples Louis had in Aragon a more dangerous rival. Naples had been a part of the kingdom of Sicily, and Sicily was owned by Aragon. Moreover Alfonso of Aragon had been de facto King of Naples, and had established there the ruling race of kings. These claims were not convincing, but neither were Louis' claims beyond possibility of question.