Battle of Moncontour
The Battle of Moncontour occurred on 3 October 1569 between the Catholic forces of King Charles IX of France, commanded by Henry, Duke of Anjou, the Huguenots commanded by Gaspard de Coligny. Weeks before, Coligny had lifted the siege of Poitou and positioned his army in hopes of gaining an advantage over the approaching Royalist forces. However, a flanking maneuver by Saulx-Tavannes forced him to reposition his forces; this coincided with Henry's objective to keep Coligny's army from joining Gabriel, comte de Montgomery's forces. The battle consisted of multiple charges by the royal forces, during which Coligny was wounded in the jaw, forcing Louis of Nassau to take command. Henry was saved by his bodyguards. Philibert, Margrave of Baden-Baden, who commanded the Royalist Germans, was killed during a cavalry charge. Nassau, in turn, made no headway. A final charge by Swiss pikemen shattered the Huguenot landsknechts line, in which over half were killed; as a result, three thousand Huguenots surrendered.
Nassau and the rest of the cavalry were able to withdraw in good order. Henry besieged Saint-Jean-d'Angély from 16 October to 2 December. Coligny regrouped, marched east into the Rhone and, months marched towards Paris. French Wars of Religion Butler, A. J.. "The Wars of Religion in France". In Ward, A. W.. W.. The Cambridge Modern History. III. Cambridge University Press. Knecht, R. J.. The French Wars of Religion 1559-1598. Longman. Knecht, R. J.. Catherine de'Medici. Pearson Education Limited. Tucker, Spencer C. ed.. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient world to the Modern Middle East. Vol. Two. ABC-CLIO; the Battle of Moncontour Voyage of the Battle of Moncontour, 1569
Surrender of Montauban
The Redition of Montauban occurred on 21 August 1629, when the Huguenot city of Montauban surrendered to the Catholic troops of the French king Louis XIII under the direction of Richelieu. In 1622, Mautauban had resisted the assaults of Louis XIII, but the city lost its independence with its redition to royal forces in 1629. Montauban was considered to be the most powerful Huguenot fortress in France after La Rochelle; the redition was the final chapter of the Huguenot rebellions, as the remnants of Huguenot power in southern France surrendered to the king. After the sieges of Privas and Alès, the remaining Huguenot cities fell, Montauban surrendered without resistance; this was one of the last events in the repression of the Huguenot rebellions in France. The redition was followed by the Peace of Alès of 27 September 1629, which settled the revolt by guaranteeing the practice of the Huguenot religion and judicial protection, but requiring Huguenot strongholds as well as political assemblies to be dismantled.
Soon after the redition, the fortifications of Montauban were taken down by Richelieu. Catholicism was reinstated in Montauban, a governing body, formed of half Protestants and half Catholics, established, as well as a senior administrator representing the king in 1635. In the space of 30 years, numerous discriminatory rules were established against the Protestants of Montauban, from clothing to religious restrictions; the Huguenots of Montauban were broken by Catholic military repression, the Dragonnades, in 1683
Siege of Fort Crozon
The Siege of Fort Crozon or the Siege of El Leon was a land and sea engagement that took place late in the French wars of religion and the Anglo-Spanish War. The siege was fought between 1 October and 19 November 1594 and was conducted by English and French troops against a Spanish fort constructed on the Crozon Peninsula near Brest. After a number of assaults were repelled, a Spanish relief force under Juan del Águila attempted to relieve the garrison, but it was delayed by French cavalry and could not reach the garrison in time. An assault by the English using a deceitful ruse ended the siege when the defenders were all but put to the sword; the victory proved decisive in two ways. Second the Spanish had lost most of their support from the French Catholic League and as a result enabled the French king Henry IV to declare war on Spain. In the wake of reorganising his navy, King Philip II of Spain was intent on establishing advanced bases in western France from which his navy could threaten England and Ireland.
In 1593 Blavet had been established by the Spanish in Brittany and news of this caused concern in England. Reports of a Spanish expedition under Juan del Águila hoping to seize the major port of Brest caused greater concern and John Norreys in France, wrote a warning letter to the Queen. Elizabeth, seeing the danger, ordered Norreys to expel the Spanish; as part of Spanish preparations for an intended siege of Brest, a well-situated fort was to be built on the Peninsula commanding the Roadstead of Brest. Águila's chief engineer, Captain Cristóbal de Rojas, designed a modern fortification, christened El Leon - companies took turns in construction and defence. Spanish admiral Pedro de Zubiaur arrived with twelve ships landing equipment, which accelerated the construction of the fort, two shaped bastions with a glacis were formed in front of the drawbridge guarding where the peninsula joined the mainland; the fort had a significant number of guns, one bastion containing eighteen culverins and another smaller bastion had six.
Don Tomé de Paredes was appointed commander of the garrison of the fort, with his company, that of Diego de Aller and Pedro Ortiz Dogaleño totalling 401 men, with a mission to complete the construction of the fort. All this was created in a mere twenty six days of construction. In June 1,000 veteran English troops, fighting in the Netherlands led by Sir Thomas Baskerville were the first to arrive landing at Paimpol; this was joined in August by another force of 2,000 soldiers from Plymouth under the command of John Norreys and ten ships of war with 1,200 sailors and marines commanded by Martin Frobisher in his flagship Vanguard. Within Norreys force were fifty pioneers levied by Sir Walter Raleigh from the tin miners of Cornwall. With their successes in the Netherlands under Francis Vere during the sieges of Steenwijk and Groningen between 1592 and 1594 they were to construct mines under the fort; the French under the overall command of Jean VI d'Aumont consisted of 3,000 troops, under the command of Baron de Molac, 300 mounted arquebusiers and 400 knights.
In Brest itself an army of militia was hastily assembled and formed under the command of Lord of Sourdéac, however this was to take no part in the siege but was a stopgap if Brest itself became besieged. In the opening campaign the town of Morlaix was besieged and captured from the Spanish and Leaguer forces in September; the town of Quimper was taken next and in October the Anglo-French force headed towards Brest to lay siege to the Crozon peninsula. On 1 October the siege began when Frobisher's ships arrived and blockaded the fort and fired off a desultory bombardment before the land force arrived; the besieging army arrived soon after and began to open trenches on 11 October, supported by cannon fire from the sea by English ships. The besiegers however suffered from the Spanish artillery fire during the installation of wicker filled gabions and artillery emplacements, they had to cope with sorties from the Spanish bastions and night, so that the siege positions were not permanently positioned.
Once the heavy artillery were in place however continuous fire from these began to take their effect on the besieged. Soon after the French launched an assault on a bastion on the right side and the English on the left; the battle lasted three hours, but in the confusion a tremendous explosion appeared behind the attacking French causing the attackers to retreat in panic fearing a Spanish attack in the rear. It had turned out several huge barrels of gunpowder blew up in one of the main French siege batteries killing or wounding many. A lull in the siege took place as the English and French needed rearming with new powder which had to come from Brest and the English ships; the advantage of this time taken by the Spanish was to repair the bastions. At the same Cornish pioneers had been trying to mine the fort. On 1 November the Spanish launched a major sally against the siege batteries - they surprised the defenders, continued all the way until they reached a large French battery. Here they spiked three siege guns, returned to the fort before Baron de Molac's troops could react.
The Spanish had inflicted heavy losses having lost only eleven men in their attack. The besiegers' battery fire dwindled but the powder and ammunition began to run low in the fort. Paredes sent for reinforcements to Juan Aguila. Despite the protests of Mercœur, Águila decided to se
Siege of Privas
The Siege of Privas was undertaken by Louis XIII of France from 14 May 1629, the city of Privas was captured on 28 May 1629. It was one of the last events of the Huguenot rebellions; the Siege of Privas followed the disastrous capitulation of the main Protestant stronghold of La Rochelle. Louis XIII moved to eliminate the remaining Huguenot resistance in the south of France. With Alès and Anduze, the city of Privas was at the center of a string of Protestant strongholds in the Languedoc, stretching from Nîmes and Uzes in the east, to Castres and Montauban in the west. Privas was selected by marquis des Portes, as a strategic target; the city was defended by Alexander du Puy, a leading Protestant from Montbrun-les-Bains in the Dauphiné active in Montauban. Privas was captured on 28 May 1629 after a siege of 15 days. 500 to 600 Huguenot men who had barricaded themselves in a fort surrendered, but some attempted to blow up themselves with Royal troops, leading to a massacre. The city was destroyed by burning.
In a letter to the Queen, Richelieu reported the destruction in wording that minimized active responsibility on the part of royal Catholic forces: There was no intention of giving up the place to pillage, but in the night it was abandoned, the gates thrown open for the soldiers to enter in crowds to plunder. Everything possible was done to prevent it being burned. Orders were given to prevent those in the fort from being molested by the troops, but they violently exposed themselves to destruction, leaping down from their fortifications, incensing the soldiers against them, by their desperate attempts to destroy themselves with the King's followers. One girl who escaped the massacre was adopted by Richelieu, was nicknamed "La Fortunée de Privas"; the Marquis des Portes was killed in the siege. After Privas, Alès soon fell in the Siege of Alès in June 1629; the remaining Huguenot cities fell too, Montauban surrendered after a short siege led by Bassompierre. These last sieges of the Huguenot rebellion were followed by the Peace of Alès, which settled the revolt by guaranteeing the practice of the Huguenot religion and judicial protection, but requiring Huguenot strongholds as well as political assemblies to be dismantled.
In 1640, Richelieu commissioned painter Nicolas Prévost to paint the siege, based on the engraving by Abraham Bosse. The painting is now located at the Château de Richelieu. French Wars of Religion Huguenot rebellions
Battle of Dreux
The Battle of Dreux was fought on 19 December 1562 between Catholics and Huguenots. The Catholics were led by Anne de Montmorency while Prince of Condé led the Huguenots. Though commanders from both sides were captured, the French Catholics won the battle; this was the first major engagement of the French Wars of Religion. The Protestant army encountered the Catholic royal army on the road to Dreux while attempting to move north into Normandy, they began with a slight disadvantage because they had not posted sufficient scouts around their march because Coligny had persuaded Condé that the Catholics would not attack and therefore there was some confusion about the line of battle. Although the Catholics were superior in numbers and their infantry was much more experienced they were lacking in heavy cavalry, the main offensive weapon of set battles in the period; this made them cautious about engaging with the Huguenots on this battlefield, open and sloping, perfect for large cavalry charges. In an effort to negate this advantage, the royal army set up a defensive position between the two villages of Blainville and Épinay.
The Protestant army was organised into two lines. The first was made up of their cavalry gendarmes and German reiters heavy cavalry; the second line contained their infantry, a mixture of mercenary Landsknechts and French infantry. The idea was that the cavalry would bear the brunt of the fighting and the inferior infantry would be used as an anchor for the battle line and a rallying point; the two armies stood around for two hours looking at each other before the action began—La Noue says in his Discours that this was because it was the first time two French armies had faced each other in over a century, each had friends and brothers on the other side and was afraid to begin what would no doubt become the first act in a great tragedy. The battle itself was divided into four main movements. In the first, the Huguenots launched a large cavalry charge at the Catholic left which routed it quickly and in a short time the entire left wing of the Catholic army had disintegrated and was fleeing. Only the Swiss managed to hold in the centre despite taking high casualties.
Much of the Protestant cavalry now pursued their fleeing enemies back towards their baggage train which they proceeded to loot. During the second phase of the battle, the majority of the combat was borne by Swiss who were attacked by cavalry and by the Protestant Landsknecht regiment. Although they routed the Landsknechts and recaptured the Catholic artillery they were broken by a final charge by fresh Huguenot gendarmes. Seeing this many more of the Protestant cavalry moved off to loot the Catholic baggage train in the rear leaving their infantry without cavalry support, it was at this moment, during the third phase, that Guise and Saint-André, who had held back till now, advanced with their fresh troops. They swept aside the Huguenot French infantry, who were poorly armed with few pikemen, the remaining Huguenot Landsknecht regiment retreated without striking a blow; the remaining Protestant cavalry, now exhausted after several hours of combat, retreated in good order but it was during this withdrawal that Condé was captured.
In the fourth and final phase of the battle, it appeared. However, behind the woods near Blainville, Coligny had rallied about a thousand French and German horse and re-emerged to attack again; this could have changed the course of the battle again as the few hundred Catholic heavy cavalry left were in no position to face this attack. However, Guise had ordered his final reliable infantry regiment, a veteran French unit under Martigues, to form a square just south of Blainville, they poured arquebus fire into the advancing Huguenots who, having used their lances earlier, could not break the pikemen. Realising he could not win and with darkness approaching, Coligny ordered a retreat leaving the field to the Catholics. In the aftermath of the battle, the costs began to make themselves clear. An estimated 9-10,000 men of the total 30,000 who had begun the battle, ended the day as a casualty making it one of the bloodiest battles of the period. Ambroise Paré, a surgeon sent from Paris to tend the wounded gentlemen, described how,' observed for a good league all around the ground covered, all dispatched in less than two hours'.
A lot of wounded men, left on the field at the end of the day, succumbed to shock and cold during the bitter night, as recalled by trooper Jean de Mergey,'the coldest I felt'. Further, while the Catholics had won the battle, they suffered heavy casualties among their cavalry and an estimated 800 of them had died; this was important because their cavalry was made up of the political elite of France and such high losses would have repercussions in the future governing of France. For the Catholics, despite what was an impressive victory, they were unable to capitalise on it and it took them seven weeks before they were ready to launch an attack on Orleans, the major Huguenot stronghold in the region. In this time, the Protestants managed to reinforce the city with their remaining infantry and rally their unharmed cavalry force, it was with this that Coligny reestablished Protestant control over the important towns in lower Normandy. This meant that the first civil war ended, not with the crushing defeat of the Huguenots, but rather with a pro-Huguenot treaty which gave them a foothold in France.
There were several lessons learnt from the battle of Dreux. The royal army became more convinced of the effectiveness of the Swiss mercenaries and continued to hire u
Battle of Coutras
The Battle of Coutras, fought on 20 October 1587, was a major engagement in the French Religious Wars between a Huguenot army under Henry of Navarre and a royalist army led by Anne, Duke of Joyeuse. Henry of Navarre was victorious, Joyeuse was killed while attempting to surrender; the Wars of Religion between the Catholics and Protestants in France had begun in 1562 and continued intermittently thereafter, with temporary periods of nominal peace that were also violent. The King of France Henry III conducted a conciliatory policy, as reflected in the enactment of the Edict of Beaulieu in 1576 and the Edict of Poitiers the following year, but a new crisis arose as the result of the death of the king's brother, Francis of Alençon, when the Huguenot, Henry of Navarre, became heir presumptive to the throne. The League, led by the Duke of Guise set the kingdom against the king, who became isolated. On 18 July 1585, Henry III promulgated an edict canceling all previous edicts, giving precedence "to the Catholics", paying the mercenaries of the League from the Royal Treasury, prohibiting Protestantism in France, ordering the return of safe Protestant strongholds.
Protestants were expelled from power. And while the Guise party won appointments and favours, the king of Navarre was deprived of his functions; this edict was a declaration of war against the Protestants. Henry of Navarre sought support without success; the "private bull" by Pope Sixtus V brought him a measure of support from French royalists and Gallican circles. Faced with the intransigence of Guise, war was inevitable. Joyeuse was sent south with an army, while Mercoeur blocked Condé at La Rochelle; the clash of the two cavalry forces was to the advantage of the King of Navarre. The Duke of Joyeuse launched a charge at full gallop. For his part, Henry of Navarre adopted an innovative tactic in the disposition of his troops: he inserted the platoons of musketeers within cavalry squadrons, to improve their support; the charge of the Protestants chevau-légers broke the Royalist army, routed. The Duke of Joyeuse was defeated and killed by a pistol shot. 2,000 Catholics were captured along with Anne's younger brother, Claude Joyeuse, lord of Saint-Sauveur and Jacques d'Amboise, the eldest of the branch of Amboise-d'Aubijoux.
Victory went to the Protestants, led by Henry of Navarre. He attended a mass in honour of his slain enemies. French Wars of Religion Pierre Miquel, Les Guerres de religion, Club France Loisirs, 1980, p 342-344 Pierre de Vayssiére, Messieurs de Joyeuse, Albin Michel, 1926 There is a detailed account of the battle in Garrett Mattingly's The Armada. Histoire de la Ligue par Maimbourg - Paris -1684
Siege of Calais (1596)
The Siege of Calais of 1596 known as the Spanish conquest of Calais, took place at the strategic port-city of Calais, between April 8–24, 1596, as part of the Franco-Spanish War, in the context of the French Wars of Religion, the Anglo-Spanish War, the Eighty Years' War. The siege ended when the city fell into Spanish hands after a short and intense siege by the Spanish Army of Flanders commanded by Archduke Albert of Austria, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands; the French troops in the citadel of Calais resisted for a few days more, but on April 24, the Spanish troops led by Don Luis de Velasco y Velasco, Count of Salazar and captured the fortress, achieving a complete victory. The Spanish success was the first action of the campaign of Archduke Albert of 1596. Since 1562, France was in the grip of the French Wars of Religion in which Spain had intervened in favour of the Catholic League of France, most notably in the siege of Paris or the Rouen, other battles as Craon in 1592, or the Relief of Blaye in 1593.
But only, in 1595, the war was declared between the two countries by the new King Henry IV of France, who had the year before converted to Catholicism and been received into Paris to be crowned. Henry IV was attempting to reconquer large parts of northern France from hostile Spanish-French Catholic forces. In 1595, the Spanish army led by Don Pedro Henríquez de Acevedo, Count of Fuentes, took the initiative, conquering a great number of French towns and villages, including Doullens. In the spring of 1596, the French army led by Henry IV laid siege to La Fère, under control of the Catholic League of France. After the death at Brussels of the Archduke Ernest of Austria, on 20 February 1595, the Archduke Albert was sent by Philip II of Spain to Brussels from the Spanish court in Madrid, to succeed his elder brother as Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, charge assigned to Don Pedro Henríquez de Acevedo, Count of Fuentes, until the arrival of Albert to the Low Countries, he made his entry in Brussels on February 11, 1596, his first priority was the conflict with Henry IV of France.
On 29 March, Albert left Brussels, went to Valenciennes, where met the forces of the Spanish Army of Flanders, advanced over France in late March, but instead of sending it to relieve La Fère, it turned towards Calais, where it arrived on April 8. The French troops at Calais, were taken by surprise by the Spanish forces led by Archduke Albert. Henry was on the point of capturing the town of La Fère, in Picardy, from the Catholic League of France and their Spanish allies after a long and costly siege, couldn't spare any troops to relieve Calais, his English and Dutch allies reacted too slowly. Queen Elizabeth of England proposed sending her favourite commander at that time, Sir Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, with 6,000 to 8,000 soldiers to support the French defenders in Calais, but Elizabeth demanded to Henry that Calais should return to English rule after her intervention. However, while the two monarchs bickered, the work of Spanish troops was crucial, which made it impossible for the English to help.
Moreover, Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, on hearing the news, hurried to Zeeland to prepare a relief army and a fleet to relieve Calais, but the city fell the day that the first Dutch ships were preparing to sail. The city fell to the Spaniards after ten days of siege, after which only the citadel remained in French hands; the French general François d'Orléans-Longueville, Duke of Fronsac and Château-Thierry, tried to break the siege by sea, help the city with supplies and fresh troops, but was stopped by the bombardments of the Spanish artillery. Henry IV, knowing the importance of losing one of the most important port cities of France tried to relieve the city, with a great part of his troops, Henry set out to march towards Calais. On Wednesday, 24 April, the Spanish troops led by Don Luis de Velasco stormed the citadel. All fought with great courage but the French forces could not match the skill and experience of the professional Spanish and Walloon assault force; the French lost thousands of men in the assault, a great part were taken prisoners.
The Spanish lost around 200 wounded. The Governor of Calais, Seigneur de Widessan, some of his captains, were executed. Into the citadel, the Spaniards took a valuable treasure, among other things, by a large amount of gold and silver coins, a great quantities of gunpowder and supplies. With the capture of the citadel the whole city was under Spanish control, the hopes of Henry IV to retain the city under his control vanished; the capture of the citadel of Calais was the first military action of the collecting cartons of the Flemish artist Jan Snellinck, designed for a series of tapestries known as The battles of Archduke Albert, now owned by Patrimonio Nacional. The conquest of the city by the Spanish Army of Flanders, led by Archduke Albert, was a resounding victory, a severe blow to Henry IV of France, his Protestant allies. Calais was of strategic importance, for it gave Spain an excellent port to controlling the English Channel, along with Dunkirk. Having left behind a strong garrison, Albert advanced with the army over the nearby stron