Battle of St. Quentin (1557)

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Battle of St. Quentin
Part of the Italian War of 1551–1559
San Quintin.png
Map of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy's Dutch campaign
Date10 – 27 August 1557
Result Habsburg Spanish victory
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spanish Empire
Savoie flag.svg Duchy of Savoy
Pavillon royal de la France.svg  Kingdom of France
Commanders and leaders
Savoie flag.svg Emmanuel Philibert
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Ferrante I Gonzaga
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Lamoral, Count of Egmont
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Julián Romero
Pavillon royal de la France.svg Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
Pavillon royal de la France.svg Anne de Montmorency
60,000 [1] –80,000 [1]
7,000 English troops [2]
26,000 [3]
Casualties and losses
1,000 3,000 killed and 7,000 captured [1] or 14,000 [3]

The Battle of Saint-Quentin of 1557, was a decisive engagement, during the Italian War of 1551–1559, between the Kingdom of France and the Habsburg empire at Saint-Quentin in Picardy. A Habsburg Spanish force under Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy defeated a French army under the command of Duke Louis Gonzaga and Duke Anne de Montmorency.



The battle took place on the Feast Day of St. Lawrence 10 August. [2] Philibert, with his English allies, [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2] had placed St. Quentin under siege. Montmorency with a force of around 26,000 men marched to St. Quentin to relieve the city. [2] Facing a force twice their size, Montmorency attempts to gain access to St. Quentin through a marsh, but a delayed French withdrawal allows the Spanish to defeat the French and capture Montmorency. [2]

Battle part of a war which is well defined in duration, area and force commitment

A battle is a combat in warfare between two or more armed forces. A war usually consists of multiple battles. Battles generally are well defined in duration, area, and force commitment. A battle with only limited engagement between the forces and without decisive results is sometimes called a skirmish.

During the battle the Saint-Quentin collegiate church was badly damaged by fire. [7]

After the victory over the French at St. Quentin, "the sight of the battlefield gave Philip a permanent distaste for war"; he declined to pursue his advantage, withdrawing to the Spanish Netherlands to the north, [2] where he had been the Governor since 1555. The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis ended the war two years later. [8]

Feast of Saint Lawrence

Being of a grave religious bent, Philip II was aware that 10 August is the Feast of St Lawrence, a Roman deacon who was roasted on a gridiron for his Christian beliefs. Hence, in commemoration of the great victory on St Lawrence’s Day, Philip sent orders to Spain that a great palace in the shape of a gridiron should be built in the Guadarrama Mountains northwest of Madrid. Known as El Escorial, it was finally completed in 1584.[ citation needed ]

El Escorial monastery and historical residence of the King of Spain

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as Monasterio del Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the Spanish capital, Madrid. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and has functioned as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university, school and hospital. It is situated 2.06 km (1.28 mi) up the valley from the town of El Escorial.


  1. Henry Kamen, Philip of Spain (1997) gives a brief account based on contemporary sources, noting that Spanish troops constistuted about 10% of the Habsburg total. Kamen claims that the battle was "won by a mainly Netherlandish army commanded by the non-Spaniards the duke of Savoy and the earl of Egmont". [4] On the other hand, Geoffrey Parker states that Spanish troops were decisive in defeating the French at St. Quentin owing to their high value, as well as in defeating the Ottomans at Hungary in 1532 and at Tunis in 1535, and the German protestants at Mühlberg in 1547. [5]
  2. England had entered the war at the behest of Phillip II, on 7 June 1557. [6]

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  1. 1 2 3 Bonner 1992, p. 35.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Tucker 2010, p. 518.
  3. 1 2 Nolan 2006, p. 756.
  4. Kamen 1997, p. 28.
  5. Parker 1989, p. 41.
  6. Leathes 1907, p. 92.
  7. Klaiber 1993, p. 186.
  8. Wilson 2016, p. 742.


Coordinates: 49°50′55″N3°17′11″E / 49.8486°N 3.2864°E / 49.8486; 3.2864