Battle of St. Quentin (1557)

Last updated

Battle of St. Quentin
Part of the Italian Wars
Emanuele Filiberto vince i Francesi a San Quintino.png
French surrender to the Duke of Savoy Emanuele Filiberto
Date10 August 1557
Result Habsburg Spanish victory
Pavillon royal de la France.svg  Kingdom of France Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spanish Empire
Flag of Savoie.svg  Duchy of Savoy
Flag of England.svg Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Pavillon royal de la France.svg Duke of Nevers
Pavillon royal de la France.svg Anne de Montmorency  (POW)
Flag of Savoie.svg Duke Emmanuel Philibert
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Ferrante I Gonzaga
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Count of Egmont
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Julián Romero
26,000 [1] 60,000 [2] –80,000 [2]
7,000 English troops [3]
Casualties and losses
10,000 casualties (3,000 killed and 7,000 captured) [2] or 14,000 [1] 1,000

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



The battle took place on the Feast Day of St. Lawrence 10 August. [3] 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. [3] Facing a force twice their size, Montmorency attempted to gain access to St. Quentin through a marsh, but a delayed French withdrawal allowed the Spanish to defeat the French and capture Montmorency. [3]

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, [3] where he had been the Governor since 1555. The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis ended the war two years later. [8]

Notable participants

The Frenchman Martin Guerre fought in the Spanish ranks and his leg was amputated. [9] During his long absence, another soldier famously impersonated him in Guerre's village until he returned in 1560.

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 ]

In culture

Se armó la de San Quintín ("It became the one of St. Quentin") is a Spanish proverbial phrase to describe a big dispute. [10]


  1. Henry Kamen, Philip of Spain (1997) gives a brief account based on contemporary sources, noting that Spanish troops constituted 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]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">War of the Spanish Succession</span> Conflict in Western Europe (1701–1715)

The War of the Spanish Succession was a European great power conflict that took place from 1701 to 1715. The death of childless Charles II of Spain in November 1700 led to a struggle for control of the Spanish Empire between his heirs, Philip of Anjou and Charles of Austria, and their respective supporters, among them Spain, Austria, France, the Dutch Republic, Savoy and Great Britain. Related conflicts include the 1700–1721 Great Northern War, Rákóczi's War of Independence in Hungary, the Camisards revolt in southern France, Queen Anne's War in North America and minor trade wars in India and South America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1557</span> Calendar year

Year 1557 (MDLVII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philip II of Spain</span> 16th-century King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily and The Netherlands; King consort of England

Philip II, also known as Philip the Prudent, was King of Spain from 1556, King of Portugal from 1580, and King of Naples and Sicily from 1554 until his death in 1598. He was jure uxoris King of England and Ireland from his marriage to Queen Mary I in 1554 until her death in 1558. He was also Duke of Milan from 1540. From 1555, he was Lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philibert II, Duke of Savoy</span> Duke of Savoy

Philibert II, nicknamed the Handsome or the Good, was the Duke of Savoy from 1497 until his death.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry II of France</span> 16th-century King of France

Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I and Duchess Claude of Brittany, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis in 1536.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba</span> Spanish military leader and diplomat (1507–1582)

Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 3rd Duke of Alba, known as the Grand Duke of Alba in Spain and Portugal and as the Iron Duke in the Netherlands, was a Spanish noble, general and diplomat. He was titled the 3rd Duke of Alba de Tormes, 4th Marquess of Coria, 3rd Count of Salvatierra de Tormes, 2nd Count of Piedrahita, 8th Lord of Valdecorneja, Grandee of Spain and a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece. His motto in Latin was Deo patrum nostrorum.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anne de Montmorency</span> French soldier, statesman and diplomat (1493–1567)

Anne, Duke of Montmorency, Honorary Knight of the Garter was a French soldier, statesman and diplomat. He became Marshal of France and Constable of France and served five kings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">François de Montmorency</span> French soldier and diplomat (1530–1579)

François de Montmorency, Duc de Montmorency was a French soldier, diplomat and peer who served as governor of Paris. He was Duke of Montmorency, Count of Dammartin, Baron of Châteaubriant and Lord of L'Isle-Adam, Grand Master of France, and Marshal of France. He fought for France in the Hapsburg-Valois wars and for the crown in the early French Wars of Religion before his family's rivalry with the house of Guise pushed him into rebellion in 1574. Restored to favour in 1575 he died several years later.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Habsburg Spain</span> Reigning dynasty in Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries

Habsburg Spain is a contemporary historiographical term referring to the huge extent of territories ruled between the 16th and 18th centuries (1516–1713) by kings from the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg. Habsburg Spain was a composite monarchy and a personal union. The Habsburg Hispanic Monarchs reached the zenith of their influence and power ruling the Spanish Empire. They controlled territories over the five continents, including the Americas, the East Indies, the Low Countries, Belgium, Luxembourg, and territories now in Italy, France and Germany in Europe, the Portuguese Empire from 1580 to 1640, and various other territories such as small enclaves like Ceuta and Oran in North Africa. This period of Spanish history has also been referred to as the "Age of Expansion".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy</span> Duke of Savoy (1528–1580)

Emmanuel Philibert, known as Testa di ferro, was Duke of Savoy from 1553 to 1580. He is remembered for the recovery of the Savoyard state following the Battle of St. Quentin (1557), and for moving its capital to Turin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of St. Quentin (1871)</span> Part of the Franco-Prussian War

The Battle of St. Quentin was a battle of the Franco-Prussian War in which Prussian forces defeated French attempts to relieve the besieged city of Paris.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Gravelines (1558)</span> 1558 battle of the Italian War of 1551-59

The Battle of Gravelines was fought on 13 July 1558 at Gravelines, near Calais, France. It occurred during the twelve-year war between France and Spain (1547–1559).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Italian War of 1551–1559</span> Military conflict between France and the Holy Roman Empire

The Italian War of 1551–1559, sometimes known as the Habsburg–Valois War and the Last Italian War, began in 1551 when Henry II of France declared war against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V with the intent of recapturing parts of Italy and ensuring French, rather than Habsburg, domination of European affairs. The war ended following the signing of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis between the monarchs of Spain, England and France in 1559. Historians have emphasized the importance of gunpowder technology, new styles of fortification to resist cannon fire, and the increased professionalization of the soldiers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg</span> Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg

William of Jülich-Cleves-Berge was a Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (1539–1592). William was born in and died in Düsseldorf. He was the only son of John III, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, and Maria, Duchess of Jülich-Berg. William took over rule of his father's estates upon his death in 1539. Despite his mother having lived until 1543, William also became the Duke of Berg and Jülich and the Count of Ravensberg.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philibert, Margrave of Baden-Baden</span>

Margrave Philibert of Baden ruled the Margraviate of Baden-Baden from 1554 to 1569. Philibert was the son of the Margrave Bernhard III, Margrave of Baden-Baden and Franziska of Luxembourg, daughter of Charles I, Count of Ligny.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">War of the Portuguese Succession</span> European conflict from 1580 to 1583

The War of the Portuguese Succession, a result of the extinction of the Portuguese royal line after the Battle of Alcácer Quibir and the ensuing Portuguese succession crisis of 1580, was fought from 1580 to 1583 between the two main claimants to the Portuguese throne: António, Prior of Crato, proclaimed in several towns as King of Portugal, and his first cousin Philip II of Spain, who eventually succeeded in claiming the crown, reigning as Philip I of Portugal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Lorenzo, Turin</span> Church in Turin, Italy

San Lorenzo, also known as the Royal Church of Saint Lawrence, is a Baroque-style church in Turin, adjacent to the Royal Palace of Turin. The present church was designed and built by Guarino Guarini during 1668–1687.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559)</span> Peace treaty that ended the 1494 to 1559 Italian Wars

The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis or Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in April 1559 ended the Italian War of 1551–1559, the last of the Italian Wars (1494–1559). It consisted of several separate treaties, the main two signed on 2 April by Elizabeth I of England and Henry II of France, and on 3 April between Henry and Philip II of Spain. Although he was not a signatory, the agreements were approved by Emperor Ferdinand I, since many of the territorial exchanges concerned states that were part of the Holy Roman Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eighty Years' War, 1566–1572</span>

The period between the start of the Beeldenstorm in August 1566 until early 1572 contained the first events of a series that would later be known as the Eighty Years' War between the Spanish Empire and disparate groups of rebels in the Habsburg Netherlands. Some of the first pitched battles and sieges between radical Calvinists and Habsburg governmental forces took place in the years 1566–1567, followed by the arrival and government takeover by Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba with an army of 10,000 Spanish and Italian soldiers. Next, an ill-fated invasion by the most powerful nobleman of the Low Countries, the exiled but still-Catholic William "the Silent" of Orange, failed to inspire a general anti-government revolt. Although the war seemed over before it got underway, in the years 1569–1571, Alba's repression grew severe, and opposition against his regime mounted to new heights and became susceptible to rebellion.

The origins of the Eighty Years' War are complicated, and have been a source of disputes amongst historians for centuries.


  1. 1 2 Nolan 2006, p. 756.
  2. 1 2 3 Bonner 1992, p. 35.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Tucker 2010, p. 518.
  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.
  9. Davis, Natalie Zemon (1983). The Return of Martin Guerre (Paperback ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN   0-674-76691-1.
  10. "Se armó la de San Quintín y el origen de otras expresiones". (in Spanish). Europa Press. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2022.


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