François de la Noue

Last updated
Francois de La Noue La-Noue.jpg
François de La Noue

François de la Noue (1531 – August 14, 1591), called Bras-de-Fer (Iron Arm), was one of the Huguenot captains of the 16th century. He was born near Nantes in 1531, of an ancient Breton family.


He served in Italy under Marshal Brissac, and in the first Huguenot war, but his first great exploit was the capture of Orléans at the head of only fifteen cavaliers in 1567, during the second war. During the third war, at the battle of Jarnac in March 1569 he commanded the rearguard, and at Moncontour the following October he was taken prisoner; but he was exchanged in time to resume the governorship of Poitou, and to inflict a signal defeat on the royalist troops before Rochefort.

At the siege of Fontenay (1570) his left arm was shattered by a bullet and later amputated; but a mechanic of La Rochelle made him an artificial iron arm (hence his sobriquet) with a hook for holding his reins. When peace was made in France in the same year, La Noue carried his sword against the Spaniards in the Netherlands, but was taken at the recapture of Mons by the Spanish in 1572.

Permitted to return to France, he was commissioned by Charles IX, after the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, to reconcile the inhabitants of La Rochelle, the great stronghold of the Huguenots, to the king (see Siege of La Rochelle (1572-1573)). But the Rochellois were too much alarmed to come to terms; and La Noue, perceiving that war was imminent, and knowing that his post was on the Huguenot side, gave up his royal commission, and from 1574 till 1578 acted as general of La Rochelle.

When peace was again concluded La Noue once more went to aid the Protestants of the Low Countries. In 1579, together with the Englishman John Norreys, he led the Dutch States' army at the Battle of Borgerhout, where Alexander Farnese, Spanish Governor of the Netherlands, defeated them. He took several towns and captured Count Egmont in 1580; but a few weeks afterwards he fell into the hands of Robert de Melun, a commander in the Army of Flanders. [1] La Noue was imprisoned in Limburg, and kept confined for five years. Negotiations for his release in exchange for the royalist commander Jean de Noircarmes, who had been captured by forces loyal to Francis, Duke of Anjou, came to nothing. [2]

It was in captivity that La Noue wrote his celebrated Discours politiques et militaires, a work which was published at Basel in 1587, La Rochelle in 1590, London (in English) in 1587, Frankfurt on Main (in German) in 1592 and 1612. It had an immense influence on the soldiers of all nations. The abiding value of La Noue's Discourses lies in the fact that he wrote of war as a human drama, before it had been elaborated and codified.

At length, in June 1585, La Noue was exchanged for Egmont and other important prisoners, while a heavy ransom and a pledge not to bear arms against the King of Spain were also exacted from him. Between 1586 and 1589 La Noue lived in Geneve and took no part in public matters, but in that year he joined Henry of Navarre against the Leaguers. He was present at both sieges of Paris, at Ivry and other battles. At the siege of Lamballe in Brittany he received a wound of which he died at Moncontour on August 4, 1591.


He wrote, besides the Discourses,

His Correspondence was published in 1854.

Related Research Articles

1620s decade

The 1620s decade ran from January 1, 1620, to December 31, 1629.

French Wars of Religion civil war from 1562–98

The French Wars of Religion were a prolonged period of war and popular unrest between Catholics and Huguenots in the Kingdom of France between 1562 and 1598. It is estimated that three million people perished in this period from violence, famine, or disease in what is considered the second deadliest religious war in European history.

Gaspard II de Coligny French nobleman and Admiral of France

Gaspard de Coligny, Seigneur de Châtillon, was a French nobleman and Admiral of France, best remembered as a disciplined Huguenot leader in the French Wars of Religion and a close friend of—and advisor to—the French king, Charles IX.

Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron Marshal of France

Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron was a celebrated French soldier of the 16th century.

Charles de Téligny was a French soldier and diplomat.

Henri de La Tour dAuvergne, Duke of Bouillon Duke of Bouillon

Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne was a member of the powerful House of La Tour d'Auvergne, Prince of Sedan and a marshal of France.

Louis des Balbes de Berton de Crillon French general

Louis des Balbes de Berton de Crillon was a French soldier, called the man without fear and, by Henry IV the brave of the brave.

Jean Louis de Nogaret de La Valette French noble

Jean Louis de Nogaret de La Valette (1554–1642), created Duke of Épernon, was a powerful member of the French nobility at the turn of the 16th century. He was deeply involved in plots and politics throughout his life.

Dominique de Gourgue French noble

Dominique de Gourgue (1530–1593) was a French nobleman and soldier. He is best known for leading an attack against Spanish Florida in 1568, in response to the destruction of the French Fort Caroline. He was a captain in King Charles IX's army.

Siege of La Rochelle (1572–73) siege of 1573

The Siege of La Rochelle of 1572–1573 was a massive military assault on the Huguenot city of La Rochelle by Catholic troops during the fourth phase of the French Wars of Religion, following the August 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. The conflict began in November 1572 when inhabitants of the city refused to receive Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron, as royal governor. Beginning on 11 February 1573, the siege was led by the Duke of Anjou. Political considerations following the duke's election to the throne of Poland in May 1573 resulted in negotiations, culminating on 24 June 1573, that lifted the siege on 6 July 1573. The Edict of Boulogne signed shortly thereafter brought an end to this phase of the civil war.

Charles de Ligne, 2nd Prince of Arenberg Dutch noble

Princely Count Charles of Arenberg, duke of Aarschot, baron of Zevenbergen, knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, was the second Princely Count of Arenberg and a leading aristocrat of the Habsburg Netherlands, who served as a courtier, soldier, minister and diplomat.

Albert de Gondi Marshal of France

Albert de Gondi seigneur du Perron, comte, then marquis de Belle-Isle (1573), duc de Retz, was a marshal of France and a member of the Gondi family. His father was Guidobaldo, seigneur de Perron, who became a banker at Lyon, and his mother was Marie-Catherine de Pierrevive - his siblings included cardinal Pierre de Gondi. His motto was Non sine labore.

Philippe René Nivelon Louis de Sainte-Aldegonde, Lord of Noircarmes was a statesman and soldier from the Habsburg Netherlands in the service of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Philip II of Spain. He gained notoriety during the suppression of Calvinist insurrections, especially at Valenciennes in 1566-7, and as a member of the Council of Troubles at the start of the Eighty Years' War. He was stadtholder of Hainaut from 1566, and of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht from 1573 until his death.

Robert de Melun, viscount of Ghent and marquis of Roubaix, was a nobleman from the Low Countries who fought in the Eighty Years' War.

The Siege of Rouen was an unsuccessful attempt by Henry IV of France to capture Rouen, the historical capital city of Normandy. The battle took place as part of the French Wars of Religion, the Eighty Years' War, and the Anglo–Spanish War (1585–1604). Although he had claimed the throne in 1589, Henry, a Huguenot, was not recognized by many of his Catholic subjects, and he was forced to fight against a Catholic League determined to resist his rule, and which was aided by Spain.

Siege of Valenciennes (1567)

The Siege of Valenciennes took place between 6 December 1566 and 23 March 1567 at Valenciennes, then in the Habsburg Netherlands. It is considered the first siege of the Eighty Years' War. Among the victims of the repression that followed the fall of the city was the author of the Belgic Confession, Guido de Bres.

Charles de Montmorency-Damville French politician

Charles de Montmorency, Duke of Damville (1537-1612) was a French nobleman, Baron, later Duke of Damville, Admiral of France.

Battle of La Rochelle or Siege of La Rochelle may refer to:

Jean de Noircarmes, lord of Selles, was a royalist soldier and diplomat, loyal to Philip II of Spain, during the Dutch Revolt. His most important mission was to attempt to negotiate a return of the Habsburg Netherlands to loyalty after the Pacification of Ghent, with the only two royal demands being the maintenance of Catholicism and the recognition of Philip II's sovereignty. In December 1577 he was sent from Madrid with royal letters to this effect, arriving in Brussels in January 1578. His negotiations with the States General proved fruitless, but he was able to conclude the Treaty of Arras (1579) with the provinces that had formed the Union of Arras.


  1. Ch. Piot, "Melun (Robert de)", Biographie Nationale de Belgique , vol. 14 (Brussels, 1897), 336-339.
  2. Émile de Borchgrave, "Noircarmes (Jean de)", Biographie Nationale de Belgique, vol. 15 (Brussels, 1899), 780-784.