Battle of St. Quentin (1557)

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.

Battle of St. Quentin
Part of the Italian Wars

French surrender to the Duke of Savoy Emanuele Filiberto
Date10 August 1557
Result Habsburg Spanish victory
 Kingdom of France Spanish Empire
 Duchy of Savoy
Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Duke of Nevers
Anne de Montmorency  (POW)
Duke Emmanuel Philibert
Ferrante I Gonzaga
Count of Egmont
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 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.

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]


  1. Nolan 2006, p. 756.
  2. Bonner 1992, p. 35.
  3. 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.


  • Bonner, E.A. (1992). "Continuing the 'Auld Alliance' in the Sixteenth Century". In Simpson, Grant G. (ed.). The Scottish Soldier Abroad, 1247–1967. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Kamen, Henry (1997). Philip of Spain. Yale University Press.
  • Klaiber, Susan (1993). Guarino Guarini's Theatine Architecture. Columbia University Press.
  • Leathes, Stanley (1907). "Habsburg and Valois". In Ward, Adolphus William (ed.). The Cambridge Modern History. Vol. 10. Cambridge University Press.
  • Nolan, Cathal J. (2006). The Age of Wars of Religion, 1000–1650: An Encyclopedia of Global Warfare and Civilization. Vol. 2. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • Parker, Geoffrey (1989). España y la rebelión de Flandes. Nerea.
  • Tucker, Spencer C., ed. (2010). "August 10, 1557". A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East. Vol. II. ABC-CLIO.
  • Wilson, Peter H. (2016). Heart of Europe: A History of the Holy Roman Empire. Harvard University Press.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.