Battle of Fontaine-Française
|Battle of Fontaine-Française|
|Part of the French Wars of Religion|
|French Royal Army|| Spain
|Commanders and leaders|
|Henry IV of France|| Juan Fernández de Velasco
Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne
|3,000, + peasants||12,000|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Fontaine-Française occurred on 5 June 1595 between the French royal forces of King Henry IV of France and troops of Spain and the Catholic League commanded by Juan Fernández de Velasco and Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne during the eighth and final war (1585-1598) of the French Wars of Religion.
In early June 1595, Don Juan Fernández de Velasco (governor of Milan and Constable of Castile) crossed the Alps with an army of 12,000 men from Italy and Sicily. In the Bishopric of Besançon he was joined by Charles of Mayenne (chief of the Catholic League). Together they moved on Dijon in order to take the city. Warned of their movements, Henry IV raced to Troyes with 3,000 men that he was able to gather.
The battle took place on 5 June at Fontaine-Française. That morning, Henry IV accompanied his scouts. They encountered the Spanish troops by accident, and – as at the Battle of Eu the year before – Henry attacked them with light horse. Against all odds, he surprised them and forced them to retreat temporarily.
After this charge, Henry decided to recruit local inhabitants (largely peasants) and to arm them with scythes and any metal object that might shine in the sunlight. He regrouped them on a hill with military troops, thus attempting to ruse the opposing force into believing he had a larger army.
Meanwhile, Fernández de Velasco was convinced that Henry was waiting for reinforcements, and observing the troop movements from afar, came to believe that Henry's forces had superior numbers. He decided to retreat.
The French royal victory marked an end to the Catholic League, although the Eighth War of Religion would not come to a complete end until the signing of the Peace of Vervins on 2 May 1598 and the Spanish ceding of captured French towns.
Notes and references
- This article is based in part on a translation of the article Bataille de Fontaine-Française from the French Wikipedia on 14 March 2007.
- Jouanna, Arlette and Jacqueline Boucher, Dominique Biloghi, Guy Thiec. Histoire et dictionnaire des Guerres de religion. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1998. ISBN 2-221-07425-4