Battle of St. Quentin (1557)
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|Battle of St. Quentin|
|Part of the Italian War of 1551–1559|
Map of Manuel Fileberto de Saboya's Dutch campaign.
| Spanish Empire
Duchy of Savoy
|Commanders and leaders|
| Duke of Savoy
Count of Egmont
|Duc de Montmorency|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Saint-Quentin of 1557 was fought at Saint-Quentin in Picardy, during the Italian War of 1551–1559. The Spanish, which is to say the international forces of the Habsburg Philip II of Spain, who had regained the support of the English whose Mary I of England he had married, won a significant victory over the French at Saint-Quentin, in northern France.
The battle took place on the Feast Day of St. Lawrence (10 August). Spain, now under the rule of Philip II, was allied with England following Philip's marriage to the queen of England, Mary I. Mary would declare war on France, 7 June 1557.
At the Battle of St. Quentin the French forces under Constable Anne de Montmorency were overwhelmed, and Montmorency was captured by the forces under the command of the Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy and the Count of Egmont in an alliance with English troops, and the French were defeated.
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, where he had been the Governor since 1555. The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis ended the war two years later.
Feast of Saint Lawrence
Being of a grave religious bent, Philip 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.
The greatest impact of this battle was not on France, England or Spain, but on Italy. Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, having won the victory, had also secured a place at the conference table when the terms of peace were deliberated, resulting in the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, 1558. The duke was able to secure the independence of the Duchy of Savoy, which had been occupied by the French a generation earlier. As part of the peace terms, Emmanuel Philibert married Marguerite d’Angoulême, younger sister of King Henry II of France, in 1559. The Duke of Savoy moved his capital across the Alps to Turin two years later, making Savoy an Italian state and refounding the dynasty of the House of Savoy, which would become the royal house of a united Italy in 1860.
- Continuing the 'Auld Alliance' in the Sixteenth Century, E.A. Bonner, The Scottish Soldier Abroad, 1247-1967, ed. Grant G. Simpson, (Rowman & Littlefield, 1992), 35.
- 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.
- Henning von Koss, 1914. "Die Schlachten bei St. Quentin (10. August 1557) und bei Gravelingen (13. Juli 1558)", Historische Studien vol. 118. xvi+161 pp, 2 plates Ebering, Berlin. (Reprint 1965, Kraus Reprint (Vaduz).
- Habsburg and Valois, Stanley Leathes, The Cambridge Modern History, Volume 10, ed. Sir Adolphus William Ward, (Cambridge University Press, 1907), 92.