Battle of Novara (1513)
Following the French removal from Milan, Swiss mercenaries installed Maximilian Sforza as duke of Milan on 29 December 1512.
By June 1513, most of the western part of the duchy of Milan had been occupied by the French. After marching to Novara the night before, the French were surprised at dawn by a Swiss relief army of some 12,000 troops. The German Landsknecht, pike-armed like the Swiss, were able to form up into heavy squares and offered stiff resistance to the Swiss attack, while the French were able to deploy some of their artillery. Despite this, the Swiss onslaught, sweeping in from multiple directions due to forced marches which achieved encirclement of the French camp, took the French guns, pushed back the Landsknecht infantry regiments, and destroyed the Landsknecht squares. Caught off guard, the French heavy cavalry was unable to properly deploy, fled the field, and left the baggage train to the Swiss.
The battle was particularly bloody, with at least 5,000 casualties on the French side, and 1,500 for the Swiss pikemen, mostly suffered from the French artillery as the Swiss forces moved into the attack. [a] Additionally, after the battle, the Swiss executed the hundreds of German Landsknecht mercenaries they had captured who had fought for the French. Having routed the French army, the Swiss were unable to launch a close pursuit because of their lack of cavalry, several contingents of Swiss mercenaries did follow the French withdrawal all the way to Dijon before the French paid them off to leave France. The Swiss captured 22 French guns.
The French defeat forced Louis XII to withdraw from Milan and Italy.
- :Seven hundred men were killed in three minutes by heavy artillery fire.
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- (in Italian) Complete list of captains present in the battle