Battle of the Solent

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Battle of the Solent
Part of the Italian War of 1542–46
Cowdray engraving-full-lowres.jpg
The "Cowdray engraving" of the battle, c. 1545
Date 18-19 July 1545
Location Solent channel, off the south coast of England
Result Inconclusive
Pavillon royal de la France.png France Flag of England.svg England
Commanders and leaders
Claude d'Annebault John Dudley
30,000 soldiers in more than 200 ships 12,000 soldiers in 80 ships
Casualties and losses
? about 400 lost in sinking of "Mary Rose"

The naval Battle of the Solent took place on 18 and 19 July 1545 during the Italian Wars, fought between the fleets of Francis I of France and Henry VIII of England, in the Solent channel off the south coast of England between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The engagement was inconclusive and is most notable for the sinking of the English carrack Mary Rose.

In 1545, Francis launched an invasion of England with 30,000 soldiers in more than 200 ships. Against this armada — larger than the Spanish Armada forty-three years later — the English had about 80 ships and 12,000 soldiers.

The French expedition started disastrously, the flagship Carraquon perishing in an accidental fire at anchor in the Seine on 6 July 1545. Admiral Claude d'Annebault transferred his flag to La Maistresse which then ran aground as the fleet set sail. The leaks were patched and the fleet crossed the Channel. The French entered the Solent and landed troops on the Isle of Wight and the Sussex coast. The French invasion force which had landed at the Isle of Wight were defeated, and forced to retreat, by a local militia in the Battle of Bonchurch.

On 18 July 1545 the English came out of Portsmouth and engaged the French at long range, little damage being done on either side. La Maitresse was on the point of sinking due to the damage she had sustained earlier but although d'Annebault had to change his flagship again she was saved from foundering.

On the night of 18 July Henry dined aboard Great Harry, the flagship of Admiral John Dudley, Viscount Lisle.

The next day was calm, and the French employed their galleys against the immobile English vessels. Toward evening a breeze sprang up and as Mary Rose, the flagship of Vice Admiral George Carew, advanced to battle, she foundered and sank with the loss of all but 35–40 of her crew. The exact reasons for the sinking are not known, but it was believed at the time that the crew had been negligent and forgot to close the lower gunports after firing at the galleys, so that when she heeled over in the breeze she took on water and turned over. A witness on board the French fleet believed that the galleys had sunk her, though this is not supported by other contemporary accounts and no physical evidence of this remains.[1]

The French troops ashore made no progress and returned to France in August.


  1. ^ Stirland (2000), pp. 22–23.


  • Loades, David, The Tudor Navy: An administrative, political and military history. Scolar Press, Aldershot. 1992. ISBN 0-85967-922-5
  • Marsden, Peter, Sealed by Time: The Loss and Recovery of the Mary Rose. The Archaeology of the Mary Rose, Volume 1. The Mary Rose Trust, Portsmouth. 2003. ISBN 0-9544029-0-1
  • Rodger, Nicholas A. M., The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain 660–1649. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. 1997. ISBN 0-393-04579-X
  • Stirland, Ann J., Raising the Dead: The Skeleton Crew of Henry VIII's Great Ship, the Mary Rose. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. 2000. ISBN 0-471-98485-X

Coordinates: 50°46′39″N 1°13′35″W / 50.77750°N 1.22639°W / 50.77750; -1.22639