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Battle of St. Quentin
Part of the Italian War of 1551–1559
San Quintin.png
Map of Manuel Fileberto de Saboya's Dutch campaign.
Date10 August 1557
LocationSaint-Quentin, France
Result Decisive Spanish victory
Spain Spanish Empire
 Duchy of Savoy
 Kingdom of France
Commanders and leaders
Savoy Duke of Savoy
Spain Count of Egmont
Spain Julián Romero
Kingdom of France Duc de Montmorency
6.000 infantry
4.000 cavalry
18.000 infantry
6.500 cavalry
Casualties and losses
200 dead or wounded 14.000 dead or wounded

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[1] of the Habsburg Philip II of Spain, who had regained the support of the English whose Catholic queen he had married, won a significant victory over the French at Saint-Quentin, in northern France.[2]


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.

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.

English involvement

The year 1557 began disastrously for the Catholic Queen Mary and her husband Philip of Spain, who had brought England into his father's war against France, disregarding his marriage treaty by which England was meant to remain neutral even if Philip's other dominions were at war.

The English army under the Earl of Pembroke did not arrive in time for the battle, but played a significant role in the capture of the city that followed. Pembroke was Mary's most effective commander at the battle of St Quentin, when he led the English contingent that included among the officers such former reformists as Lord Braye, Sir Peter Carew, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and the surviving sons of the duke of Northumberland; John Dudley, the son of Northumberland, had died not long after he left the Tower and his three surviving brothers, Ambrose, Robert, and Henry were pardoned for their recorded treasons in January, 1555 and so duly served the Queen and King Philip on the St Quentin expedition, where Henry Dudley was killed and his brothers won the restoration of their honour and titles.


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.

Also, King Philip II of Spain, cousin of the Duke of Savoy, would marry Henry II's daughter Elizabeth of Valois, who first was promised to Philip's son Don Carlos. To celebrate the departure of his daughter Elisabeth to Spain, Henry II held a joust in July 1559. During the tournament, he was mortally wounded by Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, seigneur de Lorges.


  1. 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.
  2. 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).

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