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On This Day… The French Were Defeated At The Battle Of Gravelines

Written by: George Chittenden : 21 May 2019

It was on this day, 13th July back in 1558 when the Spanish secured a decisive victory over the French at the Battle of Gravelines. The Spanish forces were aided by an English naval force, dispatched by the Queen of England, Mary I, to help her husband Philip of Spain. At the time Mary was already unwell and would die later that year. The battle was fought at Gravelines, near Calais in France, hence the name and it occurred during the twelve-year war between France and Spain. After the French secured Calais in January 1558, at the expense of the English, it was inevitable they would face consequences.

The Spanish numbered around 18,000, and the French numbered around 15,000. The battle was a bloody one, and the French forces were decimated. Only around only 1,500 of them managed to escape, the rest were killed or were taken prisoner. The Spanish who were better armed and trained, peppered the French cavalry before charging them. Meanwhile English ships bombarded the French the rear of the French forces. The defeat forced Henry II of France to make peace with Philip II of Spain, and led to Philip marrying Elisabeth of Valois, the daughter of Henry II.

Elisabeth of Valois

Elisabeth of Valois

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