The Battle of Pavia, fought on the morning of 24 February 1525, was the decisive engagement of the Italian War of 1521–26.
An Imperial–Spanish army under the nominal command of Charles de Lannoy (and working in conjunction with the garrison of Pavia, commanded by Antonio de Leyva) attacked the French army under the personal command of Francis I of France in the great hunting preserve of Mirabello outside the city walls. In the four-hour battle, the French army was split and defeated in detail. The French suffered massive casualties, including many of the chief nobles of France. Francis himself was captured by Habsburg troops and imprisoned by Charles V and forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Madrid, surrendering significant territory to his captor. The outcome of the battle cemented Habsburg ascendancy in Italy.
|Battle of Pavia|
|Part of the Italian War of 1521–26|
Ruprecht Heller, The Battle of Pavia (1529), Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
Kingdom of France|
Marquisate of Saluzzo
|Commanders and leaders|
Francis I of France |
Robert III de La Marck
Anne de Montmorency
Henry II of Navarre
Francois de Lorraine †
Richard de la Pole †
Jacques de la Palice †
Louis de la Tremoille †
Seigneur de Bonnivet †
Charles IV, Duke of Alençon
Marquess of Saluzzo
Charles de Lannoy
Charles de Bourbon
Antonio de Leyva
Fernando de Andrade
|Casualties and losses|
|8,000 killed & wounded||1,500 killed & wounded|
The French, in possession of Lombardy at the start of the Italian War of 1521–26, had been forced to abandon it after their defeat at the Battle of Bicocca in 1522. Determined to regain it, Francis ordered an invasion of the region in late 1523, under the command of Guillaume Gouffier, Seigneur de Bonnivet; but Bonnivet was defeated by Imperial troops at the Battle of the Sesia and forced to withdraw to France.
Charles de Lannoy now launched an invasion of Provence under the command of Fernando d'Avalos, Marquess of Pescara, and Charles III, Duke of Bourbon (who had recently betrayed Francis and allied himself with the Emperor). While initially successful, the Imperial offensive lost valuable time during the Siege of Marseille and was forced to withdraw back to Italy by the arrival of Francis and the main French army at Avignon.
In mid-October 1524, Francis himself crossed the Alps and advanced on Milan at the head of an army numbering more than 40,000. Bourbon and Pescara, their troops not yet recovered from the campaign in Provence, were in no position to offer serious resistance. The French army moved in several columns, brushing aside Imperial attempts to hold its advance, but failed to bring the main body of Imperial troops to battle. Nevertheless, Charles de Lannoy, who had concentrated some 16,000 men to resist the 33,000 French troops closing on Milan, decided that the city could not be defended and withdrew to Lodi on 26 October. Having entered Milan and installed Louis II de la Trémoille as the governor, Francis (at the urging of Bonnivet and against the advice of his other senior commanders, who favored a more vigorous pursuit of the retreating Lannoy) advanced on Pavia, where Antonio de Leyva remained with a sizable Imperial garrison of about 9000.
The main mass of French troops arrived at Pavia in the last days of October. By 2 November, Anne de Montmorency had crossed the Ticino River and invested the city from the south, completing its encirclement. Inside were about 9,000 men, mainly mercenaries whom Antonio de Leyva was able to pay only by melting the church plate. A period of skirmishing and artillery bombardments followed, and several breaches had been made in the walls by mid-November. On 21 November, Francis attempted an assault on the city through two of the breaches, but was beaten back with heavy casualties; hampered by rainy weather and a lack of gunpowder, the French decided to wait for the defenders to starve.
In early December, a Spanish force commanded by Ugo de Moncada landed near Genoa, intending to interfere in a conflict between pro-Valois and pro-Habsburg factions in the city. Francis dispatched a larger force under the Marquis of Saluzzo to intercept them. Confronted by the more numerous French and left without naval support by the arrival of a pro-Valois fleet commanded by Andrea Doria, the Spanish troops surrendered. Francis then signed a secret agreement with Pope Clement VII, who pledged not to assist Charles in exchange for Francis's assistance with the conquest of Naples. Against the advice of his senior commanders, Francis detached a portion of his forces under the Duke of Albany and sent them south to aid the Pope. Lannoy attempted to intercept the expedition near Fiorenzuola, but suffered heavy casualties and was forced to return to Lodi by the intervention of the infamous Black Bands of Giovanni de' Medici, Italian mercenaries which had just entered French service. Medici then returned to Pavia with a supply train of gunpowder and shot gathered by the Duke of Ferrara; but the French position was simultaneously weakened by the departure of nearly 5,000 Grisons Swiss mercenaries, who returned to their cantons in order to defend them against marauding landsknechts.
In January 1525, Lannoy was reinforced by the arrival of Georg Frundsberg with 15,000 fresh landsknechts from Germany and renewed the offensive. Pescara captured the French outpost at Sant'Angelo Lomellina, cutting the lines of communication between Pavia and Milan, while a separate column of landsknechts advanced on Belgiojoso and, despite being briefly pushed back by a raid led by Medici and Bonnivet, occupied the town. By 2 February, Lannoy was only a few miles from Pavia. Francis had encamped the majority of his forces in the great walled park of Mirabello outside the city walls, placing them between Leyva's garrison and the approaching relief army. Skirmishing and sallies by the garrison continued through the month of February. Medici was seriously wounded and withdrew to Piacenza to recuperate, forcing Francis to recall much of the Milan garrison to offset the departure of the Black Band; but the fighting had little overall effect. On 21 February, the Imperial commanders, running low on supplies and mistakenly believing that the French forces were more numerous than their own, decided to launch an attack on Mirabello Castle in order to save face and demoralize the French sufficiently to ensure a safe withdrawal.
On the evening of 23 February, Lannoy's imperial troops, who had been encamped outside the east wall of the park, began their march north along the walls. Although Konstam indicates that at the same time, the Imperial artillery began a bombardment of the French siege lines—which had become routine during the extended siege—in order to conceal Lannoy's movement, Juan de Oznaya – a soldier who participated in the battle and wrote about it in 1544 – indicates that at that moment, the Imperial troops set their tents on fire to mislead the French into believing that they were retreating. Meanwhile, Imperial engineers quickly worked to create a breach in the park walls, at the Porta Pescarina near the village of San Genesio, through which the Imperial army could enter. By 5:00 am, some 3,000 arquebusiers under the command of Alfonso d'Avalos had entered the park and were rapidly advancing on Mirabello Castle, where they believed the French headquarters to be; simultaneously, Imperial light cavalry spread out from the breach into the park, intending to intercept any French movements.
Meanwhile, a detachment of French cavalry under Charles Tiercelin encountered the Imperial cavalry and began a series of skirmishes with them. A mass of Swiss pikemen under Robert de la Marck, Seigneur de la Flourance moved up to assist them, overrunning a battery of Spanish artillery that had been dragged into the park. They missed De Vasto's arquebusiers—who had, by 6:30 am, emerged from the woods near the castle and swiftly overrun it—and blundered into 6,000 of Georg Frundsberg's landsknechts. By 7:00 am, a full-scale infantry battle had developed not far from the original breach.
A third mass of troops—the German and Spanish heavy cavalry under Lannoy himself, as well as d'Avalos's Spanish infantry—had meanwhile been moving through the woods to the west, closer to where Francis was encamped. The French did not realize the magnitude of the Imperial attack for some time; however, by about 7:20 am, d'Avalos's advance had been spotted by a battery of French artillery, which commenced firing on the Spanish lines. This alerted Francis, who launched a charge against Lannoy's outnumbered cavalry with the entire force of French gendarmes, scattering the Spanish by 7:40 am.
Francis's precipitate advance, however, had not only masked the fire of the French artillery, but also pulled him away from the mass of French infantry, commanded by Richard de la Pole, and by Francois de Lorraine, who led the Black Band of renegade landsknecht pikemen (not to be confused with the Italian mercenary company of arquebusiers by the same name), which was 4,000 to 5,000 men strong. Pescara, left in command of the Spanish forces after Lannoy had followed the retreating cavalry, formed his men up at the edge of the woods and sent messengers to Bourbon, Frundsberg, and De Vasto requesting assistance.
Frundsberg meanwhile mauled the heavily outnumbered Swiss infantry opposing him; Tiercelin and Flourance were unable to hold their troops together, and the French foot began to flee the field.
By 8:00 am, a mass of Imperial pikemen and arquebusiers descended on the French cavalry from all sides. Lacking room to maneuver because of the surrounding woods, the French gendarmes were surrounded and systematically killed. Richard de la Pole and Lorraine, advancing to assist Francis, were met by Frundsberg's arriving landsknechts; the French infantry was broken and routed, and de la Pole and Lorraine were both killed. In a particularly bitter contest between Imperial and freelance landsknechts, the Black Band was surrounded by Frundsberg's pikemen and exterminated where it stood. The French king fought on as his horse was killed under him by Cesare Hercolani, an Italian Condottiere; surrounded by Spanish arquebusiers, he was taken prisoner and escorted from the field.
Meanwhile, Antonio de Leyva had sortied with the garrison, overrunning the 3,000 Swiss under Montmorency that had been manning the siege lines. The remnants of the Swiss–both Montmorency's and Flourance's—tried to flee across the river, suffering massive casualties as they did. The French rearguard, under the Duke of Alençon, had taken no part in the battle; when the Duke realized what had occurred in the park, he quickly began to retreat towards Milan. By 9:00 am, the battle was over.
The exact nature of Francis's surrender—in particular, who exactly had taken him prisoner—is uncertain, with a variety of candidates ranging from Alonso Pita da Veiga, Juan de Urbieta and Diego Dávila to Lannoy himself being put forward by various historians. The fact of the matter was that, as documented in the article for Alonso Pita da Veiga, at the time, no single individual was given credit for the capture of Francis I. The decree granting a coat of arms to Alonso Pita da Veiga for his deeds at the Battle of Pavia, was archived at the General Archive of Simanca (Archivo general de Simancas, legajo 388, rotulado de "Mercedes y Privilegios.’) and was issued by Emperor Charles V on 24 July 1529. In that decree, Charles V does not credit a single individual but, rather, a group of individuals that includes da Veiga: " ..... and in the same battle, you (Alonso Pita da Veiga) accomplished so much that you reached the person of said King (Francis I of France) and captured him, jointly with the other persons that captured him.” (" .... y en la misma batalla ficistes tanto que allegastes á la misma persona del dicho Rey, y fuistes en prenderle, juntamente con las otras personas que le prendieron ....")
Oznaya indicates that Joan de Urbieta captured Francis. There are allegations that Francis would have been killed by mistake by one of Charles soldiers had Pedro de Valdivia —the future conqueror of Chile— not intervened.
The French defeat was decisive. Aside from Francis, a number of leading French nobles—including Montmorency and Flourance—had been captured; an even greater number—among them Bonnivet, La Tremoille, La Palice, Richard de la Pole, and Lorraine—had been killed in the fighting. Francis was taken to the fortress of Pizzighettone, where he wrote a letter to Louise of Savoy, his mother:
To inform you of how the rest of my ill-fortune is proceeding, all is lost to me save honour and life, which is safe...
Soon afterwards, he finally learned that the Duke of Albany had lost the larger part of his army to attrition and desertion, and had returned to France without ever having reached Naples. The broken remnants of the French forces, aside from a small garrison left to hold the Castel Sforzesco in Milan, retreated across the Alps under the nominal command of Charles IV of Alençon, reaching Lyon by March.
Francis was taken to Madrid and jailed in a tower until the Treaty of Madrid was signed.
In Rome Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, who acted as Florentine emissary to Charles V in 1535, expressed support for the Emperor's victory by commissioning a rock crystal low relief in the manner of an Antique cameo, from the gem engraver Giovanni Bernardi. The classicizing treatment of the event lent it a timeless, mythic quality and reflected on the culture and taste of the patron.
An oil-on-panel Battle of Pavia, painted by an anonymous Flemish artist, depicts the military engagement between the armies of Charles V and Francis I. Because of its detail, the painting is considered an accurate visual record, probably based on eyewitness accounts. A suite of seven Brussels tapestries after cartoons by Bernard van Orley (left) celebrate the Imperial–Spanish victory.
In 2016, the Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte published his short story Jodía Pavía (1526) ("Fucking Pavia (1526)"), a enhanced version of a column published in El País Semanal in October 2000. It is a fictional letter by king Francis to his lover, written from his Madrid prison. In it, Francis explains the battle and laments his situation. Pérez-Reverte uses a satirical and colloquial language with frequent anachronism (as an example, there are allusions to Errol Flynn and films).
Year 1525 (MDXXV) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.1525 in France
Events from the year 1525 in FranceAlfonso d'Avalos Addressing his Troops
Alfonso d'Avalos Addressing his Troops (Spanish: Alocución del Marqués del Vasto) is a portrait of Alfonso d'Avalos by Titian, painted in around 1540 and now held at the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquise del Vasto, was a noble Neapolitan, descended from a family of Castilian origin. He participated in the Battle of Pavia and the conquest of Tunis in 1535. In 1538 he was appointed governor of Milan. Military failures caused a subsequent falling out of favor with the Emperor Charles V.This work is both a portrait of the Marquis del Vasto and a picture of history narrating an incident that occurred in 1537. The Spanish troops stationed in Milan began an attempted mutiny over not receiving their pay, but the conflict was suppressed by the Marquis' eloquent speech to the men that inspired loyalty and guaranteed their pay given patience. He, having to leave for affairs elsewhere, left his son with the troops as a guarantee they would be paid.The marquis contracted Titian to paint the scene, depicting his son as a page holding his helmet for him during the speech. The composition is based on classical models, such as the reliefs of the Arch of Constantine and numerous Numismatic works. Titian features the General in an elevated position, addressing his men, and emphasizing his words, as advised classical oratory manuals, with elevation of the right arm.The work was commissioned in 1539 by the Marquis himself, during a trip to Venice. His first public exhibition was in Milan during 1541, taking advantage of the visit of Emperor Charles. It was subsequently acquired by the Gonzaga family, the Dukes of Mantua, and finally by King Charles I of England. When this King was executed his assets were auctioned, and the painting (like others of the same king) was acquired by Philip IV of Spain. In 1828 Fernando VII ceded it to the collection to the Museo del Prado.Alonso Pita da Veiga
Alonso Pita da Veiga, born in Ferrol in 15th century Galicia, Spain, was a Spanish military officer. He was among the commanders of the Spanish Tercios fighting under the orders of Count Fernando de Andrade in the Battle of Pavia, and in other battles of the Italian Wars between 1513 and 1525. He was granted the right to display a coat of arms, and was granted land and property in Ferrolterra, his birthplace, for having participated in the capture, on the battlefield, of the king of France, Francis I.Antonio de Leyva, Duke of Terranova
Antonio de Leyva, Duke of Terranova, Prince of Ascoli (1480–1536) was a Spanish general during the Italian Wars. During the Italian War of 1521, he commanded Pavia during the siege of the city by Francis I of France, and took part in the Battle of Pavia in 1525. After the death of Fernando d'Ávalos, Marquis of Pescara, he held further commands in Italy during the War of the League of Cognac and afterwards, finally dying shortly after attempting an invasion of Provence.Battle of Pavia (271)
The Battle of Ticinum or Battle of Pavia was fought in 271 near Pavia (Italy), and resulted in the Roman Emperor Aurelian destroying the retreating Juthungi army.Battle of Pavia (476)
The Battle of Pavia was fought between the Western Roman Empire under Orestes and the Germanic warrior Odoacer. Odoacer was the leader of a group of Herulian and Scirian mercenaries serving in the Roman army. Leading a mutiny of these troops, Odoacer defeated the Roman general Orestes near Pavia, executing Orestes. Odoacer thereafter marched on Ravenna, capturing the city and executing Orestes' son Paul. Odoacer overthrew the Roman emperor Romulus Augustus, also a son of Orestes, which marked the effective fall of the Western Roman Empire.Battle of Pavia (disambiguation)
Battle of Pavia may refer to the following battles:
Battle of Pavia (271) - Alamanni invasion of the Roman Empire
Battle of Pavia (476) - Fall of the Western Roman Empire
Siege of Pavia (569–572) - Lombard invasion of Italy
Siege of Pavia (773–774) - Conquests of Charlemagne
Battle of Pavia (1431) - Wars in Lombardy
Battle of Pavia (1525) - Italian War of 1521
Battle of Pavia (1655) - Franco-Spanish War (1635-1659)Battle on the Po (1431)
The Battle on the Po was a battle of the Wars in Lombardy. It occurred in June 1431, on the Po River, near Cremona. The battle was fought between 85 Venetian galleys, sent towards Cremona to support Count of Carmagnola's army, and a somewhat superior number of Milanese galleys. The Venetians were commanded by Niccolò Trevisani.
The battle resulted in the defeat of the Venetians, who could not be helped by Carmagnola's field army, with a loss of c. 2,500 men, 28 galleys and 42 transport ships.Belgioioso, Lombardy
Belgioioso or Belgiojoso (Italian pronunciation: [beldʒoˈjoːzo; -oːso]; Lombard: Belgios [belˈdʒuːs], Belgiojos [ˌbɛldʒuˈjuːs]) is a town and comune in the Province of Pavia, region of Lombardy (northern Italy), with a population of 6,233 (2017).It is 12 km east of the city of Pavia, between the Olona River and the Po River. Due to its geographical location, Belgioioso has become one of the southern suburbs of the city of Milan.
Belgioioso is noted for its medieval castle, the seat of the Belgiojoso family. Francis I of France was held there after the Battle of Pavia.Black Band (landsknechts)
The Black Band was a formation of 16th century mercenaries, largely pikemen, probably serving as Landsknechts. They fought in the French army for ten years, seeing service in several notable engagements, including the Battle of Marignano and the Battle of Pavia.Castello Visconteo, Pavia
The Castello Visconteo or Visconti Castle is a castle in Pavia, Lombardy, northern Italy.
It was built in 1360 by Galeazzo II Visconti, soon after the taking of the city, a free city-state until then. The credited architect is Bartolino da Novara. The castle used to be the main residence of the Visconti family, while the political capital of the state was Milan. North of the castle a wide park was enclosed, also including the Certosa of Pavia, founded 1396 according to a vow of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, meant to be a sort of private chapel of the Visconti dynasty. The Battle of Pavia (1525), climax of the Italian Wars, took place inside the castle park.
It presently houses the Civic Museums of Pavia (Museo Civici di Pavia) including the Pinacoteca Malaspina, Museo Archeologico and Sala Longobarda, Sezioni Medioevale e Rinascimentale Quadreria dell’800 (Collezione Morone), Museo del Risorgimento, Museo Robecchi Bricchetti, and the Cripta di Sant’Eusebio.Guillaume Gouffier, seigneur de Bonnivet
Guillaume Gouffier, seigneur de Bonnivet (c. 1488 – 24 February 1525) was a French soldier.
The younger brother of Artus Gouffier, seigneur de Boisy, tutor of Francis I of France, Bonnivet was brought up with Francis, and after the young king's accession he became one of the most powerful of the royal favourites. In 1515 he was made admiral of France. In the imperial election of 1519 he superintended the candidature of Francis, and spent vast sums of money in his efforts to secure votes, but without success. An implacable enemy of the Constable de Bourbon, he contributed to the downfall of the latter. In command of the army of Navarre in 1521, he occupied Fuenterrabia and was probably responsible for the renewal of hostilities resulting from its not being restored.
Bonnivet succeeded Odet de Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec, in 1523, as commander of the army of Italy and entered the Milanese, but was defeated and forced to effect a disastrous retreat, in which the chevalier Bayard perished. He was afterwards one of the principal commanders of the army which Francis led into Italy at the end of 1524, and died at the Battle of Pavia.Brantôme says that the Battle of Pavia was fought at Bonnivet's instigation, and that, seeing the disaster he had caused, he deliberately sought a heroic death. In spite of his failures as a general and diplomat, his good looks and brilliant wit enabled him to retain the intimacy and confidence of his king. He followed a licentious lifestyle. According to Brantôme, he was the successful rival of the king for the favours of Madame de Châteaubriant, and if, as is thought, he was the hero of the fourth story of the Heptameron, Marguerite d'Angoulême was also courted by him.Bonnivet's correspondence is preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris and in The National Archives (United Kingdom); the complete works of Brantôme, vol. iii., are another primary source.Gurro
Gurro is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 140 kilometres (87 mi) northeast of Turin and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of Verbania. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 288 and an area of 13.2 square kilometres (5.1 sq mi).Gurro borders the municipalities of Cavaglio-Spoccia, Cursolo-Orasso, Falmenta and Miazzina.
Gurro is said to be populated by the descendents of Scottish soldiers. According to local legend, Scottish soldiers fleeing the Battle of Pavia arrived in the area where severe blizzards forced many, if not all, to give up their travels and settle in the town. Gurro is proud of its Scottish links. Many residents claim their surnames are Italian translations of Scottish surnames, and the town also has a Scottish museum.Jacques de La Palice
Jacques de La Palice (or de La Palisse) (1470 – 24 February 1525) was a French nobleman and military officer. His full name and titles were Jacques II de Chabannes, Lord of La Palice, of Pacy, of Chauverothe, of Bort-le-Comte and of Héron. In 1511, he received the title of Grand Master of France.
As a Marshal under Francis I, he fought against Italian armies, and died during the battle of Pavia.Juan de Urbieta
Juan de Urbieta Berástegui y Lezo (Hernani, ? - died, 22 August 1553) was a Basque infantryman who became famous when he captured king Francis I of France near the end of the Battle of Pavia on 24 February 1525.Louis II de la Trémoille
Louis II de la Trémoille (or La Trimouille) (29 September 1460 – 24 February 1525) was a French general. He served under three kings: Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I. He was killed in combat at the Battle of Pavia.Michele Antonio, Marquess of Saluzzo
Michele Antonio del Vasto (26 March 1495 – 18 October 1528) was the Marquess of Saluzzo from 1504 until his death.
Born in Saluzzo, the elder son of Ludovico II of Saluzzo and Margaret of Foix-Candale, he was Count of Carmagnola until he succeeded to his father. He took part, initially alongside Ludovico, in the Italian Wars of Louis XII and Francis I of France. In particular, he distinguished himself at the Battle of Pavia (1525).
Michele Antonio died from wounds sustained by a cannonball at the Battle of Aversa. According to his last will, he was buried in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome, while his heart was kept in Piedmont.
A ballad about the wounded marquess explaining his last will was popular among the Italian Alpini during World War I.Siege of Pavia (773–74)
The Siege or Battle of Pavia was fought in 773–774 in northern Italy, near Ticinum (modern Pavia), and resulted in the victory of the Franks under Charlemagne against the Lombards under king Desiderius.