Battle of St. Quentin
Part of the Italian War of 1551–1559

French surrender to the Duke of Savoy Emanuele Filiberto
Date10 August 1557
Result Savoyard-Spanish victory
 Kingdom of France

Spanish Empire

 Duchy of Savoy
England Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Duke of Nevers
Kingdom of France Anne de Montmorency  (POW)
Duchy of Savoy Duke Emmanuel Philibert
Spain Ferrante I Gonzaga
Spain Count of Egmont
Spain Julián Romero
26,000[1] 50,000[2]–80,000[3]
Casualties and losses
10,000 casualties (3,000 killed and 7,000 captured)[3] or 14,000[1] 1,000

The Battle of Saint-Quentin of 1557 was a decisive engagement of the Italian War of 1551–1559 between the Kingdom of France and the Spanish Empire, at Saint-Quentin in Picardy. A Habsburg Spanish force under Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy defeated a French army under the command of Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, and Anne de Montmorency, Duke of Montmorency.


The battle took place on the Feast Day of St. Lawrence 10 August.[4] Philibert, with his English allies,[a][b] had placed St. Quentin under siege. Montmorency with a force of around 26,000 men marched to St. Quentin to relieve the city.[4] Facing a force twice their size, Montmorency attempted to gain access to St. Quentin through a marsh, but a delayed French withdrawal allowed the Spanish to defeat the French and capture Montmorency.[4]

During the battle the Saint-Quentin collegiate church was badly damaged by fire.[8]


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,[4] where he had been the Governor since 1555. In 1558, the Habsburgs won again at the Battle of Gravelines. The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis ended the war in 1559.[9]

Notable participants

The Frenchman Martin Guerre fought in the Spanish ranks and his leg was amputated.[10] During his long absence, another soldier famously impersonated him in Guerre's village until he returned in 1560. Sir Philip Sidney's uncle was killed here in 1557.

Feast of Saint Lawrence

Being extremely pious, Philip II 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.[11]

In culture

Se armó la de San Quintín ("It became the one of St. Quentin") is a Spanish proverbial phrase to describe a big dispute.[12]


  1. ^ Henry Kamen, Philip of Spain (1997) gives a brief account based on contemporary sources, noting that Spanish troops constituted about 10% of the Habsburg total. Kamen claims that the battle was "won by a mainly Netherlandish army commanded by the non-Spaniards the duke of Savoy and the earl of Egmont".[5] On the other hand, Geoffrey Parker states that Spanish troops were decisive in defeating the French at St. Quentin owing to their high value, as well as in defeating the Ottomans at Hungary in 1532 and at Tunis in 1535, and the German protestants at Mühlberg in 1547.[6]
  2. ^ England had entered the war at the behest of Phillip II, on 7 June 1557.[7]


  1. ^ a b Nolan 2006, p. 756.
  2. ^ Oman 1937, p. 255.
  3. ^ a b Bonner 1992, p. 35.
  4. ^ a b c d Tucker 2010, p. 518.
  5. ^ Kamen 1997, p. 28.
  6. ^ Parker 1989, p. 41.
  7. ^ Leathes 1907, p. 92.
  8. ^ Klaiber 1993, p. 186.
  9. ^ Wilson 2016, p. 742.
  10. ^ Davis, Natalie Zemon (1983). The Return of Martin Guerre (Paperback ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-76691-1.
  11. ^ Parker, Geoffrey (2014). Imprudent King: A new life of Philip II. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 53.
  12. ^ "Se armó la de San Quintín y el origen de otras expresiones". (in Spanish). Europa Press. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2022.


49°50′55″N 3°17′11″E / 49.8486°N 3.2864°E / 49.8486; 3.2864