The Battle of Saint-Mathieu took place on 10th August 1512; the battle was part of the War of the League of Cambrai and happened near Brest, France. The battle was between 25 English ships commanded by Sir Edward Howard and a Franco-Breton fleet that comprised of 22 ships led by René de Clermont.
The English navy controlled the majority of the English Channel and heard of movement with the Franco-Breton navy and took the decision to attack first. Howard was able to surprise the opposition whilst they were still anchored. In a panic the ships in port cut their anchors and set off. At the time of the attack 300 guests were aboard the Breton flagship Marie la Cordelière and were still aboard when the anchor was cut free, the captain Hervé de Portzmoguer was unable to get them off the ship in time. Therefore were forced to sit out the battle on board.
The Marie la Cordelière and Petite Louise, the flag ships of the Franco-Breton navy covered the rest of the navy to help them retreat. Whilst the Marie la Cordelière faced off against the English ship, The Regent, as well as the Sovereign and Mary James. In the mean time the Petite Louise was badly damaged by the Mary Rose.
De Portzmoguer ordered the Marie la Cordelière to attack the Regent and they were able to throw grappling hooks over to tie the two ships together and the crew of the Marie la Cordelière boarded the Regent. Reinforcements were sent from the English to help the Regent. Fighting continued on board the Regent when an explosion ripped through the Marie la Cordelière and sank both ships including the captain of the Regent, Thomas Knyvet.
Over the next two days the English fleet either captured or destroyed 32 enemy ships. As a result of the successful mission Sir Edward Howard was made Lord High Admiral by King Henry VIII.
This battle was just one of two naval battles that were fought by King Henry VIII’s navy.