Tag Archives: Duke of Mayenne

On this day in 1589 – The Battle of Arques began

The Battle of Arques began on the 15th September 1589 and was between King Henry IV of France and the army of the Catholic League that was led by Duke of Mayenne, Charles of Lorraine.

After the death of King Henry III of France, Henry of Navarre began the next King of France as Henry IV. Henry was a Huguenot but he declared that he intended to keep and preserve the Catholic religion in France. The majority of the French cities sided with the Catholic League against the new King and their leader, Charles of Lorraine the Duke of Mayenne.

The French royal army was in disarray at the time and Henry IV could only summon 20,000 men to help stop a country that was rebelling. Henry therefore divided what troops he had into three and placed Henri I d’Orléans, Jean VI d’Aumont and Henry himself in charge of Picardy, Champagne and Normandy respectively with Henry waiting for troops to be sent from Elizabeth I in England.

On 6th August 1589 Henry had set up camp with his 8,000 men at the port of Dieppe however, the Duke of Mayenne wanted to win back the port and drive Henry from Normandy. The Duke had an army of 35,000 as well as militias from Cambrai. Henry knowing that an attack on an army the size of the one led by the Duke of Mayenne would be a dangerous decision he decided to move his troops to the city of Arques where he would construct defences.

On 15th September 1589 the Catholic League launched an attack on Arques however; Henry’s forces fought back with artillery but eventually Henry’s side began to struggle.

Henry’s army was eventually rescued through the help of Elizabeth I on 23rd September when she sent 4,000 men by the sea to aid his cause. Upon seeing the English ships approaching the Duke of Mayenne ordered his troops to retreat leaving Henry and the royal army victorious.

Henry IV at ArquesKing Henry IV of France at the Battle of Arques