Battle of La Roche-l'Abeille

Battle of La Roche-l'Abeille
Date25 June 1569
LocationLa Roche-l'Abeille,
(Haute-Vienne) France
Result Huguenot victory
Catholics French Huguenot forces
Commanders and leaders
Henry of Anjou Gaspard de Coligny
29,500 25,000
Casualties and losses
500 ?

The Battle of La Roche-l'Abeille occurred on 25 June 1569 between the Catholic forces of King Charles IX of France commanded by the Duke d’Anjou and the Huguenots commanded by the Admiral de Coligny during the "Third War" (1568–1570) of the French Wars of Religion.


The Third War of Religion saw an uprising of the Protestants and the creation of an army under the command of Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé. This army had laid siege to several cities in the Poitou region, and then Angoulême and Cognac. At the Battle of Jarnac (16 March 1569), the Prince de Condé was killed, forcing Admiral de Coligny to take command.

In order to attack the royal army, Coligny directed the Protestant army toward the Limousin region, hoping thus to regroup with 14,000 mercenaries being led by the Duke of Zweibrücken (French: duc des Deux-Ponts) and financed by Queen Elizabeth of England.[1] After a brief fight with a detachment of the royal army, the Duke of Zweibrücken was able to cross the Vienne at Aixe, but died on 11 June at Nexon. The Protestant army and the Duke of Zweibrücken's mercenaries were able to regroup at Châlus, for a total of 25,000 men.

The royal army of 29,500 troops, led by the Duke d’Anjou (the future Henry III) were stationed before Saint-Yrieix to protect the city.

The battle

The Protestant army surprised the royal troops, and this gave them the initial advantage. The colonel-general of the royal infantry, Philippe Strozzi, was however able to temporarily save the situation, before an attack by Coligny threatening to encircle the army forced the royal troops to retreat before the Protestants.


Coligny's victory was far from being decisive, but it allowed him to open a route toward the Périgord region. The Protestant army took few prisoners, the most famous being the colonel-general Philippe Strozzi.

In the days that followed, the Protestant army massacred hundreds of people throughout the Limousin and Périgord regions, including 500 infantry men at La Roche-l'Abeille and 250 peasants at La Chapelle-Faucher,[2] as retribution for the death of Condé and Paulon de Mauvans.

In autumn the same year, the Battle of Moncontour (30 October 1569) would see the Huguenots defeated and Catholic forces participating in similar massacres against the defeated.

Notes and references

  1. Jouanna, p.181.
  2. Jouanna, p.183-4.

See also

External links

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