Blockade of La Rochelle

Blockade of La Rochelle (1621–1622)
Part of the Huguenot rebellions

Fort Louis was constructed just outside the walls of La Rochelle during the 1621-1622 blockade.
LocationLa Rochelle
Result Stalemate
Kingdom of France French Huguenot forces
Commanders and leaders
Louis XIII
Duke of Epernon
Jean Guiton (admiral)

The Blockade of La Rochelle (French: Blocus de La Rochelle) took place in 1621-1622 during the repression of the Huguenot rebellion by the French king Louis XIII.[1][2]

In June 1621, Louis XIII besieged and captured Saint-Jean d'Angély, a strategic city controlling the approaches to the Huguenot stronghold of La Rochelle. Louis XIII chose however to move south with his main force for the Siege of Montauban.[1]

The blockade

Meanwhile, Louis XIII ordered the Duke of Épernon to blockade La Rochelle by sea as well as by land.[1] On the sea however, efforts were ineffective, as many small ships could easily go through ships of the Royal Navy and the Huguenot generally had mastery of the sea.[3] At one point they attacked the harbour of Brouage and attempted to block it by sinking ships filled with stones at its entrance.[3]

Jean Guiton.

In July 1621, d'Épernon established his headquarters on land in La Jarrie, in the vicinity of La Rochelle. In August, the shipowner Jean Guiton was named by the City Council Admiral of the fleet of La Rochelle, with 16 sails and 90 cannons.

The fleet of La Rochelle under Guiton made at least four sorties against the Royal fleet, commanded by the Count of Soissons, the Duke of Guise, M. de Saint-Luc and Isaac de Razilly, and somewhat managed to hold its own.[4]

In October, Razilly, leading a French fleet of 13 ships with 124 cannons, stationned seaward in the Pertuis Breton, and Jean Guiton managed to force them to disengage in two encounters on October 6. Jean Guitton then managed to capture the Island of Oléron.

On November 6, Jean Guiton attacked Brouage, where 25 royal ships were stationed, and blocked the entrance of the harbour by sinking ships in it.

The Huguenots met with defeat however when Soubise was vanquished by Royal troops at the Riez marches on 16 April 1622.

By that time the nearby Siege of Royan was also going on. The blockade of La Rochelle was strengthened under the leadership of the Count of Soissons. He started the building of the Fort Louis just outside La Rochelle in order to obtain a commanding position over the approaches to La Rochelle.

The Naval battle of Saint-Martin-de-Ré in front of Île de Ré in October 1622, in which the fleet of La Rochelle fought against Charles de Guise.

Another major encounter was the Naval battle of Saint-Martin-de-Ré in October 1622. As the conflict lengthened into a stalemate however, the King and the Huguenots agreed to the 1622 Treaty of Montpellier, which maintained Huguenot privileges. Although La Rochelle demanded the destruction of Fort Louis, Louis XIII temporized and managed to maintain it.

This constant threat to the city would be instrumental in encouraging later conflicts, especially the Capture of Ré island by Royal troops in 1625, and the 1627-1628 Siege of La Rochelle.

See also


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