Siege of Doullens

Siege of Doullens
Part of the Franco-Spanish War (1595-1598)

View of the citadel of Doullens.
Date14–31 July 1595
LocationDoullens, Picardy, France
Result Spanish victory[1][2]
Kingdom of France Kingdom of France
Spain Spain
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Duke of Bouillon
Kingdom of France François d'Orléans
Kingdom of France André de Brancas  (POW)
Spain Count of Fuentes
Spain Carlos Coloma
Unknown 8,000[3]
Casualties and losses
At least 6,000 dead or captured[3][4] Unknown

The Siege of Doullens, also known as the Spanish capture of Doullens or the Storming of Doullens, took place between 14 and 31 July 1595, as part of the Franco-Spanish War (1595-1598), in the context of the French Wars of Religion.[1][4] After of ten days of siege, on 24 July, the combined forces of Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon, André de Brancas, Amiral de Villars, and François d'Orléans-Longueville, tried to relieve the city, but were severely defeated by the Spanish forces led by Don Pedro Henríquez de Acevedo, Count of Fuentes, and Don Carlos Coloma.[3] Villars was taken prisoner and executed, and the Duke of Bouillon fled to Amiens with the rest of the French army. Finally, few days after, on 31 July, the Spanish troops stormed Doullens.[5] The Spaniards killed everybody in the city, military and civilians alike, shouting "Remember Ham" (Spanish: "Recordad Ham"), in retaliation for the massacre against the Spanish garrison of Ham by the French and Protestant soldiers under Bouillon orders.[1][4]


During the French Wars of Religion the Spanish Monarchy, as defender of Catholicism, had intervened regularly in favour of the Catholic League of France, especially in the Siege of Paris of 1590, when Henry of Navarre, the future Henry IV of France, was decisively defeated by the combined forces of Spain and the Catholic France.[6] This Catholic success led the conversion of Henry to Catholicism declaring that "Paris is well worth a Mass", and finally, with the support of the majority of his Catholic subjects, he was crowned King of France at the Cathedral of Chartres on 27 February 1594.[6][7] In 1595, Henry IV of France officially declared the war against Spain, who was attempting to reconquer large parts of northern France from the hostile Franco-Spanish Catholic forces.[8]

In the Low Countries, after the death of the Archduke Ernest of Austria at Brussels on February 20, 1595, Don Pedro Henríquez de Acevedo, Count of Fuentes, became Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, until the arrival of Albert, sent by Philip II of Spain to Brussels to succeed his elder brother.[9]

In June 1595, the Franco-Protestant forces of Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon and François d'Orléans-Longueville, Duke of Château-Thierry, taking Ham, massacring the small Spanish garrison.[8] Meanwhile, the Count of Fuentes and his forces, 5,000 Spanish troops (4,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry),[10] advanced over France, capturing Le Catelet.[3] Reinforced by 3,000 more troops from Hainaut and Artois, Fuentes continued with his offensive, and on July 14, arrived at Doullens and started the siege.[10]

With the news of Doullens, Bouillon and François d'Orléans, Governor of Picardy,[11] joined with the ex-Leaguer André de Brancas, Amiral de Villars,[10] and with the new combined forces, marched towards to help the besieged city.[10] The French garrison of Doullens, unlike Le Catelet, hoping that reinforcements would arrive soon, prepared a good defense.[12] On July 16, Valentín Pardieu de la Motte, one of the Spanish commanders, while studying the defences of Doullens, was killed by a lucky shot.[13]

Portrait of Don Carlos Coloma by Anthony van Dyck.


On July 24, the French forces arrived near Doullens. Villars, at the head of the French relief army, rushed to relieve the town instead of waiting for the reinforcements of Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers.[3] Fuentes positioned part of his army, about 2,000 to 3,000 men, under Don Carlos Coloma, to intercept the French forces.[14] Villars launched a reckless cavalry attack against the Spaniards, creating confusion among the Spanish troops, but was repelled without much trouble, causing heavy casualties to the French.[14] Then, the French troops were surrounded by the Spaniards, and Fuentes punished them severely, massacring their infantry, and capturing their munitions, equipment, flags and supplies.[3][5][14] Villars was taken prisoner, and despite to offering to pay ransom for his life, was executed of a shot through the head.[14]

This defeat reduced further the King's forces in Picardy, and the Duke of Bouillon fled to Amiens with what was left of the French army.[15]

Storming of Doullens

Fuentes now turned against Doullens again, and after 2 failed attempts, took the city on July 31.[16] Shouting "Remember Ham", the Spaniards killed everybody in the city, military and civilians alike, in revenge for the massacre against the Spanish-Catholic garrison of Ham by the French and Protestant soldiers under the Duke of Bouillon.[16] Between 3,000 and 4,000 people died in a few hours.[17]


With Doullens secured, and reinforced with 1,500 men under Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, Count of Bucquoy, Fuentes advanced with the bulk of the army over the important fortress-city of Cambrai.[18] Henry IV, who was in Lyon, was determined to save the city of all costs, but the precarious economic situation of Henry made it impossible to gather a relief army.[18] Even he appealed to the United Provinces for armed assistance, but the response was very slow.[18] After a heavy bombardment, the Spanish troops captured the city.[18] The Governor of Cambrai, Jean de Monluc, Seigneur de Balagny, retired to the citadel, but surrendered on 7 September.[18]

Doullens was under Spanish control until the Peace of Vervins in 1598.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Wernham pp.29–30
  2. Fuentes punished the French army severely for their temerity, repulsing their horsemen, massacring their infantry, and capturing their munitions and supplies. R. B. Wernham
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wernham p.29
  4. 1 2 3 Arthur Demarsy. pp.8–16
  5. 1 2 Wernham p.30
  6. 1 2 Horne pp.82–83
  7. La Croix pp.179–180
  8. 1 2 Demarsy pp.8–9
  9. Duerloo p.44
  10. 1 2 3 4 R. B. Wernham p.29
  11. After the dead of Henry I of Orléans, Duke of Longueville, his brother, François d'Orléans, became Governor of Picardy. Wernham p.29
  12. Demarsy pp.9–10
  13. Demarsy p.9
  14. 1 2 3 4 Demarsy pp.12–13
  15. Demarsy pp.13–14
  16. 1 2 Demarsy p.14
  17. Demarsy pp.14–15
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 Knecht p.83


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