Siege of La Charité, 25 April-2 May 1577

The siege of La Charité (25 April-2 May 1577) saw Henry III’s army seize one of the eight security towns granted to the Huguenots at the end of the Fifth War of Religion.

Henry III had been forced to make peace early in 1576 (Edict of Beaulieu), but the treaty was hugely unpopular across Catholic France, and even the king wasn’t terribly willing to defend it. However one of the terms of the treaty had been that the Estates General should be summoned, and when the Estates finally met, they turned out to almost entirely dominated by Catholics. As a result Henry was able to renounce the Edict and declare his intention to restore France to a single religion, but the Third Estate refused to grant him fresh taxes.

This meant that he was unable to raise a large enough army to have a realistic chance of defeating the Huguenots, but he was able to raise enough money to fund an army of 20 companies of gendarmerie, 60 companies of infantry, 18 cannon, six smaller guns, and enough powder and shot for 10,000 discharges. Official command went to his brother, the duke of Anjou, but the real commander was the Duke of Nevers. The Dukes of Guise and Aumale were also present, and Marshal Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron commanded the artillery. 

La Charité-sur-Loire, just over one hundred miles to the south of Paris, had resisted an eight month long Catholic siege in 1569, and had been granted to the Huguenots as one of their guarantee towns after the Third War of Religion and again at the end of the Fifth War of Religion. It was now Nevers’s first target of the Sixth War of Religion, and was placed under siege on 25 April, when the Royal artillery opened fire. The defenders were only able to hold out for a week, and the town surrendered on 2 May 1577. It was then sacked, after Nevers lost control of his unpaid troops. The Royal army moved further south to besiege Issoire which fell on 12 June. However after that the King ran out of money, and the army had to be withdrawn. 

The French Religious Wars 1562-1598, Robert Jean Knecht. A useful guide to the complex series of nine French Wars of Religion, including an examination of who the wars began and the main players on both sides, narrative accounts of the wars, overviews of the most important battles and sieges. Also looks at the impact of the wars on France’s neighbours, many of whom got dragged into the conflict, and on a selection of soldiers and civilians. Supported by a series of maps that help show how complex the conflict was
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 December 2017), Siege of La Charité, 25 April-2 May 1577 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_la_charite_1577.html

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