Anglo-French War, 1557-1559

A.) Prehistory

France and the Habsburg Dynasty were at war since 1551 (Franco-Habsburg War 1551-1559). In 1553, Mary I. ascended to the throne of England, bynamed "Bloody Mary". In 1554 she married Philip II. of Spain, a marriage which caused resistance (Wyatt's Rebellion 1554) in England. In 1557, England allied herself with Spain and joined the war against France.

B.) The War

English forces participated in the victorious battles of St. Quentin 1559 and of Gravelines 1558. However, the French succeeded in taking England's last outpost on the European continent, Calais, in January 1558. The fortifications of Calais had been neglected for long, and the garrison was poorly disciplined; the French easily captured Calais. Mary I. died in November 1558, and with her the Spanish alliance. Her successor Elizabeth was primarily concerned about securing her position on the throne. In 1559, at Cateau Cambresis, peace was signed; France's possession of Calais was confirmed. On the other hand, at Cateau Cambresis both England and France recognized Elizabeth as the legitimate Queen of England.

C.) The Legacy

The episode marks the end of the struggle over the Plantagenet dynasty's fiefs in France, which had lasted over several centuries. The only remnabts the English crown would hold on to - until today - are the Channel Islands, the main islands being Jersey and Guernsey.

France 1494-1559, by Bill Gilbert, posted by Carrie
Saint Quentin I, 1557, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Gravelines 1557, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Calais II, 1558, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Calais Citadelle and Forts, from The Other Side

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 20th 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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