Franco-Habsburg War, 1551-1559

A.) Causes for the War

Continued French-Habsburg animosity (after the Franco-Habsburg Wars of 1521-1529, 1535-1538, 1542-1544); the French desire to reclaim Milan. The Sienese Rebellion against Spanish Rule 1552-1559 can be regarded part of the Franco-Habsburg War of 1551-1559 war.

B.) The War

In France, Henri II. had succeeded his father Francis I. in 1547. The French policy toward the Habsburg side did not change. In 1551, the French invaded the Holy Roman Empire, occupied the princebishoprics of Toul, Verdun, Metz. Imperial forces were dispatched against them, but failed to retake them; then Duke Maurice of Saxony's Campaign of 1552 against Augsburg (where the Imperial diet convened) and Innsbruck (where the Emperor resided) distracted the Emperor's attention from the battleground in Lorraine.
Emperor Charles V. reluctantly accepted the Religious Peace of Augsburg 1555 (with Germany's princely opposition) and in 1556 abdicated. In Spain he was succeeded by his son Philip II., in Austria and the Empire by Ferdinand.
Philip II., King of Spain, lord of the Low Countries and of Franche Comte, resumed the war and gained England (Bloody Mary) as an ally Anglo-French War, 1557-1559. Meanwhile, Pope Paul VI. (Carafa) allied himself with France in 1556, with the intention, with French aid, to expel the Spanish from Naples (Carafa War, 1556-1557). The enterprise failed.
While Spanish forces, on the Flanders front, defeated the French at St. Quentin (1557) and Gravelines (1558), England's last outpost on the continent, Calais, surrendered to the French (1558). The TREATY OF CATEAU-CAMBRESIS ended the war. France held on to Toul, Metz and Verdun, as well as to Calais, but recognized the Spanish hold of Flanders, Artois, Milan and Naples. In England, Queen Mary, formally married to Philip II., died in 1558; at Cateau-Cambresis a marriage of Philip II. with Elisabeth de Valois was arranged.

C.) The Legacy

As France after 1559 descended into the Huguenot Wars, the series of Franco-Habsburg wars ceased. However, the Bourbon Dynasty which was to succeed the Valois in the course of the Huguenot Wars, continued the French anti-Habsburg policy.

France 1494-1559, by Bill Gilbert, posted by Carrie
French Invasion of Lorraine 1552, p.78 and subsequent pages, from Habsburg and Valois, by Stanley Leathes
Saint Quentin I, 1557, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Gravelines 1557, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Calais II, 1558, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Biography of Ambroise Pare, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Philip II. and Foreign Policy, from History Learning Site, scroll down for France Paragraph
DOCUMENTS Ambroise Pare, Journeys to Diverse Places (1537-1569) posted by Bartleby - Great Books Online; on Metz 1552, Battle of St. Quentin 1557
REFERENCE Thomas J. Dandelet, Politics and the state system after the Habsburg-Valois Wars, pp.11-30 in : John A. Marino (ed.), Early Modern Italy (Short Oxford History of Italy), Oxford : UP 2002

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 7th 2003, last revised on November 17th 2004

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