Commander: King François I
Infantry: 17 000 men
Cavalry: 6 100 men (1 000 Gendarmes)
Commander: Duke of Pescara
Infantry: 19 000 men
( Spanish Troops: 5000 men)
Cavalry: 4000 men
Artillery: 17 guns
Losses: 500 -600 men
Strategic Situation : After the failure of the invasion of Provence in 1524, the French army under the command of the King François I attacked the Duchy of Milan and the main imperial garrison at Pavia, the 31 october 1524, which was defended by 6 000 - 8 000 imperial troops. To relieve the garrison, the Duke of Pescara reorganised his army in the city of Lodi with the help of 12 000 landsknechts and marched to attack the French the 3 February 1525. After 3 weeks of useless bombardment on the French position and the impossibility to make a frontal assault, the Imperialist commanders decided, the 22 February1525, to conduct a major raid on the rear of the French headquarter in Castel Mirabello.
During the night of 23-24 February 1525, 22 000 imperials outmanoeuvred the French had started to open a breach in the wall.
|Situation of the units at 4.00 AM
French (in blue):
1 => Camp of François I with 10 000 men (3 600 horses, 6 000 foots and artillery)
2 => Flourance troops, 5 000 men (1 000 horses, 4 000 foots)
3 => Montmorency troops, 3 000 Swiss foots and artillery
4 => d'Alençons troops, 4 000 men (1 000 horses, 3 000 foots and artillery)
5 => South corps with 500 horses and 1 000 foots
Imperials (in red):
|A: 5.00 AM the raiding party
(3 000 Italians and Spanish harquebusiers), under the command of De Vasto,
enter the park and marche to Castel Mirabello as planned. At 6.30
AM, the troops emerge from the woods and quickly overcome the weak defenses,
then they loot the French baggage train park nearby, slautering
some camps followers.
B: At the same time (5.30 AM), 1000 light French cavalrymen spot their imperialist counter part in the north of the park. A skirmish begin and with the support of the reinforcement of 3000 Swiss infantry from Flourance, the French are able to defeat the imperialist and capture 6 enemy guns in movement..
C: At 7.00 AM, The king François I had new informations concerning the Imperial advance. He started to deploy his troops 3600 horsemen and 6000 infantrymen and order his artillery to bombarde the Imperial's troop.
D: At 7.00 AM, Most of the Imperials troops have enter the park. The Cavalry protect the right flanks from the French. The Imperial landsknechts deployed in two formations, the first with 7000 men face the Swiss of Flourance, the second stay in support with the Spanish infantry.
E: At 7.10 AM, the 7000 Imperial landsknechts attack the 3000 Swiss and after 45 min of bitter combat, the Swiss begin to give ground.
F: At 7.40 AM, In a battlefield covered by the smoke and thick mist, François I decide to charge with his Horsemen (3600 men) the centre of the Imperial position protected by Imperial cavalry (2100 cavalrymen). The imperials were routed and run away in the woods. But now the French Horses are in a precarious situation; immobile, blocking the French guns and unsupported by their infantry
G: At 7.50 AM, the Flourance's Swiss and the French light cavalry, outnumbered by the Imperials retreat to the Torre del Gallo, followed by half of the Imperial landssknechts. Around the same time the garrison of Pavia attack the French position defended by Montromency's Swiss.
H: At 8.00 AM, De Pescara with the support of the second formation of landssknechts decide to attack the French horsemen hampered by the boggy condition and their heavy armour. The Spanish harquebusiers would shot to piece the French. Troops from de Vasto, Spanish and German infantry would isolate the French horsemen by small groups and cut them to pieces as one by one.
I: At 8.15, the French infantry (2000 natives and 4000 landssknechts at French service) advance to support the cavalry but they are blocked by the imperial landssknechts. A brutal fight to the finish start with no quarter given or expected. With the odds stacked against them the French are overwhelmed and broken.
J: At 8.20, the French King François I is unseated from his horse and saved from death by Imperialist commanders.
|Situation at 9.00 AM after the French defeat:
French (in Blue):
1 => French survivor fleeing
2 => Swiss Infantry trying to pass the river Ticino (3000 Swiss would be
3 => French last Troops retreated to Milan
Imperials (in red):
Balance : The French army was destroyed at Pavia and a large proportion of the French nobility was dead or prisonner like the King himself. The unexpected victory would give the Duchy of Lombardia to Charles I of Spain.
de Périni, H.: Batailles françaises Vol 1 , BNF n° 075047
Konstanz, A.: Pavia, Osprey Military Campaing Series 44, 1996.
Sir Oman C.: History of The Art of War ……., Greenhill, London 1987.
Albi de la Cuesta: Los Tercios de infantería española, Balkan editores, Madrid 1999 Madrid 1999.
Serrano San José J.M. y Marrin Ferrer E.: R&D Vol. 5 n°11, mai 2000