Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
- The duc de Luynes is named constable, the military commander of France, by the king, an office vacant since 1615, after it is turned down by the duc de Lesdiguières; Lesdiguières, a Huguenot and one of France’s best commanders, refuses to convert to Catholocism, and the king subsequently offers the position to Luynes instead. Pamphlets decrying Luynes as a new Ancre fly from the carts and shelves of booksellers in France even as the king and the new constable begin a summer campaign to pacify the rebellious Huguenot towns in the west and south of France.
- The royal army bypasses La Rochelle, unable to invest the port city, instead moving from town to town seeking submission to the king. Louis lays seige to the towns that do not submit, such as St-Jean-d’Angeley and Bergerac, tearing down their walls when they surrender, abrogating their right to defensive works under the Edict of Nantes. The slow pace of the campaign, with its repetitive seiges, frustrates Louis as the summer turns to fall. In August, the army stops before the walls of the great town of Montauban, one of the most formidable Huguenot strongholds in France, currently under the command of the duc de Rohan. The king’s most experienced commanders recommend that the royal army bypass the well-fortified city, but Louis and Luynes, the latter aware that the young ruler desires a signature victory, decide to invest Montauban. Months pass as sorties are defeated, artillery proves insufficient, and scarlet fever claims thousands of lives, including that of Luynes, sparing the favorite the disgrace that was sure to follow the stalemate. Louis is finally forced to break off the seige with a hastily-conceived truce and move north to Calais, after receiving intelligence of a pending attack by English and Spanish forces, an attack which never materializes. The resistance of Montauban fuels the defiance of the Huguenots over the subequent winter.