Battle of Jarnac

The Battle of Jarnac on 13 March 1569 was an encounter during the French Wars of Religion between the Catholic forces of Marshal Gaspard de Saulx, sieur de Tavannes, and the Huguenots, near the nadir of their fortunes, financed by Reinhold von Krockow (who was wounded in the battle) and led by Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé, who was killed after his surrender[1] and his body paraded on an ass in Jarnac, to Catholic jeers. The forces met outside Jarnac between the right bank of the Charente River and the high road between Angoulême and Cognac.

Battle of Jarnac
Battle of Jarnac.jpg
Battle of Jarnac.
Date13 March 1569
Bassac, a town
outside of Jarnac, France
Result Catholic victory,
Death of Condé
Catholics Croix huguenote.svg French Huguenot forces
Commanders and leaders
Sieur de Tavanne Battle flag of Henri de Bourbon, 1569.svg Louis I de Condé 
Battle flag of Admiral Coligny at Jarnac.svg Gaspard de Coligny


In late 1568 the Huguenot and Royal armies both circled Loudun seeking to find good grounds to attack the other, but terrible weather scuppered these attempts.[2] The Royal army broke off towards Chinon to make camp, whilst the Huguenot forces tried and failed to take Saumer before likewise settling into camp.[2] Hearing the Huguenot forces intended to break south towards Cognac, Marshal Gaspard de Tavannes, superior in cavalry, crossed the Charente by the bridge at Châteauneuf on the night of 12 March.[3] With him were 27000 men for this surprise attack on the rearguard of the Huguenot army.[3]


The Huguenot rearguard which was led by Conde, made a last stand at Triac but was ultimately defeated. Conde would be killed by one of Anjou's men after he had surrendered, he would subsequently be paraded in Jarnac to the jeers of the local populace.[3]

Minor participants on the Huguenot side were the English volunteer Walter Raleigh and Louis of Nassau.


Under the leadership of Gaspard de Coligny, most of the Huguenot army managed to escape the attack unscathed, regrouping at Cognac and Saintes.[3] There it swore allegiance to Henry IV and Henri, Prince of Condé while waiting for news of their German allies.[3] The Royal army could pursue no further than Cognac, lacking the heavy guns necessary to reduce the town which had not yet arrived from Paris.[3] Thus the pursuit was broken off to turn instead to besieging Mussidan and Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.[3]

On 25 June, the two armies met again at the Battle of La Roche-l'Abeille, resulting in a Protestant victory. The Battle of Moncontour in October of the same year would provide the Catholics with a more definitive victory .

A tapestry of the battle and the assassination of Louis I of Bourbon is in the collection of the Musée National de la Renaissance in Ecouen.

  1. ^ A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 527.
  2. ^ a b Wood, James (1996). The King's Army: Warfare, Soldiers and Society during the Wars of Religion in France 1562-1576. Cambridge University Press. p. 22. ISBN 0521525136.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Wood, James (1996). The King's Army: Warfare, Soldiers and Society during the Wars of Religion in France 1562-1576. Cambridge University Press. p. 25. ISBN 0521525136.