Siege of Fuenterrabía (1638)

The siege of Fuenterrabía of 1638 took place in June – September 1638, between Spain and France during the Thirty Years' War and the Franco-Spanish War (1635-1659).

Siege of Fuenterrabía
Part of the Thirty Years' War and the
Franco-Spanish War (1635-1659)
Siege de Fontarabie en 1638 gravure allemande.jpg
Etching depicting the 1638 battle
DateJune – September 1638
Result Spanish victory[1]
 France  Spain
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Henri de Bourbon
Kingdom of France Henri de Sourdis
Kingdom of France Bernard, Duke d'Épernon
Spain Juan Alfonso de Cabrera
18,000 infantry
2,000 cavalry[2]
20–30 warships
7,000 sailors
1,300 men[2]
15,000 infantry
500 cavalry[2]
(Spanish Relief Army)
Casualties and losses
4,000 dead or wounded[1]
2,000 captured[1]

The French army commanded by Henri de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, Bernard de La Valette, Duke d'Épernon and Henri d'Escoubleau de Sourdis[3] composed of 27,000 men and several warships besieged the city for two months, firing 16,000 shells into the walled city, leaving only 300 survivors, most of them women and children. The city was virtually destroyed, but nevertheless did not surrender.

On 7 September, the Spanish army led by Juan Alfonso Enríquez de Cabrera, 9th Admiral of Castile, relieved the city and defeated the French forces. The raising of the siege is celebrated annually on 8 September in a parade, known as Alarde.

After the French disaster of Fuenterrabía (Hondarribia), Henri d'Escoubleau de Sourdis attempted to blame the defeat on Bernard de La Valette, Duke d'Épernon, who had refused to lead the attack, believing that it would fail.

For the successful resistance, the city received the title of «Muy noble, muy leal, muy valerosa y muy siempre fiel».


  • Collins, James B. (1995). The State in Early Modern France. Cambridge University Press.
  • Geoffrey Parker, Spain and the War, The Thirty Years' War London Routledge (1984).
  • Hondarribia: El Sitio de 1638. Auñamendi Entziklopedia


  1. ^ a b c Clave historial con que se abre la puerta a la historia eclesiástica y política (1742)
  2. ^ a b c Geoffrey Parker p.223 n.72
  3. ^ Collins 1995, p. 66.

External linksEdit

  • [1] Las fortificaciones de Fuenterrabía ante el Sitio de 1638.
  • [2] Clave historial con que se abre la puerta a la historia eclesiástica y política, 1742.
  • Official Website Information available in Spanish, Basque and English.

Coordinates: 43°22′00″N 1°48′00″W / 43.3667°N 1.8000°W / 43.3667; -1.8000