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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 24th, 1525 - The Battle of Pavia

Conflict: The Italian Wars

Combatants: French vs. Spanish (Holy Roman Empire)

Location: Italy

Outcome: Spanish victory

In October of 1524, Francis I of France invaded Italy over which he lay claim. Francis marched an army of 40,000 men over the Alps, captured Milan and lay siege to Pavia. After dispatching 15,000 men to attack Naples, Francis was left with approximately 25,000 soldiers to invest Pavia.

In late January of 1525, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sent an army of 20,000 soldiers, most of whom were Spanish, to march on Pavia and relieve the city. On the night of February 23rd, the Imperial army turned the French left and broke through a park wall which Francis believed would protect his flank.

The Battle of Pavia by an unknown artist

The next day, Francis and his troops were caught by utter surprise by the enemy. The French cavalry initially blunted the Spanish attack, but they rallied before the slow-moving French infantry arrived to take advantage. After a two-hour battle the French were defeated. Francis himself was wounded and captured by the Spanish. The French suffered casualties of some 8,000 men while the Spanish lost less than 1000.

Capture of King Francis I at the Battle of Pavia by Jan Erasmus Quellinus

Points of Interest:

  • Francis I was sent to Madrid as a prisoner following his capture and eventually surrendered all claims to Italy. He also gave up control of Burgundy, Artois, and Flanders to the Holy Roman Empire.

  • The Spanish inflicted many casualties on the French at Pavia with their arquebusiers. The French fielded neither small arms nor crossbows in any great number.

Francis I of France by Titian
Emperor Charles V by Titian



Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).

Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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