The Battle of Pavia - Everyone was Invited!

24 Feb 2022
by Fight Club Team

On this day, 24th February 1525, there was, as you might have guessed, a battle at Pavia. It was the decisive victory that spelled the end of the Italian War of 1521, fought between King Francis I of France and the Hapsburg Empire of Charles V and his various supporters.

There was some great national representation by the two sides: there was French Cavalry, Swiss mercenaries, Italian men at arms, Spanish arquebusiers, and even German Landsknechte all battling it out in Visconti Park, just outside the city walls. Everyone really pulled together and pitched in, hey?

King Francis I

The battle itself took place in the early morning, but was over in around only 4 hours. King Francis I, in the middle of the siege of Pavia, was set upon by a Hapsburg relief force. They had set up in the famous "pike and shot" formation of the time, and began their advance.

Seizing the initiative, Francis I led a cavalry charge in an attempt to capture the enemy commander, but was predictably ravaged and rebuffed by the infantry formations. Habsburg infantry then descended upon the cavalry from all angles, systematically despatching the lancers as quickly as possible. The French footmen rushed to defend the knights, but this only allowed the defending party of Pavia to sally out behind them and seal Francis' fate.

The French army was sundered and defeated in detail. Many French nobles were either killed or captured, including King Francis I He was imprisoned for a time, until the 1526 Treaty of Madrid was signed, giving Francis his freedom in exchange for abandoning some land claims and relinquishing the fief of Burgundy to the Habsburgs.