Henry VIII Wins Battle of the Spurs

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Henry VIII Wins Battle of the Spurs

The 16th of August 1513 AD

The Italian Wars in which Henry VIII found himself embroiled early in his reign often had the air of some strange sporting event. The young Henry was indeed an athlete, and seems to have taken pleasure in the conflict, though apparently well to the rear as regards the nasty business of fighting at The Battle of Guinegate, or Battle of the Spurs.

In 1513 Henry had allied with the ageing Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and a swarm of lesser powers including the Swiss and the Burgundians, to confront the French. Having assembled an army perhaps 50,000 strong in English-held territory around Calais, Henry besieged Therouanne in July 1513.

On August 16 the French sent a cavalry force to help the town, aiming to rush some supplies past the army investing it. But they were spotted, and found themselves wedged between Maximilian’s artillery and English bowmen. Dumping weapons and armour the routed French spurred their horses on, hence one name for the battle, in reality a skirmish. Burgundian and English cavalry chased them, capturing several leading French nobles.

Therouanne fell, followed by Tournai, but the endless pavane of changing alliances nullified those gains soon after. More significantly Thomas Wolsey , the logistical genius behind Henry’s army, gained great royal favour. And the Scottish attack on Northumberland made in September to support their French allies ended disastrously at Flodden Field , weakening the northern kingdom irrevocably.

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