Claude, Duke of Guise in the Battle of Marignano

Claude of Guise
Claude of Guise
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~The Archivist

In reading about the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise, I came across a touching story about Mary of Guise’s father, Claude, Duke of Guise; a kind of medieval vignette. Claude was a cousin of King Francois I of France’s mother, Louise of Savoy. Claude became fast friends with Francois.

The King decided soon after he ascended the throne that he was the rightful heir to the Duchy of Milan. Milan had been in French hands at one time but the Swiss had taken it militarily and appointed the Italian Duke Massimiliano Sforza as its ruler. Duke Massimiliano was a good-for-nothing sort and it probably would have been easy to defeat him but the Swiss decided to defend the Duchy.

Francois gathered an army to attack and took Duke Claude, his brother Antony, Duke of Lorraine and their other younger brother Ferry with him into battle. The two armies met at Marignano on September 13, 1515. A heavy and cruel confrontation ensued but the French were victorious. Claude, Antony and Ferry had become separated during the action. Antony frantically searched for his brothers and even the King’s retinue scoured the field. Eventually they found Ferry dead. Claude was found too but he looked to be mortally wounded.

He had no fewer than twenty-one wounds. His right arm was shattered, his thigh had been pierced by an arquebus ball and his horse had been killed beneath him, falling on him and pinning him to the ground. When Claude’s esquire Adam Fouvert saw the plight of his master, he fell on top of him, shielding him. As the enemy drove forward Adam was killed. But Claude somehow managed to survive. Claude received immediate medical treatment enabling him to ride into Milan by the side of King Francois in triumph on October 16, 1515. Upon his return home several months later, he saw his newborn baby daughter Mary of Guise for the first time.

© 2012

Resources: “Mary of Guise, Queen of Scots” by Rosalind K. Marshall

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