Battle of La Rochelle

Article

July 5, 2022

In the naval battle of La Rochelle on June 22-23, 1372, the Franco-Castilian fleet defeated that of the English.

History

Gascony had belonged to the English since 1152. With the Peace of Brétigny of 1360, England received large parts of south-western France during the Hundred Years' War. La Rochelle, located directly on the Bay of Biscay behind the Île de Ré and the Île d'Oléron, also fell under English rule. But as early as 1369, the reconquest by France began, which found support for this project in Castile. So La Rochelle, one of the few larger port cities, was besieged.

The naval battle

The English therefore tried to replenish their troops by sea in order to stop France's counter-offensive. However, the English fleet provided for this purpose under John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, which was supposed to ensure this, was intercepted by a Castilian-French fleet under Admiral Ambrosio Boccanegra in front of the port entrance of La Rochelle on June 22, 1372. A fleet of 40 English warships faced off against a fleet of 20 Castilian warships. In the ensuing naval battle, Admiral Ambrosio Bocanegra waited for the tide to go out to attack the enemy fleet. That happened the next morning. The lighter ships of the Castilian-French fleet were then vastly superior to the heavier ships of the English fleet because, unlike the English ships, they could move under such circumstances. So they then attacked the English fleet with bombardments. Unable to move, unlike the Castilian fleet, the English fleet was unable to withstand the deadly attack of the enemy fleet. 14 warships were destroyed in a very short time. After this event, Ambrosio Bocanegra gave the order to ambush the remaining enemy ships. The English, in their inability to defend themselves under the circumstances, and in their bewilderment at what had happened, were helpless to the attack. In this way the English fleet was systematically crushed in this naval battle. All the ships of the English fleet were either destroyed or captured, the crews of these ships and the troop reinforcements for France in these ships either killed or captured. John Hastings himself was taken prisoner. The fleet of Admiral Ambrosio Bocanegra, on the other hand, thanks to the Admiral's actions in this situation, did not lose a ship and suffered very little loss of life. In addition, the Castilian fleet captured a great deal of money that the English fleet was carrying and that was intended for the troops in La Rochelle.

Consequences

The defeat resulted in Castile and France gaining control of the Atlantic and the English Channel. The French counter-offensive to recapture their territories lost to England was successfully carried out. Almost all possessions, including La Rochelle, gradually fell back into French hands, while England was plagued by attacks on its southern coast by the Castilian-French fleet. Trade between England and Flanders was also disrupted. Instead, trade between Flanders and Castile began to flourish and over time gained the leading position in Flanders' foreign trade.

Individual proofs

Bibliography

Condeminas, Francisco: La marina militar española, 2000, ISBN 84-930472-4-4 (Spanish). Fernández Duro, Cesáreo: La marina de Castilla (cap. IX: Batalla de La Rochela), Madrid, 1995, ISBN 978-84-86228-04-0 (Spanish).