Battle of Ceresole
The Battle of Ceresole took place on 11 April 1544, during the Italian War of 1542–46. A French army, commanded by François de Bourbon, Count of Enghien, defeated the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. The outcome of the battle is known as the “Battle of the Piedmont” and is considered a turning point in the history of Italian warfare.
About Battle of Ceresole in brief
The Battle of Ceresole took place on 11 April 1544, during the Italian War of 1542–46. A French army, commanded by François de Bourbon, Count of Enghien, defeated the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. Despite having inflicted substantial casualties on the Imperial troops, the French subsequently failed to exploit their victory by taking Milan. Ceresole was one of the few pitched battles during the latter half of the Italian Wars. It is known among military historians chiefly for the \”great slaughter\” that occurred when columns of intermingled arquebusiers and pikemen met in the center. It also demonstrates the continuing role of traditional heavy cavalry on a battlefield largely dominated by the emerging pike and shot infantry. The French position, centered on Turin, reached outward to a series of fortified towns: Pinerolo, Carmagnola, Savigliano, Susa, Moncalieri, Villanova, Chivasso, and a number of others. The Imperial army, under Alfonso d’Avalos, controlled a group of fortresses on the periphery of the French territory: Mondovì, Asti, Casale Monferrato, Vercelli, and Ivrea. The two armies occupied themselves primarily with attacking each other’s outlying strongholds, with the French holding Carignano, while the Imperials held Asti and Asti. The battle opened with several hours of skirmishing and an ineffectual artillery exchange, after which d’ avalos ordered a general advance.
In the center, Imperial landsknechts clashed with French and Swiss infantry, with both sides suffering terrific casualties. The latter were forced to surrender by the arrival of the victorious Swiss and French infantry from the center of the battlefield. The outcome of the battle is known as the “Battle of the Piedmont” and is considered a turning point in the history of Italian warfare. It was won by the French by a margin of more than 1,000 to 1,200. It took place in an area that had been left in French hands at the end of the previous war in 1538, and was the first major battle of the war in northern Italy. In 1543–1544, a stalemate had developed between the French, under the Sieur de Boutières, and the Imperial Army, under d’avalos. As the two armies returned to winter quarters, Francis I of France replaced Boutiéres with François de Vendôme, a prince with no experience commanding an army. Francis also sent additional troops to the PIEDmont, including several hundred heavy cavalry, some companies of French infantry and quasi-Swiss from Gruyères. In January 1544,. Enghiens laid siege to Carignanos, which was defended by Imperial troops under the command of Pirro Colonna. The French were of the opinion that d’ Avalos would be forced to attempt a relief of the besieged city, at which point he could be forced into a battle.