Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier (1488)

Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier (1488)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier
partof=the Mad War

date=28 July 1488
place=Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier (Ille-et-Vilaine), Brittany
result=Decisive French victory
combatant2= and supporters during the "Guerre folle".
casualties2= Around 5,000 - 6,000
The Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier took place on July 28 1488 between the forces of king Charles VIII of France, and those of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and his allies. The defeat of the latter signalled the end to the "guerre folle" ('Mad war'), a feudal conflict in which French aristocrats revolted against royal power during the regency of Anne de Beaujeu. It also effectively ended the independence of Brittany from France.


*The regime of Francis led to revolts in Brittany due to widespread corruption in his government. The weakening of his regime encouraged the monarchy to confront the warring princes.
*Francis was keen to secure the independence of Brittany and to construct a network of alliances to achieve that objective, offering the prospect of marriage to his daughter and heir Anne of Brittany to several possible allies.


Under the leadership of Louis II de la Trémoille, the French royal army had struck against Vannes and Fougères, controlling access to Brittany.

Alain d'Albret, a rebel lord, believing he would marry Anne, had reinforced the Breton army with 5000 troops supplied by the king of Spain. Maximilian I of Austria also sent 1500 men, and Edward Wydeville, Lord Scales, brought over a force of archers from Britain. [John M. Currin, "The King's Army into the Partes of Bretaigne': Henry VII and the Breton Wars", "War in History", Vol. 7, No. 4, 379-412 (2000)] Despite this concentration of forces the Breton alliance was still outnumbered. It was further weakened because Maximilian I was diverted by a rebellion in Flanders, which was being supported by Marshal de Esquerdes.

The Breton forces thus comprised a mix of local troops with Gascons, Germans, English longbowmen and non-Breton aristocrats who were challenging royal power. The French army included Swiss and Italian mercenaries, and also some pro-royal Breton noblemen. It had the most powerful artillery of the era.

French forces arrived at the field in disparate groups. The battle began with an artillery barrage from both sides. The Bretons attacked the French right wing in force, making considerable headway. However, the Breton front soon showed signs of confusion and disorder which was exploited by the French artillery. An attack by the Italian infantry broke the Breton line, leading to a rout of their forces.


The defeat of Francis II forced him to accept a treaty which deprived him of power by requiring him to expel foreign princes and troops from Brittany. It also restricted his ability to marry his children to suitors of his choosing and required that he cede territory in Saint-Malo, Ferns, Dinan and Saint-Aubin to the king as a guarrantee that in the absence of a male successor the king would determine the succession. Francis died a few months later leaving only a daughter, Anne of Brittany, so the treaty was used to force her, as his successor, to marry King Charles VIII, and then Louis XII.

The battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier also destroyed the power-base of the warring princes. Edward Wydeville was killed. Louis of Orleans (the future Louis XII), and Jean, Prince of Orange were captured. Alain d'Albret and the Maréchal de Rieux succeeded in escaping, and played an important part in continuing the conflict. Despite the French victory, the "guerre folle" dragged on for three more years until December 1491, when Charles married Anne.

Role in Breton nationalism

Since the emergence of modern Breton nationalism in the 19th century, the battle has been portrayed as the moment when Brittany lost its independence, despite the three years of struggle which followed it and the continued nominal independence of the Duchy into the 16th century. It is thus regarded by nationalists as a tragic episode in the history of Brittany. In the words of Leon Meur, "the battle of Saint-Aubin rang the death-knell of Breton independence". Breton nationalists, such Célestin Lainé, have often requested that their ashes be scattered on the spot.

A plan in 2000 to bury domestic waste on the site of the battle caused such protests from the Breton movement that the project was abandoned. [ [ St Aubin-du-Cormier: 1488-2000] ] The Breton nationalist organization Koun Breizh commemorates the battle at the site on the last Sunday of every July.



*L'État breton, tome 2 de l' Histoire de la Bretagne et des pays celtiques, Morlaix, Éditions Skol Vreizh, 1966
*Philippe Contamine, "Bataille de Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier", in Jacques Garnier dir. Dictionnaire Perrin des guerres et batailles de l'histoire de France, Paris : Perrin, 2004.
*Georges Minois. Anne de Bretagne. Paris : Fayard, 1999.
*Philippe Tourault. Anne de Bretagne. Paris : Perrin, 1990.
*Collectif d’universitaires des universités de Brest, Nantes, Rennes, Toute l’histoire de Bretagne, dans l'Ile de Bretagne et sur le continent, ouvrage in-8°, 800 pages, éditions Skol- Vreizh, Morlaix 1996
*Jean Kerhervé, L'État breton aux XIVe et XVe siècles, 2 vol., Maloine, 1987. ISBN 2-22401703-0. 2-224-01704-9
*Arthur Le Moyne de La Borderie, Membre de l'Institut, Histoire de la Bretagne, 6 volumes in-quarto, Plihon Editeur, Imprimerie Vatar, Rennes 1905-1914.
*Jean-Pierre Legay et Hervé Martin, Fastes et malheurs de la Bretagne ducale 1213-1532, Editions *Ouest-France Université, 435 pages, Rennes, 1982
*Antoine Dupuy, Histoire de l'union de la Bretagne à la France, 2 vol. de 447 p et 501 p., Librairie Hachette, Paris, 1880.

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