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Metz, Siege of (31 October 1552–5 January 1553)


Subject History » Military History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


If Mühlberg was the great triumph of Charles V's later years, the Siege of Metz was the great disaster. The Imperial Free City was one of three bishoprics in Lorraine long claimed by the kings of France, and demanded by Henry II as the price of his alliance with the German princes against Charles V in January 1552. Metz was occupied by the French in April 1552 and the Duke of Guise appointed governor. The German revolt had taken Charles V completely by surprise, but by the summer of 1552 he had recovered, raised an army of 60,000, and by means of the ‘Peace of Passau’ had won over most of the princes. In September, rather than disband his army, he proposed the immediate recapture of Metz, partly to restore his prestige, partly for strategic reasons. The dangers of beginning a siege so late in the season were obvious, but against them Charles argued that the French fortifications would be stronger if they were given a further breathing space. The decisive point came when the Duke of Alba, who had begun investing the city with a small advanced guard in October, won over the Margrave Albert-Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, the last rebel prince, whose army of 15,000 could now be added to Charles's own. The siege began in earnest on 31 October and the Emperor himself arrived on 20 November. However, Guise, expecting an Imperial counter-stroke, had worked ruthlessly and effectively ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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