Wars of Religion 

Battles and Sieges in South West

  • 1589 Siege of Vitré

  • 1591  Battle of Châtillon 

  • 1592  Battle of Craon

  • 1592 Siege of Laval 

  • 1593 Battle of Port Ringeard (Entrammes) 


16thc Wars of Religion, saw French royal authority undermined by the Catholic League, Huguenots Protestants & Malcontents. In 1587 a crisis spills to an 8th war; when there is no heir apparent. The Countess of Laval sends Rene de Montbourcher Protestant to defend Vitré. 

       A prosperous merchant town, 16thc Vitré traded cloth across Europe & Sth America, & the merchants’ mansions still survive. In 1589 Vitré was sieged for 5-months by Catholic Duke of Mercœur.

                 Built on a defensive plateau, with deep moats & overlooking the Vilaine valleys, & with natural northern & southern defenses. The vulnerable east was protected by the chateau’s massive stone quarry's.

                 In March 1589 the Huguenots expel Vitré’s Catholics into the suburbs away from the Protestant enclave of the Chateau.  Triggering a explosive insurrection suburban inhabitants & peasants from 53 surrounding parishes, unite & lay siege to Vitré. With news of the uprising, Catholic Duke of Mercoeur joins & supports the siege.

            August 1589, Henry de Bourbon & the royalists beat the peasant "Catholic Leaguers". Along with René de Montbourcher, the Royalist soldiers rape women, imprison priests, burnt the Catholic suburbs of Vitré, & the churches of St Martin, St Croix, St Yves & Augustine Convent.


We Drive 50 min into the Brittany borders to the town of Vitré. We will view the city walls from afar for a perspective of the realities of a siege of this high-top strong hold.

  • Walk the 16thc town and view the famous merchant houses in Rue de la Baudrière &  Rue de la Poterie. You will gain a feel for the maze of ancient cobbled streets that could be defended when under attack.

  • Visit the 13th c Rachapt district outside the town walls reached through Saint Pierre postern gates, a medieval covered gateway.  

  • We will view the ramparts from below before our chateau visit

  • Tour the Chateau precinct, bailey, museum, towers, and ramparts.

  • Lunch at great French Bistro and time for a discussion of the realities of the 5 month Vitré siege.

  • Chateau Craon to vist the site of the largest battle in the Western France during the Wars of Religon.  The dynamic clash between the Catholic League troops lead by the Governor of Brittany Duke of Mercoeur & Henry of Navarre Prince of Royal blood, with Royal French Army & allied English & German Mercenaries.  

Tour Wars of Religion - 1589