French Wars of Religion 


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 15thc and 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 13thc 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


Drive to Chateau Craon to vist the Chateau including an interior tour, and then the site of the largest battle in the Western France during the Wars of Religon.

  • Drive to the battlfeild of Port Ringeard, Entrammes walk the crossing site and visit the cross. The site is almost completly built out by the 18th and 19thc town.

  • Drive to Laval, visit the 14-16thc century medieval qauter, afternoon tea.

  • Return to Mayenne

The Battle of Craon took place between 21–24 May 1592, between the French Royal army under the Duke of Montpensier and François de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, reinforced by English contingents under Sir John Norreys, against the combined forces of Spain and the Catholic League of France during the War of the Three Henrys and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). Craon was besieged by the army of Henry of Navarre, but the defenders, supported by a Catholic relief force recruited by Philippe Emmanuel, Duke of Mercœur, resisted. At the end, Craon was liberated by the Spaniards under Don Juan del Águila, who defeated the Anglo-French besiegers


Battles and Sieges in the West

  • 1589 Siege of Vitré, Brittany

  • 1591  Battle of Châtillon-en-Vendelais, Brittany

  • 1592  Battle of Craon, Mayenne

  • 1592 Siege of Laval, Mayenne

  • 1592 seige of Chateau-Gontier

  • 1592 seige of Lassay-les-Chateau, Mayenne

  • 1593 Battle of Port Ringeard (Entrammes) Mayenne

  • 1594 Seige of Morlaix, Brittany



16thc Wars of Religion, saw French royal authority undermined by the Catholic League, the Huguenots Protestants & Malcontents Lords seize the opportunity to become semi independant from the crown, refusing to pay taxs and tithes to the Catholic church. In 1587 when there is no heir apparent a crisis spills to an 8th war;  The Countess of Laval sends Rene de Montbourcher to defend the city Vitré, much of Maine's and Brittanys Lords turn towards calvanism.  

       A prosperous merchant town, from the 13th to the 16thc Vitré traded fine cloth across Europe &  the Americas, shipping from the ports in Brittany and Normndy. A great many of the the merchants’ mansions still survive today, listing the city amoung the finest surviving medieval cities in France. In 1589 Vitré was sieged for 5-months by the Catholic Philippe-Emmanuel de Lorraine, Duke of Mercœur with his catholic leauge and spanish mercenaries.

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

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

            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.

Tour Wars of Religion - 1589