Battle of Lens

Battle of Lens
Part of the Thirty Years' War and the
Franco-Spanish War (1635–59)
Battle of Lens.jpeg
The Grand Condé at the battle of Lens, 20 August 1648, victory over the Spanish troops commanded by archduke Leopold. Jean-Pierre Franque, 1841, Galerie des Batailles.
Date20 August 1648
Location
50°25′N 2°50′E / 50°25′N 2°50′E / 50.417; 2.833
ResultDecisive French victory[1]
Belligerents
 France Spain
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Prince de CondéSpain Archduke Leopold Wilhelm
Spain Jean de Beck (DOW)
Strength

16,000


7,000 infantry
9,000 cavalry
18 guns

18,000 (2,000 Spanish)


9,000 infantry
9,000 cavalry
38 guns
Casualties and losses
1,500 killed and wounded

8,000–9,000


3,000 killed and wounded
5,000–6,000 captured
38 guns
100 flags

The Battle of Lens (20 August 1648) was a French victory under Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé against the Spanish army under Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). It was the last major battle of the war and a shattering French victory. The battle cemented the reputation of Condé as one of the greatest generals of his age.

After the crushing French triumph at Rocroi against the Spanish Army of Flanders, the French went on to capture dozens of towns throughout northern France and the Spanish Netherlands over the next four years. Archduke Leopold Wilhelm was appointed governor of the Spanish Netherlands in 1647 to strengthen Spain's Habsburg alliance with Austria and began a major counteroffensive the same year. The Spanish army was successful at first, reconquering the lost fortresses of Armentières, Comines and Landrecies.

The Prince de Condé was recalled from a failed campaign in Catalonia against the Spanish and appointed commander of the 16,000-man French army opposite the Spanish army of the Archduke and General Jean de Beck, the governor of Luxembourg. Condé captured Ypres but then the 18,000-strong Spanish-German force laid siege to Lens. Condé advanced to meet them.

In the battle that ensued, Condé provoked the Spanish into giving up a strong hilltop position for an open plain, where he used the discipline and superior close-combat capabilities of his cavalry to charge and rout the Walloon-Lorrainer cavalry on the Spanish wings. The French infantry and cavalry in the center were attacked by the strong Spanish center, suffering heavy losses but holding their ground. The French cavalry on the wings, freed from any opposition, encircled and charged the Spanish center, who promptly capitulated. The Spanish lost half their army, some 8,000–9,000 men of which 3,000 were killed or wounded and 5,000–6,000 captured, 38 guns, 100 flags along with their pontoons and baggage. French losses were 1,500 killed and wounded. The French victory contributed to the signing of the Peace of Westphalia but the outbreak of the Fronde rebellion prevented the French from exploiting their victory to the hilt against the Spanish.

Background

Lens is a fortified city in the historic region of Flanders, today a major city in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. The city had been captured by the French in 1647. The French lower nobility rebelled against the leadership of Cardinal Mazarin, an event known as the Fronde, leading the Spanish to perceive an opportunity to retake Lens and possibly gain ground.

The Prince de Condé rushed from Catalonia to Flanders, and an army was cobbled together from Champagne, Lorraine, and Paris. The French army consisted of 16,000 men, 7,000 infantry and 9,000 cavalry, as well as 18 guns.[2] The Spanish army was larger, comprising 18,000 men of equal halves of infantry and cavalry and 38 guns.[2]

Leopold captured Lens on 17 August.

Other Languages
español: Batalla de Lens
français: Bataille de Lens
Nederlands: Slag bij Lens