Louis d'Armagnac, Duke of Nemours, 1472-1503

Louis d'Armagnac, duke of Nemours (1472-1503) was the defeated French commander at the battle of Carignola (28 April 1503), where he became one of the first generals to be killed by handgun fire.

Nemours was the son of Jacques d'Armagnac, a member of a cadet branch of the Armagnac family. His father repeatedly plotted against Louis XI, and was pardoned at least twice (1465 after leaving the League of Public Weal and again in 1470). He continued to plot, was finally arrested in 1476 and executed in 1477. The duchy of Nemours was forfeited, but it was later restored to Louis's brother Jean by Charles VIII. Louis became Comte de Guise, before inherited the duchy after the death of his brother in 1500.

As Comte de Guise he took part in Charles VIII's invasion of Italy (First Italian War/ Italian War of Charles VIII, 1494-95).

In 1502 Nemours replaced Bernard Stuart, Seigneur of Aubigny, as the French viceroy of Naples. Naples had just been split between France and Spain, but the two allies quickly fell out. At the start of the war Nemours held the advantage of numbers, and in August 1502 he blockaded the Spanish commander Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba at Barletta. At this stage the French had around 10,000 men, the Spanish only 4,000, but Nemours failed to take advantage. Instead he conducted a loose blockade, punctuated by duels and tournaments between the lines (in which Pierre Terrail, seigneur of Bayard was a frequent participant).

In April 1503 Cordoba received 6,000 reinforcements and decided to provoke a battle. He advanced out of Barletta and took up a new position on a hill at Cerignola, where the Spanish fortified their position.

Nemours held a council of war, at which he suggested waiting until the following day to attack. Somewhat stereotypically for the period some of his subordinates accused him of cowardice and disloyalty. Nemours responded by ordering an immediate attack on the Spanish lines (battle of Cerignola, 28 April 1503). Inevitably this French attack was defeated when they ran into the unexpected Spanish field fortifications. Nemours was killed by a bullet, possibly making him the first general to be killed by a hand gun. The Spanish then counterattacked, and defeated the French. A few days earlier Aubigny, with a second French army, had been defeated at Seminara (21 April 1503), and the French position in Naples collapsed. Cordoba captured Naples on 13 May, and then began a siege of the fortress of Gaeta.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 February 2015), Louis d'Armagnac, Duke of Nemours, 1472-1503 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_nemours_louis.html

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