Siege of Gaeta, June-October 1503

The siege of Gaeta (June-October 1503) was an unsuccessful Spanish attempt to capture one of the last French strongholds in Naples in the aftermath of the great Spanish victory at Cerignola in April 1503 (Second Italian War/ Italian War of Louis XII).

In November 1500 Louis XII of France and Ferdinand II of Aragon signed the Treaty of Granada, in which they agreed to split the Kingdom of Naples between them. Naples quickly fell to their forces, but equally quickly the two sides fell out over the spoils. The Spanish commander in Naples, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, was blockaded in Barletta from August 1502 to April 1503 by a French army led by Louis d'Armagnac, Duke of Nemours, but the French missed their chance to defeat the Spanish while they held the advantage. In April 1503 Cordoba received reinforcements and he moved forward to Cerignola. The French attacked him but were repulsed, and were then swept away by a Spanish counterattack (Battle of Cerignola, 26 April 1503).

In the aftermath of this victory Cordoba advanced to Naples, which fell to him on 13 May. In June he began a siege of the strong fortress of Gaeta. The garrison was reinforced from Genoa, and was in a strong position to resist the Spanish. The defence was commanded by Yves d'Allègre, who had moved there with the garrison of Naples.

The siege would end in failure. The French and their Italian allies sent a relief army under the command of Louis de Trémoille, and in October Cordoba was forced to lift the siege and retreat to the Garigliano River. Once again the French and their allies missed a chance to defeat Cordoba while he was vulnerable, and a standoff developed on the river. This finally ended in December 1503 when Cordoba received reinforcements. He caught the allies out by crossing the river, outflanking them and forcing them into a chaotic retreat into Gaeta (battle of the Garigliano, 29 December 1503). The morale of the allies had been broken, and on 1 January 1504 they surrendered on terms. Cordoba had finally captured Gaeta. This victory saw the French position in Naples collapse, and in 1505 Louis XII officially abandoned his claim in the Treaty of Blois.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 November 2014), Siege of Gaeta, June-October 1503 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_gaeta_1503.html

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