Siege of the Ile de Marans, 24-28 June 1588

The siege of the Ile de Marans (24-28 June 1588) was a minor success won by Henry of Navarre and saw him reoccupy an inland island close to La Rochelle (Eighth War of Religion).

The Ile de Marans was a long narrow island lying between the Sevre niortaise river on the north and the canal de la Brune in the south. It was one of Henry of Navarre’s favourite places, and had been in Huguenot hands for most of the Wars of Religion, but early in 1588 it was captured by Catholic forces. Henry of Navarre was determined to recapture the island, as it gave the Catholics a foothold in the province of Aunis, dangerously close to La Rochelle.

His first target was the neighbouring island of Charron, which was protected by two forts. On 24 June Navarre used portable bridges to get his troops onto the island. He then attacked the fort of Le Braut from the island and from the river, using two galiots, and the defenders quickly surrendered. The second fort surrendered soon afterwards, allowing Navarre to approach Marans.

The Catholic defenders hadn’t wasted their time since capturing the island. It was already defended by six forts, but they had also built a redoubt to block the point when Navarre wanted to cross to the island. On 25 June the guns on his galiots were used to bombard the forts, before heading back towards the sea overnight.

Early on 26 June the Huguenots began to build a bridge, protected by a mantelet. This bridge was then moved up to the river, as were some river boats. The Huguenots kneeled for prayer before advancing, and then moved the bridge up to the river and managed to get across to the island.

The position between the two forts was defended by the regiment of M. de Cluseau and a company of light horse under the Sieur de la Tremblaye, but they were unable to stop Navarre’s forces from crossing the river. The Catholic forces fought hard but were defeated, and the nearby forts were soon taken by the Huguenots. Navarre was then able to concentrate against the other forts, and the castle in Maran town, and by 28 June the entire island was back in Huguenot hands.

The French Religious Wars 1562-1598, Robert Jean Knecht. A useful guide to the complex series of nine French Wars of Religion, including an examination of who the wars began and the main players on both sides, narrative accounts of the wars, overviews of the most important battles and sieges. Also looks at the impact of the wars on France’s neighbours, many of whom got dragged into the conflict, and on a selection of soldiers and civilians. Supported by a series of maps that help show how complex the conflict was
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 February 2018), Siege of the Ile de Marans, 24-28 June 1588 ,

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