Anglo-French War (1627–1629)

Anglo-French War
Part of the French Wars of Religion
Siege of La Rochelle 1881 Henri Motte.png
Henri Motte's 1881 depiction of Cardinal de Richelieu at the siege of La Rochelle
Date 1627–1629
West coast of France and New France

Status quo ante bellum[1][2]

 England  France
Commanders and leaders
Duke of Buckingham
David Kirke
Duke of Richelieu
Samuel de Champlain

The Anglo-French War was a military conflict fought between the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom of England between 1627 and 1629. It mainly involved actions at sea.[3] The centerpiece of the conflict was the siege of La Rochelle (1627–28), in which the English crown supported the French Huguenots in their fight against the French royal forces of Louis XIII of France. La Rochelle had become the stronghold of the French Huguenots, under its own governance. It was the centre of Huguenot seapower and the strongest centre of resistance against the central government.[3] The English also launched a campaign against France's new colony in North America which led to much of the territory including Quebec being seized.[4]


The conflict followed the failure of the Anglo-French alliance of 1624, in which England had tried to find an ally in France against the power of the House of Habsburg. French politics evolved otherwise however as Cardinal Richelieu came to power in 1624. In 1625, Richelieu used English warships to vanquish the Huguenots at the Recovery of Ré island (1625), triggering outrage in England.[5]

In 1626, France actually concluded a secret peace with Spain, and disputes arose around Henrietta Maria's household. Furthermore, France was building the power of its Navy, leading the English to be convinced that France must be opposed "for reasons of state".[5]

In June 1626, Walter Montagu was sent to France to contact dissident noblemen, and from March 1627 started to organize a French rebellion. The plan was to send an English fleet to encourage rebellion, as a new Huguenot revolt by Henri, Duke of Rohan and his brother Soubise was being triggered.[5]


Ile de Ré expedition

Charles I sent his favourite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham with a fleet of 80 ships. In June 1627 Buckingham organised a landing on the nearby island of Île de Ré with 6,000 men in order to help the Huguenots. Although a Protestant stronghold, Île de Ré had not directly joined the rebellion against the king. On Île de Ré, the English under Buckingham tried to take the fortified city of Saint-Martin-de-Ré in the 1625 Recovery of Ré island, but were repulsed after three months. Small French Royal boats managed to supply St Martin in spite of the English blockade. Buckingham ultimately ran out of money and support, and his army was weakened by diseases. After a last attack on Saint-Martin they were repulsed with heavy casualties, and left with their ships.

La Rochelle expedition

England attempted to send two more fleets to relieve La Rochelle. The first one, led by William Feilding, Earl of Denbigh, left on April 1628, but returned without a fight to Portsmouth, as Denbigh "said that he had no commission to hazard the king's ship in a fight and returned shamefully to Portsmouth".[6] A second fleet, organized by Buckingham just before his assassination, was dispatched under the Admiral of the Fleet, the Earl of Lindsey in August 1628,[6] consisting of 29 warships and 31 merchantmen.[7] In September 1628, the English fleet tried to relieve the city. After bombarding French positions and trying to force the sea wall in vain, the English fleet had to withdraw. Following this last disappointment, the city surrendered on October 28, 1628.

Champlain surrendering Quebec to David Kirke, July 20, 1629

New France expedition

An English force led by David Kirke launched a campaign against New France in 1628 their target being the French colony of Quebec under the command of Samuel de Champlain. The force sailed up the Saint Lawrence River and occupied Tadoussac and Cap Tourmente. Kirke promptly laid waste to the French settlements and then blockaded the Saint Lawrence. The English succeeded in capturing a supply convoy bound for New France, severely impairing that colony's ability to resist attack. Winter forced the Kirke brothers to return to England where King Charles I on hearing of the successes increased the number of Kirke's fleet to return in the Spring. Champlain, whose residents were on the point of starvation, was hoping for a relief fleet to arrive. The fleet was intercepted and captured by the English on their way upriver to Quebec. Kirke, now aware of the desperate conditions in Quebec, demanded the surrender; having no alternative, Champlain surrendered on 19 July 1629.[4] The English occupied the colony with Kirke as governor.


With the Peace of Alès in April 1629 which settled concessions to the defeated Huguenots, Richelau's first step was to end hostilities with England in order to try and break the Hapsburg encirclement of France.[2] England and France were thus able to negotiate a peace at the Treaty of Susa which saw no benefits to each other, and amounted to little more than a return to the 'status quo ante bellum'.[1][8]

With regards to New France, much of this side of the conflict had spilled over after the Susa treaty had been signed. In 1632 Charles I agreed to return the lands in exchange for Louis XIII agreeing to paying Charles' wife's dowry.[9] These terms were signed into law with the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The lands in Quebec and Acadia were returned to the French Company of One Hundred Associates.[4]

A peace treaty was also signed with Spain in 1630 - England's disengagement from European affairs dismayed Protestant forces on the continent.[10] In England, internal conflict continued between the Monarchy and the Parliament, disputes which would lead to the English Civil Wars of the 1640s. France on the contrary continued to grow more powerful, its Navy becoming even larger than that of England by 1630.[3]


  1. ^ a b Alexander, Michael van Cleave (1975). Charles I's Lord Treasurer: Sir Richard Weston, Earl of Portland (1577 - 1635). MacMillan. p. 133.
  2. ^ a b Grimm, Harold John (1965). The Reformation Era, 1500-1650: With a Revised and Expanded Bibliography. Macmillan. p. 517.
  3. ^ a b c Warfare at sea, 1500-1650: maritime conflicts and the transformation of Europe by Glete J Staff, Jan Glete Routledge, 2002 ISBN 0-203-02456-7 p.178 [1]
  4. ^ a b c "KIRKE, SIR DAVID, adventurer, trader, colonizer, leader of the expedition that captured Quebec in 1629, and later governor of Newfoundland", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  5. ^ a b c Historical dictionary of Stuart England, 1603-1689 by Ronald H. Fritze p.203 [2]
  6. ^ a b An apprenticeship in arms by Roger Burrow Manning p.119
  7. ^ Ships, money, and politics by Kenneth R. Andrews, p. 150
  8. ^ Parker p. 139
  9. ^ Brown, George William (1966). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto Press. p. 405.
  10. ^ Peltonen: Classical Humanism and Republicanism in English Political Thought, 1570-1640, p. 271