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Contemporary maps of 10 sixteenth-century wars


Battle of Saint-Quentin, 1557

S · QVINTINO 1557 or later

Etching with engraving; printed on paper; laid down on two pieces of paper then mounted on paper (Mount Type B); gilt edges to bottom, left and right | 34.0 x 44.8 cm (image and sheet) | RCIN 721023

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A low/medium oblique view of the Battle of St Quentin, fought on 10 August 1557 between the armies of Spain and the Duchy of Savoy, commanded by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy (8 July 1528-30 August 1580) and Lamoral, Count of Egmont (18 November 1522-5 June 1568), and the French, commanded by Anne, Duke of Montmorency (15 March 1493-12 November 1567), resulting in a Spanish victory and also of the siege of St Quentin resulting in the capitulation of the town on 27 August 1557. The last Valois-Habsburg War (1547-1559).

The battle took place on the day of the Feast of St Lawrence, who was burnt on a gridiron for his Christian beliefs. In order to mark the victory, Philip II of Spain ordered the construction of a palace in the shape of a gridiron. Completed in 1584 it was named El Escorial.

The English army, commanded by William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (c.1501-17 March 1570), whose camp can be seen bottom right of this print, did not arrive in time for the battle but played a major part in the capture of the town on 27 August 1557.

This view looks south-east, over the town of St Quentin with the river Somme winding around it. In the background are the massed pike-wielding troops of the French who were attempting to cross the Somme to attack a detachment of the Spanish army in order to relieve St Quentin. Instead, they were routed by the Spaniards, suffering a crushing defeat in which thousands were killed. In the foreground, the encampments of the besieging armies show the pavilions of the King of Spain (to the left), and the Duke of Savoy. The Spanish camps are indicated by the standards flying the cross of St Andrew (this would have been a red cross on a white field). In the low centre foreground is a group of sutlers’ booths and more, labelled ‘Osterie’, are shown above the Duke of Savoy’s tents. The ‘Dvca di Brvnsvick’, named above the troops at the top of the view is probably Henry V, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (10 November 1489-11 June 1568), while the name of ‘Duca Ernesto di Brunsuich’, seen centre of the ride side of the print, between a group of tents and a body of soldiers, probably refers to Ernst III of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen (1518-1567). The munitions wagons are coralled into a circular fortified site just above the tents of ‘Monsieur de Bignecourt / mariscial del campo’.

The dotted upper case letters in each of the blocks of text form a chronogram – a dating device: when they are read as Roman numerals the date of 1557 is produced. This print is the second earliest map example of this device (the earliest is dated 1552). The impression is faint as if the plate had been badly inked, or was worn.

  • Anonymous (cartographer)

  • Watermark: Pascal lamb in circle [on print] [see Woodward nos 46-50]

    Watermark: Cross in circle, three-pointed crown above, the initials [AD] below [on backing paper]

    Condition: one fold line; cropped to the edge of image, no platemarks visible; the print has become detached from the mount along bottom edge; a pressure mark is present along the edges of the mount from a mounted item which was placed above/below this item in a former collection

  • 34.0 x 44.8 cm (image and sheet)

    cropped (platemark)

    40.5 x 54.5 cm (mount)

  • Printed Title:

    S · QVINTINO [top centre, in a banner held at each end by a putto, top centre]

    Printed title:

    Gallorum strages die x Augusti. / Expugnatio Vrbis die XXVII · eiusdem. / M D LVII ·[top centre, in a banner]


    [top left:] De Philippo Catholico Hisp. Angliæ etc. / Rege Inuictiss. Pijssimo et cet. / AD DIVVM LAVRENTIVM · / LVX tVa faVsta pIo, LaVrentI, hInC fert tIbI CLaras / PrIMItIas VICtor rIte PhILIppVs oVans / Augustus docuit quod et hic Augustus in armis, / Cæsaris inuicti est filius, acta probant. [and, top right:] De feliciss.a et gloriosiss.a Illmi et Exmi Philiberti / Sabaudiæ Ducis Victoria. / SoLIs In opposItV et LVnæ DVX Ipse Cohortes / HIC Vna beV VICtas GaLLe SabaVDVs agIt: / Quintini malo erat Quintili mense medendum / Ter nona Augusti hoc experimenta docent.


    George III heading: Battle of S.t Quintin 10. August 1557. Other annotations: (Recto) [bottom right, partly erased, black pencil:] 1557. (Verso) [top, left of centre, on mount, red pencil:] 1/21; [top left, black pencil, erased:] I/24; [top right, black pencil, erased and very faint: S.Quintin?].

    George III catalogue entry:

    Quintin, S.t Representation of the Battle of S.t Quintin on the of August 1557.

  • From the collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-22 October 1657); inherited by his brother, Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo (1606-1689); sold by Carlo Antonio’s grandson to Clement XI, 1703; acquired by Cardinal Alessandro Albani by 1714, from whom purchased by George III in 1762

  • Subject(s)

    Saint-Quentin, Picardie, France (49°50ʹ56ʺN 03°17ʹ15ʺE)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    C. Gomart, ‘Siège et bataille de Saint-Quentin en 1557’, [Extrait des Archives du Nord], Valenciennes, 1850. [BL 9210.d.9.(4.).]

    F.B. Salvadori, Carte, piante e stampe storiche delle raccolte Lafreriane della Bibliotea nazionale di Firenze, Indici e Cataloghi Nuova Serie XI, Rome 1980, no. 146

    M. McDonald, The Print Collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo. Part II, Architecture, Topography and Military Maps, 3 vols, London 2019, cat. no.2656

    R.V. Tooley, ‘Maps in Italian atlases of the sixteenth century, being a comparative list of the Italian maps issued by Lafreri, Forlani, Duchetti, Bertelli and others, found in atlases’, Imago Mundi III, 1939, pp. 12-47, no. 506

    T. Campbell, ‘At the time of writing: a brief acount of chronograms’, The Map Collector 22, Tring 1983 pp. 48-49. This cites three works by James Hilton, published by Elliot Stock between 1882 and 1895: 1) Chronograms 5000 and more in number excerpted from various authors and collected at many places. 2) Chronograms continued and concluded. 3) Chronograms collected – more than 4000 in number. See also, the entry for ‘Chronogramme’ in Larousse Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe siècle, Paris 1869

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