The Imperial raid on the Five Abbeys

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The polyglot imperial army of Spaniards, Germans and Neapolitans arrived before the gates of Pavia on the 2nd of February 1525 and quickly set up camp around an abandoned villa, the Casa de Levrieri, which lay to the east of the city.

Lannoy still feared the strength and reputation of the French armoured knights and their Swiss mercenary allies, so he resorted to a strategy of bombardment. Day after day, the imperial gunners pounded the French positions at the Five Abbeys in an attempt to weaken their defences to the point where De Leyva's garrison could break free of their prison. 

The French responded by trying to move their biggest siege guns to the fortified monasteries in an attempt to pound the imperial camp into the mud, however this operation was thwarted by a timely sortie led by the rebel Duke of Bourbon.

Having failed to capture Marseille the previous year Bourbon was very much out of favour with the emperor but the rebel redeemed much of his honour by destroying a number of French guns.

Despite the successful raid on the Five Abbeys, the situation was becoming critical for the imperials. There was still no money to pay De Leyva's mercenaries inside the city or Frundsberg's relieving force outside Pavia's walls. Worse still for the cautious Lannoy, the emperor was demanding immediateaction.


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