October 1524 -February 1525

The main French & Imperial positions during the siege and counter siege of Pavia

Battle Map Key

The French besiegers ringed Pavia with trenches and built gun emplacements in the five large monasteries that straddled the main road to the imperial camp at Lodi, twenty miles to the east. The villages guarding the western and southern approaches to Pavia were also fortified but Francis established his main camp in the diamond shaped, walled deer park that lay to the north of the city

The large and unruly baggage train that accompanied every renaissance army was lodged in the centre of the deer park close to the hunting lodge known as the Castel Mirabello. With such comfortable quarters on hand, most of the aristocratic French captains chose to lodge at Mirabello but the king preferred to be with main body of his army which was encamped by the deer park's north western gate.

Though the French outnumbered the imperials by almost six to one the siege of Pavia dragged on through the months of October, November and December 1524 and into January 1525. All the while, the French army was being weakened by cold and disease but the imperial garrison inside the city also had problems. 

Though the city had plenty of food and ammunition, the Spanish commander was running out of money to pay his landsknecht mercenaries. Shortly after Christmas, the desperate De Leyva had resorted to requisitioning gold and silver plate from Pavia's churches but this source of cash was soon exhausted and his men began threatening to throw open the gates to the French unless they were paid. Far away in Madrid, the emperor Charles V was also growing impatient and demanded to know why the imperial commander-in-chief, the Flemish Count of Lannoy, was doing to nothing to raise the siege.

Despite having an army of 15,000 men sitting idle in Lodi, a city which was less than two days march from Pavia, Lannoy protested that he did not have enough men to relieve the garrison. In reply, the emperor ordered the legendary mercenary captain Georg von Frundsberg to raise a new army of landsknechts to help relieve Pavia and drive the French out of Northern Italy once and for all. The loyal Frundsberg wasted no time in recruiting 20,000 battle hardened veterans of The Italian Wars and he crossed The Alps in the middle of winter. Frundsberg arrived in Lodi at the end of January 1525 yet it required the personal intervention of the emperor to force Lannoy to march on Pavia.


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