Battle of Saint-Mathieu, 1512

The Cordelière (foreground) and the Regent burning during the battle. Contemporary illustration, original in the collection of the Mary Rose Trust.

Location Pointe Saint-Mathieu, Iroise Sea, Atlantic Ocean

Part of the War of the League of Cambrai, the Battle of Saint-Mathieu occurred when an English fleet of twenty-five warships engaged an allied Franco-Breton fleet of twenty-two near Brest, France. The allied fleet was at anchor when the English ambushed them, and was forced to scramble to get into action, cutting anchor cables and hurriedly deploying sails. The English failed to capitalize on their ambush, and most of the allied fleet was able to escape into Brest, while the Breton flagship Marie la Cordelière and the Petite Louise made a counter attack to hold them off. Marie was surrounded by the English flagship Regent, with the Sovereign and Mary James, while Louise was engaged by the Mary Rose. Mary Rose completely outgunned the Petite Louise, which was forced to retreat. Marie la Cordelière made to grapple and board the Regent, which received reinforcements from the other English ships. However, Marie's magazine exploded, taking both her and Regent down with massive loss of life. Of about 1,250 aboard Marie la Cordelière, there were twenty survivors. Regent had sixty survivors of her 460 strong crew. While the battle was a minor English victory, the loss galvanized the alliance between Brittany and France which had only recently been joined by a political marriage, and were not yet part of one country.