The Saane, Álvaro de Bazán and the Battle of Muros, 1543
The Saane flagship was a French warship that belonged to the Alabardes fleet led by General De Saane. The “flagship” was called this because it was where the fleet’s command resided, where the commander was found. Its cargo was made up of military supplies and possibly the loot that the fleet had obtained in the ports it had attacked.
At the time, the French General Jean de Clamorgan, Lord of La Saane, was negotiating a large ransom with the residents of the village of Muros under threat of looting the town, as he had down in Laxe, Finisterre and Corcubión. Clamorgan, considered the best French naval officer of the time, demanded 12,000 ducats by putting pressure on with his ships that were in the Bay of Muros, showing a behaviour that was more typical of piracy that of a soldier.
Amid the negotiations, on the 25th July which was St. James’ day, the Spanish fleet led by Álvaro de Bazán, el viejo, entered the estuary. The armada was made up of only 16 ships. Angry with the intentions of Jean de Clamorgan, Álvaro de Bazán rallied his troops with a famous phrase: “Gentlemen !, Spain cannot lose a battle on such an important day! Without reinforcements and outnumbered, we will fight and we will win!”
Bazán rammed the French flagship with the bow of his boat. After the collision, the enemy flagship foundered and Álvaro de Bazán’s boat suffered major damages and the loss of 100 men. After two hours of battle 23 French ships had surrendered and only one managed to escape, though badly damaged, with the main mast broken in two after being hit by a cannon shot. Over three thousand Frenchmen were taken prisoner during the battle, while the Spanish fleet had 300 casualties and five hundred wounded.
The arm of San Guillermo
Álvaro de Bazán lamented that with the collapse of the French flagship most of the loot that the French had obtained in the looting of Laxe, Finisterre and Corcubión also went to the sea. Certainly among the treasures was the venerated relic “the arm of San Guillermo from Finisterre” in its silver reliquary so Álvaro de Bazán could not gain the saint favor returning tehm to the holy church of Santa María.
The Battle of Muros in 1543 made history as the first modern battle of the Atlantic. It was also attended by the son of Don Álvaro, Alvaro de Bazán , who was later known as the Marquis of Santa Cruz and soon became the best admiral of the Spanish Armada of all times.
Meanwhile, Jean de Clamorgan, lord of La Saane, retired for good to his possessions where he wrote a book about wolves hunting, a fate that could be described as ridiculous for who once was the best sailor of the French Navy.
The Saane flagship of Jean Clamorgan is still on the seabed and supposedly also the silver reliquary with the arm of San Guillermo inside it. Their situation and their status are unknown.