Pau National Castle Museum, P64-25-16 © RMN-Grand Palais / René-Gabriel Ojéda

Battle of Montcontour,
3 October 1569, engraving by Frans Hogenberg

With the advent of the light cavalry and its firearms, a new tactic -the "caracole"- appeared: facing an army arranged in hedgehog defence, two or three companies of riders grouped into a squadron formed six ranks. The first advanced at a trot or slow gallop, discharged its pistols on the enemy soldiers and then withdrew from the front. Each rider turned to the other side and discharged at a gallop to leave place for the second rank. It then withdrew behind the sixth rank to recharge its weapons and continued in this manner until ammunition and horses were exhausted.