January 18, 2013

"French control over Flanders steadily increased until 1302 when an attempt at total annexation by Philip IV met a stunning defeat.."

"... when Count Guy (who had the support of the guilds and craftsmen) rallied the townspeople and humiliated the French knights at the Battle of the Golden Spurs."

It looked something like this:



That was long ago in the place that we call Belgium... our "History of" country today.

45 comments:

rhhardin said...

Think of it all as setting up who gets the rent-seeking profits.

ampersand said...

Monochromed and a few eyeballs on the same side of the head and that tapestry would look like a medieval Guernica.

campy said...

According to the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, "Belgium" is the rudest word in the Universe.

Maguro said...

So the Belgians didn't waffle?

CWJ said...

The low countries would not exist today if the United Kingdom was not permanently afraid of an invasion threat being assembled out of view from the channel. So add that to French, German, Hapsburg/Spanish competition and you get a pair of buffer states. One of which The Netherlands actually has some reason to exist, and the other Belgium does not.

If I'm repeating Wikipedia, my apologies. If I'm not welllllll.

ampersand said...

When You're a Walloon You're a Walloon all the way. From your first cigarette. To your last dyin' day.

Fandor said...

IF it's Tuesday it must be Belgium...

The Drill SGT said...

My small experience is in the Flemish areas which are hard working business folks. The Walloons tend to be unionist, burocrats or long term unemployed. There is a cash flow from North to South...

edutcher said...

The Flemings have a reputation for voluptuousness; witness painters like Rubens.

But Belgium is another of those made-up countries like Austria on the way to someplace else.

Methadras said...

I feel bad for the horse.

kentuckyliz said...

Well then, isn't it suitable for EU HQ!

Like the brewing style.

kentuckyliz said...

Art: Peasants with Pitchforks.

And Pikes.

Sam L. said...

And big clubs.

Phil 3:14 said...

The phlegms

ironrailsironweights said...

French fries with mayonnaise.

Peter

sydney said...

Belgium always makes me think of this.

YoungHegelian said...

Those Belgians make pretty good genteel anarchists.

I think they've got themselves some sort of governance now.

Chip Ahoy said...

Belgium always makes me think of their sheepdogs. They did the best in developing dogs. So nimble, graceful, engaging, enthusiastic intelligent, alert, and beautiful, fun and exceedingly trainable.

Honestly, you have merely to make a suggestion.

They herd things. Like children. And they look to your every move for a signal. Any signal.

There is one frame for them but four distinct coat types that make them look like four different breeds entirely. But they're not, they're the same.

And they're sweet. One will come by and sit next to you quietly and unobtrusively and you'll find yourself reaching down to pet its little head and your fingertips feel the surprisingly silken coat they linger there fiddling longer than the usual 'hey there' dog petting session and you find yourself unable to extract your hand. You're done for. Your job henceforth for the rest of the night is to pet the dog..

LuAnn Zieman said...

I spent a few days in Brussels several years ago. A friend and I stayed at the Sheraton downtown. I was approached by a drug dealer in front of the hotel, managed to take a wrong turn and ended up walking with the street walkers, and then got lost in the Muslim section while looking for the famous Mannekin Pis. I felt as if I were in a foreign country within a foreign country--very uncomfortable. Finally found the little fellow, though.

betamax3000 said...

"French control"

"humiliated"

Ann will not let spanking fade.

chuck said...

Poor horsey. The use of clubs is interesting, perhaps they were effective against mail armor.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

My favorite Belgian is Hercule Poirot, who uses zee leetle gray cells to fight crime.

Toy

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Tintin and Snowy were also from Belgium.

Toy

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

And Audrey Hepburn! Throw in waffles, chocolate, and the Belgian draft horse, and Belgium begins to seem indispensable!

Toy

As my whimsy leads me.. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
m stone said...

History as portrayed by Picasso.

betamax3000 said...

This makes me think of the 60s art film "I am Curious (Waffle)."

Belgiam man: "I love you waffle-waffle, I love you tasty waffle."

Belgian woman: "You're not wearing pants."

Belgian man: "I love you sugar waffle."

Wally Kalbacken said...

Yeah, the French knights took it on the chin worse than the Packers against the 49'rs in the second half.

betamax3000 said...

Old German joke that explains everything:

"If a French woman had no purpose she'd be Belgian."

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

This is still the best take-down of modern Belgium I've seen: link

traditionalguy said...

Belgian carpets are the best carpets. The Persians and the Chinese are second rate.

Weaving is a great part of Belgium heritage. But now Belgians weave spider webs of EU regulations for carpet bombing businesses they want to stop from competing.

The British are about top blow the whistle on the EU's spider web weaving scam.

David said...

The Belgiques are pretty smug these days, center of European bureaucracy and do gooding etc. If they get on your nerves while telling you how screwed up America is, just say Africa-Africa-Africa.

David Davenport said...

Poor horsey. The use of clubs is interesting, perhaps they were effective against mail armor.

The townspeople used clubs because they didn't have swords. Brave po' folks standing up to the higher tech military. At least that's the message the painter -- or is this image a tapestry? -- wants to send.

I can't figure out those wheels in the lower right. I'm pretty sure the wheels are not meant to signify chariots, which Middle Ages Europeans did not use. I suspect that the wheels are supposed to indicate carts and wagons pulled together in a defensive line or circle.

Quaestor said...

As usual Wikipedia must be taken as somewhat less than authoritative.

While it is true that the Battle of the Golden Spurs was a reverse for Philip IV, it by no means signaled the end of French influence in Belgium, nor was it a high-water mark of French influence. Within a century almost the whole of modern Belgium and Luxembourg was under the direct rule of the House of Valois-Burgundy, a cadet branch of the regnant French dynasty. This is why the Flemish language (a dialect of Low German) is rarely heard in francophone Flanders today.

Furthermore, the Burgundian domination of Belgium was not the last instance of French influence. By 1500 the Flemish territories had passed into the orbit of the Hapsburgs, who kept it in whole or in part as the "Spanish Netherlands" until wars of Louis XIV finally returned at least part the area to French domination under the House of Bourbon (the northern portion became the United Provinces, i.e. Holland, under the House of Orange). During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic epoch Belgium (unknown by that name until the Revolutionaries so named it in honor of the native Gaulish tribe defeated by Caesar) seesawed between nominal independence (the Belgic Republic) and formal annexation.

David Davenport said...

Bruges-1301

Pieter de Conick, a weaver disgruntled under the French rule becomes a inspiring speaker to the common people, inducing them and the artisans to defend their rights. He is arrested by the patricians for inciting rebellion, but the people who love him, march onto the prison to free him. Jacques de Chatillion, governor of Flanders, quickly orders a small band to quell the peasants. The De Liebaarts are unable to defend the town and the French strip the citizens of all their rights and privileges.

March 1302

The taxes are reintroduced, and now the people are furious, chasing out the opulent De Leliaarts of the city. de Chatillion descends on the town, but the city of Bruges erupts in violence, the townspeople slaughtering any French citizens they can find, shouting the Flemish phrase of "Schild en Vriend" (shield and friend), and any who could not pronounce it were killed. Roughly 800 people were killed and 90 knights captured, de Chatillion escaping.

The Battle

Philip IV responded by sending Count Robert II of Artois, who had defeated the Flemish in their previous uprising. The Flemish forces consisted mainly of militiamen, trained extensively and well equipped, with a few knights who had remained loyal to Count Guy. They were armed with the Goedendag, a club/spear with some debate about its use. It seems that it could be used to stake into the ground on the first line, with the successive lines using it to hammer the stuck knights. As well as the Goedendag they used a long spear known as the geldon.

The staging grounds were around Courtrai, an area with plentiful ditches and streams which would provide a challenge for the vaunted French cavalry. The archers from both sides exchange fire but with little success, and so the French infantry is sent in. The French infantry fight well, but Robert II of Artois wants the victory to belong to the noble French cavalry and so recalls the infantry, whilst advancing his cavalry across the brooks of the region, which impede the charge.

Nevertheless, the French cavalry charge begins, the banners flying, the scraping and jingling sounds of steel, the thunder of the hooves, the battlecries of the chargers as they descend upon their foes. It is far from inexorable though and the knights slam into the Flemish shields, holding firm. The few knights that break through are taken further into the Flemish lines and butchered, surrounded on all sides by merciless Flemish soldiers.

There was no care for the conventional ransom taking of knights, and so the Flemish fell upon the hapless nobles with furious abandon, driving spears through the weak points in the knights armour, smashing skulls and hacking those who fell from horse. It is brutal and unforgiving, and even the French commander, Robert II of Artois, is surrounded and killed. A folk legend states that the French soldier begged for his life, but heard the reply "We do not understand French" and killed him.

Hearing of the loss of their commander, the French forces retreated, pursued by the Flemish. Many famed Frenchmen were killed, including the Constable of France, Raoul of Clermont-Nesle, as well as two Marshals of France (Guy I of Clermont and Simon de Melun), plus numerous counts and nobles, the chief advisor to Philip IV, Pierre de Flotte also perishing.

The name of the battle comes from the amount of golden spurs that littered the battlefield afterwards from all the dead chevaliers. The spurs were taken by the Flemish and were hung in a church, and the day of the battle July 11th, is celebrated as a holiday still by the Flemish community.


http://www.historum.com/medieval-byzantine-history/23700-battle-golden-spurs.html

Harold said...

A Belgian commander got tired of the 8infighting in his company. He called them to assembly, and to make a point ordered, "All right, all the Flemish, line up to the right, all the Walloons to the left!" One man remained standing in the center.

The commander walked up to him, and said loudly to all the company, "So, there is only one Belgian among us. Son, what's your name?' "Private Goldschmidt, sir!"

EMD said...

And Audrey Hepburn! Throw in waffles, chocolate, and the Belgian draft horse, and Belgium begins to seem indispensable!


Add In Bruges and Duvel to that list.

furious_a said...

Belgium, know affectionately to the Germans as "the Gateway to France".

Where was all that Flemish elan when those German glider troops dropped on Eban Emael?

Mitch H. said...

Belgium is no more Flanders than the Netherlands are Holland. In both cases, their most well-known and most important constituent entities get conflated with the larger confederation or agglomeration. This is the characteristic of European states without a strong common sense of nationalism, or a late-blooming sense. They are still the feudal and early-modern statelets that they were, in a subcutaneous fashion, under the skin.

Belgium is a late-arriving concept, as others have said, even the name comes out of French Revolutionary-era republican imperial terminology. Before then, the area was called various things, the Austrian Netherlands, the Spanish Netherlands, Burgundy, and so forth. This area, along with the Rhineland and other former parts of lost Burgundy to the east, were the debatable lands upon which the contestants for European unity fought their feudal and imperial wars of modernity.

In a strictly regional sense, the statelets of Belgium were the remnants, the left-overs, that which was left when the Calvinist statelets of the north consolidated and formed a peculiar, particularist sort of religious nationalism. The Calvinists and other Reformationists of the southern statelets were not in a position to control politics, may have been outnumbered by the Catholics, and at any rate were re-converted or driven into exile by the Counter-Reformation. The statelets of the south became colonials, first of Hapsburg Spain, then for periods of time traded back and forth between imperious Bourbon France and imperial Hapsburg Austria.

After the failure of French republicanism and the crushing of French empire, the princes resolved the ongoing problem of the colonial lands on the north flanks of defeated France by creating a new princedom and taking the piece off the board, as much as they could.

The only surprise is how long the peace lasted for little Belgium, that it did not become a battlefield in 1870. Events reverted to form in 1914.

sydney said...

I can't figure out those wheels in the lower right.

I thought those were barrels, put there as barracades.

It is remarkable that men on foot were able to beat men on horse. I wonder if the horses got mired in the mud?

LuAnn Zieman said...

Sydney--Horses do get mired in mud. They can easily break leg bones trying to get through it, also. I attended a rodeo in Tucson, AZ a few years back, at which machinery was brought in to move the mud that had resulted from a major downpour. The purpose was to save the horses' legs. But probably horses in war were expendable anyway.

who-knew said...

Horses in war were no more expendable than an M-1 tank. Losses were expected but that's not the same as expendable. Also, despite its artificiality and being the home of the EU, if its continued existence is necessary to keep the beer from becoming French, ...LONG LIVE BELGIUM!

Mitch H. said...

My understanding was that as you get deeper into modernity, the more expendable horses get in warfare, and the less expendable the foot soldier gets. For instance, cavalry units in the American Civil War seemed to leave a trail of dead horses like a snail leaves a trail of snot. But horses are appallingly expensive to raise in terms of acres of pasture or grain grown. Bushel for bushel, infantry made a hell of a lot more sense for most Western militaries. Also, even at the height of the domination of knighthood, a disciplined body of infantry could stand off any body of cavalry in Europe. Horses just don't like to charge solid lines of spearheads, or even walls of a certain height. It was only on the move that cavalry could deal with infantry.

But late Medieval military history is just full of climactic battles like Poiters, Crecy, Agincourt and the above-described battle of the Golden Spurs. The thing was, those crushing defeats of the flower of French nobility were eventually overturned by long years of slow-moving siege warfare, usually by mercenary companies hired by the chastened survivors of said wasted French nobility. Until *their* children or children's children forgot that the chaisons weren't actually military how-to manuals, and repeated the cycle.

Emmster said...

@Quaestor
"This is why the Flemish language (a dialect of Low German) is rarely heard in francophone Flanders today."

Hardly. Flemish is spoken by over 50% of the Belgian population. While French is the dominant language in officially bilingual Brussels, it IS the dominant language in Belgium.