Kortrijk and The Battle of the Golden Spurs

Kortrijk Travel Blog

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Old city bridge in Kortrijk

Kortrijk lies in the Belgian Province of West Flanders, on the river Leie. Kortrijk dates from Roman times, when it was called Cortoriacum. The city was destroyed by the Normans, and it was rebuilt in the 10th century by Baldwin III, count of Flanders. The town became an important centre of trade and at its height had a population of about 200,000

The river Leie comes from France and enters Kortrijk on the site of the "Broeltorens", two medieval towers that are the only remaining witnesses of the former city fortifications, destroyed in 1684 by the troops of Louis XIV of France. Both towers date from the 12th and 13th century.

The Belfrey in Kortrijk
The region alongside the river Leie, between Kortrijk and the city of Deinze, is known for the flax production. The water of the river has the perfect degree of acidity to water-ret the flax. Kortrijk has devoted an entire museum to this industry, the Museum of Flax and Linnen.

Nowadays, Kortrijk is a very dynamic city of about 80.000 inhabitants with a solid entrepreneurial image and flair. The KULAK University is a local branch of the K.U.L University of Leuven.

The town is encircled by remnants of ancient walls. Located in Kortrijk is a castle, a belfry tower, a 16th-century town hall, the Gothic Church of Our Lady, completed in 1211, which contains a famous Anton Van Dyck painting, "The Erection of the Cross".

The Town Hall at Grote Markt
Also, the typical beguinage is one of the most beautiful in Flanders.

One of the most noteworthy monuments in Kortrijk is the "Maiden of Flanders", the monument erected in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, that took place in Kortrijk on 11th July 1302. Flemish noblemen and Flemish corporations from Bruges and other Flemish cities succeeded in obtaining a (rather bloody) victory over the knights of the French King Philip the Beautiful.

The golden spurs of the defeated knights where hung in the Church of Our Lady of Kortrijk as a sign of triumph by the Flemish. Fact is that this victory over the French ensured the everlasting independence of Flanders towards France.

The Battle of the Golden Spurs was fought on July 11th 1302 near Kortrijk, between the rebellious Flemish towns, led by Bruges, and an army sent by Philip IV of France, who had annexed Flanders in 1301.

Inside the Begijnhof
The French were totally defeated. The spurs taken from the fallen French knights formed so huge a trophy that they gave the battle its name. The victory of the Flemish militia, despite its lack of military skills, put an end to the enduring myth of the invincibility of the knight.

A French explanation of the terrible defeat was immediately given, intended to save the honour and pride of the French nobility; in Flanders the victory was glorified as a just reward for the bravery of the townsmen and the competence of their commanders. Unfortunately there were no impartial witnesses. Any account of the battle must therefore pay careful attention to the personalities of the chroniclers, their nationality, and their political and social leanings, as well as their personal sympathies.

The battle of 1302 between the army of French knights and the rebellious Flemish was the military apex of the rebellion against the attempts by the French kings to annex the County of Flanders.

The golden spurs of the defeated knights where hung in the Church of Our Lady of Kortrijk
At first, King Philip IV of France (1285-1314) succeeded in his attempt by appointing in 1300 Jacques de Châtillon as governor of the County. The Flemish Count Gewijde van Dampierre (1278-1305), and his two sons, had been taken captive by the French. Furthermore, the enormous financial debts of the County towards France, as well as the division among the population between French-oriented citizens and anti-French traders, created a lot of unrest, especially among the artisans in the cities. Certain patricians, however, profited from the situation and the city of Ghent, one of Flanders most powerful industrial centres, did not even answer the call for rebellion against France. This proves that the uprising cannot be seen as a manifestation of nationalistic Flemish feelings, shared by the entire County of Flanders.

The preface of the uprising happened on May, 18th 1302 when Bruges citizens, who had been exiled by the occupying French troops, returned to their city and slaughtered the French garrison.

Inside the Begijnhof
The French king could no longer sit by and watch. The French army headed for Kortrijk and so did the Flemish militia under the command of Willem van Gullik, grandson of Count Gwijde, and Pieter de Coninc, one of the leading Bruges corporation chiefs. Another Flemish military group, under command of Gwijde van Namen, son of the Count, joined them in Kortrijk. The French army marched under the command of Count Robert II of Artesia, one of the leading French knights of his era.

Both armies counted around 10.000 soldiers. The French army consisted mainly of heavily armoured cavalry, whereas the Flemish one consisted mainly of infantry tradesman. On the 9th and the 10th of July the French tried, in vain, to take the city of Kortrijk. A man-to-man battle in the open had become unavoidable.

During the battle, the Flemish had chosen strategic positions, in between little streams and moors on an open plain, called the "Groeningheveld", thus making it difficult for the French cavalry to force a breakthrough.

Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’s Church)
Hindered by the swampy ground, the French knights kept stumbling over their own infantry (and over the other knights). The heavy weapons of the Flemish comleted the job. At the end of the battle, the French army had to flee in all directions, often pursued by the Flemish. Most French captives were simply killed, because, as it seems, the Flemish didn't know the military custom to ask ransom money for a captured knight. Among the trophies were numerous golden spurs from the French knights. These spurs were hung in triumph in the Church of Our Lady in Kortrijk.

The political fallout from Golden Spurs was significant. Dutch became the official language of Flanders, and remains so to this day. Administrative power tipped in favour of artisans and merchants rather than landed nobles. Moreover, a new era dawned as far as warfare was concerned: the military importance and effectiveness of the infantry had been made clear.

Inside the Begijnhof

In the 19th century the commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs became a symbol of the struggle for Flemish recognition in the French-dominated Belgian State (founded in 1830). Furthermore, in 1973 the 11th of July has been declared the official Flemish Celebration Day

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Old city bridge in Kortrijk
Old city bridge in Kortrijk
The Belfrey in Kortrijk
The Belfrey in Kortrijk
The Town Hall at Grote Markt
The Town Hall at Grote Markt
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
The golden spurs of the defeated k…
The golden spurs of the defeated …
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Club Sandwich
Club Sandwich
We had lunch at Restaurant Cesar a…
We had lunch at Restaurant Cesar …
Cesar Salad
Cesar Salad
Grote Markt in Kortrijk seen from …
Grote Markt in Kortrijk seen from…
Beautiful houses at Grote Markt
Beautiful houses at Grote Markt
Beautiful old houses at Grote Markt
Beautiful old houses at Grote Markt
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Entrance to the city Begijnhof
Entrance to the city Begijnhof
The Belfrey in Kortrijk seen from …
The Belfrey in Kortrijk seen from…
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Rntry to the visit cetre
Rntry to the visit cetre
Little bit history about the Begij…
Little bit history about the Begi…
Inside the church at the Begijnhof
Inside the church at the Begijnhof
Inside the church at the Begijnhof
Inside the church at the Begijnhof
Shiplamps
Shiplamps
No it is not a phone booth
No it is not a phone booth
The organ in the church of the Beg…
The organ in the church of the Be…
The had all the old clothes on dis…
The had all the old clothes on di…
Jesus figure
Jesus figure
Sad angel
Sad angel
Another really sad angel
Another really sad angel
Jesus figure
Jesus figure
A bronze statue of the last person…
A bronze statue of the last perso…
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
What a door bell
What a door bell
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Just outside the Begijnhof. In fro…
Just outside the Begijnhof. In fr…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Towards Grote Markt
Towards Grote Markt
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Very modern baptismal font in Sint…
Very modern baptismal font in Sin…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin’…
Sint-Maartenskerk (Saint-Martin…
Towards Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our…
Towards Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Ou…
A statue outside Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe…
A statue outside Onze-Lieve-Vrouw…
A pond with gold fishes outside On…
A pond with gold fishes outside O…
Pond with gold fish - the pond dat…
Pond with gold fish - the pond da…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady’…
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady…
The Leie
The Leie
Kortrijk Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Restaurant Cesar
Restaurant Cesar is situated on the Grote Markt in Kortrijk. The restaurant is a nice and clean in style. We chose it because of its nice white chairs… read entire review
Kortrijk
photo by: lamadude