A GLORIOUS ANNIVERSARY
On May 18, 1302, the good citizens of Brugge ('Bruges') re-entered their city and slaughtered every Frenchman that infested the place.
MAY 18 - THE BRUGES MATINS
[De Brugse Metten]
"In the cold blue of early dawn, as faintly light grew, and languorously chased away the shadows, the sleepy watchers on the gate-tower became aware of a many pointed glittering underneath the aged oaks outside the city gate. First few, then more and more glimmerings made themselves apparent in the grass below the trees. Like pearls, like diamonds, these refractive and almost iridescent dew-born twinkles.... glittered, glimmered, shone, and sparkled, in the pools of dark beneath the ancient branches.
A shaft of light cut through the haze, and the sun finally rose above the ribbon of forest which limned the borders of this world. Light struck the objects near the tree trunks, and rebounded upwards, temporarily blinding the observing guards.
And as the world became bright, the realization dawned on them that only steel reflects so sharply. The city gates swung loudly open. Who did so? Who unbolted that protective portal so early? What Judas lurked within, and so deftly delivered these Leliaerds to a horrible fate?
The mass of armed men in the orchard... then rose as one, and before the French soldiers had a chance of reacting, the wall of Flemish swords was upon them. With glory and valour the nation freed itself of her oppressors, and before the sun had reached its height the streets had been laved with the blood of tyrants. "
[Re-quoted from here: savage joy.]
JULY 11 - THE FIELD OF GOLDEN SPURS
Following the Bruges bloodbath, the king of France, Philip the Fourth, sent an army under the command of Robert of Artois to punish the fractious Flemings and reassert his authority.
The two sides met on a grassy field outside Kortrijk ("Courtrai") on July 11, 1302.
The French forces consisted of armoured cavalry, with crossbowmen, spearmen, and light infantry. A very formidable military by the standards of the age.
The citizens of Flanders had the Goedendag (a club-like short spear), and the Geldon (a long spear).
Robert of Artois first sent his infantry to fight the rebels, then ordered the cavalry to charge the Flemish shield-wall. The knights thundered into the muddy field..... and, as the natives had expected, got bogged down.
The Flemish did not take any prisoners.
Such much decorative martial frippery was stripped from the corpses of French knights that the Church of Our Lady in Kortrijk seemed as if the stars had come down to roost among the pillars with the triumphant tribute and decoration.
But for the fact that civilization won a climactic battle against the forces of darkness and barbarism on this day, there would be little remarkable about the date.
Ale tonight. And boisterous jollification.
Have a happy Golden Spurs day.
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