Skip to content
Home » Famous Battles in Medieval History: The Battle of Courtrai

Famous Battles in Medieval History: The Battle of Courtrai

The Battle of Courtrai, also known as the Battle of the Golden Spurs, took place in 1302 when King Philip IV (“The Fair”) sent his army of French knights, supported by crossbowmen and light infantry, to put down an uprising of urban Flemish militias from Bruges and Ghent (now in modern day Belgium). The two armies met on an open field near Kortrijk (in Flanders) on July 11.

The French infantry led the initial attack, and did well, but then were commanded to pull back so that the noble cavalry could claim the victory. The knights charged across the field — the field full of ditches and streams and withdrawing French infantry — and these obstacles slowed their charge, making them easy targets for the Flemish militia. The heavily-armed Flemish infantry slaughtered the onrushing cavalry, killing thousands of French nobles.

Philip the Fair lost his control over Flanders, which — as a result — allied itself more closely with England through economic ties, and this relationship increased the tensions between England and France that would ultimately lead to the Hundred Years’ War.

The Battle of Courtrai gets its name “Battle of the Golden Spurs” from all the golden spurs that were collected from the French knights after the battle.

Additional Reading:

Hilda Johnstone, trans., Annales Gandenses (London: Oxford University Press, 1957); J. F. Verbruggen, The Battle of the Golden Spurs (Courtrai, 11 July 1302): A Contribution to the History of Flanders’ War of Liberation, 1297–1305, ed. Kelly De Vries and trans. David Richard Ferguson (Woodbridge, England: Boydell Press, 2002).


English, Edward D. “Battle of Courtrai.” Encyclopedia of the Medieval World, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
ItemID=WE49&iPin=EMW0392&SingleRecord=True (accessed March 30, 2009).

3 thoughts on “Famous Battles in Medieval History: The Battle of Courtrai”

  1. Funny how random events (such as arrogant nobility storming the field for unearned credit) can change the course of history for centuries to come. Just a different way of stating the “butterfly flaps it’s wings in China” idea I suppose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WordPress Anti-Spam by WP-SpamShield