Book Review: The Golden Spurs of Kortrijk: How the Knights of France Fell to the Footsoldiers of Flanders in 1302


by Randall Fegley

Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2002. Pp. x, 242. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00 paper. ISBN: 0786413107

Kortrijk, more commonly known in English as Courtrai, nicknamed “The Battle of the Spurs” from all the knights slain, was one of a handful of battles during the high Middle Ages in which infantry defeated cavalry.

In this volume, Prof. Fegley (Berks-Lehigh Valley College), gives us a modern treatment of the battle, certainly the first in English in about a century. He opens the book by setting the cultural, social, economic, political, and military background that led to the confrontation between Flemish burgers and French knights.  His account of the actual battle on June 11, 1302, is relatively short, compared to the overall size of the volume, but clear and concise.  Fegley then goes on to examine the results of the battle, both short term and long term, even to how it has been, and continues to be, commemorated.  Along the way, Fegley addresses the question of the gaedendag, the curious weapon -- a sort of stout staff with a conical spear point -- that was wielded by the Flemish burgers who defeated the French chivalry. 

A worthwhile read for anyone interested in the Middle Ages, the revival of infantry, or the interrelationship of culture, politics, and war.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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