Set up of the armies
The French army arrives July 8th at Courtrai. They put up their camp south of the town and
during the next two days, they try to attack the town. These efforts fail however and an open battle on the field is unavoidable.
The Flemish camp stands north of the town. The French defenders of the royal castle point to a field east of town as a s
In the French camp a war council is held. Some bannerlords have serious doubts on a direct
frontal attack. They prefer to wait to defy the Flemings to attack themselves, thus exhausting and dispersing them. The terrain
is not favourable for a charge on horseback. The majority of the French lords however wish to hold up their honour and attack,
in order to teach that pitiful army of artisans and farmers a good lesson.
Early in the morning of July 11th 1302 the French army starts to form up for the battle. The ten
battles are formed into three bigger units. Two units are made up of three battles, they are the attack forces. The third unit of
two battles will stay in reserve.
The Flemish camp too starts her preparations for the battle. Three big units line up at some distance
of the two brooks that separate the two armies of each other. These are respectively the people from Bruges, the people from
West-Flanders and the people of East-Flanders. The reserves are the people from Ypres, who guard the back of the army against
the royal castle, and finally the men of John of Renesse.
Line up of the armies on the Groeninge field.
|W: West-Flanders and Bruges Freeland
||NT: Nesle and Trie
|R: Reserve (Renesse)
||P: Saint-Pol and Boulogne
|Aligned dots: Crossbow shooters and other footsoldiers
Both armies line up early in the morning. The men confess their sins to priests and the army leaders
give speeches with instructions. The Flemish army is forbidden to take any booty from the battlefield, and they are forbidden to make
any prisoners. That last thing was very unusual in medieval warfare. It meant that the battle would be fought in a fierce way without
any mercy. The Flemings fought for their freedom and to protect their lives. They too had to expect no mercy of the French if they
would loose the battle.
Finally in the Flemish camp some forty people are knighted, among who Pieter de Coninck and two
of his sons. The armies are ready, the men are prepared,… Just before noon the battle brakes loose.