The Forgotten Battle of Bevershoutsveld, May 3, 1382: Technological Innovation and Military Significance
By Kelly DeVries
Armies, Chivalry and Warfare in Medieval Britain and France: Harlaxton Medieval Studies VII, edited by Matthew Strickland (Paul Watkins Publishing, 1998)
Introduction: All historians can testify, sometimes significant events in history can be overshadowed by other events which, in their time, seem larger or more earth-shaking. Such often happens in military history, when a later victory won on the battlefield or at a siege removes the gravity of an accomplishment by the defeated part at an earlier engagement. (Undoubtedly, Edward I would find it rather odd that a foe which he defeated with relative ease at the battle of Falkirk in 1298 would, nearly seven hundred years later inspire an Academy Award winning film).
Such also is the case with the battle of Bevershoutsveld, fought on 3 May 1382 outside of the town of Bruges between the forces of that town and their rivals from the neighbouring town of Ghent. The Ghentenaars won, but this battle was greatly overshadowed by the succeeding conflict fought at Rosebeke between the Ghentenaars and the young French king, Charles VI. By that time and because the French were the victors at Rosebeke, how the Ghentenaars defeated their Brugeois counterparts at Bevershoutsveld had been forgotten. However, it may have been at Bevershoutsveld where gunpowder weapons first decided the outcome of a battle.
During the years between 1347 and 1379, the country of Flanders had been able to remain relatively neutral in the political and military conflicts which occurred in the more southern portions of France. This neutrality allowed the region to support France politically while being economically dependent on England without interference from either kingdom.
Top Image: Battle of Bevershoutsveld in Froissart’s Chronicles