** decisive medieval battles : Bouvines

Decisive Medieval Battles: Battle of Bouvines (1214)

Figure 1.--This painting about the Battle of Bovines (1214) was painted in 1827 by Émile Jean-Horace Vernet. It dhows the French barons renewing their loyalty to King Philip II Augustus. Put your cursor on the image to see the King's white Arabian stalliom and Moorish attendant at the right.

The Battle of Bouvines is one of the most decisive medieval European battles. The French King Philip II Augustus defeated an impressive international coalition led by the Holy Roman emperor Otto IV and King John of England supported by the French vassals-Ferdinand (Ferrand) of Portugal, count of Flanders, and Renaud (Raynald) of Dammartin, count of Boulogne. Despite its importance, the battle is not as well knon in English-language histories. Unlike other major battles of the period like Agincourt or a Crecy only history professors and history buffs are aware of it. Perhaps because the English played such a minor role and did not win. This was not of course not the plan. The campaign was planned by John to gain a great victory over the French king and egain the the lost Angevin lands (Normandy and Anjou). He had raised taxes to an inprecedent level to finance an army. John's plan was to land ith the English Army in western France, stir up revolts in the southn (Aquitaine and Anjou) against the French monarchy. This was desined to draw the French away from Paris and southward towards the English who were to keep the French occupied. The larger coalition army, under Emperor Otto IV, would then march on Paris from the north. John landed, but his German allies in the north did mot move a rapidly as planned. John after two indecisive engagements with the French, retired to the security of Aquitaine (July 3). Otto stopped his advance at Valenciennes. Philip II sensing an opportunity, marched northward and secided to strike the Imperial army. He maneuvred fo good good ground for his cavalry. The battle took place on a plain east of Bouvines and the river Marque (July 27). The French were able to fight the Grrmans without support from the English who remained in the south. The fight might be called a battle royal of armored knights. There were casualties on both sudes. It was finally decided, in the center where Otto was almnost killed, but fled the battle. Bouvines is just as important as England's later great victories against the Frenchover the French, actually more imprtant. Ferrand and Renaud were captured and imprisoned. King John of England was forced to sign the Magna Carta by his discontented barons. Philip was able to take control of most of the territories in France that had belonged to England, Otto's maternal uncle and ally. Otto as a result, was deposed and replaced by Frederick II Hohenstaufen.It sealed the fate of the Holy Roman Empire, ensuring that iut bwould never develop into a Grrman natioin state during the medieval era. In contrast it marked the emergence of the French monarchy and sent it on the trajectory of divine-right rule. Although the English were not a major factor, it cemented the separtion of Normandy and Aquatania from the Englih crown. It also led to the Magna Carta and the end of absolute monarchy in England.


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Created: 5:31 AM 6/2/2021
Last updated: 5:31 AM 6/2/2021