Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

The French Take Courtray

After gaining victory at Rosebecque, the king of France marches on Courtray.

Book II, ch. 125. On the Friday the king dislodged from Rosebecque, on account of the stench of the dead: he was advised to advance to Courtray to refresh himself. The Haze and some knights and squires who well knew the country, mounting their horses, entered the town of Courtray full gallop; for there was not any opposition made. The women, both rich and poor, and many men also, ran into cellars and churches to save themselves, so that it was a pitiful sight. Those who came first to Courtray gained considerably by the pillage. The French and Bretons next came there, and lodged themselves as they entered. The king of France made his entry the first day of December.

A strict search was now made of the town for the Flemings who had hid themselves, an no man was admitted to mercy, for the French hated them as much as they were hated by the townspeople, on account of a battle which had formerly been fought before Courtray, when the count Robert d'Artois and all the flower of the French nobility were slain. The kind had heard that there was in a chapel of the Virgin in Courtray five hundred gilt spurs, which had belonged to the knights of France who had perished at the battle of Courtray in the year 1302, and that the inhabitants every year kept a grand solemnity, by way of triumph, for the success of this battle. He declared he would make them pay for it; and, on his departure, would give up the town to fire and flame; so that they should remember, in times to come, that the king of France had been there.

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