The Battle of Bouvines, according to the Chronicle of Andres

The very first issue of Medieval Warfare magazine focused on the Battle of Bouvines, one of the most pivotal clashes in French history. Fought on July 27, 1214 in the County of Flanders, this saw King Philip Augustus of France defeat a coalition of enemies including the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV, the counts of Flanders and Holland, the dukes of Brabant, Lorraine and Limburg, as well as English forces from King John.

The Battle of Bouvines from a 15th century manuscript.

There are many sources that offer extensive accounts of the battle. Historians can now access the Chronicle of Andres, written between 1220 and 1234 by William of Andres, the abbot of monastery about a hundred kilometres away from the battlefield. This account does offer some detailed information on the warfare taking place prior to the Battle of Bouvines, which included forces of the Flemish count attacking the area around the monastery.

For the battle itself, the chronicle offers few details. It begins by explaining how the alliance against Philip Augustus was formed by rulers and nobles who “were basely puffed up in foolish glory and also boasted that they would destroy and scatter the kingdom of France and extend their own borders and they egged each other on every day”. Our author even calls Otto the former Holy Roman Emperor on the basis that he had been excommunicated. William then writes:

When the king of France heard of their conspiracy, and while his son was manfully taking action with a large army in Poitou against the king of England, this King Philip did not wait for the Flemish army, but when he had gathered an army of foot and mounted soldiers from France as well as from Champagne and Burgundy, he boldly went more or less outside of the boundaries of his kingdom to the bridge of Bouvines against these men, who were much greater in number. And by God’s arrangement, God who had so many times conferred victory upon him, he captured all those who had recently troubled and fought against this place and the county of Guines, and he brought them back into France as captives with him., along with some princes of Germany. However, Otto, the former emperor, escaped with a few men, and God threw Hugh of Boves down - he had escaped by flight along with the evilly acquired treasury of the king - and drowned him by His just judgment upon the Goodwin Sands outside of the port of Sandwich, when he wanted to return to England. Blessed be the Lord in all things who hands over the impious.

The Chronicle of Andres has been translated by Leah Shopkow and is published by The Catholic University of America Press. Click here to learn more about the book.

You can also learn more about the Battle of Bouvines in Issue 1 of Medieval Warfare magazine. Click here to buy this issue.

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