Medieval Battles - Battle Of Bouvines 1214 AD
27 July 1214
Bouvines, Northern France between Lille and Tournai
France v England and Welfs, Flanders and Boulogne
For the French: Philip II, King of France, robert II, Count of Dreux, Philip Bishop of Beauvais, Eudes III, Duke of Burgundy
For the English: William, Earl of Salisbury, Emperor Otto IV, Renaud of Boulogne, Ferrand of Flanders
French forces: Difficult to gauge but estimates of vary between 7,500 and 15,000 men.
English forces: Estimated at between 10,0000 and 25,000 men.
Note: The French had slightly more cavalry.
Reason For Battle
Culmination of campaigning by Philip II to gain control of Normandy, Britttany, Anjou, Maine and the Touraine.
Just 3 brief hours on a Sunday
Battle Key Points
Philip II believed that battle would not be joined on a Sunday and his forces were crossing the bridge at Bouvines when Otto attacked his rear. Philip promptly brought all his men back across the bridge and then burnt it to seal off their retreat. Without this prompt action the French forces would have been split and probably decimated.
There were several key points within the battle itself notably when Philip II was unhorsed and had to rely upon his heavy armour to protect him from German foot soldiers. Also when Otto's horse was blinded and died following which Otto fled and the day was lost.
King John of England was down south at La Rochelle having initially drawn Philip out of Paris with a planned pincer movement. However, he then dallied around Nantes and finally retreated south. The pincer plan was good and could well have put an end to the early Kingdom of France. Instead it turned into a glittering victory for Philip II and destroyed the reputation of King John thus paving the way for Magna Carta in June 1215.
The timeline of medieval battles in the 13th century is useful to read in conjunction with this