It became famous because the Ghent army beat a drunken one from the nearby town of Bruges. I am sure it has happened before, but this is the time it was admitted, they were all drunk!
It happened in Belgium on 3 May 1382, on a field between Bruges and Ghent.
This had been building up for nearly three years. Count Louis II of Flanders, their lord, had blockaded the Gent-Oostende canal, the route their goods travelled to the sea. At the same time, Bruges, which was between Ghent and Oostende, was happy to support the Count, they were benefiting financially. Not surprising as they were both rival commercial centres.
Eventually, Ghent had no option but to fight Bruges for access to the sea.
Their chosen day was the day Bruges was celebrating the Procession of the Holy Blood, a religious holiday in Bruges. This meant that the Bruges army arrived in the battlefield having been in the many inns and taverns of the city, and then, it is claimed, that on their way to the battlefield they stopped for a few more, to give themselves that bit more courage!
Once Bruges’ soldiers came into range, Ghent’s mobile artillery fired a volley of several hundred ribauldequins. The ribauldequin was a new weapon, also called an organ gun, it was several small-calibre iron barrels sitting on a platform that fired a shower of iron shot. Immediately, the Bruges army collapsed in confusion and retreated in total disorder.
However, this battle isn’t remembered as a victory over Bruges’ drunken soldiers, it wouldn’t have looked good in history books, no, it has been recorded as one of the first battles in which gunpowder, as a weapon, played a major part.
Isn’t history fun!