Today in the Middle Ages: July 11, 1302

Insurgent Flemish peasants shocked the chivalry of Europe by defeating the occupying French cavalry at Courtrai (modern Kortrijk) on July 11, 1302.

The rebels won the battle by luring the knights onto marshy ground where they had dug pits. When the terrain immobilized the horses, the infantry were able to kill them and their riders at leisure.

Knights and nobles blamed the commanders of the chivalry for the debacle, and most of them were unable to argue the point, being dead. The French thinking was so inflexible that they failed to grasp the tactical lessons of the loss and therefore were unprepared for English infantry tactics in the Hundred Years War.