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(Kortrijk in Flemish), a city in Belgium, on the banks of the Lys River in the province of West Flanders. Population, 45,000 (1971). The site of big linen factories. Courtrai was known in the Middle Ages for its cloth industry.
On July 11, 1302, a battle was fought near Courtrai between a French army commanded by Robert of Artois (10,000 to 12,-000 men) and the Flemish people’s militia commanded by Guillaume of Juliers (13,000 to 20,000 men). After the French conquest of Flanders in 1300, the oppressive administration of the royal governors caused a popular uprising in 1302 (the Bruges Matins). The rebels laid siege to Courtrai, while the royal army approached the city. The Flemish infantry militia took up an advantageous position in front of Courtrai; its flank and rear were covered by the Lys River and its front by the boggy flood valley of the Groeninghebeke. The attack of the mounted knights was repulsed with great slaughter: about 4,000 knights out of 7,500 were killed. Because 700 golden spurs were collected on the battlefield, the battle came to be known as the Battle of the Spurs. It was the first battle in the Middle Ages in which infantry crushed mounted knights; the battle led to the revival of the infantry. The French king Philip IV the Fair was compelled to abandon the conquest of Flanders and to conclude a peace at Athis in 1305.