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The most important battle you've probably never heard of
July 26, 2014 7:54 PM   Subscribe

The Battle of Bouvines was fought 800 years ago on July 27, 1214 and its outcome directly led to the Magna Carta and also to the national identities of both England and France. Some historians claim this date should be remembered after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 as one of the defining moments in English history. King John attempted to retake lands in Normandy employing an alliance army including Otto of Germany. John attacked from the south, but more importantly Otto was decisively defeated at Bouvines. Humiliated in defeat John was forced to consent to the Magna Carta, and the Anglo-Norman realm came to a final end allowing both England and France to develop their separate national identities. More background.
posted by caddis (14 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Looks like the French cowed down the English at the Battle of Bouvines and we should all beef thankful.
posted by Renoroc at 8:21 PM on July 26 [7 favorites]


Poor John Lackland. I always think of him as the spotty, helpless youth from A Lion In Winter. Figures he'd stuff it all up in the end.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 8:46 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


ONE OF MY ANCESTORS WAS AT THE SIGNING OF THE MAGNA CARTA!!!!

...He helped take care of the horses. Or says the document my relative who is into genealogy dug up somehow. It's some list of attendees and includes like "and put in charge of the stables was Baron Stuffy's groom, one Joe Furillo." Now that I type that it seems obviously made up sort of the way there were nine million people at Woodstock. Whatever, King John ain't gonna correct me.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:24 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


Wait... failures executing a war using mercinaries instead of native troops can lead to Democracy?

We're due for a Renaissance any second now. ;-)
posted by MikeWarot at 10:02 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Interesting, but it seems more like one important battle in the lengthy and complicated history of the Angevin cross-channel domain, which still had a couple of centuries to run.

Being one of the things that helped create the preconditions for Magna Carta hardly puts it in the same league as 1066.
posted by Segundus at 10:36 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


1066 is just an expedition by some aristocrat to settle a dynastic dispute. It did help bring some backward parts of Europe into the mainstream, but it doesn't have the same impact as the start of the Hohenstaufen Empire and the solid establishment of the Capetians.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:43 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


the start of the Hohenstaufen Empire and the solid establishment of the Capetians

The Mongol conquest of China was a pretty big thing, too, but I wouldn't call any of them defining moments in English history.
posted by Segundus at 12:27 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Cool, I had not heard of this battle.

Can I claim eponysterical on my own comment?
posted by bouvin at 1:30 AM on July 27 [5 favorites]


"1066 is just an expedition by some aristocrat to settle a dynastic dispute. It did help bring some backward parts of Europe into the mainstream, but it doesn't have the same impact as the start of the Hohenstaufen Empire and the solid establishment of the Capetians."
posted by Monday, stony Monday

Yeah because nothing happened in England at all after 1066, we lived in tranquillity and peace for a thousand years.

FTA:

Magna Carta outlined basic rights with the principle that no one was above the law, including the king.

It inspired a number of other documents, including the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Only three clauses are still valid - the one guaranteeing the liberties of the English Church; the clause confirming the privileges of the city of London and other towns; and the clause that states that no free man shall be imprisoned without the lawful judgement of his equals

The British Library has two copies of the 1215 Magna Carta

Unfortunately we now have arbitrary detention without trial, so even Magna Carta has been overturned.
posted by marienbad at 2:47 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


The Battle of Bouvines was fought 800 years ago

And in 1889, the Peace of Humus broke out, ending the Hundred Years War against the Cows.

This all took place, of course, in history -- y' know before they changed the water.
posted by Herodios at 5:35 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


"Holy Mudhead, mackerel! Morse Science High, it’s ... disappeared!"
posted by valkane at 5:56 AM on July 27


Way cool.
posted by Jeff Dewey at 5:28 PM on July 27


I think most historians would say Bouvines is important, but would also say something like it was inevitable because England was not strong enough to hold the Angevin Empire together, for various internal reasons. France's conquest was inevitable and John's role probably less important. Bouvines may have been a proximate cause of the Magna Carta but the Barons were going to revolt eventually anyway because England was too weak to maintain its empire.
posted by stbalbach at 7:59 PM on July 27


Interesting nugget from Wikipedia about William of Salisbury, who led some of the English forces against the French:

He died not long after his return to England at Salisbury Castle. Roger of Wendover alleged that he was poisoned by Hubert de Burgh. He was buried at Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.

William Longespée's tomb was opened in 1791. Bizarrely, the well-preserved corpse of a rat which carried traces of arsenic was found inside his skull. The rat is now on display in a case at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.
posted by e1c at 9:39 AM on July 28


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