The battle of Vlaardingen is a fairly obscure example of a type of battle that occurred from time to time during the Middle Ages, in which a highly regarded mainstream feudal army was defeated unexpectedly by an un-regarded opponent. It happened in the same Low Countries setting as the battle of Courtrai of 1302, a more famous later example, but on this occasion the victorious Frisians benefited from the victory rather more than the Flemish managed after Courtrai.
The articles on the theme start with a look at the rise of the Ottonian kings of Germany, the dynasty that replaced the Carolingians in the eastern part of Charlemagne’s empire. We then move on to a look at the battle itself, between an Ottonian Royal Army under Duke Godfrey III of Lower Lotharingia and Count Dirk III of Frisia, including a look at the aftermath, in which Count Dirk managed to negotiate a stable peace treaty, establishing his family as the rulers of what became Holland. Finally there is a look at the Frisian militia, the most important part of the Count’s army, and a much more professional force than its Ottonian opponents realised.
Away from the theme there is a look at what late Medieval people meant by chivalry, through the eyes of the authors of a near contemporary biography of Duke Louis II of Bourbon, a French leader during one of their periods of success in the Hundred Years War. There is a look at the warrior saints of the Middle Ages, who were used to give spiritual justification for many of the wars of the period. There is a brief look at the equipment of a soldier of c.1000, the start of a series of similar articles that should build up nicely. Rather well timed is a look at knife crime in Medieval London, making it clear that the city is much safer now than it was then. Next is a look at the burial of warriors of uncertain origin Lutomiersk in Poland, attempting to find where they came from. Finally there is a look at the medieval use of deception in warfare, a constant theme in chronicles of the period, but often ignored in the past by historians who believed that there was little subtlety to medieval warfare.
The rise of the Ottonians - Origins of the German empire
The battle of Vlaardingen - the powerful don’t always prevail
The Frisian militia system - No rabble at Vlaardingen
Further reading - Books and articles about the Ottonians
The good duke - A personal golden age of chivalry
The warrior saints - A heavenly assist on the battlefield
The millennium warrior - With helmet, shield and spear
The dagger in medieval London - ‘But he bear a basilard’
Lutomiersk unveiled - The buried warriors of Poland
The virtue of cunning - Prudence and the medieval military ruse