Tag Archives: France
On 11th July 1302. outside of the Flemish city of Courtrai, an army of weavers, dyers, fishermen, and carpenters defeated the finest knightly army in Western Europe. It was Philippe the Fair’s arrest of his vassal Guy de Dampierre, Count of Flanders, and the poor leadership of his governor Count Jacques of St Pol, that sparked the revolt known as the Bruges Matins where the commoners massacred 120 French soldiers.
Actually, only seven. In France, 14th July, Bastille Day, is a national holiday and a glorious national symbol, equivalent to 4th July in the United States of America. From the rousing paintings of the scene, you might think hundreds of proud revolutionaries flooded into streets waving tricolours. In fact, only just over half a dozen people were being held at the time of the siege.
The Chateau de Joux, high in the mountainous region of Franche-Comté close to the Swiss border, was one of the great state prisons of France, along with the Bastille and the Chateau d’If (described by Dumas in The Count of Monte-Cristo). The huge fortress dates back nearly 1,000 years, its medieval walls augmented by Charles V, Vauban and finally by the young Joffre as engineer officer.