The Battle of Cassel where French troops stop an uprising of Flemish farmers.
On 23 August 1328, the Battle of Cassel took place near the city of Cassel, 30 km south of Dunkirk in present-day France. Philip VI, King of France from 1328 to 1350 fought Nicolaas Zannekin, a wealthy farmer from Lampernisse. Zannekin was the leader of a band of Flemish independence rebels. The fighting erupted over taxation and punitive edicts of the French over the Flemish. The battle was won decisively by the French. Zannekin and about 3200 Flemish rebels were killed in the battle.
Phillip VI was confident of winning the battle and paying the costs of his army with the plunder. He positioned a force along the Lys river. The Flemish rebels were forced to guard Lille and Tournai. The military forces in Bruges were strengthened to control the Flemish rebels around Ghent. The French army arrived at the Augustinian abbey at Warneton. They aimed to divide the Flemish troops by advancing along the river Leie, forcing the Flemings to cover the approaches from Lille and Tournai. Zannekin, with 6,500–8,000 soldiers, encamped on the higher ground at Cassel approximately 4 km from the French. Nothing happened for about three days. The French tried to exhaust the Flemish rebels and lure them away from their position.
Nicolaas Zannekin captured at the Battle of Cassel. 1885 illustration.
On 23 August, the French soldiers set fire to several villages near Cassel to distract the Flemish but the manoeuvre failed. Zannekin attacked in three divisions. He commanded the division which attacked the French centre. He surprised the French infantrymen and in panic, they fled towards Saint-Omer. The Duke of Lorraine was killed but Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany and the Counts of Bar, Boulogne and Savoy were badly wounded but did not die. The French knights, because it was a very hot day, had removed their armour to rest but under Robert of Cassel they regrouped and attacked the first Flemish division from the rear. The second division was assigned to attack on the left wing to take the Henegouwers, the Dutch and the Frisians. They had little success and were captured or killed. The third division remained in reserve.