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THE BATTLE OF THE SPURS
PHILIP IV. the Handsome, although only seventeen when he
succeeded his father, Philip III., was of a cold cruel,
and calculating nature. After marrying an heiress, and
thereby still further enlarging his estates, he began
to covet the provinces of Guienne in the south of
France, and Flanders in the north.
Guienne belonged to Edward I., King of England, so a
quarrel which arose between some French and English
seamen offered the necessary pretext to begin a war
 Throughout this struggle, Philip continually sent help
to the Scotch, who were then fighting against the
English king, while Edward tried to pay him back by
making trouble for him in flanders.
The King of France, however, was clever enough to
attract the Count of Flanders to Paris, lock him up and
keep him a prisoner until he was ready to do whatever
his master wished. But, when released, the count tried
to avenge himself for this treatment; so Philip,
marching against him, besieged his city of Lille
(leel). When it finally surrendered, the war came to an
end, and it was arranged that while the main part of
Flanders should henceforth belong to Philip, Guienne
should remain in the hands of the English.
To seal this peace, two royal marriages were agreed
upon, one of them being between Edward's son and
Philip's daughter Isabella. This marriage was, in time,
to cause great trouble for France, but just then no one
dreamed that it could ever make any difference to the
country, for the king, besides his fair daughter, had
three stalwart sons to continue his race.
Philip IV. was well pleased with his new estates in
Flanders, where the cities were rich and plenty
reigned. Even the wives of common burghers dressed with
such magnificence that the queen was heard to remark
one day in a very jealous tone, "Until now, I had
thought that I was the only queen, but I see here more
than six hundred!"
The customs and fashions of those days were very
different from what they are now; we are told, for
instance that even at court parties it was customary
gentle-  man to eat off the plate of the lady beside him. Ladies
then wore very high headdresses richly bejeweled, while
the gentlemen were noticeable mainly on account of
their shoes, with pointed toes which curved upward and
wre fastened to their knees by little gilt chains.
Philip left a French governor in charge of his newly
won estates, but this man was so grasping and
tyrannical that he soon provoked a revolt, which broke
out in the town of Bruges (broo'jez) one day just as
matins were being rung. Before the bells had fairly
ceased their chimes, three thousand Frenchmen lost
their lives, for the "Matins of Bruges" (1302) are
considered as fatal as the "Sicilian Vespers."
When the news of this massacre reached court, the
French promptly armed to punish Flanders, and Philip
set out at the head of large forces to meet the enemy
at Courtrai (koor-trĕ', 1302). There the famous
encounter known as the "Battle of Spurs" was fought.
The French knights, seeing nothing but common soldiers
before them, spurred on in such eager haste to attack
and destroy them, spurred on in such eager haste to
attack and destroy them, that they failed to notice a
deep ditch lying between them and the foe. Their
horses, plunging madly into this gap, threw disorder in
the ranks, and the enemy, standing on the opposite
bank, easily slew them while they were trying to
scramble out of this awkward place. Such was the number
of Flemings who suddenly appeared on all sides to take
part in this fight, that Philip exclaimed in dismay:
"Does it then rain Flemings?"
The Flemings were so proud of the victory won at
Courtrai, that they hung up in the cathedral of that
city seven thousand spurs taken from their dead foemen.
 There these trophies remained until the French came
back, some time later, and avenged the death of their
Philip might have ended the war with Flanders sooner,
had not some of his energies been diverted by a quarrel
with the Pope. The Pope issued a "Bull" (a papal
decree) to reprove the king, and Philip retorted with a
proclamation in which he openly defied the Pope.
Philip finally hired a band of adventurers to capture
the Pope in his native city. They treated him cruelly
and put him in prison, where he dared eat little for
fear of being poisoned. Although he was released at the
end of three days by the people, who rose up in his
favor, he died soon after of shock. The next Pope
deemed it his first duty to try to punish those who had
tortured his predecessor; but, shortly after he had
done so, he died so suddenly that many people thought
he was poisoned.
A Pope was now elected, who settled at Avignon
As this Pope and his successors
lived in this city for nearly seventy years (until
1376), the time they spent there is often known in
Church history as the "Babylonian Captivity," which, as
you know lasted a similar length of time.
In 1348, the county and city of Avignon were given to
the Church, and formed part of the territory of the
Holy See until 1791, when they were seized by the
French, who have kept possession of them ever since.
The palace where the Popes once lived can still be seen
in the quaint old city, which although in France, did
not really belong to it for those four hundred and