Author Topic: Brustem 1467  (Read 2742 times)


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Brustem 1467
« on: February 06, 2019, 12:54:31 PM »
Name of the Battle and Date : The Battle of Brusthem, October 28, 1467

Protagonists (opposing nations and generals)
Burgundy : Charles the Bold
Liege : Raes de Lintre (also known as Raes van Heers)

Numbers if known or a reasonable estimate
Burgundy : Approx 25,000 in total, about 5,000 of whom directly involved
Liege : 12,500-25,000, not all of whom were fully engaged

The title of and chapter and verse of original source with edition and citation if possible.
Extract of Memories by Jean De Haynin, Chevalier Bourguignon, Covering The Period Of 1465-1477. (Transcription in modern French here

The Battle.
The night Saint Simon and Saint Jude, a Tuesday, the Duke of Burgundy and all his army went to lodge and lay siege to Saintron, for which siege and army M. de Ravestein was in charge of the vanguard, in which one counted from 7 to 800 lances and 20,000 men. The next day, which was the Wednesday of St. Simon and St. Jude, and 3-4 hours after dinner or thereabout, several of the host who had gone to the nearby villages to forage, saw the Liégeois who came to great power towards the siege and were forced to return; and came to bring the news to the siege that the Liégeois were coming, by which they made every man arm and mount on horseback without much noise or terror and without warning, and since we had all mounted on horseback, the Sieur de Roussi and several others and myself said and thought it was nothing, until the said Liegeois reached a village near Saintron, named in French Brustain and German Brustem, and quickly M. le Duc, M. de Ravestein, Monsieur le Bâtard, and the other lords and captains, each put their people in battle order, and the vanguard in front of them, in which there were several great lords and captains.
I would like to name most of them. All those who had a standard of service and of men, first the standard of Monsieur de Ravestein I,
that of Monsieur Jacques de Luxembourg, lord of Risebourc II,
that of Monsieur de Fiennes III,
that of Monsieur Jehan de Rubempre, lord of Bievene, bailiff of Hainault, IV,
that of Monsieur Antoine de Lalaing Vth,
that of Monsieur Baudouin the bastard of Burgundy VI,
that of Monsieur Guillaume de Sasogne, governor of Luxembourg VIIth,
that of the Sieur de Crèvecoeur VIII ,
that of the Lord of the Gruuthuuse IXth,
that of the Sieur de Boussu Xth,
that of Monsieur Philippe de Crèvecoeur XIth,
that of the Lord of Perwez in Brabant XIIth, and still others;
and in the main battle,
that of the Duke XIIIth,
that of the Count de Marle XIVth,
that of the count of Brianne XVth,
that of the gentleman of Liege XVI,
that of the Count of Nassau XVIIth,
that of the Sieur d'Aimeries eighteenth,
that of the Sieur de Beauvoir nineteenth,
that of the Sieur de la Hamaide twentieth,
that of the Sieur de Monrecourt XXIst;
and in the rear guard
the banner of the bastard of Burgundy, and several others which I pass for brevity, as the Sieur de Miramont, and the Sieur de Corensi, the Sieur de Hames, Squire of Ath,
are in sum XXV standards.
And at this place they made several knights and among others the country of Hainault M. Philippe de Jeumont, Lord of Vieges, M. Philippe de Mastain, Sieur de Sasegnies, M. Jehan de Harchies, sir ..., M. Grart de Harchies, sir ..., Monsieur Jehan de Harchies, Sieur de Milome, Monsieur Jacques de Harchies, his brother, Sieur de Lamotte, Monsieur Antoine, Sieur de Waudripon, Monsieur Lion de Sars, Monsieur, Monsieur Jacques d'Aimeries, Monsieur Jehan de Ligne, Sieur, Monsieur Jehan du Bray, and still others both from this country and elsewhere.

Item, the vanguard of the Liégeois made up of those of the County of Los and those of Tongeren, got stuck in the village of Brusthem, which was wonderfully encircled with pits, hedges and barriers, as they are customary to do at all times to this country, and still more than at other times because of the war, and their cartage and main battle remained on the fields outside the village. They might well have said about three or four hundred carts, which were loaded with tents, artillery rings [bagues], and provisions, and could well be by their own words and knowledge of 24 to 25 thousand men, and rapidly the Burgundians saw that they had entered the village and that they were putting themselves in battle order without pretence of going further or to continuing marching.

And were with the Liégeois Messire Rasse de Lintre, which they held for their sovereign chief captain, and lord, Messire Jehan de la Bouverie called La Rust, the Sire of Bierlo, Messire Eustache de Streel, and Messire Fastré Baré Surlet, master of Liège; all these five were knights. And then, when they left, they found in the city only five canons residing at St Lambert, of which one was so old that he had not been able to carry on or go to war, and at that time he was glad that he remained in the city; but they desired and ordered that all the other four would go with them, one of whom was named Messire Godefroid de Wayaux, the doyen of Middelburg, the provost of Tongres, brother to Messire Baré, and Roland Surlet, their brother, and of each other 7 canonries, a canon, and of abbeys, a man, but those of the abbey of Saint Jacques, who have the grace to be very devout and well-regulated people, loaned 3 horses to the chaplain of Messire Rasse de Lintre, and therefore they were left and excused from sending any of their religious.

The said Liégeois thus came to a halt at Brusthem, as has been said, to which they had taken six days to come, since they had left Liege as early as the previous Friday. The serpentines of the siege artillery were moved forward, and similarly three others, which belonged to Monsieur Jacques de Luxembourg, which approached the said village of Brusthem much more closely than the others and all the way to the hedges, and all together and one after the other began to shoot into the said village, where they saw and thought that the Liegois were the most abundant and thick, but the village was so full of trees and hedges, so thick and so high that it was very difficult to see them.  Nevertheless, the said serpentines killed and wounded many, and when they failed to reach them, they struck the trees and branches ,so that it seemed because of thunder or big guns, and broke the branches of trees as big as arms or legs, and it seemed as though all the hellish devils had descended there, with the great noise and the great thunderbolts that the lead balls and the serpentines made on both sides; but without comparison the serpentines of Burgundy made much greater noise than the others and shot well 3 or 4 shots against one.

And similarly they made the archers and the footsoldiers and the men-at-arms march and approach, especially those of the vanguard and all by company in the most part, and when they came quite close to the village, about a bow-shot, all the archers dismounted and removed their spurs and their horses were left with any of their companions; a man kept seven or eight or ten or twelve, and all the men-at-arms remained on horseback, all close to where the archers had got down. The captains and conductors of these archers began to march forward, with all the guidons and archers after them to the hedges, pits and bumps of the village, and when they reached that point, they could not find a way in they entered it with great difficulty, and then they barged at them a little, and entered determinedly; some more footsoldiers and pikemen, without pioneers, made little way in any place, while others pulled each other up as best they could and before long most were in and began to shoot hard and close against these Liegeois, who showed them a very good face. And as soon as the archers had entered, the standards and men-at-arms rode quickly after to serve and rescue them, and especially the flag of Monsieur Baudoin the bastard of Burgundy and his company galloped a horse race all along the great road which went from Brusthem to Saintron, but they found the road so closed with hedges, pits and gates, and with this the great resistance of the people of Liege, that they were forced to step back and withdraw out of the hedgerows and to return from where they left. In the same way, the flag of Monsieur de Fiennes and the bailiff of Hainault had to remain along the hedges because we did not know how to get into it on horseback, and while we were staying in this manner, the Liegois shot marvellously well with serpentines. and especially with hand-culverines, but the bumps of the pits and hedges were so high that they could not take their aim low enough or adjust their gear, and their shots passed too high because the men-at-arms were so close to the bumps that they partially covered them. The Sieur de Boussu had his arm pierced with a culverin, a man named Pierre de Bournonville, who was in the company of Louis de Bournonville and Monsieur de Fiennes, was struck with one on the back, and it pierced his flying gown, but his brigandines did not protect him (?), and I, Jehan of Haynin, was struck with one on my cuisse and made only a small pit in it, and did no other harm to me. He who served the serpentines of Monsieur Jacques de Luxembourg, when he had brought his aforesaid serpentines to the hedges of the village, and had fired several times, when he saw himself so near the Liegeois, he abandoned his serpentines and went off to fight them hand-to-hand with the archers, but he was killed there.
When the archers had earlier been shooting and they had begun to turn the Liegeois, they [the Liegois], perceiving that the line of the archers was as well as failing, there was a company who gave a cry and all at once they turned on the archers who pursued them and made them turn and withdraw, and it is held that it was then that the banner of Monsieur Baudoin the bastard turned, but he immediately returned with so many other new archers, both those of the Sieur d'Aimeries, the Sieur de Miraumont, and none of the archers in the corps of Monsieur le Duc and Monsieur le Bastard de Bourgogne, and likewise the standard of Sir Guillaume de Sassogne, Governor of Luxembourg, who was one of the first to passed over before, and that of Monsieur Jehan de Rubempre, bailiff of Hainaut, and of the Sieur d'Aimeries and others who re-encouraged those in front, and quickly those of Tongres and Los turned their backs and were the first to flee.
When Messire Rasse de Lintre, who had neither the grace nor the renown of being bolder, began to see the apparent misfortune, and when they were attacked in so great a manner, he said to those who were in front: “I will bring forward those behind”, and he rushed off and went his way to safety, and left and abandoned all the power and company of the Liégeois on the adventure, which was not done well for a governor or captain of men-at-arms to abandon them and leave them to their greatest need. The Burgundians began to fight these Liegeois and to cut them down and kill them; those of the Liégeois who were on horseback struck those who were fleeing, to force them to return, but it was an illusion, for they were so frightened and terrified that they would never have stopped. And those who had made the counter-charge against the Burgundians, when they saw the strength, they put themselves in a troppelet together, and defended themselves very strongly, and went to those they could; and to this I must report, I suppose that Messire Baré Surlet was in this company at this place, because he went on foot with his people, but their defense was not of much value, because most of the troppelet remained there altogether and were killed there. When the people of Liege saw the counter-charge they [the Burgundians] were making against them, those on horseback began to flee, and after those on foot, they were able to flee and escape, leaving behind and abandoning their artillery and all their carts and baggage. The hunt lasted a good half-league or more to another village next to Brusthem, but the night came that it began to go so brown and so black that they was forced to retire, and that was the reason that saved the Liege greatly, for if night had not been, there would have been, without comparison, much more done.
I had forgotten to mention that, with the Liegeois, there had come a man whose name was Francois Royer, a native of Lombardy, and was named and said bailiff of Lyons and sent by the King of France and had been good space before in the city of Liege, and helped and comforted them with his power, of which he had much, and loved and believed them, but when he saw the strength of the battle, he ran away with Messire Rasse de Lintre and others.

At this battle dead on the side of the Liege people who have come to my knowledge: first Messire Eustache de Streel, Messire Baré Surlet and Winselin Upe, bastard son of Messire Adam d'Upe. Item 3 canons of Saint Lambert, namely Messire Godefroy de Vaia, dean of Middelburg, and Roland Baré, and about 3 to 4,000 men in all, and most of the craft of the smiths and colliers, and there were few or no prisoners for that day, and there was only one that was led to Monsieur le Duc not by a herald. And on the side of the Burgundians, there died a man-at-arms, named the bastard of Perenchies, who was captain of the footsoldiers of Monsieur de Fiennes, and some other 50 or 60, archers and footsoldiers. As well as at the end of the battle, there were one or two Liegeois on horseback who galloped their horses on the right hand side of the main battle, thinking they were going all the way to enter Saintron, but they were so sharply chased and pursued elsewhere by other horse, that they were forced to come to them and met with a company of footsoldiers, who were near the artillery, who received them with their pikes and there they were killed. And you must say that from the beginning to the break and defeat said Liegeois, there were only a very small number of [Burgundian] archers, and I believe certainly ,and I say to remind others, that if they had been 3 or 4 thousand at most, that was all; and for this day and for this task, it was not necessary that the Duke, or all the men-at-arms of the main battle, should change formation or move, because those of the avant-garde were strong and powerful enough to make them collapse.

On that day, Pierre de Harchies, son of the Sieur de Harchies, carried the standard of Monsieur de Fiennes and Galio Ducamp the guidon, who behaved very valiantly.  Ogier Tiery, sergeant of the court of Mons, carried the the guidon of Monsieur the bailiff of Hainaut, and the Sieur de Bellegnies took charge of that of the Sieur d'Aimeries, and Monsieur Philippe de Mastain carried the standard of the said Sieur d'Aimerie; Monsieur Robert, bastard of Sameuse, Gavenier of Cambrai, the standard of Monsieur de Ravestein; I did not know who else was there.

When they came back from the hunt of the main battle, those who had passed the village did not say a word, but it was a marvel to hear the great noise and noise that those of the main main battle made, and seemed just as if the fight was still strong and firm, as strong as or more than had been done all day long, and there was no other cause than that everyone shouted and hollered after his master or after his sign, and it was dark night when we returned to the house and could have been 6 to 7 o'clock in the night.

A note on the translation
There does not seem to be an English translation of Haynin’s Memoires.  However, his battle descriptions are usually vivid, based on his own participation, and are valuable in understanding battle as it appeared from the ranks, so I have attempted a translation.  This piece is simply based on a Google translation, modified using basic language skills and dictionaries to correct mistakes and turn it into readable English.  I’ve tried to stay close to de Haynin’s original style but have introduced paragraphs and changed punctuation to improve readability.  If anyone can explain what an artillery ring is, I’d be interested – I suspect a copy error here.  Likewise, I leave it to readers to guess what exactly happened to Pierre de Bournonville.  I suspect a miscopy here has changed “did” to “did not” – it’s one letter different in French.

Smith and deVries in The Artillery of the Dukes of Burgundy describe Brustem as "one of the most important but least studied of late medieval battles".  It is actually well sourced, with other participants accounts or at least brief letters.  Philippe de Commines was there and describes it from the perspective of the Duke's entourage (here).  Haynin was in the vanguard, who did the fighting, so was nearer the action.
The account shows two typical de Haynin interests; the participants and their banners and individuals he knew who achieved things or became casualties.  The names of fair low level characters and what they did is rare in histories of the time - de Haynin on other occassions even mentions by name archers in his company who become casualties.  This interest gives us one or two hints at battlefield organisation.  An officer commanding a detachment of guns is killed, as is a commander of footsoldiers in de Haynin's company (he is serving with Monsieur de Fiennes).  The companies have both a banner (which is stationed with the men-at-arms) and a guidon (a word which Google translates, correctly, as handlebars :) ).  The guidon is with the archers and infantry.
As said, de Haynin provides a very grassroots view of a battle.  To him, the army doesn't appear to have a plan, it just does.  Commines account has more about the Duke directing the battle.  The main battle only impinge when they send reinforcements or shout a lot for no reason (actually, as other accounts make clear, while de Haynin and his fellows are off on the pursuit, the garrison at Saintron sallies and the main battle and rearguard are involved in containing them - the aftermath of this is the context for the noise)

It might be noted that the battle is actually initially a clash of vanguards - the main Liegois army is behind Brustem, having deployed its leading contingents from Los and Tongeren in the village.  The village isn't cavalry country but it clearly is pike and artillery country.  Things of interest include

*The preliminary bombardment by both sides
*That the Liegeois are positioned back from the hedges, so the archers cross unopposed, albeit with difficulty.
*There is attack and counter attack, short range shooting, ammunition shortages and the timely deployment of reserves from the Burgundian side.  Raes de Lintre seemingly fails to bring up re-inforcements from the main battle (unless this is a ruse to cover running away). 
*We see officers in action, rallying, organising, leading counter-attacks.
*On the Liege side horsemen are deployed behind the infantry to "encourage" them not to run away, although this ultimately fails. 

Overall, it gives a glimpse of what is happening at a small unit level during a battle of this period, where histories often give little idea of anything between individual actions and the actions of the battles.  Detail of this kind is particularly missed in the accounts of contemporary Wars of the Roses.  How similar was it, we might wonder? 

  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Brustem 1467
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2019, 01:49:36 PM »
Excellent, Anthony! Nice to see this sub-forum is not forgotten, and a good choice.

According to, "bagues" originally meant the same as "bagage". Jean de Troyes has Duke Charles at Granson losing "toute son artillerie, ses vaisseaux, et toutes ses bagues". So "bagues d’artillerie" is probably just "artillery baggage", all the tools and accessories associated with guns - maybe even the powder and shot?
  • Duncan Head


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Re: Brustem 1467
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2019, 02:10:53 PM »
Thanks Duncan.  It was my guess as to what it meant but, though I looked through several French/English dictionaries on line, and even read etymologies, this didn't come up.  Why didn't I turn direct to wiktionary?
  • Anthony Clipsom


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Re: Brustem 1467
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 02:36:10 PM »
Excellent Anthony!!  Isn’t it at Courtrai where the Flemings insist that the nobles with them dismount? Perhaps it indicates the difficulties of an army where the rank and file and tge leaders are  rather less based on militaru cobtracts than the Burgundians.
Its also nice to see the Burgundians winning as their reputation rather suffers fromthe more popular accounts of tgeir fights against the Swiss.
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Re: Brustem 1467
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2019, 03:46:12 PM »
The nobles do indeed dismount at Courtrai and in other battles of this war.  At least some of the leaders were dismounted here too - Bare Surlet has gone on foot with his men to try and support the pikes but they are killed.
I suspect we might have had a different opinion of the late Burgundians if they hadn't had the twin misfortunes of Charles the Bold's generalship and fighting the Swiss :)   Commines says of Brustem that this was Charles' best ordered battle - he had a plan, communicated it and his commanders followed it. 
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