Bouvines, battle of

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Bouvines, battle of, 1214. On 27 July 1214 was fought one of the most decisive battles in European history. Near Bouvines (Flanders), the army of Philip II ‘Augustus’, king of France (1179–1223), crushed the forces of the coalition ranged against him: an expeditionary corps from England, dispatched by King John under the command of William Longspee I, earl of Salisbury; the detachments of Rhineland princes beholden to John through English silver; and Otto of Brunswick, John's nephew and Holy Roman emperor, eager to destroy Philip since he supported Otto's rival for the imperial throne, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. Philip's victory laid open the way to Hohenstaufen dominance in Germany and Italy, confirmed the Capetian gains made at John's expense in Normandy, Anjou, and elsewhere in the years 1202–4, and set John upon the road to Runnymede and Magna Carta.

S. D. Lloyd