De Guldensporenslag van fait-divers tot ankerpunt van de Vlaamse identiteit (1302-1838): de natievormende functionaliteit van historiografische mythen
The Battle of the Spurs — from fait divers to linchpin of Flemish identity (1302-1838): the nation forming function of historiographic myths
On 11 July 1302, the Battle of the Spurs was fought on the Groeningekouter near Courtrai. This was only one of many military confrontations in the war between the Count of Flanders and his liege lord, the King of France. The victory of the Flemish army was totally unexpected, though very soon all Flemish people were proud of it. The Battle of the Spurs was not a battle between two 'nations', nor were the 'Flemish' fighting for their country, their fatherland. In fact, the confrontation at Courtrai was between two groups that were socially, culturally, economically and nationally heterogeneous. Nevertheless, in 1973 the 'Cultuurraad van de Nederlandse Cultuurgemeenschap' chose 11 July as the feastday of the Flemish Community, thereby officially promoting the Battle of the Spurs as a symbol of Flemish identity. This article traces how mediaeval, humanist and romantic historians have endowed the battle with a specific Flemish national quality and have moulded it into part of the Flemish collective memory. It shows why and how historiographers have been able to elevate fiction to the status of historical fact and illustrates the function of historiographical myths in the nation forming process. It also tries to explain why the 'cult' of the Battle of the Spurs started very soon after the event had taken place and is still being celebrated today.
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