Kortrijk 1302 museum would probably not exist if Hendrik Conscience had not written in 1838 the historic novel "De Leeuw van Vlaanderen" ("The Lion of Flanders") exalting the national feeling and pride of Flemish people under the tyranny (the flemish word "dwingeland" is often used in the book) of king of France Philippe IV le Bel (1268-1314).
The "Leeuw van Vlaanderen - Lion of Flanders" is Robrecht III of Bethune, count of Nevers and Flanders. Here Conscience made a serious historical error because Robert of Bethune was not present at the battle of the Golden Spurs!
This historic novel is one of the first books for adults I read.
It is a book of about 350 pages, small print, with a complex and elaborated Flemish vocabulary. I read it at the age of ten (*) but didn't like the first part with the love story between Machteld, the daughter of count Robrecht, and the knight Adolf van Nieuwlandt. My favoured chapters were the battles of the "Brugse Metten" and the final battle of Groeninge "Guldensporenslag".
* Note: when I was a child there was no TV so that reading books was not homework but an appreciated form of leisure.
The Begijnhof - Béguinage of Kortrijk is one of the 26 Flemish Béguinages on the UNESCO List of World Heritage. Most Flemish towns have one, sometimes two, Begijnhoven-Béguinages.
They are architectural ensembles in specific Flemish style composed of houses, churches, ancillary buildings and green spaces in which lived Begijnen-Béguines.
They were women who dedicated their lives to God without retiring from the world. They were founded in the 13th century in the present Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Northern France. Except two in Holland, the preserved beguinages are all located in the Flemish part of Belgium.
There are no beguines anymore(*) and the beguinages have been transformed in museums, cultural centres, artist ateliers, residences for old people or flats for students like in Leuven. The one of Brugge is now a convent.
With 42 houses the Begijnhof of Kortrijk is a medium sized one. The large ones have about 100 houses. The largest in Lier has 162 houses in 11 streets!
(*) Actually there is one beguine, born in 1920, from Kortrijk, still alive but she lives no more in the Begijnhof but in a hospital in Kortrijk.
Several hundreds of golden spurs belonging to French knights who lost life at the battle of the Groeningekouter in 1302 were hung at the vault of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw church.
Not for long, in 1382 French mercenaries who had defeated the militias of Gent at the battle of Westrozebeke plundered the church and stole the golden spurs. Those we see now are replicas.
Westrozebeke was another feudal battle as there were so many in Flanders; this time Filip van Artevelde at the head of the revolted people from Gent (who lost the battle) fought the French army commanded by Philippe le Hardi - Philip the Bold duke of Burgundy and son in law of the count of Flanders Lodewijk II van Male.
The misfortunes of the church continued with plundering and destruction in 1578 by the Dutch Geuzen (Beggars). In 1797 French troops invaded Kortrijk and plundered again the church. This was not the end: in 1944 the Germans did steel the 6 ton clock and a few months later the church and the town were bombed.
I presume that the golden spurs we see now were hung on the vaults after WW II.
Kortrijk - The City hall
It's a mixt of styles: We find here some éléments of late Gothic ad with renaissances touches. In fact it's transition style.
As the outside have a nice look, the inside, thinking myselves, have much to offer to the tourist or visitor.
C'est un mélange de styles: on retrouve des éléments du Gothique tardif agrémentés de touches Renaissance. En fait une transition d'une époque à l'autre.
Si l'exterieur a une certaine allure, l'intérieur a à mon avis plus de points d'intérêts pour le visiteur de passage.
In the first pic you find the BELFRY, the only remaining part of the Cloth-Hall. The statue on top is Mercurius the god of trade, placed there in the 18th century.
There is also a war memorial attached.
The second picture shows a fountain, no special reason, just liked the flowing curves.
The last picture show a plaque we found on a wall, have no idea what is written there, could not decipher the script and I tried several different spellings on the internet with no success.
November 2010, UPDATE: just got a letter from our friend Patrick and he has translated the inscription for us
"ANTTIQUISSIMA OPPIDI-CORTRACENI SUPERSTETI "
"As the oldest of the city of Kortrijk am I maintained"
The Broel towers
These medieval towers are the only remains of ancient fortifications of the city. The south tower, the "Speyetoren (± 1385), was among the fortified walls of the castle of the Counts of Flanders. The north tower, the "Ingelborchtoren (± 1413), was built to provide a defense artillery rudimentary.
Ces tours médiévales sont les seuls vestiges des anciennes fortifications de la ville. La tour sud, la « Speyetoren » (± 1385), faisait partie des remparts fortifiés du château des Comtes de Flandre. La tour nord, la « Ingelborchtoren » (± 1413), fut érigée pour assurer une défense d'artillerie rudimentaire.
On the platform of the Lys (Leie: River that runs through the city, from France and it flows into the Scheldt at Ghent) this patrician house looks great. Built in the mid 18th century it is an ideal setting to showcase the collections (I shall return later)
You will see (among others) works picturalles and sculptures by artists born or having lived and worked in Kortrijk. It offers a range historic city of the 16th century until today.
The extensive collection of paintings Rolland Savary and a unique set of ancient tiles are the main assets.
Noted that a cafeteria located in the orangery of the 19th lets you quench your thirst.
Sur les quai de la Lys (Leie: Rivière qui traverse la ville, venant de France et ce jettant dans l'Escaut à Gent) cette demeure patricienne a fière allure. Construite au milieu du 18ème siècle elle est un cadre idéal pour mettre en valeur les collections (j'y reviendrai plus tard)
Vous y verrez (entre autres) des oeuvres picturalles et scultures d'artistes nés ou ayant vécus et travaillés à Kortrijk. Cela offre un éventail historique de la ville du 16 ème siècle jusqu'à nos jours.
L'importante collection de peintures Rolland Savary ainsi qu'un ensemble unique de faiences anciennes sont les principaux atouts.
A noté qu'une cafétaria installée dans l'orangerie du 19 ème vous permets de vous désaltérer.
The museum - as opposed to the visitor centre in the entrance hall - is primarily aimed at school children, I think. The most interesting bit for me was the corridor at the start with explanations how the battle developed. Otherwise, upstairs there are a few archaeological finds (cannonballs, a few metal objects, etc), a group of models of key players in the story, then an auditorium with brightly coloured seats where I suppose a film is shown.
I had the impression that the museum - which is quite new - hasn't quite got itself sorted out yet, and that it'll be better in a few years. As it is, there isn't enough material for the space, it could do with more variety, and they should signpost it better, so that you don't start your visit in a temper because you've been walking round and round for half an hour unable to find the place.
this beautiful medieval part of the city is like a small, quite village inside the busy centre. The whole Beguinage is part of the UNESCO world heritage, so I guess, when you visit Courtrai, you just can't miss this!
The Baggaertshof dates from the first half of the 17th century, and was built by Josijne Baggaert for needy women and it has little houses a chapel and a lovely medicinal herb garden. The Baggaertshof was originally called the 't Olmeke or the Sint Jozefhuisjes. The 13 houses were lived in until 1970. In the chapel is a Maria that comes from the chapel in Ten Olme.
Béguinage comprises a courtyard surrounded by small dwellings. It is often encircled by a wall and secluded from the town proper by one or two gates. Poor and elderly beguines were housed here by benefactors.
Béguinages are to be found in an area roughly corresponding with present-day Northern and North-Eastern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Western and North-Western Germany.
The beguines were a religious movement of women. Their success, according to the Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, was due to a surplus of women occasioned by violence, war, military and semi-military operations, which took the lives of many men. Great numbers of women had no option but to unite and collectively secure the aid of rich benefactors.
Similarly, nuns' convents in the twelfth century enjoyed substantial initial success. Stricter rules within Cistercian and other abbeys, however, caused many women to seek less strict surroundings. Moreover, these abbeys' initial success necessitated the refusal of a great many applications for admission. As an additional obstacle, in several cases a certain degree of prosperity was required as a condition for admission to a regular nunnery.
Town orders, such as the Dominicans, which did not make this requirement, were more successful for that very reason.
The Groeningegate is a remember monument build for the 600 birthday of the Guldensproenslag (battle).
It's the enterance to the Groeninepark.
De Groeningepoort is een herdenkingsmonument in de Belgische stad Kortrijk. De triomfboog werd gebouwd naar aanleiding van de 600ste verjaardag van de Guldensporenslag en geeft toegang tot het Groeningepark waar tijdens de middeleeuwen het Groeningeveld lag. In dit Groeningepark bevindt zich tevens het vergulde Groeningemonument. De Groeningepoort werd in 1908 in Ardense steen opgetrokken en draagt als opschrift 1302 – Groeningheveld.
One of the most noteworthy monuments in Kortrijk is the "Maiden of Flanders", the monument erected in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, that took place in Kortrijk on 11th July 1302. Flemish noblemen and Flemish corporations from Bruges and other Flemish cities succeeded in obtaining a (rather bloody) victory over the knights of the French King Philip the Beautiful.
The golden spurs of the defeated knights where hung in the Church of Our Lady of Kortrijk as a sign of triumph by the Flemisch. Fact is, that this victory over the French ensured the everlasting independence of Flanders towards France.
The Baggaertshof found by Josijne Baggaert, he made 13 small houses for destitute (hope this is the right translation) women.
One of those houses is still decorated.
The most needed things where available in those days, a chair, a table a bed and a cooking- range that's all.
There were strict rules for the women, for instance they had to be home early to ring the bell of the chapel. They had to be in the chapel at 8.00 pm every night to pray and thank their benefactor.
The other two pictures are sculptures at the herb garden.
The meeting start at 11.30 at the cafeteria of the railway station.
From there the tour through the city start.
This is a picture of Baggaertshof dates from the first part of the 17th century.
It contain lovely house from the middle ages, a chapel and a herb garden.
This monument is protected and often called second Beguinage of Kortrijk.