war of spanish succession

War of the Succession of Flanders and Hainault

The War of the Succession of Flanders and Hainault was a series of feudal conflicts in the mid-thirteenth century between the children of Margaret II, Countess of Flanders. They concerned the succession to the two counties, the first a fief of the King of France and the latter of the King of Germany.


When Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders and Hainault, left on the Fourth Crusade in 1202, he left his western domains under his eldest daughter Joanna. Joanna inherited the counties on Baldwin's death and, despite two marriages, died without heirs in 1244. She was succeeded by her younger sister, the aforementioned Margaret.

Margaret's first marriage, to Bouchard of Avesnes, was broken in 1221 per orders from Joanna and the excommunication of Bouchard. By Bouchard, however, she had already had three children, including John I of Avesnes. Nevertheless in 1223, Margaret remarried with William II of Dampierre (d.1231), who likewise gave three offspring, including William III and Guy.

The rights to Margaret's inheritance between the sons of Avesnes and those of Dampierre were the cause of the conflicts known as the "war of the succession of Flanders and Hainault."

First conflict

The first conflict opened with Margaret's succession in 1244. John of Avesnes and William of Dampierre, half brothers, fought between themselves until King Louis IX intervened in 1246. Louis gave Hainault (technically not his to give) to John and Flanders (indeed his vassal) to William. Margaret, in light of this judgement, gave the government of Flanders over to William in 1247. She did not however relinquish her governance of Hainault.

In 1251, William died and Flanders passed to Guy.

Second conflict

In 1248, Louis had left on the Seventh Crusade and remained abroad for six years. John quickly apprehended that his mother did not intend to give him the government of Hainault as she had that of Flanders to her other sons. John revolted against his mother and attacked his brother Guy, recently become count of Flanders.

The war continued with John convincing the German anti-king William of Holland, to seize Hainault and Flemish territory within the empire. The fighting continued until the Battle of West-Capelle of 4 July 1253, where John gained a brilliant victory over Guy and forced him and his mother to respect the division of Louis and grant him Hainault.

Third conflict

Margaret did not rest in her defeat and did not recognise herself as overcome. She instead granted Hainault to Charles of Anjou, the brother of King Louis, who had recently returned from the crusade. Charles took up her cause and warred with John of Avesnes, but failed to take Valenciennes and just missed being killed in a skirmish. When Louis returned in 1254, he reaffirmed his earlier arbitration and ordered his brother to get out of the conflict. Charles returned to Provence. With this second arbitration of the holy king, the conflict closed and John of Avesnes was secure in Hainault.

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