Sunday, August 12, 2012
Rainier I and the Franco-Flemish War
Flanders was the place the English king looked to. A trading people even then, the blockade of England had hurt the Flemish economy, making them more open to the idea of an alliance with England, and the Flemish were renowned sailors. In 1297 King Edward I and Count Guy of Flanders signed the Treaty of Bruges which granted a monopoly to English and Flemish ships on all trade between Europe and England. This did a great deal to save the situation of England but it took a toll on the French ports in the area, such as Calais and others, and King Philippe IV determined that war was the only answer. He would have to attack England and Flanders on the high seas to break their dominance of Channel trade and restore his proto-Continental system. To do that he would need good warships and a veteran naval warrior to command them and for that he turned to Lord Rainier I of Monaco from the House of Grimaldi which had served French royals so well in the past. Rainier I came with sixteen well-armed galleys to add to the twenty ships the King of France had available but these were poorly built and the crews not experienced. It was up to Rainier I to train them for serious combat and he took a 'hands on' approach, taking them in several small-scale raids against English ships to teach them the ways of naval warfare. This helped them gain the experience they would need to confront the more formidable Flemish ships.