28 October – On this day

The Battle of Brustem was fought on this day in 1467 in Brustem, near Sint-Truiden (present-day Belgium) between the Duchy of Burgundy and Liège, as part of the Second Liège War.

In 1465, the First Liège War was fought against Philip the Good and his newly appointed Prince-Bishop of Liège Louis de Bourbon by the citizens of Liège, and it had been won by Philip. This had led to the humiliating Peace of Sint-Truiden. When Philip died in 1467, the people of Liège revolted again, and attacked the hated Prince-Bishop, who fled the city. Liège counted on promised military support from King Louis XI of France, who was also at war with the new Burgundian Duke Charles the Bold. Charles gathered an army of some 25.000 professional soldiers in Leuven and moved on Liège. Louis XI made no attempt to help.

The army of Liège was composed of 12.000 civilians and 500 cavalry. They were commanded by Raes van Heers. He positioned his troops in the marshy area between Brustem, Sint-Truiden and Ordingen to do battle. In this way he tried to diminish the effect of the Burgundian artillery. Charles came from the direction of Sint-Truiden, where he left a few thousand men behind, including 500 English archers, to prevent the intervention of that city’s garrison.

On 28 October, Charles ordered his vanguard under Adolph of Cleves, Lord of Ravenstein to attack. Raes commanded his troops to hold position and wait for the arrival of reinforcements, but the militia from Tongeren counter-attacked nevertheless, and drove back the troops of Ravenstein, killing a considerable number of archers. This was what Charles had been hoping for and in preparation his second line was armed with long two-handed swords, ideal for close combat. The Liège militia was quickly stopped in their advance and pushed back, in what soon became a rout. Raes van Heers was amongst the first to flee the battlefield as his army collapsed.

The Burgundians killed everybody that fell into their hands. Liège suffered some 4,000 casualties and the rest of the army was only saved by the arrival of darkness. After the battle, Charles moved on Liège and forced the city to surrender on 12 November. The Prince-Bishopric became a Burgundian protectorate and all cities in the County of Loon were forced to remove their defences.