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Battle of Worringen

The Battle of Worringen was fought on June 5, 1288 near the town of Worringen (also called Woeringen), nowadays a suburb of Cologne. The battle was fought for the possession of the duchy of Limburg, and was one of the largest battles in Europe in the Middle Ages.

After duke Walram of Limburg died in 1282, the duchy of Limburg was inherited by his daughter Irmgard, wife of count Reinoud I of Guelders. She died childless a year later, and her husband claimed the duchy. This claim was recognized by King Rudolph I of Germany.

However, Walram's brother Adolf of Berg also claimed the duchy after Irmgard's death. He sold his claim in 1283 to duke John I of Brabant, who wanted to enlarge his territory and reunite the former duchy of Lorraine. The duchy of Limburg was important for John of Brabant as it was on the trade route to the Rhine.

Between 1283 and 1288, there were several smaller confrontations between both sides, none of them decisive. In the mean while, most of the other local powers chose sides. The archbishop of Cologne, count Henry of Luxembourg and count Adolf of Nassau-Weilburg joined forces with the Guelders side, while the counts of Looz, Tecklenburg and Waldeck were allied with Brabant.

In 1288, Reinoud sold his rights to Limburg to Henry of Luxembourg, just before peace talks were scheduled. This angered John of Brabant, who started a campaign against Reinoud. The two sides finally met at Worringen, a castle on the Rhine, which was taken by the archbishop of Cologne. The citizens of Cologne however fought on the side of Brabant.

In the earliest phases of the battle, John of Brabant and Henry of Luxemburg met. In this fight, Henry was killed by a Brabant knight. Soon after that, the archbishop of Cologne entered the battle with too little support from his army, and he was captured by the count of Berg. The battle ended in a victory for Brabant when Reinoud of Guelders was captured and lord Walram of Valkenburg had to retreat.

The number of deaths at the battle of Worringen is estimated at 1100 at the Guelders side and 40 on the Brabant side. The battle meant a rise in power of Brabant and Berg, while the city of Cologne gains its independency from the archbishop. The duchy of Limburg is added to the duchy of Brabant in 1289.