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Battle of Leuven (891)

The Battle of Leuven, also called the Battle of the Dyle, was fought in September 891 between East Francia and the Vikings, essentially ending the Viking invasions in the Low countries. The existence of this battle is known due to the Annales Fuldenses.

Battle of Leuven
DateSeptember 891
LocationLeuven, East Francia (modern-day Flanders, Belgium)
Result Frankish victory
East Francia Vikings
Commanders and leaders
Arnulf of Carinthia Sigfried 
Casualties and losses
Thousands killed
16 standards captured



A Viking force built a camp by the Dyle near Leuven, protected with a fortified ditch.[1] Arnulf of Carinthia, King of East Francia, approached the Viking base with an army.[1]

Arnulf crossed the Dyle, but was reluctant to fight without his contingent of Alemanni troops.[1] The fortified Viking camp was protected by a marsh on one flank and the river on the other.[1] Without room to maneuver his army, Arnulf dismounted from his horse and signaled with his hand for his men to do likewise.[1] Arnulf inspired his troops by telling them they were fighting for God.[1] His subordinates convinced him to leave a cavalry force in reserve to protect the army's rear.[1]


The Franks assaulted the Viking fortification.[1] Defeating an entrenched Viking army was rare, but the Franks won the day and the Vikings fled.[1] Thousands of them drowned in the river.[1] The Viking leaders Sigfried and Gotfried were slain and 16 standards captured.[1]


After the success, Arnulf built a castle on a small island in the Dijle River. The Annales Fuldenses, the source that mentions this battle is the first source that mentions the city of Leuven (French: Louvain), which was at that time called Loven. The battle is also mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bradbury 1992, p. 36.


  • Bradbury, Jim (1992). The Medieval Siege. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0851153575.
  • The Annals of Fulda. (Manchester Medieval series, Ninth-Century Histories, Volume II.) Reuter, Timothy (trans.) Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992.