Early attempts to influence events on the Continent were not propitious, however, as when William fitzOsbern sought to intervene in the succession dispute in Flanders. Supporting the young contender Arnulf, he was surprised, defeated and killed at the battle of Cassel in 1071. It may be that he had simply not taken enough men with him; a chronicler accused him of riding out 'as if to a tournament' rather than to war. This was a serious blow to King William, of course, who was deprived of one of the closest companions of his youth, and a very capable subordinate in whom he had placed great trust in establishing his rule in England.