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of Flanders considered it an honour to be a burgess of Ghent.' Then they of the Law answered and said, that they would write to the bailiff desiring that the burgess may be delivered; for truly his office extendeth not so far as to keep our burgess in the Earl's prison.' And so they wrote to the bailiff for the deliverance of the burgess who was in prison in Erclo.—The bailiff answered, 'What needeth all these words for a mariner? Say,' quoth the bailiff, who was named Roger d'Auterne, 'to them of Ghent, that though he were ten times richer than he is, he shall never go out of prison unless my lord the Earl command it. I have power to arrest, but I have no power to deliver.''
They of Ghent were ill content with this answer, and complained loudly to the Earl, who agreed to release the prisoner and redress their grievances, on condition that the White-Hoods should be disbanded. But John Lyon maintained that it was only by keeping up the White-Hoods that they would ever have any security for their privileges; and in spite of all the Earl's remonstrances, the White-Hoods increased in number and were formed into companies with captains over them. The Earl then sent his bailiff to Ghent with two hundred men, to seize and execute John Lyon and other captains. This brought on an encounter in the market-place, where the bailiff was slain and the Earl's banner torn in pieces by the White-Hoods.
Such was the beginning of a war which continued for several years between the Earl of Flanders and the town of Ghent, and in which the principal towns on the part of the Earl were Bruges, Oudenarde, Dendermonde, Lisle, and Tournay; and those on the part of Ghent were Damme, Ypres, Courtray, Grammont, Poperinguen, and Messines :-A war which in its progress extended to the whole of Flanders, and excited a degree of interest in all the civilised countries of Europe for which the cause must be sought in the state of European communities at the time. It was believed that entire success on the part of Ghent would bring on a general rising almost throughont Christendom, of the Commonalty against the Feudal Lords and men of substance. The incorporation of the citizens of Paris known by the name of “the Army with Mallets," was, according to the well-known chronicler of the period, “all by the example of them of Ghent.” Nicholas le Flamand deterred them from pulling down the Louvre, by urging the expediency of waiting to see what success might attend the Flemish insurgents. At Rheims, Chalons on the Marne, at Orleans, Beauvoisin, the like designs were entertained. “The rebellion of the Jacquerie,” says Froissart, was never so terrible as this was likely to have been.” Brabant, Burgundy, and the lower part of Germany, were in a dangerous condition; and in England Wat Tyler's rebellion was contemporaneous and not unconnected with what was going on in Flanders.
I have related by way of introduction, the origin of the war,—not that the incidents in which it originated are immediately connected with those of my
play, which opens at a later period, after the death of John Lyon; but because I have wished (as much as in so small a compass may be) to give those of my readers who may require it, a notion of the temper of mind which prevailed in Flanders towards the end of the fourteenth century.
PHILIP VAN ARTEVELDE.
PART THE FIRST.
“No arts, no letters, no society,-and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of Man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
LEVIATHAN, Part I. c. 18.
MEN OF GHENT.
PHILIP VAN ARTEVELDE.
Leaders of the White-Hoods.
Deans of two of the Crafts.
MEN OF BRUGES.
THE EARL OF FLANDERS.
The SCENE is laid sometimes at GHENT, sometimes at Bruges,
or in its neighbourhood.