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Title: The Story of Brussels
Author: Gilliat-Smith, Ernest
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[A transcriber's note is after the text.]

_The Story of Brussels_

_The Mediæval Town Series_

 [_4th Edition._

 [_3rd Edition._





 [_2nd Edition._



 [_8th Edition._

 [_2nd Edition._

 [_2nd Edition._

 [_4th Edition._

 LINA DUFF GORDON. [_5th Edition._


 [_4th Edition._

 [_2nd Edition._


 [_2nd Edition._

 [_2nd Edition._

 [_2nd Edition._


_The prices of these (*) are 3s. 6d. net in cloth, 4s. 6d. net in
leather; these (+) 4s. 6d. net in cloth, 5s. 6d. net in leather._

[Illustration: GEORGE ZELLE, PHYSICIAN. Painted by Bernard van Orley,
Brussels, 1519.]

_The Story of_ Brussels

_by Ernest Gilliat-Smith_

_Illustrated by Katharine Kimball
and Guy Gilliat-Smith_

[Illustration: Monogram]

_London: J. M. Dent & Co.
Aldine House, 29 and 30 Bedford Street
Covent Garden, W.C. * * 1906_

_All Rights Reserved_


Probably there is no quarter of Europe more thickly studded with
mediæval towns than that embraced by the Flemish provinces of
Belgium--the old Duchy of Brabant and the old County of Flanders.
Curious places they are, some of them, little changed from what they
were at the close of the fourteen hundreds; and some of them, so
modernised that hardly anything is left to prove their identity but
their geographical position and their names.

All of these cities, however, have this in common, and this it is which
makes them so interesting: we know something of their general history,
and something too of the intimate lives of the men and the women who
inhabited them, five hundred years ago--how they were lodged and
clothed, what they drank and ate, the way in which their food was
dressed and their tables served, something of their distractions and
their business pursuits, how they loved and hated, what they thought of
this world, and what of the next.

These things are set forth by three distinct classes of contemporary
witnesses:--Pictures, a host of them, minutely detailed, with almost
photographic accuracy; furniture of every description--ecclesiastical,
domestic, personal; written documents of various kinds--chronicles,
private letters, books of devotion, guild registers, town accounts. Many
of these have been carefully examined, and a very considerable number of
them printed; also, especially in recent years, some of the most
accredited Belgian historians have busied themselves by writing
monographs of their native towns, or treatises on their ancient
municipal institutions: notably Pirenne, Vander Linden, Wauters, Henne,
Piot, Van Even. From their works and from other sources, ancient and
modern, I have gathered the material for my Story of Mediæval Brussels,
in the following pages, and which necessarily includes, for the two
cities were intimately connected, a considerable portion of the Story of
Mediæval Louvain. To this I have added some notes on Brabant painters
and pictures, and also on Brabant architecture, with descriptions of the
chief mediæval monuments in Brussels and in the neighbouring towns, and
such information as I have been able to obtain concerning the great
masons who built them.

Constrained by the narrow limits of this volume to curtail and compress,
I have been content to set down facts, clearly I hope and coherently,
but for the most part without comment or criticism.

Intended as it is for the general reader, I have done my utmost, and my
first care has been, to make this pocket-book readable. I cannot venture
to hope that I have escaped all error; but I think that upon the whole I
have been able to outline a sufficiently faithful sketch, which I trust
may be of some service to those into whose hands it may fall.

 E. G.-S.

 BRUGES, _February 1906_.



 CHAPTER I     _In the Days before Brussels was Built_     1

 CHAPTER II    _The Norsemen and Louvain_                  8

 CHAPTER III   _The House of Long Col_                    13

 CHAPTER IV    _The Making of the Duchy of Brabant_       22

 CHAPTER V     _The Rise of Brussels and Louvain_         31

 CHAPTER VI    _The Serfs of St. Peter_                   41

 CHAPTER VII   _The Greater and the Lesser Folk_          47

 CHAPTER VIII  _The Coelveren and the Blankarden_         58

 CHAPTER IX    _Peter Coutherele_                         67

 CHAPTER X     _The Peace of 1383_                        86

 CHAPTER XI    _Reform_ versus _Revolution_               95

 CHAPTER XII   _Everard T'Serclaes_                      106

 CHAPTER XIII  _Liberty at Last_                         118

 CHAPTER XIV   _The Trials of Jacqueline_                163

 CHAPTER XV    _Buildings and Builders_                  171

 CHAPTER XVI   _Buildings and Builders (continued)_      256

 CHAPTER XVII  _Pictures and Painters_                   330

 CHAPTER XVIII _Conclusion_                              358

               INDEX                                     377



 _I.   Table of the House of Long Col_                     _facing_ 19

 _II.  Table of the Counts of Louvain_                     _facing_ 30

 _III. Table of the Dukes of Brabant from_                 _facing_ 66
      _Godfrey I. to John III._

 _IV.  Table of the Dukes of Brabant from_                _facing_ 120
       _John III. to Philip II._

 _V.   Table of the Dukes of Brabant from_                _facing_ 359
      _Philip II. to Philip III._

 _VI.  Table of the Dukes of Brabant from_               _follows_ 375
      _Philip III. to Francis_



 _Portrait of George Zelle, Physician,_                  _Frontispiece_
 _by Bernard van Orley (photogravure)_

 _Heading*_                                                          1

 _The Abbey Church, Forest+_                                         5

 _By the Dyle, at Mechlin+_                                          7

 _The Subterranean Church of St. Guy at Anderlecht*_                37

 _At Mechlin*_                                                      40

 _Saint Peter's, Louvain*_                                          43

 _Cloth Hall, Louvain*_                                             52

 _Tailpiece+_                                                       57

 _The Old Castle of Everard T'Serclaes at Ternath+_                116

 _Notre-Dame de Hal from Chapel behind North Transept*_            123

 _The Town Hall, Brussels+_                                        147

 _Old Houses near Saint Gudule's+_                                 149

 _Tailpiece+_                                                      162

 _The Old Church of Saint Nicholas, Rue au Beurre+_                176

 _Le Tour Noire+_                                                  183

 _Saint Rumbold's Cathedral*_                                      199

 _Notre-Dame au-delà de la Dyle+_                                  202

 _La Maison du Roi+_                                               203

 _Eglise Sainte-Gudule Pilastre Sculpté*_                          207

 _The Steen of Antwerp*_                                           209

 _Quai de l'Avoine, Malines+_                                      211

 _From the Béguinage, Louvain*_                                    236

 _Saint Catherine's, Brussels+_                                    245

 _Rouge Cloître*_                                                  248

 _Guild Houses in the Grand' Place, Brussels+_                     258

 _Notre-Dame du Sablon+_                                           261

 _Notre-Dame de la Chapelle+_                                      265

 _Notre-Dame au-delà de la Dyle+_                                  268

 _Saint Michel et Sainte Gudule+_                                  271

 _Sainte Gudule--The Lady Chapel+_                                 281

 _St. Peter's, Louvain, Chapel of St. Charles*_                    295

 _Interior of Mechlin Cathedral+_                                  301

 _Mechlin Cathedral+_                                              303

 _De Dijle te Mechelen*_                                           307

 _Notre-Dame de Hal Baptistery Gates*_                             311

 _Hôtel de Ville, Louvain+_                                        321

 _Tête de Femme en Pleurs, attributed to_                 _facing_ 333
 _Roger Van Der Weyden, Brussels Gallery_

 _'Pièta', attributed to Roger Van Der Weyden,_           _facing_ 335
 _Brussels Gallery_

 _'The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus' by_                    _facing_ 339
 _Dierick Boudts, at Saint Peter's, Louvain_

 _The Wings of the Saint Anne Triptych by_                _facing_ 347
 _Quentin Metsys, in the Brussels Gallery (shut)_

 _The Wings of the Saint Anne Triptych by_                _facing_ 348
 _Quentin Metsys, in the Brussels Gallery (open)_

 _The Central Panel of the Saint Anne Triptych by_        _facing_ 350
 _Quentin Metsys, in the Brussels Gallery_

 _From S. Rombold's, Malines*_                                     357

 _At Mechlin+_                                                     361

 _By the Dyle at Mechlin+_                                         364

 _Guild Halls in the Market-Place at Brussels+_                    369

 _Notre-Dame d'Hanswyck, Malines+_                                 372

 _Saints Pierre et Paul, Malines+_                                 373

 _La Porte de Hal, Brussels+_                                      374

 _Tailpiece+_                                                      375

 _Plan of Brussels_                                      _follows_ 375

 Those illustrations marked * are by G. GILLIAT-SMITH.
  Do.                  do.  + are by KATHARINE KIMBALL.

[Illustration: Brussels]

The Story of Brussels


_In the Days before Brussels was Built_

The beginning of the story of Brussels, like the beginning of the
stories of most of the mediæval towns of Northern Europe, is shrouded in
mystery. Set at the time of its origin in a land of marsh and wood, it
probably takes its name, like so many German cities, from the natural
configuration of its site and the nature of the settlement from which it
was gradually evolved--_Bruk Sel_, the manor in the marsh. So, too, the
neighbouring towns:--Antwerp, at wharf; Tervueren, by the river Vuer;
Schaerbeek, by the heath stream; Aerschot, the home by the water; and
the sister city, the city whose history is so intricately woven with the
history of the capital of Belgium that it is impossible to disentangle
them, Looven, the wooded hill alongside the fen; and the province in
which all these places are situated: Brabant, from _Brac_, uncultivated,
barren, wild, and _Bant_, the frontier land.

The fierce tribes whom Cæsar found in this part of Gaul gloried in the
tradition of their German origin, but it is not to them that the towns
and villages and hamlets of Brabant owe their German names. The Nervii
and the Treveri, like the despised and hated Celts who surrounded them,
were compelled at last to submit to Rome's legions and to learn the
Roman tongue; they learnt it so well that when later on a whirlwind of
barbarism swept Latin civilisation from Northern Europe they had
altogether forgotten their own. Driven for the most part south into
those provinces which we now call Liége and Hainault and Namur, to this
day their descendants speak the time-honoured language of Rome, and to
this day German is the tongue of the offspring of the men who ousted
them. It was the Salic Franks, then, who, for the most part, were the
builders of the cities of Brabant, and they it was who gave them their
rough German names.

In the dark, troublous times which witnessed the birth of the new
civilisation and the making of the new towns, two figures stand out
pre-eminent--the figure of the hero, of whom later on, and the figure of
the saint. The bishop in his embroidered cope, who never failed to throw
the mantle of his protection about the downtrodden and the oppressed,
nor to vindicate the sacredness of the marriage vow and the sacredness
of human life: at his menace of retribution the half-tamed German chief
quailed as at the threat of a sorcerer, if he dared violate this man's
domain maybe he would stumble on the threshold and break his neck, or
perchance a worse thing might happen to him; the monk in his tattered
cowl, who going forth day by day from his hovel in the wilderness
gradually brought the land once more under tillage, or patiently sitting
at home in his cell, little by little gathered up what fragments
remained of human knowledge, and so saved what could be saved of human
culture; the consecrated virgin whose whole life proclaimed to a people,
who knew nothing of these things, the beauty of chastity and the beauty
of humility and the sweetness of self-denial; the layman whose heart had
been touched by the fire of Divine love, sometimes a son of the people,
sometimes the scion of a noble house, and who, attaching himself, often
in a menial capacity, to some church or religious establishment, had one
object in life--to serve God and His poor. Such were the women and such
were the men who in those dark and violent days poured some drops of
sweetness into the bitter chalice of existence; they were the chief
agents and the choicest and most perfect flowers of that great
institution which we call Christianity. Incalculable were the benefits
which they conferred on the human race, and the greatest of them all,
even from a human point of view, was this--to a people sitting in
darkness and in the shadow of death they brought back hope. In an age
when, for the vast majority of mankind, the sum of human happiness was
so slender, they reinspired men with the wish to live, or at all events
with the courage to endure existence, conjuring up before their
despairing eyes, 'a glorious pavilion of gold at the end of life's muddy
lane,' a vision of eternal beatitude which the weakest and the vilest of
them might one day enjoy. Thus Taine, epitomised, speaking of Europe

[1] _l'Ancien Régime_, livre 1^er, ch. i. § 1.

Profane and fierce were the men of Brabant, 'infinitos prædones, vulgo
dictus Brabantiones, qui nec Deum diligunt nec viam veritatis cognoscere
volunt,' as Aimoin has it, at the close of the ten hundreds; but for all
that they had their heroes, and amongst them, too, were saints. Men like
that mighty hunter, Hubert, Bishop of Liége (706-727), the apostle to
whose untiring zeal Brabant in great measure owed her conversion to the
Christian faith, and who, in the days of his stormy youth, before he met
the stag with the cross between its horns, and turned devout, dwelt in a
castle at a place called Tervueren, on the fringe of that mysterious
forest of Soignes, which still overshadows Brussels, and which still,
the peasant folk will tell you, he loves and protects: here he received
holy orders, here he sang his first Mass, here, worn out with travail
and fever, he died, with the fall of the leaf, in the year 727: no trace
of his villa remains, but St. Hubert's Chapel, in the royal park of
Tervueren, is said to mark its site, and on one of the walls of the
parish church hard by, there still hangs an old ivory hunting horn,
which once belonged, tradition says, to the huntsman's patron saint. Men
like 'that impious robber Adhilck,' lord of Hesbaye, surnamed the
Fierce, one of Charlemagne's ancestors, who, touched by the preaching of
Saint-Amand, shaved off his beard, took a new name, Bavo, which means
the mild, and changed, too, his manner of life, distributed all his
goods to the poor, went and hid himself in the woods of Beyla, there did
penance for seven years in the trunk of a hollow tree, which all that
time was covered with leaves and flowers, and at last withdrew to the
monastery which Amand had founded at Ghent, where he died in the odour
of sanctity, tended in his last moments by his friend Domlinus, a hermit
from the distant forest of Thor, whom, because Bavo desired to bid him
farewell, an angel conducted to his bedside. Presently they built a
church in his honour, and St. Bavo became the patron of Ghent. Men like
Rombold, the son of an Irish chief, who left his father's court and his
native land to become an evangelist, and wandering about Brabant,
preaching and teaching wherever he went, at last founded, on the banks
of the Dyle, a monastery, where he presently fell a victim to his zeal
and won the crown of martyrdom, and around which gradually grew up the
city we now call Mechlin; or women, like Pepin of Landen's daughter
Gertrude, who founded the Abbey of Nivelles and the town which clusters
round it; or her niece and disciple Gudila, who led the life of a
recluse in the castle of Ham by Alost, and whose bones three hundred
years after her death were translated to Brussels, and presently laid up
in the church which now bears her name; or poor little Halene, slain by
her own father, a Pagan chief, because she became a Christian, and whose
tomb you may still see in the old church of Forest, hard by Brussels.


Of these heroic men and women we know hardly anything for certain save
their names. They lived in that age of legend and mystery during which
Paganism was making its last stand against the victorious onslaught of
the new faith. If their actions were recorded by contemporary writers,
the manuscripts were destroyed by the barbarian hordes who scourged the
land in the course of the nine hundreds--and the biographies of later
writers, compiled as they must have been from hearsay evidence, and
after ample time had elapsed for the legends to grow, are little more
than a fascinating texture of folklore and myth--naïve and beautiful
fairy tales, of which the most that can be said of them is that,
perhaps, they are founded on fact.

But if there are no authentic chronicles of the lives of the early
saints of Brabant, we know that their lives were not lived in vain; the
bountiful harvest which was reaped by after generations bears witness to
the excellence of the seed which these men had sown, and to the care and
the diligence with which they and their successors had tended it; and
after all the ecclesiastical seal of canonisation has been in most
cases, especially in these early days, the outcome rather than the cause
of popular devotion. As Taine shrewdly notes, man is too envious and too
egoistical to lavish gratitude where none is due, and the estimation in
which they were held by the people is sufficient proof of their sterling
worth. We see them pale, shadowy, vague, like the white cloud which
hovered over the battlefield of Louvain, but the victors saw in that
white cloud, 'la benoite vierge Marie et Saint Lambert avec Monsieur
Saint Pierre semblant de vouloir secourir le peuple Chrétien,' and so
heartened were they by the vision that they put to flight the Pagan
host, and no less fruitful in results are the forgotten lives and the
forgotten labours of those great pioneers of civilisation who to-day are
for us but as beautiful phantoms.

[Illustration: BY THE DYLE, AT MECHLIN.]


_The Norsemen and Louvain_

The victory of Louvain (Sept. 10, 891) marks an epoch in the history of
Brabant. The Danes under Rolf the Ganger, who later on became first Duke
of Normandy, were utterly routed, and though they succeeded in rallying
their forces and for a few months continued their devastations in the
Ardennes, Brabant at least was free of them, and after the storming of
'a certain stronghold newly constructed upon an exceeding high mountain
whither a vast multitude of them had taken refuge,' the Pagan host was
disbanded and as if by enchantment melted away.

Perhaps the peasants, descendants of men who had been driven to the
font, had at first lent assistance to the invaders, and that now at last
convinced that Thor was not mighty enough to withstand Christ they had
withdrawn their co-operation.

For well-nigh a century the storm had raged and the brunt of its fury
had fallen on the Church, for it was not greed alone which had driven
forth these fierce pirates from their homes in the north, but, and in
the first place perhaps, a fiery zeal for their time-honoured traditions
and their time-honoured faith: they would have rebuilt their broken
altars and brought back the old gods to the lands from which they had
been banished.

It was toward the close of the year 880 that the Danes, who had ere this
made themselves masters of Holland and Friesland, for the first time
visited Brabant. Coming up the Scheldt in their long black boats, they
presently ascended the Dyle as far as 'a place called Lovon,' as a
contemporary writer has it, where the river ceases to be navigable. This
is the first time that Louvain is mentioned in history; it was then what
its name signifies--forest and fen. Here they made camp on a little
island formed by two branches of the stream, and the site of the future
capital of Brabant became their headquarters. From thence they issued
daily, and the usual consequences followed--churches and monasteries
went up in flames, altars were cast down, and those who served them
tortured and slain; whilst the most cherished objects of Christian
worship were profaned and trampled in the dust.

In the vast diocese of Liége, which embraced at this time the whole
country between the Meuse and the Dyle, hardly a sacred building was
left standing. At Mechlin, the only one of the five great towns of
Brabant which had as yet begun to exist, there was not a church but was
reduced to ashes. So, too, further afield at Tongres, St. Trond,
Maestricht, where the Danes had another camp. In the episcopal city
itself they fired the church and the monastery of St. Caprais, and cut
the throats of the monks. The monks of St. Peter's fared worse: they
were nailed by their heads to the walls of their cloister, and there
left to die. The Cathedral of St. Lambert, too, was invaded, rifled for
treasure, and then burnt to the ground; and a host of other sanctuaries
shared a like fate. As for Francon, the bishop, though after events
showed that he was in reality no coward, when he heard that the Danes
were approaching, he packed up his relics and his treasures, and made
for Huy, on the banks of the Meuse between Liége and Namur, where there
was an impregnable fortress.

At first, indeed, very little resistance seems to have been made; at all
events, there was no organised and concerted action, and in some cases
no opposition whatever was offered. Panic laid hold of whole
populations, and not only clerks and monks, but stalwart knights and
sturdy burghers, turned tail and fled. Presently, Charles the Fat was
summoned from Italy in order to prevent, if might be, the complete
demoralisation of the people; but though in due course that weak and
vacillating monarch arrived with the largest army that had ever been
seen in the Pays de Liége, he showed himself utterly unable to cope with
the situation, and it was not till the advent of his successor, Arnulph
I., that matters began to mend. In 884, after more than one engagement,
in which his troops had not been worsted, Charles had made terms with
the Norsemen, and the invading host had withdrawn; but the following
spring saw their long black boats once more on the Dyle, soon the
marauders were again encamped 'in the place called Lovon,' and soon they
were again vexing the surrounding country. But for some reason or other
the natives now seem to have plucked up their courage. In the
skirmishes, which were of almost daily occurrence, they were sometimes
able to hold their own; and when presently the Emperor Arnulph appeared
at the head of an army of Germans, so great was the enthusiasm of the
urban populations that crowds of townsfolk flocked to his
standard--Francon of Liége amongst the rest, and his example was
followed by a host of monks and not a few of his canons. 'He was the
first of our bishops to draw the sword,' notes an old Liége chronicler;
but when the excitement was over and the battle had been won, Francon's
conscience pricked him, and he sent messengers to Rome begging to be
relieved of his episcopal functions. 'It were not meet,' he said, 'that
hands stained with blood should have the administration of holy things.'

Great was the joy of the men of Lotharingia at the triumph of Louvain,
and King Arnulph ordained that on the first day of October 'solemn
litanies should be chanted by way of thanksgiving, and he himself and
his whole army joined in the procession, singing praises to God who had
given them the victory.'

Though cities had been pillaged and the country laid waste, though heaps
of ashes and tottering walls were all that remained of the monuments
with which Charlemagne and his successors had adorned the cradle of
their race, though art and culture had been well-nigh wiped out, the
Church laid low and the State shattered almost beyond hope of repair,
there was one body of men in the old kingdom of Lotharingia whose
interests had been singularly favoured by the coming of the Danes--the
great lay proprietors. Thrifty men who for years past by purchase, by
marriage, by promises of protection, by means of loans in times of
stress, by hook or by crook, by fair means sometimes, and sometimes by
foul, had been gradually gathering into their own hands the freehold
tenements of their weaker brethren; strong men who, instead of turning
tail when Hungarian or Dane threatened them, bared their breasts to the
foe, and with their swords in their hands defended alike their own
property and the property of their neighbours; astute men, who knew very
well, from personal experience, what an exceedingly profitable pastime
it sometimes is to fish in troubled waters. For them the coming of the
Danes had been almost a godsend; at all events, a blessing in disguise;
and their departure left them free to reap the rich harvest which these
rude northerners had unwittingly sown--to obtain, that is, a vast
increase of their landed estates and a no less vast increase of
privileges, immunities, authority, and of political and social prestige.

In the first place they had little difficulty in making themselves
masters, in fact if not in name, of the abbey lands. Many of the monks
had been slain or had fled, and so fearful were the remnant that
remained of further depredation that they were glad enough to hand over
the administration of their estates to the only men who were strong
enough to defend them. Thus, by the close of the eight hundreds almost
all the monastic domains of Lotharingia had in reality become the
property of laymen who, as the monks' _avoués_ or stewards, took up
their abode in their cloisters, received and expended their revenues,
became participators in their rights and immunities, and exercised
jurisdiction in their name over their vassals and dependants.

To obtain control of the secular clergy was a matter no less easy of
accomplishment, for although the cathedral chapters still retained the
right to choose their own bishops, so great was the power and influence
of the landowners that they had become practically irresistible, and
were almost always able to secure the election of their own nominees,
and thus were enabled, through them, to rule the Church.

But this was not all, such of them as were invested with civil authority
now began to exercise it in their own names, and the emperors, whose
power and prestige had long ago been impaired by the fratricidal strife
of the children of Louis the Mild, had been so enfeebled by the recent
invasions that they were unable to offer any effectual resistance. Thus
were laid on the ruins of Imperialism the foundations of that feudal
system which was destined later on to play so great a part in the
civilisation of Europe.


_The House of Long Col_

Foremost among the landowners, who at this time were laying the
foundations of dynasties, was Régnier au Long Col, the great ancestor of
the Counts of Hainault and of the Counts of Brussels and Louvain, the
man to whom all the sovereigns of Brabant, from Lambert Longbeard to
Francis II., traced their descent:[2] the son of one Count Giselbert,
who, in the middle of the eight hundreds, had made his fortune by
carrying off a daughter of the Emperor Lothaire, he was the owner of
vast estates in Hainault, in Hesbaye, in Ardennes, and lay-abbot to boot
of three great monastic domains. Of the vassals and serfs who dwelt on
his lands some, then, were Teutons and some were Celts, and he himself,
who spoke the language of each race, was perhaps unable to say to which
stock he belonged, and herein lay his strength: he was a man whose
nationality was merged in the great feudal chief.

[2] The reigning sovereign of Belgium, King Leopold II., is a descendant
of Régnier au Long Col. (_See_ Genealogical Table VI.)

Such a one could alone command the confidence of the mixed race which
inhabited Lotharingia, and when presently the Emperor Arnulph set up a
German king in the person of his illegitimate son, Zwentibold (895), and
Régnier unfurled the standard of revolt, the discontented feudal lords
to a man rallied round him.

A stranger in a strange land, without the means to purchase the goodwill
and support of the native chiefs, since their fathers had already
received in bribes the whole of the royal domains, from the first the
new sovereign had to fight for his throne, and from the first the issue
of the conflict was a foregone conclusion. Zwentibold fell in an obscure
skirmish on August 13, 900, and Régnier became virtual ruler of
Lotharingia, and though he had no legal sanction for the authority which
he exercised, before his death he had so consolidated his power that
when that event took place (915) his son Giselbert stepped quietly into
his shoes, and presently the reigning Emperor Henry I. acknowledged him
Duke and gave him the hand of his daughter Gerberge, and with it, by way
of dowry, large estates, including among other tenements, the castles of
Brussels and Louvain. If Henry believed that he had thereby definitely
bound his redoubtable vassal to the imperial house, he little knew with
whom he had to deal. A contemporary chronicler has left us his portrait,
and it is not a flattering one. 'Giselbert,' he tells us, 'was small of
stature but strongly built, always in movement, and with eyes so keen
and so shifty that no man knew their colour. Eaten up with ambition,
audacious, crafty, false, he cared not what means he took to compass his
ends.' The goal that he was striving for was, in all probability, a
royal crown: the darling wish of his heart was to re-establish the
kingdom of Lotharingia. His whole life had hitherto been one long course
of treachery and intrigue, and though after his marriage he kept faith
with Henry, when that prince died he soon showed that he was still the
same Giselbert as of yore; in spite of an oath of allegiance, and in
spite of his imperial wife, he proved himself as false to Otho the
Great, the son of his benefactor, as he had been in former days to
Rodolphe of Burgundy and to Charles the Simple of France.

Of this last act of treason the outcome was death. Surprised by the
imperial forces at Andernach, on the Rhine, and hemmed in on all sides,
he made his horse plunge into the water, hoping to reach the further
bank and so make his escape, but the current was too strong for him, and
horse and rider were swept away. Thus died Duke Giselbert (939), and at
his death the star of his house for a while waned. His only son, an
infant whom Otho placed under ward, died shortly afterwards, and though
his nephew, Régnier III. of Hainault, seized his widow's dower, he was
not strong enough to grasp the reins of government, and presently the
Emperor Otho conferred the duchy on Conrad the Red, a native of
Franconia, who, like his predecessor, was allied by marriage to the
imperial house (944). Conrad was an energetic and capable man, but rude,
passionate, vindictive, and, as the issue showed, untrustworthy. At
first, however, all went well: the new duke rigidly enforced order, any
attempt at rebellion he crushed with an iron hand, and for some ten
years the land had peace; and then, having taken it into his head that
Otho had treated him badly, he himself turned rebel. Whereat Régnier of
Hainault, and the rest who had experienced Conrad's lash, taking heart,
banded together against him and drove him from their midst (953). If
Régnier believed that the Emperor would recompense his services by
restoring him to the throne of his ancestors, he was doomed to signal
disappointment. Otho was in no way deceived by the specious loyalty of
his Lotharingian vassals. He knew very well that, in helping him to
crush Conrad, they had in reality made him the instrument of their
vengeance against one whom they hated, not on account of his recent
rebellion, but because of his zeal for law and order and his former
loyal service, and he refused to reward these lawless men by setting
over them a chief as lawless as themselves, and one too, who, by reason
of his popularity, would have all the more power to work mischief; nor
would he confer the duchy on another German vassal, for such would be
not unlikely to follow the example of Conrad. Henceforth he would govern
Lotharingia by means of the Church.

True, the Church had ceased to be the power which she had been in
Charlemagne's day. Her authority was no longer enhanced by the glamour
of wealth and the glamour of learning and the glamour of political
prestige. Her spiritual life had waned. She had lost much of her
pristine fervour, something of her child-like faith. Her sanctuaries had
been ruined; she had been robbed of her treasure; a considerable portion
of her landed property had been appropriated by laymen, and it needed
all her tact and all her vigilance to safeguard the rest, a task the
more difficult from the fact that many bishops owed their appointment to
harpies eager to despoil them. But for all that she was still a power to
be reckoned with--an ally whose friendship was not to be despised. If
only she could be freed from the feudal incubus which was strangling
her, she might yet do yeoman service for the Crown.

This then was the task which Otho set himself to perform, and the method
which he adopted to accomplish it was a bold and an effectual one: he
rendered it henceforth impossible for his vassals to interfere with
episcopal elections by naming the bishops himself, and at the same time
he took good care to appoint none but worthy, capable and reliable men,
entirely devoted to his interests. But this was not all; if the bishops
were to hold their own in their perennial conflict with the barons,
their hands would have to be strengthened; and henceforth it became
Otho's policy, and the policy too of his successors, as opportunity
offered, to gradually enlarge their boundaries, to endow them with fresh
sources of revenue, to increase their temporal authority, and to shower
on them all sorts of civil and political rights.

Nor was the result disproportionate to the Emperor's expectations--the
bishops of Lotharingia became their most faithful and devoted servants.
'If the Emperor were to pluck out my right eye,' cried Bishop Wazon of
Liége (1042-1048) in an outburst of enthusiastic loyalty, 'I would still
use the left in his honour and service.'[3] That was the spirit which
animated all of them, and for a hundred and fifty years they were able
to keep the wolf at bay.

[3] _Anselme_, _Gesta episcop. Leod., Mon. Germ. Hist. Script._, t. vii.
p. 225.

The man on whose head Otho now placed the ducal crown was his brother
Bruno, a clerk in holy orders, on whom he also conferred the
metropolitan See of Cologne, which included among its suffragans
Utrecht, Liége and Cambrai, thus making him supreme alike in Church and
State (953). The success of Otho's policy in Lotharingia was in great
measure, if not entirely, due to the energy, the perseverance, the
courage, and, above all, to the consummate tact and the marvellous
administrative capacity of this great man. His work was essentially a
constructive one, out of chaos he brought order, and his success as an
organiser and administrator was only equalled by his success as an
educator. 'His schools at Cologne,' says M. Pirenne, 'were frequented
not only by clerks who aspired to ecclesiastical dignities, but also by
young nobles--for many of the feudal lords confided their sons to his
care--and all of them returned reconciled to the Empire and entirely
subjugated by the charm of the Archbishop-Duke.'[4] In the twelve years
during which he governed Lotharingia--he died in 965--he succeeded not
only in pacifying that rebellious province, but, if we may trust his
biographer, in working a marvellous change in the lives and morals of
its inhabitants: 'he found them,' says Ruotger, 'rugged and fierce, and
he left them gentle and tame'; and though the conversion of the vast
majority was sufficiently short-lived--when the benign influence of
Bruno was withdrawn they soon relapsed into their old blood-thirsty and
lawless ways--the grandeur of his work is sufficiently appreciable when
we compare such ruffians as Régnier au Long Col, for instance, or his
slippery son Giselbert, with one who came immediately under Bruno's
influence, whose character, indeed, he formed--his friend and disciple
Ansfried, Count of Louvain, who, after having been for long years a
faithful and devoted servant of the Emperor, at last took orders, became
Bishop of Utrecht, and died in the odour of sanctity; or to men like
Godfrey of Verdun, the most perfect type of those nobles whom Bruno had
reconciled to the imperial cause, a man who had no more sympathy for
feudal aspirations than had Bruno himself, and whose staunch loyalty may
be gauged from the message he sent to his wife when he was a captive in
a French prison, and which has been preserved for us in the Memoirs of
Gerbert--who afterwards became Pope Sylvester II. (997-1003)--whom he
charged to deliver it:--'Remain staunch in your fidelity to the ever
august Empress and her son. Make no truce with the French; hold your
forts firm against their king, and let not the hope of restoring your
husband and your son to liberty diminish the energy of your

[4] _Histoire de Belgique_, vol. i. ch. iii. p. 57 (Brussels, 1902).

[5] _Lettres de Gerbert_, ed. J. Havet, No. 50, p. 47 (Paris, 1889).

 I.--Genealogical Table of the House of Long-Col

                                         $Régnier au Long-Col.$, _d._ 915
                                     |           |        |
 Louis d'Outremer, = Gerberge  = Gislebert,   Régnier II. |
 King of France    | (daughter | Duke of         |        |
                   | of Henry  | Lotharingia,    | a daughter = Bérenger,
                   | the       | _d._ 939        |              Count of
                   | Fowler)   |                 |              Namur
                   |         a son               |
    +--------------+--+  _d._ in infancy         |
    |                 |                          |
 Lothaire,   Charles, Duke of                Régnier III. _d._ 958
 King of   Lower Lotharingia,                    |       (in exile in
 France,     _d._ 992                            |          Bohemia)
 _d._ 987       |                                |          |
                |                                |          |
       +--------+-------+              +---------+----------+
       |                |              |                    |
 Otho, Duke of       Gerberge = Lambert Longbeard,      Régnier IV., Count
 Lower Lotharingia,             first hereditary        of Hainault,
 _d._ 1012                      Count of Louvain,        _d._ 1013
                                _d._ 1015

 _Facing page_ 19.

Between Régnier of Hainault, that half-tamed leader of rebels, and the
gentle scholar and polished gentleman, Saint Bruno of Cologne--men whose
dispositions were so different and whose interests and ideals were so
diametrically opposed, the one the incarnation of feudal chaos and
feudal license, and the other the representative of imperial liberty
and imperial law, each of them endowed with unflagging perseverance, and
an indomitable will--no treaty of peace would have been possible, even
if Régnier had not believed that the Emperor had ungratefully bestowed
on Bruno the inheritance which was lawfully his, and from the first they
were at daggers drawn.

As was natural, the man who had been rejected did all in his power to
thwart his successful rival and to frustrate his projects of reform. For
three years the conflict continued and then Bruno was able to pluck the
thorn from his side. Fortune delivered his tormentor into his hands and
he forthwith banished him to Bohemia and detained him there until he
went the way of all flesh. But the house of Long Col was not
extinguished by the death of its chief--the old count had two sons,
Régnier and Lambert, who, when their father was captured and his estates
confiscated, found an asylum in France at the Court of King Lothaire.
The French monarchs, as direct heirs of Charlemagne, had always regarded
Lotharingia as their own inheritance, and Lothaire himself and his
brother Charles were the sons of Duke Giselbert's widow Gerberge by her
second husband, Louis d'Outremer.

Thus ties of kindred and a common grievance disposed the French king to
befriend the children of Régnier of Hainault, and at his Court they
remained for fifteen years nourishing their enmity against Bruno and the
Emperor, and praying for an opportunity of vengeance. At last the day of
reckoning came. The strong and gentle hand of Bruno had been removed by
death in 965, and Otho the Great was gathered to his fathers in 973.

Taking advantage of the confusion incident on this last event Charles of
France now claimed his mother's dowry, and Régnier and Lambert their
father's estates, and presently they invaded Lotharingia to make good
their demands at the sword's point.

Welcomed by the feudal chiefs and backed by the power of France, so
formidable were the invaders that Otho II. deemed it prudent to treat
with them and at last restored their paternal heritage to Régnier and
Lambert and conferred the duchy on Charles. Two considerations made him
the more ready to grant this last concession. Charles on his father's
side was a descendant of Charlemagne and as such was likely to be a
_persona grata_ to the nobles, many of whom had Carolingian blood in
their veins, and through his mother he was the grandson of Henry the
Fowler, thus first cousin to Otho himself, and hence there was reason to
believe that he would prove a loyal vassal.

Otho's hopes, however, were only partly realised. He had no reason to
suspect Charles's good faith, but the feudal chiefs, with Régnier and
Lambert at their head, so far from acknowledging the new duke, did all
in their power to second the desperate efforts which Lothaire was making
to annex Lotharingia, efforts which in despite of his allies were doomed
to disappointment. True he at one time succeeded in reaching the
imperial palace at Aachen, and there 'had the satisfaction of eating a
dinner which had been prepared for Otho himself,' but he was forced to
beat a hasty retreat, and his death, which took place shortly
afterwards, followed as it was by the death of his only son, left the
Emperor master of the situation (987), and Duke Charles heir to a crown
which he was never able to wear. Hugh Capet, who for years past had been
drawing nearer and nearer to the French throne, had himself proclaimed
king at Noyon, and though Charles fought valiantly for his heritage, and
there seemed every likelihood that his efforts would meet with success,
he failed, almost in the hour of triumph: treacherously delivered into
the hands of the usurper by the Bishop of Laon, he was cast into prison
at Orléans where he shortly afterwards died (992).

This unfortunate prince is the first ruler whose name is intimately
associated with Brussels. Tradition says that he was born there, and he
certainly made it his chief place of abode. His palace was situated on a
little island between two branches of the Senne, somewhere about the
site now occupied by the Place Saint Géry, and that little island
contained the whole of the settlement called Brussels, for in those days
Brussels was not a town, it was little more than a castle and a cluster
of huts:--the dwellings of such of the ducal servants and court
officials as were not lodged in the castle itself and of those who
catered for the ducal household and maybe also the homesteads of a few
farmers whom a sense of greater security had induced to settle there.

Charles was succeeded in the Duchy of Lotharingia by his only son Otho,
and when he died childless twenty years afterwards (1012), Lambert Long
Col, who had married Charles's eldest daughter Gerberge, claimed his
heritage as next-of-kin. He did not obtain the dukedom--that dignity
fell to Godfrey of Ardennes, the son of Bruno's pupil, Godfrey the
Captive--but he managed to make good his claim to a very considerable
portion of his father-in-law's maternal heritage--the rich dowry which
Henry the Fowler had bestowed on his daughter, the elder Gerberge, on
her marriage with Duke Giselbert, and which later the Emperor Otho II.
had granted to Duke Charles, her son by her second marriage. The castles
of Louvain and Vilvorde and Brussels, and all the adjoining territory,
fell to Lambert's share, and this vast and rich domain, called until the
close of the century sometimes the county of Brussels, more often the
county of Louvain, was the nucleus of the Duchy of Brabant.


_The Making of the Duchy of Brabant_

In obtaining legal recognition of his right to the county of Louvain,
Lambert I., as we must now call him, had accomplished something, but the
house of Long Col had not yet realised, nor was it ever to wholly
realise, the darling dream of its ambition--the establishment in
Lotharingia of an independent realm, although that cherished wish did,
in later days, receive some measure of fulfilment: in their long contest
with the Empire the triumph of the barons was presently assured, and
with the title of Duke the Counts of Louvain at last obtained practical

It was on the Church, as we have seen, that the emperors mainly relied
for the maintenance of their authority in Lotharingia, and by a strange
irony of fate it was to the Church that the overthrow of that authority
was in great measure due. Not that the bishops belied their trust:
against tremendous odds they held the fortress which had been confided
to their keeping for over a hundred years, and only at last surrendered
when their master's breach with the papacy gave to his turbulent vassals
what had before been lacking to them--a legitimate excuse for rebellion.
Given the conjunction of events, no other issue was possible. The
bishops had no choice: the quarrel concerning investiture broke the back
of imperial rule.

Amongst the clergy the monks alone had succeeded in endearing themselves
to the native population, and the power which they wielded was immense.
The bishops--learned, capable, God-fearing men as most of them
undoubtedly were, had never been able to gain the confidence of the
people: save to the higher clergy, whom they had formed, and to a
handful of the lay aristocracy who had received their education at Liége
or Cologne, they were almost unknown to them. It could hardly have been
otherwise, they were strangers in a strange land, they were the
standard-bearers of order amid a barbarous people, whose lawlessness
filled them with horror and contempt, and of whose very language they
were in many cases ignorant. Well might they bewail their lot in the
words of Tetdon of Cambrai, for a moment cast down at the hopelessness
of the task before him, 'O wretched man that thou art, in vain didst
thou quit thy native land for this land of savages!'

The lot of the regular clergy, and the conditions under which they
laboured were altogether different. The strong man who by his marvellous
energy, his burning zeal, his eloquence, his sweetness, his piety, and,
above all, by the example of his stainless life, had made of the
undisciplined rabble, who, calling themselves monks, scoffed at the
Evangelical counsels, and hardly believed in the Gospel, an army of
humble, hard-working men, ever ready to spend themselves and be spent in
the service of Christ, was himself nurtured in the bosom of feudalism:
Gerard of Brogne wore a coat of mail before he put on the monk's frock.
One day out hunting in his own domain along with his master, Count
Bérenger of Namur, a son-in-law of Régnier au Long Col, he had turned
into a wayside chapel to pray, whilst the rest of the party were dining.
Presently he fell asleep, and dreamed that St. Peter bid him build a
church there and dedicate it to St. Eugène. That was the origin of the
famous abbey of Brogne, and Gerard became its first abbot (923).
Presently the rumour spread abroad that a band of monks who kept their
rule had established themselves in the Forest of Namurois, and that
their leader was a saint. Strangers flocked from far and wide to see if
such things could be, and Brogne became a place of pilgrimage. Soon the
fame of Gerard's holiness outstepped the borders of Namur: at the
request of Duke Giselbert (915-939) he reformed the abbeys of
Lotharingia; later on (965-976) summoned to Cambrai by Bishop Tetdon,
and to Flanders by Arnulph the Great,[6] he accomplished a like work in
their domains; before his death, towards the close of the century, there
was hardly a religious house from the Meuse to the sea which he had not
set in order. Nor was this all, so great was his influence with the
feudal lords that many of them who held ecclesiastical appointments
resigned them, and everywhere the right of free election was restored; a
host of new monasteries were founded, some due to the munificence of the
feudal aristocracy, others to that of their political opponents, the
bishops; and so great was the religious enthusiasm of the people that
they gave their time and labour freely for the erection of these
buildings. Gerard was crowned with the aureole of sanctity--that was the
secret of his success: he loved God with his whole heart and his
neighbour as himself; he was inspired by 'that wisdom which proceedeth
from the mouth of the Most High, and reacheth from end to end, and
mightily and sweetly setteth all things in order.'

[6] See _The Story of Bruges_, ch. iii.

The great reformer's interpretation of the rule of St. Benedict, a rule
which leaves much to the discretion of local superiors, was large, mild,
tolerant, without exaggerated asceticism. His disciples, like their
master, in touch with baron and bishop, were careful not to compromise
their good relations with the Episcopate by any expression of sympathy
with the ideals of feudalism. Indeed, St. Gerard's anonymous
biographer, who most likely was a monk of his own abbey at Brogne, does
not even spare Duke Giselbert, his master's chief benefactor, averring
that his untimely end was a just punishment for his rebellion:--'Sicque
completur vaticinium psalmigraphi qui dicit _Homo cum in honore esset,
non intellexit_. Ob ambitionem quipe regni circa eos istud obvenit.'

Such was the monasticism of Gerard of Brogne and such was the spirit
which for half a century after his death inspired his disciples. The
work which they accomplished was immense. The influence which they
exercised is almost incredible. The Low Countries became for the time
more devout than any other region of Europe; in the eyes of the people
the monk alone was the true servant of God, the incarnation in his own
person of the mystical body of Christ. A wave of religious enthusiasm
swept over the land, and it prepared men's minds to receive later on a
more drastic reform of which the consequences were momentous.

Lavish in alms-deeds, given to hospitality, a loyal friend to the poor
and oppressed, upright, virtuous, dogged, keen, ever ready to do battle
for justice sake, contemned and worshipped, beloved and loathed, such
was the monk of Cluny. Uncompromising in his championship of the rights
of the clergy and of the rights of the apostolic See, clerical laxity
and lay interference alike stank in his nostrils, for him the bishop
whom the Emperor had named was a Simonist, and the married clerk an
adulterer. Gentle to others sometimes, always stern to himself, strait
was the gate and narrow the way by which he went to Paradise. To fast,
to labour, to keep silence, to submit, these things were to him meat and
drink; his one earthly consolation was in the sweetness of his psalmody
and the splendour of his ritual, and in magnifying the glory of the
priesthood collectively he perhaps found some compensation for his
complete abasement of self. His manner of life, he averred, was in
strict accord with the spirit of the old Benedictine rule, he alone of
the monks of his day had discovered its true meaning, but for better or
worse the reform of Cluny constituted in fact a new order, for one
essential feature of Benedictine life, the family tie, was all but
blotted out: wherever Cluniac discipline prevailed the local abbot
ceased to be his own master, he obeyed the Abbot of Cluny, and the monk
no longer regarded his own monastery as his only home--he was a member
of a vast international community, and in each of the hundred homes of
his Order he was sure of a welcome as a son of the house.

Inaugurated at the beginning of the nine hundreds by William of
Aquitaine, who had exchanged a ducal coronet for a monk's cowl,
perfected by a series of capable rulers, who were possessed of that
faith which removes mountains and whose consistency of life inspired
respect, the new order rapidly spread from province to province and
realm to realm till at length it became a power in Christendom.

Early in the ten hundreds 'the sweet savour of its good report' began to
fascinate the monks of the Netherlands, and though some of the elder
brethren who remembered St. Gerard or had been trained by his immediate
disciples had little liking for these new-fangled French ways, monastery
after monastery adopted them. A wave of enthusiasm swept the land and
bore down all opposition. The people from honest conviction were heart
and soul with the movement, the lay lords who saw in Clunyism a weapon
to further their own ends favoured it with no less zeal; the bishops, in
spite of their imperialism, were carried along with the stream, and by
the close of the century there was hardly a religious house in the
Netherlands which had not adopted the new rule.

Notwithstanding their conversion to Clunyism the bishops were still at
heart true to their old political creed, or may be their ingrained
loyalty to the Empire was stronger than their religious belief, certain
it is that they did not at first translate their new theories into
action. When the investiture quarrel broke out, they were among the
staunchest of the Emperor's adherents, but as the relations between
their master and the Holy See became more and more strained they began
to falter, uncertain which road to take, and at last the time came when
no further choice was left them--in spite of themselves they were
constrained to separate their cause from his: the lay aristocracy were
in open rebellion, the people aroused by the preaching of the monks were
raging against the married clergy and 'those Simonists the bishops,'
with a violence past belief; Godfrey the Hunchback, the one man who
might perhaps have quelled the storm, had been struck down by the hand
of an assassin.

If that rickety, misshapen dwarf had lived, the course of events might
have been different. Duke Godfrey was a man of marvellous enterprise,
undaunted courage and indomitable will; a man, too, of infinite
tact--shrewd, long-headed, keen, and withal a convinced believer in the
justice of the imperial cause. Through good report and evil report he
had been true to Henry; he was his intimate counsellor and devoted
friend, and the only man who had any influence over him for good. He
always showed himself a staunch supporter of the bishops, and during the
six years of his government of Lotharingia (1070-1076), with their aid
he had kept the feudal lords at bay. If he had lived out his days he
might perhaps have been able to curb alike the violence of Henry and of
his vassals, and thus have averted the terrible chastisement which
afterwards overtook his master's misdeeds. He was the last Duke of
Lotharingia who exercised, as such, any real power in the land, and his
death was the deathblow of imperialism in this quarter of Europe, but
the agony was not a short one: it was prolonged for thirty years, and
then came the funeral.

Though circumstances had compelled the bishops to withdraw their support
from the Emperor, there was one amongst them, Otbert of Liége, who clung
to him to the bitter end. Cut off from the society of Christian men,
deserted by his wife, a fugitive from his own son, it was in Otbert's
episcopal city that the old Emperor found a refuge during the closing
months of his chequered career. Inspired by their bishop, the men of
Liége banded together to defend him, and with such success that they
drove young Henry from the town. Nor was this all. So great was their
pity for the misfortunes of the fallen Emperor that they altogether
forgot the follies and the crimes which had produced them. In their
eyes, the sinner had become a saint; and when he died they pressed round
his coffin to touch his poor lifeless body as though it were some holy
thing, and strewed over it their seed-corn, firmly convinced that by so
doing they would insure a bountiful harvest. Henry was excommunicate,
and as such it was impossible to give him Christian burial. They laid
him to rest in a small unconsecrated chapel beyond the city walls,
without dirge or requiem, and his mournful funeral, to quote the words
of Pirenne, was the funeral of imperial rule in Lotharingia.

When Duke Godfrey the Hunchback died in 1076, Henry IV., perhaps because
at that time he mistrusted Godfrey of Bouillon, the late Duke's nephew,
and the next in the line of succession, had conferred the Duchy of
Lotharingia on his own son Conrad, a child of two years old, thus, to
all intents and purposes, leaving the throne vacant--a false move, which
Henry himself recognised too late: when, in 1089, he set the crown on
the head of the rightful heir, the feudal lords, who for thirteen years
had been accustomed to the sweets of anarchy, refused to acknowledge
him, Godfrey, who lacked what had always been the mainstay of his
predecessors--episcopal co-operation, was not strong enough to coerce
them, and the old imperial dukedom became little more than an empty
title. The man who held it was almost a nonentity in his own dominions;
and when, in 1096, he set out on that eastern expedition which gave him
a name, and from which he never returned, the barons were left to their
own devices for over five years, and then at last Henry set over them
his namesake, Henry of Limbourg, almost the only one of his Lotharingian
vassals who kept faith with him to the end. This man, when Henry V. put
on his father's crown, refused to acknowledge the usurper, who in
consequence deprived him of his duchy and conferred it on the fallen
Emperor's direst foe, Count Godfrey of Louvain--this was only a few
weeks before the elder Henry's death--and, at the same time, he gave him
the March of Antwerp, 'the land of Ryen,' as it was then called, an
imperial fief which had been held by the Dukes of Lotharingia since the
days of Godfrey the Hunchback certainly, and most likely since the days
of his grandfather, Gothelon I., and which brought the territory of the
Counts of Louvain right up to the banks of the Scheldt. Henceforth that
territory was known as the Duchy of Brabant, and the man who owned it
styled himself Duke of Brabant and Lotharingia. Thus at last did the
house of Long Col obtain the title its chiefs had so long coveted, and
for which throughout so many generations they had intrigued and fought.
It was nothing more than an empty title now--a mere name, which, perhaps
from old-time associations, added something to Godfrey's prestige, but
gave him no increase of territory, and in no way augmented his power. He
was the most redoubtable prince in the Netherlands, but he owed his
strength to his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, not to his phantom
duchy. Presently the Emperor deprived him of it in favour of the rival
house of Limbourg (1128). Matter of little moment to either dynasty: in
Louvain the imperial mandate was ignored, and in Limbourg it had long
ago been anticipated, and for more than a hundred and fifty years the
chiefs of each house continued to use the illusory title. Then, at last,
the fortunes of war gave Limbourg to John the Victorious, and henceforth
the Dukes of Brabant were the only Dukes of Lotharingia (1288).


 II.--Genealogical Table of the Counts of Louvain

                  Lambert Longbeard
                _d._ 1015. (_See_ Table I.)
       |                                     |
    Henry I.,                      Lambert II. (Balderic),
    _d._ 1038                                _d._ 1063
       |                                     |
       |                                     |
 Otho, _d._ 1041                        Henry II., _d._ 1079
                                     Henry III., _d._ 1095
                                 Godfrey Longbeard, Count
                                 of Louvain from 1095,
                                 Duke of Brabant from
                                 1106, _d._ January 15th, 1140


_The Rise of Brussels and Louvain_

The cities of Belgium, unlike the cities of Italy or of the Rhine-land,
or of France, which often go back to Roman times, and trace their
descent to great administrative centres, date nearly all of them from
the Middle Age, and are the children of industry and commerce. Bruges,
Ypres, Ghent, the three _bonnes villes_ of Flanders, were not towns in
the modern sense of the word until the beginning of the ten hundreds,
and it was almost a century later before the farmers of Brussels and
Mechlin and Louvain became manufacturers and merchants.

Its geographical position between France and Germany, its long coast
line, its nearness to England, its numerous navigable streams--all these
things rendered the Low Country a region peculiarly adapted to
mercantile pursuits; nor was it less favourably situated with regard to
that industry which afterwards became, and for centuries remained, the
staple trade of the country: the herbage of the seaboard was naturally
suited to sheep, from time immemorial vast flocks of them grazed on the
polders, and their wool was of the finest quality; thus there was at
hand the raw material for the fabrication of cloth.

When the Danish incursion ceased and the land became comparatively
tranquil, men soon began to consider how best they might turn these
natural advantages to account, and presently along the waterways came
bands of wandering traders with rich cargoes from foreign parts: wine
from France and from the Rhine-land, silk and spices from Italy, furs
from the North--all kinds of merchandise destined to supply the growing
needs of the country, or to be exported to England or Denmark, or the
regions round the Baltic; and when they had disposed of their wares they
would return to the lands from whence they hailed with their barges
laden with woollen goods--product of the looms of Flanders. Coming and
going, they broke the journey at such places along stream as were best
suited to afford accommodation for themselves, their servants, and their
draught cattle, and where they would be likely to find a market for what
they had to sell: by some castle or abbey or collegiate church, around
which clustered the houses of clerks or Court officials, and the
homesteads and the hovels of yeomen and serfs. In these settlements,
too, they took up their winter quarters, and they often found wives
among the daughters of their hosts. When this was so, the place of
sojourning became a home--the permanent abode of their little ones and
of their women folk, the spot where they purposed to end their days when
they had made their fortunes, or, perchance, had been worn out by the
hardships of their calling.

Amongst these early traders, the first merchants and the first
commercial travellers who gained a livelihood in the Low Country,
foreigners there were no doubt, but by far the greater number of them
were natives of the soil, and they seem to have been recruited from all
ranks of society. Some were knights, who hoped to find the business of
buying and selling more profitable than the trade of war; some were
Karls from the seaboard, men who had lost their land, if they ever had
any to lose, but still retained their freedom, and some were runaway
slaves. Matter of little moment, they were birds of passage; no man knew
their condition or whence they came, or what lord, if any, claimed
their allegiance, and they were all of them treated wherever they went
as their own masters. The freedom which they enjoyed compelled
association, for since they were no man's vassals no man was bound to
protect them; what rights and privileges they possessed were necessarily
in their own keeping; hence the great merchant guilds famous in the
story of the Netherlands. Meeting together at night to discuss over
their liquor their own personal transactions, the guild brethren soon
began to consider the public affairs of the settlements in which they
dwelt or which they frequented, and little by little to busy themselves
with municipal administration, and presently they obtained the charters
which gave them a legal standing. Nor were they without funds: their
coffers were filled by self-imposed rates, and by fines levied by their
elected chiefs for infringements of their rules of association. The
money thus raised served for the erection of guild halls and belfries,
the building of town walls, the maintenance of waterways, and the making
of roads and bridges.

Another element was soon to be added to the population of these
river-side settlements of agriculturists and tradesmen: hard on the
heels of the merchant came the manufacturer. Thanks to the greater
security which the land at this time enjoyed and the consequent increase
in the number of its inhabitants, the fens were being drained rapidly,
and vast areas which had been lakes were already under pasture; this
meant an increase of flocks, and a wool crop so abundant that the
shepherds unaided were no longer able to convert the whole of it into
cloth. Hence the professional weaver, and the new commercial activity
made weaving a profitable profession. The men who adopted it--and their
name was legion--naturally flocked to the towns, where, in touch with
merchant and trader, they would be likely to find a more ready market
for their wares. Like them, and from like motives, they found it
expedient to band together, and soon the 'Draperie,' or Cloth Guild,
became an institution of mark in the Netherlands.

As for the original settlers--the serfs attached to the soil, the yeoman
bound by less stringent ties to the Church or the chief under whose
protection they dwelt, the _ministeriales_ who collected manorial fines
and dues, administered justice in their lord's name, and managed
generally his estate, and who were practically free men--living
alongside of the new-comers, often united to them by marriage ties, they
gradually adopted their manner of life, and themselves became merchants
and manufacturers. For a time they seem to have been submitted to the
old manorial _régime_, but they soon began to agitate for emancipation,
and presently they obtained the parchments which gave them complete

The making of the great commercial and manufacturing centres of mediæval
Belgium was for the most part and generally speaking in this wise, but
they did not all of them come into being at the same time--not even in
the course of the same century. As a rule the towns of Brabant are less
ancient than the towns of Flanders, and most of them owe their
development less to the river than to the road. It was so with Brussels
and Louvain, and, to a certain extent also with Mechlin. Off the main
waterways, on the banks of tributary streams, navigable only by light
craft, what business they at first did was more or less of a local
character. It was not till the opening of the eleven hundreds, when the
great high road was made from Bruges to Cologne, passing through Louvain
and Brussels, and within easy reach of Mechlin, that these little towns
at last became places of importance.

The commercial movement reached Brussels earlier than it reached
Louvain. If we may trust St. Guy's anonymous biographer, who lived most
probably in the second half of the ten hundreds, there was a settlement
of merchants established there at the commencement of the century. He
tells us a curious story concerning one of them, a friend of Guy's, who
seems to have done a thriving trade.

But first a word as to Guy himself, the poor man of Anderlecht, as
people called him--a picturesque and interesting figure from several
points of view. To this man--the earliest private inhabitant of Brussels
whose name we know, the first of whose doings we have any record, the
only one who has ever attained the honours of the altar, the most
ancient sanctuary in the town, the crypt of Anderlecht, is dedicated. In
this church when he died they laid his body to rest; here his tomb may
still be seen, and his bones are still treasured; and strangely enough
it was in this same building that in his childhood he used to pray. Then
it was the Church of St. Peter; a hundred and fifty years afterwards the
dedication was changed, and henceforth men called it the Church of St.
Peter and St. Guy. Of this beautiful remnant of a forgotten age we shall
have much to say presently. Guy was born somewhere about the middle of
the nine hundreds. His parents were very humble folk, probably serfs
attached to the soil of Anderlecht. He himself began life as a farm
labourer, and his employer's holding seems to have been hard by the
Castle of Brussels. A beautiful legend has come down to us concerning
him at this time. It was his master's custom to provide the labourers
with a mid-day meal, served to them in the fields, and Guy's to carry a
portion of his each day to his parents at Anderlecht. One of his
comrades, a cross-grained, ill-conditioned fellow, took umbrage at this,
and accused him to their master of wasting his time. Next day, during
the dinner-hour, the farmer betook himself to the field which Guy was
tilling, determined, if his man had played truant, to rate him soundly
on his return, but though Guy, as usual, had gone to Anderlecht, when
presently he came hurrying back, with no harsh words was he greeted, for
during his absence an angel had taken his place at the plough. This
story is the subject of an ancient and very beautiful wall painting in
the upper church at Anderlecht.

And how many other fairy tales, some of them no less touching, have been
woven about the name of this popular hero, the only man of his day whose
memory is still green in the city of Brussels! And yet throughout his
whole career no deeds which the world calls great are recorded of him.
His life for the most part seems to have been an even and uneventful
one. He soon gave up farm labour, and for many years he was sacristan to
the little church at Laeken, now a populous suburb of Brussels, then a
hamlet just outside the town. The last ten years of his life he spent in
making two pilgrimages to Jerusalem and in travelling over Europe to
visit famous shrines. All these journeys were made on foot, and
doubtless they were not devoid of adventure, but his earliest
biographer, who wrote nearly a hundred years after his death, has little
to tell us on this head. In the fall of the year 1012 he returned to his
native village, and in pitiable plight, worn out with want and fever and
the wear and tear of the road. The canons of Anderlecht received him
into their hospice, where he was tenderly cared for, for nine days, and
then at last, on the 12th of September, he set out for Jerusalem the
Golden. He loved God with his whole heart, of his penury he ministered
to those who were poorer than himself, and he did what he could in his
small way to sweeten and soften the hard lot of his neighbours. Even
during his lifetime he was regarded as a saint: his anonymous biographer
informs us that when Dean Wonedulph of Anderlecht and a company of
pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem encountered him unexpectedly at Rome
'they fell down on their faces and adored him,' and when he lay dying in
the hospice of the canons of Anderlecht, Heaven itself, so runs the
legend, miraculously proclaimed his sancity. A heavenly light filled the
room in which he lay, a white dove hovered over his head, and a voice
was heard saying: 'Veniat dilectus meus ad percipiendam æternæ
jocunditatis coronam.'

[Illustration: Subterranean Church of St. Guy at Anderlecht]

Strangely enough 'the poor man of Anderlecht' at one time seriously
thought of embarking in trade. Satan, in the guise of a rich Brussels
merchant, would fain have persuaded the saint, then sexton of Laeken, to
enter into partnership with him, cunningly representing that by so doing
he would soon make a fortune, and thus be the better able to help the
poor, and Guy fell into the trap; but it was not God's will that His
servant should imperil his soul in so hazardous a calling, and hardly
had he started on his first journey down Senne, when his craft grounded
on a sandbank in mid stream, and, notwithstanding all their efforts, the
boatmen were unable to float it; and, worse still, when the saint
himself vainly seized the barge-pole it miraculously adhered to his
fingers, nor could he unclasp them until he had made a solemn vow to
utterly eschew commerce.

'Mercatura raro aut nunquam ab aliquo diu sine crimine exerceri potuit,'
shrewdly notes his biographer, who was most likely a clerk of
Anderlecht, and that seems to have been the general opinion of the
ecclesiastical authorities of the day. The Church looked askance at
trade, the methods of the merchant were too nearly allied to the methods
of the usurer, as she knew very well to her cost. When she wanted a loan
she sometimes had to pay him fifty or sixty per cent. Yet, strangely
enough, it was on Church land, and under the auspices of a collegiate
chapter, that the most flourishing of the great commercial centres of
Brabant gradually grew up: it was not by Lambert Longbeard's castle, but
higher up stream, alongside the Church of St. Peter, that the wandering
merchants who frequented Louvain first pitched camp.

[Illustration: At Mechlin]


_The Serfs of St. Peter_

Though Lambert Longbeard was the first hereditary Count of Louvain, he
was certainly not the founder of the city of Louvain, or even of the
Castle and its dependencies--the 'Old Bourg of Louvain,' as it was
called in later days--which he made his capital.

The city dates from a much later period than Lambert's day, and there is
a tradition that some Merovingian noble had built himself a home on the
site of the Old Bourg soon after the Frankish invasion. Certainly since
Arnulph's victory over the Danes there had been a fortress there, which,
until Lambert's day, was held in the Emperor's name by a series of
provincial governors, one of whom was Bruno's friend St. Ansfried. This
building, which has long ago disappeared, and of the site of which even
we are ignorant, is said to have stood on an island formed by two
branches of the Dyle, and there is little doubt that it was for a time
at least the home of Lambert I., but the Counts of Louvain did not long
continue to dwell there. Most likely, on account of the frequent floods
and the dampness of the situation, they soon migrated to a new castle,
built on the height now called Cæsar's Hill--some vestiges of it still
remain--and which, in all probability, was built by Lambert II.--Lambert
Longbeard's younger son, Lambert surnamed Balderick. A name to be
remembered this, for the man who bore it was the real founder of
Louvain: it was Lambert Balderick who built and munificently endowed
the great Collegiate Church of St. Peter, the church around which, as we
have already seen, the city grew up, and which in its early days was its
nursing mother. The collegiate chapter was invested with all the rights
and privileges of a great monastic corporation, and the yeomen and serfs
who dwelt on their lands, and who formed what was called St. Peter's
family, participated in their immunities, and were submitted only to
their jurisdiction--no small boon, for the conditions of life on an
ecclesiastical estate were far more conducive to liberty and progress
than were those on lay domains. There was no _taille_, nor _droit de
gite_, nor forced labour for the maintenance of ramparts; Church land
was universally held to be the patrimony of the saint to whom it was
dedicated, to violate it was sacrilege, a crime which the greediest
feudal robber was generally loth to commit, and thus, amid the turmoil
and warfare with which the surrounding country was so often vexed, its
inhabitants for the most part enjoyed the blessing of peace. Further,
justice was administered by themselves, and they were altogether free
from State exactions. Indeed, so jealous was the Provost of Louvain of
this privilege that he would suffer no civil officer to sojourn within
his borders.

Though the landed estate of the collegiate chapter was not a large one,
the 'Petermen' or lay members of St. Peter's family seem to have been
sufficiently numerous. The Provost had the right to admit outsiders, his
conditions were not onerous--a trifling entrance fee, generally two
_deniers_ and an undertaking in the event of marriage to pay a small
tribute, and upon these terms a host of free men and liberated serfs
were glad enough to barter their liberty, to quote the characteristic
phrase of the charters of the day, 'for a servitude freer than freedom

[Illustration: Saint Peter's Louvain]

The privileges and immunities of the Church of St. Peter were not
peculiar to that foundation, almost all the great ecclesiastical
establishments of the Low Countries were similarly favoured; but whereas
in other towns which had grown up on Church land the laymen affiliated
to the religious community which originally owned the soil--the
Martinmen at Utrecht, for example, the men of St. Rombold at Mechlin,
the men of St. Bavo at Ghent, when at last they obtained rights of
citizenship, lost the ecclesiastical privileges and immunities which
hitherto they had enjoyed, at Louvain this was not the case: the
privileges of the Petermen survived long after their obligations to the
institution which conferred them had become a dead letter, and for
centuries too after they had obtained full civil rights. Indeed, by the
opening of the thirteen hundreds, perhaps even earlier, their connection
with the Chapter of St. Peter's had ceased to be anything but a nominal
one: they remained exempt from taxation and were amenable only to their
own court, but the Mayor of Louvain had taken the place of the Provost
in all that appertained to their government. They were still a class
apart, but these men who owed their distinction to servile descent had
now become a rich, influential and aristocratic caste, the cream of the
burgher nobility, and thus they continued until the close of the
seventeen hundreds, and then, at last, 'the men of St. Peter' were
ruthlessly swept away, along with so many other interesting and
time-honoured abuses.

Such was the famous collegiate church which Lambert Balderick founded at
'the place called Looven,' and whose rights and privileges every
successive sovereign of Brabant swore to maintain at his 'Joyous Entry,'
until the days of Albert and Isabel.

So completely identified was it with the town which grew up around its
walls that a likeness of the material fabric was graven on the city
seal, its steeple was the city belfry, the gold and silver pieces coined
at the city mint were called 'Peters,' and proof that a man was a
'Peterman' was held to be sufficient proof that he was a burgher and a
patrician of Louvain. Without any further investigation he was at once
admitted to all the rights of citizenship.


_The Greater and the Lesser Folk_

The municipal organisation of the towns of Brabant was at first of a
very simple character. It consisted in every case of an unpaid
magistracy--a college of _schepen_ or aldermen appointed by the Duke for
life from among the chief freeholders of the city, of which they were
held to be its representatives--presided over by a paid officer, who
bore the title of Mayor or Ecoutête or Amman--from town to town the
title differed--was the sovereign's direct delegate, and in all things
the representative of his authority. He was not necessarily or even
usually a burgher of the city over which he presided. The Duke was free
to choose whom he would, and to revoke the appointment at will; and
though this officer held the first place in the civic hierarchy, he was
in reality nothing more than his master's hired servant.

Alongside of the College of Aldermen was the Merchants' Guild. Whether
this corporation had any legal existence prior to the institution of the
magistracy is a problem which has yet to be solved; but it is certain
that by the end of the eleven hundreds the guild was firmly established
in most of the towns of Brabant; that, including as it did all the
commercial and industrial capitalists of the city, it had exercised from
the first no little influence on public affairs, and that it contributed
in great measure to the full expansion of municipal self-rule.

The next century saw the birth of another institution, the Council of
Jurors, and there can be no doubt that it was to the Merchants' Guild
that the Jury owed its origin.

With the increase of the population, outcome of the commercial
development which signalised the opening of the twelve hundreds, the old
machinery no longer sufficed for the maintenance of public peace and the
regulation of trade. It became necessary to devise some new means to
check the growing disorder, and the burghers, united as they were in the
powerful organisation of their guild, were strong enough to take the
matter into their own hands. Hence the Council of Jurors, a subsidiary
body, annually elected by the people for policing the city and the
management of municipal affairs, and which also participated with the
College of Aldermen in the administration of justice.

So far from offering opposition, the sovereigns of Brabant from the
first showed themselves favourable to this development. Not that they
had any particular liking for democratic institutions, but because they
were sufficiently clear-sighted to see that, in the interest of their
revenue, it was incumbent on them to do so: they were well aware that
the towns of Brabant depended wholly on trade, and that this delicate
plant can only thrive in an atmosphere of freedom.

There is no record of the Jury at Brussels prior to 1229, at Antwerp
till 1232, at Louvain till 1234, and at Tirlemont till 1249, but it is
most likely that in all of these towns it dates from an earlier period,
and by the close of the first half of the century it had been granted to
almost all the communes of Brabant.

Its existence, however, as a body distinct from the higher magistracy
was nowhere, save at Louvain, of long duration. As early as 1274 the
Jury had disappeared at Brussels, and in hardly any of the great towns
did it outlive the century. From the first the relations between the two
corporations had almost everywhere been strained: they were the
embodiment of hostile ideals--oligarchy and popular rule. Presently the
burghers obtained a voice in the election of aldermen, and their term of
office was limited to one year. The Council of Jurors thus ceased to be
the sole expression of the will of the people; the higher magistracy had
become, not only in theory, as it had always been, but in fact,
representative of the city, and had risen proportionately in public
esteem. Thus protected by the mantle of popularity, it was able,
seemingly without opposition, little by little to itself assume the
functions of its rival, and thus, little by little, to absorb it into
its own bosom.

At Louvain, however, the case was different. In that city the
aristocratic element was all-powerful, and the jury was recruited from
the same families which furnished the College of Aldermen; from the
first the two corporations had worked together in harmony, and until the
end of the Middle Age they continued to exist as two distinct bodies.

For a long period after the municipal organisation of the cities of
Brabant had been definitely determined, all administrative and
legislative power remained in the hands of a narrow oligarchy of great
capitalists, headed by the old patrician families, which from time
immemorial had furnished the magistracy.

One was the source of their title to distinction--the ownership of land;
but the means by which the first patricians had acquired their
title-deeds were not in every case the same, nor were they all of like
origin. Some of them were the descendants of _ministeriales_ who, when
the township was a feudal domain, had levied their lords' dues for him,
and generally managed his affairs; others of yeomen of the same period,
whom thrift or good fortune had enabled to purchase the freehold of the
soil they tilled; others, again, were successful traders, or the sons of
successful traders, who, retiring from business, had invested the wealth
which commerce had given them in real property.

Together they formed a class apart, distinct alike from the feudal
nobility and from the general body of townsmen. They were divided into
groups in each city, which bore the characteristic title of _lignages_
or clans; but it is certain that many patricians were not the direct
lineal descendants of the houses whose names and arms they bore: the
status of patrician was transmissible in the female line, and patrician
daughters were not unfrequently given in marriage to prosperous
plebeians; moreover, some of the sons of the house were only sons by
adoption--the wealthy merchant of alien blood was not always refused
admission to the charmed circle, though as a rule the door of matrimony
was the only door open to him; and occasionally we find whole families,
sometimes sections of families, forsaking their original clan to enroll
themselves in another. Indeed, the great _lignages_ of Brabant, which
play so large a part in the stories of her towns, were, to a certain
extent, voluntary associations of aristocratic families banded together
for the sake of mutual protection and help, and with a view to securing
the election of their own nominees to the magistracy; and though, no
doubt, a considerable number of the members of each clan traced their
descent to one stock, it is certain that the ties by which they were
most strongly knit together were not those of blood, but of kindred
pursuits, and kindred associations and kindred political interests. It
is a significant fact, as Pirenne observes, that the number of
_lignages_ in each town corresponded to the number of their aldermen,
and that each _lignage_ had obtained a prescriptive right of
representation in the magistracy.

Though the patricians as a body were a wealthy class, all of them were
not rich men; some, indeed, were so poor that they were glad to earn a
livelihood by hiring themselves as servants to their more fortunate
kinsmen; others, on account of their poverty, renounced their
privileges, and sank back into the general body of the people. On the
other hand, the wealth of the patricianate was being constantly
augmented by the new men who found admission into its borders, and with
the increasing prosperity of the town, their land was becoming daily
more valuable for building purposes. Many of them were thus able to live
in luxury on the rents produced by their property, others increased
their revenue by farming the State taxes, others were engaged in banking
operations, others again in commerce. In that case they became members
of the Merchants' Guild, for the Guild, whose members were constantly
being enrolled in the _lignages_ was always ready to open its doors to
the son of the aristocratic house who wished to resume the calling by
which, most likely, his ancestors had attained wealth. Thus it was
growing daily more and more aristocratic, and at last nearly all its
members were patricians by birth or by adoption. Embracing as it did at
first traders of every kind, it now became an exceedingly close
corporation, and only admitted to its membership the sellers of cloth
and the sellers of wool, the cream of the commercial world.

Such were the men who owned the soil of the cities of Brabant, who had
endowed them, often at their own cost, with magnificent public
buildings,[7] who had won for themselves free institutions, and who for
the best part of two hundred years tyrannised over everyone else.

[7] The old Cloth Hall of Louvain, for example.

[Illustration: Cloth Hall Louvain]

Mightier than the feudal chiefs, whose fathers' swords had made the
evolution of the city possible, they had absorbed them into their own
ranks, or driven them forth from their borders, and now adopted their
dress and speech and manner of living. In time of war they wore coats of
mail like knights, and they alone of the civic army were mounted. They
lived in great houses of stone, whose turrets and battlements towered
above the thatched hovels of the helots who did their bidding:--weavers
who starved when work was slack, and in good times just managed to keep
body and soul together, the poorest and the most numerous of them all
were they, the most turbulent, too, and the worst organised, always
snarling at their hard lot and their impotence to better it, ready to
break out into rebellion on the slightest provocation, and never
content with their wages; dyers with blue nails--outward and visible
sign of moral degradation, for though it was owing to their skill that
the cloth of Brabant was more beautiful than that of any other land, and
sometimes, though not often, they obtained wealth, they could never hope
for the rights of citizenship until time had wiped out those fatal
stains; men of a hundred other callings, degraded creatures all of them,
who earned their bread by the sweat of their brow, mere human chattels
without heart and without soul, whom an honest burgher might cuff at
will, aye, and, if he would, carry off their daughters without fear of
incurring any legal penalty.

It was not always so. Before the year 1200 class distinctions were far
less marked. In the early days the weaver could sell his own cloth, and
even petty traders were admitted to the Merchants' Guild. The advent of
the middleman had changed all this, and as time went on the patricians,
the _majores et potentiores_, as an ancient chronicler calls them, grew
more and more exclusive and more and more overbearing. But though they
looked down on the 'lesser folk,' the bowels of their compassion were
not shut up against them: they built and lavishly endowed hospitals
where they might be tended when they were sick, refuges to which they
could retire when hard work and old age had worn them out, orphanages
for such of their children as had been deprived by death of their
natural protectors, and above all, churches, glorious without and
within--palaces of the people, where Lazarus and Dives knelt side by
side. Nor is the stream of their charity yet dried up: the rich
endowments of the _Bureaux de bienfaisance_ throughout Belgium are in
great measure due to the munificence of these merchant princes of the
Middle Age, who in turn cuffed and caressed the turbulent folk on whose
hardships they fattened, and whose poverty rendered their riches

No less inconsequent was the patrician burgher in his dealings with the
Church--with one hand he smote her in the mouth and with the other he
loaded her with benefits. And yet, after all, perhaps he was not so
inconsistent, for the soul of this man who possessed the faith, in his
way a devout Christian, was consumed by pride and the lust of power. He
would share his authority with no man, he would be master in his own
house, and so he ousted the noble, ground down the toiler, flouted the
clerk and set his heel on his neck. A firm believer in the rights of the
laity, he would never suffer priest or monk to meddle with his affairs,
but he did not hesitate, whenever it suited his purpose, to busy himself
with theirs. Thus, from time immemorial most city livings had been in
the gift of one or other of the religious houses which dotted the
countryside, but he quietly ignored their abbots' pretensions, and named
his parish priests himself, and never rested until he had obtained a
legal right to do so. So, too, in the matter of education: the
management of schools had been always recognised as the especial
province of the clergy, but he was not happy until he had succeeded in
placing them under municipal control, or, in other words, until he had
undertaken their management himself. Nor would he always recognise the
clerk's right to justice in his own courts, though when he himself was
technically a churchman, he never scrupled to make use of them if he
thought it would be an advantage to him to do so. Thus at Louvain, where
almost all the patricians were _Hommes de Saint Pierre_, the old
ecclesiastical courts, officered indeed by laymen, were maintained
intact for his behoof till the Revolution.

The peculiar circumstances of the Church in Brabant favoured these
pretensions. The one great ecclesiastical power in that province, where
no bishop had his See, was monasticism, and when the burgher was in the
heyday of his magnificence monasticism was spiritually and temporally at
a low ebb. The fiery zeal which characterised the days of the Cluniac
revival had long ago flickered out. Discipline had become sadly relaxed,
the monk had ceased to be the saint and the popular hero he had been in
days of yore, and the alms of the faithful no longer flowed into his
coffers. Another source of revenue, too, had all but dried up. Owing to
the fall in the purchasing power of money, the produce of his manorial
dues, which he had no power to raise, had diminished almost to vanishing
point. Thus was the abbot, at his wits' end how to keep order amongst
his rebellious family and make both ends meet, sadly handicapped in his
contests with his all-powerful foe, from whom, indeed, he was not
unfrequently constrained to borrow at usurious rates of interest. But
although the burgher looked askance at the old religious orders, for
some reason or other his antipathy to the monk did not extend itself to
the friar. He never quarrelled with the 'watch dogs of the Lord,' and
with the disciples of 'the poor man of Assisi' his relations were most
cordial. Perhaps as a practical business man the object of their mission
appealed more to his sympathies; perhaps he thought he had nothing to
fear from the children of the gentle saint who had taken for his bride
the Lady Poverty. But by a strange irony of fate it was not the monk but
the friar who hurled the first blow at his dominion. It was from the
lips of the friar who toiled among the poverty-stricken masses that
these poor folk learned, for the first time, the dignity of man, and no
teacher was needed to awaken in their souls the consciousness of their
degradation. They experienced it every day: when they lounged about the
market-place on Monday morning waiting, often in vain, for the supply of
labour generally exceeded the demand, for someone to hire them at wages
fixed by the town magistrates, men who themselves were employers of
labour and in whose appointment the people had no voice; when, working
at home at their looms, they received the visit of the guild inspector,
who had the right to ransack their hovels at all hours, with a view to
assuring himself of the excellence of their work, and who received as
his salary a portion of the fine imposed for any fraud detected. This
was their normal lot in times of prosperity, and when work was slack, or
when there was no work at all, as was sometimes the case when wool was
not forthcoming from England, the wounds inflicted on their self-respect
went deeper and smarted more: then were they constrained to choose
between two evils--either they must starve, and, worse still, see their
wives and their little ones starve; or they must band together and
parade the streets whining for that bread which they could no longer
win. Well might the friar preach to men set in such straits the beauty
of Christian humility and of Christian resignation, and bid them despise
as dross that gold which they could not obtain. The weavers and dyers
who hung on his lips possessed, of earthly goods, very often only the
rags they stood up in; and the wealth which they saw around them, and
which they could never hope to enjoy, they knew very well was in many
cases the fruit of their underpaid toil, and that the holders of it, of
like origin with themselves, were not only their rulers and taskmasters,
but corrupt stewards of the common-weal--the men who managed the city,
and managed it in their own interests.

What wonder, then, that they soon began to confound contempt for riches
with contempt for the rich, and that presently contempt engendered
hatred. Were not the oppressors of the poor the enemies of Jesus Christ?
Was it not easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for
a rich man to enter the kingdom of God? Had not one of their
preachers[8] told them that the rich man, even if he were righteous, was
less worthy of esteem than the woman of the street?

[8] Guillaume Cornelius of Antwerp. _See_ Thomas de Cantimpré (a native
of Brussels, born in 1201), _Bonum universale de apibus_, p. 433 (Duaci,
1605). 'Il importe de remarquer toutefois,' notes Pirenne (vol. i. p.
353), 'que ce Cornelius était hérétique, mais, même dans l'église
orthodoxe, des prédications analogues à celles de Lambert le Bègue
(_see_ 'Story of Brussels.' p 233) et l'ardent mysticisme des premières
béguines (_see_ pp. 228 and 233) devaient agir fortement sur le peuple.'



_The Coelveren and the Blankarden_

Strangely enough it was the patricians themselves who placed in the
hands of the lesser folk the weapon with which they presently won
independence. For years past it had been cause of just complaint that
municipal affairs were managed in the interest of one class only, and
before the middle of the twelve hundreds things had come to this pass:
the men in office considered alone their own advantage and the advantage
of their kinsfolk and their friends. Hence heartburning, jealousy,
strife without end, the upper classes split into factions, and sometimes
the fire thus enkindled burnt so fiercely that it could only be
extinguished by the shedding of blood. This was so all over Brabant, and
in the year 1260 there broke out a conflict which brought forth
unlooked-for results.

The Coelveren and the Blankarden were two of the mightiest families of
Louvain; for generations past they had been rivals, and they hated one
another with 'a perfect hatred.' Whatever may have been the first cause
of their mutual hostility, the quarrel was of ancient date; it had been
handed down from father to son, and had become in each case a family

The times were favourable to disorder. Duke Henry III. had just died
(February 6, 1260); his eldest son had not yet reached man's estate; his
widow, Adelaide of Burgundy, harassed by ambitious kinsmen, who claimed
a share in the administration of the realm, was holding the reins of
government with faltering hands. For years past the rival families had
been only waiting for an opportunity to settle their long dispute, and
hardly had Duke Henry been laid in the grave than they flew to arms.
What was the immediate cause of the conflict is unknown, but it is
always easy to find a pretext when men are determined to fight, and the
war in this case was probably the outcome of some very trifling affair.

Be this as it may, opinion was sharply divided at Louvain as to which
side was in the right, and men took such interest in the quarrel, and
party feeling ran so high, that by the end of the year 1262 there was
not a patrician in the city who had not taken up arms on behalf of one
or other of the belligerents.

Nor was this all: the Blankarden had sought and obtained the support of
Duchess Adelaide, and the Coelveren, casting about for some pillar of
strength to counterbalance this advantage, presently found a more
dangerous ally--the mob. They appealed, and not vainly, to that herd of
downtrodden and plundered helots, who for years had been writhing under
the sense of their wrongs, and riot and confusion reigned in the city
for two years;[9] and then matters, instead of becoming better, grew
worse, for Adelaide added fuel to the fire: she provided the
belligerents with a fresh bone of contention. On the ground that her
elder son Henry was incapable, she disinherited him, and proclaimed her
younger son John heir to the Duchy of Brabant, whereat the Coelveren
cried 'Shame! If Henry were indeed as poor a creature as his mother
alleged, that were no excuse for trampling on the rights of
primogeniture. Could he not appoint responsible ministers and rule
through them?' The Blankarden, of course, were of the opposite opinion,
and shouted their loudest for John, but, supported by the great mass of
the people, their rivals were strong enough to silence them, and when
presently Adelaide and her younger son appeared before the gates of the
capital they found them shut.

[9] _See_ Divæus _Annales_, 1262.

Meanwhile the strife had extended to the whole of Brabant, and until
1267 the land was a prey to civil war; and though at last a
reconciliation was effected, and the Coelveren consented, for a
consideration, to acknowledge John, the government of the city had
become completely disorganised, and the patricians, who for five years
had been disporting themselves by cutting one another's throats, were
not only thinned in numbers, but had lost credit.

Before the war they had been hated and despised, but until then at least
they had been feared. The craftsman hitherto had only ventured to snarl
and show his teeth. He was a bolder dog now. The experience of the last
five years had shown him something of his own might. He had not only
fought, and fought on the winning side, but it had been in great measure
owing to his efforts that the victory had been won. If he could fight so
well for others, why not one day fight for himself? The flame of hope
was rekindled within his breast. That was something. It was probably
some such thought as this which moved him to demand as guerdon for his
services a boon which would place him in a position to do battle with
some chance of success. The moment was a propitious one for craving
favours. Duke John and a considerable number of the aristocracy were
alike beholden to the men who petitioned--men flushed with victory, and
still under arms. Fear, if not gratitude, then counselled compliance,
and the boon was not denied. By the charter which John granted to
Louvain in 1267 it was expressly ordained that the craft guilds, which,
until now, had been purely industrial corporations, should henceforth be
endowed with military organisation, and that each guild should march
under its own banners, and be commanded by its own elected chiefs.

The result was what might have been, and what probably was, foreseen,
though no doubt the situation developed sooner than the longest-headed
of them had expected: before the year was out the rabble who had thus
been imprudently armed turned their weapons against the men who had
armed them, and though the rebellion was promptly quelled, and the
ringleaders were sent into exile, it was impossible to extinguish the
flame of hope which recent events had enkindled. The craftsmen were
firmly convinced that the flowing tide was with them, and though the
victory was not in their day, after events showed that they had
accurately gauged the situation.

During the confusion incident on Duke Henry's death, the craftsmen of
several other towns had likewise been able to wrest some shreds of power
from their patrician taskmasters. In some places, notably at Brussels,
the old Council of Jurors was re-established, but in no case was its new
lease of life a long one. The young Duke had little sympathy with
democratic ideas, and no sooner was he firmly established on his throne
than he set to work to restore the old order of things. John the First
was a strong man, and with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm he
accomplished his purpose, but it was only a putting off of the evil day.
The plebeians were for a moment cowed, but their spirit was not crushed.
Confident in the justice of their cause, they bent their heads to the
storm, and possessed their souls in patience.

Presently (1302) the victory of Courtrai sent a thrill through Europe,
for what a triumph it had been. 'On the one side was Philippe le Bel,
the mightiest prince of his day, with all the chivalry of Navarre and
all the chivalry of France, and a host of mercenary forces from all
parts of Europe; on the other were the weavers of Bruges and a troop of
Flemish boors, half naked, bare-headed, and with no other weapon but
the rude _scharmsax_ of their forebears--and these puny folk had
conquered: the tyrants who would have enslaved them lay humbled in the
dust.' When the news of the victory was noised abroad the downtrodden on
all sides took heart, and in the cities of Brabant a general uprising
was the immediate outcome. But the day of their triumph was not yet:
other was the social and political situation in Brabant to that in the
neighbouring county. The rulers of Brussels and Mechlin and Louvain were
of a different stamp to the men who had tyrannised over Bruges and Ypres
and Ghent. The latter were an effete and decrepit aristocracy--a herd of
_ledigoers,_ as working men contemptuously called them--mere loafers who
despised that trade which had enriched their fathers, and who knew of no
other means of increasing their dwindling income than by bribery and
corruption; the former were for the most part practical business men
actively engaged in commercial pursuits, and shrewd enough to reap a
large profit from their several avocations. Nor were they, like the
patricians of Flanders, at loggerheads with their sovereign. On the
contrary, they regarded him as their natural protector, and were on the
best of terms with him. In their eyes the Duke of Brabant was a highly
respectable and most efficient officer of police, who, as such, deserved
their confidence and esteem, and though the wages they paid him were
certainly high, they considered on the whole that he was well worth his
price. And the Duke on his part regarded them as men peculiarly worthy
of his affection, for his expenses were heavy, and he was often short of
cash, and they were always ready to make him presents with other
people's money, or even to advance him their own when he could give them
reasonable security and they were assured of a fair rate of interest.

In a word, these two forces were necessary to one another, and they were
wise enough to know it. Thus united they were irresistible, and the
plebeians hurled themselves in vain against the bedrock of their
omnipotence. As long as this state of things lasted there was but one
issue to their most strenuous efforts--defeat.

Once, indeed, by rare good fortune the craftsmen of Brussels almost
achieved success, but the cup of triumph was dashed from their hands as
they were carrying it to their lips. It happened thus. During the reign
of Duke John II. and his wife Marguerite, a daughter of King Edward I.
of England, there arose at Brussels, on the vigil of Candlemas 1306, a
quarrel between two citizens, in the course of which one of them
received a sword thrust. The wounded man does not seem to have been
seriously injured, but the outrage had been committed in a public place;
the assailant was an aristocrat, the victim a son of the people. That
was enough. Riot ensued. The Duke was out of town. The patricians, left
to their own resources, were powerless in face of the mob, and before
daybreak riot had become revolution. Throughout the hours of darkness
the city was a prey to the wildest disorder. Property of all kinds was
vowed to destruction; strongholds, in which patricians were hiding, were
taken by storm and wrecked; the mansions of the richest and most hated
merchants presently went up in flames. The Duchess in vain left the
shelter of her palace on the Coudenberg, and, with her life in her
hands, confronted the mob. The rioters hailed her with shouts of
derision, and though they offered her no personal violence, they laughed
her authority to scorn. The people were drunk with their own excesses,
and Brussels that night was a pandemonium. The storm was a fearful one
whilst it lasted, but its fury was soon spent, and at the meeting of
craftsmen, which was held next morning to deliberate on the future
government of the city, the men who had been rioting in the streets all
night showed singular moderation.

They decided that the magistracy should consist as heretofore of seven
aldermen, but that henceforth the people should name them; that two
financial assessors should be added to the city council, and that the
Jury should be once more re-established. And when the time came to elect
a new magistracy they gave further proof of their conciliatory
dispositions, for whilst they took care to safeguard their own
interests, they were not unmindful of the class prejudice of their
vanquished opponents: the new aldermen were all of them members of the
old ruling class chosen from among the little band of patricians whose
sympathies were known to be with the popular cause.

The new order of things, however, did not last six months. John II.,
deeply wounded at the scant civility shown to his wife, refused to
acknowledge the new constitution: the patricians' quarrel, he said, was
his own, and, worse still, he swore to make no terms of peace without
their consent, and until they had been fully indemnified for the losses
they had sustained. This was in the middle of February 1306. Some
attempt at negotiation seems to have been made, but without success, and
early in May the patricians in a body left the town for Vilvorde,
whither John had shortly before arrived along with what knights he had
been able to muster, and whither also presently came the craftsmen in
battle array, determined to exact at the sword's point the privileges
denied them. When the knights at Vilvorde saw the crowd drawing nearer
and nearer to camp, some of them suggested that 'the curs meant
submission'; when the howling pack was at their throats, they knew
better. During the first shock of battle the Duke himself was unhorsed,
some said slain, and for a moment the craftsmen thought they had won,
but it was only for a moment, they soon found to their cost that their
enemy was again in the saddle and in the forefront of the fray, whereat
they lost heart, and unable to bear up any longer against the charge of
the cavalry frantically made for home. The patricians followed at full
speed. It was a wild, fierce race for Brussels. On its issue hung their
fate. The people knew it, and fear and hope gave to their feet wings. If
only they could outstrip those cursed horsemen, were it but by a
hair's-breadth, they would slam the town gates in their noses, and thus
at the last moment turn defeat into victory. Vain hope. The hour of the
craftsman's salvation had not sounded yet: the outcome of the contest
was a dead heat, and once more the iron entered into his soul.

Seventy craftsmen had been slain at Vilvorde or in the mad rush home,
the old constitution was re-established with all its odious privileges
and all its time-honoured abuses, and there was a heavy bill of costs to
pay, wherein note this item, 'a hundred _livres_ to Willem Moll for
burying weavers and fullers alive.'

At Mechlin, at Léau, at Tirlemont, at Louvain, all of which towns were
about this time the scene of insurrection, the result was the same: in
every case the patrician triumph was accomplished with less difficulty
than at Brussels, and everywhere the lot of the plebeians became harder
than it had been before.

The most stringent precautions were taken to guard against further
disorder, craftsmen of all kinds were disarmed, their guild meetings
strictly prohibited, and at Brussels at least it was death for a weaver
or fuller to pass the night within the town.[10] These turbulent folk
were enjoined to remain after dusk in their own wretched suburbs or pay
the price of their temerity.

[10] Within, that is, the first line of ramparts. For their circuit,
_see_ map (dotted line). The outer ramparts were not constructed till
some fifty years later (1357-1359): during the reign of Duke Winceslaus.
No vestige of them remains but the Porte de Hal. Their site is now
occupied by the Outer Boulevards (_see_ map).

Nor was this all. On the 12th of June, 1306, Duke John authorised the
magistrates of Brussels to crush any further outbreak by any means they
thought fit. In the following September he granted like faculties to the
magistrates of Louvain, and presently all the cities of Brabant agreed
together that the craftsman banished from any one of them should, _ipso
facto_, be an outcast from all the rest.

What could they do, these small tradesmen and artisans, with their
wrists handcuffed and irons on their feet, but bewail their hard lot and
the evil days on which they had fallen, and weary Heaven for a
deliverer. Presently a deliverer was sent them, but the days of their
expectation filled three score years, and during all that time their
adversaries were at peace. Not only was their will law in the cities
where they dwelt, but they gradually extended their dominion far into
the open country, and, continually encroaching on the prerogatives of
their Duke, at last succeeded in reducing his sovereignty to little more
than a name, and themselves, to all intents and purposes, directed the
helm of State.

The patricians of Brabant had at length ascended the mountain of their
ambition, but for no long time were they able to hold the high place
which their gold had conquered.

 III.--Genealogical Table of the Dukes of Brabant from
       Godfrey I. to John III.

                    $Godfrey I.$
            (Longbeard), Count of Louvain
    from 1095, Duke of Brabant from May 13, 1106,
                 _d._ Jan. 15, 1140
                     $Godfrey II.$, _d._ 1142
                    $Godfrey III.$, _d._ Aug. 10, 1190
                      $Henry I.$ (The Warrior), _d._ Sept. 5, 1235
                      $Henry II.$, _d._ Feb. 1, 1248
                     $Henry III.$, = Adelaide
            _d._ Feb. 6, 1260| of Burgundy
          |                            |
        Henry,                      $John I.$
 retired into a                 (The Victorious),
 monastery, 1267,                _d._ May 3, 1294
 renouncing his right                  |
 to the duchy to                       |
 his younger brother               $John II.$, = Marguerite,
 John                            _d._ Oct. 17, | daughter of
                                      1312     | Edward I. of
                                               | England.
                                           $John III.$


_Peter Coutherele_

Amongst the tangle of intricate causes which at last brought about, not,
indeed, the complete discomfiture of the patricians, for to the end they
were able to share in the duties and spoils of municipal government, but
the shrinkage of their prestige and the loss of much of their power,
three stand out pre-eminent:--the gradual diminution of their wealth
after 1350, outcome of English competition in the cloth trade; the
conduct of their chief officer of police, who presently, for his own
ends, made it his business to foment rebellion; and the growing
conviction in their own ranks that, after all, the stately edifice which
they had reared was not founded on justice.

At a very early date there was a popular party among the patricians of
Brussels, which little by little seems to have gained sufficient
influence to modify the policy of the municipal government, for in 1306
we find Duke John II. giving discretionary powers to the College of
Aldermen to admit craftsmen to the freedom of the city, and though no
doubt the primary object of this grant was to enable the ruling class to
purchase the goodwill of leading plebeians, the patricians would hardly
have requested the right to confer such a boon, even by way of
corruption, if they had been seriously opposed to the admission of
commoners to the franchise.

As it was at Brussels so was it in the other towns of Brabant, and
notably at Louvain, the city, above all, where the aristocracy was the
proudest and the most hated, and the proletariat the most turbulent and
the most oppressed. In this hotbed of storm and suspicion, where class
feeling ran the highest and class distinctions were the most sharply
defined, it was in the ranks of the patricians that the people at last
found a leader whom they trusted, and one who showed himself worthy of
their trust. That leader was Peter Coutherele, Mayor of Louvain, and, as
such, the first citizen of the first city of Brabant.

Though on the paternal side he does not seem to have been a man of
ancient lineage--his father, Godfrey, who was a member of the Council of
Jurors in 1328, and again in 1339, is the first of the family of whom we
have any record--Peter Coutherele was enrolled in the great landlord
clan of Van Redinghem, and claimed kinship, probably through his mother
or his grandmother, or through both, with the oldest and noblest houses
of the Commune. His enemies said of him that his love of the people was
born of hatred of his own class, outcome of private spleen, and that in
making himself the champion of plebeian claims his first care was to
feather his own nest; but whatever may have been the motives which
inspired his action, there is this much to Peter's credit: to the end he
was true to the cause he had espoused and to the principles he
professed, and if he received large rewards, he at least did his work
well. There can be no doubt that the ultimate triumph of democracy at
Louvain was in the main due to his efforts. For four hundred years the
constitution which he gave to his native city was the guarantee of the
rights and liberties of all sorts and conditions of men. He was no
wanton shedder of blood, he was very zealous for law and order, he
always showed himself a just, a merciful, and a moderate man, and at
last he died poor and forgotten.

We first hear of Peter Coutherele in 1348, when, no doubt owing to the
influence of his high connections, he was appointed by Duke John III. to
the important office of Mayor of Louvain, a position which must not be
confounded with that of a modern English or French mayor. The Mayor of
Louvain was the immediate representative of the Sovereign. His office
corresponded in some sense to that of the high sheriff of an English
county. He was also chief constable and commander-in-chief of the civic
militia, and he took precedence of all other ducal officers. At this
epoch, then, Coutherele was still on friendly terms with the ruling
class, for John, who was always very tender with his patricians, would
never have chosen for his representative a man who was not a _persona
grata_ to them, but the break soon came. The new Mayor was no respecter
of persons, and before his first year of office was out he denounced
certain measures which the aldermen had taken as infringements of the
ducal prerogative. The magistrates, indeed, succeeded in justifying
their conduct, but from that moment between them and Coutherele there
was war to the knife. Presently in their turn they denounced him: he was
hatching a plot with the plebeians to overthrow their power. But they
were able to furnish no proof, and Duke John maintained him in office.

Though it was common knowledge that the Mayor sympathised with the
aspirations of the lesser folk, it is not probable that at this period
he had translated his sentiments into action. He was shrewd enough to
know that any uprising of the masses against their oppressors could have
no hope of success unless it were backed at least by the tacit consent
of the Sovereign, and he had already had experience of Duke John's
friendliness to the patricians. Four years later, in 1359, the Mayor of
Louvain was again at loggerheads with the magistracy, and this time the
consequences were far reaching. The quarrel arose out of a very small
matter. De Dynter thus relates the story of its origin:[11]--

[11] _Chron. Brabant_, t. iii. p. 47.

'It came to pass at this time that as a certain fishmonger was on his
way to Louvain, there to dispose of his wares, as was his wont, the
barrow on which his fish was charged stuck fast in a deep hole full of
mud, whereat he was beginning to have grave doubts whether by reason of
the bad road he would be able to reach the city in time for market, when
haply he espied, in a field close by, some horses grazing, one of which
he caught and harnessed to his truck, and when by this means he had
extricated himself from his trouble he led him back again to the pasture
whence he had taken him.

'Now it so happened that a certain wicked, false ribald, who had seen
all that had taken place, at once made report thereof to Myn Here
Coutherele, Mayor of Louvain, and affirmed upon oath that the fishmonger
had stolen the horse; and thus it came to pass that no sooner had the
said fishmonger set foot in Louvain than he was arrested for a thief and
cast into gaol. At last the matter was brought before the Court of
Aldermen, who adjudged the accused not guilty and directed that he
should be set free; whereat the Mayor refused to comply, and the
magistrates were cut to the quick. In flouting their sentence Coutherele
had infringed one of those very privileges which, upon taking office, he
had solemnly sworn to maintain. He was no longer worthy to be their
Mayor. Henceforth they would cease to regard him as such.'

In refusing to carry out the sentence of the aldermen Coutherele had no
doubt acted illegally, and the magistrates, in retaliating as they did,
were strictly within their rights, but if they had not been blinded by
passion they would have surely held their peace. They knew very well
that the Mayor of Louvain would be certain to represent the course they
had pursued as a flagrant violation of the ducal prerogative; and they
knew too that the man who now sat on the throne of Brabant was of other
blood and of other complexion to those friends and fosterers of
freedom--the princes of the House of Louvain. The last of them was John
III., and when (December 5, 1355) he was gathered to his fathers the
mantle of their policy did not fall on the shoulders of his son-in-law
and successor. Winceslaus of Luxembourg, the new Duke, knew nothing of
civic institutions. How should he? There were no great towns in the land
in which he had been reared. And though it was to the burgher-nobles of
Brabant that he owed his recently acquired domains, he deemed the
influence and pretensions of these tradesmen a standing affront to his
dignity, of which from the first he was determined to be rid. Moreover,
he was aggrieved with most of them personally, for had they not welcomed
Louis of Maele when that sycophant of patrician pride, under pretext of
recovering his wife's portion, had invaded his domains, and was it not
by their counsel that he had afterwards styled himself Duke of Brabant?
Added to this, it was the lesser folk who had at last driven out the
usurper, and when others of his order had deserted their prince
Coutherele had stood by him manfully.

Such was the complexion of affairs at the moment when the patricians of
Louvain defied their enemy, and such was the man into whose jaundiced
ears that aggrieved individual now poured the story of their

Nor was Coutherele without allies in the ducal council--amongst them
Reynold, Lord of Schoonvorst, a personal friend who shared his own
opinions anent the plebeian question, and one of his Sovereign's most
trusted advisers. This man plainly told the Duke that if he would be
master in Louvain he must find some means of raising the people and of
abasing their proud taskmasters. As for Winceslaus, he made no sign, and
promptly withdrew to Luxembourg, as though unwilling to interfere in the
quarrel; but when Coutherele returned to his native city, men noted that
he was in nowise cast down--he had no doubt received some private
assurance that he was free to act as he would.

For a little while there was calm at Louvain, calm before the storm, and
the patricians had almost begun to hope that their trouble with
Coutherele was over, when presently it was rumoured abroad that his
nephews were tampering with the weavers. Employers of labour, comparing
notes, called to mind that of late their men had shown themselves idle
beyond wont, sullen, fractious, insolent; they had wondered what this
meant, now they knew the reason. When the days grew longer, and honest
merchants came forth after supper to cool themselves with the evening
breeze, they noted that the loungers, muttering together in market-place
and at street corner, leered at them as they passed with evil eyes, and
scarce vouchsafed to lift their hats.

Mischief, it was clear, was brewing. At last the plot was discovered,
and then the crisis came. Edmund De Dynter tells us how it all happened.

On the evening, he says, of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen (July 21), in
the year of Our Lord 1360, it came to pass that a certain _meschine_ in
the service of one of our magistrates, having been sent by him to a
certain tavern to fetch a flask of wine, fell in with her sweetheart,
who in confidence told her that the people, egged on by Peter
Coutherele, intended to rise that night against the patricians, take
possession of the Town Hall, and make a pretty piece of mischief (_faire
aulcune mauvaise oevre_). Of course she divulged the secret to her
master, and he without delay imparted the same to his brother aldermen,
who forthwith betook themselves to the Town Hall, and arrived there
amazed and confounded at the manifest evidence of commotion which they
had witnessed on the way, for by this time the night was restless with
the tumult of a gathering mob: men were hurrying from all sides to the
great market behind the Cloth Hall, where the Mayor of Louvain was
already addressing a crowd of weavers, 'with arms in their hands and
anger in their brains.'

And what had Myn Here Coutherele to say for himself? If we may trust De
Dynter, who wrote indeed more than fifty years afterwards, he began by
enlarging on the misery of the people, and on the pride, the wealth, the
corruption, of those who held them in bondage, and who fattened on their
toil and on their tears. Was it not the people who paid the taxes, and
the patricians who had the spending of them? Did not the poor man have
to bear the heat and the burthen of the day whilst the rich were growing
richer on the spoils of administration? And what right had these men to
lord it over them? Were they not their fellow-citizens, of like birth
and of like origin with themselves? And when he saw that he had
enkindled their ire, he said that now was the time to strike; their
oppressors were at their mercy, they had mortally offended the Duke, he
would close his eyes and close his ears to aught which might be
attempted against them. It were madness to lose so favourable an
opportunity, let them then take up arms for dear liberty's sake.

It chanced that a certain great feudal lord, one Gerard of Vorsselaer,
was in town that day along with a band of retainers. This man seems to
have been esteemed in Louvain, and having no personal interest in city
affairs, he was on friendly terms with the leaders of each party. Having
vainly endeavoured to dissuade Coutherele from his purpose, he made his
way, as best he could, to the Town Hall and offered his services to the
patricians. 'Let them come forth like men and face the mob, and he and
his followers would help them _de bon coer et de bon courage_. For,'
said he, 'the people have not yet had time to muster; if we go forth
now, I doubt not that with God's help we shall put to shame the handful
that are already in the market-place, and when the rest behold their
discomfiture they will run to cover like poulets that have spied a

Sound advice probably, 'but those _hommes de loy_ were men of such frail
and meagre courage' that they deemed it too hazardous. Whereat
Vorsselaer, disgusted, incontinently leapt into his saddle and made for
Brussels, where we shall presently meet him. Meanwhile the mob was
increasing each moment in fury and in numbers, and the patricians, thus
left to their own devices, very soon came to the conclusion that no
other course was open to them but to treat with Myn Here Coutherele.
They did so, and with this result. To their envoy he made reply that the
people would fain be assured that the city accounts were in order. Let
the doors of the Town Hall be opened, and he and his friends would enter
and examine their books, and, when they had done so, withdraw. The
patricians complied, and Coutherele kept faith to the letter, nay, he
went even beyond his bond, for not only did he examine the account
books, he made a bonfire of them, and added thereto the charters of
patrician privileges and all other parchments he could set hands on;
and when at last he and his friends withdrew, they took care to bring
their opponents with them disarmed and under arrest.

Thus did the old _régime_ at Louvain come to an inglorious end. The
patricians had not struck a blow in defence of their privileges, and the
fact that the revolution was accomplished without bloodshed bears
witness not only to the humanity and moderation of Coutherele, but to
the marvellous influence which he must have had over the mob. Next
morning Coutherele himself, who was now practically dictator, named a
new magistracy, consisting of four patricians, men who were known to
favour the people, and three plebeians. It was the first time that a
commoner had been named alderman in any town of Brabant.

Meanwhile the men who had been captured in the Town Hall were still in
prison, and presently their friends made private appeal to Duchess
Jeanne, who opened communications with Coutherele with a view to their
liberation. Perhaps it was the policy of neither party to come to an
understanding; in any case, after several weeks had elapsed and nothing
had been effected the negotiations were broken off. Whereat the
prisoners, fearing for their lives, which after all hung by a thread,
proceeded themselves to treat with the all-powerful dictator, and with
better results, for after some haggling they purchased their freedom
upon undertaking to quit the city as soon as they should be set at

The ransom which each man paid was assessed in proportion to his means,
but the sum-total thus realised amounted to a very large figure, and his
enemies said that, by this transaction, Coutherele had made himself one
of the richest men in Brabant, but in reality he expended the whole of
this fund, or, at all events, the greater portion of it, in the purchase
of the new charter which Duke Winceslaus granted to the city of Louvain
in the month of September 1360.

In this remarkable document, which was no doubt drawn up by Coutherele
himself, the Duke gave legal sanction to the changes accomplished in
July. He fully recognised the claim of the plebeians to participate in
the government of the city; he decreed that henceforth three aldermen
and eleven jurors should be chosen from among their ranks, and that all
other municipal functions should be equally divided between the two
classes. The elections were to take place annually, the plebeian members
being named by the patricians and the patrician members by the
plebeians--a very prudent regulation, calculated to secure in each case
the return of moderate men.

The action of Coutherele in this matter must not be judged by the
standard of to-day. In permitting his prisoners to purchase their
freedom he was only following the usage of the age in which he lived.
But that Winceslaus should have exacted a heavy fine or loan or
gratuity--call it what you will--from the man who had realised for him
his heart's desire was conduct more questionable. The only excuse that
can be made for him is this: his expenses were heavy and his purse was
light. The men of Louvain, however, were too well satisfied at the
success of their enterprise to grumble at the bill of costs, more
especially as the cash with which it was paid had been extracted from
their enemies' pockets, and so elated were they at Coutherele's
management of the whole affair that the magistrates voted him, from the
public funds, a large annuity for life.

If the patricians had been wise enough to recognise accomplished facts,
and had accepted the new constitution, which, after all, gave them the
lion's share in the government, all might yet have gone well, and the
city of Louvain would have been saved many years of strife and
bloodshed; but their privileges had been so large and so profitable, and
the good things which accrue to holders of office had been theirs for so
long, that they would have been more than human if they had been willing
at once to forego all thought of regaining their former position, and
these substantial men of commerce were neither heroes nor saints. Most
of them left the city in which they had once been supreme, and where now
their claims were mocked at; where their very lives were, perhaps, in
danger, and certainly were made a burthen to them by reason of
domiciliary visits and all kinds of vexatious precautions. For the men
in power were by no means sure of the stability of the new
_régime_--they lived in constant dread of a counter revolution. What
wonder, then, that their opponents, who, if the truth must be told, were
not famous for courage, found it more comfortable to plot in their
country homes than amid the turmoil of their town mansions, even though
their voluntary exile meant confiscation of property?

As for Duke Winceslaus, though his capital was a prey to disorder and in
imminent danger of commercial ruin, it was not his policy at present to
interfere. He knew very well that these purse-proud traders, who in the
day of their prosperity had given themselves the airs of princes, would
presently grovel at his feet, and with their caps in their hands humbly
beg his assistance; for, like their brethren at Brussels and elsewhere,
though it amused them sometimes to play at soldiering, they would never
do battle themselves if they could find someone else to fight for them,
and this was what actually occurred. When their town property had been
all confiscated, and commercial ruin was staring them in the face,
having vainly invoked the aid of Brussels, of Mechlin, of Liége, they
humbled themselves before their Sovereign, and, about the middle of
October 1361, with a great army he sat down before the city of Louvain.

But though Winceslaus made great show of helping the patricians, he had
not the slightest intention of breaking with the people, and the details
of the farce which followed had no doubt been previously arranged with
Coutherele. Certain it is that no sooner had Winceslaus encamped before
Louvain than that worthy, in the name of the city, professed submission.
His friends, he said, were ready to accept any conditions that the Duke
might dictate. Whereat Winceslaus, to save appearances, ordained that
they should come forth from the city to meet him, unarmed, unhatted and
unshod, and, when they had reached his presence, fall down on their
knees and humbly ask forgiveness. His instructions were carried out to
the letter, and when the farce had been duly performed he presented them
with a new charter, a masterpiece of duplicity, in which may be clearly
seen the hand of Coutherele. It restored to the patricians the whole of
their confiscated property; ordained that the ransoms paid by the
prisoners of 1360, the greater part of which, it will be remembered, the
Duke had pocketed himself, should be refunded from the public purse; and
further, and most important of all, deprived Coutherele of his
mayoralty. This was probably as much, or more, than the most sanguine of
them had looked for, but in reality, as the patricians soon learned to
their cost, Peter Coutherele and his mob were still masters of the
situation; nay, so far as they were concerned, things were worse than
they had been before, for the charter of 1360 gave them a majority in
the College of Aldermen, and though that body was still to contain four
patricians and three plebeians, Winceslaus had now reserved to himself
the right of appointment, and first among the patricians whom he
presently named was 'the renegade Peter Coutherele.' When the
reactionists knew that in spite of his specious promises, the Duke had
played them false, they at once declined to take any part in municipal
affairs; and sooner than be compelled to do so--for the new charter made
refusal to accept office, when named thereto, a crime punishable by
imprisonment--shook the dust of Louvain off their feet, and again
withdrew to their country strongholds.

The great tribune was now at the height of his power: his will was law
in Louvain; he himself was first burgomaster; in his friend Jan
Hanneman, the richest cloth merchant of the city, and one of the few
patricians who favoured the popular cause, he had an able and willing
lieutenant; another friend, the plebeian Gedulphe Rogge, one of his most
devoted adherents, was second burgomaster; Paul Herengolys, a clerk in
holy orders, was mayor, and every other municipal office was held by one
or other of his creatures. Nor was this all. As a reward for his
'manifold good and faithful services' Winceslaus invested him with the
ducal fief of Asten, in Limbourg, and all the rights and privileges
appertaining thereto. In addition, then, to his hereditary rank of
patrician, he was now a member of the feudal nobility--an anomalous
position, maybe, for the leader of a democratic revolution, but
presently Peter gave thanks to Heaven that the Castle of Asten was his.
About the same time, too, he made a brilliant marriage for his daughter
Gertrude, whom he gave to Henri de Cuyck, a brother of the powerful Lord
of Hoogstraeten--a useful alliance this, and one which stood him in good
stead, as we shall presently see.

Meanwhile the city finances were in sorry plight. For years past the
patrician oligarchy had not only mismanaged public funds, but had
systematically enriched themselves at the public cost, and though their
corruption had been one of the chief causes of complaint against them on
the part of the plebeians, now that they themselves were in office they
deviated no whit in this matter from the traditions of their
predecessors; for years past, too, the profits arising from cloth had
gradually been diminishing, and since the Revolution of 1360 all
business had been practically at a standstill. Added to this, Duke
Winceslaus had been paid, and paid handsomely, for the charter of 1362.
Indeed the quarrels of the men of Louvain were a fruitful source of
wealth to their Sovereign. His method of extorting cash seems to have
been this: he first fomented disturbances, then sold his support to the
highest bidder, and finally, when he was called in to arbitrate, charged
a heavy fee for expenses. In this manner he succeeded in amassing vast
wealth, and it was currently reported in Brabant that during the year
1361 he received more money from the men of Louvain than would have been
realised had the whole city been sold with all its outlying territory.
Be this as it may, the city treasury was empty, and to obtain the funds
necessary to meet current expenses, Coutherele had recourse to an
expedient still resorted to by communities in like straits: he invoked
the aid of foreign capitalists. Jan Hanneman was dispatched to Germany
to sell life annuities, and so good was the credit of Louvain, or so
great, perhaps, were his powers of persuasion, that in a very short time
he returned laden with treasure. Of course Peter's enemies said, judging
of him by what they themselves would have done under similar
circumstances, that no small portion of it found its way into his own
coffers:--This were surely the fund with which he had dowered his
daughter. The charge of peculation which he had hurled at them they now
flung back in his teeth, and again made appeal to Winceslaus and
promised him gold. Whereat he once more assumed the _rôle_ of
arbitrator, confirmed the 'Peace of 1361,' adjured the belligerents to
forgive and forget, and, as surety for their future good behaviour,
demanded from each party hostages and, by way of compensation for the
expenses he had incurred, a further cash payment. This was in February
1363, and shortly afterwards Coutherele himself conducted the plebeian
hostages to the ducal castle at Tervueren.

The Lord of Asten went forth from Louvain exulting in the glory of his
might, he was accompanied by a train of seventy horsemen, the cavalcade
was a brilliant one, the people cheered him as he passed; his popularity
had not one whit abated, he was still their idol, the saviour of the
city, the valiant champion who had broken the yoke of slavery from off
their necks; but in reality his sun had set: the triumphant ride to
Tervueren was but the aftermath. He knew it when he had seen Winceslaus,
and he knew too that lurid storm clouds were rolling up with the night.
He was as sure that the Duke had joined the enemy as if he had learned
it from his own lips. For him Louvain had ceased to be a safe abode: if
haply he escaped the headsman's axe, he would sooner or later be stabbed
in the back by a muffled ruffian lying in wait for him at the corner of
some dark street; and if his lamp were put out, the cause for which he
had so long suffered would at the same time die, for who could take the
place of Peter Coutherele? Prudence and duty, then, counselled flight,
and he fled to his manor at Asten, where he was presently joined by
Hanneman and Herengolys.

If Peter had been content to lie low for a while, the natural course of
events must have presently restored him to his former position: he had
powerful friends at Court, he was still in possession of his barony,
Winceslaus, satisfied at his voluntary exile, seems at the present
juncture to have had no intention of wholly breaking with him. The
Duke's policy was a policy of expedience: at Louvain the name of
Coutherele was still one to conjure with, and the force of circumstances
must have presently compelled him to fall back on his former ally, for,
as after events showed, the patrician reaction was only a passing phase;
in reality the flowing tide was still with the people.

But it was impossible for a man of Peter's temperament to sit with
folded hands whilst vandals were wrecking his 'house Beautiful' and
threatening to pull it down. That this was the case there was,
unfortunately, no room for doubt. He was in constant communication with
Louvain, and each day his envoys returned with tidings which lashed him
to fury. They told him how these men of Belial, not content with
corrupting the Duke, had corrupted also some of his own
followers--plebeians, in whose integrity he had placed implicit
confidence; how Winceslaus, whilst cynically confirming their charter of
rights, had twisted it into an instrument of torture, by naming these
renegades representatives of the people in the city council; how the
patricians, thus free to act as they would, had not only compensated
themselves largely from the public purse for property of which they had
been most righteously deprived in 1360, but had deemed it no shame to
draw from the same source the huge sum they had promised Winceslaus, and
this at a time when the city was honeycombed with debt, when all
business was at a standstill, when thousands of men were out of work,
and their wives and little ones starving. Nor did even this complete the
sum of their iniquity: foreseeing that the victims of their evil deeds
would at last be goaded to turn on them, they had meanly deprived them
of the power to do so by taking away their weapons.

That was the last straw. Coutherele was beside himself. He would
hesitate no longer. Not one of these men should escape the sword of his
vengeance. His plan was to advance on Louvain under cover of night with
what men and arms he could muster, enter through one of the city gates,
which, at a given signal, friends within would open, join forces with
the craftsmen, stealthily break into the Town Hall, where he knew there
were weapons, and then, when each man had armed himself, fall on their
adversaries unawares, and slay them in their beds. The plot was
doubtless suggested by the Bloody Matins of Bruges, and if it had been
possible to carry it out a like result might have followed; but at
Bruges the craftsmen were true to one another, at Louvain there was a
traitor in the camp, and on the appointed night, when Coutherele and his
little band were nearing the Castle of Heverlé,[12] on the outskirts of
the city, they found themselves confronted by Winceslaus and an army of
knights and burghers; a desperate encounter followed, and the rebels
were put to flight.

[12] The Castle of Heverlé is still standing; part of it dates from
Coutherele's time, but the greater portion was erected in the course of
the fifteen hundreds. It is a grand old building, picturesquely situated
on the banks of the Dyle, in the midst of a beautiful and well-wooded
park. It is one of the country seats of the Duc d'Arenberg, who kindly
allows strangers to visit it.

Even now Winceslaus seems to have been loath to resort to extreme
measures against his former friends and accomplices. Coutherele had fled
the country, and was beyond his reach, Hanneman and Herengolys had also
disappeared, and if he had been left to his own devices he would most
likely have found it convenient to follow the advice of his friend
Schoonvorst and take no further action in the matter, but the
patricians, as was natural, objected.--As long as these
murderous ruffians lived they were not safe in their beds; let a price
be set on the head of each one of them, and warrants issued for their
arrest. And they used another argument, one which experience told them
would prove convincing: they jingled their moneybags. And Winceslaus
signed the required edict and pocketed 300 _florins d'or._ This
transaction had notable results. Herengolys was presently captured,
condemned to death by the city magistrates, and in due course brought to
the block; but the aldermen had reckoned without their host, the
ex-mayor of Louvain was a clerk, and, as such, not amenable to their
jurisdiction, and John of Arkel, who at this time ruled the Church of
Liége, no sooner heard of his fate than he set Louvain under interdict.
He would never suffer the rights of his clergy to be trampled on with
impunity, and moreover he seems to have shared, at all events to a
certain extent, Herengolys's political opinions. In his own principality
he consistently favoured the aspirations of democracy, and in the
struggle at Louvain he more than once intervened, and always on behalf
of the people. Perhaps his action in the Herengolys affair was inspired
by Peter Coutherele, who, immediately after the disaster of Heverlé, had
fled to Liége.

Nothing daunted by the fate of his friend, Coutherele at once set to
work to concoct new measures for the deliverance of his beloved city.
Having ingratiated himself with Albert of Holland, he now took up his
abode in that country, where presently a great conference was held of
outlaws from every town in Brabant, during which was planned another
attack on Louvain; but this scheme, like the last, was betrayed, and
failed miserably.

For years the great agitator led a restless and vagabond life, sometimes
in Holland, sometimes in Germany, sometimes in France, never long in one
place, always intriguing wherever he went, and making plans which he
could never carry out, and hatching plots which, for some reason or
other, he could never bring to maturity. At last, at the intercession of
his son-in-law, Henri de Cuyck, Winceslaus granted him a free pardon,
and permitted him to return to his native city (March 1369), but he was
a broken-down, worn-out old man, and he came back to Louvain to die. The
few months he had to live he passed in strict retirement in his house in
the Rue de la Fontaine, where he died the following year, poor and



_The Peace of_ 1383

The flight of Coutherele and the failure of his subsequent efforts left
the reactionary party a free hand, and by 1375 they had so consolidated
their position that they were able to compel Winceslaus to cancel the
charter of 1361 and grant in its place a new charter, which gave back to
the old ruling class its former monopoly of political power. The result
may be surmised: mismanagement and corruption were the order of the day;
no accounts were published, and justice had to be bought; any
manifestation of discontent was put down with cruel vigour, and even the
right of sanctuary was not always respected. Once, after some abortive
rising, when a score of trembling wretches, who had taken refuge in the
cloister of Notre Dame, were dragged forth by order of the magistrates
and put to death, the Bishop of Liége interfered and imposed a heavy
fine; and no doubt the patricians laughed in their sleeves when
presently the account was settled, for it was not they, but the people,
who bore the brunt of the imposts.

Though taxation had never before been so high, the treasury was empty;
loan had been added to loan, and private individuals travelling abroad
were on all sides being arrested for public debts. Thus export trade had
become impossible, and as for industry, there was nothing doing, for
sooner than submit to the exactions of their taskmasters, a third of the
working population had emigrated.

At last, when Louvain was on the verge of ruin, the patricians
themselves began to suspect that there was something wrong with their
methods of government, and, at their wits' end what to do, presently
consulted Winceslaus, who, wise man, suggested a great conference of all
the cities of Brabant to consider the situation. This was early in the
year 1378. The patricians agreed, and in due course a conference was
summoned. Towards the close of March the deputies met in the Town Hall
of Louvain; the Duke himself presided, and almost every town in the
duchy was represented.

It is not certain whether the craftsmen of Louvain took any part in the
proceedings, but they were able to make their influence felt. Whilst the
conference was sitting they sent in a petition to Winceslaus, humbly
requesting, among other things, that a statement should be published of
the town accounts from the time of Coutherele's administration to date;
that such patricians as had been awarded annuities by way of indemnity
for losses incurred during Coutherele's term of office should cease to
receive them as soon as the sum justly due to them had been repaid, and
that those who had already received more than their due should be
compelled to refund the surplus; and, most important of all, that the
town seal should be confided to the joint care of the patrician clans,
the guild and the trade companies, so that henceforth no new loan could
be negotiated without the unanimous consent of the burghers.

It is significant of the trend of public opinion that the deputies made
these requests their own, and further, named a committee of eight
patricians and eight plebeians to study the question of the town debt
and the financial situation generally. By Pentecost they had sent in
their report, and Duchess Jeanne--Winceslaus being absent in
Luxembourg--at once laid it before the conference, which was now
sitting in St. Gertrude's Abbey. It embodied many wise and prudent
suggestions, some of which sound strangely modern, but they touched too
nearly the rights of property to be acceptable to most of the
patricians. It would have been surprising, indeed, if many of them had
welcomed an income tax and death duties, or a tax on Church lands, or an
all round reduction of official salaries, and these proposals, and
others of a like kind, aroused such a storm of opposition that Jeanne
suggested that perhaps it might be as well to leave it to the Duke and
his council to solve the financial problem, but to this, naturally
enough, everyone objected, and when presently Winceslaus himself
returned he could only reiterate his wife's proposal, promising that he
would take no step without first consulting his _bonnes villes_ and his
brother-in-law of Flanders--Louis of Maele, whose tenderness to his own
patricians was notorious throughout the Low Countries; but he might just
as well have held his breath, the patricians refused to hearken and
things came to a standstill. Whereat the people grew restive.
Difficulties, they alleged, were being purposely raised to stave off
reform, they themselves would settle the matter in their own fashion;
and on the 22nd of July the mob was out, battering at the doors of the
Town Hall, and clamouring to Burgomaster Van Nethen to bring forth the
great seal and the town charters. To do so, he said, was impossible, he
had not got the keys, and, even if he had, it were contrary to law to
unlock the rolls coffer save in the presence of the whole council.
Needless to say, the rioters were not convinced, and at nightfall a host
of them, with arms and banners, headed by the weaver, Wouter Vander
Leyden, filed into the Grand' Place, took possession of the Hôtel de
Ville, arrested the aldermen they found there, and, without much
difficulty, made themselves masters of the town.

The victory was all the more easily won from the fact that a large
number of patricians--all who had the welfare of the city at heart, were
in reality not opposed to the rioters, perhaps even secretly leagued
with them. These men were under the leadership of Alderman Jan De
Swertere, a patrician of note who loved the people, his enemies said,
because he hated Alderman Vanden Calstere, the chief of the
ultra-reactionists. It was the time when the famous 'White Hoods' of
Ghent were disporting themselves in Flanders, and the revolutionists of
Louvain, patricians and plebeians alike, adopted their headgear. Wouter
Vander Leyden and Hendrick Portman were chosen captains of the city,
there was an exodus of reactionists, and a deputation was sent to
Winceslaus, now at Brussels, begging him to come at once and legalise
what had been done. It was not, however, until nearly two months had
been consumed in negotiation, and until he had received from the men of
Louvain more than 6000 _peters_, that he at last consented to give them
a new and acceptable charter.

The constitution with which the city was now endowed, so far as
concerned the composition of the magistracy, was identical with
Coutherele's constitution--the College of Aldermen and the Council of
Jurors were still to contain respectively four and eleven patricians,
and three and ten plebeians; but the method of appointing these officers
was considerably modified: henceforth the aldermen were to be named by
the Sovereign from a triple list presented to him jointly by the
patrician and non-patrician members of the Merchants' Guild; the
non-patrician members alone were to name the patrician jurors; and the
plebeian jurors were to be chosen by the trade companies, now grouped
together in ten corporations called nations, each nation electing a
juror. Further, there were to be two burgomasters--the first chosen by
the plebeians from among the patricians, the second by the patricians
from among the plebeians--and four treasurers, all plebeians:--two
craftsmen and two members of the Merchants' Guild. They were to have the
entire management of the finances of the town, hold office for one year,
and give an account of their stewardship to the College of Aldermen, the
Council of Jurors and the Merchants' Guild, assembled in solemn council,
every quarter-day. Satisfaction was also given to the people in the
matter of the government of the guild: henceforth there were to be eight
deans--four plebeians named by the patricians, and four patricians
chosen by the nations; and, for the rest, all minor offices were to be
equally divided among the two classes of the _bourgeoisie_.

Such, in its main outlines, was the constitution with which Louvain was
endowed by the Great Charter--the Peace, as it was called--of 1378, and
which, with some slight modification, continued to be the constitution
of the city until the close of the eighteen hundreds. Never before had
the people enjoyed so large a share in the government. The patricians,
indeed, still retained a considerable place in the magistracy, but their
voice was almost stifled in the matter of elections, though, mark this,
what they had lost was not given to the proletariat, but to the middle
class, as represented by the non-patrician members of the guild--rising
merchants and manufacturers, men, for the most part, of moderate means
and moderate opinions, in touch on the one side with the working-class,
from which most frequently they had sprung, and on the other with the
aristocracy, which already included some of their kinsmen, and within
whose charmed circle it was not beyond the dreams of several of them,
if trade went well, to one day find admittance.

Nobody supposed that Vanden Calstere and his friends would be grateful
to Duke Winceslaus for the 'Peace' of 1378, but it was probably matter
of surprise to everyone that their resentment took the form it did: they
remained without the city walls, not in their own strongholds, but at
Aerschot, Vilvorde, Hal, in one or other of the little towns hard by
Louvain, and, sallying forth from these places with what ruffians they
could hire, lay in wait for stray burghers, and with such of them as
fell into their clutches it went hardly--sometimes they held them to
ransom, and sometimes they cut their throats. At last things came to
this pass:--no foreign trader would come within measurable distance of
the city, and no burgher who valued his life would venture beyond the
ramparts, but it was not till Wouter Vander Leyden had been murdered
that the people lost patience. This man, who was now burgomaster, had
been charged by the magistrates to make complaint to Duke Winceslaus of
the conduct of the reactionists, and as he was journeying to Brussels to
execute the commission, or, as some say, as he was returning home at
night, he was surprised in a lonely spot by Vanden Calstere himself and
Willem Wilre, his henchman, and literally hacked to pieces.

Hardly had the news reached Louvain than the craftsmen flew to arms, the
city gates were shut, and all patricians suspected of being hostile to
the new _régime_ were arrested and imprisoned in an upper chamber of the
Town Hall. This seems to have been done by order of the magistrates,
perhaps by way of precaution, for the people were at the end of their
patience. Presently they got out of hand; a rush was made for the Town
Hall, the doors were forced and the prisoners thrown out of window, one
by one as their names were called by the mob outside. Sixteen or
seventeen persons perished in this manner (December 15, 1378)--innocent
or guilty who shall say: they had not been placed on trial. Amongst them
Jan Platvoet, a patrician of fourscore years whose only crime seems to
have been that he was a kinsman of one of the murderers; and an archer
of the guard, name unknown, who had formerly been his servant. This man,
when the doors were forced, made his former master crawl under a bench
placed against the wall, and had then seated himself on it, and perhaps
old Jan might have escaped if it had not been for the sharp eyes of a
weaver's inquisitive 'kint,' who said he saw something shining between
the archer's legs. It was the gold-embroidered ends of poor Platvoet's
necktie. They dragged him forth, and, in spite of his prayers, cast him
headlong into the market; but the traitor who would have saved a
patrician's life was pitched out of window first. Hitherto the craftsmen
of Louvain had contented themselves with banishing or imprisoning their
enemies; it was the first time in the course of their long struggle that
they had stained their souls with blood.

For weeks after the murder of the patricians the rioters remained in the
streets, and for months after order had been re-established men lived in
a fever of anticipation, each side looking for some fresh outrage which
would be sure to result in yet crueller acts of reprisal. But though
Winceslaus knew all this, and seems to have been early appealed to, it
was not till the close of May that he made any serious effort to restore
public confidence by punishing the delinquents. Then he published an
edict in which he enjoined twelve of the principal rioters to make a
pilgrimage to Cyprus, sentenced to exile nine patricians who had been
mixed up in the murder of Vander Leyden, and imposed on the city a fine
of 4000 _peters_.

But things were in too parlous a plight to be righted by proclamation:
the White Hoods, indeed, for the moment were quiet, but the reactionists
refused to submit, and forthwith proceeded to harry the country estates
of the rallied patricians, whom, rightly or wrongly, they suspected of
having instigated the murder of their relatives. Of course De Swetere
and his folk retaliated in like fashion, and in all that they attempted
and in all that they did, of course they were aided and abetted by their
very good friends, the plebeians: homestead after homestead was razed to
the ground, castle after castle fired, and soon the whole country round
Louvain became the scene of guerilla warfare.

Meanwhile Vanden Calstere, or some of his friends, had again taken to
the road. Burgomaster Oorbeke, returning from Brussels, was arrested and
held to ransom; so, too, several jurors; and worse still was the fate of
a notable private citizen--Myn Here Van Grave, a merchant of vast
wealth: they cut off his hands and his feet, and sent him home in a
waggon, bidding him tell his fellow-burghers that any one of them whom
they chanced to take would be treated in like fashion.

Again and again the _bonnes villes_ tendered their good offices. Again
and again the Duke did his utmost to arrange matters. Negotiations were
often begun, but, for some reason or other, they always fell through. It
was not till the beginning of the year 1383, after Winceslaus had been
compelled to lay siege to Louvain, that the Bishop of Liége was at last
able to reconcile the belligerents.

Of course, as in all such cases, the settlement was a compromise; but
though it banished nineteen craftsmen for a year and a day, opened the
gates of the city to Vanden Calstere and his friends, and guaranteed
them complete immunity for all their past offences, it was not these
men, but their opponents, who in reality had the best of the bargain:
the constitution of 1378 remained intact; the people surrendered no jot
or tittle of their political rights and privileges.

Peace then was at last established; the terms of agreement were on each
side loyally adhered to, and the reconciliation endured. Mutual
confidence had taken the place of universal suspicion, and the craftsmen
nourished no rancour against those who had formerly been their bitterest
foes: when presently, in the month of June, the time arrived for the
annual renewal of the magistracy, Henry Pynnock, Godfrey Utten Liemingen
and Goswin Vanden Calstere were elected aldermen, and that, in spite of
the fact that they had all of them been reactionists; nor, it is
pleasant to note, did they belie the people's trust.


_Reform_ versus _Revolution_

When the revolution of 1360 broke out the city of Louvain was, in name
and in fact, the first city of Brabant. The cluster of cottages around
the church which Lambert Balderic had founded on the banks of the Dyle
three centuries before had grown into a great industrial and commercial
centre, with a population of something like 70,000 souls. In the number
of its inhabitants, in the extent of its trade, in political influence,
in social prestige, in the splendour of its public and private
buildings, it eclipsed at this time every town in the duchy. Among the
burgher nobles of Brabant none were so rich and so powerful as the
Petermen of Louvain: not only did they enjoy the dignities and
privileges common to all patricians, but they participated, as we have
seen, in the immunities of the Church, and that, without being irked by
correlative duties. Also, they shone alone, there were no brighter stars
in their firmament: the Sovereign had long ago left Louvain, and there
were no Court nobles to rival their glory or to dispute their right to
pre-eminence. As they were human, of course they were puffed up--proud
of their wealth, proud of their race, proud of their solitary grandeur
and of the consideration which these things gave them; exceedingly
jealous of their privileges, very swift to resent any attempt at
aggression, whether it came from above or from below; and of course they
contemned the seething mass of shame and misery beneath them--a mutinous
army of workers, many thousands strong, as eager and determined to
obtain liberty as their masters were to keep them in bondage.

Such was the social complexion of Louvain during the fifty years which
preceded the revolution of 1360. Paint the picture on a smaller scale
and in less glaring colours, and you will have some idea of the social
complexion of Brussels during the same period.

Brussels, like Louvain, was at this time divided into two hostile camps;
here, too, patricians and plebeians were biting their thumbs at one
another; but neither side was so strong or so violent as in the sister
city. The patricians were not so rich, and perhaps in consequence not so
selfish, and the plebeians were less numerous, and probably on this
account less exacting; and too, though they were not born on a bed of
rose leaves, they had less cause for complaint. High and mighty as were
the merchant princes of Brussels, they were not so high and mighty as
the descendants of Saint Peter's serfs. Their splendour was not enhanced
by a semi-ecclesiastical aureole; they had no title to distinction but
that which their money gave; and though, like the patricians of Louvain,
they owned the freehold of the town which they administered and
governed, they were not alone in their glory. When the Duke was not at
the Coudenberg he was at his hunting-lodge at Tervueren, just outside
the city gates, and the burghers were in frequent contact with the
nobles of the Court, who, though often poor and often in their debt,
were, for all that, socially their superiors. For these or for some
other reasons the local aristocracy at Brussels was less overbearing
than at Louvain, class distinctions were less sharply defined, and the
plebeians were treated with more consideration.

On the whole, then, Brussels was a less turbulent town than the capital,
and the road to reform, as might be expected, led through smoother ways.
The great struggle began about the same time as at Louvain, and, as at
Louvain, the Duke's action precipitated events. In the year 1356
Winceslaus, in order to reward the plebeians for driving the Flemings
out of Brussels, and also to mark his displeasure at the disloyal
conduct of the patricians, who had welcomed them with open arms, granted
to the trade companies by charter an equal share with the patrician
clans in the government of the city; but this boon, which the people had
so long coveted, and which at last they had obtained, was theirs only
for a day: the ink of the new charter was hardly dry when Winceslaus
revoked it.

No record has come down to us of the motives which inspired his action,
nor do we even know the exact date of the cancelling of the charter.
This event, however, can hardly have taken place earlier than 1357 nor
later than 1360, and most likely the reactionary party in the patrician
camp by means of bribes or promises had purchased the Duke.

Naturally the people were profoundly irritated. Secret meetings were
held, and presently matters came to a crisis. It was just at this time
that Coutherele was meditating his _coup d'état_, and perhaps there was
some understanding between the craftsmen of the two cities: it is
significant that the rebellion at Louvain began on the 21st of July, and
that at Brussels the mob was out on the night of the 23rd. The
craftsmen's plan of action was to surprise the patricians in their beds,
and if they had been able to keep it close perhaps they might have
accomplished something, but at the last moment they were betrayed, and
thus it came about that whilst they were seeking their banners their
opponents took possession of the market-place.

Strangely enough Gerard of Vorsselaer, the same who two nights before
had been busying himself with the affairs of Louvain, first essaying to
calm the mob, and when that failed, advising the patricians as to the
best means of quelling them, had now arrived at Brussels, and finding
the town in a similar predicament, he did what he could to set matters
straight. By his advice the senior alderman essayed negotiations: he
invited the dean of the butchers, who were assembled under arms in their
guild house, to a conference in the Town Hall; and presently the
messenger returned trembling--he had been treated with threats and
curses, and the dean had bade him say that 'the butchers would come in a
body soon enough.' Hardly had he finished speaking when word was brought
that the weavers were attacking the Steenporte (the city prison).[13] In
an instant the patricians were in their saddles. If only they could
intercept the butchers the situation might yet be saved, and with
Vorsselaer at their head, they made for the meat market, and _en route_
fell in with the men they were seeking. A skirmish followed, but the
patricians, who were well armed and on horseback, had little difficulty
in overcoming a handful of footmen with no weapons but pole-axes: they
were soon disarmed and driven home to their own squalid quarters.
Meanwhile the men of the spindle had been vainly hurling themselves
against the doors of the Steenporte, and now, with the assistance of
fullers and dyers, they were preparing to burn it down. Why not repay
the curs in their own coin by setting fire to their kennels? The
suggestion came from Myn Here Van Vorsselaer; it was forthwith carried
out, and the issue showed that honest Gerard was a man whose judgment
was to be relied on.

[13] A portion of this building, now called _La Tour d'Anneessens_, is
still standing. It is situated in a garden behind a tavern called _à la
vue de Steenporte_, at the entrance to the _rue Steenporte_, on the left
hand side of the way (_see_ Map). It is not visible from the street, but
the landlord is always glad to allow his customers to visit it.

When the rioters saw the redness in the sky they knew what had happened,
and with a mad rush made for home, only to fall into the arms of their
enemies, who barring the way in a narrow street halfway down the hill,
mowed them down like grass and trampled the life out of them beneath
their horses' feet; and that was the end of the rising of 1360. It does
not seem, after all, to have been a very serious affair--butchers and
clothworkers alone had taken part in it, but if the magistrates had
followed the example set them by the magistrates of Louvain two nights
before, there is little doubt that by morning things would have assumed
a very different complexion.

Thanks to the energy and determination of the patricians, revolution had
been nipped in the bud, but the city was seething with discontent, the
plebeian triumph at Louvain had inflamed the people with an unquenchable
thirst for liberty, and they were only awaiting a favourable moment to
try their luck again. Of this the patricians were well aware, and since
most of them were not yet prepared to relinquish a shred of their
authority, only one policy was open to them--a policy of stern
repression applied with energy and vigilance. Of these qualities they
gave ample proof, but they do not seem to have been guilty of wanton
cruelty or even, bearing in mind the object they had in view, of
unnecessary harshness.

The number of weavers who perished on the night of the insurrection was
indeed very considerable, but when once order had been restored they
refrained from further bloodshed. Their main object was to rid the town
of agitators, and all who were suspected of being such were condemned to
banishment. Nor were these men suffered to unduly defer the date of
their departure by taking refuge in churches: the right of sanctuary was
not violated, but the proscribed were forbidden to remain in any church
within the liberty of Brussels for more than a week, under penalty of a
prolongation of their term of banishment by as many years as they had
remained days above that period, and their fellow-citizens were
forbidden to supply such persons with provisions under penalty of a
heavy fine; but, on the other hand, all those who were willing to quit
the city within the time prescribed were at once provided with a safe

It is impossible within the limits of this little manual to give any
detailed account of the numerous penal laws with which the statute book
of Brussels was at this time endowed. Suffice it to say that many of
them were of an inquisitorial and vexatious character; that the dire
penalties with which all of them were sanctioned--exile, long terms of
imprisonment, in some cases even mutilation--were for the most part
commutable for fines, thus giving to the rich an advantage over the
poor, which the latter resented as a flagrant violation of right; and
lastly, that they were not evenly enforced. Measures of this kind were
not calculated to allay irritation, and though there was no open display
of sedition, the city was seething with discontent, and the patricians
knew it. Haunted by plots and rumours of plots, they were never sure
when they went to bed at night that their throats would not be cut
before morning, and, half blind with terror, they struck out wildly on
all sides, and often the guilty escaped, and a host of harmless citizens
experienced the taste of their lash.

Meanwhile the little band of patricians who from the first had favoured
a conciliatory policy were steadily making converts; but it was not
until they had preached for eight years, and when Brussels was on the
edge of revolution, that they at last succeeded in convincing the
majority that the times were ripe for reform. The first step was to
restore confidence in the administration of justice, and to this end the
city fathers (June 19, 1368), having first taken counsel with the
leaders of the people, named a commission of four patricians and four
plebeians to inquire into the numerous disputes and grievances which had
arisen from the maladministration of the coercion laws, and to make
report thereon to the magistrates, who, it was decreed, should be bound
by oath to remedy such grievances and settle such disputes in accordance
with the evidence thus laid before them, and it was further decreed that
such sentence should be final. Any man who refused to accept the same,
thereby lost all his rights and privileges until such time as he chose
to conform: if he were a patrician he ceased to be a member of his
lignage, if he were a craftsman he was expelled from his guild.

These measures proved so efficacious that before the close of the year
the aldermen had sufficiently recovered from their nerve crisis to be
able to consider finance, and that, though they had to face some
abstruse questions--how to balance the budget without increasing
taxation or having recourse to fresh loans, how to put a stop to
corruption without incurring enmity or wounding the susceptibilities of
friends, and, above all, how to pay off that terrible debt which was
crushing the life out of Brussels, outcome of so many years of
extravagance and thieving. Problems, these, not easy to solve, but again
the patricians were wise enough to consult the people, representatives
of the trade companies took part in their deliberations, and somehow or
other between them they managed to set the affairs of the town on a
sound financial basis--the following year revenue covered expenditure
and the interest of the debt, the year after that they began to pay off
the principal, and by 1386 the whole debt was wiped out. Matter this for
congratulation, and no doubt the people rejoiced, but there was
something that gladdened their hearts even more, and which they
flattered themselves accounted for the fact that the loan had been
repaid so quickly: for more than eighteen years their fingers had been
on the purse-strings, and by the grace of God they meant to keep them
there. Nor was this all, in 1368 the guild had been thoroughly
reorganised, and on popular lines. About the same time it became
customary to bestow a certain number of government appointments on
burghers of the middle class, and though the patricians were not yet
prepared to give the people any voice in the magistracy, they were
determined that justice should be administered with an even hand, and
that henceforth no man should be able to say that Brussels was ill
governed, and to this end, in 1375, a new system had been elaborated for
recruiting the College of Aldermen.

In the early days in Brussels, as in the other cities of Brabant, the
Sovereign himself had named the city magistrates. Later on some form of
election was adopted in which all the members of the patrician class
seem to have taken part, but little by little this custom had fallen
into disuse, and at the time when the reform movement set in, though the
college was still annually renewed, no election had taken place for
something like a hundred years--the outgoing aldermen had gradually
acquired a prescriptive right to name their successors. This had opened
the door to all kinds of abuses, and in order to put a stop to them and
to insure that henceforth none but honest and competent men should be
admitted to the magistracy, in 1375 the city fathers reverted to the old
system of election, and stringent rules were drawn up to regulate the
proceedings which now became exceedingly long and complicated.

In the first place, each of the outgoing aldermen drew up a list of all
the members of his lineage eligible to succeed him, that is to say, of
all the married members of twenty-eight years of age and upwards who had
sufficient means to live without exercising any trade or profession. The
next step was to summon the clans, and this, too, devolved on the
outgoing aldermen, each man inviting the members of his lineage to
assemble in the Town Hall on the day fixed for the election--generally
the 23rd of June--and there select from the names on his list three
candidates for the magistracy. 'I swear,' runs the quaint and
characteristic oath which each man present was required to take at the
commencement of the proceedings, 'I swear by the Saints, and on the Holy
Gospels, that I am in no way bound or pledged to any man, and that no
man is bound or pledged to me, directly or indirectly, nor have I
purchased any man's vote, either on my own behalf or on behalf of any of
my friends. I swear, on my soul, to give my suffrages to the best man,
the wisest man, and in every respect the fittest man, the most devoted
to Holy Church, to the Duke and Duchess of Brabant, the city of Brussels
and the patrician order; consulting only my conscience and acting
according to my conviction. I swear, on my soul, not to let any personal
interest or private friendship move me, nor to suffer myself to be
carried away by hatred or anger, or by fear of loss or hope of gain; so
help me God and His Saints.'

No less curious than the preliminary oath was the process of election.
Every member of the clan was bound to be present and to take the
prescribed oath, under penalty of forfeiting all his rights and
privileges, but never more than five, and sometimes only four, members
took part in the actual voting; they were picked out from the rest by
lot, and the drawing was managed in this way. A number of waxen balls,
equal to the number of clansmen present, all without alike, but of
which four contained within a white and one a black cipher, were placed
in an urn, and, when they had been well shuffled, each member drew
therefrom one of them, and presently, when the drawing was over, broke
it. Whereupon the four men to whom the white-marked balls had fallen
withdrew to a separate apartment to consider who was the most fitting
man to represent their lineage, each man being free to propose what name
he would, provided it was not his own. If they were all of one mind the
man of their choice became a candidate for the magistracy, so too if
three of them voted for the same individual, or, if two were agreed on
one man, and each of the other two were in favour of different men. If,
however, the suffrages were equally divided, that is to say, if all four
electors cast their votes differently, or if two voted for one man and
two for another, black ball was called in to give a casting vote. When
the whole operation had been completed, it was repeated a second and
again a third time, and by this means three candidates were chosen,
whose names were afterwards submitted to the Duke, and he, in due
course, named one of them alderman of his clan for the ensuing year.

The College of Aldermen, it should be borne in mind, consisted of seven
members, each of whom was held to represent, in a special manner, one of
the seven patrician clans of Brussels.

How great had been the evil resulting from the old method of election
may be inferred from the stringency of the new rules, and the dire
penalties attached to any infraction of them, and also from the cumbrous
and complicated machinery deemed necessary to guard against corrupt

Thanks to this important measure, and to the other reforms which had
been previously inaugurated, the city was now honestly and capably
governed, and, in consequence, enjoyed peace. Indeed, for more than
fifty years after 1368--the time of the great reconciliation--patricians
and plebeians seem to have lived, if not on terms of affection, at all
events without quarrelling. The latter, it is true, had not relinquished
their high aspirations, but finding that the town was honestly
administered, and, on the whole, equitably governed, they were wise
enough to cherish their ideal in their innermost bosoms, and to take no
active steps to realise it.

No doubt the greater material prosperity which the city at this time
enjoyed was conducive, in no small measure, to the maintenance of peace.
Brussels was not dependent on cloth to anything like the same extent as
was the sister city, and, moreover, the loss which she had sustained on
this head from English competition, and the competition of the country
towns, was to a certain extent made good by the profit arising from
trade which formerly went to Louvain, but which was now, owing to the
disturbed state of that city, directed to her doors. Hundreds of
merchants and thousands of mechanics went forth from the capital between
1360 and 1382, and not a few of these took up their permanent abode in
Brussels. Linen, leather, tapestry and goldsmith's work were among the
articles for which, about this time, Brussels became famous, and, thanks
to these new industries, the loss, or rather the diminution, of her
cloth trade was a matter of little concern to the people.


_Everard T'Serclaes_

Chief among the giants who at this time were cleansing the Augean
stables of Brussels, building up her shattered bulwarks, promoting
harmony among their fellow-citizens, strangling discontent with good
government, and putting off revolution by reform, towers the figure of
Everard T'Serclaes, a head and shoulders above the rest of them. Everard
T'Serclaes, or in plain English Everard Nicholson--politician, patriot,
aristocrat, possessor of much gold and many acres, high in authority,
high in his Sovereign's favour, one whom the whole town spoke well of,
and, in spite of it all, an honest man. Born in the year 1315 or
thereabout of an old magisterial house famous in civic annals,
descended, probably in the female line, from the unknown founder of the
great clan in which his family had for generations been enrolled, the
clan called _S'Leeuws Geslachte_--that is, of the lion--so named from
the magnanimous beast displayed on the S'Leeuws escutcheon, from the
time when he reached man's estate Everard T'Serclaes had in all
probability busied himself, after the manner of his fellows, with civic
affairs; and yet for at least twenty years after this period his life is
a blank to us: of his childhood, his youth, his upbringing, we know
nothing; and even the date of his birth is matter of conjecture. This is
all the more remarkable from the fact that T'Serclaes did more for his
native town and his native land than any other man of his day, and was
deservedly the most popular Brussels hero of the Middle Age. He first
appears on the stage of history in 1356, when he must have already
reached middle life, and his coming was in this wise.

It was the time of the Flemish invasion. On the 17th of August 1356 the
Duke's forces had been utterly routed at Scheut, hard by Anderlecht; he
himself had fled the country; Louis of Maele had entered Brussels almost
without opposition, and his right to the duchy had been acknowledged by
every town in Brabant. 'Truly it was an admirable thing to behold so
sudden a metamorphosis: in two days the whole government had completely
changed its face.' Thus the contemporary chronicler Butkins, but in
reality the sympathies of the governing classes, had been from the first
with the Count of Flanders. They knew very well that Winceslaus hated
patricians, and they knew too that Louis in his own dominions was a
staunch supporter of aristocratic rule. Hence they regarded his triumph
as their own, and it was actually at their instigation that he had
assumed the title of Duke of Brabant.

Meanwhile Winceslaus was at Maestricht collecting forces, considering
invasion, and Louis's allies, Englebert de la Mark, Bishop of Liége, and
William, Count of Namur, were posted on the eastern frontier of his
former duchy ready to oppose him. Presently news unlooked for astounded
either camp--the standard of Brabant was once more floating over
Brussels, the Flemish garrison had been driven out; the feat had been
accomplished by a simple burgher, Everard T'Serclaes. It was the English
victory at Poitiers which made this achievement possible: the French
army had been cut to pieces, King John himself was a prisoner, and the
interests of Louis of Maele were one with the interests of France; hence
when the news reached him at Brussels he had at once set out for
Bruges, purposing from thence to proceed to Paris, where at the present
juncture he deemed his presence indispensable; and thus the field was
left clear for Everard's machinations. That wily burgher, now in exile
at Maestricht, had trusty friends in his native town, who kept him
constantly aware of all that was taking place, and by them he was at
once informed of the Flemish Count's departure. The time was ripe, it
seemed to him, for attempting something. A plan of action was arranged,
and presently he was nearing Brussels alone, through the forest of
Soignes, which at that time extended right up to the city. It was the
29th of October, and a black raw night had set in with drenching rain,
which showed no sign of abatement. So much the better, there was the
less chance of meeting wayfarers, and T'Serclaes was so well acquainted
with the country that darkness was no hindrance to him. Making for a
spot near his own dwelling,[14] where he knew the rampart was low and
unprotected by water, thither he stealthily came when the night was well
advanced, and without much difficulty effected an entrance. No one was
stirring, there was no sign of life, no sound but the cry of the wind
and the sullen drip of the rain--the city seemed wrapt in slumber; but
though comfortable burghers were snoring in bed, T'Serclaes had friends
expecting him, for the most part mere riff-raff who catered for the
wants of the masses--the keepers of small taverns and those who helped
them in their calling, tapsters, potmen, scullions, cooks, the offscum
of a great city, men who feared not a reckless venture, because they had
nothing to lose. Presently the signal agreed on broke the silence of the
night--'Brabant for the great Duke,' and almost before the echo had died
away Everard was leading a ragged army to the _Groote Markt_, where
soon the golden lion of Brabant was to take the place of the black lion
of Flanders. When the change had been duly effected and the Flemish
banner spat on, shredded, dragged in the mire, the crowd, which by this
time had assembled, sent up a great cheer for Everard T'Serclaes and the
flag of the fatherland; whereat the Flemish guard turned out to discover
the cause of the hubbub. Only half awake, deafened by fierce oaths,
scared by angry faces, it seemed to them that a haunted town was peopled
by a legion of furies. Like men in a dream they tried to run, but their
feet were glued to the pavement, and before they had time to wonder at
it they were cut down. Some by a mighty effort compelled their limbs to
flight, but it availed them nothing--they were stabbed from behind. A
few by rare good fortune got free of the market unobserved, and if they
had kept cool these men might perhaps have escaped, but that night the
town was enchanted, and fleeing from phantom pursuers they leapt on the
swords of foes in the flesh, or hurled themselves over ramparts and so
dashed out their lives, or trapped in a net of byways at last took some
specious turning which led them back to the shambles. Death in some
shape was the lot of all, and for the most part they made no resistance,
but a handful stood shoulder to shoulder and sold their lives dearly.
That was practically the end of Flemish domination in Brabant. Within
the next few days every town in the duchy, save Mechlin, had followed
the example of Brussels, and before the close of the Octave of All
Saints Winceslaus was back in his domains.

[14] T'Serclaes' house was at the end of what was then an _impasse_,
called the Eetengat, now the _rue de Berlaimont_ (_see_ Map).

Local historians are often wont to emphasise this little war, which
bears witness, so they say, to the patriotism and chivalry of their
forebears; but were the men who drove out the Flemings wholly inspired
by love of country and loyalty to their Duke? The facts of the case, we
venture to think, suggest an answer in the negative. The patricians, of
course, had taken no part in ousting the Flemish garrison, but when
their allies at Brussels were being cut to pieces they seem to have made
no effort to help them. No doubt they deemed it a wiser, safer and more
comfortable policy to remain in bed and await the issue of events. Not
that they were devoid of courage: when there was anything to be gained
by drawing the sword they were never loth to do battle, but as practical
business men it was not their wont to embark in any undertaking likely
to end in disaster, and on the night of the massacre at Brussels they
knew very well that no help which they could have given would have saved
their friends from destruction. As for the plebeians, their action was
probably inspired by mixed motives--a little hysterical patriotism,
caught perhaps from T'Serclaes, a little liking for Duke Winceslaus, due
chiefly to the fact that he was the enemy of their enemies the
patricians, and a very large measure of hope that somehow or other the
issue would be to their advantage. Nor in this were they deceived. They
presently obtained the boon they most coveted--municipal representation.
And T'Serclaes, too, had his reward--a knighthood, and until the day of
his death what all men love, popularity.

That the Saviour of Brussels, as he was henceforth called, should have
been esteemed at Court is sufficiently comprehensible: he had
re-established the Duke on his throne; that he should have been the idol
of the people was natural enough: through him they had reached the goal
of their ambition; but that he should presently have been able to gain
the goodwill of the very men whose hopes he had shattered, and whose
privileges he had taken away, is a matter past comprehension, yet such
was undoubtedly the case: he was premier alderman in 1365, and again in
1372, and at this time, be it born in mind, the old order of things
having been re-established, the outgoing aldermen named their
successors; after the reform of 1375, when the magistracy became
elective, and all kinds of precautions were taken against corruption,
and with a view to securing the best possible candidates, he still
retained the confidence of the patricians, who named him premier
alderman in 1377, and also in 1382; in 1375 he had represented the
patricians of Brussels at the National Assembly of Braine-l'Alleud,
summoned at the instance of the Bishop of Liége to put an end to sundry
disputes between Winceslaus and his subjects, which were threatening
civil war; on September 28, 1386, in spite of his seventy years, he led
the men of Brussels to the siege of Gavres, outcome of a frontier
trouble with Duke Henry of Gelderland; and, notwithstanding the
disastrous issue of that campaign, he still retained the confidence of
the patricians, who in 1387 again named him chief magistrate. It was the
last time--before his year of office was out he came to a violent end.

It happened thus. Sweder Van Apcoude, Lord of Gaesbeke, the last of the
barons of Brabant who exercised sovereign sway and regarded themselves
as the equals of the chiefs to whom they owed allegiance, traced his
descent through his mother, Jeanne of Homes, to Godfrey first Lord of
Gaesbeke, a younger son of Duke Henry the Warrior. Like many other peers
of Brabant, Sweder was a citizen of Brussels, and as such, when his
mother died, and his uncles disputed his succession, he had summoned
them before the College of Aldermen, who, to their cost, had decided in
his favour. From his father, a Dutch knight, and one of the mightiest
vassals of the Bishop of Utrecht, he had inherited a large estate in
Holland, which he had exchanged with his brother Giselbert for the
barony of Aa, an extensive domain adjoining his own maternal heritage,
and he thus became lord of a vast and undivided territory, which
embraced two hundred manors, and extended from the walls of Ninove
well-nigh to the gates of Brussels. Sweder was a baron of the old
school, impetuous, violent, bold, within his borders his will was law,
and, if need be, he could call to his flag three thousand men-at-arms.

Such was the social rank and such were the resources of the man whom the
city fathers had made their near neighbour, and when it was too late
they regretted it. For Sweder, not content with his own, set covetous
eyes on the lordship of Rhodes, a strip of Crown land which separated
their territory from his, and which, from time immemorial, had been
submitted to their jurisdiction. Duchess Jeanne, who was now a widow,
was heavily in his debt, and presently he approached her with offers to
purchase the freehold, which she was not loath to agree to. Whereat, in
Brussels, consternation and a stormy meeting in the Town Hall. 'If this
iniquitous bargain were struck, trade, industry, order, right, the very
existence of the city itself would be thereby threatened; nor had Jeanne
any right to sell. Was she not debarred by her _Blyde Incomst_ from
alienating an inch of the Crown demesne? Even to think of such a thing
was an insult to the dignity of Brussels. Let someone explain all this
to the Duchess--Myn Here T'Serclaes; she would listen to him, an old and
trusted friend.' He did so; Jeanne hearkened; and then it was Sweder's
turn to gnash his teeth. The news reached him whilst he was at supper in
the great hall of Gaesbeke Castle along with his wife, Anne of Linange,
and two servants, William of Cleves, his natural son, and his chief
steward, Melis Uytten-Enge; and when these men witnessed the
_chatelaine's_ wrath and heard Sweder's oath of vengeance they secretly
resolved to make themselves the instruments of its fulfilment.

Soon their opportunity came. On the morning of Holy Thursday, March 26,
Everard T'Serclaes rode out on his mule from Brussels to Lennick, a
small village not a stone's throw from Gaesbeke Castle. The old man
seemingly had no thought of danger, for he was unattended. During his
stay at Lennick nothing occurred to arouse suspicion, and having
transacted the business which called him there, he set out alone on the
return journey early in the afternoon, riding at a foot's pace. Hardly
had he left the village when two men, who had been hiding behind a
hedge, suddenly sprang out at him, dragged him from his saddle,
mutilated him terribly--slashed him with swords, tore out his tongue,
cut off his right foot, and left him by the roadside weltering in blood,
as they thought in his last agony. William of Cleves and Uytten-Enge had
made their resolution good.

Some country folk had witnessed the outrage, but they were too much in
awe of the tyrant of Gaesbeke to offer his victim help, and the 'Saviour
of Brussels' would have been left to die like a dog in the ditch had it
not been for the chance arrival of an old friend--Jan van Stalle, Dean
of the great collegiate Church of Saint Mary at Hal, who happened to be
driving to town that day with his secretary, Jan Coreman. These men
having bound up Everard's wounds and placed him in their chariot, set
out for Brussels at full speed, and arrived there about half-past three
in the afternoon.

When the passers-by saw the poor mangled body they were beside
themselves with grief and indignation. The news spread like wildfire,
and soon reached the Duchess, who, in spite of the mob and her advanced
age, at once set out for the Town Hall,[15] where T'Serclaes was now
writhing under the hands of surgeons. She would fain have learned
particulars, but her old friend did not even recognise her. In vain she
essayed to rouse him. Deaf, blind, speechless, he was more dead than

[15] _See_ p. 315.

Presently she came forth into the hum and roar of the market, where an
expectant crowd was awaiting her with ears itching for news and throats
thundering vengeance. What could she tell these fierce men? how should
she soothe their anger? The liberator was not dead, that was something.
She would discover the authors of the crime and bring them to justice,
they might take her word for it, but they must give her time for
inquiry, they must have a little patience. Thus the Duchess. But the
people refused to hear--they knew very well who had done the deed, and
insisted on instant action; and by five o'clock, with Jeanne's assent,
the civic guard had set out for Sweder's castle.

Too late to commence operations that night, the little band made camp at
Vlesembeke, midway between Gaesbeke and Brussels, and consoled
themselves by dreaming of the great things they would do on the morrow.
But the morrow brought forth disappointment: Sweder, under cover of
darkness, had made good his escape, and the assassins had fled with him.
Anne was indeed at Gaesbeke, but she was wholly beyond their reach: her
fortress, strongly garrisoned and well-stocked with supplies, was said
to be impregnable, and, worst of all, one of their own brethren was her
Commander-in-Chief, citizen Jan Van Hellebeke. How could a handful of
burghers drag this she-wolf from her lair? The thing was not to be
expected. What could they do but fire the hovels of Sweder's tenants and
whimper to Duchess Jeanne. Nor was she deaf to their prayers. Soon they
descried in the distance the shimmer of burnished mail drawing nearer
and nearer to camp. It was the Lord High Seneschal of Brabant with his
knights and men-at-arms, and in the midst of them was the ducal banner,
borne aloft by the monks of Afflighem.[16] Nor was this all. The next
few days brought help from every town in Brabant, feudal lords
unsheathed their steel and shouted vengeance, the enthusiasm was
universal--the enemy of Everard T'Serclaes was the common foe of the
nation, and soon Sweder's stronghold was beleaguered by a mighty host.

[16] The ducal banner, which displayed on one side the Lion of Brabant
and on the other Our Lady, was laid up in the Abbey of Afflighem, hard
by Alost. This great benedictine house was the richest and most
privileged in the Duchy. Its abbot had the right to wear episcopal
robes, and he took precedence of all other ecclesiastics in the Estates
of Brabant. Founded in 1080, it was demolished by the French
revolutionists towards the close of the seventeen hundreds. Some
vestiges of the church and cloistral buildings still remain.

Presently news came that his victim was dead. Better so. From the first
there was no hope of saving him, and his poor broken body had been
racked for ten days. They laid him to rest in the old church at Ternath,
a stone's throw from the beautiful home which he had purchased two years
before from the Lord of Westmaele, and where to this day each year as
the anniversary of his death comes round there is still chanted for the
repose of his soul a Mass of Requiem.

Shortly before Everard's death his nephew, Jan T'Serclaes had been
chosen to take his place in the College of Aldermen. 'Juravit ante
castrum de Gazebeke,' runs the brief note appended to his name in a
contemporary list of city magistrates. This man, then, was in camp at
the time of his election, and there, at the foot of the murderer's
castle--that castle whose very existence was a menace to civic freedom,
he had taken the oath which every magistrate was bound to take on
assuming office, solemnly pledging himself to administer justice with
an even hand, and to preserve inviolate the rights of the city. The
scene was doubtless an impressive one, but many who witnessed it must
have had grave doubts as to whether Jan would be able to make good his
words, for things were not going well with the assailants, as yet they
had made no progress. Days turned into weeks and still the towers of
Gaesbeke frowned defiance. The situation was growing critical. Sweder
was collecting troops at Diest. The truce with Henry of Gelderland had
all but expired. What if these two should join hands? The plan of
campaign must be changed or the outcome would be disaster. Presently the
plan of campaign was changed, and this is what happened.


The men of Louvain did what they always did in times of stress: they
turned devout--wearied heaven with prayer, bare-headed and unshod
followed the _Crom Cruys_[17] through the streets of their city
chanting litanies, and then they sent word to their friends in the field
to stand fast; the Duchess tried diplomacy, she would fain have
convinced Anne of Linange that it was worth her while to capitulate; and
the allies brought miners from Liége to solve the problem with
gunpowder. Whereat, but not until operations had actually commenced, the
Lady of Gaesbeke changed her tactics. She proposed a compromise. If only
her life and the lives of her people were spared they might do what they
would with her castle. The terms were accepted. On the morning of the
30th of April the murderess came forth, and along with the brave men who
had protected her, set out for Hainault, and by sundown all that
remained of Gaesbeke Castle were smouldering embers and tottering walls.

[17] _See_ p. 299.

A year later Sweder and his wife were reinstated in their possessions,
after having made solemn declaration not only in their own names, but in
the names of their descendants, their relatives, their friends, their
adherents, that they were wholly reconciled with the Duchess, the Barons
and the good towns of Brabant, and had bound themselves by oath not to
claim any damages for the losses which they had sustained, nor to in any
way molest those of their vassals who had taken up arms against them.

As for the traitor Hellebeke, his life was spared in accordance with the
terms of surrender, but he had sinned too deeply to hope for
forgiveness, albeit for some reason or other his punishment was reserved
until two years afterward. On the 2nd of June 1391 he was formally
declared an enemy of the State and to have forfeited all his civic
rights. 'And such henceforth shall be the lot of any man,' runs the
sentence of his degradation still preserved amongst the archives of
Brussels, 'who shall take sides with the foes of the city.'


_Liberty at Last_

It was not until some five-and-thirty years after the tragic death of
'the Saviour of Brussels' that the common folk of that city at last
definitely obtained a direct voice in its government.

It was the old story. As it had been at Louvain so was it in the sister
city: the patricians were divided amongst themselves, that was the cause
of their overthrow. But if it was the old story, it was the old story
differently told. At Louvain the cruelty and oppression of the ruling
class and, above all, their incapacity and corruption, had sickened the
people of aristocratic rule and they were ripe for revolt. A little band
of patricians, partly from philanthropic motives, partly from private
spleen, espoused the popular cause and placed themselves at its head;
the Duke, for his own ends, connived at their proceedings, and after a
long and bloody struggle the result was, as we have seen, victory.

At Brussels it was otherwise. When the craftsmen of Brussels at last
obtained their hearts' desire, they had lived under an honest and
capable government for at least fifty years, and if they had no voice in
the legislature, they held the purse-strings and were thus indirectly
able to make their influence felt, nor were they altogether excluded
from offices of trust and emolument; and though, no doubt, they had not
abandoned the hope of one day obtaining direct representation in the
municipal senate, they seem to have so far acquiesced in the existing
state of things that they had no thought of taking violent measures to
change it. They were content to possess their souls in patience, and
they were not defrauded of their expectation. By-and-by the fascinating
dream of ages was a reality, and this was how it came about.

All that was best and all that was noblest in the three estates of
Brabant had joined hands against the Sovereign--a wanton boy led astray
by evil counsellors, who were squandering his wealth and the wealth of
his towns, and suffering the honour of Brabant to be dragged in the
dust; and when all seemed lost, when Brussels, betrayed by false
brethren, was filled with German mercenaries breathing out threatening
and slaughter, the energy and daring of the despised craftsmen had
turned defeat into victory. And when the battle was won and the land
once more had rest, these men received, by way of guerdon, the boon they
had so long craved for.

The skein of the story is a long and intricate one, but it is worth the
trouble of disentangling. It was during the reign of Duke John IV. that
these things happened. John was a scion of the house of Bourgogne, which
at this time was supreme in the Low Country, and as the events which we
are about to relate were in large measure the outcome of the ambitious
designs and selfish schemes of the Burgundians, it will be well for a
moment to consider their origin and the means by which they mounted to

[18] _See_ Genealogical Table IV.

The founder of the house was Philip of Valois, surnamed the Bold, a
younger son of King John of France, and, like many other great houses,
Court favour and a fortunate marriage were the foundation stones on
which it was built.

Marguerite of Maele, the childless widow of her kinsman Philip of
Rouvre, the last Duke of Burgundy of the old stock, was at this time the
most to be desired of the marriageable princesses of Europe: she was
young, beautiful, rich, heiress-apparent to the Counties of Flanders,
Burgundy, Rethel, Artois and Nevers, and the only representative of the
third generation of Duke John III. of Brabant. Among the princes who
aspired to her hand was Philip of Valois, on whom, shortly after the
death of her husband (1361), last of his race in the direct line, the
French King had conferred his duchy (1363). After long and tedious
negotiations and much haggling, for the Count of Flanders, her father,
and the King of France, who conducted them, regarded one another with
mutual distrust, the marriage treaty was signed (April 25, 1369), and in
due course the widow of the last Duke of Burgundy of the old stock
became the wife of the first Duke of the new dynasty (June 19, 1369).

A momentous marriage this, and one of which the consequences were far
reaching. By it were presently united--when Louis of Maele died (January
30, 1384)--the two most formidable fiefs of the French crown; and the
man who held them, a man of marvellous parts and vast ambition,
unscrupulous, cunning, bold, had all the prestige of a prince of the
blood, and, as the King's most trusted counsellor, all the resources of
France at his back.

 IV.--Genealogical Table of the Dukes of Brabant from
     John III. to Philip II.

                           $John III.$, _d._ Dec. 5, 1355
   |          |          |                                         |
 Henry,    Godfrey, $Jeanne$, = Winceslaus of Luxembourg,          |
 _d._ 1349 _d._ 1351 _d._ Dec. 1406  _d._ Dec. 8, 1383             |
       Louis of Maele, Count of Flanders, _d._ Jan. 30, 1384 = Marguerite
       (he inherited at the death of his mother,             |
       Marguerite,  daughter of Philip V. of France, 1382,   |
       the Counties of Burgundy and Artois)                  |
 Philip of Rouvre, = Marguerite, = Philip of Valois, 4th son of John II.
 Duke of Burgundy    _d._ March  | of France, who conferred on him
 and Count of          16, 1405  | the Duchy of Burgundy in 1363,
 Burgundy                        | _d._ April 27, 1404
 (Franche-Comté)                 |
 and Artois, _d._ 1361           |
       |                                                       |    |
 John the Fearless, Count of Flanders, = Marguerite,           |    |
 Burgundy, etc., on the death of his   | only daughter of      |    |
 mother (1405), Duke of Burgundy on    | Albert, Count of      |    |
 the death of his father (1404),       | Hainault and          |    |
 resigned his interest in the Duchy of | Holland,              |    |
 Brabant in favour of his brother      | _d._ Jan 14, 1423     |    |
 Anthony, _d._ Sept. 10, 1419          |                       |    |
                                       |                       |    |
       +-------------------------------+                       |    |
       |                                                       |    |
       |      +------------------------------------------------+    |
       |      |                                                     |
       |      |                             +-----------------------+
       |  Marguerite = William, eldest son  |
       |  _d._ March | of Albert, Count  of |
       |  8, 1441    | Hainault and Holland |
       |             | _d._ May 31, 1417    |
       |             |                      |
       |             | Jeanne de  =    $Anthony$, = Elizabeth  = John the
       |             | Saint-Pol  |   _d._ Oct.   of Goerlitz    Pitiless,
       |             | daughter   |    25, 1415                  second son
       |             | of Waleran |                              of Albert
       |             | of         |                              of Holland
       |             | Luxembourg |                              _d._ 1425
       |             |            +-----------------+
       |             |                              |
       |             +-------+               +------+--------+
       |                     |               |               |
       |                     |               |               |
 $Philip II.$  Jacqueline, Countess of = $John IV.$,         |
 (Philippe     Hainault and Holland,     _d._ April 17,      |
 l'Asseuré),   abdicated 1433,            1427               |
 Duke of      _d._ April 9, 1436                             |
 Burgundy,                                                   |
 Count of Burgundy,                                      $Philip I.$
 and Count of Flanders                                    (Philippe de
 from 1423, Duke of                                       Saint-Pol),
 Brabant from 1430,                                      _d._ Aug. 4, 1430
 and Count of Hainault
 and Holland from 1433

It was thanks, indeed, to this last mighty asset that Philip was able to
prepare the way for the union of the Netherlands to the profit of his
own house. His intimate connection with France obtained for him the
friendship of Duchess Jeanne, always French in her sympathies, and
through her good offices he was able to marry his eldest son, John the
Fearless, and his eldest daughter, Marguerite, to the only daughter and
the eldest son of Albert of Bavaria, heir-apparent to Hainault, Holland
and Zeeland, and thus to secure these counties for one of his
descendants. The double marriage took place on the 12th of April 1385,
and it will be interesting to note that the prelate who gave the nuptial
blessing was no other than John T'Serclaes, Count Bishop of Cambrai, a
brother of 'the liberator of Brussels.' Again, when shortly after the
death of Duke Winceslaus (1385) war broke out between Brabant and
Gelderland, and Jeanne, hard pressed, appealed to Philip for aid, it was
with French troops and French gold that he was able to effectually help
her, and thus to inspire--his main object in complying with her
request--those sentiments of gratitude which later on, in 1390, induced
her to acknowledge the right of her sister's child, Marguerite of Maele,
to the reversion of her ancestral domains, and that, in spite of a
previous engagement: in 1357, when smarting under the insult of the
Flemish invasion, the work, as Jeanne firmly believed, of that same
sister, she had pledged her word to the Emperor Charles IV., her
husband's elder brother, that if she died childless her estate should
not go to Marguerite of Brabant or to her issue, but to Charles himself,
or, in his default, to his next-of-kin of the house of Luxembourg.

Thus much had French influence and French gold accomplished for the Duke
of Burgundy, but he was not yet sure of obtaining the prize which he so
much coveted. The burghers had something to say in the matter, and
sentiments of gratitude and the glamour of France had little influence
with them: they feared that the house of Burgundy would be too powerful
for the security of their privileges; and also they were being pressed
by Wenzel, King of the Romans, who claimed the reversion of Jeanne's
heritage in virtue of the compact of 1357, to make a declaration in his
favour. To neither claimant would they give a definite reply: it were
time enough, they said, to consider the matter after Jeanne's decease.
They were no doubt waiting to see which man would make the highest bid.
At last Philip cut the knot by compelling his eldest son John to
renounce his right to the succession in favour of his second son Anthony
(1393), whom Jeanne, in 1401, with the assent of her people, formally
acknowledged as her heir.

Nor was this all. At a meeting which took place at Paris, whither Jeanne
had gone (1396) to see once more before she died 'the Princes of the
_Fleurs-de-lis_,' she had arranged with Philip that young Anthony, now
twelve years old, should reside with her at Brussels in order that he
might thus learn to know the people over whom he would one day rule. No
small advantage: if anything should happen to Jeanne, who was now
seventy-four years of age, Anthony would be on the spot; but as weeks
turned into months and months into years, and still the old Duchess
clung to life, Philip began to tire of waiting and to wonder whether
after all the cup would be dashed from his hands as he was carrying it
to his lips.--If only Jeanne could be induced to abdicate, Anthony, who
was now nineteen, could at once grasp the reins of government.
Determined, if possible, to induce her to do so, he journeyed to
Brussels early in April 1404, and once more his efforts were crowned
with success.

[Illustration: Notre-Dame de Hal from Chapel behind North Transept]

It was his last triumph. In the midst of a sumptuous banquet (April 16,
1404) in honour of his son's inauguration as Regent of Brabant, he was
struck down by a fever which was at that time raging in the city. On the
ninth day after his seizure, when he was almost a dead man, at his own
request they carried him on a litter to Hal and lodged him at the Sign
of the Stag, hard by the church, then famous, as it is now, for its
miraculous image of Our Lady. He knew that he was past human aid, yet
haply, he thought, the prayers of the Mother of God might even now save
him; but the Angel of Death was inexorable, and towards nightfall on the
morrow the great founder of the house of Bourgogne passed quietly away
(April 27, 1404). His body was embalmed and carried to Dijon, and they
buried it in the Carthusian monastery which he himself had founded
there, but his heart was enclosed in a precious casket and laid up
before the altar of Our Lady at Hal.

Death was at this time busy with the great ones of the Netherlands.
Within eight months of Philip's demise (December 12, 1404), Albert of
Hainault and Holland was gathered to his fathers and his son William
reigned in his stead; shortly before the new Count's accession,
Marguerite de Bourgogne had given him a daughter (July 25, 1401),
Jacqueline, famed for her beauty and her misfortunes, whose tragic story
we shall presently tell. Three months later Marguerite of Maele joined
her husband, and their eldest son, _Jean sans Peur_, who the year before
had inherited from his father the county of Charolais and the duchy of
Burgundy, now added to his possessions the county of Burgundy and the
counties of Flanders and Artois. A personage to be reckoned with, this
little, huge-headed, flat-faced man, without grace and without address,
and who spoke so ill that his speech was almost unintelligible: he knew
what he wanted and he knew how to compass his ends; he had subtlety and
determination, and was untroubled with scruples. He strengthened his
bulwarks if he did not enlarge his borders, and he struck his roots deep
into the soil of the Netherlands; but the greatest thing he did for the
accomplishment of their union was to beget a son, to whom he
transmitted his great capabilities, if not his evil looks, and who
gathered in the harvest which his father and his grandfather had
sown--Philip, second of his name, whom men called the Good, a sort of
fifteenth century imperialist, whose acquaintance we shall make later

On the 1st of December 1406, full of years and good works, died Duchess
Jeanne. She was the last of her generation, and the liberal traditions
of the house of Louvain died with her. She had outlived the man who had
so long plotted for her heritage well-nigh three years, and, as she had
wished, she was succeeded by her great-nephew Anthony. Though a brave
and chivalrous prince, his ideals were not the ideals of his subjects,
and in consequence he was always at loggerheads with them, but when he
was gathered to his fathers, struck down at Agincourt (October 25,
1415),[19] the evil days of his son John made Anthony regretted. Not
that John was a vicious man, but he was physically and morally weak--_de
petite et foible complexion_, as his secretary and intimate friend De
Dynter has it; and Chastelain: '_Peu estoit enclin au harnois, et avec
ce de féminin gouvernement, car en lui avoit peu de fait et peu de
malice. Et pour ce, aucuns estant entour luy, qui le réoient simple, le
gouvernèrent à leur prouffit et peu au sien, ne à ses pays._'[20] Herein
we have the source of the difficulties which continually beset his path,
difficulties of all kinds and with all sorts and conditions of
persons--with his clergy, his nobles, his burghers, his common folk,
and, within his own domestic circle, with his brother, his mother-in-law
and his wife. She was the greatest difficulty of all, and it would have
been marvellous indeed if his marriage had proved a happy one. What
could there have been in common with the indolent, feeble, dull-witted
John of Brabant and his brilliant and beautiful cousin Jacqueline, who
had inherited, with the shrewdness and the masterful will, all the
energy and all the daring of her mother's ambitious race? No more
ill-assorted match could well have been devised than that which William
of Holland urged with his last breath on his only daughter, the apple of
his eye, who at that time was a child-widow of sixteen. With his body
gangrened from the bite of a dog, and his mind confused with horror and
grief at the foul deed which six weeks before had deprived Jacqueline of
a husband, the dying man saw a pillar of strength in his poor little
rickety nephew. He knew that when he was gone she would need a
protector; he dreaded the cruel ambition of his brother, the Bishop of
Liége, who, he fondly believed, would hurl himself in vain against the
bedrock of the house of Bourgogne. Jacqueline herself had no such
illusion, her cousin of Brabant was known to her, her eyes were not
blinded by the glamour of his race, and she was convinced he would prove
a sorry champion. Moreover, she had loved the Dauphin, her first
husband, with whom she had been brought up, and the tragic circumstances
of his death--poisoned, as all men believed, by his uncle of
Orléans--had embittered her grief at his loss, and made her the less
inclined to hurry again into wedlock. But for all that the marriage took
place: the family council, held shortly after William's death at
Biervliet, in Zeeland (July 31, 1417), was unanimously in favour of it,
and in spite of her reluctance, and in spite of the opposition from
interested motives of the Bishop of Liége, the hapless Jacqueline was
presently constrained to give her hand to the poor stripling whom she

[19] _See_ p. 289.

[20] _Chronique du Duc Philippe_, chap. lv.

On Sunday, the 1st of August 1417, John and Jacqueline publicly
plighted their troth, and it was arranged that they should be united in
wedlock as soon as the necessary dispensation could be obtained from the
Holy See. A matter this not easy of accomplishment, owing to the
opposition of the Bishop of Liége, who naturally objected to a marriage
intended to prevent his making good his claim to his niece's heritage,
to which he maintained he had the better right--Holland and Hainault, as
imperial fiefs, being not transmissible in the female line.

This man at the family council, dissembling his real intentions, had not
only acknowledged Jacqueline's right to the whole of her father's
dominions and approved of the proposed match, but had actually
volunteered himself to procure the requisite dispensation, and
afterwards he had prevailed on the men of Dordrecht to receive him as
their Sovereign; and from thence, on the 3rd of September, he had
secretly sent letters to Constance representing to the Fathers assembled
there for the purpose of electing a new Pontiff and other matters, that
if this incestuous union were sanctioned the country would be plunged in
civil war.

Appointed to the See of Liége in 1390, a dissolute boy of seventeen in
sub-deacon's orders, in spite of the reiterated protests of his canons
and to the no small scandal of his people, John the Pitiless had
persistently refused episcopal consecration. For a sub-deacon to be
freed from his vow of celibacy he knew was not impossible, perhaps, as
his enemies said, it was in his mind to found a house and convert the
ecclesiastical state over which he presided--a republic then in all but
the name, with a mitred figurehead for president--into a lay
principality to be handed down to his descendants. In any case, he would
preserve a free hand in view of political eventualities. For twelve
years the people waited, groaning under John's oppression, for one
after another he suppressed all their liberties, and shamed by his evil
life, and then, at the end of their patience, they hunted him out of the
town, and chose in his place a worthier man, Thierry, son of the Lord of
Perwys, who in due course received from Benedict XIII. episcopal
consecration. But John the Pitiless was not the man to accept defeat, he
appealed to his brother of Holland and to his brother-in-law of
Burgundy, and after a long and bitter struggle he was presently
reinstated. The last stand was made at Othée, in the plain of Russon, on
the 23rd of September 1408, when the men of Liége were utterly routed.
Amongst the eight thousand slain were Bishop Thierry and his father, the
Lord of Perwys. When all was over they found their dead bodies on the
battlefield, side by side and hand in hand. Better so, for John's fierce
triumph was a veritable orgie of blood. Such of his victims as were
laymen he beheaded or hanged, and he showed his pity for their daughters
and wives and his respect for the ecclesiastical state by casting the
women into the Meuse, and with them the canons whom Thierry had
appointed, and the priests whom he had ordained. Then it was that the
Liége men first called him _Jean sans Pitié_.

Such was the man who now professed himself so solicitous for the purity
of family life and so fearsome lest the loosening of ecclesiastical
discipline should have for its outcome war. But the Fathers of Constance
were in no way deceived by his specious pleading, and as soon as they
had chosen a Pope (Martin V.) the dispensation was accorded. John,
however, was not yet at the end of his resources; as a prudent man he
had taken care to have two strings to his bow: he had not only written
to the Fathers of Constance, but also to his friend the Emperor
Sigismond, who, as soon as he learnt that the brief had been
dispatched, compelled the Pope by threats of imprisonment to revoke it.
Embarrassing this, no doubt, to the agents of the Duke of Brabant, but
they seem to have been equal to the emergency; for the clerks whose duty
it was to affix the pontifical seal to the new rescript, dated
Constance, January 5, 1413, conveniently forgot to do so for several
days, and thus it came about that when at last it reached the interested
parties the marriage had already taken place.

Edmund De Dynter, Duke John's secretary, tells us how it all
happened:--Late on the evening of Thursday, March 10, 1413, the
dispensation arrived at the Hague, where the Courts of Holland and
Brabant and Burgundy had been anxiously awaiting it for over three
weeks. The same night John and Jacqueline privately plighted their
troth, and immediately after the ceremony, says Edmund De Dynter, who
seems to have been present, they were conducted to the bridal chamber.
Doubtless they had some inkling at the Hague of what had taken place at
Constance, but in reality there was no need for haste, the newly-married
couple had time to visit Mons and other towns of Hainault, where their
sovereign rights were acknowledged, and Jacqueline had been welcomed as
Duchess of Brabant at Brussels and Louvain and Bois-le-Duc before the
second rescript was placed in the hands of Duke John. Shortly afterwards
'two venerable masters in theology' arrived at the Coudenberg, where the
Court was now installed, bringing with them a sealed letter from Martin
V. informing John that he might give full credence to what the bearers
said. They told him that as the revocation had been extorted by force,
it was to be regarded as null and void, and that as soon as the Pope had
crossed the Alps and was out of the Emperor's power, he would dispatch a
third rescript confirmatory of the first. And the Pope was as good as
his word: in due course the promised letter arrived, dated Florence,
August 27, 1418.

Though baffled in the matter of his niece's marriage, John the Pitiless
had otherwise strengthened his position. The better to prosecute his
claim to her heritage he had resigned his See, obtained a dispensation
from his vow of celibacy, and married a rich widow--Elizabeth, Duchess
of Luxembourg, step-mother to John of Brabant. Shortly afterwards the
Emperor had publicly invested him with the disputed fiefs, and in
Holland at least, especially among the burghers of the great towns, he
had a very considerable following. Meanwhile he was still at Dordrecht,
and presently he felt himself strong enough to openly declare war
against Jacqueline and her husband.

The Estates of Brabant, well aware that in face of so redoubtable an
adversary half measures would be useless, urged the Duke to attack
Dordrecht by land and sea. John's counsellors, however, were of a
different opinion. The expedition, they said, must be conducted with due
regard to economy, and to expend money on ships were an altogether
unnecessary outlay; and thus it came about that the siege of Dordrecht
very soon had to be raised. John, who had at first taken the field, now
retired to Brussels; city after city and fortress after fortress fell
into the hands of his opponent; Philip of Burgundy, to whom his father,
John the Fearless, absent in Paris, had left the care of his affairs in
the Low Countries, offered his mediation, and a compromise was effected.
On the 13th of February 1419 the Duke of Brabant ceded in fief to John
the Pitiless a portion of his wife's domains, permitted him to take the
title of Regent, and paid him a handsome indemnity into the
bargain--100,000 English nobles.

The burghers of Brabant were enraged and disgusted, and Jacqueline was
beside herself with indignation, the more so as they and she had each a
personal and most intimate grievance against the men whose parsimony had
caused this shame. The burghers never forgot that for years past these
harpies had fattened at their expense, considering neither the interests
of the State, which they starved, nor of the Sovereign, whom they
cajoled and fleeced, for John never failed to apply to his towns
whenever he found himself short of cash; and Jacqueline believed what
was whispered at Court as to how the vilest of them, William of Assche,
erst treasurer of the ducal household, now amman of Brussels, and his
son-in-law, Everard T'Serclaes--the eldest son of the Deliverer--had
obtained the baneful influence which they exercised over her feeble
lord: Assche at the cost of his daughter's fair name, and T'Serclaes at
the sacrifice of his own honour and the honour of his wife. Poor little
John was bewitched seemingly by the charms of Lauretta of Assche, or at
all events Jacqueline thought so, and she was proportionately jealous.
But it was not these men, but that grasping old fox, Treasurer
Vandenberghe, who was the first to experience the people's wrath. 'Ever
swift to sweep in coin, and tardy, yea, of a truth most tardy, in the
matter of payments,'[21] he it was who had been the chief promoter of
the cheese-paring policy which had brought forth such disastrous
results, and hence he was condemned by the Estates to exile, and
declared to be for ever incapable of again holding office in Brabant.
Nor was this all: Brussels and Louvain informed the Duke that they would
grant him no further aid until the sentence had been carried out. It was
the first passage of arms in the great struggle between John and his
_bonnes villes_. The friends of the Duchess had been the first to
strike, but her opponents were not slow to hit back. At Brussels her
arch foe, William Assche, refused, quite illegally, to publish his
colleague's condemnation, but the aldermen made him pay for it: they
would no longer acknowledge him as amman, and flung him into gaol. Of
the whole college one member only withheld his assent--Everard
T'Serclaes, and in consequence he was declared to have forfeited his
rights of _lignage_ and to be for ever incapable of holding municipal

[21] De Dynter, c. 161.

Meanwhile John and the Treasurer had betaken themselves to Mons, where
the latter presently endured a worse punishment than exile: on the 23rd
of March 1419, during the absence of the Duke and the Duchess hawking,
Vandenberghe, sick and slumbering in his chamber, 'was suddenly aroused
by the bastards of Holland' (Jacqueline's natural brothers), 'who very
soon sent him to sleep again, and so soundly that no man shall ever wake
him more; for without any respite they struck him stone dead, and
forthwith went their way.' 'Spite,' says Secretary De Dynter, 'because
he had stopped their pensions'; and Monstrelet adds, 'The Duchess,
according to common report, was a sufficiently consenting party to what
her brethren had done.'

Be this as it may, the removal of Vandenberghe was certainly, for the
moment, of advantage to Jacqueline and her friends. For three days John
was inconsolable, but at the expiration of that time his Duchess managed
to appease him, and Rotslaere, a man devoted to the popular cause, was
appointed Treasurer of Brabant (April 12, 1419). Maybe that John, in
acting thus, was dissembling to gain time; maybe that, brooding over his
wrongs alone (for shortly after the murder the ducal couple had
separated), he was presently impelled to go back on his decision;
certain it is that within a month after their appointment the new
ministers were dismissed.

Before the end of April the Court had returned to Brabant: Jacqueline to
Vilvorde, and John, cast down and restless, flitting from place to
place--sometimes at Tervueren, sometimes at Antwerp, never at Brussels,
where Assche was still in prison, at last he found himself at
Bois-le-Duc, and by that time he had made up his mind.

The 15th of May 1419 was a noteworthy day in the life of Duke John of
Brabant. Between sunrise and sunset he accomplished several things, and
experienced some sensations of a sufficiently varied and exciting nature
for a nervous youth of delicate constitution:--A morning ride from
Bois-le-Duc to Crayenhem, unknown to Rotslaere--_grandement embesogné_,
good man, _et moult esbahis_, when presently he heard of it; a secret
meeting there with former counsellors, at which a plan was devised for
taming Jacqueline; a journey next to Vilvorde, and there, beneath her
windows, insulting proclamation, outcome of the morning conclave; then,
swift flight to Tervueren to escape the consequences; and then--grand
finale, when he flattered himself he had reached cover, the hurricane of
his wife's indignation burst over his head; for Jacqueline, when she saw
her lord departing, had at once taken horse, accompanied by one lady and
three servants, and reaching Tervueren almost before he had recovered
his breath, she forced her way into his chamber in spite of the
remonstrance of the guard, and there, in the presence of his favourites,
rated him soundly for two good hours. And Jacqueline had reason to be
discontented, for Rotslaere and her friends had fallen, and the corrupt
sycophants, who had been the cause of all her miseries, were once more
in power, and, worse still, her own personal attendants--the Dutch
ladies, whom she loved and who had served her all her life--had been
summarily ordered to pack up their baggage and get themselves back to
Holland. And who were the women who were to take their place? 'The
noblest and best in the land,' said John. And no doubt he thought so:
they were the wives and daughters of his boon companions, and amongst
them was Lauretta of Assche.

Though John displayed admirable firmness so long as his wife confined
herself to tears and supplication, he quailed before the bitter
invective which his heartlessness presently called forth; and if it had
not been for his fear of a like scene with Lauretta, maybe the Duchess
would have carried the day. As it was, she was fain to content herself
with her lord's reluctant consent to her retaining four of her women,
and there, for the moment, the affair ended.

Meanwhile matters were not mending at Brussels. Assche was still in
prison, and neither John's threats nor entreaties could induce the
burghers to release him; and presently, when election time came round
and the patricians as usual sent in their triple list of candidates, the
Duke, by way of retaliation, refused to make any appointments, and for
three weeks the city was without magistrates. At last, thanks to the
good offices of Antwerp and Louvain, a compromise was effected, which
was in reality a triumph for Brussels. John, indeed, obtained the
release of his friend, but he was not reinstated in office, and John
Taye, who now became amman, was a _persona grata_ to the burghers. Nor
was this all: the city obtained a new charter, by which it was ordained
that henceforth a deputy amman should always be appointed, who, in the
event of the amman's refusal to act, or if he performed his duties ill,
would be competent to act for him; that if the deputy, in his turn,
failed to give satisfaction, the aldermen could replace him by a more
suitable person; and that if in future any Sovereign should refuse to
appoint magistrates, the outgoing magistrates might themselves name
their successors.

Notwithstanding that peace had thus been patched up between John and the
men of Brussels, his heart was so filled with resentment that he could
not prevail upon himself to return to the Coudenberg till six months
later, and shortly afterwards came the final rupture with Jacqueline.

It happened thus. Hardly a year had passed since the signing of the
Treaty of Gorcum (February 13, 1419), when John the Pitiless, again
growing restive, began to demand fresh concessions and to threaten that
if they were not granted Brabant would be drenched in blood. So eager
was the Duke to avert war that he did not hesitate to invest him with
the regency of Holland and Zeeland for a period of twelve years, and to
cede to him also the lordships of Antwerp and Herenthals--dependencies
these last of the duchy of Brabant.

Whilst Duke John was thus weakly disposing of his own and of his wife's
property, his faithful henchman, Everard T'Serclaes, now steward of the
ducal household, was racking his brains as to how he might rid the Court
of Jacqueline's Dutch ladies. By so doing he would confer a boon on his
master, and, matter of greater moment, gratify his own spleen, for his
hatred of the Duchess was commensurate with the injury which he had done
her, and with the contempt which she openly showed for him. After much
thought, he came to the conclusion that the best plan would be to starve
them out, and under pretext of thrift, for the household expenses, he
said, were extremely heavy, he refused henceforth to make any provision
for their maintenance.

Jacqueline had just heard of the new treaty and was in no mood to brook
further outrage. The meanness and pettiness of this last insult cut her
to the quick, and she resented it with the pride and energy natural to
her character. Marguerite of Burgundy, who had sought out John and
remonstrated with him in vain, had withdrawn in tears to an inn called
_Le Miroir_ in the _rue de la Montagne_, and Jacqueline, after a violent
scene with her husband, fled from the Court to her mother's lodgings. No
effort was made to recall her, and next morning the two ladies left
Brussels for the Castle of Quesnoy in Hainault, where Jacqueline was
still Sovereign. This was early in May 1420.

When it became known that the Duchess had gone, throughout the length
and breadth of the land there was a widespread feeling of indignation,
which, however, seems to have been at first stronger in some places than
in others, and, generally speaking, the rural districts, influenced as
they were by the feudal lords--almost all of them, from sentiments of
chivalry, ardent partisans of Jacqueline, were more hostile than the
towns. At Bois-le-Duc, indeed, John's adherents were sufficiently
numerous and influential to insure the loyalty of the city throughout
the contest which was now impending; Antwerp, for a time, also refrained
from active hostility, and so, too, Brussels. The common folk had
'wondered and wept' when they saw Jacqueline leaving the palace in tears
and on foot, and attended by only one serving-man, and the heartless
boy, who had driven her from home, had long ago forfeited their
confidence and respect, but at Brussels the common folk did not yet
count, and the patricians, though many of them shared their sentiments,
were for the most part loth to quarrel again with their best customer;
for the cloth trade was waning in face of English competition, and the
Court was now the mainstay of their prosperity.

At Louvain it was otherwise. The Dukes of Brabant had long since
forsaken the cradle of their race, the tradesmen of the capital had
little to gain and little to lose from the smiles or the evil looks of
the occupant of the throne, and their judgment was not warped by
self-interest. Moreover, at Louvain, the people--always eager to resent
injustice and to champion the cause of the weak, were directly and
largely represented in the municipal senate, and a healthier, manlier,
more independent spirit pervaded the whole town. Nowhere in the duchy of
Brabant was John's unworthy conduct held in greater contempt, nowhere
were men more firmly determined to deliver him from the evil counsellors
who, for their own ends, had prompted it, and the burghers of Louvain,
to their honour, took the first step in this direction.

Shortly after Jacqueline's flight John, again short of cash, had
summoned the Estates of Brabant to meet at Brussels, and the aldermen of
Louvain, knowing very well that liberty could hardly be assured in the
Court city, utterly ignored John's invitation and invited the Estates on
the same day to assemble in their own town. It was a bold step, but the
issue proved the wisdom of it: when the appointed day arrived a few
stragglers from Antwerp and Bois-le-Duc betook themselves to Brussels,
and representatives of the first and second order from all parts of the
duchy flocked into the capital. They found it in a greater state of
commotion than any of them had anticipated, for news had just come to
hand of a fresh act of tyranny--the Duke had presumed to violate one of
the oldest and most cherished privileges of the time-honoured Church of
Saint Peter.

Thus: Sieger, chief of the house of Heetvelde, was one of the mightiest
nobles of Brabant in the far-off days of Duchess Jeanne, with whom he
claimed kinship, for he traced his descent to a natural son of the great
house of Gaesbeke, a legitimate though younger branch of the reigning
family. The Van Heetveldes, in the course of ages, had acquired estates
and manorial rights in all parts of the duchy; they were patricians,
too, of Louvain, for a Heetvelde of bygone days had married a daughter
of that city, and the status of patrician, unlike that of the feudal
lord, was transmissible in the female line. Invested with all the rights
and privileges of the various orders to which he belonged, at Brussels,
where he habitually resided, old Sieger was too mighty a man to be
loved; five _lignages_ banded together against him, and one morning he
was found in the Grand' Place with his throat cut. Who was the actual
murderer was never known, but Sieger's sons suspected a patrician called
Nicholas de Swaef, and publicly charged him with the crime, and hence
there arose a feud between the family of the murdered man and the family
of the man who, as he had sworn, had been falsely accused of the murder.
For years the streets of Brussels were the scene of their bloody
conflicts. In vain the burghers of Louvain joined their efforts to the
burghers of Brussels as mediators. At their instance Duchess Jeanne
ordained that the quarrel should be forgotten, menacing with death any
man who should venture to reopen it; but her threats were wholly
disregarded, and after twenty years the Heetveldes and the
Vanderstraetens[22] were still flying at one another's throats. At last,
about Easter 1417, the belligerents agreed to accept the arbitration of
Duke John IV., provided he gave his decision within a twelvemonth. For
some reason or other he neglected to do so, and it was not till the 20th
of June 1420 that he summoned the brothers Heetvelde to his presence and
informed them that he was about to pronounce judgment. To this they
demurred, on the ground that the stipulated time had long since gone by.
Whatever may have been the case three years before, the Vanderstraetens
were now John's friends and the Heetveldes among his bitterest
opponents, and naturally enough the latter feared he would not hold the
scales of justice evenly. Whereat John sentenced them, there and then,
to banishment as contumacious, and the Heetveldes, instead of
submitting, fled to Louvain. They were Petermen, they said, and as such
subject only to their own tribunal. What wonder, then, that the anger of
the burghers blazed more fiercely than ever, or that the Estates, to
which the Heetveldes had appealed, quashed the iniquitous sentence, and
forthwith informed the Duke that no fresh aid would be granted until
their grievances had been redressed. The miscreants who had deprived
Jacqueline of her heritage, driven her from Brabant, wasted the
resources of the realm, and who had not even feared to flout Saint
Peter, must first be dismissed from office. Nor did John dare to refuse,
but the men whom he named to take their places made his former
counsellers regretted: amongst them was Everard T'Serclaes, the _fons et
origo_ of all the mischief. Whereat the Estates, convinced that it was
hopeless to expect reform so long as John remained in power, did two
things--they sent letters to 'Madame the Duchess of Brabant and to
Madame the Widow, her mother,' proposing co-operation, and by 'the
vigour of the replies which they presently received were greatly
consoled and comforted'; and they despatched 'Friar Edmond' to Paris to
bring home the Count of Saint-Pol. And in this too they were successful,
for although the Duke, getting wind of it, had immediately written to
his brother urging him not to come, Friar Edmond proved himself the
better diplomatist, and on the 10th of September returned to Louvain,
bringing the young prince with him. Shortly afterwards came ambassadors
from the King of France and from the Duke of Burgundy with a mission
'to appease the strife which had arisen between Duke John of Brabant, on
the one part, and Madame the Duchess and Madame the Widow, and the
nobles and the good towns of Brabant, on the other'; and, better still,
a few days later came 'Madame Jaque herself and Madame her mother,' and
then, after much confabulation and much coming and going between
Brussels and Louvain, a conference was arranged at Vilvorde for Sunday
the 29th of September. Thither, on the appointed day, came the allies
from Louvain, with 'Madame Jaque and My Lord of Saint-Pol' at their
head. But Duke John did not come. Hardly safe at Brussels, where his
friends had still the upper hand, he was far too wise to attend a
meeting in a town where he knew his opponents were more numerous than
his partisans. Excusing himself on the ground of indisposition, he kept
close house, and at nightfall on the morrow stealthily crept out into
the darkness and slipped away. To cover his flight Everard T'Serclaes
gave out that the Duke was too ill to see anyone but a couple of trusty
serving-men, who were in the secret, and who carried his supper into his
bedchamber after his departure, as if he were still there, whereas in
reality he had fled with the Lord of Ashe and four others, who led him
by circuitous routes to Bois-le-Duc.

[22] These men seem to have been near kinsmen of Nicholas de Swaef.

As soon as it was publicly known that John had left the city, the
Assembly at Vilvorde, by the advice of the French ambassador, conferred
the government on Philip of Saint-Pol, who on the following day (October
2), along with Jacqueline, her mother and the Estates, triumphantly
entered Brussels.[23]

[23] _See_ De Dynter.

Five months before the Duchess of Brabant had left her home, accompanied
only by a humble serving-lad. As she wended her way through the muddy
streets to her mother's lodging in the _rue de la Montagne_ the few
stragglers who recognised her had stood silent as she passed, in
sympathy and respect at her humiliation; and now she returned in triumph
at the head of a brilliant cavalcade of churchmen, and knights and
burghers; and the people welcomed her with shouts of acclamation, and
with trumpets and clashing bells.

How different too was her position in the palace to what it had been in
former days. The fears of her poor little husband had compelled him to
leave it trembling, disguised, under cover of night, and by a back door,
in more pitiable condition almost than she had been when she had fled
from the Coudenberg. And the man without heart and without soul, who,
having robbed her of her husband's affection, thought it almost an
honourable thing to stoop to the pettiness of depriving her ladies of
their dinner, he, too, had gone the way of his master and his dupe, and
of the corrupt crew whose pride and debauchery had in days of yore
rendered her life intolerable, not one was left within the walls of the

She was now in the midst of friends and attended by her own people. Her
will was law. She was Sovereign, and, such was the chivalrous devotion
of the men who had rescued and restored her, that in the ardour of their
first enthusiasm they placed her interests before their own. At the
solemn assembly which took place next day in the Town Hall the Estates
unanimously decided to forthwith equip an expedition to wrest from John
the Pitiless 'the possessions of the Duchess which her husband had
abandoned to him without her consent.' Soon a great host was assembled
at Breda, hard by the cities it had been decided, in the first place, to
take. Knights from every lordship in Brabant were there, and armed
burghers from every town save Bois-le-Duc, and Jacqueline herself was in
the midst of them.

On the 16th of October she was at the gates of Heusden. The city
surrendered without a blow, and the next day she was solemnly enthroned
there as Duchess of Brabant. Four days later she sat down before
Gertruidenberg. On Saint Martin's Day the city went up in flames, and on
the 24th of November, flushed with victory, she returned at the head of
her troops to Brussels.

It was her last triumph. For a brief space her star had been in the
ascendant, and now it was already beginning to wane. Henceforth sorrow
was to dog her heel, and ill-fortune to confront her at every turn. The
Estates were again sitting, sometimes in the Coudenberg, sometimes in
the Town Hall, but the prelates and knights and burghers assembled had
other food for discussion than Jacqueline's Dutch affairs--the country
was threatened with invasion, perhaps with civil war: John at
Bois-le-Duc was hatching mischief. What particular form his mischief
would take no man could tell, not even the Duke himself, for he inclined
sometimes to one scheme, sometimes to another. All that was certainly
known was that he was endeavouring to recruit an army in the land
between the Meuse and the Rhine, that men of adventure were flocking to
his standard from the hope of obtaining loot, and that he had turned a
deaf ear to the deputation which the Regent had sent to Bois-le-Duc to
entreat him to desist from his evil designs. At Brussels amongst the
patricians he was known to have a considerable following, though many of
them dissembled their true sentiments. Several of the aldermen were
suspected of disaffection: at best they were but half-hearted patriots,
and Amman Cluting was known to be the Duke's man, and was divested of
his office in consequence.

Winter was coming on, and the city was filled with distress, for at any
moment the land might be plunged in the horrors of civil war, and
business was at a standstill. All that could be done had been done:
Philip had issued a proclamation in which he declared that at the
request of the Estates he had undertaken the government during the
absence of his brother, and the Estates, in their turn, had addressed a
letter to the nobles and the cities of Brabant informing them of the
motives which had inspired their action. There was nothing for it but to
await the issue of events. But inaction to one of Jacqueline's keen and
impetuous nature was altogether impossible, and shortly after the
failure of the Regent's negotiations with John, she set out with Madame
the Widow for Valenciennes. The men of Brabant were unable to help her;
she must seek assistance elsewhere. Philip of Burgundy was impossible:
he was playing his own game. The King of France was his puppet; there
was nothing to be done with him. Someone suggested England, and
presently, unknown to her mother, she flitted across the Channel,
determined to enlist the sympathy of her distant kinsman, King Henry V.
Better had she remained in Brabant: if only she could have possessed her
soul in patience she might have accomplished something.

Meanwhile at Brussels and throughout Brabant the air was thick with
rumours. What would the morrow bring forth? All trade was at a
standstill, it was the last month of the year and the empty stomachs of
men without work were already beginning to shrink from the grip of
winter. Every honest burgher as he turned into his bed at night was
firmly convinced that the tocsin would clang before dawn, and in the
morning he was no less sure that something untoward would happen before
sundown. For six weary weeks the good town of Brussels was on
tenterhooks, and then, on the 20th of January 1421, she was basely
betrayed into the hands of the enemy by her own magistrates.

It was common knowledge that some of the patricians were disaffected,
but no one imagined how far the evil had really spread until John
appeared before the Louvain gate with an army of Germans. Then the
renegades hoisted their true colours and then it was known for the first
time that no less than four of the patrician clans had cast in their lot
with his; and though the remaining three were composed for the most part
of good patriots, their representatives in the city council, flustered
and dismayed at the situation which had thus been suddenly sprung on
them, after some feeble show at resistance, yielded to their more
energetic colleagues.

These men had for weeks past been in correspondence with John, and had
arranged all the details of the plot at a secret meeting held in the
Vroente a few nights before, and when the Duke and his party arrived at
Tervueren early on the morning of the 21st of January, ex-Amman Cluting
and three of the confederate aldermen were there to receive him. When
John, as had been previously arranged, had re-invested Cluting with his
wand of office, the conspirators informed him that he would find no
difficulty in entering the city by the Porte de Louvain, for Alderman
Kegel was in command there and he would at once admit him; and having
delivered their message they returned to Brussels to make ready for his
reception. What, then, was the surprise of the ducal party when
presently they reached the appointed gate and found it shut! Some of the
more faint-hearted were for turning back, others for forcing an
entrance, but that was found to be impossible. Others again, not knowing
what to do, eased their minds by cursing the lying burghers who had
betrayed them. 'Gentle Knight,' crooned a hag, who had vainly asked for
alms of the Lord of Heinsberg, loudest in fierce declamation, 'gentle
Knight, do not worry yourself about entering the city, but when once you
are within consider well how best you may come out again.' He took
little heed at the time, says De Dynter, but later on he called to mind
what the old woman had said.

In reality Amman Cluting and his friends had not broken faith with John,
but when they reached Brussels they found that the news of his arrival
at Tervueren had preceded them and that the city was in a state of
uproar. Kegel had been removed from the Porte de Louvain, the Regent had
just ordered all the gates to be shut, and a meeting of the Grand
Council was actually taking place in the Town Hall. Thither, then, the
conspirators turned their horses' heads, and their arrival in the
Council Chamber was the signal for a stormy scene. At first the
magistrates of the Regent's faction hardened their hearts and stiffened
their backs--no power on earth should persuade them to consent to the
Duke's return, but their opponents were many and blustering, and they
were weak-kneed and few. Presently they began to hesitate, and at last,
when they accepted a compromise which was in reality a surrender, they
flattered themselves that their firmness had saved the situation.

The meeting had lasted the best part of the day, and darkness was
falling on the good town of Brussels when her aldermen, arrayed in robes
of state, solemnly went forth to the great act of betrayal.

[Illustration: THE TOWN HALL, BRUSSELS.]

Wending their way by the Rue de la Montagne, Saint Gudule's, and the
road which skirted the northern side of the park--then a great wood well
stocked with game and extending right up to the ramparts--they presently
reached the gate outside which John had been kicking his heels, as De
Dynter says, for more than two hours, and in due course made known to
him the result of their deliberations The Duke, they said, was free to
enter the city provided he would limit his escort to a hundred and
twenty men, amongst whom there must be no foreigner or no public enemy
of the State. John passed his word, the gates were thrown open, a
hundred and twenty knights rode in, and then the command rang out for
the rest to follow. Some of the bystanders were for resistance, but the
renegades succeeded in restraining them. Quick as thought the whole army
dashed up to the Coudenberg, and presently the Count of Saint-Pol rode
quietly off to Louvain.


Next morning the Duke went down to the Town Hall, where a great crowd of
aldermen, councillors, deans of trade companies and other civic
officials were expecting him. His policy, he told them, was one of
general appeasement, and he would fain have their co-operation; but
though no sign of dissent was made he was filled with misgiving. What if
his brother Philip should return with reinforcements? And presently he
summoned the aldermen to the palace and demanded of them the course
which in that event they would pursue. Their answer was a politic
one--if the Duke distrusted them they were quite ready to hand him the
keys of the city gates, but John would not hear of it. He was well
assured, he said, of their loyalty.

In reality the greatest source of danger was not from without but from
within--in the growing discontent of the people at the greed and
arrogance of 'these foreign _gens de guerre_,' who galloped through the
streets with their swords drawn as if Brussels were a conquered town,
and who openly bragged in hostel and tavern that they would not go back
to Germany till they were all rich men, aye, and that they meant to have
not only the goods, but the wives and the daughters of a host of wealthy
citizens whom it was the Duke's intention, so they averred, to presently
hang. What wonder then, when this state of things had been going on for
the best part of a week, that a serving-maid, who perceived a lighted
candle in the window of a certain foreign knight at an hour when all
honest men should be a-bed, clean lost her wits, and ran up screaming to
call her master; or that he, good man, when he had plucked up his
courage to peer in at the casement, and with his own eyes had seen the
knight arming, ran off at the top of his speed to tell the magistrates
that a plot was on foot to murder all the burghers; or that they, no
less scared than he, put a double guard at the city gates; or that a
great host of craftsmen soon appeared in the Grand' Place armed and
angry: and perhaps too they had reason. De Dynter is by no means sure
that the alleged plot was altogether imaginary. 'As to the aforesaid
conspiracy,' he says, 'it was found from information received, that the
Germans that night went to bed in their armour, and hence the
_Communaulté_ held that the fact was sufficiently proven; but they, the
Germans, on the other hand, denied all knowledge of it, alleging that
they had only armed, when they heard the roar of the mob, not knowing
what might be going to happen; and I, for my part, have not been able to
discover the truth of the matter, and hence I can only note down what
each party said.' Several of John's partisans, who afterwards fell into
the hands of the Regent, not only acknowledged, albeit under torture,
that a massacre had been in contemplation, but divulged its object,
adding names and details: some fifteen hundred German knights, with
Heinsberg and Amman Cluting at their head, were to rise at a given
signal--the sounding of the bell of _Saint Jacques sur Coudenberg_,
seize the Town Hall, and, having thus made themselves masters of the
city, arrest all the popular leaders and put them to death. The object
being to break up Philip's party at Brussels before he had time to
return with the reinforcements which he had gone to seek at Louvain.

Be this as it may, so firmly convinced were the craftsmen that some
great catastrophe was impending that they all turned out in the middle
of Monday night, as we have seen, determined, if need be, to sell their
lives dearly. So fierce and so threatening was their attitude, and so
alarming were the rumours which presently reached the palace, that about
eleven o'clock Duke John, who was not without courage in moments of
emergency, determined to go forth himself and do what he could to calm
the storm, but his efforts were met with shouts of derision; as he rode
round the market from guild to guild, begging the rioters to go home to
bed, and assuring them they had no cause for fear, 'Go home to bed
yourself,' they cried, 'and sleep well; your own fears are groundless,
not one of us would harm a hair of your head,' and they probably spoke
the truth, for though his subjects despised him and detested his methods
of government, John himself was not personally unpopular. Indeed, the
people regarded him rather with pity than hatred, for, after all, he was
but a poor little puppet, the men who pulled the strings were alone to
blame. They were soon to have their reward, but not to-night: it was not
until Wednesday morning that a great mob of armed craftsmen came surging
up to the palace. John faced them. 'Why this tumult? What did it mean?'
'Heinsberg, and they meant to have him.' And soon Heinsberg was led
forth, for there was no denying them, and, oh! the irony of it, by his
fellow-conspirator, Cluting. It was the amman's last official act: two
days later he was himself arrested, and afterwards endured, as we shall
see, a worse fate than the man whom he now handed over to the aldermen,
who, like their chief, had changed sides, to be dragged in chains to
prison. Before noon every German in Brussels was taken: the knights
fettered and cast into gaol, their followers stripped and with only a
few rags to cover them turned loose into the winter fields, and towards
dusk the cheering of the mob and the bells from a hundred steeples
announced Philip's arrival with a great army of nobles from the
countryside, and of burghers from Louvain and Antwerp.

That night the craftsmen of Brussels were in a wild frenzy of
gladness--not only on account of their triumph, but because they knew
that the wine for which they had so long thirsted, the glorious wine of
liberty, would soon be gurgling down their throats; the fragrance of its
bouquet already filled their nostrils and they were drunk in
anticipation. Philip had hailed them as the saviours of Brabant, and he
would never refuse to strong men flushed with victory the wages they had
justly earned. Let patricians do what they would, self-government was
now assured to them.

As a matter of fact, it was not in the power of the patricians, split
up as they were into hostile factions, to offer opposition to anyone.
The clans which had triumphed and which, had they been left to their own
resources, would have been utterly wiped out, were bound hand and foot
to the plebeian allies who had rescued them and given them the victory.
Their vanquished opponents, utterly cowed, were considering only how
best they might escape the consequences of their indiscretion. From
these men, then, there was nothing to fear.

On the night of Philip's coming some of the most deeply implicated,
amongst them Alderman Kegel and old William of Assche, desperate in the
belief that if they remained in Brussels their doom was fixed, taking
their lives in their hands sallied forth boldly into the streets, and
passing through the crowd, unnoticed in the darkness and confusion,
succeeded in gaining the open country and a place of refuge till the
storm had passed. The rest, trembling behind barred doors and windows,
expected each moment to be dragged forth and torn in pieces by an
infuriated mob--phantom peril, offspring of their conscious guilt. The
city, given over to rejoicing, was content to leave vengeance in
Philip's hands, and Philip, good man, wearied out with the day's
travail, had retired to bed. It was not until the morrow, after dinner,
that he proceeded with a small escort to the Coudenberg and put all, or
nearly all, of the members of the ducal household under arrest. The
greater number, however, were set at liberty the same day, though none
of them were reinstated in office. Indeed, in dealing not only with
these men, but with the burghers who had opposed him, Philip certainly
acted with singular moderation. His policy seems to have been to strike
at the leaders only, and that, with no undue harshness, and to suffer
the small fry to go scot-free.

Though the number of persons concerned in one or other of the recent
conspiracies must have been considerable, probably not less than a
thousand, some twenty only were deemed worthy of punishment, notable
burghers all of them or nobles from the countryside. Fourteen who had
been duly tried, and under torture had acknowledged their guilt, were
sentenced to imprisonment for life in fortresses outside the city. A
direct violation this of one of the most cherished privileges of
citizenship, but doubtless inspired out of consideration for the
personal safety of the prisoners, who would have run no small risk of
being lynched if they had been detained in Brussels. Some three or four
who had fled from justice were condemned in default to lifelong exile
and to the forfeiture of their estates. Only two were brought to the
block, ex-Amman Cluting and one of his sergeants. They were taken on the
Thursday night, and their end came with tragic speed. 'On Saturday
morning,' says De Dynter, who was perhaps an eye-witness of the scene he
describes, 'the whole community being assembled in the market-place
under arms, Jan Cluetinck and Arnulph Vander Hove were led bound into
the midst, and when Gerard Vander Zype, who ruled the Regent, coming
forth from the Town Hall, with a loud voice had cried out, "Now we are
going to begin," Amman Diedeghem gave the signal, and straightway and
without any interval their heads were struck off.'

Cluting had not only taken an active part in the betrayal of the city on
the 21st of January, but he was said to have been a prime mover in the
alleged German conspiracy to murder the leaders of the popular party;
and seeing that Philip and his barons were firmly convinced of the
reality of the plot and that his guilt was proven, they could hardly
have done otherwise than condemn him to death. In all probability
Vander Hove died for aiding and abetting his chief. De Dynter, however,
does not tell us for what crime he suffered: he contents himself with
simply recording the fact of his execution.

One cannot help being astonished at the moderation which the working
population of Brussels at this time showed. The craftsmen were now
masters of the city, they were seconded by a large number of the
patricians themselves, and in all probability no demand which they had
chosen to make would have been refused them. Yet, unlike their fellows
of Bruges and Ghent, who had long since excluded their patricians as
such from all share in municipal government, so that they could only
take part in civic affairs by enrolling themselves in one or other of
the trade companies, the craftsmen of Brussels were content with a half
share in the government of the city. All the old institutions were
preserved, but they were enlarged so as to admit the plebeian element,
or new institutions were created alongside of them.

So complicated did the municipal machinery now become, that any detailed
account of it is impossible within the limits of this volume; suffice it
to say, that at the head of the administration were two burgomasters,
the first a patrician and the second a plebeian, the patrician
burgomaster being chosen by the craftsmen from a list of three names
presented to them annually by the incoming aldermen, who as heretofore
were all patricians, and the plebeian burgomaster being chosen by the
aldermen from a list of three names presented to them by the trade
companies. These officers were held to be the representatives _par
excellence_ of the city, its guardians and supreme chiefs, and they were
invested with judicial powers to settle all trade disputes, in which the
matter at issue did not exceed a _demi livre vieux gros._

The magistracy proper, as of yore, consisted of a College of Aldermen of
seven members and two patrician treasurers. No change was made in the
manner of their appointment, but it was ordained that henceforth these
offices should only be conferred on patricians resident in Brussels, and
such as were not in the employ of the Duke or of any great noble,
because, as the charter quaintly explains, such have been found by
experience to be _peu profitables._ Added to the magistracy were eight
plebeian members, viz., six councillors and two treasurers. These were
selected by the aldermen from a triple list presented to them by the
trade companies. Thus the magistracy consisted of seventeen members, of
whom nine were patricians and eight plebeians. Also provision was made
for a referendum to the people. When in the opinion of the burgomasters
and the plebeian councillors such a course was desirable, they were
competent to convoke the juries of the trade companies, but before doing
so they were bound to advise the aldermen. Then when they had
communicated to the craftsmen the opinion of the magistracy on the
matter in hand they demanded their decision, and that decision seems to
have been final. Thus, though the patricians had a majority of one in
the town council, the last word practically lay with the people in all
grave matters.

The articles of the new charter were agreed upon in a great assembly of
barons and of deputies of the towns of Brussels, Antwerp and Louvain, on
Thursday the 6th of February 1421. The charter itself was signed and
sealed by the Regent on the following Tuesday (February 11), and its
provisions were immediately put into execution.

Until now the proletariat of Brussels had willingly acquiesced in the
wise and moderate policy of the Regent and his advisers. No constraint
had been placed on the personal liberty of Duke John; the three
aldermen of the popular party, in spite of their lamentable weakness in
the matter of the great betrayal, had not been deprived of office. Of
the many who were undoubtedly guilty, only a comparatively small number
had been put on trial, and the light punishments meted out to them might
well have called forth the resentment of those who had suffered from
their crimes; and yet the working population had acquiesced in all these
things, and when they had at length received their charter of
enfranchisement the craftsmen were content to lay down their arms; but
the mildness and confidence of these men was soon to give place to cruel
suspicion and an insatiable hunger for vengeance.

Shortly after Jacqueline's flight in the summer of 1420 some of Duke
John's most intimate friends had banded together in a secret and
lifelong league to support the throne, and generally to defend the Duke
against the machinations of his enemies. This at least was the
ostensible object of the league, but there is little doubt that the
action of its members, all of whom were partisans of the Straetens, was
inspired less by love of John than by hatred of the brothers Heetvelde.
The matter was kept so quiet that none of the Duke's opponents had any
inkling of it until the close of March 1421, when Gerard Vander
Straeten, Provost of Saint Jacques sur Coudenberg, and one of the
greatest churchmen in Brabant, was arrested, on suspicion seemingly, of
being concerned in the German plot, of which Hendric Van Heetvelde,
rumour had it, was to have been the first victim.

Whatever the cause of his arrest may have been, the consequences of it
were tremendous. His house was searched, and there in his chamber were
found mysterious papers relating to the secret league, with the names of
the members in their own handwriting, and with their signets affixed,
and also a letter of approval signed and sealed by Duke John himself.

The men of Brussels were bewildered and dismayed. What did it all mean?
But when the _i_'s were dotted and the _t_'s were crossed by the
burghers imprisoned without the walls, constrained thereto by
torture--for these miscreants were all implicated--dismay became frenzy,
and bewilderment a mighty voice compelling retribution. Again the
craftsmen flew to arms, again they surged into the market-place, and
again, but not until three days had passed, Myn Here Vander Zype
appeared in the tribune of proclamation. 'Children,' he cried, 'be of
good heart, your prayer is granted,' and presently the sergeants led in
'Gedolphus of Coudenberg, Willem Pipenpoy and Lord Everard T'Serclaes,
Knight,'--conspirators, all of them, on their own showing; for had they
not set their hands and seals to the fatal roll in Vander Straeten's
chamber? The name of T'Serclaes was second on the list, and he was
probably the originator of the movement--evilest of John's evil
counsellors, unworthy offspring of a noble stock, and yet, for his
father's sake, they might have spared him; but no voice was raised on
his behalf, and his head was struck off with the rest. Of Vander
Straeten's ultimate fate, De Dynter, who tells the story, says nothing,
but his name in itself was enough to damn him.

If Philip and his council had been left to their own devices, these
men's lives would doubtless have been spared. It was only under
compulsion that they at last yielded to the clamour of the mob, and if
they had held out longer, not even the influence of Vander Zype, who, as
De Dynter reiterates again and again, 'ruled the Regent and swayed the
people,' would have availed to save the rest of the leaguers. As it was,
he was able to induce the craftsmen to lay down their arms and to
acquiesce, for the moment, in no further proceedings being taken against
them. Shortly afterwards Duke John formally approved of all that the
Estates and the Regent had done, confirmed the new charter, and solemnly
promised that no man should ever be molested for anything that had taken
place in the course of the revolution. 'Whereat,' says De Dynter, 'the
common folk were so well pleased that those in authority, having pity on
the burghers imprisoned without the walls, were emboldened to mitigate
the rigour of their confinement.'

At Louvain they were even permitted to receive their friends and to eat
and drink with them. Naturally they took heart. Some of them began to
dream of pardon, and even, over their wine-cups, to utter threats of
vengeance, which of course reached the ears of the craftsmen of
Brussels, and of course bred uproar. 'These blusterers must be led to
the block; that was the only way to deal with them. Public safety
demanded it.' In vain Vander Zype urged that it were the grossest
injustice to increase the punishment of men who had been already tried
and sentenced; the insurgents answered that the sum of their infamy was
not then known, and that, if this boon were not granted, they would have
out the Germans and cut their throats.

That was enough. Sigismund was already pressing for his subjects'
release, and the Regent knew that if any evil should befall them he
would have to make ready for battle. On Saturday, then, the 7th of June
1421, the prisoners were led in chains to Brussels, and before sundown
they were dead men. On the morrow, when Gerard Vander Zype rode through
the Grand' Place along with the bride to whom he had just plighted his
troth in the old Church of Saint Nicholas, the pavement was still red
with their blood, and they were all of them his own kinsmen--gruesome
prelude this to the banquet of which the newly married couple were
about to partake in the ducal palace.

Had Jeanne Vander Zype no foreboding of the horrible doom in store for
her husband? And if so, did her heaving bosom gleam with those priceless
jewels, the wedding gift with which Heinsberg hoped, not vainly, to
purchase his redemption?

Of these things De Dynter says nothing, but we know that, thanks to
Gerard's good offices, the German knights were released shortly after
his marriage, and that the craftsmen, mollified by the blood which he
had shed, offered no resistance; and we know, too, that the man who had
sacrificed his kinsfolk to avert war was made to suffer for it in his
own person, but not yet.

One chronicler asserts that Duke John himself was present at the
executions of the 7th of June; but if this had been the case, De Dynter
would have almost certainly mentioned it; and, moreover, as Wauters
justly observes, the story is a most improbable one: John was so grieved
at the death of his friends that he left Brussels immediately after the
executions, perhaps even before they had taken place, and refused to
return to the Coudenberg for two years.

Things being now set in order, the councillors who had led John astray
being all in exile or dead, and John himself having solemnly engaged to
rule henceforth according to law, the Estates were for recalling him and
reinvesting him with the government of his domains; but Philip,
supported by the men of Brussels, was loth to lay down authority, and
for a time it seemed as if there would be trouble. At last, however,
when all the confiscated estates of John's favourites had been conferred
on him by way of _solatium,_ and a large cash payment to cover expenses
out of pocket, he yielded, and on November 25, 1423, Duke John came back
to Brussels.

Some turbulent spirits there were who, angered at the Duke's refusal to
retain the services of the Lord of Bigard, whom the magistrates had
appointed captain of the city, on the ground that as he, John, had now
returned he would be able in future to perform the duties incumbent on
that office himself, broke out into riot, but the vast majority of the
craftsmen were little inclined to risk their new-born liberty in the
fortunes of a fresh revolution. Philip's influence was now on the side
of the authorities, the disturbance was soon quelled, and the Lord of
Bigard having submitted to the Duke, by order of the city magistrates
was relieved of his office.

When Philip of Saint-Pol resigned the regency, Duke John, compelled
thereto, no doubt, by his brother, had named Gerard Vander Zype
Controller-General of Finance and Chief Steward of his household--the
most honourable and lucrative appointment in his gift. At first the Duke
professed himself well pleased with Vander Zype's management, but
presently he began to complain of his unconscionable parsimony: even his
own board, he alleged, was insufficiently furnished, and he knew there
was no lack of funds. Perhaps there was another cause for John's
rancour, perhaps in his heart he resented the violence which his steward
had done to so many of his friends. Still there was no open rupture, but
the Duke's sentiments were well known, it was whispered abroad that
Vander Zype's removal, by whatever means, would be welcome to him, and
this is what happened.

On the morning of the 23rd of April 1424 Gerard Vander Zype rode out to
Tervueren, where the Duke was at this time sojourning. Having transacted
the business which called him there--what it was De Dynter does not
say--he set out on the homeward journey early in the afternoon. The road
from Tervueren to Brussels led, as it still does, through the forest of
Soignes, in those days a much more wild and desolate tract of country
than it is now. When he had accomplished half of his journey and was
nearing Stockel, on the outskirts of the wood, he descried in the
distance a horse-man riding furiously towards him. It was 'Messire Jehan
Blondeel, who hated him with a perfect hatred.' 'Death, death!' cried
the knight as he hurled himself against his foe, and, dragging him from
his saddle, plunged his sword into his heart.

Vander Zype was not unattended, but his servants, probably in Blondeel's
pay, took to their heels at the first sign of danger, and the body of
the great patriot was left alone by the wayside all night.

In the morning it was found by some country folk and carried to
Brussels, and presently, by order of Philip, cut to the quick at the
death of his friend, laid to rest in the Church of Saint Jacques sur
Coudenberg with solemn dirge and requiem.



_The Trials of Jacqueline_

The enemies of Duke John of Brabant were disappearing one by one. The
bitterest opponent of all, the injured and insulted wife, whose heritage
he had yielded to her ruthless competitor, and whose honour he had
trampled in the dust, about this time, too, endured the first of that
long series of rebuffs which in the end crushed her.

Shortly after her flight to England Jacqueline had lodged an appeal to
the Holy See for the dissolution of her marriage, on the ground that at
the time she pledged her troth she was not a free agent. Whilst the case
was still pending she had bestowed her hand on Humphrey Duke of
Gloucester, and towards the close of the year 1423 she appeared in
Hainault with the man whom she now called her husband and six thousand
English archers.

The nobles almost to a man flocked to her standard, every town in the
county save Hal acknowledged Gloucester as their lawful prince, even the
Governor of Hainault cast off his allegiance to John and swore fealty to
his rival. But Jacqueline's former friends in Brabant regarded her new
marriage from another point of view. The men of Brabant had dreamed that
their triumph would be hers; they flattered themselves that they would
have been able to reconcile the ill-matched pair. They had looked
forward to the birth of a son destined to unite under one sceptre his
father's and his mother's domains, and they now turned their swords,
not against the outraged woman whose wrongs they had sworn to avenge,
and whose dignity, as the Consort of their Sovereign, they were bound in
honour as loyal subjects to uphold, but against the wanton, whose
delirious passion had shattered their hopes. And there were others, too,
who were angered at the course which Jacqueline had seen fit to
pursue:--John the Pitiless, who, opportunely dying by poison, it was
said, shortly after her arrival, was unable to vent his spleen, and
Philippe l'Asseuré, to whom John had bequeathed his claims, and who, in
order to safeguard his interests as heir-presumptive to Jacqueline's
dominions, effectually showed his displeasure by joining hands with her
former husband. The men of Hainault and their English allies were unable
to withstand the united strength of Brabant and Burgundy. City after
city and fortress after fortress surrendered or went up in flames. When,
early in March 1424, Braine-le-Comte was taken, Gloucester withdrew to
England to collect fresh forces, and before he had had time to return
his last stronghold was in the hands of his opponents, and his wife a
prisoner in Ghent.

De Dynter relates a strange delusion on the part of the English, which
led to the surrender of Braine-le-Comte during the opening days of the
campaign, and that, in spite of the fact that the city was strongly
fortified and well stored with supplies. They had descried, they said,
from the ramparts, amongst the knights of Brabant, their patron, Saint
George; his arms were displayed on his ensign, and he was seated on his
traditional white charger. At sight of the apparition their hearts had
shrivelled, and no strength was left in their bodies; it was a sure sign
from Heaven that they were favouring an unrighteous cause. 'Now, amongst
our knights,' explains De Dynter, 'was Myn Here Daniel van Bouchout,
the horse he bestrode was a white one, and his family arms exactly
resemble the arms of _Monseigneur Saint Georges_.'

Burghers from every commune in Brabant, save Bois-le-Duc, took part in
the siege of Braine, and when all was over and the loot divided the
great town bell was allotted to the men of Lierre. They carried it in
triumph to their native city, where it still hangs in the tower
adjoining the Town Hall.[24]

[24] _See_ page 305.

Of the events which led to the surrender of Mons and to her own
imprisonment, Jacqueline herself gives a curious account in a letter
which she dispatched to Gloucester early in July 1425, and shortly
before the final catastrophe. Mons had been besieged since the middle of
May by Duke John of Brabant in person, and the city had been reduced to
such straits that the burghers themselves had opened negotiations with
the enemy unknown to Jacqueline, who was daily expecting reinforcements
from England and had obstinately refused to treat. Early in June
conditions of surrender were agreed upon, which, though sufficiently
favourable to the burghers, provided that Jacqueline should undertake to
break off all relations with Gloucester and acknowledge her former
husband as legitimate Sovereign of her domains until such time as the
Pope should pronounce judgment on her appeal.

To these terms she refused to consent, and the city was in consequence
on the verge of rebellion. In vain she had gone down to the Town Hall
(June 16) and made a personal appeal to the honour and chivalry of the

     'Not only did they refuse to help me,' runs the letter from
     which the above facts are culled, 'but they said that my
     knights were doing their utmost to compass their destruction,
     and then, in spite of me, took Sergeant Macquaert and cut off
     his head, and put no less than two hundred and fifty of your
     most devoted followers under arrest, and at last told me
     plainly that if I any longer refused to make peace they would
     themselves deliver me into the hands of my cousin of Brabant.
     I have only eight days' delay and then they will send me to
     Flanders, grievous affliction, and I shall never see you again
     unless you make speed to save me, my only hope, my sole and
     sovereign joy. All that I suffer is for love of you; for God's
     sake, then, have pity on your sorrowing creature if you would
     not bring about her ruin. I have some hope that you will help
     me, for never have I done aught to offend you, nor will I as
     long as I live, but on the contrary I am ready to die for love
     of you and of your person, so greatly doth your noble
     domination delight me, by my faith, most redoubted lord and
     prince. For the love of God and of my Lord Saint George,
     consider then my wretched plight, this you have not yet done
     and methinks you have clean forgotten me. Inform me of your
     good pleasure and I will do it with all my heart, as the
     Blessed Son of God doth know right well. May He grant you a
     good and a long life and give me the joy of seeing you.
     Written in the false and traitorous town of Mons on the 6th
     day of July 1425. Your grieving and devoted handmaid,
     suffering great pain by your commandment.--Your handmaid,


This letter was intercepted _en route_ and handed to Philip of Burgundy,
but had it reached Gloucester it would probably not have touched him. If
he indeed loved Jacqueline, she was not the sole mistress of his heart;
her rival, Eleanor Cobham, had accompanied him to Hainault and returned
with him to England, and doubtless the society of this lady was some
consolation for the grief which, as Vinchant informs us, he had publicly
displayed at parting with the woman he called his wife.

As for the hapless Jacqueline, she accepted the terms of surrender
arranged on the 1st of June, and was presently conducted to Philip's
palace at Ghent, where she was virtually a prisoner. She recognised John
of Brabant as rightful Sovereign of her domains until such time as the
Pope should pronounce judgment on her appeal: John, in his turn,
undertook to provide for her maintenance, and in accordance with the
terms of the treaty appointed Philip of Burgundy Regent of Hainault and

Jacqueline, however, was not yet at the end of her adventures. In
Holland the Hoeks[25] were still devoted to her, a plan was contrived
for her deliverance, and presently it was successfully carried out.
Vinchant tells us how it all happened.

[25] Or Feudal party, as distinguished from the Kabiljauws or Town
party, broadly speaking. 'Il n'est guère plus aisé' says Pirenne (Vol.
II. p. 165), 'de comprendre l'acharnement qu'elles manifestèrent l'une
contre l'autre pendant quatre-vingts ans, (1347-1427) que de découvrir
l'origine des appellations par quoi elles se désignèrent. S'il est vrai
que les Kabiljauws représentèrent surtout la politique urbaine et les
intérêts de la bourgeoisie marchande, il ne l'est pas moins qu'ils ne
les représentèrent pas uniquement. On trouve parmi eux de nombreux
barons, de même que l'on constate dans le parti des Hoeks, plus
spécialement nobiliaire, la présence de plusieurs villes.

'One evening early in October two of her most trusty and loyal
friends, Dirk Merwede and Arnulph Spyerink, arrived in the city of
Ghent, and having left their horses saddled and bridled in a certain
place, went to visit their lady, bringing with them, done up in a
bundle, a suit of male attire, which she, whilst her people were
at supper, hastily put on, and thus disguised departed with the
aforesaid knights without being recognised by any of her guards,
and riding hard all night never halted till she reached Wondelghem,
and from thence she went to the castle of the Lord of Vianen, who
received her gladly, and having arrayed her in some of his wife's
garments led her to Schoonhaven, where all the town was marvellously
glad at her coming. Next day she journeyed to Gouda, from thence to
Oudenwater ... and wherever she went she was welcomed, caressed and
entreated as Lady and Countess of Holland--always accompanied by the
Lord of Vianen, whom she named her commander-in-chief.'

For three years this indomitable princess was able to defy her
opponents, but the issue of the contest was from the first a foregone
conclusion. Philip was able to pour into Holland the _élite_ of his
soldiery, 'tous exercités,' as Monstrellet says, 'et excités en armes et
faits de guerre.' He had, too, the support, of the Duke of Gelderland
and of course of John of Brabant, and in Holland itself the Church, the
burghers, the great mass of the industrial population, were all in his

What chance had Jacqueline of victory in face of such odds? At first,
indeed, she had some help from Gloucester, who, in spite of his brother
of Bedford, Philip's friend, made shift to send her three thousand
archers, but on the 27th of January 1426, the Pope affirmed the validity
of Jacqueline's former marriage, and Gloucester, constrained to sever
his connection with the woman who had suffered so much for his sake,
made her cup yet more bitter by espousing her rival, Eleanor Cobham, and
by withdrawing his troops from Holland. Henceforth she stood alone at
the head of her loyal Hoeks. Inspired by her heroic courage, her
indomitable will and the glamour of her misfortunes and her beauty,
these stalwart Dutch knights were able to prolong the unequal contest
for nearly three years, and then at last she was constrained to own
herself vanquished.

On the 3rd of July 1428, by the Treaty of Delft, she acknowledged Philip
as Regent of her domains, delivered into his hands all her strongholds
and solemnly engaged not to marry again without his consent, for
Jacqueline was now a widow--on the 17th of April, 1427, Duke John of
Brabant had gone the way of all flesh.

This last condition she did not scruple to break, and Vinchant tells us
why. 'After four years had passed,' he says, 'in good peace and concord
between Madame Jacqueline, Countess of Holland, and Duke Philip of
Burgundy, it so happened that Madame Marguerite, the Countess Dowager,
sent her by certain gentlemen a present of some beautiful jewels and
several good horses; whereat Countess Jacqueline, finding herself
without cash, having expended all her funds on the late war, and having
nothing to bestow by way of gratuity on her mother's people, sent
secretly to the Vicomte de Montform, who had formerly been her
lieutenant in Holland, begging him to lend her the wherewithal to
preserve her reputation in the eyes of the aforesaid gentlemen by
bestowing on each of them, according to his rank, some token of her
gratitude; but the Vicomte excused himself, saying that he had expended
all his means in her service, and the aforesaid lady, much perplexed,
sent to another of her friends and was treated by him in like manner.
Whereat she was so grieved that she withdrew to her chamber weeping, and
one of her servants, Guillaume de Bye, seeing his lady thus distressed,
took pity on her and said, "Madame, an it please you, I will go to
Messire Franche de Borselle, lieutenant of Zeeland, and explain to him
your present straits, and I am not without hope that some good will come
of it?" "What!" says she, _"toute esplourée_, he is our foe and has
never received any kindness from us." "Yet," says Guillaume, "an it
please Madame, _je l'esprouveray par quelque moyen que ce soit_." "I
fear," quoth the Countess, "we shall gain nothing by it, albeit go, and
say I will soon repay the debt." And Guillaume went, _de bonne grace_,
and presently the Lord of Borselle, counting out the money, "Go tell my
lady that not this time only, but always throughout my life, she may
dispose of me and mine according to her good pleasure." Wherefore Madame
Jacqueline held him in high esteem and conceived so great an affection
for him that she desired to give him her hand, which she afterwards did
clandestinely in her own chamber.' But for all that Philip got wind of
it and obtained possession of the persons of the newly-married couple,
and Jacqueline, constrained to choose between the death of her husband
and the loss of her crown--for the Treaty of Delft conserved to her the
nominal sovereignty of her domains--preferred the latter alternative. On
the 12th of April 1433 Philip the Good exchanged his title of Regent for
that of Count, and some three years later (April 9, 1436), his victim
died of despair and consumption at the old Castle of Teylingen, hard by

Jacqueline left no issue and her cousin of Burgundy thus became the
legitimate lord of her domains. Six years before he had received the
heritage of Duke Philip of Brabant, who had died most opportunely on the
eve of his intended marriage (August 4, 1430). Rumour had said poison;
the physicians, a sudden chill; and the man who inherited his patrimony,
that Fortune was invariably kind to him.


_Buildings and Builders--Romanesque Architecture_

It was not till the days of Charlemagne that art was born in the Low
Country, and Charlemagne may be not inaptly said to have been its
progenitor. When that monarch planted the outposts of Christian Europe
on the banks of the Elbe he made the Low Country--a land then of marsh
and wood, whose inhabitants had hitherto lived apart, forgotten by the
rest of the world, on the edge, so to speak, of civilisation--the
central province of his dominions, and, as such, it in due course became
the centre of contemporary culture: the common intellectual mart of the
Teutonic regions of the East and the North, the Latin provinces of the
West and the South, of Ireland, of England, and of the land of the Scot.
The bishops, satraps, scholars, merchants, courtiers, courtesans who
flocked to Aix-la-Chapelle from all parts of Europe, all of them passed
through the Low Country and were constrained to sojourn for rest and
refreshment in the only hostelries which the land possessed--the
convents and monasteries sparsely scattered amid its forests and fens.
The traffic on the old Roman road across the Charbonnière was now
greater than it had ever been before; the Meuse and the Scheldt for the
first time became highways along which were towed huge barges heavily
laden with foodstuffs for the provisionment of the Court, and thus, as
Pirenne has it, 'on this soil, formed by the alluvial deposit of French
and German streams, there gradually sprang up a civilisation of like
nature with the soil itself, a civilisation made up of divers
elements--Latin, German, French, in a word, a civilisation not so much
national in character as European.'

Nor was it only thus indirectly that Charlemagne promoted the
civilisation of the people of the Netherlands. The rapid progress which
was at this time made in humanising these rugged folk was in large
measure due to the Emperor's personal initiative: he brought artists
from England, Italy, Constantinople, to decorate his palaces at Aix and
Nimègue, he established a school of art attached to the Court, he
ordained that the churches should be adorned with mural paintings, and
named inspectors to watch over the work and see that his orders were
strictly carried out, and, most important of all, he charged himself
with the task of providing foreign teachers for the novices of the few
religious houses which at this time were established in the land, and
where the culture of art and letters seems to have fallen wholly into
disrepute. The scholars to whom the Emperor confided this task were
among the most famous of their day. Men like his secretary and
biographer, Eginhard--the architect of the dome of Aix-la-Chapelle--whom
he set over the twin abbeys of Saint Peter and Saint Bavon at Ghent; and
Arnon, one of the most brilliant disciples of Alcuin, who became abbot
of Elnone by Tournai; and the Italian mechanician Georgius, who taught
at Saint-Sauve, by Valenciennes; and the great Irish scholar Sedulius,
who later on (840-855) lectured in the frescoed hall of Bishop Hartgar's
new palace at Liége.

Nor was this policy unprofitable. A spark was enkindled which soon
became a burning and a shining light. Clerks began to polish their rusty
Latin, monks to busy themselves with history, in writing the lives of
local saints, and by erecting in their honour temples not unworthy of
the patrons to whom they were dedicated. Cloistered women, too, devoted
their leisure hours to art: they adorned their refectories and chapels
with frescoes, and their choir-books with exquisite miniatures and
capitals cunningly devised, and, for the service of the altar, made
marvellous vestures of gold, wrought about with divers colours. A
specimen of their illumination has come down to us: in the sacristy of
the old church at Maeseyck there is a copy of the Gospels, painted by
two sisters, Saint Harlinda and Saint Renilda, who, about this time,
ruled over the great Abbey of Aldeneyck, on the outskirts of the town.
This is the most ancient piece of miniature work in Belgium. In a word,
the ignorance and grossness which had so long disfigured the Church in
the Netherlands completely disappeared, the soil teemed with religious
houses, each of which was an active centre of literary and artistic
life, and there was soon no more flourishing province in Christendom
than the land between the Rhine and the sea. But the glory of it all was
short-lived: after the Danish Terror there was nothing left of it but a
memory. Unless the subterranean Church of Saint Guy at Anderlecht, as
some maintain, be of this period, in Brabant, at least, no vestige
remains of Carlovingian architecture. For more than sixty years thick
darkness enveloped the land. Isolated efforts, indeed, there were: the
monks of Lobbe maintained an obscure school; Bishop Stephen at Liége,
and, at Utrecht, Bishops Radbod and Balderic, did what they could, in
the midst of the barbarism and anarchy of the times, to keep alive the
lamp of learning; but it was not until 953, when the Emperor Otho placed
the ducal crown of Lotharingia on the head of his brother Bruno, that
there was anything like an approach to a general Renaissance movement.
Under Saint Bruno's firm and gentle rule discipline was re-established.
Art and literature followed in its wake. Everachar the Saxon, whom he
named to the See of Liége in 959, was the founder, or at least the
restorer, of the Cathedral School there--a school which was renowned
almost from its origin, and which, under his successor Notger, became
one of the chief centres of learning in the West. The masters of Liége
lectured in all parts of the empire--at Mainz, at Ratisbonne, at
Brescia, and even penetrated into France; and students from all parts of
Europe flocked to drink in knowledge in the famous school of Saint

The literary and artistic movement inaugurated by Saint Bruno and the
imperial bishops was no doubt accentuated by the monastic revival
promoted about the same date by Gerard of Brogne. Great cathedrals and
abbey churches now sprang up in rapid succession, cloisters were
everywhere enlarged or rebuilt, bishops' palaces were adorned with
sculpture and painting, and the little edifices of wood, which on the
countryside had hitherto done duty for parish churches, were replaced by
more substantial buildings of stone or brick. German in origin for the
most part, it was naturally to German architects that the bishops of
Lotharingia entrusted their building operations. Thus the style in vogue
in the valley of the Rhine spread rapidly towards the west. With the
architects came artisans of all sorts--sculptors, hewers of stone,
painters, woodcarvers, founders of copper and of bronze. These
foreigners founded schools in the country, a host of apprentices joined
them, who made such progress in their craft that soon they were able to
compete with their masters. Thus was there gradually formed a native
school of architects and artists, of whose talent and technical skill
the remnants of their work which have come down to us bear witness; and
we know that in their own day their fame was so great that Abbot Suger
had recourse to their aid for the work which at this time he was engaged
upon in the Abbey of Saint-Denis.

They did not, however, at first form a new style. For something like two
hundred years they were content to walk in the paths which their German
masters had traced for them. Not only in architecture, but in painting,
in sculpture, in wood-carving, in metal work, in embroidery, the school
of the Meuse, as M. Pirenne aptly puts it, was the legitimate daughter
of the school of the Rhine.

Indeed, as long as the Church in the Low Country remained imperial,
German traditions prevailed. Even the main body of the cathedral at
Tournai, with its dome and its turreted apsidal transepts, which was
only commenced in 1030, is distinctively German in character, and so,
too, was the cathedral at Cambrai,[26] designed on similar lines, and
this is all the more remarkable from the fact that it was not completed
till nearly a hundred and fifty years later--some seventy years, that
is, after the episcopate of Walcher, the last of the imperial bishops of
this diocese.

[26] This cathedral no longer exists. It was destroyed by the
revolutionists in 1793.


Of the buildings in Brussels and its immediate neighbourhood, which date
from this period (950-1200), but few remain. Indeed, in the city itself
there are only fragments. Foremost among the monuments which contain
them note the Parish Church of Saint Nicholas in the Rue au Beurre, one
of the oldest and perhaps the most interesting of the time-honoured
sanctuaries of Brussels. The date of its foundation is not known, but it
cannot be later, and may be considerably earlier, than the close of the
ten hundreds. It is one of those old buildings which, by reason of their
great age and thrilling memories, have attained individuality and almost
become living things--a stalwart veteran who in the course of a long and
honourable career has manfully endured an unwonted share of the trials
and vicissitudes of life. It has gained many scars in wrestling with
time and the elements, more in its conflict with man. It has been cast
down and renewed, enlarged and curtailed, defaced and embellished,
polluted and blessed over and over again; and though for the last fifty
years it has been constantly threatened by municipal blockheads with
total destruction, it still towers amid the nest of habitations which
cluster round its walls and cling on to its buttresses, a picturesque
and venerable pile in spite of its mutilations--not the least pleasing
of the rare landmarks of old-world Brussels.


It is not, however, its intrinsic beauty which renders this church so
fascinating. It possesses in common with many ancient things, not only
buildings, but often trees, pictures, furniture, and notably jewellery,
another attribute: there is about it a certain subtle influence which at
once lays hold of the spectator and convinces him that it has a story.
It has, and a thrilling one which, if it were written, would fill
volumes and keep the reader spellbound from the opening words of the
first sentence to the end of the last page.

This church, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of burghers and
merchants, and situated on the fringe of the Great Market, hard by their
Town Hall and Guild-houses, has been, from time immemorial, the
distinctive church of the bourgeoisie, in the same way that Saint
Jacques sur Coudenberg has always been the distinctive church of the
Court. Its life is bound up with the life of the city. It is the cradle
of its liberties. Its hopes, its struggles, its victories, its defeats
are intimately associated with it. In this church the city fathers were
wont to assemble in the early days when they had no town hall. Its
steeple was the town belfry--we say advisedly _was_, for it exists no
more--home of the 'work-clock,' which every morning called the craftsman
to his toil and in the evening sounded his release; and of the shrill
tocsin, which in days of terror summoned him to arms, and when he had
triumphed shouted victory. Here, too, in a lower storey, was the archive
chamber where were laid up the records and the title-deeds--the charters
which the town had bought at such great cost of blood and gold. Thrice
burnt down and thrice rebuilt, until the close of the seventeen
hundreds, this ancient tower was the pride and the glory of the men of
Brussels, who regarded it as the outward and visible sign of their
privileges as citizens and their rights as men. Nor is this all, the
Church of Saint Nicholas is possessed of a mysterious power of
attraction. Why men should single out this particular church in
preference to all others is a question hard to answer. There is no
ostensible reason for it: it is not the shrine of some great and popular
saint, no famous relics are treasured here, nor miraculous image or
picture. They are drawn to it in spite of themselves. Wherefore, who
shall say? Enter when you will, it is never without worshippers, and
what a motley throng they are! Of course that sex which the breviary so
quaintly and aptly styles devout is the most in evidence. Women in
shoals are there--women of every age and every complexion, all sorts and
conditions of women: from the _grande dame_ of ancient date, demure,
aloof, dowdy, who, to her very rosary beads, is invested with an air of
distinction, to the market-woman with her milk cans or her basket of
fresh vegetables; from the fashion plate of the _demi monde_, perfumed
and painted, to the snuffy crone in foul rags, who in the same breath
asks an alms and tells her chaplet. And the men, if there be fewer of
them, are no less heterogeneous--that sleek, smug-faced tradesman is
trying a deal with Saint Anthony, he has made him an offering and
promised more if only he will promote his undertakings; the youth in
glorious apparel is commending, perhaps, to Saint Joseph an affair of
the heart, or--who can tell?--perhaps he has a thorn in the flesh of
which he would fain be rid; the shabby, middle-aged, sallow-faced wreck
who stands before '_Onze Lieve Vrouw_,' works, when he is not too drunk,
as a journeyman tailor, in politics he is a social democrat, and if you
were to ask him his religion, he would tell you that he was a _libre
penseur_, but the woman who loves him is sick and believes, and he has
slunk in here to put up a taper for her in honour of the 'Salus
infirmorum,' the old man with trembling limbs and palsied head, who is
painfully making the way of the Cross, was in his day a dashing spark
who could make women's hearts throb and sometimes broke them. He has
drunk to the dregs of the joys of life and experienced the after-taste,
but all this is ancient history; he has long ago made his peace with
God, and is quietly waiting now for the great metamorphosis. And there
are children too, not many--for the neighbourhood is one of theatres,
cafés, public buildings--ragged urchins some of them, with bare feet and
pinched faces. The streets outside are cold and wet, or they are hot and
dusty, and where else should these waifs seek shelter but in their
Father's house?

Such are the devotees who frequent this mysterious shrine; and the
visible objects of their devotion--the likenesses of the ghosts who
haunt it, are no less varied than are they. Some of them are Neo-Gothic
conceptions of the school of Saint Luke--tall, emaciated figures with
gilded locks and pale, meek faces; others are of the time of the
Renaissance, and are full-blooded, fleshy, human; others again are as
old perhaps as the church itself, and these are the most interesting.

For how many centuries, for example, has the 'Man of Sorrows' sat by the
western doorway silently asking of those who enter, 'Is it nothing to
you, all ye that pass by?' A strangely pathetic figure this. The
sculptor who modelled it must have had this text in his mind, 'There is
no beauty in Him,' and this, 'The Lord has placed upon His shoulders the
iniquity of us all.' The statue is of carved wood painted after life,
but time and maybe the flare of tapers have rendered it almost black. It
is quite nude save for a loin cloth, but someone, perhaps scandalised at
this, has thrown a mantle of purple velvet now faded and moth eaten,
over the shoulders. A relic is let into the instep of the left foot,
which is defaced and partly worn away by the lips of innumerable
troubled souls who have found consolation in their own sorrows by
pitying the sorrows of Christ. For the rest, the church is not without
charm from an æsthetic point of view--the axis of the choir is probably
more decidedly inclined to the north-east than that of any other church
that the visitor will call to mind: this and the divers styles of
architecture in which it is built renders it at least picturesque.
Moreover, though the stained glass which once glowed in its windows has
long since disappeared, and though whitewash and plaster have effaced
the frescoes and carving with which its walls were formerly adorned, the
interior is still bathed in glowing tints: it is rich in old oak
furniture, in objects of marble and copper and brass, in easel paintings
and in devotional statues resplendent with colour and gold, and there
are flowers too and red lamps, and withal and always a host of flaring
tapers. But let not the reader be disappointed. There is much in this
church which is tawdry, trivial, vulgar, which transgresses in a
flagrant degree the canons of good taste; its splendour, it cannot be
denied, is not always the splendour of truth. We have here the lustre of
colour which, like charity, covers a multitude of sins, the fascination
of old-world memories and the glamour of the picturesque. Added to this
there are a few genuine works of art, notably some good pictures, which
even the most fastidious need not be ashamed to admire; but since they
are all of more recent date than the Middle Age, they do not come within
the scope of these pages. And what, perhaps, it will be asked, has this
farrago of modern idolatry for which space has been found to do with the
Middle Age? This much--call it idolatry if you will, we have here
mediævalism undiluted. The credulous folk who flock to the Church of
Saint Nicholas are silly enough to believe, like their fathers in the
thirteen hundreds, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to say anything definite as to
dates in the case of a building like the Church of Saint Nicholas, which
has endured so many vicissitudes and suffered so much at the hands of
restorers, but there can be little doubt that the great oblong columns
which support the vaulting of the nave, and perhaps too the walls of the
aisles, or at all events some portions of them, formed part of the
original structure. But whether these things be old or new is a matter
of little moment. The burghers' church is doomed. The decree has gone
forth, and as soon as the leases of the old houses which cluster round
it fall in, it is to be sacrificed to the demon progress. A street has
to be enlarged or straightened, or the site is needed for a cab-stand or
a public-house, or for some purpose equally objectionable. Death indeed
sits close to our old friend, hence this disquisition. Albeit, he has so
often escaped by the skin of his teeth that it is hard not to believe
that means will even yet be found for still further prolonging his days.
One thing is quite certain. If this piece of vandalism be carried out,
it will be for the indelible shame of the whole city. A disgrace alike
to the authors of the crime, and to those who by their indifference or
their lack of energy, have connived at it. In Belgium there is a
permanent Government commission for the preservation of ancient
monuments, and a private society likewise exists, of which the _raison
d'être_ is similar, yet it seems that neither of these bodies have as
much as thought it worth their while to lodge a formal protest.

More important from an architectural point of view than the Church of
Saint Nicholas is the Church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle. The
foundation stone was laid by Duke Godfrey Longbeard in 1134, and though
the greater portion of the existing structure is of more recent date,
some interesting fragments still remain of the original building,
notably the little Chapel of the Holy Cross and the beautiful façade of
the south transept, which is pure Romanesque and richly adorned with
sculpture. The plans were modified as the work progressed, and the rest
of the south transept, the north transept and the chancel are in the
style of the Transition. A nave and aisles were also added at this
period, but they were destroyed by fire early in the fourteen hundreds,
and rebuilt in the course of the century in the style then in vogue.

The collegiate Church of Saint Michael and Saint Gudule was commenced by
Duke Henry I. in 1170, and the eastern wall of the ambulatory, with its
Romanesque windows, date from this period. It took the men of Brussels
five hundred years to complete this beautiful building, and hence it
contains specimens of every style of architecture, and is on that
account none the less interesting. We shall have something more to say
of each of these churches in another chapter.

The civil architecture of this period is represented only by some
fragments of the fortifications with which Lambert Balderick surrounded
the city in 1040. They are scattered about here and there in various
parts of the old town. There is a picturesque bit of wall for example in
the garden of Saint Gudule's Presbytery, another piece has been
incorporated into a house in the Rue des douze Apôtres, there is more in
the Steenporte, and, most important of all, a tower some sixty feet high
between the Halles Centrales and the Church of Saint Catherine.

This picturesque relic, which is called 'la Tour Noire,' was discovered
when some old houses were demolished in 1887. At first the Corporation
was for pulling it down, but fortunately Brussels at this time had a
burgomaster who was not only an artist and an archæologist of repute,
but also an enthusiastic amateur of mediæval architecture. After a long
fight, M. Buls, who is still living though he has now withdrawn from
public life, succeeded in saving the old tower, and thanks to his
indefatigable efforts, it was later on restored by the town.


It is not, however, in the city itself, but in the suburb of Anderlecht,
a mile and a half beyond the line of the outer ramparts, that the most
interesting specimen of Romanesque architecture is to be found. Here we
have no mere fragment, more or less defaced, but something complete in
itself, something which has never been tampered with, something older,
too, than any of the buildings of which we have just spoken, older,
indeed, for the matter of that, than any other building in Brabant. In a
word we have here an antique jewel of rare beauty, which has never been
re-set nor re-cut: the subterranean Church of Saint Guy at Anderlecht
remains to-day what it was when the builders planned it.

[Illustration: LA TOUR NOIRE.]

The earliest archives of the collegiate chapter of Anderlecht have
disappeared, destroyed, no doubt, when the Flemings invaded Brabant
under Louis of Maele, and hence the date of its foundation is not
certainly known. Some chroniclers mention the year 800, others 914.
Tradition says that it goes back to an epoch when there were only two
other chapters in Brabant, the Chapter of Saint Berlinda, a niece of
Saint-Amand, erected at Meerbeck towards the close of the six hundreds,
and the famous Chapter of Nivelles, founded by Saint Gertrude, a
daughter of Pepin of Landen, in 645; and we know from the Anderlecht
_Life of Saint Guy_, the earliest life that has come down to us, that a
dean and canons were certainly established there early in the ten
hundreds. In any case there can be no doubt that this foundation was a
very old one, and in all probability the present subterranean church is
the church in which the first canons of Anderlecht were wont to perform
their devotional offices.

True, it is said in the anonymous _Life of Saint Guy_, written most
likely by a canon of Anderlecht in the opening years of the eleven
hundreds, that about the time when his relics were first translated
(1076) the canons of Anderlecht decided to build a new church, and from
this, M. Schaeys, in his _Histoire de l'architecture en Belgique_,
concludes that the present structure dates from this epoch, but the
style of the architecture denotes a much earlier period, and the MS.
account of what took place, in spite of the passage in question, which,
read with the context, has clearly another meaning than that which M.
Schaeys attributes to it, rather confirms than contradicts the evidence
of the architecture.

The writer informs us that at this time the church at Anderlecht, by
reason of its great age, was almost a ruin; some of the walls had
actually fallen down, and others were in imminent danger of doing so.
The clergy and the people therefore decided with one accord to sell the
rich gifts which for years past pilgrims had been offering at the shrine
of Saint Guy, and with the fund thus realised to build a new and more
spacious church. If, then, the present crypt, which only measures forty
feet by forty-eight, was the outcome of this decision, the former
structure must indeed have been one of exceedingly narrow dimensions.

Although 'the poor man of Anderlecht' had during his lifetime been
regarded as a saint, he was not publicly honoured as such until some
forty years after his demise. About this time (1054) what our author
calls a basilica, no doubt a small mortuary chapel, had been erected
over his grave, and as it adjoined the church it now became necessary to
pull it down in view of the proposed building operations. Hence the
question arose, What should be done with the saint's body? The matter
was referred to the bishop of the diocese, Gerard II. of Cambrai, 'who
had succeeded the Lord Lietbert of blessed memory'--this fixes the date,
Gerard received consecration in 1076--and he ordained that the body
should be disinterred and provisionally laid to rest in the centre of
the church until the new building should be ready for its reception.

The bishop's instructions, our author avers, were duly carried out, and
in the last paragraph of his narrative, he informs us that 'the
elevation of Saint Guy' was made by Bishop Odard on the 24th of July,
1112. It would seem, then, that from the earliest times there have been
two churches at Anderlecht, an upper church and a lower church; that the
former, having fallen into a ruinous state, was pulled down in the year
1076 and rebuilt on a larger scale, and that the new structure was
completed in the summer of 1112, certainly not later than that date.
Further, that the lower church, which no doubt had been more solidly
built than the upper building, seeing that it was intended to support a
superstructure, was still in 1076 in good repair, and that hence it was
left standing.

That this was 'the church' where the relics of Saint Guy reposed during
the interval which elapsed between the disinterment of 1076 and the
'elevation' of 1112 there can be no doubt whatever. Not only do the
terms employed by the writer render this point certain, but we have the
additional evidence of the empty tomb which still stands in the centre
of the crypt. As to the date at which this interesting building was
constructed the style of the architecture points to the eight hundreds.
In form it is distinctly reminiscent of the early Christian basilica: it
consists of an apsidal nave of three bays and double aisles, those which
are adjacent to the nave are separated from it by cylindrical columns
with capitals, which recall the Tuscan order, and from the outer aisles
by two great square shafts without capitals, around each of which are
clustered four columns similar to the columns of the nave. There is also
a series of half columns of like design at intervals round the walls.
These, and the piers, and the pillars of the nave support the vault,
which is a simple cross vault without ribs. Each of the outer aisles is
pierced in its west wall by a small round-headed doorway which opens on
a staircase leading to the upper church, and the building is dimly
lighted by six narrow slits of windows, which are likewise round-headed.
The original high altar has disappeared, but there are two side altars
which are of great antiquity, probably as old as the church itself--huge
oblong blocks of stone without ornament or inscription. Hard by to each
of them is a small chamber built in the thickness of the wall. It has
been suggested that one was a baptistery, the other a vesting-room. In
the centre of the inner southern aisle is the tomb of Saint Guy, an
oblong mass built up of stone covered by a granite slab rudely carved
with a double cross, floriated with vine leaves. The monument is pierced
by an aperture neither broad nor high, just large enough for a lean man
to crawl through if he felt so inclined, as many did at one time--the
edges of the opening are worn away by the countless pilgrims who, in
days of yore, thus gratified their devotion. Strange as they seem to us
now, practices of this kind were common enough in the Middle Age: when
in the eleven hundreds the bodies of the saints were 'elevated' from the
crypts in which they had hitherto lain to the temples which about this
time were raised above them, and there laid up in gilded shrines, the
empty tombs in which they had so long reposed still continued to be the
objects of popular devotion. Sometimes the coffin was left open, in
order that the saint's clients might stretch their own limbs in the
place where his body had lain, sometimes an opening was made in the side
of the tomb large enough for a man to peer through, or through which he
might even thrust his head. Sometimes it was larger still, and women
with sickly children would then place them for a moment within, and pray
that God, through His servant's merits, would make the weakling strong.
They as firmly believed in the virtue of these sticks and stones as the
men of Judæa believed in the virtue of the cloths and handkerchiefs
which the Apostles had touched, or of 'the shadow of Peter passing by.'

Of course the present upper church is not the church which the canons of
Anderlecht built with Guy's treasure. That was pulled down in 1460, as
the Anderlecht archives bear witness. The present structure was
commenced then, and not completed until well into the fifteen hundreds.
We shall have something to say about it presently.


A little further afield, in the ancient town of Nivelles, there is
another and very noteworthy specimen of Romanesque architecture.
Nivelles was in former days a far more important place than it is now.
It gradually grew up beneath the shelter of the great abbey which, as we
have seen, Saint Ita and Saint Gertrude had founded in 625; and if so
far as concerns its material welfare it was inferior to the great cities
of Brabant, it excelled them all in the dignity of its social standing,
for the little town was an ecclesiastical fief held directly from the
Emperor[27] by an abbess who bore the illustrious title of Lady
Princess. To this exalted office no mere plebeian could aspire, nor
patrician either for the matter of that, unless she had the right to a
scutcheon with at least sixteen quarterings. The abbess lived in almost
royal state in a palace adjoining her minster, and the white-robed
canons and the Augustinian nuns, who formed the chapter of Nivelles, and
dwelt, the former in a cloister hard by the church, the latter, apart in
the town, were submitted alike in spiritual and in temporal things to
her jurisdiction. Even the lay aristocracy shone with an additional
lustre reflected from her magnificence. What rights and privileges they
enjoyed above their fellow-citizens were theirs not in virtue of noble
birth, but as members of the household of Saint Gertrude. Their fathers
were serfs on the abbey domain who had risen to positions of trust, they
were men who had bartered their liberty for a servitude freer than
freedom itself, had entered a great monastic family and become
participators in its immunities, and these their descendants continued
to enjoy for years after the days of bondage had ceased. The _Hommes de
Sainte Gertrude_ like the _Hommes de Saint Pierre_ owed their title to
distinction to the servile condition of their ancestors.

[27] Until 1349: in that year Charles IV. recognised the principality as
a fief of the Duchy of Brabant.

Though the rulers of Brabant had for years past encroached on her
privileges whenever they had an opportunity of doing so, the abbess was
still a _grande dame_, with ample means to support her high position
when the end came in 1793, but the power which she then wielded, though
still considerable, was only the shadow of what it had been in the palmy
days when she was not only in name but in fact 'the Lady Princess of

Nivelles never seems to have attained to anything like commercial
pre-eminence. In the days when the fabrication of woollen goods was the
staple industry of the Netherlands, her manufacturers perhaps did as
well as their fellows in other small towns of like standing, but
certainly no better. Later on, when the cloth monopoly was lost and men
turned their attention to linen, she did indeed make some reputation for
the excellence of her cambric, but she lost it after the riots of 1647,
when her weavers migrated in a body to Cambrai and Valenciennes.
Henceforth, until its suppression, the custom of the household of Saint
Gertrude was the mainstay of her prosperity, and when that source was
cut off by the French revolutionists in 1793, she very soon became what
she is now, a little market town with a population of some ten or eleven
thousand souls.

Nivelles is situated partly on the side of a hill and partly on the
fringe of an emerald valley made fertile by the river Senne. Here there
are snug homesteads nestling amid orchards and surrounded by well-tilled
fields, and rich pasture-lands enclosed with hedges thick and high.
There are woods too on the rising ground beyond, and here and there a
windmill or the steeple of some village church. The landscape is one
most pleasant to behold, and if only the fields were less carefully
tilled and the cottages and farm buildings were not so numerous nor so
well cared for, it might easily be mistaken for an English scene in one
of the home counties.

The little town itself is tranquil, dreamy, clean. In its narrow,
winding streets there are some curious old houses with high-pitched
roofs and crow-stepped gables, and here and there are some curious old
buildings with mullioned windows and Gothic doorways, which one is quite
sure, if they are not now the homes of nuns, were at one time, and of
course there is a sprinkling of those clean, comfortable-looking,
substantial dwellings which are always to be met with in quiet nooks and
corners in the country towns of Belgium. Sometimes they have courtyards
in front, separated from the street by cunningly wrought iron railings
and paved with cobble-stones, on which stand palms in tubs, or bay trees
fashioned like umbrellas. Sometimes stretching out behind there is a
trimly-kept walled garden of which the passer-by occasionally obtains a
refreshing glimpse through some half-open door. They were built for the
most part about a hundred and fifty years ago, and are the homes of
local professional men or the winter abodes of the neighbouring country
gentry, who, reckoning their incomes by hundreds, rather than thousands,
are rich enough not only to vegetate comfortably and in a manner
befitting their station, but to give alms with no stinted hand, and
withal and always to keep very respectable balances at their bankers.

The most interesting feature of the town of Nivelles is, of course, the
old Minster, with the exception, perhaps, of Tournai Cathedral, the
finest Romanesque church in Belgium. It is a noble pile three hundred
and twenty feet long, with three towers at the west end, single
nave-aisles, strongly-marked transepts, and an unusually long
rectangular choir built over a crypt. Within, however, it is
disappointing, for the interior was so completely transformed in the
course of the seventeen hundreds that no vestige of the original work
was left visible. Efforts are now being made to repair the mischief. The
beautiful crypt, which had been completely filled up with earth and
rubble, has been excavated and restored, the walls of the choir and
transepts have been stripped of the bastard Renaissance ornament with
which they were disfigured, the bays which had been bricked up have been
opened, a timber roof has been substituted for the plaster ceiling, and
it is proposed, as soon as funds are forthcoming, to completely restore
the whole church.

The restoration, it is pleasing to note, is being carefully and
conscientiously carried out, but though every available fragment is
being utilised, so much of the old work has disappeared that, alas,
there is no hope of adequately repairing the havoc wrought by the
ill-judged generosity of the canons of Nivelles in 1754.

_En revanche_, save for 'the golden stain of time' and the great tower,
a child of the fourteen hundreds, without, the Church of Nivelles
remains to-day what it was when Pope Leo consecrated it in 1047 in the
presence of his imperial nephew. Not the only association this of Saint
Gertrude's Abbey with Leo IX. Its bells, so runs the tale, were solemnly
tolled by invisible hands when on the night of the 19th of April 1054
the soul of the great reformer passed out of the world. Whatever may be
thought of this beautiful legend, it at least bears witness to Leo's

So glorious is the exterior of this grand old building, that did the
journey from Brussels to Nivelles take as many hours as it does minutes,
the sight of it would be ample compensation, and, too, there are
cloisters as old as the church itself, in style pure Romanesque, so vast
that forest trees flourish in the garth, without making it appear
crowded. The south, the east and the west sides have suffered
considerably from over-restoration, but the north colonnade is still
intact, and built over it is all that remains of the ancient monastery.
We have here one of those silent, old-world nooks which are still
redolent of the incense of the Middle Age.

The Church of Nivelles is not only interesting on account of its
architecture: Pepin of Landen is buried here in the centre of the nave,
and beside him his wife, Saint Idenberge, and their daughter Begga, whom
the Beguines regard as their patron saint. Here, too, are the mortal
remains of another of Pepin's daughters, Saint Gertrude, foundress of
the abbey. They are treasured in a shrine of copper gilt, adorned with
sculpture and bas-relief, and encrusted with precious stones, a
veritable triumph of the goldsmith's craft, designed by Jaquemon, monk
of Anchin, and wrought by another Jaquemon, a townsman of Nivelles, with
the assistance of one Nicolon, who seems to have been a citizen of
Douai. The names of these men are meet to be had in perpetual

For the moment this marvellous piece of metal-work is laid up in the
sacristy. Presently, when the restoration of the chancel is completed,
it will be restored to its former position above the high altar.

Of the remaining fragments of Romanesque architecture in the immediate
neighbourhood of Brussels, most remarkable, perhaps, is the great square
tower of the Church of Saint Jacques at Louvain, which probably dates
from the beginning of the eleven hundreds. Within are some curious
cylindrical columns, adorned with floriated capitals of good design and
workmanship. The Abbey Church of Parc, hard by the same city, was
commenced in 1225, perhaps earlier, but not completed till 1297. This
building exists to-day, but it has been so frequently altered by
successive abbots that no trace of the original Romanesque work is
visible, save a little round-headed doorway alongside the main entrance
and some narrow slits of windows in the chancel.

For the rest, in the villages and hamlets, which are so thickly sown in
the country round Brussels, there are not a few churches or portions of
churches which date from the period we have just been considering. It is
impossible, however, within the limits of this handbook to give even a
list of them. Those who are interested in this matter will do well to
consult Mr. Weale's _Belgium_. Here will be found descriptions, with
numerous historical notes, of the village churches in the neighbourhood
of the chief towns of the kingdom and along the main lines. It was
published nearly fifty years ago, and of course since then many
archæological discoveries have been made, and, alas, much ancient work
has disappeared, but no other handbook with which we are acquainted
contains in so small a compass such a vast mass of generally reliable
information concerning the architecture and the art of the Low

Gothic architecture seems to have been first introduced into the
Netherlands from France by way of Tournai. The stately choir, second to
none in Europe, which that great church-builder, Bishop Walter de
Marvis, added to his cathedral there during the second quarter of the
twelve hundreds, was probably the first purely Gothic structure erected
in Belgium. It is altogether French in plan and in method of
construction, and it may well have been designed by a mason of the _Ile
de France_. Men's minds were at once captivated by its beauty, and the
new style spread rapidly throughout the land.

It could hardly have been otherwise: Tournai was not only the religious
capital of Flanders, it was also the artistic capital of a very
considerable portion of the Low Country; here was established a school
of architects and sculptors, which at this time was among the most
famous of the North; when the architects of Tournai adopted the new
style it was bound to make headway. Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, without
quarries of their own, and without native masons, were constrained to
bring from Tournai, the nearest point where stone was to be had, alike
their building material and their builders. These men had drawn their
inspiration from beyond the Rhine, and perhaps, too, from Normandy, and
had already attained in their craft a very high order of excellence.
When fascinated, then, by the beauty of Bishop Walter's choir, they
determined to follow the new French fashion; they showed themselves no
servile imitators, but modified their old plans and their old schemes of
ornament in such a manner as to suit the needs of the new methods of
construction: thus they gradually evolved a distinct style of their own,
and the flat apse, the octagonal towers, the round turrets, adorned with
pilasters with capitals delicately carved on either side of the western
gable, the high, narrow lancet windows, without mullions or tracery--all
distinctive features of Tournai work, are to be met with over and over
again, not only in Hainault and in Flanders, but even in Picardy and in

Less marked was the influence of the Tournai school on the architecture
of Brabant. Brabant had quarries of her own, and builders, inferior,
indeed, to the builders of Tournai, but for all that well skilled in
their craft; and thus what Tournai was doing for the rest of Belgium
Brabant was able to do for herself. Though at first her architects seem
to have taken as their models the buildings which their rivals of
Tournai were constructing in Hainault, in Holland, and in Flanders, even
their earliest Gothic work is in no way lacking in originality. Witness,
for example, the choir of the Collegiate Church of Saint Gudule at
Brussels, one of their first efforts. As time progressed the distinctive
features became more and more pronounced, and presently a style was
developed more original and also more beautiful than anything produced
at the same time by the Tournai school. Indeed, the Gothic architecture
of Brabant of the fourteen, fifteen and sixteen hundreds, if it be
equalled, is certainly not surpassed by the Gothic architecture of those
centuries in any other land. So far as concerns civic buildings, Brabant
certainly holds the palm. Neither France nor Germany nor England can
show anything which can be compared, for example, to the Town Hall of
Brussels or the Town Hall of Louvain, or even with the Gothic portion of
the Town Hall of Ghent, which was designed by Brabant architects.

So great was the fame of the architects of Brabant from the commencement
of the fourteen hundreds that their services were in request all over
the Netherlands, and later on, in the days of the Emperor Charles V., in
Germany, in France, and even in far-off Spain; and, strangely enough,
some of their latest efforts are as nobly conceived and as carefully
executed as in the days when their art was at its zenith.

Nothing could well be finer than the Parish Church of Saint Jacques at
Antwerp, which was commenced in 1491 and not completed till 1694, the
work having been discontinued from lack of funds in 1530, and not
renewed, owing to the religious troubles, until 1602. This grand old
building, which was designed for a simple parish church, has all the
characteristic features of a great cathedral--triforium, clerestory,
double aisles, ambulatory chevet, transepts, and a host of side chapels.
The plans were drawn up by Herman De Waghemakere, a burgher of Antwerp,
and an architect famous throughout the Low Countries, who not only
designed many noble buildings, but begot two sons, Herman and Dominic,
to whom he transmitted his talent, and whom he trained to his own
calling. When he died, early in the fifteen hundreds, they were able to
worthily continue the work at Saint Jacques' which the old man had so
successfully commenced, until 1530.

At this time no portion of the church was completed, and the choir was
not even begun. When, some seventy years afterwards, building operations
were again resumed, the original plans were strictly adhered to, and it
is worthy of note that the more recent work is as carefully and
skilfully executed as that which was carried out under the eyes of old
Herman himself.

This church is rich in stained glass of the fourteen, fifteen and
sixteen hundreds, which, considering the period, is of a very high
order. If the designs of some of the windows be faulty, the scheme of
colour is in each case perfect. It has retained more of its old
furniture--tapestry, metal-work, wood-carving and the like, than most
churches in Belgium. It contains some good pictures--notably, in the
Lady Chapel, an altar-piece by Rubens, which was placed here by his
widow, and, in a vault beneath it, all that remains of 'this prince of
painters and of gentlemen.'

In the sublime tower of Saint Rombold's at Mechlin we have another late
creation, though not so late as the Church of Saint Jacques at Antwerp.
The foundation stone was laid on the 1st of May 1452, and they seem to
have worked at it intermittently until 1583, when the stones destined to
complete it were carried off to Holland by the Prince of Orange, and
employed by him to build the town of Willemstad. Even in its unfinished
state it is a colossal building. At its base it is fifty-three feet wide
without counting the buttresses, which advance on each side to a
distance of nearly fifteen feet. Its actual height is over 320 feet, but
if the spire had been added, of which the original plans are still in
existence, it would have risen to the prodigious height of 544 feet, and
would thus have been the loftiest steeple in Europe. This mighty tower
was designed by Jan Kelderman, master-mason, of Louvain, not many
months, perhaps not many weeks, before his death in 1445; at which time
he was in all probability between seventy and eighty years of age. The
foundation stone was laid under the direction of his son Andrew, and for
over a hundred years one or other of his descendants busied themselves
with carrying out the old man's designs.

A remarkable family, the Keldermans: architects, sculptors, painters,
almost all of them, during many generations. The first of whom we have
any record was Jan van Marsdale, sculptor, of Brussels, who, for some
reason of which we are ignorant, adopted the family name by which his
descendants are generally known. He was probably born some time during
the second quarter of the thirteen hundreds, and died at Brussels not
earlier than 1415. In his day he was an artist of renown, but nothing
which can be certainly attributed to him has come down to us. We know
that he was the author of the richly-sculptured tomb of François van
Halen, which was placed in the first apsidal chapel on the south side of
Saint Rombold's at Mechlin in 1415, and demolished in 1810.--Of this
marvellous work of art there exists in _Le Théâtre Sacré du Brabant_ an
engraving--and we know, too, that he was the father of the Jan Kelderman
who designed Saint Rombold's tower. This man was a burgher of Louvain,
and city architect there from the 7th of October 1439 till his death in
1445. He directed the building of the Council Chamber in the Hôtel de
Ville, which had been designed by his predecessor, Plyssis van Vorst,
and which still exists. Of his three sons, Rombold, the eldest, was a
painter of glass, and one at least of his works has come down to us: a
beautiful window in the old church at Lierre, the first on the north
side--representing Godefroid Vilain XIV. and his wife, Elizabeth
d'Immersule, donors, along with their patrons, Saint Peter and the poor
man of Assisi. This window was painted in 1474, and the sum which the
artist received for it was forty-two golden florins. Rombold was born in
the year 1420. He married before 1447 Catherine van Voshem, whose sister
Elizabeth was the wife of the famous painter, Dierick Boudts, and
inhabited his own house in the _Rue de Diest_ at Louvain, where he died
on the 17th of March 1489. Matthew, Jan's second son, followed his
father's trade, and he also busied himself with painting and sculpture:
the indentures of an apprentice whom he undertook to instruct, in three
years, in the art of painting are still in existence, and we know, too,
that some of the carved beams in the Town Hall at Louvain are his work.
For the rest, he in due course took to himself a wife, who presently
bore him a son, whom he named Hendrick and trained to his own
calling. No record of any work that he executed has as yet been found,
but he seems to have done well in his profession, for in 1505 he
purchased a house in the Cattle Market at Mechlin, hard by the Chapel of
Saint Eloi, and here in 1521 he received Albert Dürer, who in his
journal notes that at Mechlin he was the guest of 'Maister Heindrich.'

[Illustration: Saint Rombold's Cathedral]

Andrew, the youngest son of old Jan Kelderman, was a man more famous
than either of his brethren. He was city architect of Mechlin, and
supervised the carrying out of his father's design of Saint Rombold's
tower for thirty years; and when he died, in 1485 or thereabout, it had
risen as high as the bell-chamber. He was the author of divers beautiful
rood-screens, amongst them that in the church at Bergen-op-Zoom, which
he wrought in 1471 with the aid of his son Anthony, who, it will be
interesting to note, dwelt in a house at Mechlin which is still
standing--No. 13 _Aux Tuileries._

This man, succeeding his father, directed the building of Saint
Rombold's tower until he in his turn died, on the 15th of October 1512.
He was the author of two famous buildings--the Town Hall of Middelburg,
in the island of Walcheren, and, in his native city, the Church of
_Notre-Dame au-delà de la Dyle_, and the father of two sons who were not
unworthy of the family name, and each of whom set their mark on the
family tower. The younger was aptly enough called after the saint with
whom the Keldermans had been so long associated; honours were presently
his, and wealth and a wide reputation, if he were not the greatest of
his race, at least he was the most successful, of Rombold Kelderman II.
we shall have much to say later on; the elder was named, after his
father, Anthony, and though he died young, he lived long enough, but
only just long enough, to design a monument which still proclaims his
genius--the old _Broodhuis_ at Brussels, now called _La Maison du Roi_.
Some three days before the foundation stone was laid young Anthony was
gathered to his fathers (December 5, 1515), and the guerdon which he
would have received was paid into the hands of his widow.


[Illustration: LA MAISON DU ROI.]

There were other members of this talented family of whom the record of
some of their labours has come down to us. Notably Matthew, a younger
son of Andrew Kelderman, who worked at Antwerp Cathedral under Herman De
Waghemakere from 1487 to 1498; his son, also Matthew, who migrated to
Louvain, was named city mason there and directed the building operations
of the Church of Saint Peter from 1503 to 1527; and Laurence, who plied
his trade, for the most part in Brussels, helped to build the _Maison du
Roi_, and was perhaps a nephew, perhaps a son, of the great architect
who planned it. The city records from which these bald facts have been
culled in comparatively recent years by those who have or have had the
care of them, divulge something of the nature of an anecdote concerning
Laurence Kelderman. We learn from certain entries in the town accounts
of Brussels that in the year 1513 he was mulcted 30 _florins_ for
wounding one of the amman's serjeants, and the same document informs us
too how it came about.

Kelderman and two other famous masons--Hendrick van Pede, the author of
the Town Hall of Oudenaarde, and Ludwig van Beughem, who later on built
for Marguerite of Austria the famous Church of Brow in Bresse--were at
this time at work, most fortunately for them as it afterwards turned
out, on the beautiful palace which the Count of Nassau was erecting for
himself in Brussels with that gold, as all men believed, which he had
wrung from the vanquished burghers of Bruges in 1490, and every evening
it was their wont, when their work was done, to drink together at the
Sign of the Star, a tavern of note in the Great Market, which seems to
have been at this time much frequented by men of their craft. To this
house of entertainment, then, on the 13th of February, at their
accustomed hour they repaired, and each man having bade the drawer bring
the liquor he liked best, they proceeded to pledge one another in
bumpers, but their potations that night were not destined to be of long
duration. Perhaps there was strife in the cups of some of their boon
companions, certain it is that one of them drew his knife, and, as luck
would have it, at the same moment the amman's serjeant walked in, who,
fearing mischief or feigning to do so, forthwith disarmed the fellow;
whereat our masons, enraged at this insult to a free citizen, hurled
themselves on the officer of justice, wrenched away his sword, and in so
doing inflicted on him a flesh wound. The offence, according to the
strict code of Brussels, was no light one, and serious consequences
would have undoubtedly followed had it not been for the Count of Nassau,
who, loth to lose the services of such capable workmen, exerted his
influence in their behalf, and thus they were quit with a fine. Later on
we find the names of two of the delinquents again associated, but in
very different fashion. When it was decided in 1532 to add to the Church
of Saint Gudila a new Sacrament chapel, the _Maîtres de la Fabrique_
commissioned three architects to prepare plans for the proposed
structure, and two of them were our friends of the tavern brawl,
Hendrick van Pede and Ludwig van Beughem. Peter van Wyenhoven was the
third competitor, his designs were adjudged the best, and he it was who
constructed the actual building. Bernard van Orley, the famous painter,
made the fair copy of his plans for him on two large sheets of
parchment, and received for so doing, it will be interesting to note,
£2, 10s. 9d., and the foundation stone was laid on the 8th of February

The plan of this chapel is exceedingly simple. It consists of a nave of
four bays with a flat apse pierced by a vast window enriched with
flamboyant tracery. The building is also lighted by five other windows
of similar design and like dimensions, of which four are set in the
north wall, and one in the last bay of the south wall. They are all of
them filled with beautiful stained glass, which is as old as the chapel
itself, and the picture which glows in one of them--the second on the
north side--was designed and painted by Bernard van Orley. The shafts,
or piers, or pilasters--it is difficult to know exactly what to call
them--from which spring the numerous prismatic ribs of a rich and
intricate vault, are strangely and elaborately fashioned. Below they are
bold, octagonal columns, or rather half-columns. Higher up they break
out into a mass of tabernacle work in the form of two canopies, which
shelter saints, and when at last they emerge from behind the pinnacles
and crockets, we find that they have ceased to be columns and are now
slender reeded shafts, which presently spread out like palm leaves and
become the ribs of the groining.

[Illustration: Eglise Sainte-Gudule Pilastre Sculpté]

Though Van Pede's designs were not accepted, the _Sainte Chapelle des
Miracles_ is none the less a perpetual memorial of his genius: the
cunningly wrought sculpture which it contains is almost all of it his
handiwork. The honoured name of Kelderman too is linked with this
building, but that association is now only a memory: the high altar
which Peter Kelderman reared has long since been cast down.

But to return to Peter's more famous kinsman, old Anthony Kelderman's
second son, Jonkhere Rombold van Marsdale, for thus the honest mason
styled himself after Charles V. had ennobled him. Maybe he thought the
ancient family name sounded more aristocratic than the name which his
great-grandfather had adopted.

Though Rombold was undoubtedly an architect and artist of a very high
order, and though he remained to the end of his career a man of energy
and enterprise, and at last died in harness, full of years and honours,
strangely enough his memory is not kept alive by any monument which he
alone can be certainly said to have designed and carried to completion.
In his early days he was largely engaged in completing the work of other
men, or in adding to, or embellishing, or restoring buildings which
already existed. Later on he entered into partnership with Dominic De
Waghemakere, and henceforth most of his designs were not the outcome of
his unaided genius. Together they planned many glorious structures. Some
never got beyond paper, others were commenced and left unfinished, for
they lived in troublous times; only a few were brought to completion,
and of these but one remains, the Steen of Antwerp, spoilt by

Rombold Kelderman had honours, riches, renown. His career from this
point of view was certainly a most successful one, but an untoward
fortune seems to have dogged his steps in the matter of his craft, and
this was so not only with his own creations but also with the buildings
which he reared and the plans which he made conjointly with Dominic De

Thus, for example, he was commissioned by Charles V. to transform the
unfinished Cloth Hall of Mechlin into a place of assembly for the Grand
Council of Brabant. He drew out plans; they were all that could be
desired--the original drawings are preserved amongst the city rolls;
somewhere about the year 1529 the foundation stone was laid, and at
first the work was pushed on bravely, but before it was half finished
came the troubles of Philip's reign and it had to be abandoned, but
Rombold grieved not at it, he had long since paid Nature's debt.

[Illustration: THE STEEN OF ANTWERP.]

Otherwise, and yet more deplorable, was the disaster which baulked the
realisation of Kelderman and De Waghemakere's magnificent scheme for the
reconstruction of the choir of Antwerp Cathedral.

During the two centuries which had elapsed since the commencement of
this great church the ground around it had gradually risen by reason of
numerous interments to a very considerable distance above the pavement;
hence the church was always cold and damp, and in wet weather not
unfrequently flooded. To remedy this, it was decided early in the
fifteen hundreds, to erect a new choir with a crypt beneath it in such a
manner that the pavement of the upper building should be on a
considerably higher level than the ground outside. Kelderman and De
Waghemakere prepared the plans, and in due course the Emperor himself
laid the foundation stone. For nearly ten years they worked at the new
structure, and then came the catastrophe which sooner or later almost
always frustrated Kelderman's most strenuous endeavours: a fire broke
out which wrought such havoc on the main body of the cathedral that the
repairs absorbed alike the money and the material which had gradually
been amassed for the building of the new choir. Thus was the ambitious
scheme of these two great architects nipped, so to speak, in the bud,
for ambitious scheme it undoubtedly was: if it had been carried out
Antwerp would have possessed a cathedral vaster and, if contemporary
witnesses are to be trusted, more beautiful than any other city in
Christendom. Of this we have no means of judging, for though the plans
were carefully treasured among the city rolls for some two hundred
years, at last they mysteriously disappeared. There was reason to
believe they had been stolen, and though every effort was made to trace
them, from that day to this they have never been found; but of the vast
proportions of the proposed edifice there can be no manner of doubt, the
foundations still exist, and here and there they are visible. Moreover,
a few years ago, there was discovered, hidden away in the archive
chamber, a contemporary sketch of the ground plan, from which it appears
that Kelderman's choir would have occupied a surface just twice as
large as that covered by the actual choir including the ambulatory and
the chevet. Now Antwerp Cathedral in its present state is not one of
mean dimensions: it is somewhat longer than Westminster Abbey, without
the lady chapel, and exceeds it in breadth at the transepts by over ten
feet and at the nave by no less than a hundred.

[Illustration: QUAI DE L'AVOINE, MALINES.]

Kelderman and his partner were happier, or perhaps it would be more apt
to say not quite so unfortunate in their undertakings at Ghent. Here
their endeavours were at least crowned with some measure of success.
Early in the year 1518 the city fathers of Ghent commissioned our masons
to erect for them a new Town Hall, as we learn from the contract passed
between them on that occasion. The original deed is still in existence;
it is very curious and interesting, and throws much light on the customs
and methods of the builders of the day. In it Rombold and Dominic bind
themselves to inspect the work three times a year--in April, in August,
and somewhere about the Feast of Saint Bavo, at which last visit they
promised to bring with them designs for sculpture, ironwork and so
forth, to be executed by the workmen in winter time, when building
operations were invariably suspended, and they also undertook to come to
Ghent at any time throughout the year when their presence was deemed
necessary, provided their travelling expenses were paid and they were
given four, or at least three, weeks' notice. Moreover, the magistrates
reserved to themselves the right to name other architects in place of De
Waghemakere and Kelderman, in the event of their not giving
satisfaction. They had no occasion to exercise it; the plans were
perfect, Rombold and his partner performed their duties with the
greatest assiduity, and the burghers began to flatter themselves that
soon Ghent would be endowed with the grandest Town Hall in the
Netherlands. Their expectations were not realised--the building
progressed slowly, perhaps on account of the threatening state of the
political atmosphere. On the 15th of December 1531 Rombold Kelderman
died, and it was not yet half finished. Albeit, they did not lose heart;
Dominic, in virtue of a clause in the agreement, named Laurence
Kelderman to succeed his uncle; for four years longer the work dragged
on and then at last it came to a standstill. Who could think of building
operations amid the hubbub and whirl of rebellion? Or afterwards, when
the riot was quelled, whilst Alva was begging for the destruction of the
town, or whilst the city fathers with ropes round their necks were
humbly sueing for pardon? It was not till the close of the century that
the burghers were once more able to turn their attention to their
unfinished Town Hall. Dominic had long since joined his partner on the
other side of the stream, the art in which these men had so excelled was
now almost dead, Ghent was beginning to be captivated by the spurious
charms of the Renaissance, and in completing her Town Hall she followed
the bent of her fancy. The new architects, however, left the work of
their predecessors intact, and we have this much too to be thankful for:
the original plans still exist. By a clause of the agreement of 1518 it
was provided that in the event of the decease of both the architects
before the completion of the Town Hall the plans should be restored by
their heirs to the city magistrates; this clause was faithfully carried
out, and the plans, along with the contracts, are still preserved among
the city archives of Ghent.

However much we may regret the setting aside of the plans of Kelderman
and De Waghemakere, it cannot be denied that they deserved the fate
which overtook their labours, for they themselves had shown scant
respect to the memory of their predecessor, John Stassins, an architect
of no mean order, who, as early as 1481, had made plans for the new Town
Hall, plans which were accepted by the city fathers, and which, until
his death in 1517, he had done his utmost to realise. So much labour
lost, Kelderman and De Waghemakere discarded them and cast down his
unfinished building; but in Ghent John Stassins has his memorial: he it
was who planned and reared Saint Bavo's stately tower, not the least
beautiful of the many beautiful towers which still adorn the cities and
the villages of the Low Country.

       *       *       *       *       *

The mention of the tower of Saint Bavo's naturally suggests the church
itself. Here we have perhaps the most beautiful of all the Belgian
cathedrals, certainly the most interesting. Founded in the course of the
nine hundreds, and not completed till the latter half of the seventeenth
century, this time-honoured building contains specimens of almost every
period of architecture. The crypt, or at all events a portion of it, is
part of the original structure; it is divided into four naves and is the
largest crypt in Belgium. Here lie the ashes of Hubert van Eyck and
those of his sister Marguerite. The choir, of blue Tournai stone,
severe, ample, stately, is of course Tournai work of the closing years
of the twelve hundreds, all of it save the vault, which dates from four
centuries later, and is so perfect an imitation of primary Gothic work
that did we not know that the choir of Saint Bavo's, like so many early
churches in Belgium, was originally covered with a wagon-head roof of
timber, and were it not for the cathedral records which remove all doubt
as to the period of its construction, it would certainly be assigned at
latest to the opening years of the thirteen hundreds. For the rest, the
fifteen ambulatory chapels are of the thirteen and of the fourteen
hundreds; the tower, as we have seen, dates from the closing years of
the latter period; and the nave and transepts, the aisles and adjoining
side chapels were built in the middle of the fifteen hundreds.

That the western half of Ghent Cathedral was the work of a Brabant
architect, is more than likely, for though there is no documentary
evidence to show who was its author, it has all the characteristic
features of the Brabant style. The position and character of the
tower--lofty, massive, bold, proudly standing at the head of the church,
with its lower stage as wide and as high as the nave and incorporated
with it; the peculiar treatment of the triforium--not an arcade, but a
simple gallery of sculptured stone; the triangular _oculi_ in the gables
of the transepts, and the vast windows, divided by great Y-shaped
mullions, which light them, these and a host of other things too
numerous to mention proclaim with no uncertain voice what manner of man
made it.

In every age and in every land it has been the aim of Gothic masons to
make their buildings, and especially their religious buildings, the
incarnation of this mandate--_Sursum corda_. Almost always they
succeeded, but often, and this is notably the case in England, their
most successful efforts are cramped and narrow, or at all events from
their great height seem so. The Gothic architects of Brabant set
themselves a harder task, which, in spite of its difficulty, they not
infrequently accomplished. Their churches should, indeed, sing _Sursum
corda_ as loudly as the rest, but they should add to it no less loudly
this other refrain--_In loco spatioso_. The builder of the cathedral at
Ghent in this respect triumphed magnificently: Saint Bavo soars like an
archangel, and it would be hard to find a church which more emphatically
preaches breadth. Not only is the building in reality broad and high, it
looks so; nay, it has the appearance of being broader and higher than it
actually is. In order to invest it with a large atmosphere the architect
who designed it not only gave breadth to his ground plan but made all
his openings broad, taking care that those most in evidence should be
broader in proportion than the rest. Thus the surface covered by the
nave and aisles is almost a perfect square. Indeed, the distance from
north to south is slightly greater than that from east to west. Of this
vast space the central avenue embraces, roughly speaking, two-fifths,
the adjacent avenues each about one-fifth, and each of the outer avenues
one-tenth. In other words, the nave is twice as broad as the inner
aisles, and these bear much the same proportion to the outer aisles.
Also, in order to give them greater breadth, he economised his openings,
and in the case of windows reduced the intervening masonry to a minimum.
Thus the nave, notwithstanding its great length, has only four bays--the
object of this was no doubt to give breadth to the cross vistas--and
consequently in its clerestory there are but eight windows, four on each
side, and the same number in the walls of the outer aisles. In spite of
the vast span of the arches, the several arcades have by no means a
stunted appearance. They are too lofty for that, and also in the case of
the central avenue the rich moulding which adorns them springs from the
bases of piers without capitals, and thus we have a series of unbroken
lines ascending from plinth to apex, which marvellously increases their

Arcades are often thus treated in tertiary Brabant work, and even too
sometimes in buildings of the second period. Not that the architects who
designed them despised capitals, or were ignorant of their æsthetic
value, but they knew where they could be suppressed with advantage and
where they could be added with effect. None of their buildings are
wholly devoid of them, and at Saint Bavo's they are numerous and highly
developed, a very noteworthy feature in the scheme of ornament: alike in
transept, nave and aisles, the ribs of the vault spring from them. They
are all of like fashion: bell-shaped, considerably larger above than
below, and adorned, but not over adorned, by closely clinging
conventional leaves. They crown cylindrical columns, sometimes single,
sometimes in groups of three, five, or more, which, though they are in
reality of no mean girth, by reason of their great height and of the
vast bulk of the piers to which they are in each case attached, seem
slender, but not so slender as to suggest weakness. One feels quite sure
that each stately shaft can easily carry the burthen which rests on its
beautiful head.

As we have already remarked, there is no direct evidence to show who
made the plans of the western half of Saint Bavo's, or at all events, of
the nave, but the following facts are significant. It is undoubtedly the
noblest ecclesiastical structure which Brabant produced in the first
half of the fifteen hundreds; of the Brabant architects of this period
the greatest was Dominic De Waghemakere, and he was constantly at Ghent
during the early days of its construction busy with the new Town Hall.
We suspect, then, with Monsieur Louis Cloquet, that Dominic at least had
his say in the matter.[28]

[28] See _Revue de l'Art Chrétien_, 3^me livraison--Mai 1902, p. 244.

       *       *       *       *       *

Glorious, however, as these late Gothic buildings are--and there are
others in Brabant no less beautiful, and how many, perhaps, still
lovelier which exist only on parchment, never realised, or by the hands
of iconoclasts cast down?--they are but the aftermath, the last and the
loveliest flowers of a tree which when it produced them, was already
almost dead. By a supreme and mighty effort it had forced the little
life that was in it into one favoured branch, which thus clothed with
fairest blossoms and with the freshness of their beauty still upon it,
withered away like the rest. If we would contemplate the tree in its
vigour we must go back to the fourteen hundreds, and more especially to
the days of Philippe l'Asseuré--to the long peace of thirty years which
followed the Treaty of Arras (September 21, 1435). Then it was that
Gothic art in Belgium reached the zenith of its magnificence, then it
was that she first became unrivalled in the abundance and in the quality
of her fruit, that each day saw some great work completed or the
foundations of some grand building laid. Many of these monuments have
perished, but such of them as remain, though they have suffered much at
the hands of enemies and of friends, bear witness alike to the genius of
the artists who created them and to the public spirit and the devotion
of the burghers and craftsmen who provided the funds with which they
were built, and who, hard-headed, close-fisted, cautious men, as many of
them were, counted it no loss to have invested so much of their capital
in these unremunerative securities. In those days Brabant was rich and
free, and possessed of the faith which removes mountains.

The years which immediately preceded the advent of the house of Burgundy
(1384) had been throughout the length and breadth of the Netherlands
evil. War everywhere and of every description, not only with alien foes,
but province against province, city against city, class against class;
the staple industry gone or fast going, and half the population swept
away by famine and pestilence. Flanders, with its fields untilled and
its dykes unmended, had become what it was a thousand years
before--morass and jungle, the home of wolves which preyed on the meagre
flocks that remained, and of vast herds of stag and boar which ravaged
the scanty patches of grain which here and there the dwindled peasantry
had made shift to raise; and though other provinces had suffered less,
there was dearth and wretchedness everywhere. Yet of these same stricken
fields some fifty years later Philippe de Commines was able to say,
'_Ils se pouvoient mieulx dire terre de promission que nulle aultres
seigneuries qui fussent sur la terre._' The geographical position of the
land, the energy and enterprise of its people, the advantages resultant
from the union of all the provinces under one prince, and, above all,
the blessing of peace; therein lies the explanation.

In no quarter was the recovery more rapid, nowhere was the meed of
prosperity so great as in the duchy of Brabant. Not only had Brabant
suffered less than the other provinces, but its soil was naturally
more fertile, and the burghers of the great towns, now that their
long-standing strife had been settled, showed themselves more apt
than their fellows in Flanders for example, in developing new
industries and in adapting their methods of trade to the changing
conditions of the commercial situation. Whilst the three _bonnes
villes_ of Flanders--Bruges, Ypres, and Ghent, were vainly striving
to foster their dying industry to the no small detriment of their
trade, by imposing exorbitant duties on foreign made goods, and at
last by altogether prohibiting the importation of English cloth, the
'good towns' of Brabant found salvation in the development of new
industries, notably the manufacture of linen and tapestry, or, as
in the case of Antwerp and Bergen-op-Zoom, by enlarging the doors
of their markets. Antwerp, indeed, found a gold mine in her free
fairs open to all the world without toll or tribute, and, thanks to
the liberal policy which she pursued in regard to aliens, presently
succeeded in diverting to her shores the foreign merchandise which
had formerly found its way to Bruges. Also, the towns of Brabant
were directly or indirectly aided by the personal action of the
princes of the new dynasty, who seem to have exerted their utmost
endeavours to promote their welfare: Louvain was indebted to Duke
John IV. for a boon not to be despised, for in planting his new
university in the ancient capital, he practically gave to her a
fresh lease of life; Mechlin was helped later on by that stern and
gloomy Sovereign, _Charles le Téméraire_, who made the city of Saint
Rombold the seat of the national parliament; the interests of Antwerp
were invariably pushed by the entire dynasty, often at the expense
of Bruges; and Brussels, which for years past had been in reality,
though not in name, the capital of Brabant, now that that duchy was
held by a prince who was also Sovereign of each of the adjoining
states, became, to all intents and purposes, the common capital of
the Netherlands, the home of a prince whose revenues were larger and
whose expenses were heavier than those of any other prince of his
day, whose wont it was to astonish the world by the splendour of his
feasts and pageants--advertisements, costly if you will, but, from
the credit they gave him, well worth the money he paid for them,
of a prince whose very economies--for if Philip knew how to spend,
he knew too how to count and how to save--were a source of wealth
to his subjects: the vast sums which he annually sank in building
operations, or invested in precious stones and precious stuffs, in
goldsmiths' ware, in sculpture, in pictures--so many gilt-edged
securities which, if need be, could be turned into cash, and, if he
had luck, at a profit--represented the sum of his savings, and much
of it found its way into the pockets of Brussels tradesmen.

Brussels, then, at this time had a market in her midst for the
product of her newly-developed industries: linen, tapestry, plate,
and liquor of various kinds--ale, nut brown, pale, and black,
'swart-bier,' seemingly a sort of archaic stout, and wine from her
own vineyards, some of it, amongst others, from that famous vineyard
of which a portion of the site is now occupied by the _Jardin
Botanique_. Hers was the profitable task of providing for the costly
needs and costlier follies of the richest Court in Europe, of a Court
of which not a few of its members less distinguished for length of
pedigree than length of purse, sought, after the manner of _nouveaux
riches_, to blind men's eyes to the newness of their shields by the
glamour of their new wealth; for Philip would have none but capable
officers, and in naming them did not restrict his choice to one
class. He knew how to choose, and chose where he saw ability: there
were great nobles at his council board, and beside them sat men of
humble origin; and these were, amongst the most highly placed, the
wealthiest and the most trusted, men like Chancellor Rolin, the son
of a plain citizen of Autun, or Peter Bladelin, who, from a dyer of
buckram, became Controller-General of Finance. Times had changed
since the days when at Bruges and elsewhere 'men with blue nails'
were debarred even from the rights of citizenship.

With a prince who could afford to be lavish, and whom policy and
inclination alike prompted to expenditure, and a Court made up of new
men and men of ancient race, whose pride compelled them, _coûte que
coûte_, to emulate these mushrooms, gold was poured out like water, and
Brussels flourished amazingly. Every public event and every private
happening was made the excuse for a revel, and what revels they were!
'_Convis et banquets_' to quote the words of Philippe de Commines,
'_plus grands et plus prodigues qu'en nul aultre lieu ... baignoiries et
aultres festoyements avec femmes grands et désordonnez, et à peu de
honte_;' but Philippe adds a saving clause: '_Je parle_,' he says, '_des
femmes de basse condition_.' And what strange, fantastic, grown-up
children were those who took part in them! The decoration of the great
pavilion of wood, conveyed by water from Brussels to Bruges for the
wedding of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York, in 1468, had occupied
during many months hundreds of artists and artisans from all parts of
the Netherlands, amongst them masters of the first order. One of the
features of this marvellous construction was a tower forty feet high
adorned with apes and wolves and wild boars, which, by mechanical means,
were made to dance and sing, and in the great hall there were a host of
other quaint creations, amongst them a whale sixty feet long, which was
able to move about, several elephants, a pelican, from whose beak
streamed hippocrass, and a female figure wrought in gold, with its
breasts spurting wine. These strange mechanical toys were much in vogue
in the fourteen and fifteen hundreds, and some of them have come down to
us--'the oldest citizen of Brussels, the famous "mannikin" of the _Rue
de l'Etuve_ is still doing what he did in the days of Philippe

Never before in the course of its history had the city of Brussels been
so prosperous. Within the circuit of its ramparts now dwelt some sixty
thousand souls--more than double the population of Louvain, and nearly
double that of Antwerp. If Brussels were not the richest city in the
Netherlands, it was at all events the city where the evidences of
wealth were the most visible, and amongst them dissipation. When men can
afford to indulge the wayward humours of 'Brother Ass' they not
unfrequently do so, and the men of Brussels at this time rode him with
an exceedingly loose rein. They drank of the joys of life to the dregs,
and some of them were nauseated: suicides were more frequent than of
yore, and so were religious vocations.

But it was not only by reason of human frailty that Brussels at this
time sinned: the days which had passed had unchained a devil which still
continued to haunt the town, albeit those evil days were now but a
memory. The wars in which so many of the inhabitants had taken an active
part, and the deeds of violence which had so often accompanied the
revolutions and counter-revolutions incident on the struggle for freedom
in almost all the great cities, had accustomed the people to horrors,
and bred in their hearts a veritable lust for blood. Hence when strife
arose the sequel was often death in some shape or other, and the chief
effect which these crimes produced on public opinion was to fill men's
minds with a morbid and universal dread of poison and of the assassin's
knife. No one knew whom he could trust, friend looked askance at friend,
and sturdy burghers abroad at night turned cold as they passed dark
corners. The highest in the land were commonly believed to have had
recourse to these methods in order to rid themselves of foes, or of
friends whose existence was a bar to the realisation of their desires,
and though these rumours were often groundless, the fact that they
should have been so widely credited, and that those whose fair names
were sullied by them should have in consequence fallen so little in
popular estimation is in itself significant, and so, too, is what
Chastelain says concerning a repast of which Duke Philip once partook
in the hut of a peasant. Riding alone and at night from Brussels towards
Hal he had lost his way in the Forest of Soignes, and the man in whose
house he took refuge believed him to be an ordinary wayfarer; the meal
which was set before him was a very humble one--cheese, black bread and
onions--but at least 'he ate,' old Chastelain notes, 'without fear of

Here we have one side of the picture as contemporary chroniclers have
painted it. Perhaps they put in the shadows too black, and maybe the
scheme of colour is too glaring. Vice makes more stir in the world than
virtue because it is something abnormal--a monstrosity, which from its
very nature compels attention; and because, too, it is more interesting
than virtue, men talk more about it, and write more about it, and in
doing so they are often apt for the sake of effect to exaggerate its
dimensions. All this should be taken into account, and also, there is
another side to the picture.

It was not all frivolity and bloodshed in the 'good towns' of Brabant in
the days of Philippe l'Asseuré; the gold which was so lavishly poured
out was assuredly not all squandered on the pride of the flesh, and the
pride of life, and the pride of the eye. Men were by no means devoid of
public spirit, nor were they unmindful of the poor; splendid as were
some of their own habitations, their splendour was eclipsed by the
greater glory of guild hall and market and church. Somehow or other,
too, in spite of their revels, they found time for serious business:
never were the towns of Brabant so ably administered or the affairs of
the duchy in such capable hands. It was an age of much literary and
artistic activity, and the burghers showed themselves alike collectively
and, when they could afford it, individually, generous patrons of
letters and of art; also the Christian religion was still a living
reality for all sorts and conditions of men, and though many failed to
live up to its principles there were not a few, and some of them amongst
the most highly placed, who were keenly alive to the ills which
afflicted society and indefatigable in their efforts to correct them,
efforts which were presently crowned with no small measure of success.
For strangely enough the ebullition of evil which characterised this
epoch was synchronal with one of those marvellous outbursts of religious
fervour which occurred periodically in the Netherlands all through the
Middle Age. Perhaps it was not so strange after all, for each was the
outcome in some degree of the turmoil and wretchedness which, as we have
seen, formed the keynote of the preceding period. These things act
differently on different natures: some under their influence become
devout, others seek relief in dissipation.

No people throughout the whole course of their history have continuously
shown themselves more deeply impressed by sentiments of faith and
Christian piety than the inhabitants of those lands which are now
embraced by the kingdoms of Belgium and Holland.

We have seen how eagerly in the early days the nobles of Brabant and
Hainault and Flanders helped on the work of Gerard of Brogne, how
staunch they were later on in their support of the Cluniac movement, and
to what excesses they were sometimes led by their intemperate zeal in
furthering it. So, too, when Peter the Hermit preached his first
crusade, nowhere did he find so many recruits as in this quarter of
Europe, and in no other land did the sons of Saint Francis obtain a
heartier greeting: they were received with open arms by all classes of
the population; even the patrician burgher, who often warned off monks,
for he dreaded their wealth and influence, opened alike his doors and
his purse for the followers of 'the poor man of Assisi.'

Again, no cities in Christendom were so richly endowed with charitable
institutions as the great commercial centres of the Low Countries. They
were all of them served by religious, but, mark this, all of them, or
nearly all of them, under municipal control. For the burgher would be
master in his own house, and, to tell the truth, in spite of his faith
and his good works, was something of an 'anti-clerical'--very keen to
resent the interference of the clergy in his affairs, no less eager,
whenever he could, to trench on their domain. He always read between the
lines in interpreting the charter of his own privileges, but
scrupulously adhered to the letter of the law when theirs were called in

Albeit, though now and again there was a sharp tussle, like that for the
management of the schools, in which he proved himself the better man, as
a rule his relations with the priesthood were fairly cordial: the
secular clergy, cut off from their chiefs, whose Sees for the most part
were in foreign lands, were too feeble to resist aggression; the great
monastic houses were nearly all of them without the towns, and thus it
rarely happened that their interests clashed with his; as for the
Franciscan friars, in spite of their democratic tendencies and their
sympathy undisguised for the toilers whom he so often oppressed, he
could not afford to quarrel with them: the services which they rendered
to the sick and the poor were not to be dispensed with, and also he
found them a useful check on the secular clergy whose labours and whose
profits they shared, and with whom, from the force of circumstances,
they were naturally often at loggerheads.

This independence of spirit, this impatience of ecclesiastical control,
was not peculiar to the patrician class. Outcome of the national love of
liberty, it manifested itself in various ways in all classes of the
urban population: the trade companies provided themselves with private
chapels, and seem to have claimed the right of naming their own
chaplains; a host of religious confraternities were formed, more or less
free from ecclesiastical control, and, for those who were inclined to be
more devout, numerous lay communities of both sexes, as we shall
presently see, and, in at least two cities of Brabant--Tirlemont and
Léau--there were regularly constituted chapters of canons composed
exclusively of married laymen.

The influence of these lay institutions--of these, so to speak, half-way
houses between the world and the cloister, was far-reaching and
profound. Their members were held in higher esteem than either the monks
or the secular clergy; hand in hand with the mendicant orders they
directed the current of religious thought.

Curiously enough, too, there seems to have been something in the
temperament of these people which, in spite of their anti-clericalism,
their phlegm, their commercial pursuits, rendered them strangely
susceptible to the fascination of the interior life: in the spiritual
complexion of the towns there was an undercurrent of mysticism which
waxed and waned intermittently all through the Middle Age. Now it would
flow so deep down and so sluggishly that it seemed almost to die away,
and then it would suddenly swirl to the surface and become a rushing
stream, which sometimes surged over the bounds of orthodoxy and produced
the wildest extravagancies. Its normal _rôle_ was to do for the foolish
things of the Gospel--for poverty, for purity, for meekness, what
chivalry did for the pride of life and the pride of the eye, and what
minstrelsy did for the pride of the flesh: surround them with a halo of
romance; but it acted differently on different temperaments, and in
divers times manifested itself in divers ways, according to the
circumstances which called forth its energy and the various kinds of
material with which it came in contact.

Thus it peopled the forests with hermits, humble, harmless, prayerful
folk, who, working out their own salvation as best they could alone with
nature and with God, saw visions and dreamed dreams, always marvellous,
often beautiful, sometimes grotesque--if they did nothing else for their
fellow-men they at least put a little poetry into their lives--and it
raised up too, false prophets, or, by assuring them a following, made
false prophets possible--fiery zealots, some of them, who before they
deceived others had first made dupes of themselves, and some of them
mere impostors with one object--pelf.

To which class Tanchelm belonged who shall say? The only contemporary
account of him which has come down to us was not written by his friends.
Fool or knave, in this man we have a picturesque personality, and an
interesting one, too, in several respects. He lived in those days of
stress and whirl when the atoms which were presently to form the great
communes of Brabant were striving to come together: we first hear of him
at Antwerp somewhere about the year 1113. Who he was, whence he came,
what his calling, no man could tell, but the women whispered it about
that the mysterious stranger was a prophet, and at last Tanchelm broke
silence and publicly proclaimed in the market-place that he was indeed a
prophet, and more than a prophet--the incarnation of the Paraclete. Half
the population believed him. Churches were consecrated in his honour.
He lived in royal state, and when he came forth he was attended by a
bodyguard of armed men.

Riot and bloodshed were the outcome, and in the midst of it he fled,
disguised as a monk, to Rome, where, strangely enough, he was not
molested. When the storm had had time to lull he set out on the homeward
journey, but at Cologne he was arrested by the Archbishop, who, less
complaisant than the Pope, or perhaps better informed, set him in gaol.
Somehow or other he contrived to escape to Antwerp, where he did as he
had done before, like results followed; Duke Godfrey meditating his
arrest, the fanatic got wind of it, and again determined on flight; but
as he was on his way to the wharf, whence he would have taken shipping
for England, he was stabbed by a man 'full of zeal,' as an ancient
writer has it. Thus did Tanchelm end his chequered career. His fate was
not unmerited, for he himself had slain Alaric, Burgrave of Antwerp, but
in the eyes of his disciples he was a martyr, and the sect which he had
founded did not die with him.

It was not till the close of the eleven hundreds that religious peace
was at last established throughout the length and breadth of the land,
for the movement at Antwerp was not an isolated one. Heresy was
everywhere in the air. The infection was carried from place to place by
merchant and artisan, and fierce outbreaks were continually occurring,
sometimes in one place and sometimes in another, all through the
century. 'The social and moral disturbance provoked by the communal
movement,' notes M. Pirenne, sufficiently explains this state of
things,'[29] and doubtless he is right; but the fewness and the
incapacity of the parochial clergy must also be taken into account.

[29] See _Histoire de Belgique_, vol. i. p. 337.

For six years the canons of Antwerp had vainly striven to bring back
their wandering sheep. Not matter, perhaps, for wonderment. When the
Tanchelm trouble began there was only one parish priest in the city, a
man of loose life. At last they gave up the task in despair, and invoked
the aid of a stranger--Norbert, the famous mystic of Laon, who had
lately founded a missionary order which the world was beginning to talk

This man, who was born at Xanten on the Lower Rhine, of a rich and
powerful family, had taken orders because he thought that for one of his
brilliant parts and with his wealth and influence the shortest road to
distinction was by way of the Church. And the Church did something for
him: she assured him a lasting reputation, she presently set his name
down in her register of canonised saints. That was not the kind of fame
which Norbert had in those days looked for, but if earthly glory escaped
him he had only himself to thank for it.

Shortly after his ordination he was named Court chaplain to the Emperor
Henry V., later on he obtained a canon's stall at Cologne, and then one
sultry afternoon he took it into his head to ride over to a neighbouring
village. A storm arose, a flash of lightning struck him from his saddle,
and when he came to himself he was a changed man. He resigned his
prebend, bestowed his goods on the poor, and for two years, ragged and
barefoot, wandered about France and Germany preaching penance. He spoke
well, had the gift of address, the charm of personal beauty; he was all
things to all men, as his biographer says of him, and he reckoned his
converts by thousands.

But Norbert was not satisfied. Of all the sheep he had brought to the
fold how many would have never strayed if the shepherds had been
faithful! The carelessness and incompetency of the parochial clergy,
that was the crying evil of the day, and he would do what he could to
remedy it.

To this end he withdrew to the forest of Coucy, near Laon, with a little
band of disciples, and presently there rose up in the midst of a
secluded valley which Norbert called _Prémontré_ because, as he said,
the place had been pointed out to him in a dream, a rude habitation with
a church alongside of it and a few outbuildings. It was the first home
of the great Premonstratensian Order, an order whose members, whilst
leading the lives of monks, devoted themselves, at the same time, to
pastoral work and to preaching.

Such was the man and such were the men who now undertook to convert
Antwerp, and thanks to their indefatigable labours the Ghost of Tanchelm
was at last laid. Whereat the canons, loth to lose their services, ceded
to them their own collegiate church and themselves migrated to the
Chapel of Saint Mary, a very humble structure in those days, without the
city walls, and it will be interesting to note it gradually grew into
Antwerp Cathedral.

Two of the monasteries with which Norbert's White Canons were about this
time endowed are still standing, and are still in the possession of the
order: the Abbey of Tongerloo, in the heart of the Campine, founded by
Duke Godfrey Longbeard in 1130, and the great Abbey of Parc, hard by
Louvain, founded by the same Sovereign a few years earlier. This is a
most picturesque and charming spot and is well worth a visit. Very
little of the original work remains, but the Gothic cloisters date from
the close of the fifteen hundreds and they are exceedingly beautiful,
so, too, the chapter-house and a most delightful old water-mill of the
same period; also there is a large and valuable collection of ancient
manuscripts, amongst them the original charter of endowment signed by
Godfrey Longbeard, and in the church and in the guest-house there are a
few good pictures.


The national tendency to mysticism was fostered rather than thwarted by
the new evangelists: when the people returned to orthodoxy they were
more than ever inclined to the interior life, and soon the Béguinage
appeared--that manifestation _par excellence_, as a recent writer has
it, of urban religiosity clothed and in its right mind.

In the early days of the eleven hundreds, perhaps even before Norbert
began to preach, there were women in Belgium who lived alone, and
without taking vows devoted themselves to prayer and good works. At
first there were not many of them, but as the century grew older their
numbers increased: it was the age of the Crusades, and the cities teemed
with desolate women--the raw material for a host of neophytes. These
solitaries lived, not in the forest, but on the fringe of the town,
where their work lay, for they served Christ in His poor. Presently,
somewhere about the beginning of the twelve hundreds, some of them, for
the sake of mutual protection, grouped their cabins together, and the
little community thus formed was the first Béguinage.

Whence the name is hard to say. Various explanations have been
suggested. Maybe it is derived from the old Flemish word _beghen_, in
the sense of to pray, not in the sense of to beg, for the Beguine never
asked alms; maybe from Saint Begga of Nivelles, where, it is said, the
first institution of this kind was established; maybe, again, from
Lambert le Bègue, a zealot of Liége, who died in 1180, after having
expended a fortune in founding on his own estate a church and cloister
for women whom the Crusades had deprived of their natural protectors.
The cloister has long since disappeared, but the church is still
standing, it is dedicated to Saint Christopher, and is a very beautiful
specimen of transition work.

The Beguine was only half a nun. The vows which she took were not
irrevocable; she could return to the world when she would, nor did she
renounce her property. If she was without private means she neither
asked nor accepted alms, but supported herself by her spindle, or by
taking in needlework, or sometimes by teaching the children of burghers.
During the time of her novitiate she lived in the house of the 'Grand
Mistress' of her cloister, but afterwards she had her own dwelling, and,
if she could afford it, was attended by her own servants. The same aim
in life, kindred pursuits and community of worship were the ties which
bound her to her companions. There was no common rule, each Béguinage
fixed its own order of life, and was submitted only to the jurisdiction
of its own superior, though later on many of them adopted the rule of
the third order of Saint Francis. Nor were these communities less varied
as to the social status of their members: some of them, like the
Béguinage of Bruges, only admitted ladies of noble birth; others, like
the little Béguinage of Louvain, were exclusively reserved for persons
in humble circumstances; others, again, opened their doors wide to women
of every condition, and these were the most densely peopled--several of
them, like the Great Béguinage of Ghent, numbering their inhabitants by

Such was this semi-monastic institution. Admirably adapted to the
spiritual and social needs of the age which produced it, it spread
rapidly throughout the land, and soon began to exercise a profound
influence on the religious life of the people. By the close of the
twelve hundreds there was hardly a commune in Belgium without its
Béguinage, whilst several of the great cities had two, or three, or even
more, and, mark this, each of these institutions was an ardent centre of
mysticism. There was a Béguinage at Brussels before the year 1245.
Witness a Bull of this date of Pope Innocent IV., authorising the
Beguines of that city to recite the Divine Office, and by the close of
the century it seems to have attained considerable prosperity. It
occupied a large tract of land, says Wauters, between the Chaussée de
Laeken and the Couvent des Dames Blanches, and contained several streets
and spacious gardens. It possessed its own church, which, by concession
of the Dean and Chapter of Molenbeke, was, in 1252, made
extra-parochial, its own water-mill, granted by Duke John I, in 1290,
and a hospital for sick poor, founded by the same Sovereign four years
later. The community was suppressed at the time of the French
Revolution, and no relic of it remains save the church--not the original
building, but a reconstruction of 1657. It now serves as a parish
church, and is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

The Grand Béguinage at Louvain was probably founded early in the twelve
hundreds. Two inscriptions rudely carved in stone, and now placed on
each side of the northern doorway of the church, respectively attest
that the cloistral buildings were commenced in 1234, and the church
itself a year later. This structure consists of a long rectangular nave,
with a clerestory, but no triforium, and single lean-to aisles, which
are of the same length as the nave. There is no steeple, but a small
bell turret marks the entrance to the choir, which is lighted by a huge
east window filled with beautiful tracery. The interior is singularly
plain, and, save for the capitals, rudely carved with foliage and
grotesque figures, there is no sculpture, or at all events there is none
visible, though doubtless if the plaster were removed from the walls
some relics of stone carving or moulded brick would be brought to light.
We have here a typical Béguinage church of the latter half of the twelve
hundreds. The Church of the Béguinage of Bruges, for example, which
dates from the same period, is almost a _facsimile_, and this type
prevailed, at least in its main outlines, until the end of the Gothic
period, and even in some cases until later.

[Illustration: From the Béguinage Louvain]

The Béguinage of Louvain is one of the most picturesque in Belgium. It
is situated on either side of the Dyle, here a narrow stream, which
winds through a labyrinth of crooked streets, and presently, after
passing through a little bridge, disappears behind the hospital, which
gives on the churchyard, where there are yew trees and a great stone
crucifix. It is a very quiet, homely spot this Béguinage, full of
old-world memories, and the widows and maidens who dwell there while
away their lives in much the same way as their predecessors did in the
thirteen hundreds.

There were Beguines at Mechlin as early as 1207. At this epoch their
cloister was in the centre of the town, but its exact site is not known.
In 1259 they migrated to a spot beyond the ramparts, on the western
side of the city, between the Dyle and the Chaussée d'Anvers. This
cloister was totally destroyed during the religious troubles of the
fifteen hundreds. Towards the close of the century, when order was once
more established, the Beguines, having obtained permission of the civic
authorities, returned to the centre of the city and erected for
themselves the cloister which they at present inhabit, and later on
(1629-1647), the imposing temple in which they still worship. This
Béguinage was again suppressed at the time of the French Revolution, and
again re-established during the opening years of the eighteen hundreds,
but only a portion of their property was restored to the community, and
at present the greater number of the houses are occupied by private

Many other Béguinages still exist in Brabant, and, indeed, all over
Belgium, but many more have been suppressed, and the buildings which
once sheltered the religious are now used for secular purposes. The
largest of the existing communities of this kind is that of Ghent, which
numbers nearly a thousand members, and the smallest is probably that of
Dixmude, which has only three.

The religious movement of which the Béguinage was the outcome brought
forth also, about the same time, or perhaps a little later, several
similar institutions for men. Of these the Beghards, or, as they were
sometimes called, the Brethren of Penance, were the most widespread and
the most important. Their members were all of them laymen, and, like the
Beguines, took no vows, observed no fixed rule of life, and were subject
only to their own superiors, but, unlike them, they had no private
property: the brethren of each cloister had a common purse, dwelt
together under one roof and ate at the same table. They were, for the
most part, of humble origin--weavers, dyers, fullers and such like, and
were often men to whom fortune had not been kind--men who had outlived
their friends, or whose family ties had been broken by some untoward
event, and who, by reason of failing health or advancing years, or
perhaps on account of some accident, were unable to stand alone. Each
establishment was self-supporting; the members plied their wonted
trades, and lived as best they could on the meagre product of their
united toil. If, as Monsieur Pirenne observes, 'the mediæval towns of
Belgium found in the Béguinage a solution of their "feminine question,"'
the establishment of these communities afforded them at least a partial
solution of another problem, which pressed for an answer--the difficult
problem of how to deal with the worn-out working-man.

It should be borne in mind, however, that the primary object of all
these institutions was not a temporal but a spiritual one. Their
members, who for the most part had received so small a share of this
world's good things, had banded together, not, in the first place, that
they might be able to keep the wolf from the door during the few years
of life that remained to them, but in order to ensure for themselves in
the next world, as they confidently believed, an eternity of bliss. Nor,
whilst working out their own salvation, were they unmindful of the
spiritual welfare of their neighbours, nor, for the matter of that, of
their temporal welfare either. The Celites, a kindred community to the
Beghards, were wholly occupied in tending the sick and burying the
dead--and, thanks to their intimate connection with the trade companies,
they were able to largely influence the religious life, and to a great
extent to form the religious opinion of the mediæval towns of Belgium,
or, at all events, in the case of their working population, during more
than two centuries. They did not, however, escape the fate which,
sooner or later, overtakes all human institutions: before the close of
the Middle Age they were, most of them, in full decadence. Not, as so
often happens, that their life was crushed out by the weight of gold:
though, as time went on, they acquired endowments, they never attained
to wealth or anything like it; they waned with the waning of the cloth
trade, and, when that industry died, gradually dwindled away. Their
crazy ships were sorely tried by the storm of the fifteen hundreds. Some
of them went to the bottom, some weathered its fury, but were so
battered that they afterwards sank in still water; a few, somehow or
other, managed to keep afloat till another and a fiercer hurricane at
last dashed them to pieces.

The Brethren of Penance rapidly spread all over the Low Countries, and
even penetrated into France and into the provinces beyond the Rhine.
There were Beghards in Brussels as early as 1274, perhaps even at a
still earlier date, and they observed no fixed rule till 1359, when they
became Franciscan Tertiaries. They earned their livelihood by weaving
cloth; indeed, until 1474, when the cloth trade was practically dead, no
man could join the order unless he were a member of the Weavers'
Company, and, naturally enough, they lived in the weavers' quarter
behind the Town Hall. Their convent was situated in the street which
still bears their name, or rather in the _Rue des Alexiens_, a
continuation of the _Rue des Beghards_, and which at one time seems to
have formed part of it. It stood at the foot of a steep hill, and the
brethren called their home _Mariendael_, or Mary's Valley. Beghards and
Beguines were everywhere renowned for their tender devotion to the
Madonna--a devotion which they sometimes liked to emphasise in the
mystical names they gave to their dwellings. Thus the Béguinage of
Vilvorde, for example, was 'Our dear Lady's Consolation,' '_Onze Lieve
Vrouw-ten-Troost_,' '_Solatium Sanctæ Mariæ_.'

The Zacites or Brethren of the Sack were also established in Brussels at
a very early date; they were never a numerous community, and in 1480,
having dwindled down to seven aged brethren, their convent was
suppressed by the civic authorities, and its revenues bestowed on the
new Carthusian priory which the city was at this time founding at
Scheut. As for the expelled Zacites, six of them were placed in
charitable institutions, and the seventh, who was by profession a
surgeon, received a small life pension. Their chapel still remains; it
is situated in the _Rue de la Madeleine_, and is well worth
visiting--not so much on account of its architectural beauty, for it can
never have been anything else than a very plain and unpretentious
building, and, moreover, it has been spoiled by clumsy restoration; but
it is interesting from its great age--it dates from the close of the
twelve hundreds--and because it is the last remaining relic in Brussels
of a very curious group of religious communities composed entirely of

The ardent spirit of mysticism, which had raised up in the course of the
twelve hundreds the Beguines and the Brethren of Penance, waxed rather
than waned as time went on, fostered and nourished by these
institutions; nor is it surprising that some of their members,
untrammelled as they were by ecclesiastical control, should presently
have developed opinions not in harmony with the Christian faith. Amongst
them, in the opening years of the thirteen hundreds, Sister Hadewych,
who, in the vulgar tongue, wrote glowing prose and frenzied verse, in
which she illustrated the Divine charity by profane comparisons, couched
in the language of earthly and carnal love; and--unless she were the
same individual, which is not unlikely--the famous Brussels mystic,
Bloemardine, who boldly proclaimed that man in this life could attain to
such a state that sin would be impossible to him, and likewise progress
in virtue, and that then he could give free rein to his passions without
fear of incurring guilt. Crowds were captivated by her burning
eloquence; even at Court she had numerous disciples; they gave her a
silver throne, which, when she had sat in it, was said to be invested
with miraculous powers; it was currently believed that she was attended
by two seraphim when she approached the Holy Table; and it is
significant of the trend of public opinion, that the opposition of Jan
van Ruysbroek, himself a mystic, but of a very different order, and at
this time the best beloved and most influential of the Brussels secular
clergy--we shall have much to say of him later on--gained for him only
the contempt and ridicule of the people, who made him the subject of
ribald songs, which were howled after him in the streets.

Nor was Bloemardine the only devotee whom an extravagant mysticism had
deprived of mental ballast: there were Beghards and Beguines all over
the country who were the victims of like delusions; the wildest opinions
were held and publicly proclaimed to be orthodox--opinions, some of
them, which seem to have differed little from the religious and
political opinions professed by anarchists to-day. Of course the people
gave ear to them, in all the great towns of the Netherlands these
fanatics had numerous disciples, and the violent outbreaks against the
Jews, which occurred periodically all through the thirteen hundreds,
were in great measure due to their teaching. The bulk of their adherents
were among the most abject of the population--weavers, dyers, fullers
and such like, who, underpaid and without resources, living from hand to
mouth, were often compelled, when sickness came or when work was slack,
to have recourse to Shylock, and sometimes they made him pay the penalty
of his extortions. If to slay the Jew were no sin, why not thus obtain
freedom? Why not wipe out the debt in the blood of the man whose fathers
had shown as little pity to Christ as he himself had to them? A riot of
this kind occurred in 1308, and it needed all the energy and decision of
Duke John II., who, like most of the sovereigns of Brabant, favoured the
Jews, to hinder a general massacre. Their houses were pillaged and
wrecked, but they themselves escaped to the Castle of Genappe, which
John had placed at their disposal; and he at last succeeded in quelling
the mob which was clamouring round its walls for their lives.

After the great pestilence of 1348, when the poverty and wretchedness of
the lesser folk had increased tenfold and the people had been lashed to
frenzy by the preaching of the Flagellants, a more serious outbreak
occurred. A certain Jewish convert was at this time one of the most
trusted servants of Duke John III. Aware of the peril which threatened
his compatriots, he commended them to his master's protection. 'Be of
good heart,' said John, 'not a hair of their heads shall perish.' But it
was beyond his power to make his words good. Prince Henry, in order to
curry favour with the people, placed himself at their head, a score of
Hebrews were cut down, and amongst them, despite his conversion, John's
servant; and twenty years later the advent of the Dancers, a kindred
sect to the Flagellants, was the signal for a fresh massacre.

The trouble which overtook the Jewish colony at Brussels in 1370 must
probably be placed in a different category: it seems to have been the
direct outcome of the bigotry and fanaticism, not of the Christians, but
of some of the Jews themselves. Albeit, this should be borne in mind:
we have only the Christian version of what took place. If some Hebrew
scribe had recounted the story he would doubtless have given it a
different complexion. The only official document which has come down to
us anent this affair was drawn up some thirty years after the event; but
since the redactors had themselves presided at the trial of the
incriminated Jews, they must have been at least acquainted with the main
outlines of the case, though possibly their memory may have failed them
as to details. Doubtless they shared the prejudices and superstitions of
the age in which they lived, but there is no reason to suspect their
good faith, they were educated men of high social standing in the city
of Brussels, and they seem to have enjoyed the respect and confidence of
their fellow-townsmen. The following is the gist of the story of the
famous Miraculous Hosts as they relate it. Towards the close of the year
1370 a certain Hebrew fanatic, one Jonathan of Enghien, furious at the
numerous conversions which had recently taken place amongst his
co-religionists, determined to show his contempt for the Christian faith
by outraging that which those who believed in it held to be most sacred.
To this end he purchased the assistance of John of Louvain, a Jew who
had lately discarded the Hebrew faith. This man contrived to purloin
from the Parish Church of Saint Catherine at Brussels sixteen
consecrated wafers which, as had been agreed, he brought to Jonathan at
Enghien, who forthwith summoned his friends, and in their presence made
the Sacred Species the subject of his scorn. Three days afterwards he
was found dead in his garden--slain by a dagger thrust. His widow,
believing that this misfortune had come upon her on account of the
stolen wafers, had them secretly conveyed to the synagogue at
Brussels--perhaps that strange old house in the Rue Ter Arken which
from time immemorial has been called La Maison des Juifs--where soon a
great throng of Hebrews assembled to examine the Christians' sacred
bread; and some of them with the points of their daggers pricked the
Hosts, whereat, so runs the legend, there spurted out drops of blood.

Dismayed at the prodigy, they took counsel as to how they might best be
rid of 'this bread of evil omen,' and at last persuaded a Jewess named
Catherine who had recently become a Christian, to carry it to Cologne.
Hardly had she set out on the journey, however, than she was seized with
qualms of conscience and retraced her steps, sought out the priest of
Saint Catherine's, told him all that had happened, and restored to him
the consecrated wafers which John van Loven had stolen six months before
from his church.

Presently the matter was brought before Duke Winceslaus. Such of the
Jews whom Catherine had denounced, and who had not already fled, were at
once put under arrest, and in due course tried, found guilty, and
sentenced, some to lifelong exile, others to be burnt at the stake, and
all of them to the forfeiture of their estates. Accounts vary as to the
number who suffered the death penalty--three, five and seven being
severally mentioned.

As for the informer Catherine, she was kept in close confinement by way
of precaution until the whole matter had been cleared up. Her prison, it
is said, was an upper chamber above the baptistery of the Church of
Saint Gudule, in which it was at one time customary to detain suspicious
characters. It will be interesting to note that this cell is still in
existence, and that the east wall is pierced by a little window giving
on the interior of the north aisle, by means of which prisoners were
able to assist at Mass without leaving their place of confinement.

Bearing in mind the punishments in vogue at this time--to be buried
alive, for example, was the penalty due to treason, and the vintner
found guilty of falsifying his wine was burned in the vat containing the
adulterated liquor--the Hebrew fanatics, whose excesses we have just
recounted, do not seem to have been treated with any extraordinary
harshness on account of their nationality. If any Christian burgher had
committed a like offence, no less severe a penalty would assuredly have
been meted out to him.


The city of Brussels still contains a memorial in stone of this weird
tragedy: the beautiful Sacrament Chapel which was added to the Church of
Saint Gudule in 1535 was built as a shrine for three of the 'Miraculous

[30] See p. 206.

But to return to Ruysbroek. His campaign in favour of orthodoxy had not
promoted his temporal weal. Bloemardine, as we have seen, had friends
at Court, and it was perhaps owing to their opposition that he still
filled, at the age of fifty, the humble post of vicar, or as we should
say, curate, of Saint Gudule's, and that, in spite of his acknowledged
worth, and the great name his spiritual writings had already made for
him. But in truth his dress, his manner of life, his whole bearing was
not such as to commend him to the friendship of the world of wealth and
fashion, often then as now the shortest road to preferment. If he were
not of the people, he lived amongst them, and fared as they did. Like
them he was squalid, ill-housed, half-clad, very often hungry. What time
he could spare from his pastoral duties he devoted to contemplation and
to writing, not in Latin, but in his own rude native tongue, some of
those marvellous mystic treatises which later on gained for him
world-wide renown and the title of Father of Flemish prose. Union with
God and to assuage the sufferings of Christ in His poor, this was his
highest ambition: fat livings and comfortable stalls were things which
he never thought of. Ruysbroek, however, was not destined to remain to
the end of his days an obscure curate: in the year 1343 a circumstance
occurred which caused him to change the scene of his labours, and
presently he was called upon to fill a more responsible and dignified
position. It happened thus.

Franz Coudenberg and Jan Hinckaert, friends of Ruysbroek's, were near
kinsmen, and each of them occupied a canon's stall at Saint Gudule's.
They sympathised with the aspirations of the people, had, perhaps, been
mixed up in one of their abortive attempts to obtain liberty, and on
this or some other ground, early in the year 1343, Coudenberg was
accused of treason to Duke John III., who, with a view, perhaps, to
ridding the town of a dangerous agitator, offered him a tract of land in
the Forest of Soignes at a place called Groenendael, which for the last
forty years had been the site of a hermitage now occupied by
Coudenberg's friend Lambert, a solitary whose family name is not
recorded, on condition that he should build a monastery there for five
brethren, of whom at least two should be priests. Perhaps the offer was
one which Coudenberg was not free to refuse, perhaps it was tantamount
to a sentence of exile, which included within its scope Hinckaert and
Ruysbroek as well. In any case, Coudenberg did not refuse it, and when
early in the following year he withdrew to Groenendael, these men went
with him. It was not, however, till five years later that the new
community was regularly organised and that the brethren adopted a
definite rule. On the 10th of March 1349 Pierre de Clermont, Bishop of
Cambrai, clothed them with the habit of canons regular of the Order of
Saint Augustine, and shortly afterwards they chose Jan van Ruysbroek for
their prior. Not only did he know how to maintain discipline in his own
monastery, but he was able to restore order in a host of others, and so
great was his influence outside the cloister that within a few years of
the founding of Groenendael a whole group of new religious houses sprang
up--Rouge Cloître, Corsendonck, Sept Fontaines, Bethléem, Ter
Cluysen--which owed their origin to one or other of his disciples, and
though they were not at first submitted to Groenendael, observed the
same rule and were intimately associated with it by ties of the closest
friendship: for the brethren of every one of them Ruysbroek was 'the

Meanwhile he did not discontinue his literary work, and as a man of
letters no less than as a theologian and a reformer, Ruysbroek deserves
to be studied. Writing in prose and in the vulgar tongue, he addressed
himself in the first place to the people, for the art of reading was at
this time sufficiently widespread, but in what he wrote there was no
tinge of grossness or sensuality. His mystical treatises breathe the
spirit of the _Imitation of Christ_, of which indeed they may be said to
be the prototype, and by reason of the loftiness of his sentiments and
the purity and the beauty of the language in which they are expressed he
merits to be placed in the first rank of the spiritual writers of the
Middle Age. He himself used so say that he wrote under the immediate
inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and a story related by his biographer and
disciple, Hendrick Bogaerden, goes to show that at least in his own
cloister such was believed to be the case.

[Illustration: Rouge Cloître]

It was Ruysbroek's custom to write as he walked in the forest, and one
day having prolonged his ramble beyond his wont, the monks grew alarmed
and dispatched one of their number to search for him, and presently this
man discovered the Prior of Groenendael. He was seated beneath a linden
tree with his tablets in his hand, and he was surrounded with rays of
light. Perhaps the sun had suddenly pierced through a dark cloud, but
the picture is none the less a pleasing one, and it shows in what
estimation Jan Ruysbroek was held by his spiritual sons. Nor was it only
in his own cloister or in his native land that Ruysbroek was regarded as
a saint. In Germany, in Flanders, in Holland, wherever his books were
read, his name was held in veneration, and Groenendael was constantly
besieged by pilgrims, many of them from distant lands, who had come
there for no other reason than to hold converse with its prior. Nor was
his head turned by so much adulation. To the end of his days he remained
the humble, gentle, unassuming priest he had been in the days when he
was an unknown Brussels curate, and it was ever his delight to perform
the most menial offices in his priory.

He died on the night of the 2nd of December 1381, in the eighty-ninth
year of his age, and 'on that night,' note the chroniclers of
Groenendael, 'the bells of the Church of Deventer, where dwelt his
friend Geert Groote, were solemnly tolled for him by invisible hands,
and another friend and disciple, the Dean of Saint Sulpice at Diest,
dreamed that his soul had passed from this world, and after remaining in
purgatory half an hour, was carried by angels to heaven'; and they also
tell us that fifty years after his death, his body having been
disinterred, was found to be still incorrupt, and that it was exposed in
the cloister of Groenendael for three days and seen by thousands of
people. Strange stories these, typical of the age in which they were
first told.

The literary and religious revival which Jan Ruysbroek had inaugurated
did not die with him. The brethren of Groenendael and of the
neighbouring monasteries at Rouge Cloître and Sept Fontaines continued
to busy themselves with spiritual writings, which were largely read by
the people, and amongst which may be found the flower of Flemish
literature of the end of the Middle Age; and Geert Groote, the most
famous of Ruysbroek's immediate disciples, in founding shortly before
Ruysbroek's death the congregation of the Brethren of the Common Life,
had placed at the disposal of fourteenth-century mysticism an
organisation no less active than the Béguinage had been two hundred
years before. Groote, who belonged to a rich burgher family, was born
in the year 1340 at Deventer in Holland. Having read at Cologne, at
Paris, at Prague, he took orders and soon obtained preferment. But his
relations with the _Gottesfreunde_ of Cologne and, too, the books of
Ruysbroek--it was not till later on that he became personally acquainted
with their author--gradually inclined him to mysticism, and on his
recovery from a dangerous illness in 1373 he resigned his rich livings,
bestowed the greater portion of his patrimony on the Carthusians of
Arnheim, and bade farewell to the world. For a time he lived in strict
seclusion, devoting himself wholly to meditation and to books, and it
seems to have been during this period that he made the acquaintance of
Ruysbroek. But for a man of Geert's exuberant energy a hermit's life was
impossible: he had found a pearl of great price and he yearned to make
it known. Moreover, he was consumed with indignation at the worldliness
of the Church, and presently he was wandering from village to village
and town to town calling men to repentance, proclaiming the beauty of
Divine love, and bewailing wherever he went the decadence of
ecclesiastical discipline and the degradation of the clergy. The effect
of his preaching was marvellous; thousands hung on his lips; the towns,
says Moll, were filled with devotees; you might know them by their
silence, their ecstasies during Mass, their mean clothes, their
brilliant eyes full of sweetness. From amongst these a little band
attached themselves to Groote, and became his fellow-workers--they were
the first 'Brethren of the Common Life.' Of course the reformer was
opposed by the clerks whose evil lives he denounced, but the cry of
heresy was vainly raised against a man no less zealous for purity of
faith than he was for purity of morals, and whose success in combating
error had gained for him the surname of _Malleus Hereticorum_. The best
of the secular clergy, to escape the contagion of the prevalent
disorders, sought refuge within the ranks of his society, which in due
course was approved by the Holy See. Geert Groote, however, did not live
long enough to perfect the work he had begun. He died in 1384, and his
mantle fell on the shoulders of his henchman, Florence Radewyes. This
man founded two years later the famous Augustinian monastery of
Windesheim, which henceforth became the centre of Geert Groote's
association, and to which later on Ruysbroek's houses were also

The confraternity of the Common Life resembled in several respects the
Béguinage and the Brotherhoods of Penance, now decadent. The members
took no vows, neither asked nor received alms, and earned their daily
bread; but their houses were more closely knit together, and brothers
and sisters alike busied themselves exclusively with educational work
and literature, and in the case of priests by preaching.

When Groote began his campaign learning was at a low ebb. The fame of
the schools of Liége had long since become but a memory; save for a few
clerks here and there who had read at Paris or Cologne, there were no
scholars in the Netherlands; even amongst the higher clergy there were
some who knew nothing of Latin, and the burgher was quite content if,
when his children left school, they were able to read and write. Groote
and his friends determined to change all this; their efforts were
crowned with success, and success came quickly; the schools which the
Brethren of the Common Life founded all over the land became so many
ardent centres of spiritual and intellectual life. Amongst the famous
men whom they educated, or who served in their ranks, note Thomas à
Kempis, Gabriel Biel, and the Dutch Pope, Adrian VI.; in a word, a
widespread literary and religious revival was the outcome of their
endeavour, and it had not yet begun to wane in the days of Philippe

Such was the moral complexion of the Low Country when her art reached
the acme of its magnificence, and what a marvellous conglomeration of
anomalies and contradictions that moral complexion must have been--an
inconsequent medley of coarseness and refinement, of luxury and
restraint, of avarice and generosity, of cruelty and compassion, of
heroic virtue and crying vice, and with it all a rampant spirit of
vulgar commercialism, which somehow or other was not incompatible with
the culture of literature and music and art, nor, stranger still, with a
firm conviction of the reality of spiritual things.

The God whom the men of Brabant worshipped was no vague personification
of nature or natural forces, no hazy abstract conception of
righteousness, order, law, but a personal God, a living, loving,
life-giving God, who was the founder and father and friend of the human
race, the creator and master of heaven and earth, and of all things
therein contained--almighty, eternal, immense, incomprehensible,
infinite in intelligence, in will, and in all perfections. The saints
whom they adored were no vague, shadowy heroes who lived only in the
memory of the great things they had accomplished when they were on
earth. They had passed through the valley of the shadow of death, but
death had no dominion over them: their hand was not thereby shortened,
they were still mighty to save. Nay, the virtue in them was now greater
than it had been in the days of their sojourning: if by their charity
and their sweetness they had then been able to soothe the sick and
console the afflicted, they could now bestow health and joy. If they had
then reclaimed the desert and taught the husbandman how to tend his
flock and to handle his plough, they could now ward off pest and
murrain and assure him a bountiful harvest. So great was their love for
the children of earth that no request was too trifling to claim their
attention, and such was the efficacy of their intercession that no boon
was beyond their power to confer. They held the first place in the
heavenly court, they were the ministers and the intimate friends of the
Most High, and He delighted to manifest His glory in them. Even their
bones, and the clothes that they had worn, and the things that they had
touched, were believed to be endowed with miraculous powers. They were
always close at hand, and sometimes when the days were evil and the
people needed heartening, they appeared to them in visible form all
glorious in shimmering raiment and attended by cohorts of angels.

When the famous relics of Aachen were exposed in 1447, so great was the
concourse of pilgrims that it was impossible for the Estates of Liége to
assemble. The patricians of Bruges attributed the victory of Rosebeke to
the direct intervention of the Mother of God, and it was Saint Michael,
the patron of Brussels, who obtained for the craftsmen of that city the
great charter of 1421.

Whatever may be thought of the religious convictions of these people,
that their art was profoundly influenced by them is a fact which cannot
be denied: the remnant of their work which has come down to us bears
ample testimony to it, from the stateliest sanctuary to the meanest
wayside shrine and from the grandest municipal palace to the carved
lintel of some poor workman's cot. Stories from the Old and the New
Testament are sculptured on the façade of the Town Hall of Louvain, the
original statues which peopled the niches of the Town Hall of Brussels
were all of them the statues of saints, and on the highest pinnacle of
that network of stone which forms its spire stands Saint Michael slaying
the dragon, symbol of the ultimate triumph of good over ill. Nor are
these things unusual, we find them over and over again throughout the
Low Country.

This is all the more remarkable because the art of the period was in no
sense hieratic: the masons and sculptors and painters of Belgium at the
time of which we are writing were ordinary working men, members of one
or other of the craft guilds, and the patrons who employed them were not
as a rule ecclesiastics but, for the most part, plain tradesmen; and yet
their art was nothing less than the solemn profession of faith of the
burghers and the craftsmen who created it--their creed made manifest in
piled up brick and sculptured stone, in oak, in cedar, in iron cunningly
wrought, in the saffron sheen of hammered brass, in the glister of gems,
the glow of silk and in the burnished splendour of gold: a harmony
magnifical of perfect forms and perfect tints in honour of Him who is
above all and in all and through all--the Alpha and Omega of the
universe. Herein we have the secret of their success--the faith that was
in them, their vivid realisation of things unseen. This was how it was
that in an age overflowing with luxury, a nation of merchants and
manufacturers, who from the very nature of their pursuits must have been
for the most part occupied with sordid things, were able to produce an
art wholly untainted by sensualism, an art so glorious and so nearly
perfect that it has hardly ever been equalled and never yet surpassed.
Thus it has ever been and thus it will ever be. The average man is too
commonplace and too practical to be moved by an abstract notion. It
needs something which he believes to be a living reality, something
which he is convinced is immeasurably above and beyond himself to
enkindle in him the enthusiasm necessary to conceive and to carry out
any really great idea. Art for art's sake is a formula which has
sometimes hypnotised individuals of a sensitive and romantic
temperament, but it has never yet converted the herd.

Some of us have been warring against the Philistines beneath an
oriflamme emblazoned with this shibboleth for the best part of half a
century, and what has been the outcome? A modicum of success in the
matter of wall paper and a magnificent collection of pictorial bill
posters. Nor can we begin to hope for any more solid results until we
are at least as firmly convinced as were the sinners of Brabant in the
fourteen hundreds of the truth of those words which Thomas à Kempis
uttered, and which in one phrase sum up the philosophy of his great
spiritual ancestor, old Jan van Ruysbroek--'Vanitas vanitatum et omnia
vanitas præter amare Deum et illi soli servire.'[31]

[31] _De Imitatione Christi_, lib. i. cap. i. 3.


_Buildings and Builders (continued)_

In an old collegiate church not far from Brussels there is a very
curious mural tablet in memory of a certain canon who in his day was
seemingly a man of some distinction. The inscription is undated and it
runs thus:--

             D. O. M.
   R.ad[~m]. Dñi, D. FRANCISCI
   ex Curato 3^æ Portionis hujus
   insignis Ecclesiæ dein Primæ
 Per 25 annos sedulus et laudabilis
     Canonicus-Curator fuit;
           Sed FUIT:
     nunc cinis, ossa, vermis
         Putredo NIHIL
       Hæc sors mortalium
     Nasci, laborare, mori.
       Tu qui vivis, oculos
         Deorsum conjice,
           Et attende.

We, throughout many pages, have been hymning the glory of Brussels in
the days of the Burgundian Dukes. That glory is among the things which
have been. It was, but it has long since vanished. In the words of
Canon Abeele's epitaph--'Fuit; sed FUIT: nunc ... NIHIL' in very large

The public buildings in Brussels of this period--that is within the
circuit of its ancient ramparts--can be counted on the fingers of one
hand, and at least, so far as concerns decoration, they have entirely
lost their pristine beauty. It is not to be wondered at. First came the
fury of the Calvinists--that was towards the close of the fifteen
hundreds; almost all the old buildings of the Netherlands endured many
things at their hands; then the French bombardment of 1695, when the
Grand' Place was shattered and fourteen churches and something like four
thousand houses were burnt to the ground. 'An utterly wanton piece of
destruction,' notes the contemporary author of _Les Délices des
Pays-Bas_, 'but in two years,' he continues, 'the city had risen from
its ashes more beautiful than ever,' Hardly so, but still the men of
Brussels had reason to be proud of their achievement: the Guild Halls in
the Grand' Place date from this period. Too soon came the age of
whitewash and plaster, when Gothic art was held in contempt. Much havoc
was wrought then, throughout the whole country, more a few years later
(1794), when the French revolutionists invaded the Netherlands. The
cities suffered more from their antics than from those of any of their
predecessors. Churches and convents were cast down, municipal buildings
wrecked, and they carried off all the art treasures they could lay hands
on. At last came the Gothic revival, and with it the restorer: he is
hard at work still, and some say he has already wrought more havoc than
all the iconoclasts put together, from the Gueux to the Sans-Culottes.
Remarks of this kind are frequently made by little poets and by decadent
painters who, because they have an eye for the picturesque, flatter
themselves that they know all about architecture, and without any
knowledge of the laws of construction or the principles of design, fancy
that they are perfectly qualified to pass judgment on the work of
professional experts who have devoted, perhaps, a lifetime to these


Of course there have been mistakes: in the early days of the movement
this was inevitable, and, even since then, and when there was less
excuse, the most lamentable blunders have from time to time been
committed, blunders which never ought to have been made, and which in
some cases entailed mischief which is altogether past reparation.

Thus when the _élite_ were fascinated by the great name of Ruskin, and
their fingers itched to lay everything bare, there was a veritable
holocaust of frescoes.

Whatever may have been the case in other countries, the mediæval
architects of the Netherlands never hesitated to conceal the natural
appearance of their building materials whenever it suited their purpose
to do so. Rough and unsightly walls they covered with plaster, which
served as a ground work for coloured decoration, and if the hue of their
stone was not to their liking, they had no scruple about painting it,
for in their eyes no building was complete unless it glowed with rainbow
tints. Though these things are now generally acknowledged, even at the
present day there are restorers in Belgium--not very many, thank God,
but still there are some,--who obstinately persist in ignoring them. It
is not so very long ago since the mural paintings in Ghent Cathedral
were ruthlessly sacrificed in order that 'the splendour of the true'
might shine forth in all its glory, and the man who did this thing now
has it in his mind to flay _Sainte Walburge_ of Furnes, a church where
distinct traces of mural decoration have been found; and who shall say
how many frescoes lie hid beneath the whitewash?[32] But if a few men,
here and there, have occasionally been found wanting in matters of this
kind and in others no less serious, we nevertheless owe a very large
debt of gratitude to the restorers, for if it had not been for their
efforts many of the grand old monuments which now excite our admiration
would by this time have fallen down, and, on the whole, the necessary
task of restoration, always a delicate and difficult one, has been
carefully and conscientiously carried out. And also this should be borne
in mind, the works of art which the restorers have brought to light or
preserved from destruction vastly outnumber those which have perished
through their carelessness or ill-judged zeal; and in the case of
frescoes we are practically no worse off than we were before, for they
were all of them completely obliterated by whitewash. Of course this
might have been removed. The operation is not an easy one, but it has
been performed in very many cases with the happiest results, notably in
the Church of Our Lady at Hal and in the Church of Saint Guy at
Anderlecht, where some very remarkable and very beautiful mural
paintings have been laid bare, and those at Anderlecht are almost in a
perfect state of preservation. In Brussels itself there are no mural
paintings save some faint vestiges in the Sablon and in Notre Dame de la
Chapelle, and this is one reason why we said that the Burgundian
buildings of the capital had lost their pristine beauty. Beautiful they
are still, but for the most part they have been pitilessly scarified,
and their beauty is like the faded beauty of death, cold, rigid, grey.
Brussels, in a word, has lost her complexion, but he indeed would be a
bold man who would set his hand to restore it.

[32] Since writing this _la Commission royale des monuments_ has
intervened, and the proposed act of Vandalism will not be perpetrated.


Of the great ecclesiastical monuments of Brussels wholly constructed
during this period only one remains--the church commonly known as
_Notre-Dame du Sablon_, but which is in reality dedicated to Our Lady of
Victories. It was originally the private oratory of the great military
guild of Crossbowmen--the one mediæval guild of Brussels which still
exists--hence the invocation, and as most of the brethren were, by
trade, either carpenters or builders, there is little doubt that this
structure is the handiwork of some of them, and it is not unlikely that
the master-mason who designed it was himself a Crossbowman. Nor is this
all. Not only does the church on the Sablon Hill owe its foundation to
the members of this guild, thanks to their prowess it passed unscathed
through the religious troubles of King Philip's reign. The Calvinists
had sworn its destruction, but when on the night appointed they reached
the church and found it full of armed guildsmen prepared, at all costs,
to defend their property, they contented themselves with howling
outside, and made no further attempt to wreck it. The Crossbowmen
retained possession of their beautiful oratory, and continued to
administer its revenues through a committee of four members, whom they
annually elected for this purpose, until the close of the seventeen
hundreds, and when those stormy days had passed, and order was
re-established, it became what it still is, a parish church.

[Illustration: NOTRE-DAME DU SABLON.]

Though there was a church on this spot early in the thirteen hundreds,
and one seemingly of no mean proportions, for we learn from a
contemporary register that in 1391 it was served by five chaplains, for
some reason or other it was pulled down, or perhaps wrecked by fire,
before the close of the century, and the actual building only dates from
the fourteen hundreds. The church records were destroyed during the
bombardment of 1695, and hence we possess little information concerning
the details of its construction. The most ancient portion is the south
porch, which was built about 1410. The choir must have been finished
before 1435, for frescoes bearing this date were discovered here when
the choir was restored about fifty years ago, and in all probability the
best part of a century had elapsed before the whole building was
completed, or rather before the building operations ceased, for the
church is not yet finished, and in all probability never will be.

From first to last the original plans seem to have been scrupulously
adhered to, save only that for some reason or other, probably from lack
of funds, the idea of a tower was abandoned. This made no difference in
the interior arrangement of the church: the great columns and arches at
the west end of the nave, which were intended to support the projected
tower, still exist, and it would not have appeared otherwise if the
tower had been actually built. What was done was this--the roof of the
nave was continued over the unfinished tower, and the outer walls were
built exactly like the walls of the nave, and the church was made to
terminate with a very elaborate western façade, which has only been
completed recently, and thus, though the foundations and the lower
stages of the tower still exist, as seen from the exterior, there is no
indication whatever that such a feature was originally contemplated. The
building is one of considerable dimensions, the plan is a Latin cross
with a polygonal apse to the choir, and it measures 213 feet by 121
feet at the transepts, and 85 feet at the nave, and is very nearly 60
feet high. It had originally double aisles, but the outer ones have been
converted into fourteen side chapels, several of which in days gone by
were the private chapels of some of the trade companies. Here we have a
typical Brabant church of the fourteen hundreds. It is not, however, one
of the best specimens of the period. The exterior is undeniably fine;
the most captious critic could hardly quarrel with it; nothing could
well be more beautiful than the choir and the south transept, with that
cluster of outbuildings nestling in the corner between them, which give
the required touch of the picturesque, and are not high enough to mar
the buttresses or the tapering beauty of the graceful lancet windows. If
we could see the interior without having first seen the outside, perhaps
we should go into ecstasies, but after having feasted our eyes on so
much loveliness without, the feeling which one experiences on entering
the church is distinctly one of disappointment. The proportions are good
and some of the essential features--the triforium, for example, the
clerestory, the vaulting throughout--are excellent, but the details
leave much to be desired, the moulding seems skimpy, there is an unusual
dearth of sculpture and of ornament of every kind, the whole building is
stiff, cold, naked. Surely that it should appear thus was not in the
mind of the master-mason who planned it: he contemplated an elaborate
scheme of coloured decoration, though perhaps it was never fully carried
out. It was customary to secure for work of this kind the best artists
of the day, men like John van Eyck and Roger Van der Weyden, each of
whom there is documentary evidence to prove were 'illuminators of
stone,' and naturally they demanded and received a high price for their
services. But that something was done in this direction is quite
certain: frescoes have actually been discovered in the chancel, and too,
alas! wiped out, the illumination of the keystones of the vaulting still
exists, and in other parts of the church there are some faint vestiges
of mural painting, nor has the whitewash yet been everywhere removed.
Doubtless, when this is done, more will be brought to light. For the
rest, no lover of mediæval art will think of leaving Brussels without
having first visited this most interesting building.



The Church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle has been for many centuries[33]
what it still is, a simple parish church, the parish church of a
district which has never been a rich one, and which, when the foundation
stone was laid, and for more than three centuries afterwards, was the
poorest quarter of the city. In those days this stately structure
towered high above the squalid huts of turf or wood which the weavers
called their homes; fires were frequent then, and in the great
conflagration of 1405, which destroyed fourteen hundred houses, the old
sanctuary, where so many generations of downtrodden toilers had brought
their woes and grievances to the throne of the Most High, was all but
burnt down. The choir and transepts were not so injured as to be past
reparation, but the nave and the aisles and the tower were wholly
destroyed, and it was decided to rebuild them in such a fashion that the
poor man's church should be second to none in the city. For something
like fifty years they laboured at it, and when at last the work was
completed, not even the great collegiate Church of Saint Michael and
Saint Gudule was more lovely than the chapel in the weavers' quarter.
Saint Gudule's was of course, a larger church than Notre-Dame, but in
those days the difference in size of the two buildings was not so great
as it is at present: Saint Gudule's has waxed both in size and beauty
since then, as we shall presently see, and Notre-Dame has waned.
Villeroi shattered the spire in 1695, and some forty years before, two
very beautiful side chapels on the north of the chancel were made one,
which is not beautiful, and perhaps, too, when the church was restored
after the French bombardment, the arrangement of the roof was altered:
the more recent portion of the building is very considerably higher than
the earlier work, and the junction is not very happily effected, at all
events as seen from the exterior. This can hardly have been the original
arrangement, unless, indeed, it was only regarded as a temporary one,
with a view later on to the reconstruction of the transepts and the
chancel, in the same style and on the same magnificent scale as the rest
of the building. If this were the original plan of the architect, and if
it had been successfully carried out, Brussels would have been possessed
of the _chef-d'[oe]uvre_ of Brabant architecture, but on the other hand
she would have lost a very beautiful specimen of early transition work,
perhaps the most beautiful in the Low Countries.

[33] It was made a parish church in 1210. Previous to this date it was a
chapel of ease to Saint Gudule's.

The plan of the nave of _Notre-Dame de la Chapelle_ is very similar to
that of the Sablon, but it is a longer and broader and higher building,
the columns are bolder, the mouldings richer, and the capitals are more
elaborately and more delicately carved. If the Sablon church could be
re-invested with the gold and colour which, we believe, it originally
possessed, its glory would be outshone by the greater glory of the bare
walls and the white windows of _Notre-Dame de la Chapelle_. For this
church, too, has been scraped, and no vestige of its ancient stained
glass remains. The old story: the Calvinist, the whitewasher, and the
restorer. There are still, however, some faint traces of fresco work:
there is a ruddy glow on one of the massive columns which separate the
south transept from the outer south aisle, which, if one steadily gazes
at it, presently assumes the shape of an aureoled figure draped in
crimson robes; and here and there on the walls there are large patches
of a delicate hue, like the tint of faded rose leaves. At first one
imagines that they are patches of that beautiful pink stone--a species
of porphyry--with which so many of the churches in the Rhine Valley are
built, between Mainz and Coblenz, but on closer inspection it will be
found that they are remnants of mural painting.

The removal of the whitewash from this church took place at a
sufficiently distant date for that cunning illuminator, Time, who works
swiftly nowadays in our smoky northern cities, to accomplish something
in the Church of Notre Dame of which he need not be ashamed. The
_glacis_ with which he has enamelled the bare stone in nave and aisle
and transept, if it is not as brilliant as the blue, the vermilion, the
burnished gold with which John van Eyck or Roger Van der Weyden would
have adorned it, is at least more beautiful and more lasting than the
pigments which would have been employed if any modern master-painter had
taken the matter in hand.

There are two rare and striking features in this building to which we
would draw the reader's notice: the triforium, perhaps the most perfect
existing expression of the Brabant architect's ideal of what a triforium
should be; and the clustered cylindrical columns beneath the tower,
which itself forms, as is the case in most Brabant churches, the first
bay of the nave. The treatment of these columns constitutes almost a
reversion to the method of treating grouped columns during the first
period of Gothic architecture. Each group consists of a central column
of the same form and dimensions as the columns which support the other
bays of the nave, and four columns attached to it of like form, but
more slender. This method of treating groups of columns, though not so
rare in Brabant as in England in third period work, is nevertheless
sufficiently uncommon, albeit groups of this kind are occasionally to be
met with even in the latest Gothic work. Witness the group in the
chancel of _Notre-Dame au-delà de la Dyle_ at Mechlin.


Symmetry, simplicity, unity, these are the most striking characteristics
of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle: the great cylindrical pillars on each
side of the central avenue are all made after the same model, the
clustered columns which separate the inner from the outer aisles are
alike, nearly every capital throughout the building is carved in one
fashion, triforium answers to triforium, spandrel to spandrel, arch to
arch, each window, alike in aisle and clerestory, beholds in the window
opposite the reflection almost of its own fair face. And yet in
crystallising the child of his fancy, the designer of this church was
able to impress his handiwork with the charm of the picturesque. How did
he accomplish this feat? Artist as he was to his finger-tips--all
architects were artists in those days, and this man was surely the first
of his craft--he knew very well that if a building were perfectly and
geometrically symmetrical it would be as cold and as stiff and as
lifeless as a statue designed under similar conditions, and he subtly
introduced into his ground plan a modicum of irregularity: he made the
western bay of his central avenue slightly narrower than the three
succeeding bays, these of like dimensions, and the fifth and the last,
which are not equal to one another, each of them a trifle broader. The
discrepancies are so minute that they are not at first sight
perceptible, but their influence extends, it goes without saying, to
every part of the building. Further, such was his sublime contempt for
the sacrosanct law of precision, that he ventured on something bolder
still: he determined not to make the central line of his nave the true
central line of the building; in other words, that each of the northern
aisles should be narrower than the corresponding aisle on the other side
of the church. And here again the dissimilarity is imperceptible, and
that, though the difference in width of the inner aisles is something
like two feet, and in the case of the outer aisles no less than four
feet seven inches.

Most impressive is the view of the nave as one stands beneath the
chancel arch, no less pleasing is the view athwart the church as seen
from the baptistery chapel with the face turned towards the south-east,
but choose what coign of vantage you will, and you shall behold visions
of loveliness.


The saint to whom the mother church of Brussels is dedicated, is, and
has been from time immemorial, almost a phantom saint, a half-forgotten
memory, little more than a name--Gudule, or as the earlier chroniclers
have it, Gudila.

Of her life's story hardly anything is certainly known. If any scribe of
her own day wrote of her, no trace of his writing remains. The
manuscript, if it ever existed, was no doubt destroyed at the time of
the Danish Invasion, and when the storm had passed, and a new generation
of chroniclers began to gather up the fragments--to collect, that is,
and to note down from the lips of the few monks who had survived its
fury, whatever they had to relate of the sayings and doings of the
saints whose _acta_ had perished, they seem to have been able to learn
very little of the life of Gudila, save that she was among the forbears
of Charlemagne's race, that she dwelt in a castle hard by Alost, at a
place called Mortzel, and after having lived an exemplary life, died
there in the odour of sanctity somewhere about the year 712.


The earliest life that has come down to us, however, was not penned by
any of these chroniclers: it dates from a much later period and cannot
have been written before 1047, for it gives an account of the
translation of Saint Gudila's relics which took place in that year.
It is dedicated by the author, one Hubert, perhaps a canon of _Sainte
Gudule_, to his 'beloved brother Albert, who had given him an old
manuscript containing a few scanty notes--rare jewels, but ill cut and
ill set--concerning the virtues of gentle Gudila,' in order that he
might turn them into good Latin. This seems to have been the main source
of Hubert's information, and being seemingly an honest man who scorned
to draw on his imagination he has very little to tell us of his
heroine's intimate life. 'In my opinion,' he says, 'it is a holier thing
to keep silence than to tell lies.'

That 'gentle Gudila' was in reality what is called a saint seems to be
sufficiently probable. The fact that she has always been held to be such
by the inhabitants of her native land is in itself _prima facie_
evidence that she deserved to be so regarded: the verdict of the
multitude in cases of this kind is not to be lightly set aside. Albeit a
very great Roman ecclesiastic seems to have had his doubts on the
matter--Pope Julius II.'s famous legate, Bernardino Carvajal, better
known from his titular church as the Cardinal di Santa Croce. It is
related by the monks of Afflighem that it was his wont when he visited
the mother church of Brussels thus timidly to invoke the patron saint to
whom that church is dedicated--_Si es sancta ora pro me._

The name of Gudila has been associated with Brussels since the days of
that unfortunate sovereign, Duke Charles of Lotharingia. The Abbey of
Mortzel was at this time in the hands of a certain feudal chief, one
Wulfger, whose father under pretext of protecting the nuns, had obtained
possession, of their property, and established himself in their abode.
When Charles ascended the throne (977), he did what he could to evict
this man, but though Wulfger refused to budge, and the Duke was not
strong enough to coerce him, he was able at last to obtain possession of
his kinswoman's bones. In 979 he carried them to Brussels and laid them
up in the Chapel of Saint Géry, an ancient sanctuary hard by his own
dwelling, and which was said to have been founded by Gudila's
grandfather--old Pepin of Landen. Here her relics remained for something
like seventy years.

Meanwhile the village of Brussels was beginning to grow into a little
town, the old fortress on the banks of the Senne had been abandoned, and
the rulers of this part of the country, who now sometimes styled
themselves Counts of Brussels and sometimes Counts of Louvain, had
migrated to a new habitation on the hill called Coudenberg, somewhere
about the spot where the royal palace now stands.

On a neighbouring height stood a humble oratory dedicated to Saint
Michael: its exact site is unknown, but it cannot have been very far
from the place at present occupied by the Church of Saint Gudila. No man
could say when it was built or who was the founder; it had been there
from time immemorial, nothing more was known of it. It was a very humble
structure, little more than a wayside shrine, but no place of public
worship was nearer his abode, and perhaps it was for this reason that
Count Lambert II. determined to rebuild it on a larger scale and in
worthier fashion, and to establish there a chapter of canons.

He did so, and early in 1046 the new church was consecrated to Saint
Michael and Saint Gudila, whose relics were the same day translated
thither from their former resting-place in Saint Gery's.

This old church, since the removal of the Court, had been suffered to
fall into decay, and Lambert himself tells us that he found the tomb of
his ancestress in a state of deplorable neglect, and that this was the
reason why he transferred her relics to his new church on Saint
Michael's Mount. Here they were reverently treasured for over five
hundred years: in Lambert's church as long as it stood, and afterwards,
in the church which succeeded it, until 1579. The Calvinists were busy
then purging the land, as they said, of idols, destroying, that is,
works of art, wrecking and plundering wherever they could the temples of
the old faith. On the night of the 7th of June they visited the Church
of Saint Gudila. Amongst the loot which they carried off was her costly
shrine; it was of gold, studded with jewels, and God knows what they did
with the ashes which it contained. Shrines and coffins, too, had been
broken open in the hope of discovering treasure, and next morning the
floor of the church was found to be strewn with human bones. These were
afterwards carefully collected and buried in the Chapel of Saint Mary
Magdalen, and it may well be that amongst them are the bones of 'gentle

The mother church of Brussels, the church, that is, to which all the
other Brussels churches were formerly submitted, in origin the most
ancient of them all, the largest, too, and the most interesting in many
respects, perhaps not the most beautiful, but certainly the most
picturesque, not only of Brussels churches, but of all the churches of
Brabant, is not so much the monument of the people of Brussels as the
family monument of the princes who governed them, and more especially of
the princes of the great house of Louvain: from Godfrey III. onwards
almost all of them had a hand in it. The work was continued by several
of their successors, and was at last brought to completion during the
reign of Duke Philip VI. (Philip IV. of Spain), in 1653.

During the latter half of the ten hundreds the original Church of Saint
Gudila, which stood on the spot now occupied by the nave of the present
building, had been greatly damaged by fire. No attempt seems to have
been made to restore it, and when Godfrey III. ascended the throne in
1142 it was fast falling into decay. He therefore determined to raise up
a new church, which should be second to none in the Low Country, and of
such vast dimensions that it could be built over the old church, which
would thus be available for public worship whilst the work was in

This plan he presently proceeded to carry out; the old church was
patched up, and in due course he solemnly laid the foundation stone of
the present structure. This was somewhere about the year 1170. At first
the work was pushed on with vigour, but for some reason or other,
probably owing to lack of funds, when the eastern wall of the ambulatory
was completed, things came to a standstill, and nothing further was done
for nearly sixty years. Duke Godfrey died in 1190, and his son and
successor, Henry the Warrior--a keen, unscrupulous, strenuous prince,
with a passion for territorial aggrandisement, and never happy unless he
were doing something to promote the prosperity of his beloved towns, was
too occupied with intrigue and warfare until the closing years of his
long and successful career to have any leisure for church building. It
was not till 1226 that he at last began to seriously think of realising
his father's project, and he did something more than think about it: in
the beautiful Transition work in chancel, transept and ambulatory we
have the result of his meditations.

Henry himself, in the deed by which he endowed the Chapter of Saint
Gudila's with ten new stalls, informs us of the motive which had
inspired him. The work had been resumed, he says, by his order 'in
honour of the Blessed Virgin.' But was he impelled by no other motive
than his devotion to the Mother of God? What we know of the antecedents
of the man suggests an affirmative answer.

The famous road from Cologne to Bruges--that road on which, as we have
already seen, the commercial prosperity of the cities of Brabant at this
time wholly depended--before entering the duchy of Brabant passed
through the _Pays de Liége_, and the bishop who ruled that little
principality was thus enabled, whenever he would, to create a commercial
crisis by closing up that portion of the great trade route which
traversed his domains.

To this state of things the burghers of Brabant objected, and Duke Henry
would fain have put an end to it by transferring the See of Saint
Lambert to one of his own towns. Though after the disastrous battle of
Montenaeken (October 14, 1213)--'Saint Lambert's triumph,' as the men of
Liége called it--he had humbled himself before Hugh of Pierrepont and
sued for pardon on bended knees, his reconciliation with the bishop was
only a feigned one, nor had he in reality abandoned his scheme; and it
is more than likely that when, in his old age, he at last set his hand
to the task which his father had left undone, he flattered himself that
the church he was rearing would one day be a cathedral.

During the long peace which Brussels enjoyed from the closing years of
the Warrior's reign to the end of the reign of his great-grandson, Duke
John the Victorious, the building operations at Saint Gudila's were
carried on continuously, but the progress made was comparatively slow,
for the Dukes were often short of cash, and were obliged to have
recourse to all kinds of expedients to raise the necessary funds. In
1273, however, the chancel was completed and the greater part of the
transept, and it is most likely that in the same year the old church was
pulled down. All the work done during this period may be described as
First Pointed. The tracery of the clerestory windows is, of course,
flamboyant; it was substituted for the original tracery during the first
quarter of the fifteen hundreds. In the course of the succeeding century
the north aisle was added and the lowest stage of the nave, and at least
the foundation of the towers, all this in the style then in
vogue--Second Pointed. Here we have the work of three Sovereigns, John
II., John III., and Duchess Jeanne, the last of the Sovereigns of
Brabant of the old Louvain line. The building was completed by the Dukes
of the Burgundian dynasty, and the distinctive features of Brabant
architecture now become more emphasised. In the nave, for example, we
have the beginning of that transformation of the triforium, which was so
marked a feature in the Brabant style. Here it is still a separate
story, still a passage in the thickness of the wall, but the arcading
has completely disappeared, and in its place is a series of vertical
bars which are simply a continuation of the mullions of the windows
above. These are in the same plane as the triforium, and are only
separated from it by bands of masonry so attenuated that they appear to
be nothing more than transom bars. The effect is not happy: each section
of the blind story with the corresponding section of the clerestory
above, seems to be one huge window with the lower part bricked up. The
exact date of this portion of the building is uncertain, but the nave
must have been completed before 1446, for we know that in this year the
Baroness de Heeze was condemned by Philippe l'Asseuré to fill the great
west window with stained glass by way of a fine for having infringed the
rights of the city. The present glass, however, is of much later date.
It was presented by Everard de La Marck, Prince-Bishop of Liége, in

The north aisle with its lateral chapels is of later date than the
fifteenth-century work in the nave, and the architecture is of a more
pleasing character. The general design is much the same as that of the
south aisle, but the details differ considerably: instead of clustered
columns we have here richly-moulded prismatic piers. Save those of the
first two bays, which are of earlier date than the rest, they are all
adorned with capitals. Hendrick Cooman, who was master mason of Saint
Gudila's from 1460 to 1470, probably designed the bays without capitals,
and the other bays are most likely the work of his successor, Jan
Vandenberg, the builder of the Town Hall, or, to be accurate, of a
considerable portion of it, and who also designed the upper church at
Anderlecht, where all the columns have capitals. He directed the works
at Saint Gudila's till his death in 1485, and the richly sculptured
balustrade which surrounds the roof of the nave is attributed to him.
The tracery of this feature is in form unique, and more curious than
beautiful. It consists of a series of _K_'s, an allusion, perhaps, to
the name of the reigning Duke, Karel de Stout (Charles the Bold), or
perhaps to Karlekin, as the Flemings called Charles V., but of course in
the latter case it cannot be Vandenberg's work.

Though Hendrick Cooman was not so famous an architect as his successor,
Jan Vandenberg, he seems to have done very well for himself in his
profession, and to have been a man of consideration in the city of
Brussels. He was four times a member of the Town Council: in 1448, 1451,
1458 and 1461, and in 1468 he was named burgomaster. There were two
burgomasters in Brussels, it should be borne in mind. One represented
the patricians and the other the plebeians, and in all probability
Hendrick Cooman was second burgomaster. The name of the mason who
succeeded Vandenberg should be held in perpetual remembrance. He
designed the beautiful porch, much marred by restoration, which gives
entrance to the south transept--Jan Vereycken. He occupied the position
of master-mason until his death, which took place somewhere about the
close of the century, and if he did not actually complete the Church of
Saint Gudila, he at all events brought it within measurable distance of

At this time the east end presented a very different appearance to what
it does now; the chancel aisles, like the aisles of the nave, being
flanked with side chapels--four on the north side, and a like number
facing south. They were probably built about the same time as the choir,
as the church archives bear witness that one Leefdael, a chatelain of
Brussels, who died in 1293, was buried in the Chapel of Saint Peter, the
first on the gospel side. All these chapels have disappeared. Those on
the left were pulled down to make room for the _Sainte Chapelle des
Miracles_, of which we have already spoken, in 1533; and those on the
right, in 1649, when the Lady Chapel was built. This noble structure is
of the same form and of the same vast dimensions as the Sacrament
Chapel, but the details are less ornate. Here we have the last effort of
the Gothic architects of Brussels, an effort not unworthy of their grand


Whether the interior of Saint Gudila's was ever adorned with a complete
scheme of decoration in polychromy is a doubtful question; but when the
whitewash was removed, about fifty years ago, some vestiges of mural
painting were discovered in the chancel, and we know from the church
rolls that in 1543 a considerable sum was paid for illuminating the
vault and the niches of the _Sainte Chapelle des Miracles_. Hardly
any trace of this work now remains, and the frescoes have long since
vanished from the walls of the chancel, but, for all that, the Church of
Saint Gudila is still radiant with colour, for it still retains a very
considerable number of ancient stained-glass windows, all of which, save
Bishop de La Marck's Judgment window, display portraits of the later
Sovereigns of Brabant or of other members of the reigning house.

On the clerestory window in the middle of the apse we have the second
Duchess of Brabant, Marie de Bourgogne, and her husband, Maximilian of
Austria; on the window next to it, on the epistle side, their son
Philippe le Beau; further on their daughter Marguerite of Austria,
Regent of the Low Country during the minority of Charles Quint;
opposite, the great Emperor himself and his brother Ferdinand; and
further on, on the same side, Charles' son Philip II. of Spain. These
five windows were painted in 1545.

Charles V. is also represented in the north transept window. He kneels
alongside his wife, beneath a vast triumphal arch, and their patron
saints are presenting them to the Eternal Father. In the window
opposite, in the south transept, we have Charles's sister Marie, with
her husband, King Louis of Hungary; they, too, are accompanied by their
patron saints, who present them to the Blessed Trinity. Each of these
windows was designed and painted in 1538 by Bernard van Orley, and we
know, too, what fee he received for the latter--425 florins.

In the second of the four great windows which pierce the north wall of
the Sacrament Chapel, Marie and Louis again appear; in the first,
another sister of Charles Quint, Catherine, and with her her spouse John
II. of Portugal; on the fourth, Charles' brother Ferdinand, and
Ferdinand's wife, Anne of Hungary. All of these three windows were
painted by Jan Haeck, a famous illuminator of glass, of Antwerp, from
the designs of Bernard van Orley; on the third, yet another sister,
Éléonore, Queen of Francis I. of France. Here we have another piece of
Van Orley's own handiwork. All of the princes whose effigies gleam
through these windows are accompanied by their patron saints, and above
the portraits are depicted incidents in the legend of the Miraculous
Hosts. The first window shows two scenes--the bribery of Jonathan, and
Jonathan receiving the stolen ciborium; the second, the piercing of the
Hosts, in the synagogue of Brussels; the third, the assassination of
Jonathan; and the fourth, Catharine preparing to carry the Hosts to

What are we to think of these stupendous windows? The quality of the
glass is excellent, the scheme of colour glorious. It would be
interesting to know if the cartoons were submitted to Peter van
Wyenhoven[34] before they were executed, and if so, what he thought of
them. These vast pictures, with their Renaissance accessories and their
figures mutilated by the mullions and the Gothic tracery, through which
we are constrained to peep at them, should be utterly out of harmony
with the architecture and the architectural scheme of ornament which
they were designed to complete, but, somehow or other, they are not. In
those days there were giants in the land. We pigmies must be content to
admire their works, and not presume to imitate them.

[34] _See_ page 206.

All this applies, and in a more marked degree, to the stained glass of
the Lady Chapel. The subjects here depicted are, The Presentation of Our
Lady, her Espousals, the Annunciation, and the Visitation; and in each
case, below, with patron saints, we have the donor or donors of the
window: Ferdinand III. and his wife Eléonore, the Emperor Leopold I.,
the Archduke Albert of Austria and his wife Isabel of Spain, and,
lastly, the Archduke Leopold of Austria. These windows are designed in
the style of Rubens, and they were for a long time attributed to him,
notwithstanding that one of them bears the signature _T. van Thulden_,
legibly written, and the date, Aº 1656. This man, we now know, designed
all these windows, and we also know that he received 400 florins for his
trouble. His colouring is even more glorious than the colouring of Van
Orley or of Haeck, and he sinned more boldly than did either of them
against the canons of correct taste.

Within the walls of this ancient temple which the Dukes of Brabant
raised to the glory of God and in honour of a saint of their own house,
endowed for their souls' behoof with gold and broad acres, and richly
and lavishly adorned with their own magnificent effigies, many of them
found a resting-place. Before the high altar is a white marble slab,
bearing this inscription:--_Brabantiæ ducum tumulus_; and within the
vault beneath, lies John II., who died on the seventeenth of October
1312, and alongside of him his duchess, Marguerite of England, daughter
of Edward I. Here, too, are the ashes of Catherine of France, the
child-wife whom Charles the Bold, aged six, married in 1438, and buried
seven years later, and the ashes of her infant nephew, Joachim, the
eldest son of Louis XI. then Dauphin, born and died at the Castle of
Genappe on the fifteenth of December 1459, and whose little body was
escorted to the tomb by dean and chapter and all the crafts' guilds,
every man of them bearing three lanterns, an honour reserved for the
children of kings. In the same vault sleep Archduke Ernest, grandson of
Philippe le Beau, and sometime Governor-General of the Low Country, who
died at Brussels in 1596; and at least two scions of the ducal house,
whose shields were barred with a bend sinister:--that magnificent
prelate Jean de Bourgogne, son of Jean sans Peur and Marguerite Bonzele,
a lady of Bruges, whose bones lie in the cathedral there, in the Chapel
of the Seven Dolours; and his nephew, Corneille, Lord of Beveren, whom
men called _Grand Bâtard de Bourgogne_: he was the first born of Good
Duke Philip's numerous progeny, and strangely enough his mother's name
was Marie Corbeau.

In his early days Jean de Bourgogne had followed the profession of arms,
and at this time his love affairs were almost as many as those of his
half-brother Philip, whom in many respects he resembled. Later on he
took orders, and became Provost of Bruges; in 1438, thanks to Philip's
influence, he was named Count-Bishop of Cambrai, and as such was a
prince of the Empire invested with sovereign rights. This post he held
for forty years, and though he seldom visited his episcopal city, and
resided for the most part at Brussels--Brussels, it should be borne in
mind, was at this time in the diocese of Cambrai--he is described in
contemporary documents as a wise and merciful ruler who never failed to
do justice to his subjects and was exceedingly charitable to the poor.
He died at his country house near Mechlin in 1478, full of years and

Very different was the brief career and tragic end of poor Corneille. He
seems to have been a youth of brilliant parts and of a singularly sweet
disposition, and to have inherited alike the sterling qualities and the
tumultuous passions of his father's race. Of his courage and skill in
warfare he gave proof on more than one occasion, and if he had not had a
natural aptitude for government, Philip would hardly have named him,
young as he was, and in those troublous times, his lieutenant in the
duchy of Luxembourg. Endowed with tact, with the charm of address, and,
too, with the charm of personal beauty, he knew how to make himself
beloved by all with whom he came in contact, too well, sometimes, as
more than one woman learned to her cost. He possessed yet a rarer gift,
he was able, like his father, to command respect in spite of unworthy
actions, and notwithstanding the circumstances of his birth, and the
fact that he was Philip's favourite son, he succeeded in winning the
goodwill and affection of the Duchess herself, and of the Count of

Death came to him in a fearful form and suddenly. He was slain by the
men of Ghent at the Battle of Rupelmond in the Pays de Waes on the 16th
of June 1452, and he fell flushed with victory, and with the foe in full
flight. 'The day and the honour and the glory thereof were Duke
Philip's,' says a contemporary writer, 'and yet it was a black day for
the house of Burgundy, for Fortune, who is no respecter of persons,
directed the pike of some damned disloyal villain into the mouth of
Messire Corneille, and being thrust upwards it pierced his skull, and
his brain fell through his palate, and so he died. And the good Duke
grieved for his bastard, and made great mourning for him, for he loved
him much, and so did the Count of Charolais (Charles the Bold), and
Messire Anthoine, his brother; and he took Wouter Leenknecht, the leader
of the rebels, who had been brought in wounded, and hanged him on a
tree, but the death of a hundred thousand rebels would not have assuaged
his grief, and thus the day ended. And the body of Messire Corneille was
sent to Brussels, where the Duchess gave it most honourable burial in
the Church of Saint "Gudile," for she loved him much on account of his
good virtues; and Duke Philip founded a daily Mass for the repose of his
soul, and ordained that every morning his tomb should be sprinkled with
holy water, and that the anniversary of his death should be celebrated
solemnly with bells and torches, as is wont to be done at the obits of
the princes and princesses founded in this church; and to defray the
cost thereof he presented the chapter with 700 golden crowns of 48 gros

The last of the princes of Brabant to be placed in this vault was Louis
Philippe, eldest son of King Leopold I. He died on the 16th of June
1834, and when the vault was opened for his interment, some interesting
relics were found: on the coffin of Duke John a sword in an enamelled
scabbard and a crimson velvet toque embroidered with precious stones; on
the coffin of Archduke Ernest, his heart in a silver casket enclosed in
a little coffer of oak, and scattered about on the pavement a number of
mouldering bones. The crypt needed repair, and these objects were
accordingly removed, but they were replaced when the work was done, and
there they still remain.

When the Church of Saint Gudila was sacked in 1576, the beautiful
fourteenth-century monument which had been originally erected in memory
of Duke John II. and his spouse, was utterly wrecked. The present
cenotaph of black marble on the gospel side of the high-altar was
erected to their memory in 1610 by their descendants, Albert and Isabel,
who were themselves laid to rest when their time came in the _Sainte
Chapelle des Miracles_. The monument on the opposite side of the chancel
with the recumbent effigy of a knight in armour is the monument of the
Archduke Ernest. The only inscription which it bears is his motto----
_Soli Deo gloria._ The memorial brasses and marble slabs inscribed with
the names of the other princes who are buried in 'the crypt of the Dukes
of Brabant' disappeared when the pavement of the choir was renewed in
the course of the seventeen hundreds.

The mention of these mighty dead naturally suggests another mausoleum of
the Dukes of Brabant, not in Brussels itself, but hard by: the Parish
Church of Tervueren, an interesting old building of the twelve, thirteen
and fourteen hundreds, in which lie buried the princes of the second
dynasty--Duke Anthony, whose bones were brought here from the
battlefield of Agincourt; his first wife, Jeanne of Luxembourg, who died
at Tervueren on the 12th of August, 1407; and their two sons, poor
little hunchbacked Jean, the hapless spouse of Jacqueline, and Philippe
de Saint-Pol.


The mother church of Louvain, like the mother church of Brussels, owes
its origin to Lambert Balderick. They are both collegiate churches; the
foundation of each of them dates, if not from the same year, at least
from the same decade, and in each case the original building was
destroyed by fire within a century of its erection. Thus far the two
churches resemble one another, and here the resemblance ends.

When Lambert founded the Church of Saint Gudila, Brussels was already a
place of some importance, and probably it was on this account that he
chose to retain the lordship of the rising town in his own hands, and to
endow his new chapter with lands beyond its limits. Thus the canons of
Saint Gudila's had no shred of civil authority over the inhabitants of
Brussels; the only jurisdiction which they possessed was a purely
spiritual one; also, though Saint Gudila's was for many years the only
parish church in the city, and even later on, when other churches were
made parochial, it still held the first place, for some reason or other
it was certainly not the church which the burghers most favoured, nor
the one most intimately connected with their spiritual life.

It was otherwise in the case of Saint Peter's. When Saint Peter's was
first built Louvain consisted of a fortress and a few farmhouses; the
site of the new church was further up stream, in the centre of a tract
of vacant land, for the most part forest and marsh, and it was on this
swampy waste--the domain with which Lambert had dowered his new
foundation--that the future capital of Brabant gradually grew up.

Of the nature of the ties by which the men of Louvain were bound to the
Church of Saint Peter, of the duties thereby entailed, and their
correlative rights and privileges, of how the former were presently
evaded, and the latter to the end maintained in all their pristine
vigour, of these things we have already spoken; and as we have already
seen in a previous chapter, the old collegiate church was so completely
identified with the city that proof that a man was _un homme de Saint
Pierre_ was held to be sufficient proof that he was a burgher and
patrician of Louvain: without any further investigation he was at once
admitted to all the rights of citizenship.

It is not to be wondered at, then, that the Louvainers regarded their
church with feelings akin to veneration, or that when, in 1373, it was
for the second time wrecked by fire, they grieved for it as for a
friend, but no man thought of restoring it--not then, nor for many a
long day afterwards. Louvain was in the throes of revolution, civil war
had been raging almost continuously for more than ten years, and when at
last the struggle ended with the triumph of Freedom in 1378, the
fortunes of the city were at their lowest ebb. She had lost a third of
her population, her commerce was almost destroyed, her staple industry
gone, and she was honeycombed with debt.

With things in this plight the men of Louvain were in no position to
saddle themselves with such a vast and costly undertaking as the
reconstruction of their church. It was not till half a century later
that they had the courage even to think of it, and then they made up
their minds to act, and to act boldly. It happened thus. The founding of
the University in 1421 had heralded, as all men believed, a new era. The
issue showed they were not mistaken. Trade at once began to revive, and
when the burghers had tasted the first-fruits of the harvest they
dreamed that the Golden Age had returned, and forthwith determined to
rebuild their church in such fashion that its splendour should dim the
sheen of the noblest buildings of Brabant. This must have been somewhere
about 1424, certainly not later, for in that year Plysis van Vorst was
named 'master-mason of the new Church of Saint Peter.'

Although no document has as yet been discovered which states in so many
words that Van Vorst drew up the plans of the new building, it may be
safely said that he did so. We know that he was held at Louvain to be
the first architect of his day, that the burghers desired that their new
church should be second to none in the duchy, that they expressly
summoned him from Diest, his native town, to superintend the building
operations, and that he continued to do so till his death, which took
place some fifteen years later. Van Vorst was a man of humble origin.
Starting in life as a mason's labourer, mixing mortar and carrying
bricks, he presently became a mason himself, and rapidly rose to the
head of his profession; and when, in 1418, the burghers of Diest
determined to rebuild their ancient Church of Saint Plysis it was
unanimously decided that the work could be put in no better hands than
those of 'Meester Van Vorst.' Their confidence was not misplaced: the
noble structure which Plysis designed for them, and at which he laboured
for twenty years--it was completed by his pupil Matthew de Layens, of
whom later on--is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful specimens of
Brabant work which has come down to us. To visit Diest were a day well
spent, if only for the sake of this grand old building, which is adorned
without with ancient statuary, and within with a wealth of stained-glass
windows, some as old as the church itself, some of the following
century, and some of the sixteen hundreds.

It was doubtless the fame the Diest plans earned for him which decided
the Louvainers to commission our mason to rebuild their church, and in
the following year to name him City Architect. From this time until his
death Van Vorst must have been a busy man. His civic appointment was no
sinecure; he had not only to direct and supervise whatever building
operations the city fathers had in hand, but also to purchase the
building materials, which meant frequent journeys on horseback to the
quarries at Afflighem and Roteslaer; the work at Saint Peter's, too,
must have occupied much of his time, and we may be sure that he was
often at Diest to see after the building operations there. Yet somehow
or other, like most busy men, he found time for recreation. At times he
seems to have amused himself by making models of divers architectural
monuments, for we know that the city magistrates were so delighted with
some of these productions that, on the 11th of December, 1434, they
voted him a _gratification_ of 13 golden florins. Again we learn from
the city archives that, on the 29th of May 1425, he took part in the
Corpus Christi procession, marching at the head of his guild, and we
may be quite sure, though the fact is not recorded, that when the
religious ceremonies were over Meester Plysis and his brother masons
withdrew to their wonted tavern, and there regaled themselves, not on
the every-day malt liquor--though Louvain, even in those days, was
famous for its ale--but, as was usual on festive occasions, with a
bottle or so of the best Rhenish.

Yet another little intimate scene which some entries in the city records
have enabled us to reconstruct. It took place on the 20th of May 1439,
when the great architect, for the last time, received the
congratulations of his comrades. Less than four months later he went the
way of all flesh.

It will be necessary to preface the story with a word of explanation.
Louvain, at the time of which we are writing, was without a town hall:
the old Town Hall in the _Vieux Marché_ was destroyed during the Civil
War, and the actual building in the _Place Saint-Pierre_ had not yet
been erected; its site was occupied by three or four dwelling-houses
which had been ceded by their owners to the Corporation, and it was in
this block of tenements that the Town Council met, and that all civic
business was transacted. From the first it had been but a make-shift
arrangement, the premises were small, and in every way unsuited to the
purpose to which they were now put, and early in 1438 it was resolved to
enlarge them. Van Vorst prepared the plans, and on the 31st of March in
the following year the foundation stone was laid by Jacob Utten
Liemingen, a member of one of the oldest patrician families of Louvain,
and Franciscus Willemans, a man of the people, each of whom was that
year burgomaster. The work was pushed on vigorously, and when on the
20th of May the two burgomasters made an official visit of inspection,
they were so well pleased at the progress made that they presented the
masons with a _drink gelde_ of two golden Peters: all of which is duly
noted down in the city accounts. And thus, without much stretch of the
imagination, we can picture to ourselves, when their day's work was
done, the worthy architect and his admiring comrades cheerfully
proceeding with animated countenances to carry out the burgomasters'
behest. Amongst them, no doubt, old John Kelderman, destined soon to
take his place and to carry on for a brief span Van Vorst's unfinished
labours; and young Matthew de Layens, the pupil of promise, who lived
long enough to complete them; and, of course, that rollicking,
scapegrace son, who bore his father's name and inherited some of his
talents, whose skill in sculpture is still attested by the beams in the
Town Hall, and whose frolics are duly noted in the account books of the
city, as, too, are the fines they cost him. We can see them all seated
round a long, narrow table in the snug parlour of some old-world inn,
like the Vlissinghe of Bruges, for example; there is wine set before
them, both white and red, the best, you may be sure, that money can buy,
and on the hearth is an armful of crackling faggots, for the nights are
still a bit cold, not a great roaring fire, but just enough to give the
room a soul, and to take the chill off the Burgundy. And here we will
leave 'Meester Plysis van Vorst' in his high-backed chair at the head of
the board with his glass in his hand, and his comrades around him
drinking his health at the expense of the taxpayers.

[Illustration: St. Peter's Louvain Chapel of St. Charles]

When, about the opening of the fifteen hundreds, or possibly even
earlier, the Church of Saint Peter's was at last completed, so far as it
ever was completed, for, of course, the outside is still in an
unfinished state, had the men of Louvain realised their ambition--had
they made Saint Gudila hang her head? The two churches are so unlike
that they hardly admit of comparison, though in those days, of course,
they more nearly resembled one another than they do now. We think that
on the whole the men of Louvain were satisfied with their achievement,
are quite certain that they all maintained that their own church was the
more beautiful, and, if an impartial critic had been asked to decide the
question, we are by no means sure that he would not have said that the
Petermen were right. He would have beheld in Saint Gudila's a vaster
church than its rival--though it was not so large then as it is now--a
church, from the varied styles in which it was built, more interesting,
more picturesque, possessed of a charm that Saint Peter's had not--old
age, and, with some of its architectural features, more beautiful than
anything to be found at Louvain.

In Saint Peter's, on the other hand, he would have seen a church of
uniform and well-digested plan, less vast but of nobler proportions, not
the creation of many artists of varied taste and unequal talents, but
the crowning achievement of one master mind--a church, too, in all
probability, more lavishly and more elaborately adorned, and possessed
of a richer garniture: walls glowing with frescoes, windows resplendent
with stained glass, stonework illuminated with colour and gold
everywhere, a screen and rood unmatched in Christendom, choir stalls of
chaste design and perfect workmanship, an eagle lectern, unique, a
tabernacle fifty feet high, Matthew de Layens's masterpiece; and what a
show of metal work!--iron, copper, brass, exquisitely wrought; what
triumphs of the goldsmith's art! what precious stones and costly stuffs!
how many glorious pictures by the first craftsmen of the age--Boudts,
Metsys, Van der Weyden! And what to-day of all this splendour?
Fuit ... nunc nihil. Not a splinter of stained glass, frescoes wiped
out, an attenuated remnant of church furniture mutilated and defaced.
And for this state of things the legal guardians of Saint Peter's of
days gone by--for the most part in the eighteen hundreds--the chapter as
long as it lasted, and later on the 'Fabrique' must be largely held
responsible, though, of course, not altogether: fanatics of various
orders also wrought much mischief. Maybe, too, the church was
whitewashed for the first time after the great plague of 1576, and, if
this were so, the obliteration of the frescoes, however much we may
regret it, can hardly be described as an act of wanton vandalism; but
what are we to think of the wiseacres of 1793, who broke up the tomb of
Duke Henry the Warrior, a relic of the second church, richly sculptured
and gilded, which stood in the midst of the choir, because, as they
said, it impeded the circulation of the people, and because the great
bell had fallen and made a hole in the pavement, and they wanted some
rubbish to fill it up with? or of those highly-intelligent
church-wardens, who, a few years later, cast down the altars beneath the
rood-screen, the high-altar and the canopied sedilia, all of them
ancient and of exquisite design, and who afterwards wantonly broke up
the canons' stalls, and about the same time sold the famous eagle
lectern, said to have been the most beautiful object of its kind in
Europe? Or, again, of those who were responsible in 1879 for the sale to
the State for 200,000 francs of the great triptych--a signed picture,
and perhaps his masterpiece--which Quentin Metsys painted for the guild
chapel of Saint Anne--the chapel beneath the north-west tower, now
dedicated to Saint Charles--we give a sketch of it--in 1509, and which,
carried off by the French in 1794, had been restored to Saint Peter's
twenty years later, and is now in the Brussels gallery, where we shall
presently have an opportunity of visiting it.

Amongst the relics of antiquity still to be found in the Church of Saint
Peter note:--the Calvary group beneath the chancel arch and the
beautiful rood-screen which supports it, it dates from 1440, and is one
of the finest in Europe: in the chapel under the north-west tower the
font, a beautiful six-foiled basin of copper-gilt supported by slender
shafts with their bases resting on lions; and the great crane to which
the cover was once suspended, a marvellous piece of ironwork forged by
Josse Metsys, Quentin's brother, in 1505: in the north transept a
colossal statue more curious than beautiful, called _Sedes Sapientiæ_;
it is the work of one De Bruyn, a woodcarver of Brussels, was painted
and gilded by Roel van Velper, a famous illuminator of Louvain, and was
presented to the church by the Town Council in 1442: in the ambulatory
on the north side Duke Henry's tomb above referred to (the fragments
were found in 1835, and later on pieced together and placed in their
present position); and further on the tomb of his wife and of his
daughter, with their recumbent effigies, Mathilde de Flandres and Marie,
wife of Otho IV.; and further still, Matthew de Layens's tabernacle:
almost opposite to it, in the sacrament chapel and the chapel adjoining,
two authentic pictures by Dierick Boudts--a Last Supper and a Martyrdom
scene, of these later on: in a chapel off the north aisle, a Descent
from the Cross, attributed to Van der Weyden, perhaps not his, but for
all that a beautiful picture: and, in the armourers' chapel, the second
off the south aisle, the famous _Crom Cruys_--an old blackened crucifix
rudely carved in wood with the figure of our Lord, almost life-sized and
clothed in a long tunic of purple velvet, in a strange and unnatural
position:--the right hand, instead of being nailed to the Cross, is
detached from it, as though the Christ, reaching forward with a violent
effort, had just wrenched out the nail; the arm is still stretched out,
but slightly bent from the elbow, and the fingers are hanging down. This
weird and mysterious image is perhaps the most interesting object which
Saint Peter's contains. It is very old, who shall say how old: certainly
older than the present church, for the town archives bear witness that
in 1382, when Duke Winceslaus was besieging Louvain, the people,
bare-headed and unshod, carried it through the streets in solemn
procession, as was their wont when things were going ill with them,
singing psalms and litanies, and in all probability we have here a relic
of the original building of 1040, if, indeed, it does not go back to a
still earlier date. Of its origin we know nothing. No written record nor
oral tradition has come down to us concerning it, but from time
immemorial the men of Louvain have held the _Crom Cruys_ in the highest
veneration, it is intimately associated with some of the most stirring
and some of the most tragic episodes in the life of the city, and the
unwonted position of the crucified figure has given rise to a host of
strange legends. Molanus, Dean of Saint Peter's, who died in 1585,
relates one of them, which seems to have been widely credited in his
day, and which no doubt had inspired the burghers to carry the cross in
procession in times of public calamity. He had been told, he says, that
the reason why the right hand was thus outstretched was on account of a
miracle--a supplicant, bowed down by some great sorrow, was one day
weeping before the crucifix, and our Lord, as a token of His sympathy,
had caused the image to reach out its hand. 'But the pastors of our
church,' Dean Molanus goes on to say, 'cannot vouch for the truth of
the story.' 'Its origin is lost in the night of antiquity, and Bernard
van Kessel (sacristan of Saint Peter's from 1495 to 1530, and by trade a
painter and modeller) knows nothing of it, although it is his hobby to
note down all the information that he can obtain concerning our church.
Maybe the _Crom Cruys_ was thus from the beginning.' Possibly, but
another explanation suggests itself, which, bearing in mind the
blackened and charred appearance of the crucifix, seems to us more
probable--the great fire of 1176.


In the Cathedral of Mechlin, some twenty minutes by rail from Brussels,
we have another typical Brabant church of the fourteen hundreds--not all
of it, but a very considerable portion. It is a grand old building, but
the interior has suffered much at the hands of enemies and of friends,
and whatever may have been the case in former days it is now more
impressive without than within, as the accompanying sketches show.
Albeit it is well worth visiting, were it only for the sake of the
Kelderman tower.


Mechlin is rich in mediæval domestic architecture--richer than any
other town in Belgium save, perhaps, Bruges. It contains a host of
quaint old burgher houses in stone and brick and timber, notably on the
Quai de l'Avoine,[35] and at least three ancient palaces:--the palace of
Marguerite of Austria in the _Rue de l'Empereur_, the Hôtel Busleyden in
the _Rue des Vaches_, and, most picturesque of all, that mysterious old
red brick mansion on a back-water of the Dyle behind Saint Rombold's, in
the _Rue de l'Ecoutete_.[36] The visitor to Brussels must certainly make
many journeys to Mechlin.

[35] For illustrations see pp. 7, 40, 85, 211, 364 and 375.

[36] _See_ illustrations on pp. 307 and 361.

There are other churches in the neighbourhood of Brussels which date
wholly or in part from the period during which the architecture of
Brabant attained the heyday of its glory. Several of them are most
beautiful, none without some interesting features, all well worth
considering; but their name is legion, and it would be hopeless to
attempt to describe so many buildings, or to give any adequate account
of their numerous historical associations, within the limits of our poor
little pocket-book. For Brussels and Louvain were each of them suzerains
of a host of smaller towns; not mere village communities called towns,
as it were, by courtesy, but regularly organised cities--in miniature,
some of them, if you will; some of them of considerable size, and
harbouring a very considerable population. Great or small, they were all
endowed with municipal institutions, and, too, with all those social,
industrial, commercial and religious institutions which throughout the
Middle Age were inseparable from civic life in the Netherlands, and most
of them, at the time of which we are writing, were prosperous.

[Illustration: MECHLIN CATHEDRAL.]

Now think of what all this means in the way of bricks and mortar. Each
had its market, its Town Hall, its Bell Tower, its convents, its
guild chapels, its Béguinage, and at least one noble Sanctuary. Some of
the civic buildings have disappeared, but the churches, for the most
part, remain, and several of the most interesting monuments in Belgium
are to be found in these towns off the beaten track, whose very names
are hardly known to the average British tourist. Let it, then, here
suffice to point out a few of the most noteworthy, and the reader, if he
feel so inclined, can visit them at his leisure.

At Lierre, between Mechlin and Antwerp, a little way off the main line,
there is a grand old church, designed by Herman De Waghemakere and
completed by his son, with a rood-screen by old Anthony Kelderman,
marvellously wrought--a very curious and most beautiful example of
decadent Gothic work, with groups of statuary peering out from an
intricate web of flamboyant ornament, so fragile and so dainty that it
might almost be taken for lace. In this church there is some of the most
beautiful old stained glass to be found in Belgium--late, of course, but
of its kind, perfect; and there are several other objects reminiscent of
the Middle Age. In the town, too, there are vestiges of bygone civic
splendour--a city hall much modernised, and a bell tower which dates
from 1420 or thereabouts.

Thienhoven, or Tirlemont as it is called in French, is a picturesque
town on the river Gette, some ten miles beyond Louvain. Here there are
three most interesting churches--_Notre-Dame du Lac_, Second Period,
with a choir and transepts and a great square tower at the intersection;
Saint Germain, partly Romanesque, partly Transition, and with a nave and
aisles of the fourteen hundreds, and the old Church of the Béguinage,
which dates from the thirteen hundreds.

Every lover of mediæval art should visit Léau, also on the Gette, about
seven miles down stream. It was once a busy place enough, and is now a
dead city, and on that account none the less interesting. The Church of
Saint Leonard is a noble structure, with two massive Transition towers
at the west end; the choir is First Period, the nave and aisles and
transepts date from the fourteen hundreds. Matthew de Layens worked
here; he built the baptistery and perhaps, too, some of the side
chapels, and designed a richly sculptured reredos for the Lady-Altar.
The metal work in this church is curious and beautiful, and there is
much of it--brass, iron, copper. It is well worth studying. In the
sacristy there is some antique silver--chalices, reliquaries, cruets and
the like, and there are one or two good pictures.

Or, again, take Aerschot, the little town at the gates of Louvain to
which the patricians so often withdrew during their great contest with
the plebeians. Here there is a stately parish church, which dates from
1337, and was completed in the following century. An inscription on one
of the walls of the choir bears witness to the former fact, and informs
us, too, of the architect's name--I. Pickart. Here there are carved oak
stalls, a rood screen finely wrought, and, in front of it, a chandelier
forged by Quentin Metsys, beneath which lie the bones of his wife,
Adelaide van Tuylt. Aerschot is on the high road to Diest, of which town
we have already spoken.

[Illustration: De Dijk te Mechelen]

The Church of Saint Dymphna, in the little town of Gheel, in the midst
of the pine woods and heather of the Campine country, is well worth
visiting. It was founded by the Berthouts, lords of Mechlin, somewhere
about 1250, and was not finished until the closing years of the fourteen
hundreds. It is a large cruciform building with single aisles,
well-marked transepts, and an apsidal choir surrounded by side chapels.
Undoubtedly a noble structure, but not, from an architectural point
of view, amongst the most beautiful churches of Belgium; it is chiefly
interesting on account of its mural paintings and its ancient
altar-pieces, carved in wood or sculptured in stone and richly
illuminated. The fresco above the chancel arch--a Last Judgment--is
particularly fine, both in colour and composition. It was discovered
some twelve or thirteen years ago, dates apparently from the close of
the fourteen hundreds, and is fairly well preserved; whilst the reredos
of the high-altar--a triptych with scenes from the life of Saint
Dymphna, sculptured in high relief and sheltered by an elaborate canopy
of rich flamboyant work, most delicately carved--is of its kind unique.
It dates from the early fifteen hundreds. It would be hard to find in
Belgium or elsewhere a more beautiful contemporary specimen of this kind
of work. The sculptors of Brabant excelled in work of this kind, and
here we have one of their masterpieces; it was designed and carved by an
Antwerp man.

In the Church of Our Lady and Saint Martin at Alost, a better known and
more accessible place, we have another grand old building. It dates from
the close of the fourteen hundreds. It consists of a choir and
ambulatory, transepts, and three bays of a nave. It is a typical Brabant
church, and, if it were completed, would be one of the largest and most
beautiful in Belgium. Some very interesting mural paintings have quite
recently been discovered here. Alost is a very prosperous, pushing
place, and almost all its beauty has been improved away, but the
traveller in search of the picturesque will find something to console
him besides Saint Martin's Church: in the market-place there are some
ancient municipal buildings which date from the twelve hundreds, and if
he look about intelligently he will perhaps find something more.

Our list is already longer than we at first intended, but the reader,
if perchance he found out the omission, would assuredly never pardon us
if we neglected to add to it Hal, a picturesque little town on the
Hainault frontier, but almost at the gates of Brussels, only fifteen
minutes by rail from the Gare du Midi. We have spoken of it several
times in the course of this story. The Church of our Lady and Saint
Martin at Hal, though it is not so vast as its namesake of Alost, is
perhaps even more beautiful, and certainly more interesting, for here
there is gathered together a larger collection of mediæval art treasures
than in any other church in Brabant. It is older, too, than the church
of Alost--the foundation stone was laid in 1341, but the whole building
was not completed until well on into the fourteen hundreds. It is said
to be the best example of Second Period work in Belgium. Of this,
however, we are doubtful, though assuredly nothing could well be more
lovely than the choir, with its beautiful statuary and its elaborate
double triforium, which sweeps like a web of finely-wrought lace across
the lower portion of the clerestory windows. This feature is as curious
as it is rare, and in plan so complicated that it baffles brief
description, and unfortunately we have not been able to obtain a sketch
of it. The unknown mason who first imagined this glorious gallery, and
then turned the dream into sculptured stone, seems to have had in his
mind the ordinary model and the Brabant pattern, and to have been able
to effect between them a most happy marriage. The little altars in the
ambulatory are nearly all of them old, older, perhaps, than the church
itself. They merit careful examination. The Lady chapel is lined with
frescoes, which, alas, are much damaged and fast fading away, and there
are vestiges of mural painting in other parts of the church.

[Illustration: Notre-Dame de Hal Baptistry Gates.]

The south porch is particularly beautiful, with its ancient
statuary--Our Lady and Angels--and its great oak door, strengthened
with foliated hinges of wrought-iron. Note, too, the richly-sculptured
tabernacle at the north side of the choir; the baptistery gates, of
which we give a sketch; the beautiful and ancient furniture which the
baptistery itself contains; in the sacristy much wealth in goldsmiths'
ware--this the pilgrim will hardly see, unless he be armed with a letter
of introduction to '_Monsieur le Doyen_'; and lastly, in the Lady
chapel, a little image, two feet high--the oldest and most interesting
treasure which this treasure-house contains, the nucleus of this rich
and varied collection, the treasure which attracted to itself all the
other treasures, the magnet which drew hither the gold with which this
church was built, from all parts of Europe, the famous Virgin of Hal,
_nigra sed formosa_. True literally: we have here one of the most
remarkable and beautiful specimens of early mediæval statuary to be
found in Belgium. It dates, at latest, from the closing years of the
twelve hundreds.

All kinds of curious legends have been woven round this little block of
carved and discoloured wood, and all kinds of quaint and incongruous
objects, some of them of great value, crowd the walls of its sumptuous
shrine. They are the votive offerings of countless pilgrims who
throughout many generations have not ceased to invoke the assistance of
Heaven through the prayers of Our Lady of Hal.


There is only one municipal building in Brussels which dates from the
period we are now considering, but that building is perhaps unique.
Search where you will you will hardly find a more perfect specimen of
civic architecture, and this at least may be said without fear of
contradiction: no city can boast a nobler town hall than that which
Brussels possesses. Ypres, perhaps, someone will say, or Longfellow's
'quaint old Flemish city,' but the great hall of Ypres was not the place
where the Senate met, but a cloth market, and though the Town Hall of
Bruges is a gem, for this very reason it cannot compete with the Town
Hall of Brussels--as well compare, say, the Sainte Chapelle with
Westminster Abbey. Of course it is not perfect. Where on earth will you
find perfection either in architecture or anything else? But this much
may be justly said, the Town Hall of Brussels approaches nearer to
perfection than any other building of its kind in Europe which dates
from the same period, even in its present state, for we do not see it
now, be it borne in mind, as it was in the heyday of its glory. The army
of burgomasters who stand under niches between the first and second
storey of the east wing were not there in those days: they are a modern
addition of 1863, and take the place of a blind arcade of a very simple
character, which was certainly never intended to be peopled with
statues. Nor is this all, if we would picture to ourselves the old
building as it used to be we must not only subtract, we must add. The
original statues, about half as many as there are now, probably somewhat
smaller, and certainly more vigorously, and, at the same time, more
delicately, carved, were all of them arrayed in vestures of gold,
wrought about with divers colours, and in those days, we must not
forget, the men of the Low Countries had an eye for colour, and the
greatest painters of the age did not think it beneath their dignity to
busy themselves with work of this kind.

In the early days the Senate of Brussels had no fixed place of assembly.
The city fathers held their meetings sometimes in convents, sometimes in
churches, sometimes in private dwellings, sometimes in the open air,
and it was not until the year 1300 that they obtained a Town Hall, or
rather what did duty for a Town Hall--'a house of stone,' in the _Ster
Straat_, now the _Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville_, which they had recently
purchased from a mercer named Odo, and in this old house of stone--most
houses were in those days of timber--justice was administered and all
public business transacted for more than a hundred years, until at last,
in the fulness of time, the present Town Hall was built.

Very little has come down to us concerning its early history. The
foundation stone seems to have been laid towards the close of Duchess
Jeanne's long reign, probably about the year 1402, and the building
operations must have progressed rapidly, for in the town accounts for
the month of October 1405 divers sums are entered for the cost of
gilding the summits--weather-cocks, doubtless, or something of the
kind--of various roofs and towers, amongst them 'the tower opposite the
_Maison de l'étoile_' of which we give a sketch on page 1; and in 1421
Philippe de Saint-Pol, speaking of the Town Hall in his letter to the
Emperor Sigismund anent the trouble with the Germans, calls it '_un
édifice très grand et formidable_.' At this time the east wing must
certainly have been completed, and it was from the gallery over the
arcade which skirts this portion of the building that Vander Zype and
Saint-Pol himself were wont to address the mob.

The building operations had been interrupted by the revolution, and they
were not again resumed until the 4th of March 1444, when the little
Count of Charolais (_Charles le Téméraire_), then only six years old,
laid the foundation stone of the tower. Five years later, in 1449, Jan
Vandenberg was named _Meester van den Steenwerke van den torre van den
Stad Raethuyse op de merct_, at a salary of two _saluts_ a day, for
which sum he undertook to prepare the plans, to supervise the work, and
to hold himself responsible for its good quality. This is the first time
that we find Vandenberg's name mentioned in the city records in
connection with the Town Hall. He pushed the work on so vigorously that
in less than five years it was done; nor had he any reason to be ashamed
of the result of his labour: the steeple which he had raised in so short
a time was one of the finest in Christendom, and, despite its fragile
and lace-like appearance, one of the most solidly constructed.

The story that Vandenberg on the day of its completion hurled himself
headlong from the highest pinnacle, disgusted because he had not set his
tower in the centre of the façade, is not only absurd on the face of it,
but demonstrably false. In 1431, the date of the alleged suicide, the
tower was non-existent, and fifty years after the true date of its
completion Vandenberg was still alive; but, for all that, a tragedy did
occur on that very spot and on that very day--at least so say the monks
of Rouge Cloître, and they are generally to be trusted: no one went out
of the world, but someone came into it.

On the day on which Vandenberg gave the finishing touch to his work by
setting up in its place that colossal statue of Saint Michael which we
still admire--a weather-cock, so delicately adjusted that,
notwithstanding its vast bulk, it turns with the slightest breeze--it
was arranged seemingly that some sort of ceremony should take place on
the top of the tower (where no doubt a platform had been erected), by
way of inauguration. Among the little band of intrepid climbers who had
determined to be present there was a lady, gentle reader, in delicate
health, and when she reached her destination the crisis came, and there,
at that dizzy height, three hundred and thirty feet above the Grand'
Place, suspended as it were betwixt earth and heaven, with Saint
Michael hovering above her head, she in due course became a mother, and
doubtless the baby was presently named after the archangel who had
presided at its birth.

The west wing of the Town Hall was not completed until 1486. Though it
bears a general resemblance to the east wing, and at first sight they
seem to be similar, on closer inspection it will be found that the two
wings differ considerably, not only in detail, but also in their main
outlines. It would be hard to say which is the more beautiful, but, all
things considered, the earlier portion seems to be structurally the more
perfect. The sculptured capitals of the stately arcade--which extends
from one end of the building to the other, broken only by the tower, and
which contains no less than sixteen arches--deserve to be examined
closely: they are all most delicately carved, and several of them
display satirical groups, which are sufficiently quaint. Note also the
great oak door studded with nails and supported by foliated hinges, and
the sculpture with which it is surrounded: all these things are ancient
and exceedingly beautiful. Pass through into the courtyard--a very
pleasant place in summer time, with its fountains and foliage--and
there, if you are a wise man and believe that sightseeing should be done
leisurely, you will rest awhile and perhaps compare the old Gothic work
of the fourteen hundreds with the work which was put up after the
bombardment of 1695: the architecture, of course, is wholly different,
but, for all that, not to be despised.

The interior of the Town Hall of Brussels has been so modernised that
very little of the original work remains, or is at all events visible;
but the general arrangement, at least so far as concerns the upper
storeys, seems to be much the same as it was in days of yore, and from
their associations several of the rooms are interesting--notably, on the
first floor of the west wing, the Council Chamber, where the great
council sat to settle the affairs of the city; on the same floor of the
east wing the Throne Room, the _Salle Gothique_ as it is now called,
where the Dukes of Brabant used to receive the homage of the burghers
and swear to maintain their privileges, and where on more than one
occasion the Estates-General assembled; and further on, the Hall of
Nations, where the nine nations of Brussels met to discuss their
affairs, and where, too, the city magistrates sat in judgment. A great
crucifix was affixed to the wall to remind them that justice must be
tempered with mercy, and hence it was also called the Hall of Christ.

For the rest, in sculpture, tapestry, pictures, furniture of all kinds
and of every description, the Town Hall is very rich. It varies in age
and also in quality: a little of it, a very little of it, dates from
mediæval times; there is much good work of the sixteen hundreds, more of
the succeeding century, but modern things are the most in evidence, and
some of them show that there are still craftsmen in Brussels who are not
unworthy of the title.


The Town Hall of Louvain, like the Town Hall of Brussels, dates from the
Burgundian period, but, unlike the Town Hall of Brussels, which grew up
gradually in a hundred years, it is entirely the work of one
man--Matthew de Layens, who not only furnished the plans and supervised
the construction, but even himself took part in the manual labour. When
old John Kelderman died, in 1445, this man had been named his successor,
at an annual salary, note, of 30 _florins d'or_ and sufficient cloth to
make him a _robe d'apparat_, or, in other words, a dress suit. Van
Vorst's council chamber was now finished, and shortly after De Layens's
appointment the men of Louvain determined to pull down the block of
houses in front of it, and to erect in their place a worthier structure,
and of course it fell to friend Matthew's lot to draw out the plans. His
instructions seem to have been to follow the main outline of the
Brussels Town Hall, which at this time of course consisted of only the
east wing; but the details were to be left to his own initiative, and he
was to see to it that the copy surpassed the model.

Early in 1448 Matthew was able to send in his plans, and presently
Meester Pauwels, the Duke's architect, came from Brussels to examine
them, and in due course pronounced them perfect; whereat great
rejoicing, and Pauwels and Matthew withdrew to the sign of the
'Blomendale,' there to discuss two pints of Rhenish and two of Baune at
the city's expense. It was the Wednesday in Holy Week, and it is not
recorded of these honest fellows that they partook of any solid food.
Let us hope, then, that they had good stomachs and strong heads, for, in
spite of the Hock and the Burgundy, they were presently constrained to
call for more liquor: a deputation of city masons came to pay their
respects to the great Brussels architect, and what could good Meester
Pauwels do but offer them something to drink; and that something cost
the ratepayers two golden Peters.

On the following Thursday week the foundation stone of the new Town Hall
was solemnly laid by Myn Here Hendrick van Linten, second burgomaster of
Louvain, his patrician colleague being absent at Brussels on business
with the Duke, when again the masons were entertained with alcohol, and
seven of them were presented with gloves, all of which is duly set down
in the city accounts.

It was the custom of Matthew de Layens to carry out in his daily life
Saint Paul's precept--'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all
thy might,' and his hand found so many things to do. He was a man of
such keen interests, such wide sympathies, such varied attainments, that
in all probability he hardly knew the meaning of the word leisure. An
artist to his finger-tips, not only had he practical knowledge of the
technicalities of his own trade, but he excelled in sculpture and wood
carving, and could, and did, successfully compete with the best metal
workers in the land. He was interested in politics, took an active and
energetic part in public life, a charitable man, too: when the plague
broke out he proved himself a patient and efficient nurse, and when the
Dyle overflowed its banks, and all the low-lying part of the town was
flooded, he was among the foremost to render assistance to the victims
of the catastrophe; and lastly, an entry in the town accounts reveals
him a man of principle. It so happened that urgent professional
business, which brooked no delay, called him from home one Sunday. He
did not refuse to undertake it, but he absolutely refused to receive any
remuneration for his services: he would accept nothing more than the
money which he had expended on horse hire. Nor would even this item have
appeared in the town accounts if the circumstance in question had taken
place a few years later, for he soon began to make a very considerable
income of his own, and presently he found a widow with valuable house
property in Tirlemont, her native town, and several large estates in
various parts of the country. She was neither old nor ill-favoured; he
made love to her with all his might, and in due course led her to the
altar, and henceforth, we may be very sure, he had a horse, if not
horses, of his own. This was honest Matthew's second matrimonial
experience, and it seems to have been on the whole a successful one. By
his first wife he had had no children, but his widow gave him two sons,
who both died young, and two daughters, of whose fate we know nothing.
She seems, too, to have been fond of him, for when Matthew himself died
in 1494 she lost her reason, and to the end of her days never recovered
it. Like so many lunatics, she attained a great age, and was still
living at Tirlemont under the care of relatives in 1520.

[Illustration: HÔTEL DE VILLE, LOUVAIN.]

With such a man as architect and master of the works it is not
surprising that the new Town Hall was very rapidly built. The exterior
was finished in the incredibly short time, for the period, of ten years,
and in 1463 the interior was also completed. And had the master-mason
succeeded? Did his achievement equal the expectation of his
fellow-burghers? Was the municipal palace which he had built for them
more splendid than the Brussels Town Hall? The latter, of course, was
still unfinished; it still lacked the west wing, and the general aspect
of the former was at a short distance much the same as it is now.

These things being borne in mind, we think it may be safely said that
honest Matthew's horn was exalted, and that the men of Louvain were
happy; and perhaps it was on this account that the Brussels folk
determined to enlarge their own Town Hall. And yet one cannot help
feeling, as one stands before this fascinating and fantastic structure,
with its crowd of statues, its dainty corbels, each one carved with a
Bible tale, with its bristling roof, its filigree niches, its pinnacles
soaring to heaven like crystallised incense smoke, that it is less the
triumph of the mason than the triumph of the sculptor, that architecture
has ceased to reign, and that one of her handmaids has usurped her
place: for what have we here--bricks and mortar, or an elaborate piece
of embroidery? And almost all the civic monuments of Belgium erected
subsequently to this Town Hall suggest the same question. Strange that
the ecclesiastical monuments of the day, planned as they were by the
same men and for the same patrons, present such a different appearance.
This is true, not only so far as concerns minor churches and those which
are unfinished, but also in the case of completed buildings of the most
ambitious character, where even such important features as west fronts,
towers, transept ends, are singularly free from superfluous ornament.
Take, for example, the north and the south façades of Saint Rombold's at
Mechlin,[37] or Saint Gudila's Sacrament Chapel, or the western
towers[38] of the same church, or the tower of Saint Gertrude's,
Louvain, completed in 1453, and probably the work of De Layens.[39] They
are all of them far less exuberant than the great ecclesiastical
monuments of Germany or England or France erected at the same time, or
even than some of those which date from the preceding century. And if,
without, the Brabant churches of this period are comparatively simple,
within, their architectural simplicity becomes almost severe, though, of
course, accessories--altars, rood-screens, tabernacles and such like,
are often exceedingly ornate.

[37] _See_ p. 303.

[38] _See_ p. 271.

[39] _See_ p. 57.

Of this we have a striking example in the choir stalls of Saint
Gertrude's. The reader must visit them. Nothing could well be more
elaborate, and at the same time more lovely, than this fantastic piece
of wood carving. Here we have not only the usual canopied statues set
amidst rich flamboyant tracery delicately wrought, but a series of
charming bas-reliefs with scenes from the life of Christ. There are
eight-and-twenty panels; they are exquisitely carved, and in style and
composition distinctly recall the pictures of Quentin Metsys. It is more
than likely that he designed them, for they are the work of his nephew,
Jan Beyaert, and the tragic fate which befell this man makes them the
more interesting.

Jan Beyaert was born at Louvain in 1499. He was the son, or perhaps the
grandson, of Launcelot Beyaert, chief scribe to the City Council, and,
as such, a man of repute, and in fairly easy circumstances; but
sculpture was the family calling, and several of Beyaert's kinsmen had
set their mark on the monuments of the city--notably, Launcelot's
brother Josse, who was town sculptor of Louvain (1475-1476) when Hubert
Stuerbout was town painter, and had worked with him under Matthew de
Layens at the Town Hall. The carved brackets which adorned the façades
were the outcome of their united efforts. Hubert furnished the designs,
and the other two carried them out. Many of these still exist, and they
are exceedingly beautiful; but there is no evidence to show which of
these stories in stone were sculptured by Josse Beyaert. We are not,
however, without proof that he was well skilled in his craft: the
bas-reliefs in the treasure room, the bosses and corbels in the _salle
de mariage_, with scenes from the life of Christ, and the numerous
pendants from the timber roof of the adjoining chamber, were carved by
him alone, and the excellent workmanship shows that he was a sculptor of
no mean order.

It was in all probability from his uncle Josse that young Jan Beyaert
first learned how to handle the chisel. This youth was a genius, and he
must have loved his art, or he could never have produced the exquisite
things he did; but, like so many artists, he was a hare-brained,
reckless fellow, and quarrelsome, too, in his cups: his name appears
more than once in the town accounts in connection with fines for
brawling, and in 1523 he was indicted for a graver matter--highway
robbery in the _Place Saint-Pierre,_ and with violence. The article
stolen was only a hat, but in taking it he had grievously ill-treated
the owner, a _vry gheselle_ returning home at night most likely from his
tavern. The magistrates, however, dealt gently with this roystering
youth, perhaps for old Launcelot's sake, perhaps because they regarded
the affair as a mere drunken frolic. At all events, he was quit with a
fine of 15 Peters.

The next thing that we know of Meester Jan is that in 1524 he married--a
most unfortunate proceeding, as it afterwards turned out, not only for
himself but for us. If he had been content to remain single, or if he
had not been fascinated by the charms of Catherine Metsys, he might have
gone on to the end of the chapter, carving sublime statues and
intoxicating himself occasionally, with no worse consequences perhaps
than a periodical touch of liver, and maybe now and again a fine for
assaulting harmless burghers. As it was, his career was cut short, and
it was all his Eve's doing.

For a time, however, things went well: Jan settled down to family life,
and showed himself an exemplary husband; and if the grey mare were the
better horse, he was probably happy in her leading strings, for she
seems to have been a most fascinating and accomplished creature, the
beau-ideal of an artist's wife. And well she might be, seeing the blood
that ran in her veins; for her father, Josse Metsys, whose acquaintance
we have already made, was in his way a genius no less remarkable than
his more famous brother Quentin. By trade he was a locksmith, but he by
no means confined his talent to the fabrication of articles of
iron-mongery, though locks and keys in those days were often works of
art. He busied himself with clocks and jewellery, was a cunning worker
in all kinds of metal, and late in life began to dabble in brick and
mortar, and with such success that when Saint Peter's towers were burnt
down he was commissioned to build them up again, in spite of the fact
that he was not a professional mason. This was in 1507. He prepared his
plans, and magnificent plans they were (you may see them still in the
Town Hall, traced by old Josse himself on a large sheet of parchment)--a
great central tower 535 feet high, flanked by two smaller towers, each
of 430 feet; all three crowned with spires of open work, something in
the style of Saint Gertrude's.

In due course the foundations were laid, and Josse supervised the
building operations for something like sixteen years, and then things
came to a standstill--a dispute, seemingly, with the dean and chapter,
who refused to pay him his wages. He appealed to the city magistrates;
and they, having vainly essayed to arrange matters, commissioned him to
carve for them in stone an exact model of the projected building (August
1524), partly because they thought old Josse had been harshly treated
and they knew he was poor, and partly because such a model would be
useful to his successor, for he was now a very old man, and Death sat
close to him.

The issue proved how wise they were. He died shortly afterwards (May
1530), and his towers are unfinished still; but the master-mason who
shall one day complete them will have no excuse if he fail to realise
the old locksmith's glorious dream, for he lived long enough to make the
model (1529), and along with his plans it is still preserved in the
archive chamber of the Town Hall. In all probability, the greater part
of it was not carved by Metsys himself, but the work was all done under
his supervision; and the man who helped him, it will be interesting to
note, was his son-in-law, Jan Beyaert.

It was most likely about this time that Meester Jan set to work on his
stalls, for we know that they were the gift of Abbot Peter Was, who
ruled Saint Gertrude's from 1527 to 1546. An elaborate work of this kind
must have taken a man like Beyaert many years to complete; he died in
1543, and for a considerable period before his death he had ceased to
occupy himself with art. He had taken up theology instead, and that was
his undoing. It happened thus: Calvinism was now making headway in all
the towns of the Netherlands, Catherine embraced the new doctrine, she
was a woman of will and of energy, and soon she became the leading
spirit of the little band of Protestants at Louvain. Of course she had
no difficulty in persuading her husband to join them, and soon the poor
artist was converted into a hot Gospeller. Strange irony of fate that
the man who had made graven images all his life should end his days an
iconoclast. He did not turn his hand against his own work; perhaps he
still, in spite of his wife, had a sneaking tenderness for sculpture,
but his practice squared with his preaching in the matter of pictures,
and one night, toward the close of the year 1542, or early in 1543, he
broke into the Church of Saint Pierre, and then into the Church of Saint
Jacques, in each of them wrecked several valuable paintings, and
afterwards, with the fragments, made a bonfire in the Grand' Place.
Presently he was arraigned for heresy and sacrilege, found guilty, and
condemned to the stake. Hope, however, seems to have been held out to
him that if he would give evidence against his accomplices the sentence
would be reconsidered, and at last, under torture, he opened his mouth,
and who shall throw a stone at him? How many of us, gentle reader, are
of the stuff of which martyrs are made? If he believed that his life
would be spared he was bitterly disappointed, but his cowardice gained
for him this much--instead of burning him they cut off his head. With
all his faults, he was a great artist. Let him rest in peace. As for
poor Catherine, who had been arrested along with her husband, hers was a
more terrible fate. On the 14th of July 1443 they buried her alive.

Reader, before quitting Saint Gertrude's, go into the chapel, which
skirts the north side of the choir, and there, on the north wall, you
will find a white marble tablet, engraved with a Latin inscription. We
have here the requiem of Abbot Renesse, and one likes to think that he
wrote it himself. Read it, and perhaps it will make you forget the
discordant notes of poor Beyaert's gruesome dirge.

          D. O. M.
 Viatorum in terris implorat
  et eorum in c[oe]lis sperat
   Sanctæ Gertrudis Abbas
   XX obiit 8 Martii 1785


_Pictures and Painters_

In another volume of this series we have already said something
concerning the origin and history of mediæval Flemish art. Within the
limited space at our disposal anything more than a mere sketch would be
impossible, and it would be superfluous and wearisome to repeat in the
present handbook, which is in some sense the companion volume to _The
Story of Bruges_, what has been there set down on the subject in
question. We shall therefore content ourselves by adding here, by way of
complement, a few notes (culled for the most part from Mr Weale's
published writings) on the mediæval art corporations of the Low
Country--those famous guilds of Saint Luke, of Our Lady, of Saint John,
within whose ranks were formed all the great Flemish masters of the old
national school, and by recounting as briefly as may be what is known of
the five most noted Brabant painters of the Middle Age:--Roger van der
Weyden, Dierick Boudts, Hugo van der Goes, Quentin Metsys, and Bernard
van Orley. Men, all of them, whose names are intimately associated with
Brussels or with Louvain.

In the early days the art of painting, like all the other arts and
crafts, was cultivated only in the cloister, and to the end of the
eleven hundreds it was submitted almost entirely to the control of the
religious orders. Not that the monks were the only artists and the only
artisans: attached to all the great abbeys, and even to some of the
smaller monasteries, and to more than one collegiate church, were vast
bodies of lay craftsmen--so vast that their numbers were often reckoned
by hundreds, sometimes by thousands, as we have documentary evidence to
show: these men lived under the protection of the monks, had received
their instruction at their hands, worked for them and with them, on the
monastic domain, and also, but under strict regulations, for outsiders
as well. Presently a change came, brought about by the rise of the
cities: the monastery then ceased to be the only place where art could
be cultivated in peace, and a vast immigration of artists to these new
havens of refuge was the consequence. The new-comers, too feeble to
stand alone, and not at first sufficiently numerous to be able to form
distinct corporations, solved the difficulty by affiliating themselves
to existing trade companies, sculptors joining hands with masons, and
painters with glaziers and saddlers. A few abbeys here and there
continued for a while to maintain their art schools and their lay
art-workers, but their numbers gradually diminished, and by the close of
the twelve hundreds there were no lay craftsmen of any kind outside the
city walls. By this time the city artists were sufficiently numerous to
be able to combine in distinct corporations. The first institution of
this kind of which we have any record was the Guild of Saint Luke at
Ghent, which was founded by the art-workers of that city as early as
1337; four years later the painters of Tournai followed their example;
the guild of Saint Luke, at Louvain, was founded before 1350, that of
Bruges in 1351, of Antwerp in 1382, and by the opening of the fourteen
hundreds almost every city in the Netherlands possessed its painters'

In no town where a guild was established was any outside painter
suffered to ply his craft for money, and no man could become a member of
the local guild unless he were a burgher of the town by right of birth
or of purchase. If a youth aspired to become a painter, the first step
was to enroll his name as a companion or probationer in the register of
the guild of the town in which he intended to practise. He was then
required to serve an apprenticeship under some master painter approved
by the guild, who was responsible not only for his technical instruction
but also for his fidelity to his civil and his religious duties. During
this time he lived with his master, and was bound to serve and obey him,
and the latter in his turn was bound to thoroughly instruct him in all
that concerned his craft. Nor was this all, when he had received his
indentures he had to serve as a journeyman under some qualified
master-painter, but not necessarily a member of the guild which he
himself proposed to join. When the time of his probation had expired--it
seems to have varied from town to town--he presented himself before the
heads of the guild, and brought with him a picture which he himself had
painted. If it came up to the required standard of excellence, and if,
after examining him, they were satisfied of his technical knowledge and
skill, he solemnly declared that he would obey the rules of the guild,
promised before God that his work should be good, honest, genuine, the
best of which he was capable, paid the prescribed fees, and, without
more ado, was enrolled in the books of the guild as an effective member.
But though he was now called a free master, had the right to set up for
himself, to vote at the annual election of the chiefs of the guild, and
was himself eligible for office, he was still submitted to the control
of his association: the Dean and Juries could search his workshop when
they would, and without warning, at any hour of the day or night, and if
they discovered there any painting materials of inferior quality they
had the right not only to seize and confiscate them, but to inflict on
their owner some penalty commensurate with the offence; and if any
dispute arose between a painter and his patron, the matter was brought
before the Dean and Juries of the guild, and the city magistrates were
bound to enforce their decision.


The art associations of the Low Countries were most powerful during the
latter half of the fourteen hundreds, precisely the period when Flemish
art attained the zenith of its magnificence. They were united to one
another by ties of the closest friendship: members of one guild never
had any difficulty in obtaining admission to another, and some painters
seem to have belonged to several guilds at the same time. From the
middle of the fourteen hundreds onwards, delegates from all the
painters' guilds in the Netherlands were wont to meet together every
three years in some town or other, where they spent several days
discussing topics of common interest, comparing notes, and communicating
to one another any new professional discoveries that had been made:
hence the remarkable uniformity in the technique of all the Flemish
pictures of the period which have come down to us. Such were the
institutions which produced some of the greatest painters whom the world
has ever seen. They never considered themselves, and were never
considered, superior to other craftsmen, but in those days, be it borne
in mind, every craftsman was an artist.


Roger van der Weyden was born at Tournai in the year 1400; he was
apprenticed to the Tournai painter, Robert Campin, on the 5th of March
1426, and admitted a free master of the Guild of Saint Luke in that city
on the 1st of August 1432.

The above facts are established by local contemporary documents, which
are undoubtedly genuine, but though the archives of Tournai have been
searched through and through, with a view to finding a possible ancestor
for Roger van der Weyden, only this much has as yet been discovered
concerning his parentage--that his father's Christian name was _Henry_
(_sic_), and that he died before the year 1435. We learn, however, from
some entries in the town accounts of Louvain that one _Henrich van der
Wyden_ was living in that city in 1424, and that he was a sculptor by
trade. Was this man Roger's father?

It is not absolutely certain, but there is good reason to believe that
before he was a painter Roger himself handled the chisel. This is in
itself significant; and though it seems at first sight improbable that a
citizen of Louvain should have been the father of a son born at Tournai,
when we remember that citizen's calling, and that the sculptors of
Tournai were in those days famous throughout Europe, the difficulty
disappears. Henrich, we may be very sure, would have made frequent
visits to Tournai on account of his professional pursuits; nor is it in
the least unlikely that upon one of these occasions he should have been
accompanied by his wife, or that during the sojourn there she should
have given birth to a son.

Be these things as they may, we know that the great Brussels painter was
sometimes called Roger van der Weyden, and sometimes Rogier de la
Pasture, and this is in itself _prima facie_ evidence that his family
was of Flemish origin. The translation of Flemish names into French or
Latin was common enough in the Middle Age, the inverse exceedingly rare.

Roger was married before 1435 to Ysabel Goffart, a lady of Brussels, and
it was perhaps on her account that he left his native town: we know that
he and his wife were settled in Brussels in 1435. He seems to have
rapidly made a reputation, for the following year he was named by the
city fathers _Portraiteur de la Ville_. Soon he was busy illuminating
the sculptured tomb which Philippe l'Asseuré had erected in memory of
Duchess Jeanne in the Carmelite Church, and painting those four panel
pictures for the Justice Chamber of the Town Hall, which created so
great a sensation, says Albert Dürer, that the whole world came to see
them, and which, alas, have long since disappeared.


We know very little of Roger's life between 1436 and 1450, but it is
certain that during this time he worked not only for the town of
Brussels, but also for various convents and corporations, and for
private individuals as well. In 1443 he was commissioned by Willem
Edelheere and his wife, Adelaïde Cappuyns, to decorate their oratory in
the Church of Saint Peter at Louvain; and the triptych--a 'Descent from
the Cross,' with portraits of Edelheere and his wife and their patron
saints--which still adorns this chapel, is said to be Roger's work.
Indeed, according to M. van Even, the archivist of Louvain, we have here
the only painting in Belgium which is certainly Roger's work. Its
authenticity, however, is disputed, and it has been much spoiled by

One at least of Van der Weyden's pictures of this period has come down
to us--the 'Descent from the Cross' which he painted in 1440 for the
Louvain Confraternity of the _Grand Serment_, and which is now at
Madrid. The 'Weeping Woman' (No. 56) of the Brussels Gallery is an
ancient copy, or perhaps a study by the master himself, of one of the
heads in this picture. The next thing we know of Roger van der Weyden is
that in 1450 he made a pilgrimage to Rome for the Jubilee of that year,
and we know, too, something of the incidents of this journey. He
sojourned, amongst other places, at Ferrara and at Florence, and
wherever he went he was welcomed and fêted not only by the members of
his own craft, but also by the Sovereigns of the cities he visited. At
Ferrara he must have worked for Lionel d'Este, for on his return we find
him receiving from that prince 20 golden ducats in part payment for
_certe depicture_ executed in his palace there; and at Florence he
painted a triptych for Cosmo Medici--the 'Madonna and Child, surrounded
by Saints,' now in the Städel Museum at Frankfort.

In each of these cities, then, he must have remained a considerable
time. He does not seem to have practised his art in Rome. Perhaps his
stay there was a short one, and that his time was fully occupied by
sightseeing and devotion. That he fully appreciated the art treasures of
the Eternal City there can be no doubt, and we know that he was
enraptured with the Lateran pictures of Gentile da Fabriano, whom he
pronounced to be the first painter in Italy.

On his return to Brussels, Roger van der Weyden set to work with renewed
vigour. We still possess three of the pictures which he painted after
his journey to Italy:--the 'Nativity' triptych, with the portrait of
Peter Bladelin, now in the Museum at Berlin; the 'Last Judgment,' which
Chancellor Rolin ordered for the Hôtel Dieu at Baune (the authenticity
of this picture is disputed); and the 'Adoration of the Magi,' in the
Pinakothek at Munich. The last two especially show how profoundly the
great Brussels painter was influenced by his pilgrimage to Rome: the
composition of the Baune picture is almost the same as that of Andrea
Orcagna's 'Last Judgment,' and the main outlines of the Munich picture
distinctly recall the 'Adoration' of Gentile da Fabriano.

Of the numerous paintings attributed to Roger van der Weyden, probably
not more than five or six are of incontestable authenticity. He
certainly painted the 'Descent from the Cross' at Madrid, the 'Nativity'
at Berlin, the Medici triptych at Frankfort, and the 'Adoration of the
Magi' at Munich. These pictures are universally acknowledged to be his
work. Of the rest, most are attributed to him merely on account of the
similarity of style to the style of the work which is known to be his,
and are without signature or other designation.

There is very little doubt, however, that several of these are genuine
Van der Weydens--the 'Seven Sacraments' at Antwerp, for example, and the
'Pièta' of the Brussels Gallery; but at the same time, when pictures are
unsigned and there is no documentary evidence as to their authorship, it
is well-nigh impossible to arrive at absolute certainty. Sometimes a
pupil is able to so exactly acquire his master's manner that the
greatest experts are thereby deceived. It was so in the case of the
famous Sforza picture, formerly in the Zambeccari Collection at Bologna,
and now in the Brussels Gallery (No. 31). This beautiful picture--a
'Calvary,' with portraits of Francesco Sforza, his wife Bianca Visconti
and their young son Galeazzo--was attributed by some experts to Memling,
and it was thus ascribed in the official catalogue of the Brussels
Gallery. There were others, no less competent, who were convinced that
it was Roger's work; it dated, no doubt, they said, from the time of his
sojourn in Italy. Mr. Weale, however, was quite sure that neither of
these artists had painted it, and, thanks to his recent research, we now
know the true story of the picture. The critics who said that it was in
Van der Weyden's style were quite right, but it was not painted by the
master himself, but by his pupil, Zanetto Bugatto, of Milan. The Duchess
of Milan, it seems, had seen some of Roger's pictures, and was so
charmed by them that she requested him to paint her portrait. He, for
some reason or other, being unable at the time to leave home, was
compelled to decline the commission, and the Duchess sent the young
Milanese painter, Zanetto Bugatto, to Brussels in order that he might
study with Roger, and thus acquire his style. This was in the year 1460.
Bugatto remained in Brussels three years, and on his return to his
native town he painted the picture in question.

There is a tradition, which does not seem to be well founded, that Roger
van der Weyden was at one time the pupil of John van Eyck. If this were
so, he was certainly not much influenced by his master's manner of
painting. John delighted in serene immobility, Roger in tragic action.
His tall, wan, emaciated figures always live and feel; and though he
could, when he would, depict tranquillity, and his portraits are as calm
and collected as any of those which were painted by John van Eyck,
unlike Van Eyck's, they are almost always ascetic-looking, and very
often sad. He seems to have been unable to appreciate the beauty of
health and gladness.

Guicciardini says that Memling was Roger's pupil, but there is no
documentary evidence to show that such was the case. We know next to
nothing of the first days of the great Bruges painter, but his earlier
pictures distinctly recall the pictures of Van der Weyden; and if he
were not his pupil, he must have certainly studied his work.

Roger van der Weyden died at Brussels on the 18th of June 1464. He left
several children. One of them, Peter, followed his father's calling;
another, Corneille, after having made his studies at the University of
Louvain, became a monk in the Carthusian Priory which the burghers of
Brussels had recently founded at Scheut, by Anderlecht.



Dierick Boudts was born a few years later than Van der Weyden; the exact
date of his birth is unknown, but it cannot have been much before 1420.
He was a native of Haarlem, where at this time there was a flourishing
school of painters noted for their beautiful landscape backgrounds, and
for the care with which they executed their drapery. His father, who was
also named Dierick, was one of them, and it was doubtless in his
workshop that young Dierick Boudts received his artistic education.

For some reason or other, about the year 1445, he migrated to Louvain,
where he soon found a wife in the person of Catherine van der Bruggen,
the daughter of a well-to-do burgher family, who presently gave him
three girls, who became nuns; two boys, Dierick and Albert, who followed
their father's calling, and a large house in the Rue des Récollets--site
now occupied by the Jesuit Church--which she inherited at the death of
her parents (December 17, 1460). Here Dierick and his family took up
their abode, and here it was that he painted his four most famous
pictures--'The Last Supper' and 'The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus' at
Saint Peter's, Louvain, and 'The Iniquitous Sentence of Otho' and 'Otho
repairing his Injustice' in the Brussels Gallery.

Dierick was commissioned to paint the first two in 1464 by the rich
confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament of Louvain, for Saint Peter's,
where the brethren of the confraternity had two altars; the pictures
were finished in 1468, and the quittance which the artist gave for the
money he received for them is still in existence; and note, he signs his
name not Dirk nor Thiery, as modern writers often style him, but Dierick
Boudts. The Saint Erasmus altar-piece is a triptych; the central panel
shows the martyrdom scene, the Gospel wing Saint Jerome and the Epistle
wing an abbot, perhaps Saint Bernard. All three panels are still at
Saint Peter's. The other altar-piece also had originally wings; on these
were painted the First Celebration of the Passover, Elijah fed by
Ravens, the Meeting of Abraham and Melchisedek, and the Israelites
gathering Manna: the first two are now in the Berlin Gallery, and the
others in the Pinakothek at Munich. The subject of the central panel is
the Last Supper, and it still adorns the church for which it was

The execution of these important works made Dierick's name famous.
Hardly were they completed when the city fathers bestowed on him the
honorary title of _Portraiteur de la Ville_, and commissioned him to
paint for the Town Hall a triptych representing the Last Judgment, and
four great panel paintings to be hung in the Justice Chamber, for the
whole of which they agreed to pay him 500 florins. The triptych was
finished in 1472; it has unhappily disappeared. Two years previously he
had set to work on the first of the four panels, and shortly afterwards
he received a visit from the city magistrates, who were so pleased with
what he had done that they made him a present of wine of the value of 96
_placken_. The next thing we know of Dierick Boudts is that he lost his
wife in 1472 or thereabout, and that shortly afterwards he married
Elizabeth van Voshem, who was the widow of a rich butcher, and, as we
have already seen, the sister-in-law of the glass painter Rombold
Kelderman. By this lady he had no offspring, his union with her was not
a long one. In the early spring of 1475 he seems to have been in
enfeebled health, for on the 18th of April he chose the place in which
he wished to be buried--beside his first wife, in the Church of the
Récollets, and on the same day he made his will, which is still
preserved. He left to Elisabeth Voshen all his real property, all his
outstanding debts, and all his completed pictures; to each of his three
daughters a trifling monthly allowance; and to his two sons a silver
cup--the only thing, he says, which he himself had inherited from _his_
father--the implements of his craft, and all his unfinished pictures,
and before the summer was out he had gone the way of all flesh. Only two
of the Town Hall paintings were completed. Dierick, indeed, had not had
time even to begin the others, and presently the question arose, how
much of the 500 florins was due to his executors? Whether there was any
dispute about the matter we do not know, but it would seem that such was
the case, for three years had elapsed before the account was settled,
and at last the city fathers had had recourse to expert advice. We learn
from the town accounts of 1478 that the sum of 376 florins 36 placken
was in that year paid to Dierick's sons, and that this amount was the
value of the pictures as estimated by 'the most notable painter in this
land--to wit, he who was born in the city of Ghent, and now resideth in
the _Rooden Clooster, in Zuenien_'--without doubt Hugo van der Goes, who
had donned the cowl at Rouge Cloître two years before; and we learn,
too, from the same source, that this man, during his sojourn in Louvain,
lodged at the sign of The Angel, and that the city magistrates offered
him a pot of Rhine wine.

The pictures in question were duly hung in the Justice Chamber, and they
remained there till 1827, when they were sold to the King of the
Netherlands for 10,000 florins. In 1861 they were repurchased by the
Belgian Government for 28,000 francs, and placed in the Brussels
Gallery, where they still remain (Nos. 3C and 3D).

These two pictures and the pictures above mentioned of Saint Peter's,
of Munich, of Berlin, are, of all the works attributed to Dierick
Boudts, the only ones whose authenticity is incontestable. Some of the
rest are most probably genuine, more, perhaps, than in the case of
pictures attributed to Van der Weyden, for Boudts had a peculiar style
of his own, which is more distinctive than Roger's.

Several of the pictures formerly attributed to Dierick Boudts are now
generally believed to be the work of his son Albert, notably the 'Last
Supper,' in the Brussels Gallery (No. 3F). As for Dierick Boudts the
younger, no picture painted by him has as yet been identified. His name
appears again and again in the town accounts of his native city in
connection with fines for brawling, he was born in 1448, and died before
1491, and this is all that we know of him.


Hugo van der Goes was probably a native of Ghent, and if, as Van Mander
says, he was a pupil of John van Eyck, who died in 1441, he must have
been born somewhere about the year 1420. Be this as it may, his work
bears witness that he was more deeply impressed by the great Bruges
master than any other of the Flemish primitives. He was certainly at
Ghent in 1465, and henceforth this town was his home until 1476, when,
following the example of his brother, the only one of his kinsmen of
whom we have any knowledge, he became a monk of Rouge-Cloître, near

Why this sudden flight from the world? Grief, suggests Alphonse
Wauters,[40] at the loss of a wife. It is a mere conjecture; we do not
even know for certain that Hugo was ever married. Van Mander tells how,
when he was still a _vry gheselle_--that is, a bachelor--hence, notes
Wauters, it follows that he presently ceased to be such--he painted on a
wall, over a chimney-piece in her father's house at Ghent, the portrait
of the woman he loved, in the guise of Abigail coming forth to meet

[40] _Hugues van der Goes sa vie, et ses [oe]uvres_, par Alphonse
Wauters, Archiviste de la ville de Bruxelles, etc. (Bruxelles, 1872.)

'N'y a-t-il pas là un doux souvenir d'un triomphe remporté par l'amour
et couronné par l'hymen? L'allégorie me semble évident.' Thus Wauters;
and he continues: 'Après avoir aimé avec ardeur et avoir obtenu la main
de sa maîtresse, il aura été frappé au c[oe]ur par la mort de sa
compagne et se sera réfugié dans la solitude pour y vivre de souvenirs
et de regrets.' The story as it stands is a pretty one, but one cannot
help remembering that David's Abigail was a rich and perhaps an elderly
widow, and that immediately after his marriage with her he took a second
wife. Moreover, the assumption that Hugo married the lady whose portrait
he painted is a wholly gratuitous one; Van Mander does not even as much
as hint that such was the case.

But if we have no certain information as to the motives which inspired
the great Ghent painter to don the cowl, we have an authentic and
detailed account of his life in the cloister, and of the terrible
misfortune which there embittered his last days. It was written by a
monk of Rouge-Cloître who knew Hugo well, and the manuscript was
discovered some fifty years ago by Alphonse Wauters himself. It is a
very curious document; and note, the writer makes no mention of Hugo
ever having been a married man. And if this had been so, from the nature
of his narrative he would have been almost certain to have said
something about it.

'In the year of Our Lord 1482 died Brother Hugo, a lay brother professed
in this monastery. He was so famous a painter that on this side the
mountains, in those days, his like was not to be found. He, and I who
write these things, were novices together. At the time of his clothing
and during his novitiate, Father Thomas, our prior, allowed him many
mundane consolations of a nature to incline him rather to the pomps of
this world than to the way of humility and penance; and this was by no
means pleasing to some, who said that novices should not be exalted,
but, on the contrary, put down. And because he was so excellent a
painter, great folk were wont to visit him, and even the most
illustrious Archduke Maximilian himself; for they ardently desired to
behold his pictures, and Father Thomas allowed him to receive them in
the Guest Chamber, and to feast with them there. Some five or six years
after his profession it so happened that Brother Hugo made a journey to
Cologne along with his brother, Brother Nicholas, an oblate here, and
Brother Peter, canon-regular of Trone, then residing in the Jéricho[41]
at Brussels, and several others. One night, on the way home, as I
learned at the time from Brother Nicholas, our Brother Hugo was seized
by a strange mental derangement, which caused him to cry out continually
that he was damned and condemned to eternal perdition; and he would fain
have laid violent hands on himself, and would certainly have done so had
he not been, but with difficulty, restrained by the aid of some who were
standing by. And thus the last stage of that journey was not a cheerful
one. 'Albeit, having obtained assistance, they presently reached
Brussels, and forthwith summoned Father Thomas, who, when he had seen
Brother Hugo and had heard all that had taken place, suspected that his
malady was similar to that which vexed King Saul, and, calling to mind
how that monarch had been soothed by David's harping, he caused not a
little music to be played in the presence of our brother, and strove
also to divert him by various spectacular performances; but in vain: he
kept on crying out that he was a son of perdition, and in this sorry
plight they brought him to Rouge Cloître. The kindness and attention
with which the choir brethren watched over him by night and by day,
anticipating all his wants and always striving to console him, these
things God will never forget. But false reports were spread abroad, and
by great folk too, that such was not the case.

[41] A monastery which formerly stood at the corner of the _Marché aux
Grains_ and the _Rue de Flandre_. The modern _Rue de Jéricho_ takes its
name from this monastery.

'As to the nature of the malady with which Brother Hugo was afflicted,
opinion was divided. Some said he was mad, others that he was possessed
(he had symptoms of each of these troubles), but throughout his illness
he never attempted to injure anyone but himself; and this is not the
wont of lunatics nor of men possessed by devils, and therefore what it
was, I believe, God only knows.

'Now the trouble of our monk painter (_pictoris conversi_) may be
regarded from two points of view. Let us say, in the first place, that
it was natural--a peculiar form of mania; for there are various kinds of
madness produced by various causes--improper food, strong drink, worry,
grief, fear, too great an application to books, and, in fine, a natural
predisposition to the same. So far as concerns emotions, I know for a
certain fact that Brother Hugo was greatly troubled as to how he should
finish his pictures, for he had so many orders that it was currently
said it would take him full nine years to execute them; and also he very
often studied a certain Flemish book. As to wine, I fear he indulged too
freely, doubtless on account of his friends. These things may gradually
have produced the malady with which he was afflicted. But, on the other
hand, it may have been brought about by the kind providence of God, who
desires that no man should perish, but that all should be brought to

'Now Brother Hugo, on account of his art, had been greatly exalted in
our order, and, of a truth, he had become more famous than if he had
remained in the world, and, because he was a man like the rest of us,
perchance his heart was puffed up on account of the honours bestowed on
him, and the divers visits and the homage which he had received; and
that God, in order to save his soul, sent him this humiliating
infirmity, by which, of a truth, he was greatly abased. He himself,
understanding this when he had recovered his senses, humbled himself
exceedingly: of his own free will he left our table and meekly took his
meals with the other lay brethren.'

How long a time Hugo lived after he had recovered his reason his
biographer does not say, nor does he tell us any of the details of his
death or of his burial. After again enlarging on his skill in painting,
and after some further notes on the origin of madness and a long
theological disquisition, he simply says, '_Sepultus est in nostro
atrio, sub divo_.' He was buried in our cloister, in the open air.

Though Brother Hugo had been in his lifetime so famous a painter, he was
soon forgotten, and Van Mander, who wrote at the beginning of the
sixteen hundreds, could not even say when or where he died.

Of his grave, which was probably removed or broken when the Church of
Rouge-Cloître was rebuilt during the first half of the fifteen hundreds,
no relic remains but the text of a doubtful epitaph--

   humatus hic quiescit
  Dolet ars, cum similem
     sibi modo nescit.


Of all the works of Hugo van der Goes there is only one whose
authenticity has as yet been established--a beautiful triptych which
he painted before 1476 for Thomas Portinari, the agent of the Medici
family in Bruges, and which Thomas afterwards presented to the Hospital
of Santa-Maria-Nuova, at Florence, where it still remains. Amongst the
pictures attributed to him with more or less probability, note in the
Municipal Gallery of Bruges _La Mort de la Sainte Vierge_, which, in the
opinion of Mr. Weale, is undoubtedly genuine; and in the Musée des
Beaux-Arts at Brussels the _Sainte Famille_ (No. 36), which may or may
not be his.


Quentin Metsys, the son of old Josse Metsys, the metal worker of
Louvain, was born in that city in 1466. Like his elder brother, Josse
II., whose acquaintance we have already made, he was a man of many
parts. By trade, of course, he was a painter, but he by no means
confined himself to this craft; he made designs for wrought iron, and
carried them out too--witness the exquisite well cover by the great
porch of Antwerp Cathedral. He was also an accomplished musician, busied
himself with wood engraving, and dabbled, it is said, with some success
in Flemish letters.

It was doubtless as his father's assistant that he learned how to forge
iron; and there is a romantic story that before he became a painter he
was himself a metal worker by profession, and only relinquished this
calling for the sake of the woman he loved, whose father would never
consent to her marriage with a smith--a most improbable tale, for in the
days of Quentin's youth the craftsman who wielded the hammer was quite
as good a man as the craftsman who handled the brush.

Molanus asserts that Quentin Metsys was a pupil of Roger van der
Weyden--manifestly an error, for the latter died two years before
Quentin was born. It is perfectly possible, however, that he was the
pupil of Roger's son, Peter van der Weyden. However this may be, he must
have completed his apprenticeship before 1491, for at this time he was
already inscribed in the Guild of Saint Luke at Antwerp, and seems to
have already made for himself a certain reputation, for when we first
hear of him at Antwerp he was married and settled in a house of his own
in the Rue des Tanneurs. None of his works, however, of this period have
come down to us. The earliest of his authentic pictures which we
possess--the 'Burial of Christ,' now in the Antwerp Gallery--was not
painted till 1508, and the next--the 'Legend of Saint Anne,' now at
Brussels (No. 38)--dates from the following year; it is signed on the
third panel, 'Quinte Metsys schreef dit, 1509.' These two grand
triptyches are undoubtedly his _chefs-d'[oe]uvre_. The first was painted
for the Carpenters' Company of Antwerp, the second for the Confraternity
of Saint Anne at Louvain. They are remarkable, like all the earlier
works of this painter, for the delicacy of their execution, their
elaborate detail, their strange luminous tints. Though Quentin's palette
was a rich and varied one, his pictures have not the same mellow glow as
the pictures of several of his predecessors--of those of Dierick Boudts,
for example; and if his figures are less stiff than theirs, they are
also less spiritual. He stands, as it were, at the parting of the ways;
his creations, indeed, reflect the sublime beauty of Hubert van Eyck, of
Memling, of Roger van der Weyden, but at the same time, they seem to
foreshadow the voluptuous splendour of Rubens and of Jacques Jordaens.


Quentin Metsys did not confine himself to sacred subjects. He portrayed
also intimate scenes of civil life--merchants in their counting-houses,
bankers, money-changers, and so forth. The most famous of these works
is in the Louvre; it was painted in 1519. In this kind of painting,
however, he had many imitators, and most of the _tableaux de genre_
attributed to him are not his. He also excelled in portraiture. One of
his best patrons for works of this kind was Peter [OE]gidius, whose
likeness he painted several times. One of these Peter presented to Sir
Thomas More, along with a likeness of their friend Erasmus, also
Quentin's work, and More acknowledged the gift in a set of Latin verses.
'If future ages,' he said 'retain the least taste for the fine arts, if
hateful Mars does not triumph over Minerva, what will not be the price
of these pictures in days to come.' They are possibly still in
existence. The portraits of Erasmus and [OE]gidius in the Longford
Gallery, near Salisbury, formerly attributed to Holbein, are now
generally ascribed to Quentin Metsys, and the portrait of Erasmus at
Hampton Court, and that of [OE]gidius at Antwerp, are now also commonly
believed to be his work. 'Si ce ne sont pas les originaux,' notes M.
A.-J. Wauters, 'ce sont deux excellentes copies du temps.'[42]

[42] _La Peinture Flamande_, par A.-J. Wauters. (Bruxelles.)

Quentin Metsys was twice married, and he was the father of thirteen
children, of whom at least two, John and Corneille, followed his
calling, and are represented in the Brussels Gallery. He seems to have
been socially inclined, and as he earned a considerable income, and his
second wife was rich, notwithstanding his large family he was able to
entertain his friends, amongst them [OE]gidius, Erasmus, More, Albert
Dürer, Holbein, Luke Leyden. He was still a comparatively young man when
he died at his own house at Antwerp in 1530. They laid him to rest in
the cathedral, hard by the great porch, and a hundred years after his
death the city erected a sumptuous monument to his memory, which has
long since disappeared. He was the last of the Flemish masters who to
the end remained faithful to the traditions of the old national school.


Everard, Lord of Orley, was a knight of Luxembourg, attached to the
Court of Duke John IV. of Brabant, or maybe in the service of his
brother, Count Philip of Saint-Pol. Like most of his race and class, his
pedigree was in all probability much longer than his purse; at all
events, he did not think it beneath him to marry middle-class money.
Mistress Barbara, the lady of his choice, was a member of an illustrious
burgher family famous in the annals of Brussels: she was the near
kinswoman, perhaps the daughter, of Alderman Jan Taye, whose
acquaintance we have already made, and she gave her hand to the Lord of
Orley somewhere about the year 1425. The issue of this marriage was a
son, whom his parents christened Jan, and who, when he had reached man's
estate, was enrolled in the _lignage_ called Sleuws--that is, of the
Lion--the same _lignage_, it will be remembered, to which Everard
T'Serclaes belonged. In due course he married, and with his mother's
wealth and privileges, and his father's name and title, doubtless he was
held in high esteem by a large circle of friends; but the lasting fame
of the house of Van Orley was built on another foundation: it was the
result of Jan's intimacy with a lady, name unknown, who was not his
wife, and who in the year 1468 presented him with a son--Valentine van
Orley, the father of Bernard van Orley, and the first of a long line of
painters who throughout no less than six generations practised their art
in Brussels. The last of them was John van Orley, who died in 1735.


The register of the Brussels Guild of Saint Luke has disappeared, and
thus it is impossible to say who was Valentine's master. He probably
made a reputation early, for when he was only twenty-two years of age he
took to himself a wife, one Marguerite van Pynbroeck. The wedding was
celebrated at Saint Gudila's on the 13th of May 1490. In 1512 he seems
to have received an important order from Antwerp, for in that year he
left Brussels for the city on the Scheldt, and was admitted a free
master of the local Guild of Saint Luke; and as he received several
apprentices during his sojourn there, he must have remained in Antwerp
some years. We find him again in Brussels in 1527, and this is all that
is at present known of Valentine van Orley, save that he had several
sons who were painters, and several daughters whose husbands followed
the same calling.

If any of Valentine's pictures have come down to us, they have not as
yet been identified. He must have painted a considerable number in the
course of his career, and it is not likely that they have all perished.
In the churches and convents of Belgium and in the various public and
private collections throughout Europe there are a host of Flemish
'primitives' catalogued _inconnu_. It may well be that amongst them are
some of Valentine's works; and note, not a few of these anonymous
paintings are quite as beautiful as some of the authentic pictures of
the greatest masters of the period. Take, for example, in the Brussels
Gallery, the strangely pathetic and gloriously coloured Passion scenes
of the triptych of Oultremont (No. 537); or the 'Martyrdom of Saint
Sebastian' (No. 3E), attributed to Memling and to Dierick Boudts; or the
'Adoration of the Magi' (No. 20), which John van Eyck, Peter Christus
and Gerard David are all said to have painted; or the Saint Gudila
triptych, _Le Christ pleuré par les saintes femmes_ (No. 40), which some
very eminent critics ascribe to Bernard van Orley, and in which others
equally eminent find no trace of his style; or the 'Virgin and Child'
(No. 21), successively given to Hubert van Eyck, Peter Christus, and
Quentin Metsys. In a former edition of his catalogue, Monsieur A. J.
Wauters wrote against this picture, '_Magnifique ouvrage de l' École de
Bruges_.' He would have been on surer ground had he been content with
the first two words of this sentence. It is certainly a _magnifique
ouvrage_, and no more and no less can be aptly said of any of the
above-mentioned pictures.

But to return to the house of Van Orley. The greatest painter which that
house produced--the giant who made pigmies of the rest, was Valentine's
second son, Bernard, who, as his parents were only married in the spring
of 1490, cannot have been born much before 1493. Of his life before 1515
nothing is certainly known. At this time he was settled in Brussels, and
had already made a name, for in 1515 he painted a triptych for the
oratory of the Holy Cross in the Church of Saint Walburge at Furnes, for
which he received 104 _livres parisis_ (the central panel of this
altar-piece is now at Turin); and in 1515 or 1516 he painted the
portraits of the children of Duke Philippe le Beau, and also the
portrait of his son-in-law, Christian II. of Denmark. These pictures
have not come down to us, or at least they have not been identified;
but, doubtless, they were all that could be desired, for shortly after
their completion Marguerite of Austria, whom Charles Quint on the eve of
his departure for Spain had named Regent of the Netherlands, appointed
Orley Court painter; and if they were anything like the portrait which
he painted two years later of Georges Zelle--now in the Brussels Gallery
(No. 42)--they must have been singularly beautiful. This picture is
signed and dated 1519.

Orley was now married and living with his wife, Agnes Zeghers, in a
house on the Senne, hard by the old Church of Saint Géry; and Zelle, who
was town physician and chief medical attendant to the Hospital of Saint
John--an institution which was founded in the twelve hundreds, and which
still exists--was his friend and near neighbour. Here there is an
unsigned picture, dated August 11, 1520--subject, the 'Death of Our
Lady'--which, tradition says, is Van Orley's work. The same year that he
painted the portrait of Georges Zelle, Orley was commissioned by the
_Aumoniers_ of Antwerp to paint an altar-piece for their chapel in the
cathedral there, for which they agreed to pay him 600 florins. This
picture is now in the Antwerp Gallery (No. 741 to No. 745)--subject, the
'Resurrection and the Seven Works of Mercy.' It is not signed.

Van Orley was now making a very considerable income, kept good company,
and was able to give good dinners. Albert Dürer, who spent a week at
Brussels in the summer of 1520, partook of one of them, and thus writes
of it in his journal: 'It was such a magnificent spread that I doubt if
Master Bernard was quit of it for ten florins. Several great folk were
present, whom Bernard had invited to bear me company; amongst others,
the Treasurer of Madame Marguerite (Jean de Marnix, Lord of Toulouse),
whose portrait I painted, the Town Treasurer (Alderman Jan Busleyden),
and the Grand Master of the Palace.'

It was no doubt owing in great measure to 'Madame Marguerite's'
patronage that 'Master Bernard' was able to show such lavish hospitality
to his friends, for though his official _gages_--as Bernard himself
informs us--was only _un patart par jour qu'est bien petite chose_,
sundry valuable privileges were attached to the office of Court painter,
and the accounts of Treasurer Marnix bear witness that Madame was
constantly giving him orders for pictures for which he was always
handsomely paid. Though Marnix describes most of them, hardly any of
these paintings have as yet been identified. There can be no doubt,
however, that one of them at least has come down to us--'un grand
tableau exquis sur la vertu de patience,' which Marguerite commissioned
Bernard to paint for her favourite minister, Count Antoine de Lalaing.
This great triptych is now in the Brussels Gallery (No. 41); it is
described in the official catalogue as _La Patience et les Epreuves de
Job_, and its authenticity is beyond question. It is signed in Latin:
'Bernardus--Dorley--Bruxellanus--Faciebat: Aº Dni MCCCCCXXI IIIIª May,'
and in Flemish--'ELX SYNE TYT. Orley 1521,' and monogramed with the
initials B.V.O. in two places.

This was not the only commission which Bernard executed for his august
mistress in 1521: various sums are entered in the treasury accounts for
that year as having been paid to him for various pictures, which are
there described at length; and then follows this curious item--'Et dix
(pièces d'or) des quels ma dicte dame a fait don à mon dit Maître
Bernard, outre et par dessus les dits achats d'icelles peintures et
marché fait avec luy et ce, en faveur d'aucuns services qu'il a faits à
icelle dame, dont elle ne veut pas qu'il soit fait ici mention.' What
was the mysterious business of which no mention was to be made?

Maître Bernard had evidently succeeded in winning Madame's confidence,
but six years later he thought it worth while to run a serious risk of
losing it. He was imprudent enough to give hospitality to a certain
Lutheran preacher, who had been introduced to him by the King of
Denmark, and to suffer this divine to hold forth in his house upon no
less than four occasions. Protestantism was at this time making headway
in the Netherlands, the Regent was straining every nerve to stem the
rising tide of heresy, and the most stringent penalties had been decreed
not only against the professors of the new teaching, but against all
those who should aid or abet them. It is not surprising, then, that
presently the poor Court painter found himself in the clutches of Master
Nicholas à Montibus, the inquisitor at Louvain. The situation was an
alarming one, and doubtless Bernard thanked his stars when the
inquisitor pronounced sentence; he was ordered to _aller faire amende
honorable à Sainte Gudule_, and to pay a fine of 200 florins. He did not
even lose his situation. When his old friend died two years afterwards,
her successor Marie of Hungary retained him in her service, and on the
12th of January 1534, she commissioned him to paint _un beau exquis et
puissant tableau de bois de Danemarck pour service sur le grand autel de
l' église du couvent de Brou en Bresse_, the church which Marguerite of
Austria had built in memory of her husband, Philibert of Savoy, and
where her bones lie buried. This picture has come down to us; we know
its history, and it is a curious one.

Amongst Marguerite's numerous bequests to the Church of Brou were some
beautiful paintings by Bernard van Orley, which Marie was exceedingly
loath to part with, and she therefore arranged with her aunt's executors
to keep them, and to present to the Church of Brou, by way of
compensation, a triptych for the high altar, hence the commission to the
Court painter of January 12, 1534; but the _beau exquis et puissant
tableau_, which was the outcome of this arrangement, was not destined to
adorn the altar for which it had been ordered. Though Bernard had worked
at it eight years, when he died, on the 21st of January 1542, it was
still unfinished, and eight years later the canons of Notre-Dame, at
Bruges, who were at this time preparing their church for the reception
of the relics of Charles the Bold, purchased it from Van Orley's heirs
for 286 _livres tournois_. The three great panels of _bois de Danemarck_
were conveyed to Bruges in as many wagons, and set up behind the high
altar in the old Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, where they still
remain, but how much or how little of Van Orley's work is displayed on
them is another question: the triptych was completed by the Bruges
painter, Marc Geerhaerds, in 1561, and about thirty years later the
central panel was entirely repainted and the wings retouched by François
Pourbus. This picture has been removed from its original position, and
now hangs on the west wall of the south aisle--subject, scenes from the

Of Bernard van Orley's signed paintings only four have come down to
us:--the Job triptych and the Zelle portrait at Brussels, the Holy
Family at Stockholm, signed B. v. Orley, but not dated, and an
altar-piece at Vienna, showing the death of Saint Thomas and the
election of Saint Mathias, and signed Bernardus van Orley, but not
dated. This picture is the central panel of a triptych which was
formerly in the Church of Notre-Dame du Sablon; the wings are now in the
Brussels Gallery (No. 44A). Open, they represent the Incredulity of
Saint Thomas and the Martyrdom of Saint Mathias, and shut, the same
saints in grisaille, and six kneeling figures, doubtless the donors.
From the fact that four small carpenter's tools are painted on the back
of each of the shutters, it is likely enough that this triptych was
ordered by or for the Carpenters' Guild--a wealthy corporation
intimately connected with the Sablon Church. We know nothing of its

The portrait of Georges Zelle is without question Van Orley's
masterpiece. In colour, composition, technique, this picture is quite
perfect. It was his last effort in the old style, and it gives him the
right to an honourable place in the ranks of the great masters of the
old national school.

Bernard van Orley died on the 21st of January 1542; he was buried in the
Church of Saint Géry, and though his tomb disappeared when the church
was destroyed, a drawing of it has come down to us. It was emblazoned
with the arms of the lords of Orley, without a bend sinister.

[Illustration: From S. Rombold's Malines.]



The constitution of 1421 continued to be the legal constitution of the
city of Brussels until the old order of things was swept away at the
close of the seventeen hundreds, save only for a short period--not quite
four years--during the reign of Marie of Burgundy. The defeat and death
of that stalwart hero, whom men in his lifetime had called the Bold, and
afterwards the Rash, was a source of great consolation to all his
subjects, for Charles had dreamed dreams of empire, and the people had
had to pay for his vain attempts to realise them. The daughter who
inherited his throne and his misfortunes was but eighteen years of age,
and, with a shattered army and an empty purse, she was wholly dependent
on their goodwill.

The times, then, were propitious for asking favours; every commune in
the Netherlands was obtaining fresh privileges; and when Marie visited
Brussels in the June of 1477 she did not refuse to legalise the result
of a successful riot of the year before. But though plebeians could now
sit in the College of Aldermen, and the people could now take part in
municipal elections, it is worthy of note that the new magistrates were
almost all of them members of the old ruling class. Further changes were
made in 1480 (this time of a reactionary character), and in the
following year the old constitution was once more re-established.

V.--Genealogical Table of the Dukes of Brabant from Philip II. to Philip

 $Philip II.$(Philippe l'Asseuré), = Isabel of Portugal
             _d._ 1467 | (3rd wife)
  (1) Catherine, daughter = $Charles I.$ = (2) Isabel of
        of Charles VII. of (le Téméraire), | Bourbon
        France _d._ 1477 | = (3) Margaret of
                                               | York (sister
                                               | of Edward IV.
                                               | of England),
                                               | _d._ 1503
             +--------------------------------- +
          $Marie$, = Maximilian of Hapsbourg, Emperor
         _d._ 1482 | from 1493, _d._ 1519
        +---------- +-------------- +
        | |
   $Philip III.$ Marguerite, = Philibert, Duke
    (Philippe le Beau) Regent of | of Savoy
                          the Low | (2nd husband)
                          Country |
                          from 1517, |
                          _d._ 1529 |
                              Emmanuel Philibert,
                              Duke of Savoy,
                              Regent of the
                              Low Country from 1557
                              to 1559

The great struggle between the patricians and the craftsmen was never
again to be renewed. The former, now that they had lost their monopoly,
dissociated themselves more and more, as time went on, from trade and
from municipal affairs, and, becoming more and more chary in admitting
to their order outsiders from below, were little by little absorbed in
the ranks of the territorial aristocracy. Before two generations had
passed away their numbers had become so reduced that there were not
twenty-one patricians in Brussels qualified to sit in the College of
Aldermen, and under these circumstances Charles V. deprived them of
their last political prerogative: in 1532 he decreed that henceforth any
nobleman, whether he were a member of a _lignage_ or not, should be an
eligible candidate for the magistracy. The city was not indeed free from
dissensions in the ages which followed, but the strife which divided the
people was not the outcome of class hatred, but of differences of
opinion in religious matters, and of the impolitic measures taken to
restore religious unity by alien rulers, who had no sympathy with the
customs and traditions of the Netherlands.

It happened thus: Duchess Marie, who in 1477 had married Maximilian of
Hapsburg, son of the Emperor Frederick III., died two years later,
leaving two children--Van Orley's friend Marguerite, whose acquaintance
we have already made; and Philip, surnamed the Handsome, who, inheriting
his mother's domains, ruled them from the time that he attained his
majority in 1493 till his death in 1506. Philip had married Juana, the
daughter and heiress of Isabel, Queen of Castile, and of Ferdinand, King
of Aragon; and the eldest born of this union was the famous Charles

If old King Ferdinand and Cardinal Ximénez had been allowed to have
their way, the Spanish succession would have been settled on Charles's
younger brother, and Spain and the Netherlands would perhaps have been
spared many years of misery. To this arrangement Charles, naturally
enough, objected; and no sooner had he attained his majority than he
despatched, 'par devers le roy d'Arragon, pour aucuns grans affaires
secretz dont n'est besoin ici faire declaration'--thus it was given
out--his tutor, Adrian Boyens. This remarkable man, it will be
interesting to note, was the son of a brewer of Utrecht; in his early
days he had been curate of the Grand Béguinage at Louvain--a portion of
the house which he then occupied is still standing (No. 153 Rue des
Moutons)--towards the close of his life he ascended the pontifical
throne, under the title of Adrian VI., and at the time of which we are
writing he held, along with other preferments, a canon's stall in the
old Collegiate Church of Saint Guy at Anderlecht. The ex-curate of
Louvain ought certainly not to have been a match for the experienced
statesman and diplomatist who at this time held the destinies of Spain
in his hands, but, somehow or other, he managed to convince him of the
justice of his master's claim: presently, with the approval of his
all-powerful minister, Ferdinand consented to acknowledge his eldest
grandson as his heir; and when he died, two years afterwards, Charles
ascended the throne.

Thus were Spain and the Netherlands united under one sceptre; and the
inhabitants of the greater realm were the first to rue it; for Charles,
who was a native of Ghent and had been brought up at Mechlin, had little
liking for Spain, and took no pains to conceal his sentiments: he
refused to speak the Spanish tongue, flouted the aged Cardinal Ximénez
(a statesman of whom Spaniards were justly proud, and whom the people
regarded as a saint), filled the land with foreign officials, levied
illegal taxes, violated the most cherished constitutional rights--in a
word, treated his southern domain almost like a conquered country; and
when at last the Castilians rebelled, and after a bitter struggle were
crushed, he deprived them of their time-honoured liberties.

[Illustration: AT MECHLIN]

In the Netherlands the course of events was much the same, but the
situation developed later, and only became acute during the reign of his
son Philip. Karlekin, as the Flemings called their Sovereign, at all
events was one of them; and though the Ghenters experienced his lash
when they refused to pay his illegal imposts, and though his 'placards'
against heresy were stamped with the cruel rigour of the penal code of
the day, they only touched a small minority, and to the end of his reign
he remained with the bulk of the people sufficiently popular. Upon the
rare occasions when he visited Brussels he was welcomed with _fêtes_ and

Often away from home, he was fortunate in his choice of
Regents--Marguerite of Austria, his aunt, and, when she died, his
sister, Marie of Hungary. These ladies resided for the most part at
Mechlin, in a beautiful Gothic palace, which had formerly been inhabited
by Marguerite of York, the widow of Charles the Bold, and which is still
standing; and the Court of each of them was rendered brilliant by the
artists and scholars who frequented it. They were deservedly loved by
their subjects, for they held the reins of government with a gentle
hand; and it was in large measure owing to their prudence that when
Charles put off his crown, the seventeen provinces of the Netherlands
were among the most prosperous in Europe.

When on the 25th of October 1555, leaning on the shoulder of that Prince
who was so soon to become the mortal enemy of his race, the Emperor, not
old in years but worn out by disease and the weight of a realm on which,
as he used to say, the sun never set, bade farewell to the men of
Brussels in the great hall of the Coudenberg--we have it on the
testimony of an eye-witness--all those who heard him wept. Well might
the people weep, if they had only known: they were assisting at the
opening scene of a tragedy which lasted a hundred years.

[Illustration: BY THE DYLE AT MECHLIN.]

The new Sovereign had been born and bred in Castile, and despite his
Flemish ancestry and his Flemish face he was a true Castilian. Of course
he knew nothing of Flemish, and he either could not or would not speak
French: he was as much a foreigner in the Low Countries as his father
had been in Spain. Like him, he had the instincts and the inclinations
of a despot; but whereas Charles delighted to mix with his fellow-men
and, when he would, could win their affection, Philip was cold, grave,
aloof, and kept even the highest of his Court nobles at arm's length;
nor were the Netherlanders sorry when, four years after his
inauguration, he bade them farewell. But if they imagined that their
Sovereign's fingers were not long enough to reach them from Madrid, in
this they were mistaken, as presently they learned to their cost, for it
was no vain boast when Philip said that 'everywhere in the vast compass
of his dominions he was an absolute King.'

The native aristocracy was indeed represented in the Council of State,
but there were foreign councillors as well, and one of them, Cardinal
Granvelle, had Philip's ear. It was he who governed the
Regent--Marguerite of Parma, a natural daughter of Charles V.--and to
all intents and purposes the country was ruled from Madrid. Hence not a
little heartburning.

Meanwhile the new doctrine was rapidly making headway. The number of
Protestants amongst the working population of the great cities must at
this time have been considerable; there were thousands in all classes
halting between two opinions, and honest men all over the country, who
had no sympathy with the tenets proscribed, were sickened and astounded
at the cruel rigour with which Charles's 'placards' were being now
enforced, and in the midst of it all, and in spite of the opposition of
Granvelle himself, Philip took a step which he ought to have known would
be certain to breed trouble: he obtained from Pope Paul IV. a Bull
(1562) to increase the number of bishoprics from three to fifteen, and
the measure was at once opposed by all sorts and conditions of men:--by
the secular clergy, because they believed that the presence of so many
bishops amongst them would lessen their prestige; by the monks, who knew
they would be shorn of revenue for the endowment of the new Sees; by the
nobles, who regarded the great abbeys as the appanage of their younger
sons; by the people, who were firmly convinced that this step was only
the prelude to further persecution; and opposition was increased tenfold
when presently it became known that the proposed metropolitan See of
Mechlin was to be confided to Cardinal Granvelle. Philip, however,
refused to draw back; but, so threatening was the attitude of the
nobles, that at last, at the request of the Regent herself, he consented
to Granvelle's resignation (1564), though almost immediately afterwards
he gave orders that the edicts against heresy should be enforced with
increased rigour. Then, on the 15th of February 1565, came the famous
_Compromis des nobles_, and a petition for the redress of grievances,
which was presented to the Regent two months later by a deputation of
four hundred gentlemen, many of whom were Catholics, with a request that
she would transmit it to Philip, and which he in due course refused.
'_Ne vous inquiétez pas ce ne sont que des gueux_,' the Lord of
Berlaymont had whispered to Marguerite, dismayed at the long line of
petitioners who solemnly filed before her in the great hall of the
Coudenberg; and that night, at a banquet in the palace of the Lord of
Culembourg, now the prison of the Petits Carmes, they made this term of
reproach their _signe de ralliement_; they were 'gueux,' they said, 'et
fidèles au roi jusqu'à la besace.' They proved it by scattering
seditious pamphlets broadcast all over the country, and the following
year--the _wonder jaar_, as it was afterwards called--the Calvinist mob
began to purge the land of idols. In Flanders alone more than four
hundred churches and religious houses were sacked, and what happened at
Antwerp is significant--every statue in the cathedral was shattered,
save that of the unrepentant thief.

The worst of the trouble was, however, over; order had been restored;
Antwerp, where the Protestants were strongest, had opened its gates to
the Regent; thanks to her firmness and moderation, the country was being
rapidly pacified, and a very general reaction in favour of the
government and of the old faith had already set in, when Philip, who,
when he heard of the havoc wrought by the Protestants, had sworn by the
soul of his father to make them pay for it, despatched to the
Netherlands a Spanish army under the command of Alva.

The terrible Duke and his soldiers reached Brussels on the 22nd of
August 1567, and sooner than have any share in the horrors she foresaw
would ensue, Marguerite laid down her office.

The story of Alva's reign of terror is too well known to need recital
here. Suffice it to say that the whole country was declared in a state
of siege. In utter violation of those constitutional liberties which
Philip had solemnly sworn to respect, he constituted that 'Council of
Troubles,' which the people called the 'Council of Blood,' and whose
mission it was to judge, or rather to condemn, all those whom the Duke
deferred to it. Amongst the innocent victims were Lamoral d'Egmont, a
member of Marguerite's Council, and Governor of Flanders and Artois, and
his friend and kinsman, Martin de Hornes, Admiral of the Netherlands.
They had been the leaders of the opposition against Granvelle, along
with William of Nassau, but, unlike him, they were loyal to Philip and
loyal to the old faith. Alva, however, thought otherwise, and they died
the death of traitors, in the Grand' Place at Brussels, on the 5th of
June 1568. It is said that the Spanish soldiers wept when they saw these
men led forth to execution, and even Alva himself, though he believed
them guilty, was loath to condemn them. 'Your Majesty will understand,'
he wrote to Philip, 'the regret I feel at seeing these poor lords
brought to such an end, and myself obliged to bring them to it, but I
have not shrunk from doing what is for your Majesty's service.... The
Countess Egmont's condition fills me with the greatest pity, burthened
as she is with a family of eleven children, none old enough to take care
of themselves; and she a lady of so distinguished a rank and of so
virtuous, truly Catholic and exemplary life. There is no man in the
country who does not grieve for her! I cannot but commend her to the
good grace of your Majesty, beseeching you to call to mind that, if the
Count, her husband, came to trouble at the close of his days, he
formerly rendered great services to the State.' Philip granted the
Countess d'Egmont an annual pension of 12,000 _livres_, which seems to
have been not very regularly paid.

A few years ago a monumental fountain was erected in Brussels in memory
of Egmont and Hornes; it stands in the Place du Petit Sablon, hard by
the ancient palace, now the Hôtel des ducs d'Arenberg, where poor
Lamoral dwelt, and which was originally built by his mother.

But it was not the fierceness of Alva's vengeance, but his oppressive
and illegal fiscal measures, which roused the people to rebellion and
threw Catholics and Protestants alike into the arms of William of
Nassau. At last Philip's eyes were opened, but then it was too late.
When he recalled the Duke of Alva in the autumn of 1573 the whole
country was in revolt, and the northern provinces were lost for ever to


Later on, when the Catholic provinces of the South, disgusted at the
bigotry and intolerance of William of Orange and his friends, had made
terms with the Duke of Parma and returned to Philip's allegiance, and
when by their aid the Dutch had been ousted from every town in Brabant
and Flanders, save Ostend, and William himself had fallen, struck
down by the hand of an assassin, it seemed for a moment that the
northern provinces too would soon be constrained to submit to Parma's
victorious army; but as Philip had baulked his sister Marguerite, so now
did he render of no avail the heroic efforts of her son. He was minded
to conquer England. Parma's forces were suddenly withdrawn to second his
vain endeavour, and the opportunity lost through the King's infatuation,
never again returned (1584). The war dragged on intermittently for more
than sixty years, and then at last, by the Treaty of Westphalia, Spain
consented to acknowledge the independence of the Dutch Republic.

But to return to Brussels. During the troubled years of Philip's reign
Brussels suffered less than most of the other great towns of the Spanish
Netherlands; for though she experienced the kindness of Alva and
afterwards had to endure the tender mercies of the Gueux, Parma
presently re-established order, made her the seat of his government,
restored her municipal rights, and thus, little by little, trade and
industry revived.

In the days of Duchess Isabel (1598-1633) and her husband Albert of
Austria (1598-1621), on whom on his deathbed King Philip had conferred
the sovereignty of the Low Countries, Brussels enjoyed unbroken peace
and a period of comparative prosperity. They resided for the most part
in the old ducal palace, and were greatly beloved by the burghers: they
did what they could to make them forget the miseries of Philip's reign.
If they had been able to found a dynasty, it is likely enough the land
would have been spared many years of trouble; but, dying without
offspring, their heritage reverted to Spain, and shared the misfortunes
of that once great nation, now in full decadence. From 1635 to 1714 the
Spanish Netherlands was the scene of almost uninterrupted warfare; yet,
strangely enough, throughout the whole of this period the masons of
Brabant went on building, and, stranger still, were able to erect
structures not unworthy of their great traditions. At Brussels, for
example, the beautiful Gothic Chapel of Our Lady of Deliverance
(1649-1653), the Renaissance Chapel of the Brigitine Nuns (of about the
same date), the Chapel of Saint Anne (1655), the Church of the Béguinage
(1657), of the Riches Claires (1665-1671), of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours
(1668-1673), the Guild Halls in the Grand' Place--no less than seventeen
of them, all erected after the bombardment of 1695.


Brussels, of course, was now the capital, and probably too at this time
the richest town in the Spanish Netherlands; but cities which had not
these advantages somehow or other managed to produce grand buildings. At
Louvain we have the Church of Saint Michael (1650-1666), the College of
the Holy Trinity (1657), the College of the Holy Ghost (1720); and at
Mechlin, the Church of Saint Peter (1677) and the Church of Our Lady of
Hanswyck (1670). These strange rococo creations assuredly cannot compete
with the buildings of the fourteen and fifteen hundreds, but they have
a certain fantastic charm of their own; they are at least picturesque,
and, curiously enough, they bear no trace of the lean years which
produced them. Wherefore? The industry, the thrift, the business
qualities of the burghers, who still through their representatives in
the Estates of Brabant administered the finances of the realm; their
inborn love of the beautiful; their traditional skill in creating it;
the survival of the mediæval craft guilds and of the mediæval faith: in
these things we probably have the answer to the riddle.


The Treaty of Rastatt at the close of the War of the Spanish Succession
gave Brabant and the other provinces of the Spanish Netherlands to the
Emperor Charles VI., a descendant, in the direct line, of Duke Philip
the Handsome, and the domination of the Austrian Hapsburgs continued,
save for an interval of four years, till the end of the century. On the
whole, the change was for the better. After the long years of excitement
the nation needed repose, and under their new rulers the Belgian
Estates, as they were now called, vegetated in obscure tranquillity. The
opening years of Charles's reign were not, however, without trouble. He
was ill represented by his first governor, the Marquis de Prié, who
seems to have made no attempt to win the people's confidence. An
Italian by birth, and a man of utterly unsympathetic character,
avaricious, violent, cold, his impolitic and vexatious fiscal measures
irritated the whole country, and the craftsmen of Brussels resisted
them. As time went on the agitation increased, and at last the mob got
out of hand, broke into the Chancellery where the Estates of Brabant
were sitting, and wrecked the houses of several of the Regent's
partisans; and when order was once more restored, De Prié, like a second
Alva, thought only of vengeance.

[Illustration: LA PORTE DE HAL, BRUSSELS.]

Having treacherously obtained possession of the persons of five of his
principal opponents, four of them were condemned to exile, and the fifth
to death. This man was François Anneessens, Dean of the Nation of Saint
Nicholas, and by trade a turner of chairs; he was seventy-three years of
age, a good man and a good citizen, known and esteemed by the whole
town. It was said that he had fomented sedition, but in reality he died
for defending the traditional rights of his order. His head was struck
off in the Grand' Place on the fifth of February 1719. He was the last
of the old Brussels guildsmen to give his life for liberty.

The time-honoured civic institutions of Belgium were not destined to
survive much longer; they were soon to be swept away by the backwash of
the French Revolution--to bring their years to an end, as it were a tale
that is told.

 VI.--Genealogical Table of the Dukes of Brabant from Philip III. to

 $Philip III.$ (Philippe le Beau). = Jeanne (La Folle), daughter of
                _d._ 1506 | Ferdinand of Arragon and
                                   | Isabel of Castile
                     +------------- +-------------------- +----- +
                     | | |
 Marguerite = $Charles II.$ = Isabel of Portugal | |
 van Gheest | (Karlekin), Duke | | |
 of | of Brabant | | |
 Audenarde | (1506-1555), King | +--------------- + |
             | of Spain(1517-| | |
             | 1557), Emperor | Marie, Regent = Louis, |
             | (1519-1556), | of the Low King |
             | _d._ 1558 | Country from of |
             | | 1530-1555 Hungary |
             | | |
             | | Ferdinand I.,
             | | Emperor.
             | | _d._ 1564
             | | |
             | | +----- +
             | | |
     +------- + +-+--+ |
     | | | |
 Marguerite, = Octavius | Marie = Maximilian II., Charles,
 Regent of | Farnese, | Emperor, _d._ 1590
 the Low | Duke of | _d._ 1576 |
 Country | Parma | (3rd wife) |
 from 1559 | | |
 to 1567 | Anne, = $Philip IV.$ = Elizabeth, daughter |
             | daughter | (II. of | of Henry II. |
             | of | Spain), | of France |
             | Maximilian | _d._ 1598 | |
             | II. | | |
             | (4th wife) | | |
             | | | |
      +------ + +---- + +----------------- + |
      | | | | |
 Alexander, Philip III. Isabel, Regent = $Albert$, Ferdinand II.,
 Prince of of Spain, of the Spanish Duke of Emperor,
 Parma, Regent _d._ 1621 Netherlands Brabant from _d._ 1637
 of the Low | from 1621, 1598, |
 Country from | _d._ 1633 _d._ 1621 |
 1578 to 1596 | |
                     | |
       +------------- +------ + +------------------------- +
       | | |
 $Philip V.$ Marie Anne = Ferdinand III.,
 (of Brabant), | _d._ 1658
 IV. (of Spain), |
 _d._ 1644 |
       | |
 $Charles III.$ Leopold I.,
 (of Brabant), Emperor,
 II. (of Spain), _d._ 1705
 _d._ 1700 |
                           $Charles IV.$
                           of Brabant, Emperor,
                           _d._ 1741
                           $Marie Therese$,
                              _d._ 1780
    +----------- +------------- +--- +
    | | |
 $Joseph$, $Leopold$, Marie Caroline = Ferdinand I. of
  _d._ 1790 _d._ 1792 | Sicily
                | |
                | |
            $Francis$, |
             inaugurated Marie-Amélie = Louis-Philippe
             at Brussels | of France
             1794, and left |
             immediately afterwards |
                                             Louise = Leopold I.,
                                                    | King of the Belgians
                                                Leopold II., of Belgium

 _Follows page 375._




 Abbey Church of Parc, 193

 Adelaide, Duchess, supports the Blankarden, 59

 Adhilck, Lord of Hesbaye, changes his name to Bavo, 4;
   becomes patron of Ghent as Saint Bavo, 5

 Aerschot, Parish Church of, 306

 Alost, Church of Our Lady and Saint Martin at, 309

 Anderlecht, Saint Guy of, 35-39

 Andernach, Duke Giselbert surprised at, and drowned, 14, 15

 Anne of Linange, wife of Sweder van Apcoude, 112;
   she surrenders Gaesbeke Castle, 117

 Ansfried, Count of Louvain, influence of Bruno on, 18

 Anthony, Regent of Brabant, 122

 Antwerp Cathedral, 209, 213

 Antwerp, heresy in, 230;
   canons of, ask the aid of Saint Norbert, 231

 Arnon, Abbot of Elnone, 172

 Arnulph I. heads a German army against Norsemen, 10;
   names his son Zwentibold, King of Lotharingia, 13


 Bavo, Saint, converted by Saint-Amand, 4;
   becomes patron of Ghent, 5

 Beguines and Beghards, 233 _et seq._

 Beyaert, Jan, his fine carving, 325;
   executed, 329

 Blankarden, family of the, their rivalry to the Coelveren, 58 _et seq._

 Bloemardine, a famous Brussels mystic, 241, 245, 246

 Boudts, Dierick, a famous painter, 330, 339-342

 Brabant, origin of place names in, 1, 2;
   early inhabitants of, 2;
   Danes' first visit to, 8;
   their conduct, 9;
   making of duchy of, 22-30;
   municipal organisation of towns of, 47 _et seq._

 Braine-le-Comte, surrender of, 164

 Brethren of the Common Life, the, 250;
   their famous pupils, 251

 Brigitine Nuns, Chapel of, 372

 Brogne, Abbey of, origin of, 23

 Bruno, Saint, receives ducal crown, 17;
   his influence, 18;
   banishes Régnier of Hainault, 19;
   his death, 19

 Brussels, etymology of name, 1;
   its rise, 31 _et seq._;
   hostility of patricians and plebeians in, 96;
   Winceslaus' conduct towards, 97;
   riots in, 98, 99;
   election of magistrates at, 103;
   articles manufactured at, 105;
   Flemish invasion of, 107;
   Flemings driven out, 109;
   public buildings of, 257 _et seq._

 Butkins quoted, 107


 Calstere, Alderman Vanden, 89;
   murders Vander Leyden, 91;
   his cruel treatment of Van Grave, 93

 Cathedral of Saint Lambert rifled and burnt by Danes, 9

 Cathedral School of Liége, 174

 Celites, the, their work, 238

 Charlemagne, progress of Art under, 171

 Charles of France claims his mother's dowry, 19;
   duchy conferred on him by Otho II., 20;
   death of, 21

 Charles the Bold, pavilion made in Brussels for his wedding, 223

 Charles the Fat summoned from Italy, 10

 Chastelain quoted, 126, 225

 Cluny, effect of discipline of, 26, 27.

 Cluting, Amman of Brussels, divested of his office, 143;
   restored to office, 145;
   his plot to seize the city, 151;
   imprisoned, 152;
   executed, 154

 Cobham, Eleanor, rival of Jacqueline,
   accompanies Gloucester to Hainault, 166, 167;
   marries Gloucester, 168

 Coelveren, family of the, rivals of the Blankardens, 58 _et seq._

 College of Aldermen, 47 _et seq._, 89, 90

 Conrad the Red, his character, 15

 Consecrated wafers, legend regarding theft of, 244

 Constance, Fathers of, elect Pope Martin V., 129

 Cooman, Hendrick, architect, 279

 Corneille, his brief career and cruel death, 286, 287

 Coudenberg, Franz, canon of Saint Gudule's, 246;
   founds a community, 247

 Council of Jurors, 47 _et seq._, 89, 90.

 Coutherele, Peter, Mayor of Louvain, 68;
   triumph of democracy due to him, 68;
   his quarrel with the magistracy, 70;
   opposition to the patricians, 72-75;
   his fall and flight, 81-83;
   in Holland, 84;
   his death, 85

 _Crom Cruys_, 117, 299-301

 Crypt of Saint Guy at Anderlecht, 183

 Cuyck, Henri de, his marriage, 79;
   intercedes with Winceslaus for Peter Coutherele, 85


 Dancers, the, cause massacre of Jews, 242

 Danes first visit Brabant, 8;
   they destroy churches and murder monks, 9

 Delft, Treaty of, Jacqueline acknowledges Philip as Regent by, 169

 Domlinus, a hermit, legend of, 5

 Duchess Jeanne negotiates with Coutherele, 75;
   submits report to conference in Saint Gertrude's Abbey, 87, 88;
   a widow and in debt, 112;
   visits Town Hall on hearing of attack on T'Serclaes, 113, 114;
   French in sympathies, 120;
   visits Paris, 122;
   her death, 126

 Duke John I. proclaimed heir to Duchy of Brabant, 59;
   held in confidence and esteem, 60

 Duke John II., riot during his absence, 63;
   authorises magistrates to use any means they think fit to crush
   outbreaks, 66;
   grants discretionary power to College of Aldermen, 67

 Duke John III. appoints Coutherele mayor, 69;
   his death, 71

 Duke John IV., scion of the house of Bourgogne, 119;
   marries Jacqueline, 130;
   cedes part of his wife's domains to John the Pitiless, 131;
   his feebleness, 132;
   a noteworthy day in his life, 134;
   Marguerite of Burgundy remonstrates with him, 137;
   summons Estates of Brabant to meet at Brussels, 138;
   delays to arbitrate between the Heetveldes and Vanderstraetens, 139;
   flees to Bois-le-Duc, 141;
   appears before Brussels at the head of an army of Germans, 145;
   enters Brussels, 149;
   conduct of his German knights, 150;
   citizens fetter and place knights in gaol, 152;
   his friends form a secret league for his defence, 157;
   the Estates recall him, 160;
   Mons besieged by, 165;
   his death, 169

 Dynter, Edmund De, quoted, 70, 72, 73, 130, 133, 146, 154, 158, 164


 Elizabeth, Duchess of Luxembourg, marries John the Pitiless, 131

 Englebert de la Mark, Bishop of Liége, 107

 English surrender at Braine-le-Comte, strange delusion which led
   to, 164, 165

 Estates of Brabant summoned to meet at Brussels, 138;
   support Jacqueline, 142;
   recall Duke John, 160

 Eyck, Jan van, 263, 267


 Feudal system rises on ruins of Imperialism, 12

 Flagellants, the, 242

 Flemings driven from Brussels, 109

 Francon, Bishop, flees from Danes, 9;
   joins Arnulph's army, 10


 Gaesbeke, Castle of, 112, 113;
   siege of, 115;
   capitulation of, 117

 Genappe, Castle of, as a refuge for the Jews, 242

 Georgius, an Italian mechanician, 172

 Gerard, first Abbot of Brogne, 23;
   the secret of his success, 24, 25

 Gerard of Vorsselaer,
   offers his services to the patricians of Louvain, 74;
   offers the same at Brussels, 97, 98

 Gerberge, daughter of Henry I., 14, 19

 Gertrude, daughter of Pepin of Landen,
   foundress of Abbey of Nivelles, 6, 188

 Gertruidenberg besieged and burnt, 143

 Gheel, Church of Saint Dymphna at, 306

 Ghent, Cathedral of, 215-218;
   Town Hall of, 213-215

 Giselbert, Count, how his fortune was made, 13

 Giselbert, Duke, succeeds his father, 14;
   his character and death, 14, 15

 Godfrey Longbeard, Duke,
   lays foundation stone of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle, 181;
   founds Abbeys of Tongerloo and Parc, 232

 Godfrey of Verdun, his message to his wife, 18

 Godfrey the Hunchback, his character, 27

 Gorcum, Treaty of, 136

 Grand Béguinage at Louvain, 235, 236

 Grave, Myn Here Van, cruel treatment of, 93

 Groenendael, community founded at, 247

 Groote, Geert, disciple of Ruysbroek, 249;
   his preaching, 250

 Gudule, Saint, legends relating to her life, 270, 273

 Guild Halls in Grand' Place at Brussels, 257, 372

 Guy, Saint, of Anderlecht, 35;
   legends about him, 35-39


 Hadewych, Sister, a writer of glowing prose and frenzied verse, 240

 Hal, Church of Our Lady and Saint Martin at, 260, 310, 313

 Halene, slain by her father for embracing Christianity, 6

 Hanneman, Jan, a rich cloth merchant of Louvain, 79;
   sent to Germany to raise money, 80;
   disappears, 83

 Heetvelde, house of, 138;
   their quarrel with the Vanderstraetens, 139

 Heinsberg, his plot with Cluting, 151;
   captured and imprisoned, 152;
   released, 160

 Hellebeke, Jan Van, Commander-in-chief at Gaesbeke Castle, 114;
   his life spared on surrender, 117

 Henry I., Emperor, gives his daughter to Giselbert, 14

 Henry IV., Emperor, his policy, 28, 29

 Henry of Limburg refuses to acknowledge Henry V., 29

 Herengolys, Peter, Mayor of Louvain, 79;
   flees to Asten, 81;
   disappears, 83;
   captured and executed, 84

 Heusden surrendered, 142

 Heverlé, Castle of, 83

 Hinckaert, Jan, canon of Saint Gudule's, 246

 Holy Trinity, College of the, at Louvain, 372

 Hommes de Sainte Gertrude, 188, 189

 Hubert, Saint, Bishop of Liége, conversion of Brabant due to his zeal, 4

 Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester,
   marries Jacqueline, 163;
   marries Eleanor Cobham, 168


 Jacqueline, her birth, 125;
   forced to marry Duke John of Brabant, 127;
   part of her domains ceded by him, 131;
   disagreement with her husband, 132;
   rates him for two hours at Tervueren, 134;
   flees from Court, 137;
   enters Brussels in triumph, 141;
   captures Heusden and Gertruidenberg, 143;
   appeals to the Pope to dissolve her marriage with John and marries
      Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, 163;
   her letter to Humphrey, 165, 166;
   surrenders at Mons, 167;
   her escape, 167, 168;
   secretly marries Franche de Borselle, 170;
   dies of consumption, 170

 _Jean sans Peur_, his characteristics, 125

 Jews, outbreaks against, 241;
   the Dancers cause massacre of, 242

 John of Arkel puts Louvain under interdict 84

 John of Louvain, theft of consecrated wafers by, 243

 John the Pitiless, in sub-deacon's orders at seventeen, 128;
   his oppression and cruelty, 129;
   resigns his See and marries, 131;
   demands fresh concessions, 136;
   Estates oppose him, 142;
   dies by poisoning, 162

 Jonathan of Enghien, a Hebrew fanatic, 243

 Jury, origin of the, 48


 Kegel, Alderman, 145, 146;
   escapes from Brussels, 153

 Kelderman, Jan, designer of Tower of Saint Rombold, 197

 Keldermans, the, a remarkable family, 197-201, 205, 208


 Lambert Balderick, real founder of Louvain, 41;
   builds and endows Saint Peter's, Louvain, 42

 Lambert Longbeard, Count of Louvain, 41

 Lambert Long Col claims Duchy of Lotharingia, 21

 Léau, Saint Leonard's Church at, 306

 Leyden, Wouter Vander, heads rioters, 88;
   chosen as a city captain, 89;
   murdered, 91

 Liége, diocese of, 9

 Lierre, old church at, 305

 Lierre, Town Hall of, bell taken from Braine, hung in, 165

 _Lignages_, or clans, 50, 51

 Long Col, house of, 13-21

 Lotharingia, monastic domains of,
   in lay hands, 12;
   invaded by Charles of France, 19

 Louis of Maele. 71, 107, 120

 Louvain, old Bourg of, 41;
   Lambert Balderick, real founder of, 41;
   grant of charter from Winceslaus, 76;
   revolution of 1360 at, 95;
   Church of Saint Peter at, 289

 Low Country, features of, and trade in, 31-34


 Maeseyck, illuminated copy of the Gospels in old church at, 173

 Maison du Roi, La, 202

 Marguerite of Maele, a rich young widow, 119, 120, 125

 Marsdale, Jan van, sculptor, 197

 Martin V., Pope, his letters to Duke John, 130

 Marvis, Bishop Walter de, a great church-builder, 193

 Matthew de Layens, builder of Louvain Town Hall, 318-324

 Mechlin, architecture of, 302

 Mechlin Cathedral, 301

 Merchants' Guild, 47, 48, 89, 90

 Metsys, Quentin, a famous painter, 330, 347, 350

 Mons, siege of, 165

 Monstrelet quoted, 133

 Montenaeken, battle of, called 'Saint Lambert's triumph,' 277

 Municipal organisation of towns in Brabant, 47 _et seq._


 Nivelles, Abbey of, founded by Saint Gertrude, 6

 Nivelles, specimen of Romanesque architecture at, 188;
   commerce of, 189;
   features of, 190;
   the old Minster, 190-192

 Norbert, Saint, of Laon invited to Antwerp, 231;
   founds Premonstratensian Order, 232

 Notre-Dame au-delà de la Dyle, Church of, 201, 268

 Notre-Dame de la Chapelle, 181, 260, 264

 Notre-Dame du Lac at Thienhoven, 305

 Notre-Dame du Sablon, 260


 Orley, Bernard van, a famous painter, 206, 207, 330, 350, 357

 Otbert of Liége, his support of the Emperor, 28

 Othée, battle at, 129

 Otho, Emperor, 14, 15;
   governs Lotharingia by means of the Church, 16, 17;
   gives ducal crown to Saint Bruno, 17;
   his death, 19

 Otho II., his policy, 20

 Our Lady of Deliverance, Chapel of, 372

 Our Lady of Hanswyck, Church of, at Mechlin, 372


 Parc, Abbey of, 232

 Peace of 1378, or Great Charter, 87

 'Petermen,' their privileges, 42, 44;
   rich and powerful, 95

 Peter the Hermit, draws many recruits from Brabant, 226

 Philip of Valois, his marriage, 120;
   induces Duchess Jeanne to abdicate, 122;
   his death, 125

 Philippe de Commines quoted, 220, 223

 Philippe l'Asseuré, condition of towns of Brabant in days of, 225

 Pierre de Clermont, Bishop of Cambrai, 247

 Pirenne, M., quoted, 17, 50, 167, 230, 238

 Platvoet, Jan, his cruel murder, 92

 Portman, Hendrick, chosen a city captain, 89

 Premonstratensian Order founded, 232


 Rastatt, Treaty of, effect of, 373

 Régnier au Long Col, ancestor of Sovereigns of Brabant, 13;
   virtual ruler of Lotharingia, 14

 Régnier III. of Hainault, 15;
   his hatred of Saint Bruno, 18, 19;
   banished by Saint Bruno, 19;
   his children befriended by French king, 19

 Reynold, Lord of Schoonvorst, a trusted adviser of his Sovereign, 72

 Rogge, Gedulphe, devoted adherent of Peter Coutherele, 79

 Rolfe the Ganger routed at Louvain, 8

 Rombold, Saint, preaching in Brabant, becomes a martyr, 5, 6

 Rotslaere appointed treasurer of Brabant, 133

 Rubens, altar-piece by, in Saint Jacques' at Antwerp, 196

 Ruotger quoted, 18

 Ruysbroek, Jan van, a mystic of Brussels, 241, 245, 246;
   his writings, 247, 248;
   his death, 249


 Saint-Amand, effect of his preaching, 4

 Saint Anne, Chapel of, 372

 Saint Bavo, Church of, 215

 Saint Catherine, Parish Church of, at Brussels, 243-245

 Sainte Chapelle des Miracles, 208

 Saint Gertrude's Abbey, conference at, 88

 Saint Hubert's Chapel at Tervueren, 4

 Saint Jacques, Church of, at Louvain, 192, 193

 Saint Jacques, Parish Church of, at Antwerp, 196

 Saint Jacques sur Coudenberg, church of the Court, 177

 Saint Michael and Saint Gudule, Church of, 182, 270 _et seq._

 Saint Nicholas, Church of, 175

 Saint Peter and Saint Guy, Church of, at Anderlecht, 35

 Saint Peter, Church of, at Mechlin, 372

 Saint Peter's, Louvain, 42-46, 289 _et seq._

 Saint-Pierre de Louvain, 289 _et seq._

 Saint-Pol, Philip of, enters Brussels with Jacqueline, 141;
   goes to Louvain, 149

 Saint Rombold, Tower of, at Mechlin, 197

 Schaeys, M., quoted, 184

 Sedulius, an Irish scholar, 172

 Sieger, head of house of Heetvelde, murdered, 139

 Stalle, Jean van, Dean of Church of Saint Mary at Hal, 113

 Steen of Antwerp, 208, 209

 Steenporte, attack on, 98

 Sweder van Apcoude, his succession disputed, 111;
   his escape, 114;
   reinstated, 117

 Swertere, Alderman Jan De, a patrician who favoured the people, 80;
   assisted to retaliate by the plebeians, 93


 Taine quoted, 7

 Tanchelm, claims to be a prophet, 229;
   stabbed at Antwerp, 230

 Tervueren, Saint Hubert's Chapel at, 4

 Tetdon, Bishop, quoted, 23

 Thienhoven, or Tirlemont, churches at, 305

 Thierry, Bishop of Liége, killed at Orthée, 129

 Thomas à Kempis, educated by Brethren of the Common Life, 251;
   quoted, 255

 Tongerloo, Abbey of, 232

 Tournai, Cathedral of, 191, 193, 194

 Tour Noire, la, 182, 183

 Town Hall of Brussels, the, 313

 Town Hall of Louvain, the, 318

 T'Serclaes, Everard, his birth, 106;
   drives Flemings out of Brussels, 107-109;
   the 'Saviour of Brussels,' 110;
   attacked and mutilated, 113;
   his death, 115

 T'Serclaes, Jan, chosen to succeed his uncle Everard in the College
    of Aldermen, 115


 Vandenberghe, Treasurer, exiled, 132;
   murdered, 133

 Vandenberg, Jan, architect, 279

 Van der Goes, Hugo, a famous painter, 330, 342-347

 Vanderstraetens, the, their quarrel with the Heetveldes, 139, 140

 Van der Weyden, Roger, a famous painter, 263, 267, 330, 333-338

 Vander Zype, Gerard, in the tribune of proclamation, 158;
   his marriage, 159;
   appointed chief steward, 161;
   his murder, 162

 Vilvorde, combat at, 65

 Vorst, Plysis van, first architect of his day, 291-294


 Waghemakere, Dominic de, an architect, 208, 209, 218

 Waghemakere, Herman de, works on Antwerp Cathedral, 205

 Wazon, Bishop, his loyalty to Otho, 17

 Wenzel, King of the Romans, 121

 White Canons, monasteries of the, 232

 'White Hoods,' the, 89, 93

 William of Assche, Amman of Brussels, 132;
   imprisoned, 133;
   released, 135;
   escapes from Brussels, 153

 Winceslaus, Duke, 71;
   grants charter to Louvain, 76;
   his policy with Louvain, 78-85;
   grants new charter to Louvain, 89;
   his conduct towards Brussels, 97;
   at Maestricht, 107

 Windesheim, Monastery of, 251


 Zacites, or Brethren of the Sack, 240

 Zwentibold, son of Arnulph I., made king, 13,
   death of, 14.


 Transcribers' Notes:
 Many proper nouns have variations in spellings, they have not
 been standardized.
 Variations in spelling between English, French, Latin and
 Flemish words have not been changed.
 The dagger character is rendered: +.
 Small caps are rendered with ALL CAPS.
 Italics are rendered between underscores, e.g. _italics_.
 Bold text is rendered between dollar signs, e.g. $bold$.
 Superscripts are rendered with a caret, e.g. 1^er.
 The oe ligature is rendered: [oe].
 An m with a line above resembling a tilde is rendered [~m].

 The following are believed to be printer's errors and have been changed:
       Page | Printed                    | Changed to
        xiv | St Charles                 | St. Charles
         xv | Pieta                      | Pièta
          2 | down-trodden and the       | downtrodden and the
         14 | that event took took       | that event took
         66 | to crush and               | to crush any
  facing 66 | Feb., 6                    | Feb. 6,
         79 | strongholds..              | strongholds.
        101 | without increasng taxation | without increasing taxation
        105 | directed o her             | directed to her
        116 | bareheaded and unshod      | bare-headed and unshod
        127 | bed-rock of the house      | bedrock of the house
        145 | croned a hag,              | crooned a hag,
        163 | Hal acknowleged Gloucester | Hal acknowledged Gloucester
        164 | stored with supplies       | stored with supplies.
        169 | lieutentant of Zeeland     | lieutenant of Zeeland
        170 | to chose between           | to choose between
        177 | mysterous power of         | mysterious power of
        223 | pèu de honte               | peu de honte
        232 | and a few out-buildings    | and a few outbuildings
        233 | Saint Bega of Nivelles     | Saint Begga of Nivelles
        233 | Lambert le Bégue           | Lambert le Bègue
        236 | Béguines at Mechlin        | Beguines at Mechlin
        237 | were the most wide-spread  | were the most widespread
        274 | Chapel of Saint Gery       | Chapel of Saint Géry
        291 | man of humple origin       | man of humble origin
        336 | sight-seeing and devotion  | sightseeing and devotion
        348 | spendour of Rubens         | splendour of Rubens
        381 | Muncipal organisation of   | Municipal organisation of
        381 | Orthée, battle at          | Othée, battle at
        382 | killed at Orthée           | killed at Othée
        383 | Amman of of Brussels       | Amman of Brussels

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Story of Brussels" ***

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