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Title: The Story of Bruges
Author: Gilliat-Smith, Ernest
Language: English
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produced from images available at The Internet Archive)



                         _The Story of Bruges_

                  'I do love these ancient ruins;
                   We never tread upon them but we set
                   Our foot upon some reverend history.'
                             _Duchess of Malfi._

                        _All Rights Reserved._

                            [Illustration]



                         _The Story of_ Bruges

                       _by Ernest Gilliat-Smith

                     Illustrated by Edith Calvert
                         and Herbert Railton_

                            [Illustration]

                   _London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.
                Aldine House, 29 and 30 Bedford Street
                      Covent Garden W.C._ _1909_


                     _First Edition, July 1901.
                     Second Edition, October 1903.
                     Third Edition, December 1905.
                     Fourth Edition, November 1909._



PREFACE


Few great mediæval towns possess so many memorials of the past, alike in
masonry and on parchment, as does 'the ancient town of Bruges.'

They have been indited by the patience of the scribe in breviary and in
charter-roll; they have been perpetuated by the art of the painter, in
gold and glowing tones, in portrait and in altar-piece; they have been
graven with an iron pen in wood and metal and stone; they have been
handed down by word of mouth through countless generations.

The municipal rolls go back to the year 1280, and included amongst them
are the annual accounts of the city from 1281 to 1789, almost complete;
those of the Collegiate Church of _Notre Dame_ to early in the eleven
hundreds; and there are, too, the rolls of _St. Sauveur_, of the old
Cathedral of St. Donatian, of the great Abbey of Dunes, and of many
other time-honoured corporations; whilst the Municipal Library and the
Library of the Diocesan Seminary contain together, no less than seven
hundred and thirty-four manuscripts, not a few of which were written in
the city itself or in its immediate neighbourhood.

There are buildings in Bruges which carry us back to the days of Baldwin
Bras de Fer, perhaps to a still more remote period; four of the seven
parish churches date from the twelve hundreds; the oldest of the civic
monuments to at latest 1280, and from this epoch until the close of the
Middle Age almost every year is marked by the erection of stately
edifices, of which very many have come down to us.

Lack of material will not hamper the future historian of Bruges, for the
history of Bruges has yet to be written. The present work lays no claim
to such title. It is but a bare outline, a mere sketch, and in this it
resembles, in some degree, the beautiful map at the end of the volume,
and many of the illustrations by which the book is adorned.

The artists who designed these fascinating pictures have succeeded by
means of a few skilful touches in laying before us a faithful reflection
of the beauty of Bruges, and, following in their footsteps, I, too, have
essayed to render my story of the men who created it alike faithful and
picturesque.

If my efforts have not been crowned with the same measure of success,
the fault lies not in the material, but rather in the manner in which it
has been handled; for the life's story of the builders of Bruges is no
less marvellous and no less alluring than are the monuments which they
reared.

E. G.-S.

BRUGES, _June 1901_.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I
                                                                    PAGE

_The First Flemings_                                                   1

CHAPTER II

_Earliest Bruges_                                                      9

CHAPTER III

_Arnulph the Great_                                                   21

CHAPTER IV

_Progress of the City_                                                26

CHAPTER V

_The Murder of Charles the Good_                                      38

CHAPTER VI

_Vengeance_                                                           57

CHAPTER VII

_Bruges in the Days of Charles the Good_                              75

CHAPTER VIII

_William Cliton_                                                      81

CHAPTER IX

_Dierick of Alsace and the Precious Blood_                            90

CHAPTER X

_Philip of Alsace and the Charter of the Franc_                      105

CHAPTER XI

_Baldwin of Constantinople_                                          111

CHAPTER XII

_The Love Story of Bourchard d'Avesnes_                              122

CHAPTER XIII

_The French Annexation_                                              136

CHAPTER XIV

_Peter De Coninck_                                                   144

CHAPTER XV

_The Battle of the Golden Spurs_                                     153

CHAPTER XVI

_The Great Charter_                                                  164

CHAPTER XVII

_Louis of Nevers_                                                    172

CHAPTER XVIII

_Louis of Maele_                                                     195

CHAPTER XIX

_Bruges under the Princes of the House of Burgundy_                  210

CHAPTER XX

_The Great Humiliation_                                              230

CHAPTER XXI

_The Terrible Duke and his Gentle Daughter_                          248

CHAPTER XXII

_The Final Catastrophe_                                              268

CHAPTER XXIII

_The Architects and Architecture of
   Bruges in the Fifteenth Century_                                  306

CHAPTER XXIV

_The Painters and the Pictures of Bruges in the Fifteenth Century_   334

CHAPTER XXV

_Modern Bruges_                                                      389

INDEX                                                                411



GENEALOGICAL TABLES


                                               PAGE

_I. Table of the Counts of Flanders from
        Baldwin I. to Baldwin V. facing_         36

_II. Table of the Counts of Flanders from
        Baldwin V. to Baldwin VII.
                                  facing_        82

_III. Table of the Counts of Flanders from
        Baldwin VIII. to Guy de Dampierre
                                  facing_       162

_IV. Table of the Counts of Flanders from
        Guy de Dampierre to Marguerite of
        Maele                     facing_       208

_V. Table of the Counts of Flanders from
        Philippe le Hardi to Philippe le
        Beau                      facing_       304



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                    PAGE

_The Belfry of Bruges (photogravure)                        Frontispiece_

_Godshuis on the Quai Vert_                                            1

_View of the Quai Vert_                                               12

_Palais du Franc and the Hôtel de Ville from River_                   13

_The Crypt of St. Basil's_                                            16

_The Church of Notre Dame_                                            19

_Charles the Good (from an old Bruges print)_                         38

_Angle of the Rue de l'Ane Aveugle_                                   56

_The Porch of Notre Dame_                                             79

_A Renaissance Gable_                                                 89

_Hôtel de Ville and Chapel of the Holy Blood_                         93

_The Minne Water Bridge and Round Tower_                              97

_Baptistry Chapel in the Crypt of St. Basil's_                       100

_Porch of the Chapel of St. Basil_                                   101

_Godshuis in the Rue du Marécage_                                    104

_The Palais du Franc_                                                109

_Interior of Notre Dame_                                             130

_Hospital of St. John and South Aisle of Notre Dame_                 132

_The Beguinage, with Tower of Notre Dame_                            134

_Old Houses on the Roya_                                             151

_A Fourteenth Century Chimney_                                       163

_Thirteenth-Century Iron Gates in Belfry_                            168

_Madonna and Niche_                                                  194

_Maele Castle_                                                       196

_The Hôtel de Ville_                                                 206

_Porte de Gand_                                                      219

_Old Houses at Damme_                                                235

_The Church of St. Sauveur_                                          238

_The Lepers' Hospital, Marché au Fil_                                241

_Old Roofs below the Belfry_                                         255

_The Belfry from the Quai Vert_                                      263

_Porte des Baudets_                                                  280

_Hôtel Gruthuise_                                                    287

_Kitchen in Gruthuise_                                               290

_Chimney-piece in the Gruthuise Palace_                              292

_The 'Paradise' of Notre Dame and Gruthuise_                         307

_Hooded Fire-place in the Gruthuise_                                 312

_Tribune of the Gruthuise in Notre Dame_                             314

_The Hôtel Bladelin_                                                 317

_The Ghistelhof_                                                     321

_Courtyard of the Hôtel Adornes_                                     322

_Tomb of Anselm Adornes_                                             324

_Van Oudvelde's Window by the Pont Flamand_                          328

_Quai du Rosaire_                                                    329

_Guild Hall of Archers of St. Sebastian_                             332

_Portrait of George Van der Pale_                                    349

_Gerard David's 'Baptism of Christ'_                                 359

_Memlinc's 'Adoration of the Magi'_                                  377

_Memlinc's 'St. John the Baptist'_                                   382

_Memlinc's 'St. Veronica'_                                           383

_Bruges from the River Yperlet_                                      392

_Godshuis, Quai des Marbriers_                                       394

_Lancelot Blondeel's Chimney-piece in the Palais du Franc_           399

_The Vlissinghe Tavern, frequented by Rubens_                        404

_Quai des Ménétriers_                                                406

_Pont St. Augustin_                                                  408

_Plan of Bruges                                            Facing_   410

[Illustration: BRUGES]



The Story of Bruges



CHAPTER I

_The First Flemings_


It is not to the stalwart Celtic tribes which Cæsar found scattered
about the low-lying sandy plain which stretches along the coast from the
mouth of the Rhine to the Canche that this part of Europe owes either
its name or its greatness.

The Menapii and the Morini, the bravest of them all and the last to
withstand the Roman legions, were at length compelled to bend their
necks beneath the yoke of Rome's enervating and effete civilization, and
when, four centuries later, a whirlwind of Northern barbarism had swept
the land, only a handful of them, sparsely scattered, abject, cringing,
hidden away in forest and marsh, were left to tell the tale.

The civilization of Rome had been clean wiped out in that quarter of
Europe. Silence unbroken settled down on the land, and for two hundred
years the Latin-Celts of the Netherlands slipped out of the world's
memory.

It was not until the middle of the six hundreds that men began once more
to think of them.

The cause of their reappearance upon the stage of European history is
chronicled for us in a contemporary life of St. Amand, Bishop of
Bourges.[1] It happened in this wise.

Towards the close of the year 630, Amand, who had journeyed to Rome, was
one day praying before the tomb of the Apostles, when suddenly he heard
the voice of St. Peter bidding him be up and return to Gaul, where he
must preach the Gospel.

So impressed was he with the reality of the warning, that he at once set
out for the northern province, and presently reached Sens.

Here he was told that there was a country beyond the Scheldt called
Gand, where dwelt a wild people who had forgotten God, and who
worshipped trees, and that so rude was this land, and so fierce were its
inhabitants, that no missionary had hitherto ventured there. This must
be the field, said Amand, which St. Peter would have me till, and with a
small band of companions he landed on the further bank of the Scheldt.

The reception the new comers met with was not one calculated to inspire
confidence. The natives, men and women alike, showed unmistakable signs
of hostility, and at length, in a wild outburst, seized upon Amand
himself and plunged him into the stream. This so terrified his
companions that they, all of them, drew back in fear of their lives. But
Amand, nothing daunted, went on with the work he had undertaken, and in
course of time won the confidence of the natives, many of whom he
baptized.

For thirty years he wandered up and down this forlorn district, enduring
all manner of hardships, preaching and teaching wherever he went.
Presently he was joined by other missionaries. Here and there churches
and monasteries were built. The land around soon began once more to be
brought under cultivation, and, beneath the shelter of their walls,
villages and little towns gradually sprung up. Bruges, St. Omer,
Thorhout, Tronchienne, each of them claims as its founder one or other
of the missionaries who at this time were evangelizing the country; and
at Bruges they still show the rude chapel on the banks of the Roya in
which St. Amand baptized his first neophytes.

It was not, however, to this remnant of resuscitated Celts that the
Netherlands owed the important part they played later on in the
civilization of Europe. A race ignorant alike of the refinement and the
corruption of Roman civilization, and which, because it was barbarous
itself, had never had its spirit crushed beneath the heel of barbarism,
a race which hailed from the same fatherland from whence came our own
ancestors, akin to them in habit of thought and speech and blood,
animated by the same intense passion for liberty and hatred of
servitude, by the same reverence for woman and love of home, by the same
keen admiration for the brave and the true, was destined to build up
that marvellous stronghold of mediæval freedom, culture and commercial
enterprise called Fleanderland, the land that is of the Fleming, of the
exile, the land whose hospitable shore had given to the victorious
Viking a haven for his ships and a foot or two of solid earth on which
to pitch his tent.

How or when the first Flemings came here are subjects wrapt in mystery.
Perhaps the same upheaval which, in the middle of the four hundreds,
drove our own Saxon forefathers from their old homes in Jutland and
Friesland and Sleswicke-Holstein to seek new homes in Britain, impelled
also the Saxon Flemings to the northern shore of Gaul. Be this as it
may, all along the coast line of the Netherlands were scattered, at a
very early date, settlements of men of Saxon origin, of this there can
be no doubt, who possessed in a very marked degree the qualities and
characteristics of their race. They were chaste, proud, daring,
avaricious, given to plunder. Mutual responsibility was the basis of
their social system; the Karl, or free land-holder, the pivot on which
hinged their entire political organization. Like all Saxons, they had a
horror of slavery. Courage for them was the queen of virtues; freedom
dearer than life; vengeance but the cultus of filial piety, and family
ties the most sacred of all.

These were the dominant tones which coloured all their institutions. At
the uproarious banquets at which in Fleanderland, as elsewhere, the
Karls assembled to deliberate on public affairs, to choose their
leaders, and deposit in a common hoard the _gulden_ destined for an
insurance fund in case of shipwreck, fire or storm, the first goblet
drained was in honour of Woden, for victory, and the last to the memory
of those heroes who had fallen on the battlefield.

When, after the carnage of _Fontanet_ (A.D. 841) all Europe was overrun
by robber bands, who killed, burnt and harried at will, in those rude
days when 'not to be slain,' as Stendhal says, 'and to have in winter a
good leathern jerkin, and,' in the case of a woman, not to be violated
by a whole squadron, was, for very many, the supreme sum of human
happiness, and all the world were seeking in feudalism a refuge from
anarchy such as this, and patiently accepting even the right of
_marquette_ as something less horrible than the horrors which they would
otherwise have to endure,[2] these hardy sons of the North, almost alone
among the peoples of Europe, retained their independence. Again and
again the feudal lords endeavoured to reduce them to serfdom, and again
and again their endeavour proved abortive.

In Fleanderland at least they preserved their liberty, living under
their own laws and their own elected chiefs; a nation of free men,
practically independent of the sovereigns who nominally ruled over them,
until, at all events, the advent of the House of Burgundy.

Of this stock was the real founder of Bruges--Baldwin of the Iron
Hand--first Count of Flanders.

His coming was in this wise.

It was the time of the break up of Charlemagne's artificial empire--A.D.
850--and strong men on all sides were gathering up the fragments and
laying the foundations of great houses, sometimes of kingdoms. The Danes
were everywhere harrying Neustria, and the old Frank king, Charles the
Bald, unable to purchase peace by the strength of his own arm, was
buying it at the best markets he could, with gold and concessions.
Guntfried and Gosfried, two Northern chieftains, had lately sworn him
fealty, and for the moment were exercising paramount influence over the
feeble will of their lord, whilst Rotbert, surnamed _le fort_, an
adventurer of obscure origin whom people had lately begun to talk about,
was at this time the strongest man along Loire, a freebooter, as some
said, from the forests of Germany, in whose veins ran the blood of
Charlemagne himself, according to others, the son of a butcher from the
shambles of Paris, matter of little moment. In days when a mighty hand
and an outstretched arm alone could lead to fortune, his reputation for
strength of will and thew was of far greater importance. This man, then,
it were politic to bind to the crumbling fortunes of the royal house, so
thought Guntfried and Gosfried, in all singleness of heart, and at their
instigation King Charles the Bald consented to receive his homage,
little thinking that he was thereby laying the foundations of a house
which would one day wreck his dynasty.

But the new vassal was something more than a strong man, he was a man,
too, of tact and address, and his influence soon became so great, and
the favours showered on him so large, that Guntfried and Gosfried,
jealous of the rival whom they themselves had set up, determined to
compass his overthrow.

To this end, supported by Louis, son of Charles the Bald, and by Judith,
his beautiful and accomplished daughter, they called to their assistance
the Flemish chief, Baldwin, son of Odoaker, a man of whose antecedents
we know nothing. Judith was at this time one of the most remarkable
women in Europe. Her career had been a strange and a stormy one. First
married, in his old age and as his second wife, to our own King
Ethelwolf of Wessex, it was to Judith, his step-mother, that Alfred the
Great was indebted for his earliest training.

When Ethelwolf died she had contracted an alliance with Ethelbald, a son
of the old king by a former marriage, and upon his death in 860 she
retired to Senlis, where she was living in queenly state under the
sovereign protection of its bishops when Baldwin saw her, became
enamoured of her beauty, and it would seem, with her own connivance,
carried her off for his bride.

King Charles was holding his Court at Soissons when the news of the
abduction and of his son's confederacy with Guntfried and Gosfried
reached his ears, and furious at the disregard shown to his parental
authority, he acted, for once, with energy and decision. Summoning the
nobles of his Court to his presence forthwith, he pronounced judgment
against the culprits in accordance with civil law, next obtained from
his complaisant bishops their excommunication, and marching in person
against the two conspiring vassals, surprised them at Meaux, and forced
them to lay down their arms. The plot then had for the moment failed.
Baldwin and Judith fled to the Court of Lothaire, and from thence to
Rome, where they sought the aid of that sturdy old Pontiff, Nicholas II.
Nor did they seek in vain.

'Your liegeman Baldwin,' he wrote to the King of France, 'has taken
refuge at the sacred threshold of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul,
and with earnest prayers has approached our pontifical throne.

'We therefore, from the summit of our Apostolic power, beseech you for
the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His Apostles Peter and Paul,
whose support Baldwin has preferred to that of earthly princes,
vouchsafe to grant him your pardon and to completely overlook his
offence, in order that, supported by your goodness, he may live in peace
along with your other faithful subjects; moreover, when we ask your
sublimity to forgive him, we are not only moved thereto by reason of the
charity we owe to all those who implore the pity and protection of the
Apostolic See, but we are impelled likewise by fear lest your anger
should drive Baldwin to ally himself with the Danes, the enemies of Holy
Church, and thus prepare new evils for the people of God.' This
effusion, however, does not seem to have made much impression on
Charles, and the following year Pope Nicholas wrote again, and with
vigour. '"Consider the times," says the Apostle, "for evil days are at
hand," and I say unto you that the danger which he announces is already
at your door. See to it, then, that you do not bring down upon your head
disasters yet more terrible. Have sufficient good sense to master your
spleen, and be not for ever deaf to Baldwin.' At length, not without
reluctance, and less from love of his daughter than from fear of his
redoubtable son-in-law and the Danes, Charles yielded to the Pope's
request. On the 25th of October 863, he received Judith at his palace at
Verberie, and shortly afterwards her union with Baldwin was celebrated
with great splendour at Auxerre. But though Charles had consented to
acknowledge the marriage, no argument could induce him to be present at
the ceremony by which it was made legal. 'I could not persuade the
king,' runs the letter in which Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims recounts to
Pope Nicholas the whole affair, and Hincmar had probably at this time
more influence with Charles than anyone else, 'I could not persuade the
king to go in person to the wedding, but he sent his ministers and
officers of state, and in compliance with your request has conferred the
highest honours on Baldwin.'

Thanks, then, to the intervention of the Pope, the main object which
Guntfried and Gosfried had in view was at length obtained. Whilst
Rotbert, who had been successively created Count of Anjou and Abbot of
Tours, was consolidating his power on the banks of the Loire, Baldwin
was being invested with still greater authority over the Northern
'Marches,' in the vicinity of the Lys and the Scheldt.

The first was the founder of the royal house of France, the second the
ancestor to whom all the Counts of Flanders traced their descent.



CHAPTER II

_Earliest Bruges_


From a very early date, perhaps since the time of the Romans, there had
stood some nine leagues west of Ghent, on a small, oblong-shaped island,
formed by the confluence of the Boterbeke with an elbow of the Roya, and
a deep, broad moat which united the two streams, a fortified camp or
castle surrounded by a handful of cottages. Hard-by on the mainland,
near the spot where the rivers met, stood a small, ancient sanctuary,
which tradition said St. Amand had built, and further up stream, on the
banks of the Boterbeke, a larger church dedicated to the Saviour, and
said to be the handiwork of St. Eloi.

This place, perhaps from the _brugge_ or heather which surrounded it,
perhaps from the _brigge_ or bridge by which it was approached, was
called Brugge or Bruggestock or Bruggeswelle--a lonely, desolate place
hemmed in by forest and marsh, and, from the nature of its site, well
calculated to form a stronghold against the Danes.

Moved by this consideration, hither came Baldwin and Judith when they
had made their peace with the irascible King Charles, determined to make
Brugge the headquarters of their government and their principal abode. A
felicitous choice of residence destined to be fruitful in results.
Thanks to it, we shall see the tumbled-down ruins of Bruggestock develop
later on into that wondrous conglomeration of picturesque civic
splendour--rival, in its heyday, of Venice, alike in commerce and in
treasures of art, and in glory of piled-up brick, which later
generations called Bruges, the Queen of the North.

Before going further, let us linger awhile over the Brugge of Baldwin's
day. The old fortress which he found there was built on an oblong-shaped
island. The river Roya, which enclosed it on two sides (those facing
S.E. and N.E.), still runs in its ancient bed; it flows alongside of
that pleasant lime grove, which some old Burgomaster of a hundred years
ago planted in front of that unlovely terrace of substantial,
comfortable-looking eighteenth-century _bourgeois_ homes which goes by
the name of the Dyver.

Soon, however, after the bend of the stream, the Roya now burrows
underground, vaulted over in the seventeenth century, and wends its
subterranean course along the south-west side of the _Place du Bourg_,
under Government House, and at the back of the houses which line the
east side of the _rue Flamande_, and comes once more into daylight just
opposite the old Academy in the _Place des Biscayens_.

As to the Boterbeke--the stream which formed the north-west boundary of
the old Bourg, its course has long since been diverted, and it now only
skirts the city. It formerly entered Bruges beyond the station, near the
spot where the old Bouverie gate stood forty years ago, crept along near
the cathedral, down the _rue du Vieux Bourg_, beneath the Belfry, built
on piles thrust into its bed, and finally mingled its waters with those
of the Roya at the corner of the _rue Breidal_. The moat which formed
the south-western boundary of the old Bourg has also been filled in,
and the present _rue Neuve_ is built over its ancient bed.

Of the actual buildings which Baldwin found at Brugge, it is doubtful
whether any remain. Possibly the Baptistry Chapel, in the rear of the
Chapel of St. Basil, is of the date which tradition claims for it, and,
if so, it may perhaps be identified with St. Amand's Chapel on the banks
of the Roya, but recent expert investigation makes it almost certain
that this portion of the Chapel of St. Basil dates from the same epoch
as the rest of the building, and that Baldwin, Bras de Fer, was himself
its founder. St. Eloi's Church of Our Lady occupied the site of the
present cathedral, but of the original structure no vestige remains,
save perhaps the lower portion of the tower, and even this is doubtful.
The old Bourg itself had fallen into such a state of decay when Baldwin
first came to Bruges, that he did not dare deposit there the relics of
St. Donatian which had been given to him by Archbishop Ebber of Rheims,
but sent them for safe keeping to his castle at Thorhout, about three
leagues south of Bruges, until the new bourg which he was building
should be ready to receive them. The old fortress was never restored,
but its stones were used later on during the reign of Baldwin II. for
the construction of a wall round the city, and of this wall no vestige
remains.

Baldwin's new Bourg was built on an island formed by a backwater of the
Roya--an irregular-shaped strip of land of considerably smaller
dimensions than the island of the old Bourg. The backwater in question
branched off at right angles to the main stream, and running for a short
distance straight on, presently turned sharp round to the left, at a
little beyond the site of the present fish market; and then gradually
curved round till it again met the river at the corner of the _Grand'
Place_, and of the _rue Philipstock_.

[Illustration: VIEW OF THE QUAI VERT]

The course of this backwater has long since been entirely changed.
Running on in a straight line past the fish market, it now empties
itself into the _grand coupure_, and is one of the most picturesque
waterways in Bruges.

Along the right bank of this beautiful stream, going towards the great
canal, runs a towing-path, well shaded with poplar trees and limes, and
fringed on the side with some delightful old gabled houses, and by

[Illustration: Palais du Franc and the Hôtel de Ville from River]

others less interesting and of more recent date. But it is the left bank
which gives the stream its greatest charm, for here, at the angle where
the backwater turns off from the main stream, stand certain phlegmatic
municipal offices of the last century, laving their feet in the
water--comfortable-looking, old-fashioned red-brick buildings which,
somehow or other, 'the golden stain of time' has managed to make
beautiful. Behind them soar the high-pitched roofs and dormer windows of
an old city hall, whose pinnacles and turrets and spires give play to
light and shade, and break up the sky line. Hard-by, at the end of a
narrow street which runs back from the water, behold a rival of the
Bridge of Sighs, and in a gilded gatehouse without gates, the marriage
of the Middle Age and the Renaissance, and to the right, quaint,
venerable and picturesque in weather-beaten brick, the Palace of the
Liberty of Bruges, and further still, a vista of old homes, and shady
lawns, and overhanging trees and bridges, hunch-backed and of ancient
date.

But to return to Baldwin's bourg, the Castle itself--a spacious and
strongly-fortified building, which stood on ground now occupied by the
Palais de Justice, the Hotel de Ville, and the unsightly modern
erections on the east side of the square--included within its precincts
not only Baldwin's own residence, but the residence of the Châtelains or
Viscounts of Bruges, the _Ghistelhaus_ where hostages were lodged, the
Court chapel and the Court prison; opposite this group of buildings on
the north side, that is, of the Bourg, stood a sanctuary dedicated to
Our Lady, which Baldwin had founded to receive the relics of St.
Donatian, and further on the cloisters of the priests who served it.

The whole island was encircled by a strong and lofty wall, pierced by
four great gateways, each one protected by a portcullis and a
drawbridge, which were the only means of communication with the outer
world. Such was the citadel reared on the banks of the Roya by the
father and founder of Bruges. Of his handiwork only a fragment has come
down to us, but a fragment so perfect, that as one enters the gloomy
crypt beneath the Chapel of the Precious Blood, the mind is
involuntarily carried back to the time when Baldwin and his family
worshipped there, a thousand years ago.

[Illustration: THE CRYPT OF ST. BASIL'S]

Clustering around Baldwin's great fortress were the houses and huts and
hovels of such members of the sovereign's household as were unable to
find lodgings within the bourg, of the purveyors who catered for his
daily needs, and of a handful of traders and country folk who sought and
found safety beneath the shadow of its walls. Even at this early date
Bruges must have been a place of some commercial note, for the coins
which from time to time have been found in the neighbourhood show that a
mint had been already established there in the days of the first Baldwin
(865-879), and before the close of his son's reign, so greatly had the
settlement increased, that it was deemed necessary to surround the whole
with a moat and a great wall, built up of the _veltsteen_ (field stone)
and rubble, which had once been the old bourg (A.D. 912).

Baldwin, Bras de Fer, that redoubtable warrior whom no man had ever
seen in the day-time without his coat-of-mail, and who in time of war
was said to have not even doffed it at night, had received the County,
or, as it was called in those days, Marquisate of Flanders, on terms of
defending that quarter of Neustria from the ravages of the Danes, and
though with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, he managed to keep
the sea-dogs at bay, his reign of fourteen years was one unbroken
hurricane of effort and strife, until he saw the shadow of death on the
horizon, and then at last the old soldier sheathed his sword and
withdrew to the Abbey of St. Bertin, there in the quiet of its cloister
to gather up his strength for the last great battle.

So, too, was it during the days of the second Baldwin, but the mantle of
the old Marquis had not fallen on his son. The hard head and iron will
and iron hand of Baldwin, Bras de Fer, was not the heritage of Baldwin
the Bald, and the wild courage of the Karls of the seaboard, who had to
bear the brunt of the battle whilst their panic-stricken chief was
safely entrenched in his fortress at Bruges, could do little more than
stem the tide. Why dwell on the woes of Neustria, laments Adroald, a
monk of Fleury, why dwell on the woes of Neustria? From the shore of the
ocean right away to Auvergne there is no country which has preserved its
freedom, no city, no village but has been overwhelmed by the devastating
fury of these Pagans, and this has been going on for thirty years. Such
was the state of affairs at the close of the eight hundreds, and no land
on the Continent of Europe had suffered more than Flanders, but though
the rural population had been all but wiped out, though hamlet and abbey
had gone up in flames, though cities like Courtrai and Arras and Ghent
had been pillaged or razed to the ground, somehow or other Bruges had
escaped, nay, in spite of the surrounding devastation, perhaps by reason
of it, she had prospered, had increased her population, had enlarged her
borders, had girded herself, as we have seen, with ramparts, and added
to her crown of sanctuaries a new gem.

In the year 880, on the left bank of the Roya, a little higher up stream
than the old bourg, the citizens of Bruges built for themselves a
chapel, and dedicated it to St. Mary and St. Hilarius--a sufficiently
humble structure, knit together like so many churches in the eight
hundreds, of rudely-hewn beams and rough planks.

From this grain of mustard seed in after ages there sprang up a tree
that is still the glory of Bruges--a stately shrine, adorned by a
steeple, than which, in its grand simplicity, there is not one perhaps
more lovely in the world.

Baldwin II., who died in the year 918, was buried in the Abbey Church at
Blandinium.

The circumstances which led to his interment there are sufficiently
curious. They had at first laid him alongside his father at St. Omer,
but when his widow Alfrida, who wished to share her lord's grave, was
informed by the abbot of that monastery that his rule forbade him to
admit even a dead woman within the precincts of his cloister, she gave
orders that Baldwin's remains should be translated to Blandinium, where
they buried him with much solemnity _in ædicula Parentis Virginis_, and
where she herself was laid to rest eleven years later.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH OF NOTRE DAME]



CHAPTER III

_Arnulph the Great_


Some six years before the death of Baldwin Calvus, his suzerain, Charles
the Mild, had endeavoured to buy off Rolf the Ganger, a pirate chief who
about this time had carved out for himself 'a sphere of influence' along
Seine, with an offer of Baldwin's fief. But Baldwin meanwhile had got
wind of the plot, had set his house in order, had strengthened his
border towns. Rolf refused to exchange the land which his sword had won
for a less advantageous holding, which perhaps he might never obtain,
and the famous treaty of Claire-sur-Epte was the outcome of his common
sense.

By it he became the French King's vassal for the province we now call
Normandy, received the hand of his daughter in marriage, and embraced
the Christian faith. And though to the cynical Norman chief his oath of
fealty may have been little more than an empty form, and his change of
religion but a move in the game, the signing of the treaty of
Claire-sur-Epte was, for Neustria, the first streak of dawn. Then it was
that the storm which had been so long whirling its fury on the land at
last began to lull, and when, in 918, Baldwin Calvus was gathered to his
fathers, and Arnulph his son reigned in his stead, the times were
sufficiently tranquil to enable him to gather up the slackened reins of
government, and to set about a work much needed after the long years of
bloodshed and anarchy--a work of healing, and restoration, and reform.

It was chiefly in the reorganization of the Church in Flanders, and, in
the first place, of the great religious houses, that Arnulph sought to
accomplish the object he had in view. Matter of no little moment in days
when the lay aristocracy knew no trade but war, and the peasant was
still his lord's chattel, when the monastery was not only the last
shelter of learning and the arts, but the only agricultural college and
the only technical school, when the monk was the one physician, and the
one intelligent artisan, and the clerk, alike legislator, notary,
scribe, was almost the only man who knew how to sign his name.

Though the Church had suffered much at the hands of the Danes,
monasticism was not, at this time, at such a low ebb in Flanders as it
was in England in the days of Alfred. In England it was practically
extinct, in Flanders it had only languished. Nevertheless, and strange
as it may seem, it was chiefly owing to the efforts of Count Baldwin's
English wife, Alfrida,[3] the daughter of our own King Alfred, that
monasticism became once more in Flanders a burning and a shining light.
She it was who first tended the dying flame. The good work was completed
by her son Arnulph, who, in this matter, played much the same part in
his own dominions as that played in England by King Edred, his first
cousin. He was the builder or restorer of eighteen great monasteries.
The famous Chapter of St. Donatian at Bruges was founded and
munificently endowed by him. The Collegiate Church of St. Mary at
Ardenburg, and the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Thorhout, were each
of them his handiwork, and a host of minor foundations bear witness to
his untiring energy and zeal.

He himself acted as abbot, or chief officer, of the great Abbey of St.
Bertin at St. Omer. He was the friend and patron of St. Gerard, the
thaumaturgus of Brogne, and through him he reformed more than one
religious house. He had received St. Dunstan with hospitality when he
fled before the fury of Æthelgifu, and in after years, when the storm
had passed and Dunstan had returned to his own land, we find the
Margrave of Flanders among his correspondents. A letter still
extant--_Epistola Arnulfi ad Dunstanum Archiepiscopum_ (MS. Cotton,
Tiberius A. 15, fo. 159b)--bears witness to their mutual esteem and
affection.

Dunstan's own munificence to the monasteries of Flanders, which, after
those of his own country, as Dr. Stubbs[4] points out, were, in a
special manner, the object of his solicitude, was doubtless prompted by
gratitude for the kindness which he had received from the Flemish monks
and their great Count Abbot Arnulph, and it was probably owing to
Dunstan's laudatory stories concerning the Flemish Count, that 'the fame
of his charity and good works was spread abroad throughout all the land
of Albion.' This last fact we learn from a curious letter addressed to
Arnulph himself by an English ecclesiastic of high position, whose
identity, as Dr. Stubbs observes, it is almost impossible to establish.
He was certainly the head of a monastery, perhaps a bishop. Dr. Stubbs
conjectures Ethelwold of Winchester, or may be Elfege, Ethelwold's
predecessor in the same See, and Dunstan's near relative. Whoever its
author may have been, the letter is an interesting one, and sufficiently
characteristic of the age in which it was written.

After expressing his best wishes, and enlarging on Arnulph's fame and
good works, the writer of the epistle in question goes on to say that he
was sending a messenger who would explain to Arnulph by word of mouth
that he had in his possession a book of the Gospels which had been
purloined from his--the writer's--Church by 'two clerks waxen old in
wickedness, and who, a fact much to be marvelled at in such men, had
afterwards confessed what they had done, and acknowledged that,
journeying to Flanders to recover a little girl who had been carried off
by his--Count Arnulph's--Danes, they had visited the Count in one of his
country houses, perhaps Winendaele or Maele, and there sold to him the
volume in question for the sum of three marks.' The writer concludes by
begging Arnulph to restore the book, 'for the love of God and all His
Saints.'[5] It would seem, then, from the above letter, that a certain
number of Danes were at this time settled in Flanders, and that they had
not yet entirely relinquished their predatory habits.

'Ego Arnulphus dictus Magnus'--I, Arnulph, whom men call the Great. Thus
did the Count of Flanders style himself in the year 961. In a grant of
fresh privileges to the great Benedictine house at Blandinium, indited
perhaps when the hand of death was upon him, Count Arnulph writes in
lowlier strain, 'Ego cognosco,' he says, 'Ego cognosco me reum et
peccatorem.'

He knew himself better perhaps than did his people, and yet the surname
which they gave him was one which he justly deserved. If any man merited
to be called great,, that man was Arnulph of Flanders. Consider what he
did.

In spite of almost insurmountable difficulties, in spite of a body eaten
up by disease, and often racked and torn by pain, whilst with one hand
he kept his garden gate, no child's play, with the other he went on
patiently sowing and dressing, and watering the tender seeds of that
plant which we call civilization, and this continued for forty years.

There is another side to the picture. The age of Arnulph was an age of
blood, and some said his hands too were stained with it. Perhaps they
were, but if this were so, at least he never sinned for mean or sordid
or selfish ends. If the guilt of murder encumbered his soul, it was
burthened for the sake of his people.

Of the greatest crime with which his enemies charged him, he denied all
knowledge, and even that black crime found its sanction in the approval
of the nation.

Flanders had so long been a prey to cruel and treacherous foes, that she
had at length come to believe that perjury, treason, cool-blooded murder
were legitimate means of defence, and the death of Wilhelm the Norman,
lured to destruction with fair speech and false promises, covered
Baldwin Baldzo[6] with glory, for if Arnulph had inspired the deed, it
was Baldwin who struck the blow. It gained for him more credit in
Flanders than if he had taken ten cities, and when he returned to his
native land, still reeking with his victim's blood, he was everywhere
received with frenzied ovations, and proclaimed the saviour of his
country.

Perhaps he merited the title. Wilhelm was the mightiest man of his day,
and he had always shown himself an implacable enemy to Flanders.



CHAPTER IV

_Progress of the City_


The story of the long chain of discords and disasters which make up the
reign of the grandson and successor of Count Arnulph the Great is not
graven in the stones of Bruges.

Arnulph II. was the founder of no monastery, the builder of no church.
No city hall nor hospital owes its origin to him. So far as Bruges is
concerned, his reign is a blank.

It could hardly have been otherwise. The days of Arnulph were very evil.
On all sides brute force had usurped the place of justice. Wars and
rumours of wars were making the whole world shudder. Flood, famine and
pestilence had filled Europe with an exceeding bitter cry. The thousand
years which were to elapse between Christ's first and second coming had
well-nigh run out. Surely His sign would soon appear in the heavens.
Surely the advent of the great King was drawing very near. So thought
all the world, and in an agony of hope and apprehension the whole world
was waiting with bated breath. Presently a streak of light appeared on
the horizon, but it was not the light which the world expected. With the
ten hundreds a new era had opened in Europe. Scourged by the hand of
misfortune, afflicted humanity seems to have at last realized the need
of drawing closer together, and a very general revival of commerce, of
literature, of art and of religion was the outcome.

Not least among the great leaders under whose auspices these things
were taking place, was Count Baldwin IV. of Flanders. Baldwin of the
Long Beard, as men called him.

He took up the work of civilization where Arnulph the Great had left it,
and his one ambition was to bring it to a successful issue. 'He was
noble and brave,' we read in the Flemish Chronicle, 'a man of good
report, and one who feared God. His riches were immense, he marched at
the head of his armies and sowed terror among his foes, and his sword
was no less keen than his mother wit. He honoured righteousness, was a
zealous promoter of reform, protected the Fatherland and defended the
Church. Stern to law breakers and men puffed up by pride, to the meek
and gentle he ever showed himself gentle and meek.'

Perhaps the picture is too highly coloured, but Flanders certainly
prospered under Baldwin's government. The outcome of his dispute with
the Emperor Henry II. was the island of Walcheren and the city of
Valenciennes. The marriage of his son with Ethel of France added Corbie
to the paternal inheritance, whilst his own marriage with Norman
Eleanor, if it brought him no increase of territory, at least healed the
old feud between Flanders and her powerful neighbour.

But this was not all. Under the fostering care of this prince, and
thanks to the very large charter of liberties which he granted, the
trade of Flanders increased by leaps and bounds. 'In these days,' we
read, 'the ports of Montreuil and Boulogne were full of shipping, and
traders from all sides crowded to Bruges, already famous by reason of
the rich merchandise they brought there.' Nor did the national
prosperity diminish when, in 1036, the old Count was gathered to his
fathers. So greatly had Bruges increased, that his son Baldwin of Lille
found it necessary, during the third year of his reign, to rebuild and
extend its walls.

It was about this time that Flanders first began to consider herself the
common fatherland of all foreigners who chose to reside within her
borders. Indeed, Baldwin of Lille seems to have kept open house at
Bruges for all the political refugees of the period. Hither, in 1036,
came Emma of England, widow of Canute the Great, driven into exile by
the machinations of Godwin, and the accession of her step-son Harold I.

Here she was joined later on by her own son Harthacnut, and here that
prince received the English envoys when, upon the death of Harold in
1040, they waited on him with an offer of the English throne.

Queen Emma was a daughter of Duke Richard the Fearless of Normandy, and
consequently the first cousin of Baldwin of the Long Beard. She did not
prolong her stay at Bruges after Harthacnut's acceptance of the throne
of England, but four years later Count Baldwin had an opportunity of
receiving another English connection, the Princess Gunhilda, a niece of
Canute the Great. She was accused of having opposed the election of King
Edward the Confessor, and forthwith fled to Bruges.

When, in 1047, Godwin's son Swegen was outlawed, he too found shelter at
Bruges, and when, four years later, the great English Earl himself had
to flee his native land, he directed his steps to the same retreat. It
was, doubtless, at his palace in the Bourg that Baldwin entertained his
guests, and most likely the Crypt of St. Basil--sole relic of Bruges as
Godwin saw it--was the place where they went to pray. Here Earl Godwin
remained all the winter, busy with many things, anon negotiating a
marriage for Tostig with Baldwin's daughter Judith, anon constructing a
great fleet with which he would presently conquer the right to live in
peace on his native soil.

Shortly before Baldwin's death, another great Englishman came to
Flanders, perhaps to Bruges.

Hereward, son of Leofric, the last man who defied the right of the
Conqueror's sword. Here he found for himself a wife, and here he would
have ended his days in peace had not the insults heaped on his mother
called him back to England. With him there went a band of Karls, and
with him they laid down their lives at Thorney. If there had been in
England three men like him, runs an old rhymed chronicle, the French
would have never landed, and if he had only lived, he would have driven
them back to France.

About this time, too, there came to Bruges two other victims of the
Conqueror's ambition. Githa, Earl Godwin's widow, and his daughter,
Gunhilda. Of Githa's subsequent career we are ignorant, but Gunhilda
made Bruges her principal residence for nearly twenty years. Here she
died on the 24th August 1087, and by way of acknowledgment for the
kindness she had received at the hands of the burghers, she bequeathed
her jewels to their Collegiate Church--jewels so precious that, when
they were sold a century later, a sufficient sum was realized to pay for
its restoration. They laid her to rest in the cloister of St. Donatian,
and when, in 1786, her tomb was opened, they found therein a leaden
tablet, still preserved in the Cathedral of Bruges, on which was graved
the story of her virtues and her sorrows.

Baldwin of Lille was succeeded by his second son, Baldwin the Good. The
tumultuous days of his immediate successors and the harshness and
violence of nearly all the sovereigns who followed them, have enhanced
perhaps the glory of his good fame. Be this as it may, the old Flemish
chroniclers delight to dwell on the story of this gentle youth, but his
name is not linked with Bruges.

He was a prince, they tell us, of wondrous dignity, and yet of a
disposition so sweet that all men were drawn to him. He alone of the
Counts of Flanders never once unsheathed his sword, and so great was his
love of peace that he would never suffer his subjects to do so. 'His
officers carried white wands, long and straight, symbols of justice and
mercy,' and they maintained such good order throughout his domains, that
no man was fain at night to bar his doors against thieves, and when the
husbandman went home in the evening, he did not fear to leave his
ploughshare in the fields, and this is the reason, they add, why all men
called him 'the good Count of Flanders.'

In order to accurately appreciate the causes of the almost perennial
struggles between the sovereigns of Flanders and their subjects
throughout the Middle Ages, it is important to know something of the
men, and of their position in the body politic who formed the backbone
of the people's resistance; of the men from whose primitive institutions
were gradually evolved the complicated municipal machinery by which all
the great cities of Flanders were eventually governed, and in defence of
which almost all the struggles in question were originally undertaken.
These men were the Flemings or Karls of the seaboard, Saxons of pure
blood, distinct in race, though not in speech, from the inhabitants of
the towns, for in the veins of the townsman there often flowed a strain
of Celtic blood, and at Bruges especially, where, as we know, at an
early date there was settled a colony of foreign merchants, the
population must soon have become one of mixed race.

The Karls then formed a class apart, a vast middle class of free
landholders, distinct alike from the Court nobility--the comrades of the
Count, his bodyguard, the great feudal lords who knew no trade but
war--from the _vilains_ or serfs who were their retainers; and from the
inhabitants of the towns. But the Karl was not only a farmer, he was
sometimes also a fisherman, often a merchant, and always, and above all
things, a soldier. If it had been otherwise, he could never have
preserved either his own personal freedom or the freedom of the soil he
tilled. To him toil was no disgrace. The greatest of their chiefs, even
those among them in whose veins ran noble blood, were not ashamed to
dig.

Herred Krangrok, who dwelt along with his wife Ethel, a niece of the
Bishop of Térouane, in the impregnable Castle of Salvesse in the midst
of the marshy forest land, which in those days stretched away beyond
Furnes, was a typical Karl of high degree. This man seems to have been a
brewer by trade, and they gave him the surname _Krangrok_ from a habit
he had of throwing his cloak back over his shoulder when he was driving
his own plough.

The home of the Karls was a long strip of territory stretching along the
coast from the great Abbey of Muenickereede to the marshes of
Wasconingawala in the county of Guines--a strip of territory of unequal
width, of which the northern boundary would now be difficult to trace,
but which certainly included within its borders the townships of Ardres,
of Alveringhem and Furnes--the vast forest of Thorout, and all that
district which was later on submitted to the jurisdiction of the Liberty
of Bruges.

This land was divided up into a number of districts called circles or
guilds, which the inhabitants themselves administered by means of their
own elected chiefs, who were at the same time their magistrates and
their legislators.

The ties which bound them to the sovereign were of the loosest nature,
amounting to little more than this--personal service for the protection
of the Fatherland, and the payment of a voluntary tribute which they
themselves assessed.

Certainly up to the end of the tenth century, and perhaps for a century
later, the Karls were still a fierce, wild race, much given to
hereditary feuds and private warfare, still infected with Pagan
superstitions, and still occasionally practising Pagan rites.

The vast majority of them were poor, but a certain number, especially
after the triumph of Robert the Frisian, succeeded in amassing wealth,
and of these not a few filled high positions alike in Church and State.

Under the sovereignty of the early Flemish Counts the Karls had little
to complain of, and though doubtless the feudal tendencies of their
rulers were fostered by the _rapprochement_ with Normandy under Baldwin
le Barbu and Baldwin of Lille, the Karls were still so independent of
their princes, that whilst Baldwin, for a consideration, was helping
William in his projects against England, the Karls were straining every
nerve in behalf of their Saxon kinsmen on the other side of the water,
and it was not till the regency of Richilde of Hainault, the widow of
Baldwin the Good, that any systematic attempt was made to bring them
under subjection.

In the neighbouring States of Guines and Normandy, Northern freedom and
Northern notions of liberty had long ago given place to a feudal
_régime_ of the sternest type, under which the freehold farmer of olden
days had rapidly sunk into the _vilain_. The untimely death of Baldwin
the Good, in 1070, afforded the Flemish barons, as they thought, a
fitting opportunity for reducing the Karls of Flanders to a similar
condition. Arnulph, the heir to the throne, was a youth of fifteen
years, and Richilde of Hainault, the Countess Dowager, had assumed the
reins of government and taken for her chief councillor Albéric de Coucy,
a man who, on account of his tyrannical tendencies, had experienced the
wrath of Baldwin of Lille. The first measure of her reign showed the
spirit by which she was animated--the imposition of a tax, an _inaudita
et indebita tributa_, as Lambert of Ardres describes it, the proceeds of
which were intended to defray the cost of maintaining town ramparts.
Since these had hitherto been kept in repair by means of forced labour,
and the _Böelfart_ was only to be levied on the Karls of the seaboard,
they naturally regarded the measure in question as a direct attack on
their liberty.

That the men now called on to pay for the work were henceforth to be
considered as of like condition with the slaves who had formerly toiled
at it, this for the Karls was the meaning of Richilde's decree--in the
bitter words of Lambert of Ardres, it was the outcome of the hatred she
bore them, 'and they murmured to one another and to God, and they
bethought them of the valiant deeds of Robert, the good Count's
brother.' Flanders was in a state of ferment, but the widow of Baldwin
was in no way daunted at the tokens of the coming storm. She had
inflamed the heart of a mighty champion, who had had experience in the
taming of Karls--William FitzOsberne, Earl of Hereford, the Conqueror's
right hand at Senlac, but lately his Viceroy in England, and the bravest
and the craftiest of all his knights. She had conciliated the good will
of Baldwin's kinsman, Eustace, Count of Boulogne, and for 4000 livres
she had purchased the help of Philip I. of France.

Confident in this added pillar of strength, Richilde made light of her
subjects' complaints, and answered their appeal to Robert the Frisian by
cutting off three-score heads and by invading his county of Alost.

But Richilde had reckoned without her host. Robert was away in Holland
at the time, but he was not a man to tamely suffer an insult, nor to
despise the prayer of those who asked his help. He had inherited from
his Saxon forebears the courage, the daring, the generosity and the
violence of their race, and he no sooner learned what had happened, than
he set out for Alost, drove out Richilde, and made haste to occupy
Cassel, an old Roman camp on the top of a solitary hill a thousand feet
high, some three leagues south of Dunkirk. Cassel was in the heart of
the Karl country, and the Karls from all sides flocked to his standard.
The towns, too, sent their contingents. From Bruges, from Thorhout, from
Furnes, from Courtrai, from Oudenburg, from Ypres, burghers came in by
the thousand, and soon Robert the Frisian was at the head of a mighty
host.

But Richilde and her allies had not been idle. FitzOsberne had summoned
his cohorts from Normandy. Eustace had set his fighting men in battle
array, all the chivalry of France was enrolled under Philip's banner,
and presently, from the height of his stronghold, Count Robert saw a
huge, disorderly rabble, knee-deep in snow and sand, slowly wending its
way through the plain stretched out before him. Men of a hundred races
were there, and may be as many motives had armed them, but the task they
had sworn to accomplish was one--to stamp out for ever the last torch of
Northern freedom.

On the evening of the 21st of February, shrivelled with cold and worn
out with bad roads and hard marching, these men at length reached
Bavichove and there made camp. From the heights of Mount Cassel, Count
Robert saw them. In the small hours of the morning he swooped down from
his eyrie, and when the sun rose the great Confederate host had melted
away; all that was left of it at Bavichove was a mire of red slush and
a heap of mangled corpses.

Richilde herself had escaped, and the swiftness of his heels had saved
Philip, her hired champion, by a hair's breadth, but William
FitzOsberne, the husband who had fought for love, was among the slain,
and--cruellest blow of all--young Arnulph, too, had fallen, cut down
when he thought the bitterness of death had passed.

Thus much had Richilde gained by mixing herself up in the conspiracy
against the Karls, but she had not yet reaped the full harvest of her
arrogance. The hour of their final triumph had not yet come. Immediately
after the death of Arnulph, Philip of France had received the homage of
his younger brother Baldwin, and it took five long years of fighting and
diplomacy to establish Robert on the throne of Flanders.

At length, in 1076, Richilde yielded to the inevitable, acknowledged the
pretensions of the rival of her son, and accepted from him as dower the
châtelaincy of Audenarde. Here she remained till the end of her days,
occupying herself with prayer and good works in expiation for the bloody
war which her disastrous policy had entailed. The life of the châtelaine
of Audenarde was one long act of contrition for the sins of the Countess
of Flanders. The conquest of Robert meant the conquest of the Karls, and
the effect of their triumph was immediately observable in the changed
policy of the government, not only at home but abroad. Their rights as
free men were now acknowledged throughout the country, and their chiefs
were received at Court on an equality with the feudal lords, henceforth
we find them occupying high positions alike in Church and State.
Erembald, a simple Karl of Furnes, was appointed Châtelain of
Bruges--the highest civil appointment in Flanders. One of his sons
received the provostship of the Collegiate Church of St. Donatian
(Bruges), the first ecclesiastical preferment in the county--not a few
of their daughters were wedded to the proudest of the feudal lords, and
Robert's own son, Philip, Viscount of Ypres, did not think it beneath
his dignity to take a Karline for his wife.

The same policy was pursued during the reign of the Frisian's successor.
Amongst the knights who followed Count Robert II. to Jerusalem were not
a few Saxon chiefs. The names of some of them have come down to
us--Siger of Ghistelles, Walter of Oudenburg, Engelram of Lillers,
Erembald of Bruges, the mightiest of them all, and Erembald's son
Robert, Count Robert's intimate friend and his most trusted servant. The
influence of the Karls is distinctly traceable in the changed attitude
of Flanders with regard to England. Baldwin had done all he could to
strengthen William, Robert strained every nerve to oppose him. He would
have brought back the line of Alfred, or restored the English throne to
the house of the great Canute, had not the Conqueror been wily enough to
circumvent him. Raised to supreme authority by the aid of Saxon Karls,
Robert the Frisian could hardly have done otherwise than show himself
friendly to the cause of their compatriots.

Although, as we have seen, the victory of Bavichove, 1071, or rather the
peace of Mayence five years later, had for the moment settled the
question of Karlish freedom, there were still not wanting among the
feudal lords men who envied the power and prosperity to which the Karls
had attained, and who wished to reduce them to slavery. Their plans had
been foiled by Robert I. and kept in check by Robert II., but when that
prince fell at the siege of Meaux (thrown from his horse in a narrow
lane and trampled

I.--Genealogical Table of the Counts of Flanders from Baldwin I. to
Baldwin V.

    Osburga=Ethelwolf, King of Wessex (1)[7]=Judith d. of Emperor Charles the Bald=(3) =Baldwin I.= (Bras de Fer)
            | _d._ 856                                                                |  _d._ 879
   +--------+---------------+                                                         |
Alfred the Great        Ethelbald of Wessex (2)=Judith d. of Emperor                  |
   |_d._ 901             _d._ 860         Charles the Bald                            |
   +----------------------+-------------------------+         +-----------------------+-----------+
                        Edward               Alfrida==Baldwin II.= (Calvus)             Rodulph, Count of Cambrai
                       _d._ 924                     | _d._ 918                                    |
                        Edred                  =Arnulph I.= (the Great) = Adela of        Baldwin Baldzo, Regent
                       _d._ 955                    _d._ 964             | Vermandois      of Flanders during minority
                                                                        |                 of Arnulph II.
                                                                        |
                                                                =Baldwin III.= (reigned during = Matilda of Burgundy
                                                                the life of his father from    |
                                                                957 to 961)  _d._ 961          |
                                                      +----------------------------------------+
                                        =Arnulph II.==Susanna
                                         _d._ 988     | of Italy
                                               =Baldwin IV.= (Longbeard)=Eleanor of Normandy
                                                        _d._ 1036       |
                                                                  =Baldwin V.= (of Lille)=Ethel of France
                                                                     _d._ 1067

to death by his own knights as they were pressing on to victory), the
rights of the Karls of Flanders were once more called in question. His
son and successor, Baldwin Hapkin, a youth of eighteen years, was
entirely under the influence of the stern preceptor, whose iron will had
trained him, his father's nephew, Charles of Denmark. In this man's
veins flowed the blood of Canute the Great; the violence and the virtues
of that redoubtable monarch were all his. Added to this, his whole being
was tinged by the ghastly tragedy which had deprived him of a royal
heritage and driven his trembling mother to flee with her infant boy to
Bruges.

He had always before his eyes the murder, or, as he himself deemed it,
the glorious martyrdom of his father, who was literally hacked to pieces
as he was praying before the altar in the Church of St. Alban at Odensee
(1086) by a band of rioters lashed to fury by his rigorous method of
exacting tithe. Such being the man, and such his antecedents, it would
have been surprising indeed if he had shown any sympathy for such
bloodthirsty folk as the Karls. But if he hated the lawlessness of these
men, he hated no less the lawlessness of the barons, and throughout the
fifteen years during which he governed Flanders, first as Baldwin's
minister and afterwards, when at that prince's death he himself
succeeded to his inheritance, he never ceased to combat each of these
elements of disorder, and in so doing he hurled himself with such
violence against the rock of liberty, that at length he was dashed to
pieces.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER V

_The Murder of Charles the Good_


Among the tragedies enacted at Bruges--and their number is legion--not
one is so weird, so mysterious, so repulsive, and at the same time so
enthralling, as the blood-stained legend of Charles the Good.

It is the theme, as we all know, of Hendrick Conscience's _De Kerels van
Vlaanderen_, a romance which approaches nearer to the original legend
than almost any modern historical account that has come under our
notice. For although for his details Conscience has drawn to a certain
extent on imagination, the main outlines of his story coincide exactly
with the main outlines of the legend handed down to us by writers
contemporary with Charles himself.

Of these contemporary lives of the murdered Count we still possess at
least three. The first is by Walbert, Court Notary, or, as we should
say, Registrar of Bruges. He was a personal friend and staunch adherent
of Count Charles, and, as he himself avers, an eye-witness of much that
he relates. His evidence cannot, however, be regarded as altogether
trustworthy. He was naturally animated with the bitterest feelings
against the great house which compassed his patron's overthrow, and
against Bertulph, one of the chiefs of that house, he seems to have
nourished a personal grudge. On more than one occasion he contradicts
himself flatly, and he is an inveterate backbiter and gossip. From his
direst enemy to his dearest friend there is hardly a man in his crowded
canvas whose character he does not directly or indirectly asperse.
Indeed, in the case of his enemies, when he can find nothing to say
against them, he not unfrequently hints that, in his opinion, their good
actions were inspired by unworthy motives. For the rest, the story of
this twelfth-century Saint-Simon is replete with the most interesting
details, rich in local colour, and almost as thrilling to read as one of
Wilkie Collins's novels. The second life is by Walter, Archdeacon of
Tournai. It was written at the request of 'Blessed' John, who ruled the
united churches of Noyon and Tournai from 1127 to 1130, and is dedicated
to him. Walter, like Walbert, was personally acquainted with Charles. He
was with him at Ypres three days before his death, but was not at Bruges
when that event took place, and his narrative is based on information
furnished by certain trustworthy clerks and citizens of Bruges who
vouched for the truth of what they told him.

In some respects Walter's narrative is a work superior to Walbert's.
The whole story hangs together, his language is often dignified, and
generally temperate, nor are the judgments which he forms, on the face
of them, inaccurate.

The third life is contained in the Acta of Louis the Fat, compiled by
Suger, Abbot of St. Denis, who died in 1142. It must have been written,
therefore, not later than this date, and not earlier than 1137, the year
in which Louis died, from ten to fifteen years, that is to say, after
the death of Charles. As for this account, there is only one thing to be
said about it. Suger held a brief for Charles's avenger, Louis the Fat,
and he did the best he could for his client.

In compiling the following narrative we have made use of these three
lives, of the Danish life by Wegener, of the Bollandist's life, and of
the notes and contemporary documents collected by Vredius in his
_Flandrica Ethnica_. We have also consulted Gaillard, Gheldorf, Kervyn
de Lettenhove, and various other modern Flemish historians.

When Count Charles assumed the government of Flanders the Erembalds were
a power to be reckoned with. Their political influence was unrivalled,
the number of their retainers was legion, their wealth was immense, by
their marriages they had allied themselves with the first families in
the county.

Desiderius Hacket, the head of this house, was Châtelain of Bruges, and,
as such, second man in the realm; Bertulph, his brother, as Provost of
St. Donatian's, was the greatest churchman in Flanders, and, as
hereditary chancellor, chief of the Count's household, whilst other
members of the family held honourable and lucrative appointments about
their sovereign's person. Notwithstanding, however, their great
position, the Erembalds were never included in the ranks of the feudal
nobility. They were originally simple freeholders or Karls, perhaps
hereditary chiefs of some circle or guild, who by commerce, and may be
also by plunder, for the Karls were lawless folk, had amassed vast
wealth, and thereby been enabled to climb to the high places they now
held. That they could by the same means, if they had been so minded,
have also been ennobled, there can be no doubt, but the Erembalds, like
all Karls, despised feudalism and all its works and all its pomps; in
their eyes the title of Freeman was a nobler one than any which princes
could bestow.

Tancmar, the head of the great feudal house of Straten, was the owner of
the lordship of Straten, in the neighbourhood of Bruges, where he had
built himself an impregnable fortress, a wealthy devotee who had gained
no little renown for piety and good works, the great Abbey of St.
Andrew, hard-by his own domain, was the especial object of his
munificence. He held high office in the Count's household, was a member
of his Privy Council, and, what was worth more to him than anything
else, his sovereign's confidential and devoted friend.

Tancmar himself had no children, but he had adopted two nephews, sons,
perhaps, of his brother; Giselbert, or, as we should say Gilbert, and
Walter, whom men called the Winged Lie.

Between the families of Erembald and Straten there had gradually grown
up a deadly feud. As to the first cause of it both Walter and Walbert
are silent, but the former writer tells us that, like many other great
quarrels before and since, it arose out of a very small matter.

Wegener, indeed, comes to the conclusion that the primary quarrel was
between Charles himself and Bertulph, that it sprang from the Count's
hatred of the Erembalds, whose pride and lawlessness were marring his
projects of reform, and that the Stratens on the one side, and
Bertulph's kinsfolk on the other, were mere tools in the hands of these
two wire-pullers, who themselves at first remained in the background.

Certainly all the facts of the case, taken together, go to show that if
Charles himself was not its first instigator, he at all events exploited
the quarrel for his own political ends.

In the early years of his reign, he had issued an edict by which he
forbade all men save his own officers to go armed in time of peace--an
edict particularly galling to the Karls, who regarded the bearing of
arms as the inherent right of a freeman, and to deprive them of it was,
in their estimation, and perhaps also in the estimation of the Count, to
deprive them of their personal liberty. The Karls, it is true, were a
cruel and a quarrelsome race. The territory in which they dwelt was
often drenched with blood. Scenes of rapine and murder were with them
matters of everyday occurrence; their hereditary feuds and petty wars
were a constant menace to the State. Charles was determined to put an
end to all this, and he knew of but one way of doing so--to submit the
territory of the Karls to the tender mercies of feudalism, for, in his
estimation, law and order were matters of far greater moment than mere
personal freedom. This, however, was not the opinion of the Erembalds.
Although they themselves, as officers of the Count, were in no way
touched by the edict in question, they opposed it with all their might,
and from that moment Charles determined to crush them.

To attack his old friends openly was an undertaking too hazardous. It
was to the Erembalds, as Bertulph used to boast, that Charles owed his
crown, and he had repaid the debt with gold and favours. Their power
was now as great as his own, and their popularity perhaps greater.
Moreover, to strike at them was to strike at the Church, for Bertulph,
their chief, was chief also of the clergy of Flanders. It behoved
Charles, then, to be very wary. He determined therefore for the moment
to keep himself in the background, to bide his time, and when the plot
was ripe to act through trusty agents. He had not long to wait, the
crisis came early in 1126. It happened thus.

Richard of Raeske, one of the many barons allied by marriage to the
house of Erembald, and a man of no little repute in Flanders, fell out
about this time with Walter of Straten and defied him in the Count's
presence to mortal combat. To the surprise of every one the challenge
was refused, and the ground of the refusal was still more astounding. "I
will never measure my sword," hissed 'the Winged Lie,' "with any but a
free man, and the Lord of Raeske, by wedding a serf, has forfeited his
right to that title." He was alluding to one of Charles's own edicts,
perhaps made in anticipation of the quarrel, by which it was decreed
that 'the freeman (_liber_) who married a slave (_ancillam_) should,
after a year's wedlock, cease to be free, and sink to his wife's
condition.'

The calumny, as Archdeacon Walter calls it, came like a bolt from the
blue. The Erembalds had been châtelains of Bruges for well-nigh a
hundred years, and no man heretofore had ever ventured even to hint at
the possibility of a flaw in their escutcheon. Walter had aimed his
shaft well, it had flown far and pierced deep. By it was threatened not
only the honour and the liberty and the purse of every man in whose
veins flowed the blood of an Erembald, but alike the honour and the
liberty and the purse of each one of the score or more of proud barons
allied by marriage to the dishonoured race. The Erembalds were cut to
the quick, and the words of defiance which Bertulph himself hurled
back, words which in the light of after events seem almost prophetic,
voiced the indignation of the whole clan. 'I am a free man,' he
thundered out; 'my forefathers were free men, and no one shall be found
mighty enough to take away my freedom.' Strange as it may seem, the
aristocracy, almost to a man, rallied round the attainted house, whilst
almost alone at the side of his friend stood the Count.

He still hesitated, however, to show his true colours; he would himself,
he said, in no way interfere, but leave the matter in the hands of his
judges--a commission should be appointed to examine the affair, and he
would abide by their decision. But Bertulph was not to be hoodwinked,
and spread it abroad that the Count was plotting his ruin:--'This
Charles of Denmark, whom I made, would fain through his judges reduce me
to slavery. Let him try.' Nor did he hesitate to fling back in Charles's
teeth the retort that he himself was illegitimate, aye and a bastard,
too, base born. 'This Charles of Denmark!' he contemptuously
cried--Bertulph, who was a true Fleming, could never forget or forgive
his master's foreign extraction--'This Charles of Denmark, who boasts
that he is a king's son! In good sooth, a scullion begat him! By what
right doth he torment us?' Truly Provost Bertulph had a bitter tongue.
But neither scorn nor threats nor bitter speech could turn the Count
from his purpose. The promised commission was duly appointed, and after
a lengthy inquiry made its award:--Let the Lady of Raeske swear that she
is of free birth in the presence of twelve nobles who shall confirm her
oath with their own; but with no little inconsistency a proviso was
added that this decision concerned only the case of the Lady of Raeske
personally, and in no way derogated from the Count's right, if he would,
to proceed against any other member of the Erembald family. This
compromise Charles accepted, and, partially laying aside the cloak of
neutrality which hitherto prudence had bade him assume, lost no time in
claiming the Erembalds for his serfs, nor until the day of his death,
more than a year later, did he cease so to regard them.

They no less persistently repudiated the claim, and Charles either could
not or would not enforce it, and for the moment was fain to content
himself with slighting words and half-veiled threats. Meanwhile the
Erembalds and the Stratens were flying at one another's throats. Cattle
were being looted, boundaries were being razed, and blood was flowing in
torrents. A hurricane of strife had been let loose on the land, and all
the efforts of the sower of the wind, now thoroughly afraid at his own
handiwork, and clumsily playing the double _rôle_ of peacemaker and
partisan, were powerless to quell it.

Suddenly, when the turmoil was at its height, Charles was called to
France. An intermittent warfare had for years been carried on between
the Count of Auvergne and the Bishop of Clermont, and things had at
length come to a crisis. The former had made appeal to his liege lord,
Duke William of Aquitaine, and the latter, by their united efforts,
driven from his See, had now invoked, not vainly, the aid of Louis the
Fat, who forthwith summoned his vassals (amongst whom of course was
Charles) and set out for Clermont.

The Count of Flanders was undoubtedly placed in a very awkward
predicament. To leave his realm at the present juncture was to risk
revolution, and by staying at home he would certainly estrange his one
reliable friend. The civil war at the beginning of his reign, and the
famine and pestilence which followed, had sown broadcast misery and
discontent, whilst the well-meant but arbitrary measures which Charles
had taken for the relief of the poor, especially his edict as to the
price of wheat, had alienated the rich, who openly accused him of
showing favour to the people at their expense. 'If it be so,' he was
wont to reply, 'it is because I know the misery of the poor and the
pride of the upper classes,' but, unfortunately for Charles, in his day
the classes alone counted, and the classes were in a high fever of
suspicion and unrest. The great purveyors of bread-stuffs had been
touched in their pockets, the free landholders of the sea-board thought
themselves already slaves, the honour of the first family in Flanders
had been trampled in the dust. No one was sure that it would not be his
turn next. Others besides Bertulph were questioning Charles's right to
torment them. The whole land was sick of foreign rule, and men were
beginning to whisper in corners of William of Löo. It was probably this
last consideration which prompted Charles to obey. If he had failed to
do so, his powerful kinsman might have veered round to the side of the
legitimate heir, and in that case he would in all probability have lost
his county.

Charles must have taken a heavy heart with him to Clermont, but his
biographers do not inform us that he was in any way disquieted.

Before starting, however, he seems to have summoned the Erembalds and
the Stratens to his presence and to have made them swear to a truce, but
to swear to a truce under existing circumstances was little better than
a farce. Such was the hatred of the belligerents for one another, that
even a temporary suspension of hostilities had become impossible, and
during the whole period of Charles's absence the land was a prey to
their mutual depredations.

It was not till the fall of the year that Charles came back to his
domains. At Ypres he was met by a deputation of peasants, retainers
seemingly of the Stratens, who made complaint that the Erembalds,
headed by the provost's nephew Burchard, had plundered their dwellings,
laid waste their land and driven off their cattle. Charles promised them
justice, and having taken counsel with his barons, decreed that
Burchard's house at Straten should be razed to the ground. The sentence
was promptly carried out, and Walter adds that the Count in person
superintended its execution. That this was only a prelude there can be
no doubt. Charles had returned to Flanders crowned with the laurels of
victory. His successes at Clermont had earned for him the gratitude of
Louis the Fat, who had most likely promised him help. The time had come
when he felt himself strong enough to carry out his plan against the
Erembalds. Nor were these last ignorant of his intentions. At length,
driven to bay, they were determined to make one desperate stand for
liberty. They would save their honour, even if the price paid for it
should be their sovereign's life.

Charles had arrived at Bruges late on the evening of 28th February, and
towards the close of the next day a deputation waited on him on behalf
of the threatened clan. There seems to have been little hope of bringing
about a reconciliation, but Bertulph had most likely insisted that no
effort should be left untried before having recourse to violence. The
accounts which the contemporary lives give of this interview do not
tally, but they are at one as to its issue--Charles was adamant. The die
was cast. That night the Erembalds met in secret conclave. Early next
morning Charles rose, feverish and ill at ease, from a couch
overshadowed by the wraith of his coming doom. His servants would have
had him remain indoors. Some rumour of the midnight meeting had leaked
out, and they suspected foul play, but Charles refused to listen, and
notwithstanding that the day had dawned so thick, 'that a man could see
no further than a spear's length before him,' betook himself almost
unattended to St. Donatian's, there to hear Mass.[8]

Hardly had the service begun than Burchard, accompanied by a crowd of
retainers, entered the church by a side door, and sheltering himself
behind the great columns of the northern aisle, stealthily crept up to
the place where Charles was kneeling before the Lady altar, and touched
him on the shoulder. The Count turned his head to see who was there, and
for a moment their eyes met, and then, quick as thought, a blow from
Burchard's sword felled him dead on the pavement.

'If this Dane should be cut down,' Burchard was reported to have said a
few days before the murder--'If this Dane should be cut down, who will
rise up to avenge him?' and now that the blow had been struck and
Charles was dead, it at first seemed that Burchard had accurately gauged
the situation.

Thémard, Châtelain of Brudburch, who was kneeling by Charles's side when
the fatal blow was struck, indeed made some show at defending him, but
he was quickly overpowered by numbers, and fell, mortally wounded,
beside the body of his master. As to the other members of the Count's
household, those of them who were not privy to the conspiracy were too
terrified to think of anything but their own safety. The Stratens and
their adherents had fled the county. William of Löo, the next heir to
the throne, sent letters of salutation and promises of help. Even the
clergy were silent, and the burghers, amongst whom the Erembalds had
always been popular, so far from showing signs of disapproval of the
crime, were working night and day at the fortifications of the town, in
order to enable it to withstand a possible attack.

For the moment the Erembalds had triumphed. The death of their sovereign
had brought them life.

After the long months of shame and suspense, during which wealth,
honour, liberty, all that makes life dear, were trembling in the
balance, it must have been no little consolation to these fierce, proud
Karls to know that their enemy, the man who had persecuted them, had
himself been brought low. But there was one thing which was a cause of
anxiety and of reproach--that thing which to many another murderer
before and after has been the source of no little embarrassment--the
body.

There it lay, in the place where the deed had been done, set out in
ghastly state amid flaming torches, a silent witness to their broken
troth. What should they do with it?

Bertulph and Hacket had indeed from the first disclaimed all knowledge
of the murder, and though perhaps their ignorance was wilful, in doing
so they probably spoke the truth; but the guilt of Burchard and of
several other members of the family was notorious and undenied, and so
strong were ties of blood in the eyes of the Karl, that when one of them
had sinned all his kindred deemed themselves not only responsible for,
but, in a certain measure, also participators in the crime.

The ghastly trophy, then, in the choir of St. Donatian's, was as dire a
reproach to Bertulph and his brother as to the blood-stained Burchard
himself.

Time pressed. Every moment that the mutilated corpse remained above
ground was increasing the risk that pity would goad men to rebellion.
What should they do with it? This was the problem which the Erembalds
assembled in Bertulph's house[9] had now to solve, and, if their
new-born hope was not to be stifled, to solve quickly.

There were several weighty reasons why the interment should not take
place at Bruges. To bury Charles in the capital, where the circumstances
of his death were notorious, were to indelibly grave their own ignominy
in the hearts of future generations. Perhaps, too, the presence of the
body would entail also the presence of an avenging shade. Moreover,
there was no precedent for a royal interment at Bruges, and the only
church in the city where such a function could be fittingly celebrated
had been defiled by blood, none but the Bishop of Tournai had the right
to reconsecrate it, and even if there were time to communicate with him,
it was in the highest degree improbable that old Simon of Tournai,
Charles's own brother-in-law, would consent to smooth the path of his
kinsman's murderers.

On the other hand, there was a strong feeling amongst the people in
favour of Bruges, and Bertulph was sufficiently acquainted with the
temper of his fellow-townsmen to know that any attempt to run counter to
their wishes would be hazardous. After much confabulation, it was at
length decided to request Arnulph, Abbot of Blandinium, a man whom
Bertulph could trust, to secretly convey the body of Charles to his
cloister and there give it Christian burial. Nor did Arnulph belie the
confidence placed in him.

Although it was the hour of compline when Bertulph's messenger reached
Ghent, on learning of his old friend's dilemma, he at once made ready to
start, and pushing on through the darkness, in spite of bad roads and
bad weather, made such expedition that he reached Bruges before
cock-crow. All was in readiness, the body had been prepared for
burial--the trusty abbot had secured a conveyance which was now drawn up
in a secluded corner hard by the cathedral, before daybreak he would
again be free of the town, and once in the open country there was little
fear of hindrance or detection.

All that remained of Charles had been placed on the bearers' shoulders,
and under the direction of Bertulph and the abbot, the weird _cortège_
was slowly wending its way down the nave of St. Donatian's, had indeed
almost reached the great western portal, when suddenly the stillness of
the early morning became a whirl of angry voices and tramping feet.
There could be no mistake as to its import. Somehow or other the project
had become known, and all Bruges had turned out to oppose it.

In order to understand the cause of this seemingly sudden revulsion of
feeling, a word of explanation is perhaps necessary.

The whole life of Charles of Denmark is wrapped and swathed from
beginning to end in mystery and contradiction. Half soldier, half saint,
with his Bible in one hand, and Charlemagne's sword 'Joyeuse' in the
other, he flits across the stage of European history like some pale,
crimson-robed phantom from another world.[10]

Was he a cunning schemer--a layer of deep plots which he never lived to
carry out, or was he only a dreamer of dreams, tossed about by wayward
impulses and passing fancies, this incomprehensible Dane, king's son or
scullion's son, as the case may be, who almost accomplished so much and
in reality achieved so little--this tissue of inconsistencies who
usurped for himself a petty principality and despised an imperial
diadem, who crushed his proud lords with a lion's fierceness, and went
barefoot to kiss the hands of beggars, this most marvellous devotee who
showed himself on occasions so generous and at times appears so mean,
who deprived himself of meat and raiment that he might have the more to
succour the needy, and spat on his best friends and trampled them in the
dust? This friend and father of churches, who all his life long lavished
on them wealth, honour, obedience, and whose end, by a strange irony of
fate, was at length destined to be the outcome of an unjust quarrel
which he himself had forced on his own ecclesiastical chief.

Questions difficult to answer these, with the evidence at present at our
disposal. Dr. Wegener thinks (p. 6) there is ground for believing that
the dream of Charles's life was to win his paternal heritage--the crown
of Denmark, and that if he had lived longer he might perhaps have
realized it. May be his hopes flew higher still, and that the ultimate
goal of his ambition was to carry out his father's darling project and
establish once more, in all its glory, the kingdom of Canute the Great.
But, however this may be, and whatever may have been Charles's failings
and his foibles and his faults, one thing is certain: his good deeds
alone followed him. The hospitals and asylums which he founded, the
churches and monasteries which he built, his courtesy and sweetness to
the poor and the simple, the sympathy and protection which he showed to
the oppressed, the lordly feasts which he made in his palace at Bruges
for the blind and the halt and the maimed--these are the things which
lived after him, and friend and foe alike agreed to forget the rest.

Prayers and Masses were everywhere offered for the repose of his soul,
perhaps even in his honour. Bertulph himself sang 'Requiem' for the foe
who had once been his friend, and when all was over and the poor had
returned to their houses enriched by his alms, his servants found him
weeping over the grave. Even Burchard sought reconciliation. Despite the
ban of the Church, Pagan practices died hard with the Flemish Karls of
the seaboard, and Burchard, who was a true Karl, would make his peace
with Charles after the manner of his forefathers. Accompanied by a band
of wild retainers from the Forest of Thor, he entered at midnight the
choir of St. Donatian's, where lay the body, and there, by the light of
flaming torches, celebrated the weird _Dodsisas_, or banquet of the
dead. Libations of wine and libations of ale were poured over the grave,
and as the loving-cup passed from hand to hand each man muttered, 'We
drink to thee, Count Charles,' and then Burchard alone knelt down on the
pavement and with his lips touched the marble slab which covered his
victim's remains, saying, as he did so, 'Accept, O shade, this kiss of
peace and reconciliation, and, appeased by these our offerings,
vouchsafe to lay aside all thought of enmity and vengeance.' In a word,
owing to the tragic circumstances of his death, the memory of 'this
Charles of Denmark' was clean wiped out. The citizens of Bruges were
only mindful, and to this day they are only mindful, of 'Blessed Charles
the Good.'

Such being the case, it is not to be wondered at that, in an age when
relics were prized above rubies, the burghers should be loth to part
with so precious a thing as the body of their martyred Count. At all
hazards they would keep it, thus they averred, and with much clamour and
a mighty rush they burst into the cathedral. In the midst of the uproar
rumour passed from mouth to mouth that a hunchback had been actually
healed, in the twinkling of an eye, there, in the midst of them all, by
simply touching the holy thing they were fighting for--fresh
confirmation, were any needed, of Charles's sanctity. Bertulph indeed
only laughed at the tale; that poor Charles should be able to work
miracles after his death seemed to him so very improbable. But Bertulph
was a sceptic, so it was said, and nobody minded him. Five hundred
unimpeachable burghers could vouch for the truth of the story, and the
tumult increased tenfold. The clergy themselves, either from fear or
conviction, now threw in their lot with the mob, and seizing on chairs,
stools, thuribles, candlesticks, anything that came to hand, laid about
them manfully. What did the provost mean by taking this step without
consulting their wishes? Was not St. Donatian's as great as Blandinium,
and were not the canons of Bruges as good men and true as the monks of
Ghent? By God and His saints the body of Charles should never quit their
cathedral! They would die first! In face of the opposition of his own
clergy and the increasing fury of the mob, resistance was impossible,
and Bertulph gave way, whilst Abbot Arnulph, giving thanks to God that
he had escaped with a whole skin, was glad to go back to his monastery
without the much-coveted treasure. This satisfied the people for the
moment and they returned quietly to their homes, but in public
estimation the crime of endeavouring to give Charles decent burial
outside Bruges was as great a one as that of his murder, and in the
sequel Bertulph had to pay dearly for it.

On the following morning (Friday, March 4), after a solemn Requiem Mass
had been chanted for him in the chapel of St. Peter outside the Bourg,
Charles was laid to rest in the place where he fell in front of the Lady
Altar in St. Donatian's.

[Illustration: Angle of the Rue de l'Ane Aveugle]



CHAPTER VI

_Vengeance_


Meanwhile Charles's friends had been scouring the country far and wide,
and wherever they went crying vengeance, and that not vainly. A bevy of
thirty knights at once took up arms and swore they would not lay them
down until they had washed them in the blood of the assassins,
and--ominous note of warning--these men were all of them, or nearly all
of them, partisans of the Erembalds. By common consent they chose
Gervais Van Praet for their chief, and at once began to lay waste and
plunder the lands and property of those who would not join them. Thus,
gaining fresh recruits wherever they went, the little band rapidly grew
into a vast army. Soon the town and fortress of Ravenschoot--a mighty
stronghold of the Karls which, through some unaccountable blunder, had
been left ungarrisoned--went up in flames; by the end of the week the
smouldering embers of his brother Wulfric's palace, not a stone's throw
from Bruges, warned Bertulph that the enemy was at his gates, and there
was no sign of the reinforcements which William of Löo, who was perhaps
in daily communication with the Provost, had promised to send from
Ypres. Next morning, therefore, his nephews made a sortie beyond the
ramparts, in the hope of putting the insurgents to flight, but after no
little hard fighting they were smitten hip and thigh and forced to lead
their shattered troops back to the city.

The burghers, however, still loyal to the cause of their châtelain, had
been hard at work night and day strengthening the fortifications--old
men, women and children, even the clergy themselves, had lent a willing
hand--and the town was said to be impregnable. Perhaps it was, but for
all that, on Wednesday the 9th of March, the enemy walked in at the
Sablon gate. There was a traitor within the camp. May be one of the
provost's own household. It was the hour of the evening meal, and so
confident were the townsfolk in the strength of their walls that they
remained quietly seated at table whilst the Isegrins[11] were marching
through their streets, and the insurgents were already in the heart of
the city before the news of their advent had reached Bertulph's palace.
The Erembalds then were had at an advantage, and though they fought
bravely--they always fought bravely--after a long and bloody conflict,
the chief shock of which was on the _Pont de l'Ane Aveugle_, they were
at last forced to retire to the Bourg, hoping against hope that they
would be able to hold out until William of Löo should arrive.

As for the burghers, when they saw how the land lay, and that the
insurgents would probably prove victorious, they either joined hands
with them or endeavoured to maintain a neutral attitude, awaiting the
issue of events--a prudent policy which their descendants have not
unfrequently followed. Some ten days after the night of the great
betrayal, the Isegrins approached their opponents with overtures of
peace--offers of life and liberty for all within the beleaguered
fortress who averred their innocence, if only they would come forth and
prove it.

In the turmoil and confusion incident on the flight to the Bourg not a
few of the attacking party were still within the fortress when the
gates were shut, and many plain citizens, who perhaps had little
sympathy with either side, but certainly had had no part in Charles's
death, were in like predicament. It was on behalf of these men that the
Isegrins now approached their foes. Still there is no reason to doubt
that the offer was made in good faith. 'Many who were innocent availed
themselves of it, and many also,' says Galbert, 'whose conduct was
suspected. Of their ultimate fate we know nothing, nor what proportion
the out-goers bore to those who remained behind. The number of these
last, however, must have been considerable, and among them were
Bertulph, Hacket and a nephew whom the contemporary chroniclers
invariably describe as Robert the Child. Not that these three
acknowledged themselves guilty--on the contrary, they stoutly maintained
their innocence, nor had they any sympathy with the murder--but for them
the bonds of kinship were indissoluble, and the guilt of Burchard and
some other members of the family was notorious and avowed. 'Not one
among ye,' cried Hacket, who was spokesman for the rest, 'not one among
ye bewails this bloody deed more bitterly than do we. Send into exile,
if ye will, all those who acknowledge their guilt. Impose on them what
penalty our judges and our bishops shall deem fit, provided that life
and liberty be respected, and that ye do them no bodily harm. Give us
some assurance of this, and that we, who declare our innocence, shall be
offered opportunity of proving it, each man as befitteth his
state--clerk according to Church law, knight in accordance with the laws
of chivalry--and we surrender, but if these conditions do not seem good
to ye, then will we remain here and defend this fortress. It is better
to live with our guilty kinsmen than to come forth and meet a
dishonourable death at your hands.' This extraordinary speech is given
by Walbert, who was at Bruges during the whole of this troublous period,
and avers that he noted down on his tablets each night the events that
had occurred during the day, but he adds that owing to the excitement
and turmoil that prevailed in the city it is not unlikely that some of
his statements are inaccurate.

Needless to say that the Isegrins turned a deaf ear to Hacket's
proposals. In the deliverance of their friends they had obtained all
that they wanted; the only answer they vouchsafed was from the mouth of
the 'Winged Lie' and the 'Winged Lie' breathed out threatening, and
slaughter, and curses into the bargain. All hope of conciliation was at
an end, and, says Walbert, 'the belligerents went their several ways
full of headiness and gall.'

All that day the fight continued without any marked success on either
side, but towards sunset the attacking party were beaten back with great
loss, and the Erembalds were left, as they fondly believed, at peace for
the night.

Worn out with hard fighting, and filled with an overweening sense of
security, inspired by their unlooked-for success, the whole of the
little garrison had retired to rest, save only a handful of sentinels
wearily straining their eyes over the dark city. All through the night
these men were content to freeze on the ramparts, chilled to the bone by
a cutting east wind, but towards the small hours of morning the icy
breath of coming day drove them into the great hall of Charles's palace,
where some one had kindled a fire. There they sat before the glowing
logs, dozing and drinking and chatting together in a fool's paradise,
and clean forgot the little western door by which their friends were
wont to come and go, and that a rusty lock and half-a-dozen nails alone
secured it. 'This one weak spot, when we were freezing on the
battlements, some prowling Isegrin smelt out, and whilst we are rubbing
a little life into our poor numbed limbs before Charles's fire, a host
of them swarm round it. Some one suggests an axe, it yields at a blow,
and the rabid pack rush in so swiftly and so suddenly, and with so
little noise, that their cruel fangs are at our throats almost before we
are awake. The whole Bourg is alive with men--they seem to spring up
from the earth, every crevice and every corner bristles with them, and
so dark is it that we cannot distinguish friends from foes. Panic lays
hold of us, we lose our heads, turn cowards and sue for mercy, or leap
in despair over ramparts as doth poor Giselbert, whose bruised and
bleeding body they tie to a horse's tail and drag all round the
market-place. The bravest of us take to our heels, and trampling one
another down, crush through the narrow bridgeway which leads from
Charles's palace into St. Donatian's church, determined there to make
our last stand, and then, O wonderment! the howling pack draw off and
leave us for a little space at peace.'

Such was the scene in the Bourg on this momentous night. All that was
left of the Erembald host was huddled up in the cathedral, too much
shattered in mind and body to be a cause of present disquietude; their
opponents were free to do what they would, and they were more eager for
plunder than revenge. They had come to a conglomeration of palaces, to a
region abounding in treasure, to a place where much corn and wine and
oil were stored up; their mouths watered for these things, and the word
was given to plunder, and like a flock of locusts they carried off
everything. Charles's palace, containing also Hacket's apartments; the
provost's palace, and the palace of the canons of Bruges, all of them
were stripped; from the bed and the underlinen in Bertulph's sleeping
apartment to the gridirons and saucepans in his kitchen, and from the
mead and ale in his cellar to the leaden gutters of his roof. Nor had
they any greater respect for the property which had once belonged to
Charles. They carried off even the meat hanging up in his larder, and
the bed on which he had slept. Disappointed at not discovering the
much-coveted treasure in his strong-room, they consoled themselves by
wrenching off the wrought-iron doors, and bearing them away on their
shoulders, nor did they despise the chains and manacles and other
instruments of torture that they found in the dungeons under the palace,
though the rich hangings and tapestry which they tore from the walls of
his state-room, and the great store of wheat heaped up in his granary
were doubtless objects more to their taste. The canons' dormitories in
the cloister contained great treasure. So well stocked were they with
rich and costly apparel, most likely ecclesiastical vestments, that
though the marauders began to carry them off early in the morning, it
was not until nightfall that the task was complete.

Galbert, who gives a detailed account of all this, concludes his
observations with this quaint remark: 'Our citizens,' he says, 'in
acting thus, were fully convinced they were doing no wrong.'

Meanwhile the men of Ghent were secretly negotiating for Charles's body;
it was arranged that it should be handed out to them through one of the
windows in the choir, and early next morning they proceeded to put the
plan in execution. 'Our burghers, however, got wind of it, and they
being as keen to retain the relics as the Ghenters were to carry them
away, infinite tumult ensued, which was only quenched by the stones and
arrows and boiling pitch which the Erembalds, who had by this time
shaken themselves together, were hurling down from the battlements.
Thus rudely brought to their senses, the contending factions came to
terms, joined forces, took the church, and drove their opponents into
the tower. Fortune had once more almost smiled on the Karls, and again
that day the cup of hope was destined to be dashed from their lips. It
happened thus:--

When the Bourg was taken, Bertulph's palace had been allotted to the
Stratens as their share of the plunder, or rather they had allotted it
to themselves, and that very morning had 'insolently and vauntingly and
vaingloriously' run up their standard over the roof, at sight of which
all were filled with disgust, for the provost and his household, before
the betrayal, were in sooth devout and courteous men, held in high
esteem by the whole city. 'The hearts of our burghers swell against them
and we lust for their blood, the more so as they are actually carrying
off corn and wine which is our property, for it was we who bore the
brunt of the battle whilst these men were snoring in bed. At all costs
this pilfering must be stopped. We break into the courtyard, and one of
us with his sword staves in a cask of wine--signal for infinite uproar.
The Stratens take to their heels. Our men outrun them, and slam the
gates of the city so that none shall escape. Hacket rushes out on his
tower and frenziedly exhorts the mob to slay his foes--calumniators for
whose sake Count Charles was slain. The market-place bristles with armed
men, a waving forest of spears. All Flanders is in town to-day. Greed,
vengeance, lust for relics, itching ears--a hundred wayward impulses
have drawn them here, but one are they, at least, in this one
sentiment--old Tancmar and his nephews merit hemp. Of all the blood and
all the tears which have been shed these scandalmongers are the cause,
these backbiters, these intriguers, these liars, who, with false, foul
tongues, for sordid ends, moved Charles to spurn our noblest men and
stung them on to slay him. Thus we murmur, thus we declaim, and the
whole town roars with the thunder of our indignation, until pressing
onward to the Bourg, where rumour says young Walter lies concealed, for
we would fain have him out and hang him, there at the very gates, upon
the bridge which spans the Boterbeke,[12] we meet our new-made châtelain
Gervais Praet, who with his ready tongue doth still the storm. 'Yon
vaunting ensign shall be furled--see, friends, it is even now
furled--nor shall this Tancmar lord it in your provost's house; he and
his kith and kin shall forthwith quit the town. I pass my word, and as
for the liquor and the grain, the men who took the citadel shall have
the eating and the drinking of it.' So we disperse, and whilst old
Bertulph's choicest wine is gurgling down our parched-up throats or we
are hurrying on to grab what share we may of his great store of
wheat--in this pinched time of dearth no little boon--the trembling
Tancmar and his nephews skulk away, each one of them empillioned behind
a stalwart knight, so timorous are they of the men of Bruges; and
darkness falls upon the town, shrill with the blaring trumpets of the
Erembalds, who all night long sound signals of distress, for this day
arrows winged with lying script have brought to them assurances of help.

The day before the Bourg was taken Bertulph managed to effect his
escape. He was let down by a cord from the battlements, and safely
conducted by a friend in the Isegrin camp, whom he had heavily bribed,
out of the town and three leagues further into the open country beyond.
Here left to his own devices, walking by night and sleeping where he
could by day, he at length reached the manor of Alard van Woesten, who
had married one of his nieces, and was lord of the little town of
Woesten on the French frontier in the neighbourhood of Ypres.

In this stronghold he lay in hiding for about three weeks, after which
time, the rumour of his arrival having somehow or other leaked out, it
presently reached the ears of William of Löo, who was keeping his Easter
in the city hard-by. Upon receipt of this important news William at once
took horse, and with 'much noise and great expedition' began to make
inquiries concerning the provost's whereabouts.

Having searched Alard's house, and the house of his daughter hard-by,
and not finding the object of his quest, he was beside himself with
rage, fired both houses, seized the girl, swore that he would put her to
torture if Bertulph were not produced before the morrow, and rode off.
Alard, therefore, having to choose between his daughter and his uncle,
revealed the place where Bertulph was concealed, and he was at once
taken prisoner by William's officers.

Well knowing that his days were numbered, and that he had nothing to
hope from the gratitude of the man for whose sake he had risked so much,
and at whose hands he had received so little, the aged prelate prepared
himself to face death with what courage he could. He was a dying man, he
said, and he wished to see a priest. His captors granted the request,
'and there, in the sight of all men, he confessed his sins, and
prostrate on the ground smote his breast and prayed God to have pity on
him.' Next morning they would have taken him on horseback to Ypres, but
he refused to ride, and though it was freezing hard persisted in
walking there barefoot. 'This soft, luxurious prelate,' comments
Walbert, 'who in the days when fortune smiled on him used to shrink from
a flea bite as from a dagger thrust!'

A certain priest from whose lips Walter learned the details here noted
down, walked by Bertulph's side and, as they went, they intoned
alternately verse by verse the Lady Office and the _Te Deum_. Thus,
martyr-like, with a song of triumph on his lips, this staunch old man
went forth to die. 'As they drew near to the gates of the city a great
multitude came forth to meet them, crying aloud and clapping their hands
and leaping for joy, and they struck the provost with their fists, and
beat him with staves and pelted him with the heads of sea-fish (of which
very many are taken in these parts), and heaped every kind of insult
upon him, all of which he bore with patience, speaking never a word.'
This was all the more remarkable, says Walter, because the provost was
naturally a proud man who could ill brook ridicule or insult of any
kind; and he adds:--_Apropos_ of this, I remember a story which was told
me by one of his own servants. Upon a certain occasion when the provost
was seated before the fire in his great hall, with his household around
him, the discourse turned to the Passion of Our Lord, and of the insults
which He suffered with so much meekness in the house of Caiaphas. 'For
my part,' quoth the provost, 'I can never understand that portion of
Scripture. If low fellows of that kind had struck me I would at least
have spat in their face.'

The remaining portion of the story of Bertulph's execution is told for
us by Walbert. It reads like some breviary legend of a martyr's death.

There he stood in the midst of the market-place, surrounded by a ribald,
jeering throng, with countenance unmoved and eyes turned heavenward as
though invoking God's pity. Then one of those who were standing by
struck him on the head, saying, 'O thou proud man, why dost thou not
deign to sue for mercy, seeing that thy life is in our hands?' but the
provost opened not his mouth. And for his greater ignominy they stripped
him of his clothes and hanged him naked on a cross in the midst of the
market-place, as if he had been a thief or a robber.

Then drew nigh unto him William of Löo, and thus addressed him, 'Tell
me, O provost, I conjure thee, on the salvation of thy soul, in addition
to those whose names we already know, who are they who are implicated in
Count Charles's death,' and Bertulph made answer, and said before all
those present, 'Thou knowest, O Burgrave, as well as I.' William,
hearing those words, was transported with fury, and commanded stones and
mud to be cast at the provost and that he should be put to death. Then
those who were assembled in the market-place to sell fish, tore his
flesh with their iron hooks and beat him with rods, and thus they put an
end to his days.

'William at once sent a herald to Bruges to inform the Isegrins of what
he had done, and we in our turn,' says Walbert, 'handed on the news to
the Erembalds in their tower, whereat terror and despair pressed them
closer than the generals of our army, and naught was heard but the sound
of their lamentations.' Thus Walbert. Nevertheless, they held out
bravely until the 20th of April, and that, notwithstanding that they
were besieged by Louis the Fat and a great army of French knights; by
William Cliton, the newly-elected count, and a horde of Normans; by
almost all the chivalry of Flanders, and a host of burghers from Ghent,
who still hoped that they would be able to obtain Charles's body for
Blandinium.

The great army, which six weeks before had taken refuge in the Bourg,
was now reduced to a mere handful. Of the rest not a few must have died
in battle, others perhaps of wounds and wretchedness and want, but in
all probability the vast majority had made their escape, hoping perhaps
that they would be able to raise a sufficient force to effectually
succour those of their comrades who remained in Bruges, and afterwards
place on the throne a sovereign who would respect their liberties. Be
this as it may, by the 20th of April but thirty worn-out men remained in
St. Donatian's, who continually straining their eyes over the vast
expanse of flat country surrounding them, descried there no token of
hope. Moreover, the Isegrins were battering in the tower--at each thrust
of the ram it trembled to its base. Instant surrender or instant death
was the only alternative, the Karls chose the first, and young Robert
cried out, in the name of the rest, that if his personal liberty were
guaranteed they would lay down their arms. Louis accepted the condition
and they prepared to descend. One brave fellow indeed, preferring death
to disgrace, would have leapt over the ramparts had not his comrades
held him back. 'At sight of which,' says Walbert, 'our burghers shed
tears,' but their sympathy led them no further.

One by one the little band of heroes came forth, the lean men through a
narrow aperture giving on the stairs, those who were too corpulent
through a larger window near the summit of the tower, and these men let
themselves down by ropes.

'Pale they were,' says Walbert, 'and livid and ugly with hunger, and
they bore on their faces the stigma of their crimes; but our citizens
wept when they saw those who had once been their leaders led away to
prison.' No wonder; the dark fetid hole into which they were huddled was
of such narrow dimensions that the inmates were not even able to sit
down, and after a few days' detention there, only three or four of them
had strength to stand.

From this wretched fate young Robert alone was exempted, but Louis
thought that his promise not to cast him into prison was sufficiently
respected by giving him into the custody of a citizen of Bruges. Of
Robert's entire innocence there can be no doubt. Even Walbert, the enemy
of his race, bears testimony to his noble qualities. He was most
popular, not only in Bruges, but throughout Flanders. Again and again
the burghers had petitioned Louis in his favour. Even some of the
Isegrin leaders had followed their example, but for all of them the
French king had one answer. He had sworn to take no step without the
consent of his Council, and Robert remained in custody.

As to the other prisoners, their captivity lasted only a fortnight. It
was then (4th May) determined that they should be thrown from the tower
which they had so bravely defended, and the same day the sentence was
carried out.

The soldiers entrusted with this odious task had received strict orders
to complete it with as little noise as possible, and with brutal levity
they told their victims that the King was about to give them proof of
his mercy.

The prisoners were then led one by one to the scene of execution, not by
way of the _Place du Bourg_, which then, as now, was open to the public,
but secretly through the Loove and across the covered bridge uniting it
to the cathedral.

On more than one occasion the townsfolk had shown marked sympathy for
the Erembalds, and Louis feared that if his project was generally known,
or if the victims were afforded an opportunity of appealing to them, an
attempt at rescue might be made, which would perhaps end in revolution.

The first to suffer was Wulfric Cnopp, the brother of Bertulph and
Hacket. Until a few moments before his death he was ignorant of the fate
in store for him. He had just time to take one last look at his beloved
city, and then with a mighty effort, for Wulfric was a man of gigantic
stature, the executioners threw him over the ramparts. There is reason
to believe that this man was really guilty of the crime imputed to him.

Then came young Walter, the son of the Châtelain of Ardenburg, a noble
and a comely youth. 'For the love of God,' he cried, when he reached the
summit of the tower and the executioners were about to complete their
task, 'for the love of God let me say a prayer first.' They granted him
a moment's respite, and then like a flash of lightning he fell down
headlong and dashed all the life out of his beautiful body.

The next to die was one Eric, a knight of noble birth. Though he had
been hurled from so great a height, and though in the fall his body had
crashed against a wooden staircase with such violence that a step
secured by five nails had been thereby wrenched off, he was still
breathing when he reached the ground--had strength even to make the sign
of the Cross. Some women of the people would have staunched his wounds,
but one of the King's household heaved a great stone and drove them
away. Better so--'the little life that was left in him was but a
lingering and a cruel death.'

The rest suffered in like manner. Some were innocent, some were guilty,
seven-and-twenty of them all told. Their names are not recorded--this
only we know of them. They faced death without flinching, and died like
Christian men. His Saviour's name was the last word which passed the
lips of each of them, and each of them made the sign of the Cross
before he fell. By a refinement of barbarity they were not permitted to
receive the consolations of religion under pretext that they were
excommunicated. This was in direct contravention of Charles's own
ordinance concerning criminals. Their bodies were denied Christian
burial. They were thrown into a marsh beyond the village of St. André,
and for years afterwards no man after nightfall would willingly pass
that way.

'On Friday, May 6, King Louis resolved to go back to France, and the
same day he left Bruges, carrying away Robert with him.' Great was the
lamentation of our citizens when they saw him depart, for this noble
youth was beloved by all of them, and they knew he would never return.
"Good friends," said he, on seeing their grief, "my life is not in your
hands. Pray God to have pity on my soul." Louis did not dare to execute
his victim at Bruges, nor indeed here offer him any indignity, but no
sooner had they quitted the outskirts of the town than he gave orders
that his legs should be tied under his saddle, and when they reached
Mont Cassel he cut off his head.

Burchard too had paid the penalty of his crime. The Karls said that,
having quarrelled with Robert, he had been slain by him in a duel,
during the time when they were besieged in the tower, but Walter and
Walbert affirm that in this they lied, and that in reality he had made
his escape, and that he was afterwards captured and executed; and there
is also a tradition that he succeeded in escaping altogether from his
native land, and after many wanderings at length found refuge in the
south of Ireland.

Be this as it may, he had disappeared from Flanders, and thus the great
house of Erembald was all but wiped out. Of those who traced their
descent in the direct male line to its mighty founder, only Hacket and
his little son Robert, a child of tender years, remained alive. The
châtelain made his escape from the tower a few days before the
surrender. Whether he purchased the good will of one or other of the
Isegrin leaders, or whether he had succeeded in hoodwinking them, is
uncertain. All we know is that he escaped from Bruges, and, wandering
alone across the great salt marsh at the north of the city, presently
reached the impregnable stronghold of his son-in-law, Walter Cromlin,
the mighty Lord of Lisseweghe, a mere village now, but in those days an
important sea-coast town. Here he lay concealed until Dierick of Alsace,
more than a year later, brought peace once more to Flanders.

Hacket was shortly afterwards placed on trial, and the fact that he
succeeded in clearing his character is proof presumptive that Bertulph,
who like his brother Hacket had all along protested his innocence and
his capability of proving it, would have likewise been able to make his
words good.[13] Immediately after the trial Hacket was restored to his
former rank and possessions, we hear nothing more of the charge of
serfdom, and for many generations his descendants were mighty men in
Flanders. Amongst them note the magnificent Louis of Gruthuise, Peer of
Flanders, France and England to boot--Edward IV. created him Earl of
Winchester--who in the fourteen hundreds lived in royal state in the
beautiful palace on the banks of the Roya, which still goes by his name.

Of Hacket's subsequent history little is certainly known, but if the
conjectures of Olivier de Wree are well founded--and the evidence which
he adduces in their support is surely worthy of consideration--the life
and career of Desiderius Hacket was indeed a strange and chequered one.

Briefly the facts are as follows. In 1135 Rodolphe of Nesle, a scion of
the house of Erembald, was appointed Châtelain of Bruges; the name of
Hacket does not cease to appear at the foot of official documents until
nearly fifty years later, but whereas previous to 1135 the writer of
this signature invariably describes himself as châtelain, subsequent to
that date he signs as Canon of St. Donatian's, later on as Dean of the
same church, and later still as Abbot of Dunes.

Bearing in mind the uncommonness of the name, and the fact that we lose
all trace of Hacket the layman when Hacket the churchman appears, it
would seem in the highest degree probable that the signatures before and
after 1135 were the handiwork of one man. That this was certainly the
case after that date the testimony of the monastic chroniclers clearly
shows. They also tell us something more. The ecclesiastic in question,
before he was appointed Abbot of Dunes, for a short time governed a
branch house which he himself seems to have founded at Lisseweghe.[14]
He was reputed in his day a famous preacher; he was living and signing
documents in 1183, and died at an advanced age and in the odour of
sanctity. It would seem then that the bellicose Châtelain of Bruges
ended his days as a monk.

Strangely enough Hacket's sworn enemy and rival, the man to whose enmity
was due all the misfortune that befell his house, the treacherous
Tancmar of Straten himself, towards the close of his life also donned
the cowl. He became a monk in the great Benedictine house of St. Andrew
hard-by his own estate, and tradition says that he too died a saint.

Surely it is not a little significant that three of the chief actors in
this bloody drama should have been numbered by their contemporaries in
the ranks of the blessed. Charles, that hero of blood and sentiment, of
violence and delicate emotions, who firmly believed that he was dying
for justice sake; Straten, the devotee, who for his own ends fanned the
flame of his master's wrath--and poor Hacket, who was accused of murder,
escaped by the skin of his teeth, and at length proved his innocence,
most probably by the rite of ordeal. The age in which these men lived
was an age of contrasts, an age of clashing tones and inharmonious
tints. In those days it was the fashion to be devout, and the shibboleth
of the fine gentleman was the fervent expression of his unwavering
faith.



CHAPTER VII

_Bruges in the Days of Charles the Good, etc._


Of the actual buildings of Charles's day only a few fragments remain:
the Chapel of St. Basil, the lower part of the tower of the present
cathedral, and perhaps some portion of the Church of Notre Dame; of
those associated with his tragic end or the bloody scenes which
followed, in all probability no stone is left.

His palace, called the Loove, which he himself had built, has long since
been swept away; its site is now occupied by the Palais de Justice. The
old Church of St. Peter, where his funeral Mass was celebrated, was
pulled down at the close of the seventeen hundreds, of the church which
took its place only the chancel now remains, and even this no longer
serves its original purpose. Some years ago it was converted into a
tavern, and it is now a warehouse. St. Donatian's, the scene of
Charles's death, and of the Erembalds' last stand for life and liberty,
was destroyed at the Revolution. It stood just opposite the Hôtel de
Ville, on the site where now, under the shade of spreading sycamore and
chestnut trees, the flower market is held, and the statue of Van Eyck in
the centre of this square marks the spot where Charles is said to have
fallen.

The débris of the cathedral was carried all over Flanders. A portion of
it is said to have been used for the construction of a château which
stands some little way off the high road on the right-hand side between
Steenbrugge and Lophem, about three miles from Bruges. It is a pleasant
enough place to look at in its beautiful wooded grounds, but the country
folk will tell you that ill fortune has always followed those who have
dwelt there.

Charles's name is also associated with the beautiful Church of Notre
Dame. Here, in 1091, a chapter of secular priests was installed, Charles
provided for the endowment of half the canonicates, and when, in 1116,
the building was destroyed by fire, it was he who restored it.

Tradition says that the main portion of the present church was
constructed in 1180 or thereabouts by Gertrude of Alsace, the widow of
Rodolphe de Nesle, Châtelain of Bruges, and curiously enough a scion of
the house of Erembald, but as Charles's church was only completed in
1120, and it is not likely that a comparatively new and probably
magnificent structure would have been deliberately pulled down--and
there is no record of its having been accidentally destroyed by fire or
otherwise--it may well be that Charles in reality only built a portion
of the new church, perhaps the nave and the adjoining aisles, and that
what Gertrude did, sixty years later, was to complete his unfinished
work. If this be so, the greater part of the present building owes its
origin to Charles the Good.

In the Church of Notre Dame we perhaps also get a glimpse of the
magnificent Bertulph himself. Of its chapter a certain Germanus was the
first provost, who in all probability at the time of his appointment was
quite a youth, for shortly afterwards he went to reside at Louvain, in
order to complete his theological studies, and one Bertulph was
appointed to act as superior during his absence. What we are told of
the character and disposition of this ecclesiastic coincides so nearly
with the character and disposition ascribed to the redoubtable Provost
of Bruges, that, bearing in mind the identity of their name, not a
common one in those days in Flanders, and the intimate connection which
we shall see each of them had with Eeckhout Abbey,[15] it is difficult
to believe that the Bertulph of Notre Dame and the Bertulph of St.
Donatian's were different persons. In each of them we find the same
fiery temper, the same overweening pride, and the same indomitable will,
the same exaggerated devotion and the same harshness in their dealings
with their fellow-men. Walbert has left us a graphic picture of the
receptions this 'proud prelate' held in the great oak-roofed hall of his
sumptuous palace on the Bourg. Swelling with pride, there he used to sit
on a stately throne placed underneath the huge beam which broke and fell
with a mighty crash on the throne itself three weeks before his
death--portent of coming ill, had he but taken it to heart, but Bertulph
was too stiff-necked for that, says Walbert. There a crowd of knights
and clerks and burghers were daily wont to jostle one another in their
quest to pay homage to, or perchance seek favour from, the great man who
was all-powerful alike in Church and State. When any one approached whom
this proud prelate knew quite well but did not wish to recognise, he
made pretence that he had never seen him before. 'Who is this person?'
he used to ask of one of his attendants, and then, when he had been
informed of the name and rank of his would-be interlocutor, if he were
in the humour to do so, he would vouchsafe to salute him. And, blurts
out Walbert with much feeling and inappositeness, 'he was very hard on
his clergy.' Walbert was one of them, and he, if any one, should have
known.

The canons of Notre Dame would certainly have given their Bertulph the
same character.

Hardly had he been installed provost than he sent them all about their
business and filled their places with monks. The irregularity of their
lives, he alleged, was scandalous. Irregular lives in those days, if we
may trust Walter, were far from uncommon alike amongst layfolk and
clerics, and that was one reason why men thought so highly of Charles.
Amidst so much wood, hay and stubble, Charles appeared pure gold. It is
not unlikely then that Bertulph's accusations were well founded.
Radbode, Bishop of Tournai, presumedly thought so, for he had authorised
what had been done. Not so Germanus. Immediately on his return to
Bruges, he petitioned Bishop Baldwin, who meanwhile had succeeded
Radbode in the See of Tournai, to revoke his predecessor's decision,
alleging that the changes at Notre Dame had been made without consulting
him, the lawful superior, and in opposition to the wishes of the secular
canons, and thereupon the bishop gave orders for their reinstatement.

This was on March 31, 1101. Bertulph was furious and appealed in vain to
Rome. By letters, dated April 1102, Pope Pascal II. confirmed Baldwin's
decision, and presently Bertulph's monks were forced to quit the canons'
cloister. After several peregrinations they at last built themselves a
habitation hard-by the Church of Notre Dame in the great oak wood which
at that time fringed the left bank of the Roya and stretched far away
into the country beyond.

This was the origin of the Abbey of Eeckhout (oak wood) famous in the
annals of Bruges.

This abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution, and only the
gateway now remains--No. 40 _rue Eeckhout_. Part of the grounds are
included in the gardens of the Convent of St. André in the same street;
part in a lovely old kitchen garden and orchard at the back of the
houses on the Dyver. As Eeckhout Abbey was associated at its birth with
Notre Dame, so was it at its death.

[Illustration: THE PORCH OF NOTRE DAME]

At the time of the Revolution Notre Dame was dismantled--the pavement
was torn up, the stained-glass windows were broken, and every kind of
havoc was made, but the bare walls were left standing, and presently,
when more tranquil times came, the old church was restored to public
worship. As the beautiful flamboyant stalls which had once lined the
choir had ere this been sold and carried away, it is said to England, it
became necessary to procure new ones. It so happened that just before
the French came, the monks of Eeckhout had ordered a new set of stalls
for their abbey church. These, owing to the fact that they had not yet
been erected, had escaped destruction, and by Napoleon's orders they
were set up in Notre Dame. The wood-carver, however, who had made them,
had not received payment, and protested that the stalls were his, and by
way of asserting his right, every Sunday and feast day, at High Mass and
Vespers, until the day of his death some years after, he persisted in
seating himself in the choir stalls at Notre Dame. Matter of little
moment; after the Revolution there were no canons to occupy them.

From an artistic point of view there is nothing very remarkable about
the stalls in question. They are sufficiently mediocre work of the
period, but the hand of time has mellowed them, and their associations
make them interesting. The carving of some of the _miserere_ seats is
very quaint, and is certainly ancient. Whether these formed part of the
lost stalls of Notre Dame, or whether the redoubtable wood-carver
employed some of the old Eeckhout work for his new stalls, it would be
difficult to say.



CHAPTER VIII

_William Cliton_


William of Löo, as we have seen, was the legitimate heir to the throne
of Flanders, and if, when Charles fell, he had acted with energy and
determination, there can be no doubt that he would have been able to
grasp the prize he so much coveted, and retain it in spite of his
enemies.

Fortune had been singularly kind to him. He was the only representative
in the direct male line of the dynasty of Robert the Frisian, he was the
favoured candidate of the great house of Erembald; his aunt, the
countess dowager, was his staunch adherent. He had the goodwill of her
second husband, his next-door neighbour, the powerful Duke of Brabant,
who had given him his daughter in marriage. In Henry Beauclerc, who had
married his wife's sister, and whose Norman duchy adjoined the realm to
which he laid claim, he had a friend who knew how to back fair promises
with English gold; and lastly, when Charles was slain, he was within a
stone's throw of the capital. But 'William saw a meteor on the horizon:
the sword of Gervais Van Praet,' and he was too dazzled by it to summon
up courage to help his nearest friends, and when the Erembalds fell, the
grandsons and great-grandsons of Baldwin the Devout took heart to
dispute his claim. The number of them was legion. There was Charles's
nephew, Arnulph of Denmark, and his first cousin Dierick of Alsace;
Baldwin of Mons, the representative of the dynasty of Baldwin the Good;
William Cliton; Stephen of Blois, and perhaps too Henry of England
himself.[16]

The Burgrave of Löo had sat with folded hands when the tide was at the
flood, and in doing so he lost his one opportunity. In vain he now posed
as Charles's avenger. All the world knew of his intrigues with the
Erembalds, and it was more than suspected that his own hands were red
with Charles's blood. His treachery gained for him no new friends, and
disgusted the remnant which in spite of all still clung to him.

On the very day when he was busy hanging poor Isaac of Reninghe[17]
whom, in spite of a monk's cowl, a long face and a book of psalms, his
blood-hounds had smelt out the day before in the Abbey of Terouane,
Louis the Fat disowned him.

'Have nothing to do with William of Ypres,' ran the French King's letter
to the barons and burghers of Bruges; 'have nothing to do with William
of Ypres, because he is a bastard, born of a noble father and a mother
of vile birth, who all her life was a weaver of thread' (it was the same
charge that had stung the Erembalds to revolt; William's mother was a
Karline), 'but come forthwith to Arras, and there choose in my presence
a prince worthy of Flanders.'

II.--Genealogical Table of the Counts of Flanders from Baldwin V. to
Baldwin VII.

 =Baldwin V.=  = Ethel, d. of Robert
  (of Lille)   | le Fort, King of France
   _d._ 1067   |
               |
               |
    +----------+---------------+----------------------+---+
    |                          |                      |   |
=Robert I.= = Gertrude     Baldwin VI. = Richilde     | Judith = Tostig, son of
  (the      | of Saxony,   (the Good)  | of           |           Earl Godwin
  Frisian)  | widow of     _d._ 1070   | Hainault     |
  _d._ 1092 | Florence,                |           Matilda = William
            | Count of                 |                   |  the Conqueror
            | Holland                  |                   +-------------------+
            | and                      +------------------------------------+  |
            | Friesland                                                     |  |
   +--------+------------+-----------------+---------------+                |  |
   |                     |                 |               |                |  |
Robert II. = Clémence  Philip = The Lady Adela = Canute, Gertrude = Dierick,|  |
_d._ 1111  | of        of     | of Loo         | King             | Count   |  |
           | Burgundy  Ypres  |                | of               | of      |  |
           |         _d._ 1093|                | Denmark          | Alsace  |  |
           |                  |     +----------+                  |         |  |
           |       +----------+     |                     +-------+         |  |
    +------+       |           +----+--+                  |                 |  |
    |              |           |       |                  |                 |  |
Baldwin VII. *William  Cecilia  Charles = Marguerite--*Dierick--Sybil   |  |
(Hapkin)     of Loo _m._   |      (the      of         |  of Alsace| of     |  |
_d._         a daughter    |      Good)     Clermont   |  _d._     | Anjou  |  |
1119         of Godfrey    |      _d._                 |  1168     |        |  |
             of Brabant    |      1126                 |           |        |  |
                           |                           |           |        |  |
+--------------------------+                           |           |        |  |
|  +---------------------------------------------------+           |        |  |
|  |  +------------------------------------------------------------+        |  |
|  |  |         +-----------------------------------------------------------+  |
|  |  |         |                                                              |
|  |  |    +----+--------+           +----------+-----------------+------------+
|  |  |    |             |           |          |                 |
|  |  | =Arnulph III.=  Baldwin I.  Robert,  *Henry I.        Adele = Stephen
|  |  | _d._ 1071         of        Duke of   of England,       _d._  |  of
|  |  |                Hainault     Normandy  _m._  Adelicia    1137  | Blois
|  |  |                _d._ 1102     |        of Brabant              | _d._ 1102
|  |  |                  |           |                                |
|  |  |                  |           +----+                           |
|  |  |                  |                |                           |
|  |  |            *Baldwin II.  *=William Cliton=           *Stephen
|  |  |            _d._ 1133           _d._ 1128                    of England
|  |  |                 |                                           _d._ 1154
|  |  |                 |
|  |  |            Baldwin III.-------------------------------------+
|  |  |             _d._ 1171                                       |
|  |  +------------------------------+                              |
|  |                                 |                              |
|  +------------------+          +---+----------------+             |
|                     |          |                    |             |
*Arnulph   Lauretta = Ivan, =Philip= = Elizabeth  =Marguerite= = =Baldwin IV.=
of                      Count  _d._      of                       of =Hainault=
Denmark                 of     1191      Vermandois               and =VII.= of
                        Alost                                     =Flanders=

[*] Claimants to the County of Flanders on the death of Charles the
Good.

Louis had already determined who should be the new count, but he was
wise enough to gild the bitter pill, and when the barons reached Arras
he adroitly persuaded them to elect William Cliton, and to secure also
the acquiescence of the burghers. William was only fourth in the order
of succession, but he and Louis had married two sisters, and the French
Queen naturally enough desired to befriend a kinsman on whom fortune had
never yet smiled. Besides, the arrangement fitted in exactly with
Louis's own views. The friendship of Flanders was to him a matter of far
greater moment than the law of primogeniture, he had known William all
his life, and he felt that he could trust him. His young favourite would
doubtless, too, prove a dangerous rival to Henry Beauclerc, the one man
whom Louis feared; with the aid of his Flemish vassals he would be able
to wrest his Norman inheritance from the English King, and perhaps also
the crown of England itself.

When the burghers of Bruges learned what had happened, they were cut to
the quick. That Louis should have offered the communes of Flanders a
voice in the election of their Count, and then presumed to foist on them
the man of his own choice, was something more than injury--it was an
insult. But the French King was backed by a great army; the burghers
were shrewd enough to see that it was more politic to obey, and thus
preserve the outward form of liberty, than to refuse to do so at a time
when opposition was certain to be barren of profitable results, and on
the evening of Tuesday (Easter Tuesday), the 6th of April, Louis and his
nominee were permitted to enter Bruges.

Next day, says Walbert, the King and the Count, with their knights and
ours, our burghers and the Karls of the seaboard, assembled in the
Sablon Field, and there the Cliton solemnly swore to respect the
privileges of the city and of the Church of St. Donatian, and to abolish
the house tax and market dues, so that the citizens of Bruges should be
for ever free. At the same time he acknowledged their right to modify
and correct according to circumstances their own laws and customs. Then
the vassals of Charles paid their homage to William, the mightiest
putting their hands in his, and receiving in return the kiss of
investiture, those of less degree simply bending while the Count touched
them with his sceptre. All the great officers were confirmed in their
rights and privileges, save only the Erembalds, who were declared
incapable of holding office or property in the county.

Although William Cliton was thus legally invested with the sovereignty
of Flanders, his right to govern that province was far from being
generally recognised, and the whole land was rent by factions. William
of Löo was still Count for the men of Ypres; St. Omer acknowledged
Arnulph of Denmark; Audenarde, Baldwin of Mons, to whose standard had
rallied Dierick of Alsace, who for the time being seems to have
relinquished his own claim, whilst the Erembalds, as we know, were still
holding out in their tower at Bruges and still receiving from the great
freeholders of the seaboard assurances of support and help.

Nevertheless, if William could have given his subjects good government,
if he had known how to exercise his new functions with a little tact and
discretion, above all, if only he had been true to his word anent the
abolition of taxes, in all probability things would have gradually
settled down, and little by little men would have acquiesced in his
rule. But William was a Norman, and the Normans had now become more
French and more feudal than the French themselves. A man of this stamp
was little likely to find favour with the Flemish people, who still
retained, along with their rude Northern speech, their ancestors' love
of freedom and justice, and the first incident of his reign was to them
like salt on an open sore.

It happened thus. Shortly after the Count's arrival at Bruges, a certain
citizen, who had married a sister of one of the Erembalds, crept up
secretly, as he thought, to the tower of St. Donatian's, with a view to
a little business talk with his brother-in-law, who owed him a
considerable sum of money. One of Praet's men saw him, and, as all
communication with the besieged had been strictly forbidden, the fellow
was arrested and brought before the Count.

The news of what had happened spread like wildfire, the burghers flew to
arms, and crying out that they would suffer tyranny at the hands of no
man, that the prisoner was a free citizen of Bruges, and that it was for
them to judge him, made a rush for the Loove. Fortunately for William
the doors and windows were barricaded before the mob had time to reach
the palace, and all their efforts to batter them in were fruitless. At
length, when the burghers had expended something of their energy in
red-hot threats and curses, that crafty old knight, Gervais Praet, went
down amongst them, made them a speech, called them friends and
fellow-citizens, bade them bear in mind that it was at their own request
that the Count had appointed him châtelain, averred that in the matter
which had called forth their wrath he had only acted in accordance with
the law, but if they were not satisfied with what he had done, he had no
wish to exercise authority over them, and was quite ready to resign his
châtelaincy. In a word, the oil of his eloquence soothed the burghers
for the moment, and they dispersed to their several homes.

Similar disturbances, arising out of incidents as trivial, occurred
shortly afterwards at Lille and at St. Omer, and in each case they were
with difficulty suppressed after much blood had been spilt, whilst the
heavy fines in which William by way of punishment mulcted those towns
altogether alienated the goodwill of the citizens.

But this was only a beginning. After the conquest of the Erembalds and
the capture of William of Ypres, the Cliton grew bolder. On September
16, one hundred and twenty-five burghers of Bruges and thirty-seven of
Ardenburgh were condemned as Burchard's accomplices. In vain they
protested their innocence and demanded a legal trial before their own
judges. William, in spite of his oath, refused to listen, and all who
were suspected of having given assistance to Charles's murderers were
treated in like manner. Stronghold after stronghold was razed to the
ground, and the Karls of the country-side and the free burghers of the
Flemish cities went forth from the land in thousands.

William's empty purse could not satisfy his rapacious followers. This
was probably the cause of the violent measures he took to discover
Charles's treasure, and of his attempt to re-impose the house tax and
the market tolls. From time immemorial these dues had been granted in
fief to sundry great nobles, who were now clamouring for compensation;
and hence the oath, which he had too inconsiderately taken when first he
undertook the government of the country, only gained for him the
ill-will alike of the knight and the burgher. Thus was he set betwixt
two foes, without the means or the ability to withstand them. At Ghent
the citizens and nobles joined hands, and with stinging words the great
imperial vassal, Ivan of Alost, voiced their common indignation. 'Sir
Count,' he cried, 'if you had intended to deal righteously by this city
and by us who are your friends, instead of authorizing the most odious
exactions, you would have treated us justly and defended us against our
enemies. But, on the contrary, you have violated all your promises and
broken all your oaths, and every obligation arising from our common
plighted troth is thereby cancelled. We know how you have treated Lille
and we know how you have treated Bruges, and we know, too, in what
manner you would like to treat Ghent. 'Let the barons and the burghers
and the clergy of Flanders judge betwixt us, and if it be found, as we
allege, that you are without faith and without loyalty, a perfidious and
a perjured man, then renounce the office you now hold, and we will
choose a worthier Count to govern us.' Cut to the quick, the Cliton
sprang forward. 'Hold,' he cried, 'I free you, Ivan, from the homage
which you have sworn to me, and with my sword I am ready now to prove to
you, my peer, that in all that appertaineth to the government of this
realm I have acted righteously.' But the voice of Ivan was the voice of
the people, he refused the challenge, and it was at length decided that
a great Council should be held at Ypres on the eighth day of the ensuing
month, for the purpose of deliberating on the affairs of the country;
and that all delegates should come unarmed. Meanwhile, determined to rid
himself of his turbulent subjects by stratagem, William, before the
appointed day, betook himself to Ypres accompanied by a large band of
armed retainers, and an armed rabble of the lowest class, so that the
town was filled with soldiers, purposing, when the delegates arrived, to
take them all prisoners. But these last getting wind of the plot, halted
at Roulers, and presently two heralds rode into the market-place at
Ypres, and thus made proclamation:--

'Be it known to you, Sir Count, that Ivan of Alost and the men of Ghent
by our lips proclaim that henceforth they renounce that homage which
hitherto they have faithfully kept to you, because they are well aware
that you have come hither to destroy them by ruse and naughtiness.'

From that moment William's cause was lost. On the 11th of March, Dierick
of Alsace entered Flanders. The great imperial vassals, Daniel of
Termonde and Ivan of Alost, at once rallied to his standard, Ghent
received him with open arms; a little later (March 27), when he reached
Bruges, Gervais of Praet declared in his favour, and three days
afterwards the nobles and burghers assembled in the Champ de Sablon
solemnly deposed William Cliton, and declared Dierick his successor, and
he in his turn solemnly confirmed and increased the rights and
privileges of the city, and made proclamation that henceforth no man
should be condemned on suspicion and without trial for complicity in
Charles's murder.

By this just and politic proceeding he gained the goodwill of the Karls,
and thus supported alike by the nobles, the burghers, and what we should
call the yeomen farmers of the sea coast, nothing could arrest his
progress. Neither the threats of the French King, nor the spiritual
thunder of Archbishop Simon of Tournai, not even the victory which
William and his Normans gained at Axpoel Heath, where so great was the
slaughter that on Dierick's return to Bruges the whole city was filled
with lamentation.

Nothing shows more clearly the unpopularity of William than the barren
results of this victory. Not a single city opened its doors to him.
Presently, when he was laying siege to Alost, he received a mortal
wound, and his death on August 4, 1128, left Dierick master of Flanders.
The night that William died, says Ordericus Vitalis, Duke Robert (his
father), who was in prison at Devizes, and had been there twenty-two
years, felt in a dream his own right arm pierced with a lance, whereupon
he seemed to lose the use of it, and when he awoke in the morning, he
said to those about him, 'Alas! my son is dead.'

Walbert, though he enlarges at considerable length on the iniquity of
'our burghers' in rebelling against their lawful sovereign, gives
William but a poor character. In my opinion, he says, the Almighty
removed this man by death from the county, because he had laid waste all
the land, provoked the inhabitants thereof to civil war, and set at
naught alike the laws of God and of man. Nor did God suffer him to go
the way of all flesh until he had first endured the chastisement due to
his misdeeds. For in sooth Count William will confess amongst the shades
whom he sent before him to the Infernal Regions that, of all those
things he possessed in life, this alone now remains to him--his military
reputation.

Ordericus Vitalis, who represents the Cliton in much more favourable
light, bears witness also to his prowess in battle. 'Ad militare
facinus,' he says, 'damnabiliter promptus.'

[Illustration: A Renaissance Gable]



CHAPTER IX

_Dierick of Alsace and the Precious Blood_


It was to the cities and to the people of Flanders that Dierick of
Alsace owed his crown. When Ivan of Alost and Daniel of Termonde
renounced their homage to William Cliton, they did so in the name of the
burghers of Ghent. When Louis interposed on behalf of his kinsman, it
was the burghers of Bruges who hurled back the proud reply,--'Be it
known to the King and to all princes and peoples, and to their posterity
throughout all time, that the King of France hath no part in the
election of a Count of Flanders.'

When William persuaded Archbishop Simon to lay Ghent and Bruges under
interdict, it was owing to the fear inspired by the people that 'no
clerk was found hardy enough to proclaim it,' and when Dierick repaid
him in his own coin by sentence of excommunication, the bolt was hurled
by all the clergy of Bruges, assembled together in the Church of Notre
Dame, in the presence of all the burghers.

The triumph of Dierick then meant the triumph of the people, the triumph
of liberty, the triumph of nationalism as opposed to the centralizing
and imperialist ideals of France. In a word, the triumph of all that was
good in the great cause for which Bertulph and his comrades had died.

The new Count was a Fleming of the Flemings. He had been brought up
amongst them; their habits and customs were familiar to him, his speech
was their speech, his thoughts were their thoughts, and his ways were
their ways. 'Men called him wise,' says an ancient chronicler, 'and he
was all his life kindly, upright, loyal, brave, and great withal in the
art of governing men.' Indeed, his whole career shows what skill and
tact he possessed alike in conciliating the goodwill of his own
opponents and in settling the disputes of others.

As early as May 31, Arnulph of Denmark resigned his claims in his favour
(_see_ Wegener, note on p. 169), later on he purchased the acquiescence
of another rival, Baldwin of Mons, by giving him his daughter to wife.
Even William of Ypres in the end acknowledged his right to the throne,
and was content to end his days obscurely as simple Lord of Löo. His
first act as prince was to bring about peace between the Isegrins and
the free landholders of the seaboard, and by his reconciliation with
Hacket, whom he again reinstated in the châtelaincy of Bruges, the legal
right of the Karls under his jurisdiction to the title of freemen was
publicly acknowledged. Henceforth, until the Revolution, they were the
_Francq Hostes_ or _Francons_ of the Liberty of Bruges. At his
coronation, Dierick had solemnly sworn to respect the lawful rights and
liberties of all his subjects, and he loyally kept his word. Throughout
his long reign of forty years he always showed himself a good friend to
commerce, a staunch upholder of popular institutions, and a generous
supporter of the down-trodden and the oppressed. To him, says a Flemish
writer, the greater number of the communes of Flanders are indebted
alike for their origin and their development. During his reign were
inscribed in the charters of the Flemish cities the germs of those
rights and liberties which are to-day guaranteed by the Belgian
Constitution.

Like all good and wise men of his day, Dierick was profoundly impressed
with the truths of Christianity, and after the manner of his age, he on
more than one occasion took up the sword of the Crusader. On his return
from one of these expeditions, he brought back with him to Bruges a
treasure which has had no little influence on the architectural, and
artistic, and religious development of the city; a vial of dark,
ruby-coloured fluid, which tradition said was some of the water in which
Joseph of Arimathea had once washed the blood-stained body of Christ.
The early history of this precious memorial of Our Lord's Passion is
veiled in mystery, but from the day when Dierick of Alsace brought the
famous relic to Bruges the thread of its story is unbroken. The
circumstances which led to his possession of it are well known. It was
the time of the second Crusade. Dierick, roused perhaps by the preaching
of St. Bernard at Furnes, or possibly moved thereto by reason of his
kinship with Baldwin, King of Jerusalem--they had married two
sisters--resolved to serve under the banner of the Cross, and in the
month of June 1147, along with the Emperor Conrad and Louis VII. of
France, set out for Palestine; but the campaign was almost barren of
results. What with the perfidy of the Greeks, and the pettiness and
jealousy of the European leaders, it could hardly have been otherwise.
The little that had been accomplished, however, was due to the courage
and perseverance of Dierick, and by way of recompense King Baldwin
bestowed on him the relic in question.

It was enclosed in a tube of crystal, with chains of silver and stoppers
of gold, and Dierick received the gift on his knees from the hands of
the Patriarch of

[Illustration: Hôtel de Ville and the Chapel of the Holy Blood]

Jerusalem, but he said that a rough soldier like himself was not fit to
be the bearer of so holy a thing, and hung it round the neck of his
chaplain, Leo of St. Omer, who never parted with it, night or day, until
on the evening of April 7, 1150, he returned with the Count to Bruges.
Then, with much solemn pomp, the relic was consigned to the Court
chaplains, who placed it in the old chapel which Baldwin of the Iron
Hand had built, adjoining his palace in the Bourg, where it still
remains, and is still preserved in the same crystal vial in which
Dierick of Alsace received it. The burghers of Bruges have on more than
one occasion been near losing their much-prized treasure, but somehow or
other it has always come back to them.

During the troubles with Ghent in the days of Van Artevelde, the relic
was one May morning being carried in solemn procession round the
ramparts. Presently the band of monks and friars encountered a band of
soldiers; the two processions became entangled, and during the confusion
some one cried out, 'the Ghenters are upon us.' Panic followed, and when
the panic was over the relic had disappeared. Three days later some nuns
from the Beguinage saw something shining at the bottom of the stream
which runs through their cloister. It was the reliquary of the Holy
Blood. Then again, during the troublous times which closed the fifteen
hundreds, when Calvinism triumphant held the town, and churches and
monasteries were sacked, it was only through the prudence of Juan de
Malvenda that the precious treasure was saved. Malvenda, who was one of
the church-wardens of St. Basil's, secretly conveyed the relic to his
own house--an old-fashioned, red-brick turreted mansion, still standing
in the rue _aux Laines_ (No. 18), where he concealed it in the cellar
till the storm had passed. Again, for over twenty years, from October
13, 1799, till April 20, 1819, the relic was hidden in the houses of
various citizens, in order to preserve it from the fanaticism of the
Jacobins. For the same reason the annual procession on the Feast of the
Precious Blood had to be discontinued, and it was only resumed in 1819.
This procession was first instituted in 1303, in memory of the
deliverance of the town from the French by Breidel and De Coninck. At
first it was of a grave and solemn character, the faithful of both sexes
following chanting litanies and psalms. Little by little it grew
spectacular. In 1395 the apostles and evangelists were introduced, the
next year King Herod and his Court, in 1405 the Nativity, the tree of
Jesse, and so forth. At length, in the fifteen hundreds, the profane and
the sacred were mingled together, giants, clowns, jugglers followed, the
corporation of Bruges thinking by this means to give the procession a
popular character, and thus to draw visitors to their town.

The great procession of the Holy Blood has long since resumed its
decorum, and thousands of strangers from all parts of Europe annually
throng the town to witness it.

Like the Sainte Chapelle at Paris, and the old city church of St.
Etheldreda (Holborn), the Sanctuary of the Precious Blood at Bruges
consists in reality of two distinct churches, one set over the other.
The lower storey, dedicated to St. Basil, was founded, as we have seen,
by Baldwin, Bras de Fer, and is in all probability the most ancient
building in the city. There can be little doubt that this chapel was
originally the private oratory of the Counts of Flanders, adjoining
their primitive palace. The four great columns which support the vault,
the western and southern walls, and the annex, erroneously called the
Baptistry Chapel, with the adjoining buildings,

[Illustration: The Minne Water Bridge and Round Tower]

none of which were originally included in the chapel but formed part of
the Count's palace--these are the oldest portions of this most
interesting structure. In 1095 Count Robert of Jerusalem, on his return
from the Holy Land, placed here the relics of St. Basil which he had
brought with him from Cæsarea in Cappadocia; hence the dedication. Later
on, his nephew, Dierick of Alsace, in gratitude for some marvellous
answer to prayer obtained through the intercession of the saint,
restored and embellished the church; hence the erroneous tradition which
makes him its founder.

Such as Dierick left St. Basil's in 1150, so it is to-day. It has
recently been carefully and conscientiously restored, and it is perhaps
the most beautiful and perfect specimen of Romanesque architecture in
Flanders. During the work of restoration, when the pavement was renewed,
an interesting discovery was made:--the vault in which had lain, since
1412, the mortal remains of Ian Van Oudenaerde, the architect who
restored the belfry in 1396 or thereabouts, and who added the four
beautiful turrets at the angles of its second storey. The _Porte de Ste.
Croix_ and the _Porte de Gand_ are also his work, as well as the massive
round tower at the head of the Minne Water. The nave of St. Basil's has
from time immemorial been known as the Masons' Chapel. Here, until the
Revolution, the members of the Guild of Masons were wont to perform
their devotions and to celebrate annually, with great pomp, the feasts
of their patron saints, and it was doubtless on this account that Ian
Van Oudenaerde, that great Master Mason, was laid to rest in St.
Basil's.

The upper chapel, which is probably the place where Dierick enshrined
his priceless relic, was almost entirely rebuilt towards the close of
the fourteen hundreds, and of the original Romanesque structure little
now remains save the two round-headed bays which separate the naves. The
work of reconstruction was not yet finished in 1482, but as during the
following year the first stained window was put in, it would seem that
it was at this time approaching completion.

Both the upper and lower chapel suffered much during the religious
troubles under Philip II., and again at the time of the French
Revolution. Indeed, when the _Septembriseurs_ had sated their fury on
the old building, there was little left but the bare walls, and into
such a state of decay had it fallen that when Napoleon visited Bruges in
1810, the civic authorities were thinking of pulling it down.

[Illustration: Crypt of the Chapel du Saint Sang]

'That,' said the Emperor, 'shall never be,' when the question was mooted
in his presence. 'When I look at those graceful minarets, I fancy myself
in Egypt. To destroy a monument like that would be a sin crying for
vengeance.' Thus the old church was saved. Presently it was restored to
public worship, for from the time of the riots until 1818 the lower
chapel had been used by the police as a prison for drunken and
disorderly persons, and a place in which to confine stray

[Illustration: PORCH OF THE CHAPEL OF ST. BASIL]

dogs, and during the same period the upper chapel, roofless, windowless,
a veritable wreck, had served no purpose whatever. The present elaborate
scheme of decoration was carried out in 1856 from the designs of two
English architects, William Brangwyn and Thomas Harper King, and the old
church is now gorgeous with colour and gold. But though the general
effect is on the whole pleasing, the details are not happy. Thanks to
the late Baron Béthune's _Lucas Schoolen_, native artists could by this
time do something better, and it is much to be desired that the wealthy
confraternity of the Holy Blood would undertake the redecoration of
their chapel. The lower sanctuary was restored only two years ago and,
as we have already noted, most successfully.

_La Noble Confrérie du Précieux Sang_ consists of a provost and thirty
titular members, all of whom must be Flemings of noble, or, as we should
say, gentle birth, in memory of Count Dierick and the thirty Flemish
knights who in 1150 brought the precious relic to Bruges. In addition to
these there are a certain number of honorary members of other
nationalities, for the most part great ecclesiastics, amongst them Pope
Leo XIII., whose name was enrolled in the 'golden Register' on May 5,
1844, at which time he was Nuncio to the Court at Brussels. In addition
to these, some thousands of persons of every nationality and of all
classes are united to the confraternity under the title of affiliated
members.

The management of the confraternity, the churches, and all that
appertains thereto, is entirely in the hands of the provost and titular
members, who are laymen, but other members, of whatsoever degree,
participate equally in the Masses and devotions which are celebrated in
the Chapel of the Precious Blood.

We are indebted for the above details to the kindness of Canon Louis
Van Haecke, chaplain-in-chief of _La Noble Confrérie_. If any of our
readers should desire to know something more concerning this subject we
would refer them to his interesting work--_Le Précieux Sang à Bruges_.

[Illustration: Godshuis near the Pont des Lions]



CHAPTER X

_Philip of Alsace and the Charter of the Franc_


Philip of Alsace reigned over Flanders from 1168 till 1191, and
notwithstanding his frequent wars the land prospered under his rule. In
his method of government he followed the policy of Dierick his father.
Like him he was a builder of cities--Nieuport and Damme, at least, owe
their origin to Philip of Alsace--and like him he was a promoter of
popular liberties and popular institutions. It seems to have been the
mission of the princes of the House of Alsace, as Kervyn justly
observes, to proclaim the rights of the communes of Flanders, and their
fulfilment of it is their greatest glory. Bruges, Ghent, Ypres, Furnes,
Gravelines, Nieuport, Dunkirk, Damme, are among the famous cities to
which one or other of them granted municipal charters. But the charter
which will interest the reader most was conceded to neither city nor
town, but to the inhabitants of that vast irregular-shaped tract of
country in the neighbourhood of Bruges which went by the name of its
Franc, or, as we should perhaps say, its Liberty, and comprised within
its borders no less than ninety-one parishes, and the towns of Ostend,
Blankenberghe, Eccloo, Dixmude, Lisseweghe, Ardenburgh and Sluys--all of
them in these days centres of no little importance. Though from time
immemorial, as we have seen, the yeomen who inhabited this district had
been to all intents and purposes a free and independent people, who
elected their own chiefs and lived under their own laws, it was Count
Philip of Alsace who first gave legal sanction to their political
constitution, and the instrument by which he did so was the famous
_Keurbrief_ of 1190.

As with the first Flemings, with our own Saxon forefathers, and probably
also with the ancestors of all nationalities of Teutonic origin, the
Wehrgeld, or, as Green calls it, 'the Blood-wite,' or compensation in
money for personal wrong, and mutual responsibility were the mainspring
and corner-stone of the judicial code which Philip's charter sanctioned.
Eye for eye, limb for limb, life for life, or for each its equivalent in
current coin, this is the rough-and-ready theory which runs through the
whole of this remarkable piece of legislation. But it was not only for
personal injury that punishment in kind or an allotted fine was exacted;
it was the penalty also attached to other offences. Thus the man who had
been convicted of breaking down a dyke was condemned to suffer the loss
of the hand with which he had broken it, and probably, by way of
compensation for the damage which he had thereby entailed, to forfeit
all his goods; and it was a penal offence in the Liberty of Bruges to
marry an infant without the consent of her heirs-at-law. 'Whosoever,'
runs this curious enactment, 'shall be convicted of wedding a girl who
has not yet arrived at years of discretion, without the consent of those
of her relations who are her heirs presumptive, shall be liable to
forfeit all his goods, and if such an one shall have carried his infant
bride out of the realm, her heirs may lawfully take possession of her
goods; but if the aforesaid girl, repenting, shall presently return
home, and be willing to quit her unlawful spouse, her property shall be
restored to her; but if, on the contrary, she will not leave him, then
shall she in no wise recover it.'

The life of each man had its allotted value, which varied according to
rank and station, and curiously enough, in days, when throughout Europe
the priesthood was held in high esteem, the clerk's life was valued at
only one half the price of the life of the Karl. Just as the Salic law
fixes the composition for the murder of a Roman proprietor at the half
of that payable for the murder of a Frank, so the law of the Liberty of
Bruges valued the life of a clerk, who was considered as a Roman, at
only half of the value of the life of a Karl.

As to the fines imposed, the _Keurbrief_ ordained that they should be
levied in the first place on the property of the offending party, and if
this were too inconsiderable to realise the required sum, that his
fellow guildsmen should make up the deficiency.

Bearing all this in mind, Hacket's demand that the limbs and lives of
Charles's murderers should be spared becomes intelligible. It simply
meant that the usual fine should be imposed in lieu of the death
penalty, which, under the circumstances, was not unreasonable.

Some of the enactments contained in this remarkable code are
sufficiently curious. Take, for example, the following: 'Whosoever shall
harbour a _scurra_[18] for more than one night, may lawfully duck such
an one on the morrow if he or she refuse to quit his abode.' Others are
no less remarkable for their practical common sense. For example the
prudent regulation anent weights and measures. 'All weights and
measures,' runs the article in question, 'shall be the same in the
villages as in the towns. Any headman convicted of falsifying weights
and measures shall pay a fine for each offence of three livres, any one
found in possession of false weights shall forfeit a like sum, and
double the damage caused thereby.'

The game laws of the Liberty of Bruges were singularly oppressive.
Perhaps Philip stipulated for their insertion in the _Keurbrief_ as the
price of the large concessions he had made. In a country well-stocked
with stags and boars, to say nothing of ground game, the following
enactment must have been an intolerable burthen:--Whosoever shall be
prosecuted for fencing in his property against game, if he refuse to
undergo judgment by red-hot iron, shall submit to an inquiry by the
Count, and if he be found guilty, all his goods shall be at the
disposition of the Count and the châtelain, but his life and liberty
shall be safe. The Flemish did not obtain complete redress of this
iniquitous law until 1477.

If the reader should wish to know something more of this interesting
document we would refer him to Gheldorf's _Histoire Constitutionelle de
la Ville de Bruges_, where the original text is given, together with a
French translation and explanatory notes, p. 465.

The magistrates of the Franc administered justice to those submitted to
their jurisdiction in their _Landhuus_ on the west side of the Bourg.
The building of Philip's day has long since disappeared. It was replaced
in the early fifteen hundreds by Van den Poël's sumptuous _Palais du
Franc_, of which a remnant is still standing, and still forms one of the
most picturesque groups in the city of Bruges. The most charming view of
its quaint turrets and gables is from the great fish market along the
Quai Vert.

Count Philip of Alsace was not only a builder of cities, a promoter of
democratic institutions, the friend

[Illustration: THE PALAIS DU FRANC]

of the manufacturer and the merchant, he ever showed himself a generous
patron of letters and of art. So, too, his countess, Elizabeth of
Vermandois. She delighted in the company of minstrels and troubadours,
and herself presided over a Court of Love. To Bruges, in the days of
Philip and Elizabeth, flocked half the literary men in Europe. Grave
theologians like Andreas Silvius, or Philip of Harveng; historians like
Lambert of Ardres, or Hugh of St. Victor; poets like Chrétien de Troyes,
or Colin Muset, and a host of the most famous authors of the day. Here,
in the Loove Palace, or in the pleasaunce of Winendael hard-by, they
were wont to read aloud to the assembled Court the romances of chivalry
then in vogue. _Erec_, _Enide_, _Clegès_, _Le Chevalier au Lion_,
_Yseult_, _Tristan de Léonnois_, and the rest. The nameless authors of
these two last dedicated their works to Philip himself, and Chrétien de
Troyes wrote his famous _Saint Graal_--'the Church's counterblast,' as
Green calls it, 'to the whirlpool of Arthurian romance'--

    Por le plus preud homme
    Qui soit en l'Empire de Rome
    C'est le quens Philippe de Flandres.

That the Count himself was a man of some literary attainment, the
following interesting letter seems to indicate: 'Knowledge is not the
exclusive privilege of clerks,' writes Philip of Harveng to his friend
and patron, Philip of Flanders. 'It is well to be able to lay aside
strife and politics, and go and study in some book, as in a mirror. The
lessons that illustrious men find in books, add to their nobility,
increase their courage, soften their manners, sharpen their wit, and
make them to love virtue. The prince who possesses a soul as lofty as
his dignity loves to hear wise counsel. How thankful you ought to be to
your parents that from your childhood they had you instructed in
letters' (Epist. XVI., p. 81).

There is another circumstance in connection with Philip which it will be
interesting to note. When St. Thomas à Becket fled before the fury of
Henry II. he for a time found shelter at the Flemish Court. The memory
of his sojourn there still lingers at Bruges. The chapel which he
consecrated in Philip's château at Maele is still standing, and the well
at Tilleghem, where legend says he once slaked his thirst, is still
called by the country folk St. Thomas's Well.



CHAPTER XI

_Baldwin of Constantinople_


Upon Philip's death in 1191, without children, the country finally
devolved on his sister Marguerite, who, as we have seen, had married
Baldwin of Mons, the representative of the dynasty of Baldwin the Good.
She only reigned three years, and was succeeded by her son Baldwin of
Constantinople, who thus united the rival dynasties in his person.

The old Flemish chroniclers linger lovingly over the story of Baldwin of
Constantinople, the last representative in the direct male line of the
house of Baldwin of the Iron Hand, and the last Fleming who ruled over
Flanders. They like to represent him as a prince of unblemished
character, devout, austere, and adorned with all the virtues befitting
his state. His figure is undoubtedly a picturesque and an interesting
one. He was a man of brilliant parts--shrewd, quick-witted, eager,
possessed of no ordinary mental activity and of a wonderful aptitude for
business. During the short period of his reign he found time to reform
the criminal procedure of his own patrimony--Hainault; to readjust the
tolls and custom tariffs of Ghent and of Bruges; to abrogate in the
latter city the iniquitous law '_de vino Comitis_,' which ordained that
the town should furnish wine for the Count's household at a fixed price,
often below the market value; to concede to Bruges, on August 14, 1200,
the right to annually hold, during the month of May, a fair--a greater
boon in those days than it is now; to busy himself with compiling
sundry histories--really the chronicles of his native land--which
afterwards went by the name of _Histoires de Baudouin_; to abolish many
abuses; to cut the claws of usurers, and to purge, alas! by fire, his
domain of heresy. He was not only a lover of learning and of learned
men, but a ready writer himself, as witness the letters he addressed
from Constantinople to the King of France and to the Pope--letters
replete with valuable information concerning the Latin Conquest of that
city.

His career as a soldier, too, was not inglorious. He made successful war
on the French King and wrested from him the greater part of the province
of Artois, and his brilliant action in the East led to the fall of
Constantinople and to his own election to the throne of the Greek
Empire; but the glory of his purple robe, and the glory of his sword,
and the glory of his achievements as a citizen and a prince, pale before
the weird legend of love and crime and Nemesis which chronicles his
latter days. It reads like a fairy tale and comes to us on the authority
of the last and greatest of our monastic historians: Matthew Paris, the
famous scribe of St. Alban's.

On the morrow of Ash Wednesday, 1199, a great multitude thronged the
Church of St. Donatian's at Bruges. Count Baldwin was to take the cross.
The scene in the old church, old even in those days, was a solemn and a
striking one. Within those walls which had witnessed so many tragedies
and stirring deeds was gathered the _élite_ of Flanders--the flower of
Flemish chivalry was there, the household of the sovereign and of his
consort, Marie of Champagne, and a host of wealthy citizens in holiday
attire. Ranged on each side of the altar stood the famous canons of
Bruges, in their long white linen rochets and purple veils, in front of
them two choirs of singing boys from St. Donatian's school. The great
bell tolled as if for a funeral, perhaps that same great bell which five
centuries later fell from its lofty tower, and for fifty years lay
buried beneath the débris of the cathedral, and now sends forth its
melodious voice from the steeple of Notre Dame.

     'O God, the heathen are come into Thine heritage, Thy Holy Temple
     have they defiled. Jerusalem is an heap of stones.... Help us, O
     God of our Salvation and for the glory of Thy Name deliver us, lest
     haply they should say among the Gentiles, where is now their God.'

Thus plaintively the first choir, and then with a shout of triumph the
men and boys on the opposite side of the chancel made response:--

     'Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered, and let them that
     hate Him flee before His face. Like as smoke vanisheth, so let them
     vanish away, and as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked
     perish at the presence of God.'

'Receive this symbol,' murmured the Archbishop of Tournai as he fastened
to Baldwin's breast a white linen cross embroidered with threads of
gold, 'receive this symbol in memory of the Passion of Jesus Christ, and
of the cross on which He died.' When Marie of Champagne besought the
aged prelate to place also on her breast the Crusaders' sign, a shout of
admiration, and perhaps too of dismay, burst from the crowd. Marie was
so tender and so beautiful, and the way of the Cross was so hard--pray
God that her end be not like that of the ill-fated Countess Sybil.

Baldwin set out for the East in the spring of 1203, Marie, who was then
laid by in childbed, followed towards the close of the month, but she
never saw her husband again. It happened thus. That shrewd old fox,
Dandolo of Venice, taking advantage of the poverty of the Crusaders,
compelled them to undertake for him a campaign against Zara, by way of
payment for their transport to Palestine. Then came the conquest of
Constantinople and the founding of the Latin Empire, and the elevation
of Baldwin himself to the imperial throne (April 9, 1204). Meanwhile
Marie had gone on to Syria and was there awaiting her lord. Presently,
with the summer heat, plague swept the land, and Marie herself fell
sick. When she was lying at death's door, the news of Baldwin's good
fortune reached the town, and it was perhaps in reply to some inquiry of
hers as to the cause of his long tarrying, that her attendants informed
her that the erst Count of Flanders was now Emperor of Rome, and then
the end came.

Baldwin was now at the zenith of his glory. From a petty tributary chief
of a tribe of semi-barbarians, he had been raised to the throne of a
great and civilized empire; but the tide of fortune was soon to turn,
and Marie's death was the first drop in the bitter chalice that fate was
mingling for him. In less than a year the discontent of the Greeks broke
out in open rebellion. Joannice of Bulgaria had promised them help, and
with a huge army, reinforced by a horde of Tartars, he laid siege to
Adrianople. Baldwin marched to relieve the town, and fell wounded,
perhaps slain, before its walls. Of what had actually befallen the
Emperor nothing was certainly known. Some of his comrades were sure they
had seen his dead body, others were equally sure that he had been taken
alive. The Bishop of Soissons set out for France to gather funds for
ransom. Henry of Flanders had recourse to the good offices of the Pope,
who at once sent an embassy to Joannice to treat for Baldwin's release.
Vain request. 'The Emperor,' averred the King of the Bulgarians, 'had
paid Nature's debt--_debitum carnis exsoluerat_.'

Twenty years later some wood-cutters of Plancques, a village in the
heart of the great forest which in those days stretched from Tournai to
Valenciennes, discovered in an unfrequented glade, by the banks of a
stream, a rude hut of osiers, thatched with turf, which they were sure
they had not seen there before. It was the home of a long-bearded,
white-haired old man, with a face covered with scars. Of his antecedents
they could learn nothing. 'I am but a poor Christian,' he said, 'doing
penance for my sins,' but there was something in his voice and bearing
which belied his words. Not a few of the Crusaders, on their return from
the East, had put on the black robe of St. Benedict or the brown frock
of the poor man of Assisi--some of them were known to have chosen a
solitary life, and to have hidden themselves in forests or caves, and
the village gossips, over their ale, whispered to one another that of
these the mysterious hermit was surely one. The peasant folk from the
neighbouring villages flocked out to visit him; some of them had in
their youth set eyes on the hero of Constantinople, and these men were
convinced that, in the garb of a poor recluse, they now beheld him
again, and presently it was noised abroad that Baldwin had come back to
Flanders. At length the rumour reached the ears of a former
comrade-in-arms, a friend who had known him well, Everard de Montagne,
the powerful Lord of Glançon. He at once set out for the hermit's cell,
saw the old man, and was convinced of his identity--so too Sohier of
Enghien, Arnulph of Gavre, Bourchard d'Avesnes (the ill-fated husband of
Baldwin's daughter, the future Countess Marguerite), and a hundred
others who had been intimate with him. But the hermit would vouchsafe no
answer, and when they pressed him, returned only evasive replies. 'Are
ye, then, like the Breton folk,' he said, 'who still look for the coming
of Arthur?' Presently a deputation of citizens went out to the
hermitage from Valenciennes; they greeted him with shouts of
acclamation. 'Thou art our Count, thou art our Count!' they cried, and,
in spite of the old man's protest, they carried him back with them to
the city. Then at last Baldwin declared himself. They had rightly
divined his secret; he was indeed the Count of Flanders.

The story of his adventures is a strange one. Wounded at the siege of
Adrianople and sick almost to death, he had been taken prisoner by the
Bulgarians. During the early days of his captivity a lady of the Court
chanced to see him, perhaps the King's daughter herself. She was
interested in his story, he was still young and handsome, and she gave
him her heart. The Emperor feigned to reciprocate her passion, and her
devotion knew no bounds; to save him, and, for his sake too, his
comrades, she was ready to risk her life. A plan of escape was devised.
By her aid it was successfully carried out and they all fled together.

Baldwin, however, did not marry the Bulgarian princess. The heroine who
had rescued him was a Pagan woman, he was a disciple of Christ; but
before they fled they had mutually plighted their troth--she to receive
baptism at the first opportune moment, he, when this had been
accomplished, to make her his wife.

When the time for fulfilling their pledges came, it found the infidel
true to her vow, the Christian eager to be quit of his.

Was there no loophole? He took counsel with his Flemish friends. The
Emperor was bound, they said, by his oath, but there was a gleam of
hope; haply this Gentile woman would go the way of all flesh before she
had accomplished hers.

Baldwin took the hint. On the eve of her intended baptism the hapless
princess died. Retribution quickly followed. The murderer was presently
entrapped by barbarians, who carried him off for a slave. Seven times he
was sold from hand to hand, kicks and blows were his portion and
indignities of every kind.

One day, when he was harnessed to a cart like some beast of burthen, he
fell in with a company of German merchants who, learning his tale, had
pity on him, and purchased his release. Filled with remorse at what he
had done, he at once set out for Rome and confessed his sins to the
Pope, who imposed on him a life-long penance. He then made his way back
to his native land, and went and hid himself in the forest of Glançon.

Strange as it may seem, the knights and burghers of Valenciennes
believed the old man's tale, and stranger still, in their pity for his
great misfortune, they forgot his great crime. They put on him a purple
robe and thrust a sceptre into his hand, and called him father and
chief. For them he was the hero of Constantinople, the sovereign who had
showered blessings on them all, the Christian who had suffered long
years of anguish at the hands of heathen men. In their eyes, the red
aureole of martyrdom already glowed about his head, and they begged
locks of his hair for relics, and treasured up the water in which he had
bathed.

It was the same throughout the realm. The men of Flanders everywhere
remembered that they had loved Baldwin and they all knew that they hated
Jeanne, and now Baldwin the beloved was in the midst of them again. The
evil days of his daughter had become as a tale that was told. Wherever
he went he was greeted with wild demonstrations of joy. The great towns
of Flanders received him with open arms. His journey from city to city
was one long triumphal progress. Presently he reached Bruges, and here
at Pentecost he held his Court, and, clad in imperial robes, with his
own hands armed ten knights.

But this was not all. The neighbouring sovereigns acknowledged his
claim. The ambassadors of the Duke of Limbourg and the Duke of Brabant
waited on him in the capital, and Henry III. of England (April 11, 1225)
sent to 'his very dear friend Baldwin' letters of greeting, of
congratulation, and of sage advice. 'Remember,' he said, 'that the King
of France hath despoiled both the one and the other of us; let us
therefore make a league together against him.'

If Baldwin had taken up the thread of his old policy, and allied himself
with England, his course of action would probably have been crowned with
the success of former days, but he was now a broken-down old man, cowed
with long years of servitude and the memory of a great crime, he had
neither the courage nor the energy to do so, but fatuously threw himself
into the arms of the very man against whom Henry had warned him.

In the midst of the unlooked-for good fortune which had up to now
attended the enterprise which the hermit of Plancques had been so loth
to undertake, one circumstance was a cause of no little grief and
disquietude; his daughter had refused to recognize him, and had fled to
France, and though the cloud on the horizon was no bigger than a man's
hand, it presaged, he foresaw, a deluge which would perhaps sweep him
away.

In his trouble and confusion he turned a willing ear to the false
counsel of his sister the Lady of Beaujeu,[19] who urged him to take the
wind out of Jeanne's sails by himself confiding in the French King, who,
thanks to her good offices, was disposed in his favour. Baldwin fell
into the trap. Louis sent him a safe conduct, and towards the close of
June he set out for Péronne, where Louis was at that time holding his
Court.

His entry into the city on the evening of July 4 was a vision of Eastern
splendour. All glorious in purple and gold, with his crown on his head,
and a white wand in his hand, they bore him aloft on men's shoulders in
a comely litter. Before him was carried the imperial cross, and a
retinue of over a hundred gorgeously-attired knights followed in his
train. At the palace gates Louis himself came out to greet him.
'Welcome, sire,' said the French King, 'if thou art indeed mine uncle
Baldwin, Count of Flanders.' 'Fair nephew,' quavered the old man, 'such
in sooth am I, but my daughter doth not know me, and would fain take
away mine heritage; prithee help me to keep it.' Louis had already
decided on the course he would pursue, and already agreed with Jeanne as
to the price of his championship, but he deemed it prudent for the
moment to disguise his intentions, and the Emperor was soon entertained
at a sumptuous banquet, during which he again recited the story of his
adventures, and with such good effect that many of those who heard him
were moved to tears.

Presently the royal Council was summoned, and Baldwin was invited to
plead his cause. He consented to do so, and it became clear that the
solemn reception accorded him had been from the first a solemn farce. In
inviting Baldwin to Péronne, the French King had but one object in
view--to separate him from his friends--and in now affecting the
appearance of a serious examination of his claim, his only desire was to
discredit it. At last, after having endured much brow-beating and
hectoring speech, the Emperor refused to answer any more questions; the
hour was late, he said, and he had that day been greatly fatigued; on
the morrow he would be ready to converse again. But the wary old man had
no intention of keeping his word; he now fully realized the danger of
his position. In coming to Péronne he had made a false move; his
liberty, perhaps his life, was in peril, and he cast about him for some
means of escape. Fortune was once more kind to him, and that very night
he took horse and fled the city.

When he reached his own dominions he was greeted with the same wild
demonstrations of joy which had at first hailed his coming. But if the
great heart of the people still throbbed for Baldwin, the classes were
no longer with him. He soon learnt that the sheriffs of Bruges and of
other great towns had accepted Jeanne's amnesty, and that even the
picked knights who had accompanied him to Péronne had played him false,
and he lost heart. There was no peace for him in this world save in a
life of penance. He had slain the woman who loved him, the woman who had
risked her life for his sake, and her shade would assuredly drive him
back to his hermitage or to the gallows.

The cause of this sudden _volte-face_ in favour of Jeanne is difficult
to surmise, but corruption had not unlikely something to do with it, for
we find in a treaty concluded, at Bapaume a few days later the Countess
of Flanders acknowledging that Louis, whose soldiers had not once drawn
their swords in her behalf, had expended ten thousand livres in
reinstating her in her dominions. Meanwhile Baldwin had disappeared.
Some of the few who still clung to him affirmed that he had fled to
Germany and had been received with hospitality by Archbishop Engelbert
of Cologne, who, they averred, had counselled him to go to Rome and lay
his case before the Common Father of the faithful. Be this as it may,
Baldwin was presently arrested by Baron Erard de Chastenay, at Rougemont
in Burgundy, who sold him to Jeanne for four hundred silver marks, and
she, filled with savage joy, hanged him in chains on a gibbet at Lille
between two hounds.

'Many of those who knew his story,' comments Matthew Paris, in his
delightful, gossiping way, 'were convinced that this lot befell the
Emperor in consequence of his sin.' 'And all those who had promoted it
by their advice,' he adds, 'in like manner came to a terrible end.' 'One
of these men, when he returned home to his wife, and had been recognized
by her, was cast headlong into a well. She privily procuring the same
because in her lord's absence she had wedded another man, and had borne
him children.' 'So too of the rest. By some mishap or other they all of
them perished miserably, for the wrath of God, who willeth not that evil
should be rendered for good, was fiercely enkindled against them.'



CHAPTER XII

_The Love Story of Bourchard d'Avesnes_


Before proceeding further with the story of Bruges, it will be necessary
to go back to the time when Baldwin first disappeared from men's view
(1205), blotted out by the thick mist of conjecture which clung round
the bastions of Adrianople, and to note the course of events in Flanders
from that date until the day of his unlooked-for home-coming twenty
years later (1225).

The mysterious exit of the Emperor had left his patrimony in hazardous
plight. Jeanne, his heiress and eldest daughter, was not yet fifteen
years old; her sister Marguerite was still in her cradle; Philip,
Marquis of Namur, whom Baldwin before setting out for the East had
appointed their guardian, was a man unworthy of trust, and the
redoubtable Philip Augustus was shaping the destiny of France.

Too shrewd to let slip so favourable a moment for strengthening his hold
on Flanders, the French King at once laid claim as suzerain to the
wardship of the infant princesses, and the Marquis of Namur,[20] bribed
by the promise of a royal alliance, fell in with his kinsman's designs,
and presently dispatched them to France.

In face of the storm of indignation aroused by so flagrant a breach of
trust, Philip was constrained to hand over the reins of government to
his co-trustee, Bourchard d'Avesnes, the son of the illustrious friend
of Richard Coeur de Lion, and the chief of the Nationalist or
anti-French party. But it was only after five years' negotiation, and a
threat to throw himself into the arms of England, that at length
Bourchard was enabled to obtain his wards' release, and before King
Philip would suffer their return to Flanders, he took care to bestow
Jeanne's hand on his kinsman Ferdinand of Portugal, a prince whom he
deemed would be wax in his hands.

Perhaps the French King was from the first mistaken in his man. Certain
it is that when immediately after the marriage he seized St. Omer and
Aire, and under pretext of hospitality forcibly detained the
newly-married couple, _en route_ for Flanders, at Péronne, until they
acquiesced in this act of spoliation, Ferdinand showed no disposition to
submit to the outrage tamely. He went forth from his prison at Péronne
filled with projects of vengeance, and having concluded a secret treaty
with John of England, he waited to see what would happen. For two years
he was fain to possess his soul in patience, but everything comes to the
man who knows how to wait, and at the expiration of this time
Ferdinand's opportunity came. Philip Augustus was now gathering up his
strength for a crusade against John, whom the Pope had declared to have
forfeited his crown, and he had summoned his vassals to meet him at
Soissons. Ferdinand alone refused help. St. Omer and Aire, he averred,
must first be restored to Flanders. Philip offered a money equivalent;
Ferdinand would not accept it. Nothing but the restitution of the ceded
cities would content him. By taking possession of them Philip had
violated his duty as lord, and henceforth he (Ferdinand) was in no way
bound by his oath of allegiance.

'One of two things must needs come to pass,' King Philip had swore when
he learned that Ferdinand had renounced his overlordship; 'France must
be Flemish, or Flanders French,' and presently he led into the
Netherlands the great army which he had assembled to fight King John,
who had now made his peace with the Pope. On May 24 Cassel fell, later
on Ghent was invested, by the close of the summer the French were at the
gates of Bruges. Soon tottering walls and smouldering embers were all
that remained of 'its famous seaport called Damme,' and the vast wealth
of merchandise stored there, and thousands of homes had been reduced to
ashes. The fertile country round was white to harvest, and Philip reaped
it with sickles of flame. From Bruges to the seashore all the
country-side was one great field of black stubble.

All through the autumn the French King harried Flanders; Lille, Cassel,
Courtrai, and a host of smaller towns had shared the fate of Damme
before the snows of winter drove him back again to his native land.

About this time too Ferdinand set out on a journey that he had long had
in contemplation--took shipping for Dover, and in due course reached
Canterbury and his friend John, nor is it unlikely that during this
interview the allies broached for the first time the famous project for
the partition of France between England, Flanders, Limburg, Holland,
Namur and the Empire, and which, if fate had been kind, would have
assured to Ferdinand the provinces of Artois, Picardie and the
Ile-de-France, including that Paris where, in days of yore, he had been
so diverted by '_les folles filles et les jongleurs_.' Be this as it
may, the Flemish Count was the moving spirit and instigator of the
whole plot. The outcome of it was the battle of Bouvines, and the
outcome of the battle of Bouvines was twelve years' captivity for
Ferdinand, the French yoke more firmly riveted to her neck than ever for
Flanders, and for England, as we all know, the Great Charter.

This, then, was the plight of Flanders at the close of the year 1214.
For sovereign she had a young and tearful wife, casting about her for
some means to obtain her husband's release, and ready, for the moment,
to make any sacrifice to deliver him. On this weak, helpless girl Philip
Augustus had imposed as chief counsellor a creature of his own, a
degenerate scion of the house of Erembald--one Rodolphe de Nesle,
Châtelain of Bruges. Added to this, fortresses had been dismantled,
strongholds had been razed, and two-thirds of the chivalry of Flanders
were languishing in French prisons. But there was a gleam of hope on the
horizon; there was still one man left in Flanders, mighty enough, as
every one believed, to save the fatherland from sinking into a mere
French province--that same man who, in the days of Philip's treachery,
had taken the reins of government into his own strong hands and forced
the French King to release his master's daughters. So thought all
Flanders, and all Flanders was doomed to disappointment. For, despite
his noble qualities and his great parts--a brilliant knight, a ripe
scholar, an accomplished diplomatist, and withal a shrewd, hard-headed
man of business--Bourchard d'Avesnes was not able to work out his own
salvation much less the salvation of Flanders. When in the year 1211 the
Flemish princesses returned to their native land, King Philip Augustus
had reluctantly confided the younger of them, Marguerite, then a child
of some eleven years, to his care until such time as she should have
attained marriageable age, and Bourchard had since prolonged the term of
his guardianship to one of life-long duration, as he fondly hoped, by
espousing her himself: a proceeding which in no little measure enhanced
his prestige and influence for the moment. Bourchard had announced his
marriage to his sister-in-law, who, at least, had shown no open
disapprobation, and after the battle of Bouvines, and the capture of
Ferdinand, his star was still in the ascendant. If aught should befall
the childless Jeanne, now cut off from all hope of offspring, his wife
would be Countess of Flanders, and, in accordance with the usage of the
day, he himself would share her throne. If this were matter of no little
rejoicing for the inhabitants of that country, it was no less a source
of consternation to the French King, who foresaw in Bourchard, Count of
Flanders, an emulator of Robert the Frisian, and from that moment he
determined to crush him. It was owing to his influence that the Countess
Jeanne first showed herself Bourchard's foe, and if Philip himself was
not the fabricator of the rumours which blasted his after career,
fortune had placed in his hands a deadly poison which he did not scruple
to employ.

It was in the gossiping ante-chambers of the Lateran palace that these
rumours first took shape, and whatever of truth or falsehood there may
have been in them, they were credited by Innocent III., who on 19th
January 1216 sent letters to the Archbishop of Rheims, bidding him
proclaim Bourchard d'Avesnes excommunicated 'until such time as he shall
set Marguerite of Flanders at liberty, and humbly return to the manner
of life becoming his ecclesiastical state. The testimony of several
prelates and other trustworthy persons had convinced him that Bourchard
was a sub-deacon and that he had been at one time a canon of Laon.'

Of the circumstances of the marriage, which had been celebrated after
the banns had been regularly published in the presence of all the great
nobles of Hainault, Innocent was probably ignorant. Indeed, he seems to
have been doubtful whether any marriage had taken place at all.
'Bourchard has not feared,' he says, 'to perfidiously conduct
Marguerite, the sister of the Countess of Flanders, to one of the
castles confided to his care, and there to retain her, averring that she
is united to him in wedlock.' Great then was the surprise of the Papal
legates when they presently approached the Château de Quesnoy, and
Marguerite herself came forth to meet them with her beautiful face
radiant with youth and happiness--she was only fifteen years old--nor
did her words of greeting in any way lessen their amazement. 'Learn from
mine own lips,' she said, 'that Bourchard is my lawful spouse, and know
too that I have for husband a better man and a better knight than hath
my sister Jeanne.'

The sentence of excommunication was not pronounced. Bourchard had lodged
an appeal to the Pope, but for all that, Jeanne, entirely under the
influence of her French counsellors, laid siege to the castle of
Quesnoy. The Lord of Avesnes, so far from being in a position to fight
for his fatherland, was hard pressed to defend his wife, and during two
years an intermittent warfare continued between his vassals and the
vassals of the Countess of Flanders. At the end of this period he seems
to have been taken captive, and there is a tradition that he was at one
time imprisoned at Ghent. What became of Marguerite during her husband's
captivity does not appear, but certain it is that when he had obtained
his release and had withdrawn to the Château de Houffalize, on the banks
of the Meuse, she found means to join him, and that here she later on
bore him two sons--Baldwin and Jean.

The birth of these children but increased the fury of their father's
enemies. Jeanne's French counsellors were well aware that unless
Bourchard's marriage could be shown to be null and void, one or other of
his sons would in all probability succeed to the throne, and they feared
that in that case vengeance would be meted out to the men who had
persecuted him. Philip Augustus too was more than ever convinced of the
necessity of annulling the marriage, which guaranteed the legitimacy of
his offspring, and by making Jeanne believe that she could obtain the
release of her own husband at the cost of her sister's shame, prevailed
on her to re-open the case at Rome, and the outcome was a fresh sentence
of excommunication which set under the Church's ban not only the Lord of
Avesnes himself, but his brother Guy and the friend who had given him
hospitality, Thierri of Houffalize.

In vain Bourchard journeyed to Rome, there to plead his cause in person.
The Pope, instead of granting the dispensation he asked, imposed on him,
by way of penance, a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

It was about this time that Baldwin of Constantinople again returned to
Flanders. Chief amongst those who rallied to his standard were the
friends and supporters of Bourchard d'Avesnes (no small number), and so
long as Baldwin prospered, Bourchard's hope rose high. By what means the
Emperor of Constantinople fell a victim to his daughter and to Louis of
France (Philip Augustus had died two years before) we have already seen,
and when Louis crushed Baldwin, he at the same time crushed Bourchard.
The last hopes of the Lord of Avesnes were buried in the grave of
Baldwin of Constantinople. But Bourchard had not yet drained the cup of
his humiliation. During the year 1226 he was destined to taste all its
bitterness. Enraged at the support which he had given to the hermit of
Glançon, Louis forced the Princess Marguerite to come forth from the
retreat where she had remained since her separation from her husband,
break her plighted troth, and take a new spouse in the person of William
of Dampierre. In vain Pope Honorius charged the Bishop of Soissons 'to
make diligent inquiry, lest haply there should be some impediment by
reason of kinship.' In vain rumour said that William, like Bourchard,
was a sub-deacon; the marriage was celebrated without delay, and it was
not until four years later that a Papal dispensation was obtained from
the impediment of consanguinity.

How Louis induced Marguerite to take the step in question we are
ignorant, but about this time Ferdinand obtained his liberty, and it may
well be that the French King made his release conditional on Jeanne's
bringing her influence to bear on her sister, and we know by the
testimony of Marguerite's own sons that it was 'chiefly through the evil
counsel of her sister Jeanne that she at last consented to the marriage.
The same witnesses inform us that Marguerite handed them over to the
tender mercies of her new husband, who imprisoned them 'for ten years or
thereabouts _et multa mala eis fecit cum non haberent custodem sen
defensorem_.'

For the rest--when William died, the sons of the Lord of Avesnes at
length obtained their liberty and returned to Flanders, and the last
days of their much-tried father, now an old man tottering to the grave,
were in all probability cheered and consoled by the presence of those
sons for whose sake he had sacrificed so much.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF NOTRE DAME]

As for Marguerite herself, she never again saw the man who had served
her so devotedly, and whom she had so deeply wronged. The child love of
earlier and happier days had given place to hatred so unrelenting, so
cruel, that when Bourchard himself had passed away she did not hesitate
to visit it on his children. Indeed, after Marguerite had become
Countess of Flanders, the one object in her life seems to have been to
exclude them from all part in their inheritance. If she could have had
her way, the issue of William of Dampierre would have been declared the
only legal heirs, alike of Hainault and of Flanders. Again and again at
Marguerite's instance the facts of this antiquated matrimonial suit,
every one of which had happened fifty years before, were discussed by
grave divines. Again and again the Countess of Flanders dragged her
honour in the dust, and besmirched the memory of her dead husband, in
the hope of proving the illegitimacy of the children she had borne him.
The case was heard in the ecclesiastical courts of France; it was food
for the delectation of imperial judges, and its merits were considered
by the lawyers of the Roman Curia over and over again, but in spite of
the pains which Marguerite had taken to blacken her own character, in
each case she was declared innocent--the children of Bourchard d'Avesnes
had been certainly born in wedlock. Marguerite, however, refused to
acquiesce, and it was not until the land had been drenched with blood by
the supporters of the rival claimants, and Guy and William of Dampierre
had both fallen into the hands of their opponents, that at length this
implacable old woman and all other parties concerned agreed to refer the
matters in dispute to the arbitration of that marvellous peacemaker, St.
Louis of France, who awarded Hainault to the heirs of Bourchard
d'Avesnes, and to the Dampierres, Flanders. A decision to which each
party was constrained to submit, and when Marguerite died, Guy de
Dampierre became Count of Flanders, and Jean d'Avesnes Count of
Hainault.

[Illustration: HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN AND SOUTH AISLE OF NOTRE DAME]

But how, it will be asked, does all this concern the city on the Roya?
What has the love story of Bourchard d' Avesnes to do with the story of
Bruges? This much. Bruges, as the chief place of residence of the
sovereigns of Flanders, was intimately associated with the Court of
Flanders and all that appertained thereto. Moreover, it was during this
period that Bruges began to assume its present aspect. If old Provost
Bertulph, or Dierick of Alsace, or even his son Philip, could again
re-visit the scene of their sorrows and their triumphs, they would
hardly recognize in the city of Bruges aught save the chapel of St.
Basil; but if Marguerite, or Jeanne, or poor Bourchard, were to come
back again, they would find there much that was familiar to them--the
great nave and choir and transepts of Notre Dame, in spite of whitewash
and Rococo ornament, and the scars of their conflict with time, would be
easily recognizable. So too the Cathedral of St. Sauveur, part of it,
the nave and choir of the Church of St. Gilles, and the northern aisle
and the tower of the Church of St. Jacques.

If the ghost of Jeanne could come forth into the _Rue Ste. Cathérine_,
there too she would recognize in the old brown hospital tottering into
the water, in spite of mutilated statues, blind windows, bricked-up
doorways and an abundant crop of golden wallflowers which have found a
congenial home in the chinks and crevices of its crumbling façade, the
stately building which she herself had founded six hundred years ago,
the withered fruit of that grand design over which, along with the
Master Mason who conceived it, she had no doubt often pored, and which,
perhaps even, she had herself modified. Whilst if the Beguinage hard-by
with its Renaissance church, its Renaissance porch, and its white-washed
cottages of the seventeen hundreds; if the hospital of Our Lady of the
Pottery at the other end of the town, with its flamboyant windows, its
recently-restored out-buildings, and its modern gateway; if the
Romanesque hospital of St. John at Damme, pitilessly scraped as to its
stones, and with its time-honoured brickwork degraded by red paint,
appeared at first sight unfamiliar to her, an arch here, a gateway
there, a piece of rude carving a little further on, would soon convince
her that she was in the presence of old friends whom she and her sister
Marguerite had known six centuries before. And so too of others of the
bricks and stones, and perhaps also even of the trees of Bruges or its
neighbourhood, though, alas! it is too seldom the manner of the Fleming
to cherish his timber after it has attained marketable value. He is
indeed an indefatigable planter, but he plants for profit, and he is a
no less indefatigable wielder of the pruning-hook and the axe.

[Illustration: THE BEGUINAGE, WITH TOWER OF NOTRE DAME]

Nevertheless, here and there some stalwart stripling has escaped notice
long enough to have attained such huge dimensions as to evoke even the
respect of this hard-headed, matter-of-fact Saxon--such a one is still
standing in a wood not far from Maele Castle, the former country
residence of the Counts of Flanders. Maybe it was already a great tree
when Marguerite and Jeanne were still children living under the
guardianship of Philip of Namur and Bourchard d'Avesnes, and that when
they went out from the sultry town in summer-time to the cool of Maele
woods they played beneath its branches.

There is a still more famous tree a little further off, but within
measurable distance of Bruges. The time-honoured yew tree of Löo is said
to be more than two thousand years old. It stands beside an ancient
gateway in the main street of this picturesque little town--once the
home of Bertulph's murderer, the perfidious William of Löo, and is
associated with the name of no less remote a personage than Julius
Cæsar. The country folk will tell you he once tied his horse to it.

A fragment too of the primeval forest in which Robert the Frisian built
Winendael is still standing, and here also there is some old timber.

Let the visitor to Bruges, when he has fatigued his eyes with the glory
of man's handiwork in the city, consider awhile the handiwork of God in
the flat country surrounding it. Let him go forth into the forest of
Winendael, or the woods of Tilleghem or Maele, and he will see what he
will see.



CHAPTER XIII

_The French Annexation_


Descended from a poor but illustrious family of the best nobility of
Champagne, and nearly allied to the royal house of France--a man of
great natural abilities, no less courageous than capable, and withal an
ardent lover and lavish patron of literature and the arts--it was no
mere vulgar flattery when Jacques Bretex, the troubadour of Arras,
averred that Count Guy de Dampierre was the most polished and learned
and generous prince of his day. His Court was one of the most brilliant
in Christendom; thither flocked musicians, artists, men of letters, from
all parts of Europe. His chief delight was to while away his leisure
hours with them--in summer-time in the woody glades of Winendael, and in
winter in the halls of his sumptuous palace at Bruges. It was thanks to
his generous patronage that in days when every French town boasted a
poet, in an age that was the age _par excellence_ of French minstrelsy,
this gentle art shone with the greatest _éclat_ in Flanders and in
Artois. But if French songsters like Adenez Leroy and Jacques Bretex
enchanted the ears of Guy's Court with pæans of his virtue and his
glory, plain citizens relished more the rude Flemish verse of the poets
of the people--verse bitter, caustic, passionate, instinct alike with
their hopes and their aversions, verse which, scorning the art of
flattery, did not hesitate to discover the source of all this
magnificence;--burthensome taxes and forced loans wrung from a
long-suffering people by a prince who contemned their liberties. The
bitter irony, for example, with which William Uuitenhove in his
_Reinæert de Vos_ (Reynard the Fox) bewails the progress which Master
Reynard has made in science, and the haste shown by men hungry for
riches to follow no other rule than that which he preached in his den,
or the no less bitter and energetic hymns in which Jacob van Maerlant
bewails the lot 'of the sheep wandering among the ravening wolves who
have become their shepherds now that pride and avarice have given to
every man who possesses gold the right to speak in the council chamber
of princes.'

Bred in the traditions of feudalism, Guy mistrusted Flanders, the land
of all others where freedom had made most headway, and the Flemish in
their turn hated him because his dynasty had been forced on them by
France. These two circumstances hampered him at every turn, and there
was yet another which indirectly aggravated all his difficulties: he was
the impecunious father of seventeen children.[21] Sons had to be settled
in life and daughters portioned and married, hence the arbitrary
taxation, the fines and forced loans with which he so often vexed his
subjects. This too was the fruitful source of foreign complications.
Guy, considering above all things how to obtain rich partners for his
numerous offspring, did not always take into consideration the political
opportuneness of their alliances. From every circumstance he must needs
draw some pecuniary advantage, and that without regard to his real and
permanent interests. Every town and abbey in his domains lent him money,
he had recourse too to the usurers of Lombardy and of Arras, and he was
always ready to sell privileges to whomsoever could afford to pay for
them. The money thus raised was in great part expended in endowing his
progeny. Thus it was that he purchased the lordships and manorial
rights of Dunkirk, of Baitlleul, of Cambrai, of St. Omer and Peteghem.

His endeavours to affiance his daughter Phillippine, and when this
failed, his youngest daughter Isabelle, to the heir to the English
throne, were in great measure the cause of his troubles with France.
With what tenacity Guy clung to this project, and that it was not
altogether inspired by mercenary motives, the memorial presented by his
two sons Robert of Bethune and John of Namur to Pope Boniface, bears
witness. The Princess Phillippine was at this time a prisoner at Paris,
and one object of the memorial was to interest Boniface in her behalf.
'Holy Father,' runs the passage in question, 'your devoted son Guy,
Count of Flanders, is grievously afflicted that the union of his
daughter with the Prince of Wales, a matter which had been guaranteed by
solemn oaths, is not yet accomplished. It were a fine thing for him to
have for his friend and son-in-law the heir to the English throne, and
his daughter one day queen, which was what, with God's blessing, he had
ardently hoped would come to pass,--nay, what a grand thing it would be
for his subjects that England and Flanders, countries which hitherto
have been so often at loggerheads with no little detriment to persons
and property, should at length be united in bonds of peace. For the
inhabitants of these lands are neighbours and they are wont to have much
commercial intercourse the one with the other, chiefly for the transport
of wool from England, and cloth from Flanders, but also anent many other
products found in one country or the other.'

A fourth circumstance hampered Guy. His nephew Jean II. of Avesnes never
forgot that he was the eldest son of the eldest son of Marguerite of
Constantinople, that the highest ecclesiastical tribunal in Christendom
had pronounced in favour of his father's legitimacy, and that thus,
according to the law of primogeniture, he was rightful Count of
Flanders; hence he lost no opportunity of injuring his uncle, and was
continually plotting against him. Moreover, Guy was at daggers drawn
with several of his great vassals, such as the Lords of Audenarde and
Gavre, and he was not beloved by the higher clergy, at all events by
these of West Flanders.

Thus it came to pass, in spite of his brilliant qualities, in spite of
his all-round capability, in spite of his courage, his perseverance and
his _finesse_, he failed in the noble task which it was his ambition to
fulfil--to break from off the neck of Flanders the galling yoke of
France--that his most cherished personal hopes were never accomplished;
that he had to stand by with folded hands whilst poor little
Phillippine, the child of his old age, the apple of his eye, was slowly
done to death by Philippe le Bel, and that he himself, an old man broken
down by insults and tears, at length died miserably in a French prison.

It must not be supposed from what has been noted above that Guy was
animated by the instincts of a tyrant; he had no wish to establish a
despotism in Flanders--nay, he undoubtedly had the welfare of his
country at heart, but self came first. When he was not blinded by his
own personal interests, he showed himself a just and a benevolent
prince, following in his methods of government the example of his
predecessors, Jeanne and Marguerite. Like them he favoured industry and
commerce, and to a certain extent the freedom of the towns, but he
viewed with an evil eye the extreme independence of the great communes,
the like of which existed nowhere else in Northern Europe, and he would
have reduced their liberties to the same level as those obtaining in
France.

The jealousy with which the upper classes viewed the increasing
well-being of the people was another item in the political situation of
the day, and Guy endeavoured to exploit it for his own ends. The quarrel
was not, as has so often been represented, a duel between burgher and
noble, it was rather a tug-of-war between men of wealth and men of
moderate means.

On the one side were doubtless a certain number of rich feudal lords,
but there were also allied to them almost all the great merchants and
traders of the greater communes, and nearly all the higher clergy--in a
word, the _majores et potentiores_, as Monachus Gandavensis calls them.
On the other, the small traders, the lower clergy, and perhaps a
sprinkling of the Court nobility.

The former class alone monopolised all municipal authority, every post
of profit and advancement was reserved for them, and the latter viewed
this state of things with great disfavour; and Guy, with a view to
crushing the oligarchy which governed the towns, fomented and increased
the quarrel, backing up the small men who were not strong enough to
disquiet him.

The Flemish as a nation have never been renowned for loyalty to the
princes who governed them, and the sturdy patriotism of this hard-headed
race will most frequently be found to have been inspired less by motives
of sentiment than by motives of self-interest. This was certainly the
case with the '_majores et potentiores_' of Bruges and Ypres and Ghent
in the days of Count Guy.

So long as their rights and privileges and monopolies were respected, so
long as all political and municipal power was in their hands, it
mattered little to them whether they were called Frenchmen or Flemings,
whether their nominal chief styled himself Count of Flanders or King of
France. Thus it came to pass that when Guy, in order to curtail their
power, threw his weight on the side of the little men, the governing
oligarchy appealed from their Count to the parliament of his liege lord,
the King of France, and that when, thanks to their aid, that monarch had
made Flanders a French province, and had then thrown off the mask, and
attempted to deprive them of all they held most dear, they veered round
to the side of their rightful government, united with the little men,
and finally chased the French from Flanders.

'Philippe le Bel,' says Kervyn, 'represents in the thirteenth century
the worst tendencies of absolute monarchy.' He was firmly resolved to
gather up all power into his own hands, that he alone should rule
France, and that in the domains of his vassals nothing should take place
without his consent. And note this. He was the first French sovereign
who used the formula--_Par le plenitude de notre puissance royal_, and
the first too who styled himself _metuendissimus_.

Flanders was the first province to which he directed his attention. Her
princes were amongst the mightiest and the most independent of his
vassals, and behind them was the strength of their free cities. United,
these two forces would have been invincible; in hurling himself against
the bed rock of their omnipotence Philippe would have only dashed
himself to pieces, but, unhappily, at the time of which we are treating,
Guy and his burghers were at daggers drawn, and their mutual
animosities--animosities which he made it his business to
foment--afforded Philippe a favourable opportunity for crushing both.

From the commencement of his reign the French King had persistently
worried the Count of Flanders with a policy of exasperation which
culminated, in 1296, in the decoying and detention of his favourite
daughter Phillippine. This it was which at length drove Guy to openly
break with his suzerain, and on the 7th of January 1297, after signing
on the previous day at Winendael an offensive and defensive alliance
with Edward of England, he despatched the abbots of Gembloux and of
Florceffe to Paris to inform the French King that on account of his evil
deeds and his perfidy, Count Guy of Flanders henceforth held himself to
be quit, delivered and absolved from all bonds, alliances, conventions,
obediences, and services by which he might hitherto have been bound to
him.

Philippe replied by invading Flanders at the head of 60,000 men. The
greater communes, of whose rights and liberties he posed as the
champion, received him with open arms, and so hard pressed were Count
Guy and his allies that early in October (1297) they were glad to
consent to an armistice which was afterwards prolonged to a truce of
three years.

Having thus for the moment discarded the trade of war, Philippe busied
himself with diplomacy; purchased the defection of Albert of Nassau;
concluded a secret treaty with the English King, affiancing his daughter
Isabelle to the Prince of Wales, and his sister Marguerite to Edward
himself. Thus on the very day when the truce expired he was enabled to
pour his troops into Flanders with every anticipation of a successful
and speedy issue. Nor was he doomed to disappointment. What could Guy
do? Betrayed by his burghers, without friends and without cash, by the
end of April he had lost all heart, and presently he was on his knees at
Ardenburg before Charles of Valois, the French commander, humbly suing
for peace. Absolute submission to the King's mercy, total abandonment of
the remnant of territory which he still held, and a journey to Paris
along with two of his sons and fifty of his barons, there to treat face
to face with the King--these were the only terms upon which Valois
would consent to relinquish hostilities, but he guaranteed to Guy, in
the King's name, that if he failed to obtain peace in the course of the
year, he should be free to return to Flanders. Stern as the conditions
were, Guy and his little following forthwith set out for Paris, but only
on their arrival there to be thrown into prison. Philippe was not bound,
he said, by a treaty to which he had never assented, and presently,
having obtained judgment from his lawyers that Guy had forfeited his
dominions by reason of felony, he took possession of the entire county,
and declared it annexed to the French crown. This was early in the year
1300. 'The burghers of the Flemish cities,' says a German historian,
'had been all corrupted by the gold or the promises of the French King,
who would never have dared to cross their frontiers if they had been
true to their Count.'[22] The rest of this story is more intimately
connected with Bruges, and it must be told at greater length.



CHAPTER XIV

_Peter de Coninck_


Although the city on the Roya had been in great measure responsible for
the success of the French arms--at the very commencement of the war she
had opened her gates to Philippe le Bel--she was destined to be the
chief factor in the great movement which ended by chasing the French
from Flanders.

Early in the spring of 1301 Philippe le Bel had resolved to make a
triumphal progress through his new domains, and on the 18th of May,
accompanied by his Queen, he arrived at Douai--having visited Courtrai,
Audenarde, Peteghem, Ghent--where he was received with the greatest
magnificence. Towards the close of the month he reached Bruges, and
Bruges would fain have surpassed her rival in the cordiality and
gorgeousness of her welcome. All the palaces and public buildings were
hung with precious stuffs; on platforms draped with taffeta stood the
wives and daughters of the burghers, arrayed in glorious apparel, and
tradition tells us how the shimmer of their gems and the lustre of their
silks aroused the envy of Isabelle of France. 'I thought,' quoth she,
'that I alone was Queen, but here I see six hundred.'

But if the _majores et potentiores_ were exuberant in their
manifestations of loyalty, the people were dumb. In vain Philippe called
the sheriffs to him, and bade them proclaim public games; no man would
take part in them. Indeed, these very games were destined to be the
source of the ill-fortune which afterwards befell the French.

The sheriffs essayed to place to the cost of the city companies the
price of the gala uniforms expressly manufactured for the occasion. The
latter refused to acknowledge the debt, and riots ensued which presently
culminated in successful rebellion. In those days there dwelt in the
city of Bruges a little wizened, one-eyed man who loved the people.
Speaking no language but his own rude mother-tongue, he knew how to
infuse so much fire into it, and to mould it into such pithy sayings,
and there was so much shrewdness in his speech, and so much sense in his
ugly head that, in spite of his physical infirmities and in spite of his
uncouth form, his influence with them was unbounded. This man was the
dean of the great Guild of Weavers, Petrus de Coninck, or, in plain
English, Peter King.

What his original station in life may have been, and what public
offices, if any, he may have filled, are questions, perhaps, which will
never be determined. May be, as Gheldorf thinks, he was a man of noble
birth who had formerly occupied some position of trust at Guy's
Court--it was by no means an unusual occurrence for Flemish noblemen in
those days to become members of city companies. May be Kervyn is right
in asserting that he was a son of the people; nor, if this were so, does
it follow that De Coninck had not been attached to his sovereign's
household; men of doubtful origin, before and since, have sometimes been
esteemed by princes, and Guy is known to have favoured his lesser folk.
Perhaps he was a Flemish Karl of the Liberty of Bruges, one of those
sturdy yeomen whose ancestors for generations back had, each of them,
cultivated his own plot of land and held it by the strength of his own
right arm.

Be this as it may, neither the baseness nor the brilliancy of De
Coninck's origin diminished or increased the esteem in which he was held
by the people. They loved him for what he was, and not for what his
forebears had been; and when, supported by the deans of five-and-twenty
guilds, in the market-place of Bruges, beneath the shadow of the great
bell tower which had just arisen from its ashes more beautiful than it
was before, he thundered at the corruption and ambition of the city
fathers and called them sycophants and knaves, the vast crowd which
thronged the market-place rallied round him to a man, and swore to
refuse the obnoxious tax--that not one groat of their hard-earned coin
should find its way into the coffers of so corrupt a municipality. In
vain the outraged sheriffs caused De Coninck and his comrades to be put
under arrest; that very night the people burst open their prison and set
them free, and when John of Ghistelle, the chief of the Leliaerts,[23]
concerted with them a plot to fall on the Clauwaerts[24] unawares and
cut down all their chiefs, the bell which should have signalled the work
of destruction was for more than one of the plotters his own passing
knell.

Somehow or other the Clauwaerts had got wind of the storm that was
brewing, and as the first shrill cry of the tocsin clanged over the
city, they flew to arms. Panic laid hold of the Leliaert host, and
though the swiftness of their heels saved some, not a few of the leaders
were reckoned amongst the slain, and others before nightfall were safely
lodged in the prison which had so lately held De Coninck and his
friends; but the measure of the great tribune's vengeance was not filled
up yet.

Jacques de Châtillon, the King's lieutenant, had for days been encamped
outside the city walls, but he deemed the force at his disposal too
small to risk a conflict. Each day, however, was bringing him fresh
recruits, and a bloody encounter was at hand, when certain men in whom
each side trusted offered their mediation. Thanks to their good offices
an arrangement was effected, and next day De Châtillon and his knights
rode into the city at the same moment that De Coninck and his friends
left it. That a man of De Coninck's stamp should have consented to act
thus is at first sight incomprehensible, but after events show that this
seemingly cowardly and vacillating conduct was inspired by no mean or
unworthy motive. So great were the odds against him that, if he had then
hazarded an engagement, nothing short of a miracle could have saved his
little band from being cut to pieces. He was well aware that if he
surrendered unconditionally the best thing he could hope for would be a
halter, and that with his life was linked at that juncture the liberty
of Flanders. He knew, too, the man he had to deal with, and that if he
gave him sufficient rope he would certainly end by hanging himself. In a
word, Châtillon's narrow, arbitrary and exasperating policy would soon
drive not a few of the Lily's staunchest supporters--for the greater
number of them were only Leliaerts from self-interest--to throw in their
lot with the Lion, and that then, with a united Flanders at his back, he
might hope to accomplish something. These events occurred in the month
of July 1301.

All this actually came to pass. No sooner had Châtillon entered Bruges
and re-established his authority than he declared all its privileges
forfeited on account of the late rebellion, and exacted, moreover, by
way of further punishment, the fourth penny of every workman's wages,
and to overawe the discontented, he began the construction of a great
citadel on the banks of the Minne Water.

In vain the burghers sent envoys to Paris to plead their cause before
the King. Châtillon's henchman, the Comte de St. Pol, had preceded them,
and their prayer and humiliation only added to his triumph; and when on
their return to Bruges they told the astonished burghers how during
their visit to Paris the Bishop of Pamiers had arrived there, charged by
the Pope to demand the release of Count Guy and of Phillippine, and how
the King had received him with insults and cast him into prison, these
men knew they had nothing to hope from the tender mercies of Philippe le
Bel.

Meanwhile the discontent at Bruges was increasing day by day. So great
was the indignation aroused by the governor's arbitrary conduct that
numbers of those who had formerly supported Philippe had now returned to
their allegiance to Guy, and by the month of November the Clauwaerts had
grown so strong that when De Coninck, taking advantage of Châtillon's
absence at Ghent, appeared once more in the market-place 'no man dared
lay hold of him.' Indeed, so terrified were the Leliaert magistrates at
his unlooked-for arrival that they fled the city, and, for the moment,
De Coninck was master of Bruges. But the people are ever a timorous and
vacillating herd, and when De Coninck failed in an attempt to win over
the Ghenters to the national side, and news came that Châtillon, at the
head of a vast host, was on his way to Bruges, so great was their terror
that they forced him to quit the town. Indeed, if he had refused to do
so he would have fallen a victim to their fury--and two days later
Châtillon marched in.

De Coninck was in no way disheartened. He knew that the burghers would
soon call him again to their aid. Moreover, during the period which had
elapsed between his first and second exodus, the prospects of the little
band of patriots had vastly improved. William of Juliers,[25] Provost
of Maestricht, a grandson of Count Guy, aroused by the woes of his
native land, had exchanged the cassock for the cuirass, and placed
himself at their head; John Breidel, Dean of the Butchers' Guild, one of
the richest men in Bruges, and perhaps, like De Coninck himself, in
brighter days a noble of Guy's Court, had thrown in his lot with them,
and by the united efforts of De Coninck and these men the standard of
the Lion now waved over Damme, and Oostburg, and Ardenburg, and the
castles of Sysseele and Maele, and if Bruges in her wild panic had
thrust the great tribune from her doors, he was not doomed to wander
shelterless and alone. Five thousand of her bravest sons were found
ready to share exile with him, and all the country round was still
staunch to the cause of freedom. And yet so unequally matched were the
combatants that the final issue could hardly be doubtful.

On the one side was Philippe le Bel, the mightiest king of his day, with
all the chivalry of Navarre, and all the chivalry of France, and
whatever knights he had been able to recruit throughout the Continent of
Europe; and on the other, the tradesmen of Flanders, headed by an exiled
priest and a handful of outlawed nobles who had been driven from their
native land.

But De Coninck regarded the matter from another point of view. On the
one side he saw tyranny and injustice, and on the other liberty and
right, and he knew that though sometimes these champions have the air of
feeble folk, in the long run they are bound to conquer; and perchance
too William, calling to mind the words which in the old church at
Maestricht he had so often chanted at Vespers:--_Deposuit potentes de
sede et exaltavit humiles_, felt confident with a confidence not of
earth that that God who chooses the feeble things of this world to
confound the strong would surely fight their battle for them.

Be this as it may, on May 17, Châtillon marched into the city, but
instead of bringing, as he had promised the burghers, only a small
escort, two thousand well-armed knights marched in with him. Forthwith
all kinds of rumours filled the air--Châtillon had brought great coils
of rope to hang the chief citizens, there was to be a general massacre
of Clauwaerts not even the women and children were to be spared. One
French knight had been so sickened at his leader's wholesale project of
vengeance that, rather than have a hand in it, he had made good his
escape from the city.

Next day the kennels of Bruges were red with blood, but it was not the
blood of her burghers. In their fear and their misery these weaklings
bethought them of the man whom they had turned from their doors. 'If you
have any pity for your fellow-citizens, if the bowels of your compassion
are not shut up against our women and our little ones, come over and
help us.' Thus they sent word to De Coninck at Damme, and before
daybreak he was at Ste. Croix, and with him was John Breidel and a host
of stalwart Flemings. A handful of burghers went out to confer with
them, and presently with a great cry the exiles burst into the city.
'_Schilt end vriendt_, for the lion of Flanders,' re-echoed through the
narrow streets, and all those who could not pronounce this shibboleth,
impossible of articulation for Gallic lips, were forthwith put to death.
So stunned and confused were they by the suddenness of the attack, and
the darkness of the night and the uncouth words of greeting which burst
from the lips of their foes, that the Frenchmen hardly showed fight at
all, but considered only how best they might quit the city, a matter not
easy of

[Illustration: OLD HOUSES ON THE ROYA]

accomplishment, for a strong guard of Flemings was posted outside each
gate. All day long the work of destruction continued, and when at last,
worn out with slaying, the Flemish sheathed their swords, the streets
and lanes of the city were red with blood and filled with dead men, and
so great was the number of corpses that it took three whole days to cast
them into the adjoining fields, and there give them burial. And yet
fortune had been kind to some of them; the lives of forty knights had
been spared, and perhaps of three-score soldiers. These men had been
cast into prison; others more fortunate still had saved alike their
lives and their liberty. Amongst them note the authors of all the
mischief, Jacques de Châtillon and Chancellor Flotte. The former, who,
with all his faults, was no coward, at first essayed to stem the tide,
but when his horse had been slain under him, seeing that resistance was
hopeless, he endeavoured to slip away unobserved, and in the darkness
and confusion succeeded in doing so. Presently, wandering about the mazy
byways in search of some refuge, he fell in with Pierre Flotte in like
predicament with himself. At last they discovered the place they were
seeking, perhaps the garret or the cellar of some warehouse giving on
one of the canals. Here these two friends, the one a prince of the blood
royal and the other the bastard of a courtezan, each of them men of
wealth and might, without victuals and without drink, lay huddled up in
a frowsy corner, expecting each moment would be their last, until once
more the shades of night fell on the town.

Then slinking forth, not without trepidation, Châtillon in the garb of a
clerk, Flotte disguised in some other fashion, each of them presently
made good his escape, and found an interval of breathing time, the first
at Courtrai, the second at Lille, during which to recruit themselves for
the great contest so soon to follow.

Truly the fourteenth century was a century of noise and adventure, and
yet somehow or other in those days, so we are told, men had no nerves.



CHAPTER XV

_The Battle of the Golden Spurs_


The victory was not yet won, Flanders was not yet free, but the massacre
which took place at Bruges on Friday, May 13, 1302, and which the
burghers for centuries after with brutal irony delighted to call their
'good Friday,' was the beginning of the end.

A few days before that event, William of Juliers had sought out the Lord
of Moerseke and demanded of him the sword which Guy had entrusted to his
keeping when he set out for France. At first the knight refused, but the
war-like prelate seized it roughly from his hands, saying, as he did so,
'This is now my pastoral staff; henceforth the battlefield shall be my
school, and soon Philippe le Bel shall rue his treachery to Guy of
Dampierre'; and William kept his word. Remaining at Bruges for a few
days to recruit his forces, he sallied forth into the country round, and
soon Ghent alone of all the towns of Flanders was in the hands of the
French; and early in June Guy of Namur, a younger son of Guy of
Flanders, reached the capital, where he was welcomed with costly
presents and garlands and clashing bells, and appointed
Commander-in-chief of the Flemish host and Regent of the county.

Meanwhile Châtillon had brought to Paris the news of the Bruges
massacre, and by the end of June Philippe had gathered together an army
to be wondered at. 'So great was the number of chariots and horsemen,'
says Matthew of Westminster, 'that the surface of the earth was hid by
them.' Every baron in France who could take the field was there, and
mercenaries from Spain and Italy, and Hainault and Brabant. Their leader
was the Count of Artois. Presently they set out for the Netherlands, and
towards the close of June they reached Lille.

Nor was the army of resistance which the Regent had assembled one worthy
of contempt. In addition to his own German auxiliaries and a handful of
volunteers from Zealand, he had collected recruits from every commune
and châtelaincy in Flanders. Even from Ghent, the only town which still
held to France, came seven hundred men headed by two sheriffs. In the
foremost rank were the burghers of Bruges, each man ranged under the
banner of the guild to which he belonged and gorgeous in its rich
livery--purple, blue, gold, or white embroidered with crimson crosses.
Their leaders were Breidel and De Coninck and the redoubtable Provost of
Maestricht. Hard-by, under Eustace Sporkin, one of the last of the old
Saxon chiefs, stood the yeomen of the Liberty of Bruges; half naked,
bare headed, sinewy of limb, carrying no weapon but the rude _scharmsax_
of their ancestors, but for all that a force not to be contemned. From
time immemorial the fathers of these men had borne the brunt of every
foreign invasion and of every native tyranny. 'So far as they are
concerned,' as Kervyn notes, 'the history of the fourteenth century is
the history of every century which had preceded it.' Jacques de
Châtillon, like so many tyrants before him, would fain have reduced them
to slavery, and they had sworn to prevent it.

The Count of Artois set out from Lille during the early days of July,
and, leaving behind him a long red streak, for in order to terrorize the
peasant folk he had spared neither women nor children, he presently
pitched his silken tents on a knoll of rising ground about two leagues
from Courtrai. Before that time this hill had been called _Mossenberg_
(the Mossy Mount), but on account of the revelry which then took place
it has since been known as the _Berg van Weelden_, or the Mount of
Feasting.

It took two days for the French force to assemble, and meanwhile the
scouts, whom Artois had sent out to ascertain the position of the
Flemish, brought back word that they were spread out in a single phalanx
in the plain before the Abbey of Groeninghe, to the east of the town
on the road to Ghent; that the river Lys on the north covered their
rear; that on the west they were protected by the entrenchments of
Courtrai, and on the south and east by the river Groeninghe, and that
their position was impregnable; that, so far from showing fear at the
approach of the enemy, as Artois had confidently expected, 'they were
drawn up man to man with their arms raised above their heads like
valiant huntsmen awaiting the charge of the wild boar.'

Those of the French knights who best knew Flanders besought their chief
to put off the battle till the morrow. The Flemish, they urged, were not
accustomed to remain long in camp, and want of supplies would soon
disperse them; but Artois rejected the counsel with disdain. 'What!' he
cried. 'We outnumber these men by half as many again; we are on
horseback, they on foot; we are well armed and they are without weapons;
shall we remain, before such a foe as this, rooted to the ground in
terror?'

The decisive contest took place on Wednesday the 11th of July. The
Flemish began the day with fasting and prayer. 'Behold before ye,' cried
that militant prelate William of Juliers, 'behold before ye men armed
for your destruction! Our hope is in the name of the Lord, invoke His
aid.' Then, when a priest had raised the Sacred Host high above the
kneeling throng, William of Renesse made known the battle cry--'Flanders
for the Lion,' and then each man took up a handful of earth and pressed
it to his lips, by way perhaps of spiritual communion, perhaps to
testify their love for the soil of Flanders and that they were sworn to
defend it.

Before the battle commenced, a frugal repast was served out to the men.
The town archives of Bruges have preserved for us the bill of
fare--fish, eggs, mustard and sorrel. Nor were omens lacking which
presaged the fortune of the coming fray. A flock of doves hovered about
the heads of the Flemish host, whilst over the French squadrons there
wheeled ravens. Rumour said too that the Count of Artois had risen from
his bed full of evil forebodings, that his favourite hound had attacked
him and almost fastened to his throat, and that when he sprang into his
saddle, his charger had reared three times before he would start. A more
certain augury of misfortune was the impatient ardour which fretted his
soul, and some grey-headed knights called to mind that fifty-three years
before his father's impetuous temper had, at the battle of Mansourah,
wrecked another French host.

Amongst the mercenaries whose assistance the French King had bought was
a band of famous archers recruited in Genoa. These men at the opening of
the conflict, stealthily advancing along the road to Sweveghem,
presently espied on the other side of a thick hedge which skirted the
banks of a stream a company of Flemish bowmen, and in less than the
twinkling of an eye the arrows of the Italians were playing havoc with
them. But if the foreigners' sharpshooting discomfited their opponents,
it afforded no consolation to their French paymasters, and one of them
appealed to Artois. 'Sire,' he burst out in the bitterness of his soul,
'sire, if these villains do so much, the day will be theirs, and what
share will the nobles have in the glory?' 'Then let them charge,' was
the reply. In vain that shrewd old fox Flotte pointed out that when once
the Italian archers had broken the Flemish ranks and constrained them to
quit their entrenchment, the nobles alone would have the glory of
putting the enemy to flight. Artois refused to hear him. 'By the devil,'
he cried, 'Pierre, you have still the wolf's skin,' and the knights
rushed forward, trampling under their horses' hoofs the Italian archers,
and even cutting their bow-strings with their swords.

There is some consolation in the thought that the littleness of these
fine gentlemen was the cause of their overthrow. The marshy land--the
_Bloed Meersch_, as it was afterwards called--in the foreground of the
Flemish camp was everywhere intersected by streams, and deep and broad
dykes, with hedges on their banks thick and high. (Such is still the
character of the landscape in many parts of Flanders). These the
Flemings had cut down, and with the felled brushwood they had concealed
the water. The Frenchmen, unacquainted with the nature of the country,
failed to perceive the trap which had been laid for them, and in an
instant hundreds of men and horses were struggling in a watery grave,
and the few who succeeded in reaching land were received by their
opponents on the points of their spears. Then followed a hardly-fought
contest, for though the knights who had first charged had been nearly
all slain those behind them were legion, and the streams, now choked up
with dead bodies, no longer barred the way. For a moment the Flemish
were driven back and for a moment panic was imminent, but Guy of Namur,
turning round to the great Abbey Church of St. Mary which towered
behind him, cried out with a voice which echoed over the battlefield,
'Great Queen of Heaven, help us,' and with that cry he so heartened his
wavering forces that they returned with renewed courage to battle.

During the _mêlée_ which followed, Rudolphe of Nesle was struck down--a
three-fold traitor this man; a traitor to his country, for he was a
Fleming of pure blood; a traitor to the traditions of his own house, for
in his veins flowed the blood of Dierick of Alsace, and the nobler blood
of Erembald; and a traitor to his wife, for she was a daughter of the
Count of Flanders. But in spite of it all he was a brave knight; he had
gone farther that day than any Frenchman, and he preferred to die rather
than to yield up his sword. By a strange coincidence, Jacques de
Châtillon, who had been Rudolphe's successor in the government of
Bruges, was fighting by his side when Rudolphe fell, and he too was cut
down by the Flemish pikes. Not far off an old man was seen to throw
himself on his knees. He had that day put on mail for the first time,
thinking when he did so, not to take part in the conflict, but to have
his share in the triumph which every Frenchman believed that morning
would be its issue. Somehow or other he had been drawn, in spite of
himself, into the thick of battle, and now loudly cried to his friends
to carry him out, but no man had pity on him, and he was presently
trampled to death by his own comrades.

Thus perished Chancellor Flotte, the foremost of Philippe's law lords,
of that new _noblesse de robe_ which he had raised up to counterbalance
the might of the old _noblesse d'épée_, of that band of _chevaliers ès
lois_, as they loved to style themselves, by whose astute aid he was
gradually changing monarchy into despotism, and who, as Kervyn notes,
'under the grandson of St. Louis, became the tyrants of France.'
Philippe had found him on the dunghill, and he made him to sit among the
princes of his people. He was a shrewd, hard-headed man of business, and
of good qualities, at least, he possessed these: fidelity to the cause
he served, and loyalty to the man who made him. He had sworn not to
return to France until he had wiped out the indignity which had been put
on him by Bruges, and, as we have seen, he kept his word.

On the other side it had gone hard with the Provost of Maestricht, who
was carried out of the battle with his temples streaming with blood. If
it had not been for the presence of mind of his esquire, this
circumstance would perhaps have caused a panic. He, swiftly buckling on
his master's armour and galloping into the thick of the fight, cried
out, 'It is I, William of Juliers, come back to do battle,' and so saved
the situation.

It was not yet noon when the Count of Artois dashed to the front, crying
out as he did so, 'Let those who are faithful follow.' Presently he came
to a great dyke. Digging his spurs into his horse's flanks, he cleared
it at a bound, and was alone in the midst of the Flemings. In an instant
he had seized the banner of Flanders and torn it to shreds, but in
bending forward to grasp it, his foot slipped out of his stirrup, and
William Van Sæftingen, a monk of Hacket's abbey at Lisseweghe, who had
fled from his cell to join the fight, dragged him from his saddle, and
at the same moment someone wrenched away his sword.

'I surrender, I surrender,' he cried, but with brutal irony his
assailants feigned not to understand, and before Guy of Namur could
interfere to save him, the Count of Artois was dead.

Although deprived of their leaders, the French knights fought with their
wonted valour, but amid the slime and dykes of the _Bloed-Meersch_
cavalry was worse than useless, and before nightfall the first and
second lines of the great army of invasion were cut to pieces. The third
battalion--the reserve force--had taken no part in the engagement, and a
handful of the men who formed it succeeded in making their escape, but
they fled in the greatest disorder, and their retreat was nothing less
than a rout.

For the rest, seventy-five noblemen, a thousand knights and three
thousand esquires were among the slain, and the sum-total of the French
losses are said to have amounted to twenty thousand, whilst the Flemish
estimated theirs at a hundred all told.

So great was the number of the golden spurs which the conquerors
wrenched from the heels of the French knights who had fallen that they
measured them by the bushel, and be it noted that the cavaliers of the
period in question wore but one spur. Some of these trophies William of
Juliers sent to his church at Maestricht, and the rest were hung up in
the Church of St. Mary at Courtrai.

This brilliant victory which the tradesmen of Flanders had gained over
the flower of French chivalry made such an impression on the hearts of
the people that to this day there is hardly a Fleming who is ignorant of
the battle of the Golden Spurs. Nay, at the news of the victory of
Courtrai, on all sides hope was re-born in the breast of the people, and
the cry of liberty resounded throughout Europe. In France, at Toulouse
and Bordeaux, the citizens took heart and drove out Philippe's officers.
In Italy, while Florence showed signs of restiveness, Bologna, Mantua,
Parma and Verona made solemn treaty together to defend their rights. In
Switzerland the echoes of Morgarten responded to the shout of triumph
which had gone up from the battlefield of Groeninghe. In Hainault, at
Liège, in Brabant, in Holland, a like enthusiasm was shown, and it was
the same elsewhere. Thus Kervyn poetically,[26] and it is worthy of note
that at Rome Pope Boniface VIII., who seems to have held the Flemish in
no little esteem, caused public rejoicing to be made in honour of this
triumph of democracy.

Breidel and De Coninck are said to have been knighted on the field of
battle--a tradition which hardly supports that other tradition which
makes them men of noble birth. Be this as it may, the men of Bruges have
not forgotten them, and some ten years since they were sufficiently
ill-advised to set up beneath the shadow of their historic belfry a
statue in honour of these heroes, which in no way harmonizes with its
surroundings, and every year since its erection it has been their wont
to deck it with garlands, and, grouped around its base, to sing hymns in
honour of the men who rescued their city from tyranny and drove the
French out of Flanders.

Notwithstanding her enormous losses at the battle of Courtrai, France
had not yet disarmed, nor was it until July 1303 that Philippe le Bel,
in order to save Courtrai, which was at that time being threatened by
the Flemish, at last consented to liberate their Count as a preliminary
to negotiations for peace, but on condition that if terms were not
agreed on by the following spring, he would again yield himself
prisoner.

Great was the joy of the men of Bruges when, towards the close of
October, their Sovereign returned to Winendael. They had forgotten the
evil things which they themselves had endured at his hands in the days
of his prosperity, and were mindful only of his own suffering during his
long imprisonment, and many of them, says the Friar of Ghent, when they
saw him once more amongst them, were affected to tears. Guy's sojourn at
Bruges was not destined to be a long one. The negotiations with France
fell through, and he scorned to break his word. When in the month of
June (1304) the appointed day arrived, he quietly went back to his
prison at Compiègne, and Philippe once more led his troops into
Flanders, and with some measure of success. But the French King was in
reality weary of the conflict. If the campaign should be prolonged,
experience told him that in all probability fortune would favour the
Flemish, and he again consented to treat with Guy and his burghers.
Early in the new year terms had been practically agreed upon, and a
treaty of peace was on the point of being signed when, on the 7th March
(1305), the old Count died. The negotiations, however, were not broken
off. Robert of Bethune was at once released from prison, Philippe
acknowledged his right to the county of Flanders, by May he had reached
his dominions, and early in June a definite treaty of peace was at
length signed. Robert, however, was now an old man enfeebled in health
and broken in spirit by the hard captivity he had so long endured, and
the treaty to which he had set his hand, behind, it would seem, the
backs of his burghers, was presently found to contain conditions to
which they had never assented--conditions so disastrous to the interests
of Flanders that they refused to ratify it. Then followed fresh
negotiations

III.--Genealogical Table of the Counts of Flanders from Baldwin VIII. to
Guy de Dampierre.
                  =Baldwin VIII.= _d._ 1195 = =Marguerite= _d._ 1194
      +--------------------------+----------+--------+----------------+
=Baldwin IX.= = Marie    Philip  = Marie   Elizabeth = Philip   Sybil = Guichard,
(of Constan-  | of       of        of                | Augustus,        Lord of
tinople)      | Champa-  Namur     France            | King of          Beaujeu
_d._ 1206     | gne                                  | France
or 1226       |                                      | _d._ 1223
              |                                      +---------------------+
         +----+--------------------------------------+                     |
=Jeanne=, Countess = Ferdinand     Bourchard = =Marguerite= = William  Louis VIII.
of Flanders and      of Portugal   d'Avesnes | Countess of  | of       _d._ 1226
Hainault                                     | Flanders and | Dampierre    |
_d._ 1244                                    | Hainault     |              |
                                             | _d._ 1279    |              |
        +---------------------------------+--+        +-----+--+           |
John I., Count = Alix daughter and     Baldwin    William     Guy,      Louis IX.
of Hainault    | heiress of Florence,             _d._ 1251   Count of  (St Louis)
_d._ 1255      | Countess of Holland                          Flanders  _d_ 1270
               |                                              _d._ 1304     |
          John II. of                                                   Philip III.
          Hainault                                                      _d._ 1285
          and Holland                                                       |
          _d._ 1304                                                         |
                                                                        Philip IV.
                                                                        (le Bel)
                                                                        _d._ 1314
which dragged on for fifteen years, during which time Philippe himself
was gathered to his fathers, nor was it until May 20, 1320, that terms
of peace were at length agreed upon.

[Illustration: A 14th Century Chimney]



CHAPTER XVI

_The Great Charter--The Belfry and the Tower of Notre Dame_


Strange as it may seem, not only during the civil conflicts in the early
days of Guy's reign, but during the turmoil and warfare which succeeded
them, Bruges increased alike in prosperity, and comeliness, and might.
True, she lost her charters when the belfry was burned down in 1280.
Some said that the Count himself had fired it with a view to their
destruction, and the new law which Guy had promulgated on May 25, 1281,
as the burghers bitterly complained to the French King, was not worthy
of the name of law, 'seeing that amongst other errors it ordained that
criminals, in certain cases, should not be served with notice of trial
nor suffered to state their defence, and that all the ancient rights and
liberties of the city were either abrogated or curtailed.' Nevertheless,
when Guy was hard pressed by Philippe le Bel, in order to conciliate the
burghers he had re-established the ancient charter, and when in 1297
Philippe annexed Flanders, he, in his turn, confirmed it. Finally, after
the expulsion of the French in 1304, one of Guy's sons, Philip of
Thielt, who was at that time carrying on the government in the name of
his captive father, filled with gratitude at the part which Bruges had
taken, granted her a new and most liberal charter, in which all her old
liberties were confirmed and even extended. This charter was probably
drawn up by the sheriffs of Bruges themselves. When Robert of Bethune
ascended the throne, in 1305, he at once confirmed it. Every succeeding
Count, when he first entered the city, solemnly swore to maintain it
intact, and it remained the fundamental basis of the civil and criminal
law of Bruges until 1619.

The charter in question contains seventy articles, forty-eight of which
deal with criminal law, and the remainder with civil law. Many of them
express a breadth of view and liberality of spirit which, considering
the epoch at which they were drawn up, is not a little surprising.
Gheldorf in his _Ville de Bruges_ (p. 321, etc.) gives the whole
document in the original Flemish.

Note, amongst not a few prudent enactments, Article 33. It is so
interesting, and denotes so clearly what progress Bruges had now made in
the paths of law and order, that we cannot pass it over in silence. By
it the citizen of Bruges was entirely set free from the superstitious
and barbarous obligation of trial by battle. Henceforth, any man
convicted of sending a challenge to a burgher was liable to a fine of
sixty livres, in these days no small sum.

If such challenge had been accepted, half of the fine went to the Count,
and half to the town, and the challenged burgher was also mulcted in a
similar sum; if, however, he had refused the challenge he himself
received a quarter of the fine, and, in that case, the Count received
his full thirty livres, and the town only fifteen. Any man amenable to
the city magistrates, who had lived for a year and a day within the
limits of the city franchise and paid his taxes, was considered a
citizen.

There were, no doubt, a number of persons living in Bruges who were not
amenable to the city magistrates. The feudal lords, for example, though
it was open to them, if they would, to enrol themselves as citizens,
and not a few availed themselves of the privilege; persons submitted to
the jurisdiction of the Franc; perhaps also the members of the Count's
household, and the members of religious communities; and we know that
from time immemorial there had been a large colony of foreign merchants
in Bruges.

The municipal machinery by which the city was governed seems to have
been, at this time, at all events, of a somewhat complicated nature.
There were two distinct corporations, each presided over by its
burgomaster.

The first consisted of the _écoutète_, or representative of the Count,
the burgomaster and thirteen _Echevins_, who, according to Gheldorf,
were the sole judges in Bruges. The manner of their appointment is
uncertain; but we know that, save in the case of their having been
convicted of felony or of having falsely administered justice, they were
irremovable during the single year which they held office, and that
convicted criminals, artisans who had not abstained from manual labour
for a year and a day, and the _Echevins_ of the preceding year, were
ineligible.

The second corporation consisted of its burgomaster and thirteen town
councillors. It is doubtful what were the functions performed
respectively by these corporations. Perhaps the first, in addition to
its judicial functions, was a legislative assembly, and the second
administered the affairs of the town.

Curiously enough the original Flemish version of the charter of 1304 is
mute as to the method of election alike of the college of _Echevins_ and
the town council, but Gheldorf has discovered among the archives of
Bruges another version containing an article which gives minute
directions on this head.

It was evidently drawn up in the interest of the members of the great
city guilds, and awards to them the lion's share of all the appointments
in question, viz.: the right to name absolutely all the town councillors
and five of the thirteen _Echevins_, as well as a voice indirectly in
the election of four others and in the nomination of each of the
burgomasters. It allots to the burghers generally the right only to
present eight persons to the Count in order that he may select from
among them four more _Echevins_, and ordains that the members of the
city council, and the nine _Echevins_ thus appointed, shall elect the
remaining four, and furthermore that the _Echevins_ shall elect their
own burgomaster, and the _Echevins_ and councillors together, the
burgomaster of the city council. Gheldorf conjectures that the charter
which he discovered among the archives of Bruges was only a rough draft
of the charter of 1304; that for some reason or other the clause anent
elections was omitted from the fair copy, but that the method of
procedure therein ordained was later on sanctioned by Philip of Thiette
in a separate charter. If this be so, the document in question would
seem to have disappeared.

It has been conjectured above that the _Echevins_ of Bruges were not
only magistrates, but also legislators, but even if this were so, the
power which they wielded was less than it at first sight appears, for
overshadowing the might of the _Echevins_ was the might of the Colossus
which appointed them, and the trade guilds had a practical veto over all
their acts. These to be legal and valid must first have been stamped
with the city seal, and the city seal was stored up along with the city
archives in a strong chamber in the thickness of the belfry walls,
secured by four wrought-iron doors with ten locks and ten keys, eight of
which were in the hands of the guildsmen. Butchers, bakers, shoemakers,
tailors, weavers, brokers, carpenters, smiths, the deans of each of
these companies possessed a key without which it was impossible to open
the doors of the municipal treasury, and these were the men who in
reality governed Bruges when she was at the zenith of her power, and who
continued to do so until her glory had faded away and she

[Illustration: THIRTEENTH-CENTURY IRON GATES IN BELFRY]

was rapidly sinking to the position of a second-rate provincial town.
To-day the old archive chamber is without its rolls, and without its
great seal, but it is still closed by the wrought-iron gates which once
secured them, though they are now seldom locked, and whosoever will may
come and go at pleasure. It will be interesting to note anent these
gates that the town accounts for the year 1290 has the following entry:
_Item, Erembaldo fabro, pro januis ferreis ad thesaurarium in Halla,
lxxxi. lb._ The name then of the smith who forged them was Erembald,
and he received for his labour the sum of eighty-one livres, not on the
whole an exorbitant fee.

The mention of the archive chamber brings us naturally enough to the
great tower which contains it, to that belfry of Bruges which had just
risen from its ashes more beautiful than of yore, the belfry of Bruges
as it is now, without indeed its crowning glory, the octagonal lantern
of the later fourteen hundreds, but without also the sorry
disfigurements inflicted by the hand of the restorer a hundred years
after.

The original structure was built in the days of the first Counts of
Flanders, perhaps before the close of the eight hundreds, not of wood,
as was formerly supposed, but probably of rough _velt_ stone, the
material employed for nearly all the buildings of that period. Whether
any portion of the first belfry was left standing after the great fire
of 1280 is a moot point, but maybe the foundations of the lower portion
of the walls were spared, and that these were incorporated into the new
building. Monsieur Gilliodts, who at present holds the office of city
archivist, and probably knows more about his native town than anyone
else, is of this opinion. Whether or no it be well founded is a question
for experts to decide, if they can. In any case there can be no doubt as
to the appositeness of the learned archivist's remark anent the present
building. 'For six hundred years,' he says, 'this belfry has watched
over the city of Bruges. It has beheld her triumphs and her failures,
her glory and her shame, her prosperity and her gradual decay, and, in
spite of so many vicissitudes, it is still standing to bear witness to
the genius of our forefathers, to awaken alike memories of old times and
admiration for one of the most splendid monuments of civic architecture
which the middle age has produced.'

The other great tower of Bruges dates also from this period. It equals
the first in comeliness and, calmly rising into the heavens some hundred
feet above the highest point of the Bell-tower, surpasses it in the
unadorned majesty of its grand proportions, for the sublime steeple of
Notre Dame is in itself beautiful, and neither possesses nor requires
embellishment. It is the first object which meets the eye of the Ostend
fisherman as he nears his native coast, and seems more completely to
dominate the old Flemish city, and the fair emerald landscape which
surrounds it, than does the Belfry itself.

It took the men of Bruges, it is said, a hundred years to pile up this
huge mass of tawny stone and golden-hued and blushing brick, and so
marshy and unstable was the site on which they placed it, that as much
material was needed for the foundations as is contained in that portion
of the structure which rises above the soil, and the tower of Notre
Dame, be it noted, measures from base to weathercock no less than four
hundred and eleven English feet. It is said to be slightly out of the
perpendicular, and a story is told--it is probably only a story--that
the architect, on its completion, perceiving this defect, in despair
threw himself from the summit and so was dashed to pieces; but for all
that they buried him in consecrated ground, and his mausoleum was the
splendid monument which he himself had erected.

The Church of Notre Dame was without the city boundary until the year
909. Up to that date it formed part of the domain of the lords of
Sysseele. This ancient manor was submitted to the jurisdiction of Bruges
towards the close of Guy's reign. The great square tower which was
formerly the home of the lords of Sysseele is still standing,
pleasantly situated on the outskirts of Maele Woods. With its Gothic
gateway, its corner turrets, and its high-pitched roof it still forms a
sufficiently picturesque group, but alas! it has recently been restored,
and has thereby lost all trace of its conflict with time.

Bruges obtained also during the reign of Guy of Dampierre recognition of
her disputed right to exercise jurisdiction over Sluys and Damme, and in
1289 a concession of less moment, but nevertheless one not to be
despised. At the instance of his Countess, Isabelle of Namur, and 'in
consideration for services rendered,' Guy made over, at this time, to
the city for ever his right to succeed to the property of bastards dying
without issue.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVII

_Louis of Nevers_


Louis of Nevers, the eldest son of Count Robert of Bethune, inheriting
from his grandfather Guy alike his brilliant qualities and his grave
defects, was destined, like him, to be crushed by the weight of two
overweening passions: love of gold, and love of self.

At first an ardent patriot, he had set himself at the head of the
communes of Flanders in their struggle against his father's
misgovernment--a misgovernment brought about first by fear of France,
and later on, in his old age, by the spectre continually before his eyes
of the fortress in which he had been so long immured at Compiègne; but
what threats and force and a French prison could not accomplish in Louis
of Nevers, was afterwards effected by hard cash, and presently Prince
Louis the Patriot, his pockets well lined with French gold, so played on
the terrors of his old father, a dotard of eighty-two, that he compelled
him to acquiesce in a treaty with France, which his better judgment told
him would be disastrous for the future of his realm (May 5, 1320).

Perhaps Louis would have gone further still, perhaps he was plotting
even now the immediate destruction of Flanders.

Towards the close of the year 1320 when Robert, after signing at Paris
the treaty in question, once more returned to his native land, thinking
to obtain some little breathing time before he set out on the last
dread journey, his chamberlain introduced to his presence a young man,
who, in a voice broken with tears, avowed that he had been commissioned
to poison him. 'And wherefore didst thou think to commit this crime?'
said the old Count. 'Sir,' replied the youth, 'I was driven to it by the
Prince of Nevers, who bade me follow the instructions of Brother Walter
the hermit'--a monk whom Robert loved well--and little by little he
learned that his death was to have been the signal for an outbreak which
was to hand over all Flanders to the King of France.

Whatever may have been the truth of the mysterious youth's story; Robert
believed it, presently Prince Louis was arrested and thrust into prison,
and it was probably owing to the intervention of the burghers, who
either did not credit the charge against him, or were still influenced
by feelings of regard for their old champion, that his life was spared.
Be this as it may, the Count of Nevers was shortly afterwards set at
liberty on his undertaking to leave Flanders within eight days. This was
on the 6th of April.

No sooner was Louis a free man than he set out for the French capital,
where, three months later, on July 6, 1322, his inglorious career came
to an end, and only two months afterwards Count Robert himself paid the
debt of nature.

Rumour said that both Robert and Louis had been poisoned by Robert of
Cassel--a younger son of Robert of Bethune--and that he had driven his
elder brother out of Flanders with a view to his own succession.

Certain it is that the Lord of Cassel at once set claim to the throne,
and at first it seemed probable that he would obtain it. He had for a
long time past been mustering his forces, and now he had at his disposal
a considerable army; all the stronghold in Flanders were in his hands,
his father's ministers were his staunch and devoted friends, and so
redoubtable did he seem that the French King refused to accept the
homage of Louis of Nevers' eldest son, who also claimed the throne, and
was now in Paris, alleging that it was for the Court of Peers to decide
who was the rightful heir to the county of Flanders.

If Robert had been able to gain the support of the burghers, his triumph
would have been assured, but they knew him to be a proud and ambitious
man; the crime of parricide was associated with his name, and in spite
of his professed devotion to the popular cause they profoundly
distrusted him. More than a year before, Bruges and Ghent had made a
solemn league and covenant together to defend their rights and liberties
against any man who should attempt to infringe them, and had appointed a
committee of ten burghers to watch over their common interests. These
men, convinced that the feeble hands of a youth would lightly hold the
reins of government, without waiting for the decision of the peers,
invited the Count of Nevers to Flanders, proffered him their homage, and
shortly afterwards informed the French King that if he should any longer
delay to acknowledge Louis's right to the throne, they would themselves
undertake the administration of the county.

King Charles submitted the more easily because he too saw in the youth
of the burghers' candidate a guarantee of his own influence, but before
he would consent to receive Louis's homage he exacted from him a secret
promise that as soon as he should have consolidated his power, he would
choose for his advisers the men whom he (Charles) should select.

Louis's first act upon taking possession of his dominions was one
calculated to cause profound irritation to the citizens of Bruges. His
uncle, Count John of Namur, had thrown in his lot with Robert of
Cassel, and in order to purchase his support, Louis appointed him warden
of Sluys, an office which had hitherto been held by the burghers of
Bruges and Damme. Whereupon the committee of ten began to tremble for
their commerce. Soon a mob of angry citizens, headed by Louis himself,
who hoped by his presence to keep them in hand, were on the road to
Sluys, and presently they returned to Bruges with the Count of Namur in
chains. Louis had just succeeded in saving his life (July 1323). In vain
his wife besought the intervention of Charles le Bel. The time-honoured
rights of the citizens of Bruges must be maintained--thus the committee
of ten, and Louis retired in dudgeon to France, and his uncle into the
burghers' prison.

Although John grumbled not a little at the restraint, and especially
that his gaolers would not suffer him to hear Mass at St. Donatian's,
his life in the Steen was not without compensations. The beds there were
good, prisoners were permitted to receive their friends, on festivals
his rooms were decked with flowers, and the burghers supplied him with
good cheer in abundance. Singing and music beguiled the day, cards and
dice the night, and it was owing to the disorder consequent upon these
revels that he presently made his escape. When, at length, the news
leaked out, Bruges was in consternation. In the midst of it, Count Louis
returned, and not alone. The burghers noted with indignation that he had
brought with him as chief Minister a Frenchman, and a Frenchman who bore
a name of evil repute--Chancellor Flotte's son William, the lordly Abbot
of Vezelay--and worse still, that he shunned the counsel of those of his
own race.

For the moment, however, Bruges had nothing to fear. Her rights over the
port of Sluys were acknowledged, and John of Namur publicly forgave the
burghers for his arrest and imprisonment. But Louis of Nevers was no
longer the ingenuous orphan who in days of yore had sought the
protection of his faithful commons. If he were lacking in strength of
will, it was not the committee of ten, but the King of France who knew
how to manipulate him. But in reality he was no weakling. True he was
the tool of Charles le Bel, but in favouring his interests he was
playing at the same time his own game. He was a voluptuary, if you will,
and a voluptuary who found pleasure in low company and unrefined vice.
He delighted in the buffoonery of dwarfs and jesters, whom he enriched
at his subjects' cost. His chief favourite was one John Gheylinc, a
groom whom he calls in his charters his counsellor and his friend, and
if he had had his way he would have given him his daughter to wife.
Added to this he was proud and revengeful, devoid of pity, and not only
an unfaithful husband, but a cruel one into the bargain.

But for all that Louis was no fool; he had inherited alike the perverse
humour and the brilliant intellect of his father and his
great-grandfather. With consummate skill he played Ghent against Bruges,
and Bruges against Ghent, and Edward of England against Charles of
France; and though the chief object of his life was the gratification of
his wayward impulses, in his efforts to attain it he showed no little
ability.

Such was the prince whom the communes of Flanders had set over them, but
Louis rarely honoured the Netherlands with his presence. The dissipation
of his Court at Nevers was more to his taste than the humdrum
respectability of his burgher nobles, and his vicious life was there
less _en evidence_ and less criticised than in the democratic towns of
Flanders. His absence, however, was a greater cause of embarrassment to
his Flemish subjects than his presence in their midst would have been,
for his lieutenant, the Lord of Aspremont, vexed them with oppressive
taxes to enrich foreign favourites, and though in the great towns the
influence of the burghers was powerful enough to hold him in check, in
the country he had a free hand. Here dominated great Leliaert lords who
had been for years past in the pay of France: the Moerkerkes, the
Praets, the Ghistelles, and the rest, men who had fought, or whose
fathers had fought, at Courtrai, and mindful how many of their kinsmen
had fallen beneath the rude battle-axes of the Saxon Karls, thought only
of vengeance. These men were wont to sally forth from their castles to
take fines from those whom they feared most, and if their victims
resisted, they put them to death.

'Intolerable are the manners of the Karls: with dishevelled beards,
garments in tatters, and shoes in shreds, they would fain tame knights.
With their knotted clubs and their long knives thrust into their girdles
they are as proud as lords, and think that all the universe is
theirs--God blast them! But we shall know how to chastise these men.
They shall be drawn on hurdles and hanged on gibbets. The Karls must
bend before us.'[27]

Thus the Leliaert nobles; but they reckoned without their hosts. The
spirit which animated the Saxons of Flanders in the fourteenth century
was the same which had hurled their ancestors against the tyranny of
Richilde in the twelfth; which had driven the Erembalds to dash
themselves to pieces rather than submit to Charles the Dane; which had
inspired the Blauvoets in the eleven hundreds to resist the exactions
of Mathilde, and which only yesterday had nerved their fathers to
withstand and conquer the armies of France.

And, as in those days, there was no lack of leaders--a Bertulph, a
Wulfringhen, a Sporkin was always at hand when he was wanted--so now, in
the time of their extremity, captains were found. These men led their
ragged hosts against the castles of their oppressors, and soon the land
was filled with smouldering ruins. Aspremont, unable to quell the storm,
summoned the Count from Nevers, who entered Flanders early in 1325; but
Louis had no army to curb his turbulent subjects and was thus compelled
to treat with them. Philip of Axel, a citizen of Ghent, was appointed
Governor of Flanders in place of the Lord of Aspremont. Fines were
imposed, promises of amendment were made, but the armed bands were not
dissolved, and no sooner had Louis turned his back than the trouble
began again, whilst the efforts made to extinguish the conflagration
only increased it. Here and there a homestead razed, some stray farmer
kidnapped and perhaps hanged or broken on the wheel; these things but
nerved the Karls to greater efforts, for every man believed that his
turn would come next. Their chief leader was one Nicholas Zannekin, the
richest and the mightiest of them all, a man of the same class as
Bertulph, who, like him, despised the nobles of the Court, and, like
him, was regarded as a slave.

During the temporary lull of hostilities at the opening of the year, he
had deemed it prudent to seek refuge in Bruges, the only town in
Flanders where a man obnoxious to the authorities had some chance of
saving his head, and there he soon obtained as much influence with the
burghers as he had hitherto exercised over the country-folk of his own
race (the men of Furnes). Nor did he cease to remind them, ground down
as they were by odious and illegal taxes, of their rights as free
citizens and the duties which their station imposed, and when Sohier
Janssone (another popular leader) who had taken possession of Ghistelle
Castle, presently appeared before the city walls with booty and
captives, Bruges flew to arms. Zannekin soon rallied to his banner all
the neighbouring communes. Thorhout, Roulers, Poperinghe, Nieuport,
Dunkirk, Cassel, Bailleul, Furnes, threw open their gates at his
approach, and wherever he went he was hailed as his country's saviour.
'The men of Furnes,' says the Flemish chronicle, 'received him as the
angel of the Lord, and showed more submission to him than to any other
man, and gave him greater honour than if he had been Count or King.'[28]
Robert of Cassel, who had gathered together a small band to oppose him,
withdrew when he saw how matters stood, but Zannekin, backed as he was
by the communes, had little fear of him, and it was, moreover, bruited
abroad that Robert himself was not hostile to the insurrection.

Louis was now in Flanders; sometimes at Courtrai, sometimes at Ypres,
often at Ghent, lavish in flattering promises to the burghers, holding
out to them bright hopes of new liberties and larger privileges than any
yet accorded to Flemish towns.

Presently the French King sent them gold, and passed his word that no
treaty should be made with the insurgents without first taking the
advice of the burghers of Ghent. From all which politic proceedings came
this result--the Ghenters forgot their compact with Bruges of 1321, at
first posed as mediators, and then openly went over to Louis's side and
aided him with cash and men. At this juncture Louis attempted to treat
with the insurgents. Let the points at issue be submitted to the
arbitration of Robert of Cassel and the sheriffs of Ypres and of Ghent,
and no sentence of death (this he guaranteed), or banishment, or
mutilation, should be pronounced on any of the rebels. Bruges and her
allies consented, and the arbiters made it known that they would receive
a deputation of the insurgents on the 11th of June ensuing, at the great
Abbey of Dunes. But meanwhile a Karl of Furnes was slain by a knight.
This incident sufficed to throw the whole country round into uproar, and
when, on the appointed day, Zannekin and his friends, all armed to the
teeth, reached the abbey, not one of the judges was there to meet
them--fear had kept them away--and the flame of rebellion waxed fiercer
than before. Louis, at his wit's end, grew doubtful of his uncle's good
faith. The Lord of Cassel, he thought, was secretly allied with his
enemies to wrest from him his crown. Why not make away with him? and
soon letters were dispatched to the bailiff of Warneton to keep a watch
on Robert's movements, and when an opportunity offered, to cut off his
head. This sentence was never executed. Louis's own chancellor warned
Robert of his danger, and himself informed Louis of the motive which had
impelled him to do so. 'I wished,' he said, 'to save the honour of the
Count of Flanders in the eyes of men, and his soul from the vengeance of
God.'

More hated than ever by reason of this odious attempt, and filled with
fear at the news that Bruges had already garrisoned all the principal
towns of West Flanders, Louis, at the head of four hundred knights,
marched into Courtrai, prepared to renew hostilities in good earnest. It
so happened that six burghers of Bruges arrived there at the same
moment, and Louis forthwith put them under arrest. Thereupon Bruges
made ready for battle, and sent messages to Courtrai that five thousand
staunch men and true were on their way to rescue the imprisoned
burghers. Louis, filled with consternation, broke down the bridges over
the Lys and fired the _faubourgs_ along its banks. There had been no
rain for weeks, and the thatched roofs on the opposite side of the
stream had been baked by a blazing sun. A strong wind was blowing in the
direction of the city, and soon Courtrai itself was in flames. Meanwhile
Louis was stationed in the market-place, and with him were the six
merchants from Bruges. Perhaps he had intended to cut off their heads,
perhaps to carry them with him to Lille, but the sight of their prince
standing there surrounded by the Leliaert counsellors, by whose advice
he had fired the town, and now preparing to seek safety in flight, so
worked on the men of Courtrai that they forgot their burning homes and
thought only of vengeance. The very women took part in the combat which
ensued, and their sobs and cries excited their husbands yet more than
the tocsin which all this time was shrieking over the city. Presently
Louis was left alone. Some of his knights had fled, some had been taken
prisoners, not a few had been slain, and when next day the men of Bruges
reached Courtrai, her citizens delivered him bound into their hands.
They placed the Count of Flanders on a sorry steed, and loaded his
counsellors with chains, and thus conducted them all to the capital,
where the sheriffs at once proceeded to try them, for they had murdered,
it was alleged, the peasants of Furnes, and reduced Courtrai to
ashes--with this result: Louis was retained a prisoner in the Halles,
and his counsellors were hurled from the windows of the Steen.

Never had the citizens of Bruges been so mighty as they were now. On
the 30th of June her sheriffs had met in the Halles, and, in union with
the Franc, the city of Ypres, of which town Zannekin was now governor,
and of the other confederates, had appointed Robert Regent of Flanders.
Louis from his prison had issued a charter approving what had been done,
and the ambassadors of the French King, who on the 15th of July had
reached Bruges with offers that the charges against Louis should be
submitted to his judgment, were present to witness their triumph.

True, Ghent was still loyal to the captive at Bruges, but Ghent had been
humbled in battle, and even Ghent was not united. Three thousand of her
weavers had fled for refuge to the camp of Robert of Cassel, and Bruges
replied to the French ambassadors that Louis could not be set free until
Ghent had renounced her treaty with him, and had frankly joined hands
with her. The ambassadors were disposed to agree to these terms, even
though they knew that this meant all sovereignty in the hands of Bruges,
but Ghent was too proud to submit. Though Louis had oppressed and
misgoverned the rest of Flanders he had showered blessings on Ghent, and
now that the worm had turned and conquered, and Louis was in prison, she
would never consent to enter into an alliance with her hated rival. Far
better that all the Karls should perish, far better that Flanders should
become France.

In face of this opposition the French King cited Robert to Paris to
justify his conduct in supporting rebels. The citizens of Bruges
received the bearers of the summons 'with horns raised and dire
threats,' and Robert refused to comply. Then came interdict and
excommunication (the French Kings claimed the right to direct these
ecclesiastical thunders); a few days later, in their conflict with
Ghent, a check; presently, in consequence of the rigour of winter, the
forced raising of the siege of that town; and lastly, rumours of a
French invasion.

To retain Louis longer in prison were to risk, thought many, all that
had been gained. Better release him now of their own free will, and when
they were in a position to make terms, than be compelled to do so six
months hence unconditionally at the point of the sword, which, seeing
the trend and conjunction of events, would probably be the case.

Thus argued Bruges, and presently Louis went forth from the Halles to
the Chapel of St. Basil, where he swore on the Holy Blood that he
nourished no resentment against his captors, and that he would do his
utmost to ward off the threatened invasion. This done he was once more a
free man, and forthwith, after a hurried visit to faithful Ghent,
hastened to Paris, where his patron assured him that as long as he
followed his counsel, he could count on his friendship (this was in the
month of March 1325), but that he was not in a position to help him for
the moment, as he had other business in hand. Then once more Louis
returned to Flanders, and after much confabulation, terms were agreed
upon. The burghers were to build a monastery, and to send some hundreds
of pilgrims to sundry shrines, to rebuild the churches destroyed during
the recent tumult, to pay their just debts to the King and to the Count,
and to swear fealty to the latter. Louis, on his part, undertook to
respect their liberties, the King to re-establish free trade betwixt
France and Flanders and to silence the thunder of the Church. Towards
the close of April 1326 this convention was ratified, though, in all
probability, none of the parties signing it had any intention of
observing its terms. The burghers retained their former leaders, Louis
refused to enter the town where he had lived eight months a captive,
but neither party was at present in a position to recommence
hostilities; for two years matters dragged on, and then the storm broke.

On February 1, 1327, King Charles le Bel had died, leaving an only
daughter, a child of tender years, and a widow who was expecting some
two months hence the hour of her delivery. France at this time was
divided into two great parties. On the one side were the feudal lords,
who, since the days of Philippe le Bel, had seen their power gradually
passing from them into the hands of the King, and on the other, the
citizens, who, during the same period, had witnessed their privileges
daily contemned, their rights trampled on, and their trade threatened by
the avidity of royal harpies. Each of these parties, then, was equally
discontented with the present state of affairs, and each of them found
the present moment a propitious one for changing it. The barons turned
their eyes to Philippe of Valois, the next heir in the direct male line
to the throne of St. Louis. The burghers hoped when the old King died
that his Queen would give birth to a son, and failing this, they wished
that the crown should devolve on his eldest daughter. Their hopes, as we
know, were dashed to the ground by the birth of a second princess and
the succession of Philippe of Valois. But they saw the finger of God in
the extinction of the house of Philippe le Bel; they felt that the time
had come to strike a blow for freedom, and they were only waiting for
the Flemish burghers, who during thirty years had lavished blood and
treasure in behalf of this sacred cause, to raise the standard of
revolt.

'If once these Flemings cross our borders,' the barons had warned the
new King, 'all France will join them.' Philippe determined to take the
bull by the horns, and at Rheims on the day of his coronation he made
his purpose known.

On the Count of Flanders devolved the duty of bearing the King's sword,
but although he was present, with four-score knights, when the royal
heralds called on him to perform his duty, he made no sign. Thrice they
summoned him, and still he was silent. All men were filled with wonder,
and the King demanded an explanation. 'Sire,' he replied, 'they
'summoned the Count of Flanders; I am Louis of Nevers.' 'What,' said
Philippe, in feigned astonishment, 'art thou not also Count of
Flanders?' 'Such men call me,' was the reply, 'but I hold not this
office in fact. In no Flemish city save Ghent do I dare show my face.'
'Fair cousin,' replied the King, 'by the Holy Unction which hath this
day flowed on our head, we will not go back to Paris until we have
established thee in the peaceful possession of thy realm.' Some of his
counsellors would have persuaded him to defer the expedition. France,
they said, was unprepared, and to invade Flanders in the autumn was to
risk disaster; but the King, who saw the importance of himself beginning
the campaign, refused to hear them. He consulted Gauthier de Châtillon,
who had served seven kings in their wars in the Netherlands. 'For the
man who has a stout heart,' he answered, 'this is no inopportune season
for battle.' 'Good,' replied the delighted King, as he embraced the old
soldier. 'Let those who love me follow.'

With all speed he set about his preparations, and the great army which
two months later (August 1328) assembled at Arras, collected from all
parts of Europe, was such that the like of it had been never seen there
before, and Arras had beheld the armies of Philippe IV. and Louis X.

Nicholas Zannekin, with ten thousand Karls, occupied Cassel, a fortified
town some six miles inland from Dunkirk, perched on the top of a hill
which rises well-nigh a thousand feet above the level of the sea, and
stands solitary in the midst of the low land which surrounds it. Sohier
Jansonne had brought him reinforcements to the number of six thousand
men, and though messengers had been despatched to Bruges, to warn them
of the French invasion, these men believed themselves strong enough to
alone save Flanders.

During three days the French King sat down before Cassel awaiting the
retreat of his foes. His knights' heavy chargers, weighted as they were
with their own trappings, and the armour of the men who bestrode them,
were unable to climb the steep sides of the mountain, and thus the
cavalry were forced to remain idle spectators of the skirmishes which
succeeded one another without ceasing. In vain the footmen multiplied
their efforts; they were in each case driven back, till at length
Philippe in despair gave the word to burn the surrounding country, and
presently the fertile plain was filled with flames and desolation, and
all the land re-echoed with the wailing of old men and women and the
shrieks of frightened children; but the Karls in their lofty fortress
were as stable as the hill on which they stood, and at last, weary with
slaughter, the French returned to camp, took off their heavy armour, and
gave themselves over to revelry.

Whilst these things were going on at the foot of Mount Cassel, the Karls
at its summit were holding council of war. The wisest of them would have
waited until the Bruges burghers had had time to bring them help, others
would have gone down under cover of night, and surprised the French in
their tents, but Zannekin dismissed their words with disdain. 'What,' he
cried, 'with the French King before us, not fight! Shall we, then, who
know not what fear is, tremble at this man's fierce looks? Let us rather
thank God that the foes we have so long waited for are now here, and
profit by their confusion to slay them forthwith.' 'Ay, ay,' answered a
thousand voices, and the Karls made ready for battle. 'They were brave
men and free,' notes Villani, 'and they feared not to assail this most
redoubtable host.'

The long summer's day was mingling with night when the Karls went down
into the French camp, and before any one was aware of their presence
they were in the midst of the barons, who, 'without armour and arrayed
in gorgeous apparel, were going from tent to tent to gossip together of
the day's doings.'[29] Presently a knight, one Rénaud of Loire, came
forth to upbraid them for thus 'presuming to disturb the privacy of
gentlemen.' He had taken the intruders for a company of his own troops
returning late to camp. In less than the twinkling of an eye Rénaud was
a dead man. Some of his comrades had essayed to defend him, but they
shared his fate, and the Flemings marched on, not far now from the
object of their quest--the royal pavilion. Philippe, like his knights,
had lately dined, and now, replete with rich dishes and strong drink, he
was dozing in his tent. Suddenly his chaplain plucked his sleeve. 'Mark
ye, sir,' he whispered, as he peeped through the curtains, 'the Flemings
are upon us.' 'A monk's nightmare,' muttered Philippe, and he was
turning again to sleep when Miles of Noyers rushed in and confirmed the
chaplain's fears. In a moment Philippe had buckled on his mail, and
almost alone, for the greater number of his attendants had fled, went
out to face the foe. The first man he met was Zannekin. His battle-axe
was raised to strike, and in another moment it would have split open
the King's skull had not Miles dexterously drawn Philippe aside. Then
the tide of fortune turned, and soon all that was left of the Saxon host
were three great heaps of corpses.

Zannekin was the last to fall, 'and his death cry was mingled with the
voices of the royal chaplains intoning the antiphon of St. Denis.'

Of the sixteen thousand Flemings slain not one had attempted flight, not
one of them had budged an inch. Each man fell where he had stood at the
beginning of the conflict. If courage could have given the Karls
victory, the day would have been theirs, but so great were the odds
against them, that from the first they had but one ground for hope--that
panic inspired by the suddenness of their coming would fight for them.
On this poor chance Zannekin had ventured his all, and he paid the price
of his temerity.

If the townsmen of Flanders had been made of the stuff of their country
cousins disaster might have yet been averted, but these latter were
full-blooded Saxons, and in all the cities, save haply Furnes, the
burghers' power of resistance was in some measure rendered nugatory by
their grandams' Celtic nerves.

So was it at Ypres. When the news of the disaster reached them the
burghers were for instant submission if only Philippe could be prevailed
on to guarantee their lives and their limbs. One man alone kept cool,
and strangely enough that man was a clerk. From the pulpit of his own
church (he was parish priest of St. Michael's) this sturdy
representative of the Church Militant implored his fellow-citizens, 'for
God's sake and the sake of the fatherland,' to show fight. But it was
too late. That very day Miles Noyers entered the town with an
overwhelming force, and the handful of labouring men who had been moved
by their priest's appeal were cut to pieces.

So too was it at Bruges. When the news of the disaster reached them, the
women went into hysterics and the men lost their heads, and in less than
the twinkling of an eye, the lilies of France, run up by their own
hands, were proudly floating over the belfry.

In spite of their pusillanimity, the reckoning which the burghers had to
pay was a sufficiently onerous one: humiliation unspeakable, the city
fathers on their knees suing for mercy in the dust of the Maele road,
and worse--the charter of their liberties cancelled, their ramparts
broken down, and a fine so heavy that they were never able to pay it;
and worse still--not a few of their leading citizens, men of substance
and renown, tortured to death, and all their wealth confiscated.

Amongst these note Lambert Bowine, captain of the Franc, and Willem de
Deken, town burgomaster. His fate was the cruellest of all. He had fled
to Brabant in the hope that the burghers there would protect him, but
they showed themselves as craven as their fellows in Flanders. They
handed him over to the French King, and poor Deken was carried to Paris,
where he was mutilated, pilloried, put on the wheel, taken off again for
fear he should die too soon, and bleeding, broken, in pitiable plight,
but still alive, set in gaol till the morrow, when he was torn to pieces
by wild horses. They gathered up the fragments of his poor mangled body
and hung them on the great gibbet of Mont Faucen, by way of object
lesson for the citizens of the capital.

These items made up the sum-total of the burghers' bill of costs, and it
was the same all over the country. Not a town save Ghent preserved its
liberties intact, and even beloved Ghent saw not a few of her burghers
driven into exile. In less than three months ten thousand Flemings were
done to death.

The Abbot of St. Martin's at Tournai explains how this came about.
'Louis's keen appetite for gold,' he says, 'increased in a marvellous
manner his suspicions, and consequently the number of his victims. And
the most galling part of it was that all this untarnished gold was
squandered on harlots and on favourites, men too of mean estate some of
them. His lackeys, his grooms, and even his barber were at Bruges
installed in palaces which had once been the homes of honourable
burghers.' The city archives bear witness to it.

At last, after long years of waiting, salvation came from England, at
first indirectly, and afterwards through the active co-operation of
Edward III. with the communes of Flanders.

Of course England acted from self-interest. She had no more love for the
down-trodden burghers of Flanders than they had for the comfortable
yeomen on the other side of the channel; and even if her sympathy had
been ever so great, she could not have raised a finger to help them
unless she had been likewise impelled by some less ephemeral motive.
Individuals may sometimes indulge in the luxury of pure benevolence;
trustees, in justice to their clients, can rarely afford to do so.
Occasionally the interests of the latter may go hand in hand with their
own charitable inclinations, and then they may pose as philanthropists,
and if the pit applaud their seeming generosity, so much the better.

In the case before us, however, no such protestations were made. The
freedom of the Flemish communes was vital to the prosperity of England,
and the motives which inspired the respective parties were avowedly
motives of mutual accommodation. In those days the wool growers of the
island kingdom had but one customer, the mammoth guilds of Flemish
weavers, and they, in their turn, could nowhere find such famous wool as
in the English market.

'So fine was the breed of English sheep at this period,' notes Green,
'that the exportation of live rams for the improvement of foreign wool
was forbidden by law, though a flock is said to have been smuggled out
of the realm shortly after, and to have become the source of the famous
merinos of Spain,' and the magnitude of the wool trade between England
and Flanders may be estimated from this fact. In a single year Edward
received more than eighty thousand pounds from duties levied on wool
alone.[30]

When, therefore, in the autumn of 1336, hostilities broke out between
Edward III. and Philip of France, and Louis of Nevers, at the
instigation of the latter, caused every Englishman in Flanders to be put
under arrest, and Edward by way of reprisal forbade the exportation of
English wool, all Flemish looms ceased work, and the towns were filled
with misery. But the sheep-farmers of England suffered equally with the
weavers of Bruges, and soon the English King was forced in the interests
of his own subjects to attempt negotiations, first with Louis of Nevers,
and when this failed, directly with the burghers.

It was in consequence of Edward's efforts to attach the communes to his
interest that the Count of Flanders about this time entirely reversed
his home policy, essaying by the largeness of his promises and
concessions to induce the communes to side with France, and among the
cities which most benefited by his changed humour Bruges stood first.
She was permitted to deepen and widen her moats, to reconstruct her
ramparts, and by a charter, dated April 14, 1337, all her ancient rights
and liberties were re-established and confirmed.

This then was the first boon which Bruges received from England's
intervention--a boon, in truth, conferred indirectly, but no small one
for all that.

Ghent was the only city which did not participate in Louis's favours. Of
the cause of this, of Louis's relentless persecution of the town he had
once held dear, of her heroic resistance and ultimate triumph, thanks to
the patriot Van Artevelde and the support of Edward III., it is not here
the place to treat in detail. These things belong to the story of Ghent.
Suffice it to say that Bruges, which for a time had supported Philippe
and Louis in a half-hearted way, at last, seeing how matters stood, and
that Ghent was conquering all along the line, joined hands with her;
that at a solemn assembly of the representatives of the city and the
Liberty of Bruges, and the cities of Ypres and Ghent, held under the
presidency of Van Artevelde at the Abbey of Eeckhout early in the spring
of 1337, and only a few days after Louis's re-establishment of the
Bruges charter of rights, their alliance was solemnly proclaimed; that
at this assembly it was furthermore enacted that each of the three
_bonnes villes_--Ghent, Ypres and Bruges--should choose three deputies
to watch over their interests and administer the country; that on the
29th of April a deputation from all the towns and communes of Flanders,
headed by Jacob van Artevelde, waited on Louis at Maele, and there
recounted to him all that had taken place; and that he, finding
submission the only course open to him, consecrated the acts of the
burghers with the seal of his approval, and, once more burthening his
soul with perjury, solemnly swore to maintain intact all their rights
and liberties. From that moment until his death Van Artevelde was ruler
of Flanders. Essentially a man of peace, in face of the great conflict
raging between England and France the main object of his policy was to
keep Flanders out of the fray, and for some time his efforts were
successful. So much so that he even accomplished the difficult task of
negotiating treaties of commerce with each of the belligerents.

It was only the perfidy of the French King which at length drove him to
take sides with England. Philippe and Louis had broken their most solemn
engagement before he determined to seek out Edward III. at Bruxelles and
in the name of the communes of Flanders solemnly recognize him as the
successor of St. Louis.

During the nine years of Van Artevelde's government Flanders prospered
exceedingly, and during all that time, thanks to his consummate
abilities and Edward's generous support, she held her own. At length,
when the fear of her enemies was taken away by too much prosperity and
an overweening confidence, the besetting sin of the Flemish people
wrecked all.

The country-side had grown jealous of the city, the lesser communes of
the three _bonnes villes_. The canker had spread further still; town
suspected town, guild was at loggerheads with guild, and even individual
citizens began to cast evil eyes on one another; and, added to this,
there was the hatred of rivals jealous of Artevelde's great position;
and Louis, who was now residing in France, through his agents blowing
the fire.

Presently the crisis came. Early in July the representatives of the
communes had met at Bruges for the purpose of electing a regent, and
Sohier of Courtrai, Artevelde's brother-in-law, with King Edward's
consent, had been chosen to fill the office. On his return to Ghent
after this conference the great tribune was besieged in his house by a
mob of small tradesmen and street roughs in the pay of his rivals and of
Louis of Nevers.

He had been plotting, they said, to hand over Ghent to the tender
mercies of the English, who were going to pillage the town; he would
make the Prince of Wales Count; he had taken advantage of his position
to heap up a vast fortune, and had sent his treasure to London. In vain
Van Artevelde tried to appease them; the sound of his voice but
increased their fury, and his servants, who knew the risk he was
running, dragged him from the window and would have had him seek refuge
by a back way in a neighbouring church. Too late; the mob had by this
time broken into the house, and a cobbler felled him dead on his own
threshold. Thus perished the noblest man of his century, and with him
too fell the grand edifice he had reared. The besetting sin of his
people had once more shattered the mansion of Freedom.

[Illustration: Madonna & Niche]

The Count of Flanders did not long survive his illustrious victim. When
the English victory of Cressy gave feudalism its death-blow, he fell
fighting for the French King, and note this fact--Philippe of Valois was
the one man to whom Louis had ever been faithful.



CHAPTER XVIII

_Louis of Maele_


Louis of Maele, the eldest son of Louis of Nevers, so called from the
place of his birth, was a beautiful stripling of sixteen years when the
old Count died. He too had fought at Cressy, had received honourable
wounds there, and had been knighted on the battlefield. But if he
possessed his father's courage, he was heir also to his inclination to
crooked ways, as the communes of Flanders soon learnt to their cost.
Immediately after the great defeat he had set out for Paris, where he
did homage to Philippe of Valois, and from thence sent envoys to Halwyn
to negotiate with the Flemish burghers, who, strangely enough, consented
to accept him for their prince. Perhaps they thought that Louis's youth
would render him manageable, perhaps inherent jealousy prevented them
from agreeing on anyone else, but for all that, the long-headed Flemings
deemed it expedient to make their own conditions--conditions which,
whatever they may have been, Louis seems to have had no hesitation in
accepting, for, by the end of November, we find him installed at Bruges,
and--presage of his future policy--surrounded by the Leliaert nobles who
had been his father's friends. Presently he publicly proclaimed the
first part of his programme, and vehemently urged the communes to
renounce their allegiance to Edward III. From this moment men had little
doubt that the ultimate goal of his ambition was to crush the strength

[Illustration: MAELE CASTLE]

of the towns. For generations the Kings of France had endeavoured to
enslave them, and Philippe of Valois himself had broken his most solemn
pledges, whilst the English monarchs, from time immemorial, had shown
themselves their friends, and for fifteen years King Edward III. had
backed fair promises with blood and sterling gold. Interest and
inclination alike, then, resolved the burghers to stand by him, nay
more, to draw the bonds of union closer by marrying his daughter to
their Count. Louis, when the matter was first broached to him, refused
to listen. He would never wed, he plainly told them, the daughter of his
father's murderer, but when the burghers persisted, no less dogged than
they, he resolved to cut the knot in true Flemish fashion. Not strong
enough to risk a contest at Bruges, the chief centre, for the moment, of
nationalism, he feigned acquiescence, and presently, along with the
city fathers, set out for Bergue, where Edward was holding his Court.
The meeting took place towards the middle of February, at the Abbey of
St. Winoc, and Edward received the Flemish Count with every token of
affection, solemnly assuring him, as he took him by the hand, that he
was a stranger to his father's death, and presently Isabelle of England
and Louis of Flanders mutually plighted their troth.

It had been arranged that the marriage should take place in the middle
of April, and a fortnight previous to the appointed date Edward's
ambassadors waited on Louis, who had meanwhile returned to Bruges, and
besought him to take command of the English forces.

Next day he planned for their entertainment a great hunting party in
Maele Woods. No sooner had the hawks been loosed than, feigning great
zest for the sport, he set off at full speed and was soon out of sight
of his companions, nor did he rein in his horse until he had crossed the
French frontier and reached Lille.

Edward was furious when he learned what had happened, and Isabelle cut
to the quick. She was in sooth, she said, Countess of Flanders, and
until the day of her death she continued to wear the Flemish arms
embroidered on her gown. As to the burghers, they at once took up arms,
and it was only the mutual jealousy of Ghent and Bruges that saved the
truant Count. His policy was to favour the latter town, in order that he
might thereby hold in check alike her great rival and the other cities
of Flanders.

Throughout his long and tumultuous reign of well-nigh forty years, by
his lying, his meanness and his chicanery, Louis of Maele showed himself
the worthy son of Louis of Nevers.

He made Bruges the seat of his government and his chief place of
residence, and here he squandered in riotous living the gold which he
everywhere extorted throughout the rest of his domains.

Embellished by splendid monuments, enriched by the presence of a lavish
and luxurious Court, her trade fostered by privileges innumerable and
concessions without end, the city on the Roya prospered marvellously
during the reign of Louis of Maele. Advancing from day to day in
comeliness and wealth and renown, she, during this period, attained the
acme of her greatness. Merchants from every country in Europe bought and
sold in her markets, ships from all parts of the world brought rich
cargoes to her wharves. No less than twenty foreign Consuls occupied
palaces within her bounds, and her population is said to have numbered
two hundred and fifty thousand souls. But if Bruges now shone
resplendent in a golden halo of magnificence, the moral squalor of her
citizens equalled only the meanness of spirit of the man who had done
such great things for her. Fickle, selfish, cowardly they had ever been,
and they now only showed themselves grateful to their benefactor so long
as it was in his power to help them, and, when they had gone over to the
national party, only supported their new friends whilst their star was
in the ascendant.

In 1379 Louis of Maele had granted them permission to construct a canal
for the purpose of bringing the waters of the Lys to Bruges, doubtless
with the object of preventing, by means of a greater flow of water, the
silting up of the Zwyn, which even at this early period had already
commenced. During four months, from the 19th of March to the 23rd of
July, the men of Bruges were busy at this undertaking, and then a great
army of Ghenters, fearing for their own commerce, went out and put them
to flight. Louis was unable to afford protection, and the burghers threw
open their gates and made common cause with his enemies.

Presently they prepared a sumptuous banquet in honour of their new
friends. Among the guests who sat down to it was the Ghent leader, Jean
Yoens, dean of the great guild of watermen. That night he died
mysteriously of a malady which no physician could diagnose, and the
gossips on 'Change shrugged their shoulders and whispered poison.

But though Bruges had allied herself to the city on the Lys, and a great
army of Ghenters was, with her consent, encamped in her midst, her soul
was rent with envy, and on May 13, 1380, her citizens surprised and slew
no small number of them in the Friday Market, and then these sturdy
burghers, still smoking with the blood of their guests, went and sought
out Louis of Maele, and demanded from him fresh privileges by way of
recompense for their devotion. Just two years later, on May 3, 1382,
retribution followed.

For years past Louis had oppressed and persecuted the men of Ghent 'even
as Pharaoh of old had persecuted the children of Israel'; of late
fortune had singularly favoured his efforts; he had cut off all their
supplies, and the town was sick with hunger. Such was the misery of the
people that for a fortnight--we have it on the testimony of Philip van
Artevelde--thirty thousand of them had not tasted bread. At length,
driven to it by wretchedness, they determined to go forth and beard the
lion in his den, and presently Philip van Artevelde and a handful of
half-starved burghers set out for Bruges. He had called to his standard
all men who were able to take the field, but a bare five thousand of
them had answered his summons--to such pitiable plight had famine
reduced the strength of the city of Ghent, one of the most populous
towns in Europe.

When they reached Oedelem, in the neighbourhood of Maele Castle,
Philippe sent envoys to Bruges to make one last effort to negotiate an
honourable peace, but the guildsmen remembered their bloody triumph of
two years ago, and boasted that in less than an hour they could easily
cut to pieces this puny band of Ghenters; and presently Louis, at the
head of eight hundred knights and forty thousand tradesmen--tailors,
butchers, fishmongers and the like--unarmed and half drunk, in spite of
his better judgment was compelled to go forth to battle. With such an
auxiliary force behind him the issue was a foregone conclusion. At the
first discharge of their opponents' artillery, the drunken rabble made
for Bruges. The Ghenters gave chase, and ran so swiftly that they
reached the city gates almost at the same moment as the men they were
pursuing; one of the foremost of them was in time to thrust his pike
between the doors at the moment the Bruges men were closing them, and
soon Van Artevelde and his comrades were thronging into the city.

Louis, who had been unhorsed at the commencement of the stampede, had
somehow or other managed to remount, and along with some thirty or forty
knights had the good fortune to reach his palace in safety. From thence
he sent out heralds to summon all his burghers under pain of death to
assemble in the market-place. Hardly had he done so when Robert
Maerschalck, the husband of one of his natural daughters, came in hot
haste to the palace with tidings that Van Artevelde was now in the heart
of the city. Night had already set in, and his counsellors, trembling
for the safety of his person, would have had him remain indoors, but
Louis refused, and accompanied by a handful of serving men, and crying,
_'Flandre au comte au lion_,' rushed out into the darkness. When he
reached the Grande Place he knew that his cause was lost. It was filled
indeed with armed men, but it was not the burghers of Bruges who had
assembled there. Flaunting over the seething throng, he could
distinguish the banner of Ghent. 'Put out your lights,' hissed the Count
to his lackeys, 'and let each man think of himself.' Alone, under cover
of the darkness and a buttress of St. Amand's Church--long since
demolished--he unbuckled his coat of mail and put on the clothes of one
of his serving-men.

About midnight he summoned up courage to knock at the door of a wretched
hovel hard-by, and recognizing in the person who opened it a poor widow
to whom he had often given alms, appealed to her generosity. 'Woman,' he
whispered, 'save me; I am the Count of Flanders.' She pointed to a
rickety ladder, and bade him go up to the garret. There, under a heap of
straw, he lay all that night and all the next day. When darkness had
again set in he made his way out of the city, and, after a host of
hairbreadth adventures, presently reached Lille. 'Now mark,' comments
wise old Froissart, 'all ye who hear this tale, consider what marvellous
changes of fortune God in His good pleasure bringeth about. In the
morning the Count of Flanders had thought himself one of the mightiest
princes in Christendom, and in the evening he found it convenient to
hide himself in the mean home of a poverty-stricken woman.'

As for Van Artevelde, he treated the conquered town with no little
generosity. By the small hours of the morning he had completely gained
the upper hand, and his first act was to forbid further slaughter, and
all looting, and every kind of outrage under penalty of death. He next
summoned the burghers of Bruges to a conference in the Grande Place.
Hardly had they assembled than a member of Van Artevelde's own family
was led bound into his presence. He had been taken red-handed in some
act of violence. 'What,' exclaimed the great tribune, 'you, who should
have been a pattern of obedience, the first to break my commands!' and
he ordered that he should be flung headlong from one of the windows of
the belfry. As he fell some men-at-arms caught him on the points of
their spears, and a cruel shout of approbation welled from the throats
of the Bruges men--'Behold a just judge, a man cut out for captain of
Flanders!' and they swore that henceforth the burghers of Bruges would
live in brotherly love with the burghers of Ghent.

But Van Artevelde, knowing the men he had to deal with, required
something more tangible than their bare word, and the burghers were
compelled to deliver into his hands a goodly number of hostages; to
witness the destruction of three city gates:--the _Porte Ste. Croix_,
the _Porte Ste. Cathérine_ and the _Porte de Gand_, and thirty feet of
wall around each of them; and lastly, to submit themselves to the two
Ghent captains, Peter Van den Bossche and Peter de Wintere, whom
Artevelde appointed governors of the town. For the rest he contented
himself with requisitioning an ample supply of provisions for the
famine-stricken town of Ghent, and for three whole days the high road
from Bruges to that city was crowded with carts and waggons groaning
under the weight of food stuffs.

At the expiration of that time, thanks to the energy and prudence of Van
Artevelde, the markets were peacefully re-opened, and the town assumed
its wonted aspect. During his short rule--it only lasted six
months--trade revived, justice was rigorously administered, and peace
reigned throughout Flanders. Then came the French invasion, the Flemish
defeat at Rosebeke, and the great tribune's untimely death (November 27,
1382). The conquerors found his mangled body on the battlefield amongst
a heap of slain, and they hung it in chains on a lofty tree, and the
birds of the air devoured it.

Never had Flanders suffered a defeat so disastrous. 'Sixty thousand of
her sons had perished,[31] the land was deluged with blood.'[32] A blow
had been hurled at communal government from which it never really
recovered.

Thanks to the intervention of Louis of Maele, and his son-in-law the
Duke of Burgundy, backed by the support of certain great nobles whose
goodwill the burghers had purchased with heavy bribes, Bruges suffered
less at the hands of the French than the other communes of Flanders. She
was not handed over to pillage, but the Breton mercenaries, disappointed
of the rich booty which they thought to have obtained there, scoured the
country round with fire and sword. 'The French,' says the monk of St.
Denis, 'cut the throats of all whom they met, sparing neither rank, nor
age, nor sex, and thus it may be truly said of them that they slew the
widow and the orphan, the youth and the maid, the old man and the
suckling at its mother's breast.' As for Louis of Maele, he approved
what he could not prevent. 'Some people ask, most redoubtable lord,'
said he to King Charles VI., 'how may best be crushed the turbulent
spirit of this race--by sparing the land or by reducing it to a desert.
As for me, I can only say: deal with the county of Flanders according to
thy good pleasure, and whatsoever thou shalt deem fit to ordain I shall
be contented.' In truth Louis's influence in the counsels of the French
King was almost a thing of the past, and what little influence he still
possessed was diminishing day by day. The campaign against Flanders had,
indeed, been undertaken ostensibly for his behoof, but its real object
was to deal a blow at England and to shatter the forlorn hope--the
Flemish communes--of the restive communes of France; and when two years
later (January 26, 1384) a truce was concluded between Richard II. and
Charles VI., what Louis deemed his interests were wholly disregarded. In
spite of his opposition--on this King Richard had insisted--the communes
of Flanders, who had not even laid down their arms, were included in the
truce of Lelinghem.

An exile from the rich land which he had once tyrannized over and
exploited--for Louis no longer dared show his face in Flanders--without
influence and without means, literally a homeless, impotent,
poverty-stricken old man, dependent for his daily bread on alms which
France begrudged him, so mean a creature did the once magnificent Louis
appear in the eyes of the Duke of Berri that during the discussion of
the terms of truce he had not hesitated to answer his vehement protest
with insolent and contemptuous speech. _Cousin_, he said, _si votre
imprudence vous a couvert de maux et de honte, il est temps de renoncer
à vos fureurs et de suivre de meilleurs conseils_.

Cut to the quick by the insult, and powerless to resent it, Louis did
not wait for the negotiations to be terminated, but withdrew in dudgeon
to St. Omer, and here it was that he presently learned that the treaty
in question had been signed. It was the last straw. The hand of death
was upon him, and he knew it.

Louis was lodging in the great Benedictine Abbey where lay the bones of
the founder of his house, Baldwin, Bras de Fer. Thither he summoned his
companions in misfortune--the Dean of St. Donatian's, the Lord of
Gruthuise--founder of the Gruthuise Palace--John of Heusden, his
physician, who was also Provost of Notre Dame, and Robert, his natural
son, and in their presence he dictated his last will and testament. 'Be
it known to all,' said the dying Count, 'that I, mindful of the great
honours, wealth and possessions, which Jesus Christ of His pure grace
hath bestowed on me, unworthy, in this world, the which I have not used
in His service and honour but for mine own vain glory, commend my poor
sinful soul, as humbly as I may, to Him, to the Blessed Virgin, fount of
mercy, and to all the saints in Paradise, whom I humbly beg to obtain
for me forgiveness of my many and great sins.' Then, with his own hands,
he wrote to the Duke of Burgundy, conjuring him to repair the wrong
which he had done to Flanders. He was sore grieved, he said, at the
destruction of his people, who had been punished at his request.

On the night of the 30th of January 1384 a mighty hurricane swept over
the land of Flanders. It was as though the four winds were blowing
together, and yet neither tree nor steeple was touched by it, but the
skeletons of Louis's victims swayed to and fro on their gibbets and
trembled in their chains. The spirits of darkness, said the people, were
whirling his soul to hell.[33] '_Ce dont plusieurs gens disoient ce que
bon leur semblait_,' comments shrewd Juvenal des Ursins, which is as
much as to say the wish was father to the thought.

A splendid specimen of civic architecture, perhaps the most perfect
building of its kind in Northern Europe, still bears witness to poor
Louis's generosity to his beloved city Bruges. The present _Hôtel de
Ville_

[Illustration: THE HÔTEL DE VILLE]

was his gift. He laid the foundation stone during the heyday of his
magnificence, on January 14, 1376. In May 1379 the building must have
been nearly completed, for about this time we find one Gilles de Man, a
name still common in Bruges, busy gilding and colouring the statuary and
niches of the façade, and the municipal accounts inform us that he
received seven _livres_ and fourteen _escalins_ for his labour. Early in
the following year the work was suspended on account of the trouble with
Ghent, in all probability it was not resumed during Louis's lifetime,
and it was perhaps only completed in 1420.

Who the original architect may have been is a matter of conjecture.
Monsieur Verschelde, the founder of the Archæological Society of Bruges,
and for many years city architect, suggests Jean de Valenciennes, the
artist whom we know designed and in great measure himself executed the
sculpture which adorns the edifice. If this conjecture be warranted,
Jean was, indeed, a creator of no ordinary talent, but of his story no
vestige has come down to us, save only this: a man of the same name,
perhaps his father, perhaps Jean himself, was _vinder_ of the Bruges
guild of painters in 1364.

It will be interesting to note that the façade of the Hôtel de Ville is
the earliest structure in which appears an architectural arrangement
which seems to have originated at Bruges, and which is perhaps the most
distinguishing feature of its civic architecture. We allude to the long
panels or arcades in which windows placed one over the other are
frequently enclosed in such a manner as to give them the appearance of a
series of long single windows ascending from the basement to the topmost
storey.

Amongst the other remarkable structures of this period, note the nave
and aisles and the upper portion of the transepts of the present
cathedral, which replace work of an earlier date destroyed by fire on
April 9, 1358, and were probably completed some two years later. If we
can judge from the remnant still standing:--the choir ambulatory and
the lower portion of the transepts, the old Church of St. Sauveur was
far superior, both as regards design and execution, to the present
edifice.

The great northern outer nave to the Church of Notre Dame dates also
from this epoch (probably 1360). Here we have a striking example of the
persistence of a feature rarely if ever met with in Gothic architecture
either in England or in France, and which is, perhaps, so far as
Northern Europe is concerned, at all events during the period in
question, peculiar to Flanders--the semi-circular arch. The architects
of Bruges seem never to have entirely abandoned it, and hence in that
city its presence does not necessarily indicate that the building in
which it is found is of Romanesque origin. Thus we find it in the tower
of Notre Dame, which, as we have seen, dates from the close of the
thirteenth century; in the northern transept of the cathedral of the
same date; in the windows of the _Porte de Gand_, and of the _Porte Ste.
Croix_ of a century later; in the great porch of the hospital of St.
John, and in the western façade of the Church of Notre Dame, and in
domestic architecture of every period, over and over again. Sometimes it
is used alone, sometimes in conjunction with the pointed arch. In the
case of the northern nave of Notre Dame, it is employed for the
vaulting, for the huge doorway at the western end, now bricked up, and
for the five small bays of the outer arcade which connect it with the
main building, whilst for the windows, for the bays of the inner arcade,
and for the great opening at the east end which gives access to the
tower, pointed arches are used.

For the rest, the building in question is characterised by its great
height, the magnificent span of its vault, the grandeur of its
proportions and the general simplicity

IV.--Genealogical Table of the Counts of Flanders from Guy de Dampierre
to Marguerite of Maele.

Matilda of = =Guy de Dampierre= = Isabel of
Bethune    |  _d._ 1304         | Namur
           |            +-------+----------+------+------+--------+
           |          John of = Marie of   | Philippine  |     4 other
           |          Namur   |  Artois    |             |     children
           |        _d._ 1330 |           Guy          Isabel
           |                John II.
           |                of Namur
           |                _d._ 1335
    +------+------------------+-----------+-----------------+---------+
=Robert III.= = Yolonde    William,     Marie = William   Philip   5 other
 ( of Bethune)     | of         mar. Adela    | of        married  children
 _d._ 1322    | Nevers     daughter of        | Juliers   Matilda
              |            Rodulph of         |             of
              |            Nesle              |           Thiette
    +---------+-----------------------+       +-----+
 Louis, Count = Jeanne, daughter    Robert       William of
 of Nevers    | and heiress of      of           Juliers,
 _d._ 1322    | Hugo IV., Count     Cassel       Provost of
              | of Rethel                        Maestricht
              |                                  _d._ 1305
            Louis I. = Marguerite, daughter
         _d._ 1346   | of Philip (the Long
                     | of France)
                 =Louis II.=  = Marguerite
                 (of Maele)   | of Brabant
                 _d._ 1384    |
                         Marguerite = Philippe
                         of Maele     le Hardi,
                         _d._ 1405    Duke of
                                      Burgundy
                                      _d._ 1404

of its design. There is an unusual dearth of sculptured ornament, but
what little there is, is happily conceived and delicately carried out.

As the building now stands, with its once glowing frescoes blotted out
with white-wash, with its windows bereft of their painted glass and even
of their tracery (this is now being replaced), with its cold, dismantled
altars, and its chilling eighteenth-century pavement of marble, black
and white, its general appearance is sufficiently bleak, and we were
going to say sufficiently uninteresting, but that, no part of Notre Dame
can ever be. The old church is too irregular, too picturesque, too
mysterious. The incense of a thousand sweet memories still clings to its
columns, the music of a thousand noble deeds still re-echoes in its
vaulted roof, and in weird nooks and corners the red lamp of tragedy
still burns. Something of its glory we have already noted, and we shall
tell something more in its proper place.

Reader, make a pilgrimage to Notre Dame in the gloaming, and if thou art
one of the initiated thou shalt haply learn the rest.



CHAPTER XIX

_Bruges under the Princes of the House of Burgundy--Philip le Hardi and
John Sans Peur--1385-1419_


The advent of the House of Burgundy found the communes of Flanders
crippled and humbled by the disasters which had recently befallen
them--disasters which, as we have seen, were but the natural outcome of
their own domestic feuds. But though the battle of Rosebeke, and the
events which followed, left Flanders bleeding, exhausted, almost dead,
the dire calamity which had befallen her had in it this element of
strength--it had brought about a reconciliation between Bruges and
Ghent; the feuds which had so long neutralized their endeavours were for
the moment laid aside, and when in December 1385 the new Sovereign
deemed it politic to come to terms with the latter city, it was
doubtless this consideration which prompted him to concede to the rebel
Ghenters, whom he had defeated again and again, terms hardly less
advantageous than they themselves would have exacted had they been in a
position to dictate the conditions of peace.

By this treaty Philip confirmed all the time-honoured rights and
privileges and franchises of Ghent and of her allies; granted a general
amnesty to all who had taken part in the recent rebellion; guaranteed
the release of all prisoners of war, and the restitution of all
confiscated property.

Had the communes remained united they would probably have been able to
successfully withstand the craft and perseverance of their Burgundian
chiefs, whose policy, no less than that of their predecessors, was to
convert their limited rights over Flanders into a complete and absolute
sovereignty. But if strife weakened the resisting power of the burghers,
the terrific and magnificent princes who were striving to enslave them
were deprived of one element of strength which was never lacking to the
puny Lords of Nevers--the assistance and support of France. Harassed by
England, rent by internal factions and with a lunatic for king, France
was in no position to help anyone during the first half of the period we
are now considering; and when, later on, under Louis XI., she had at
last recruited her strength, the ambitious designs of the Dukes of
Burgundy had forced her to become their bitterest foe. For not only
would these men have welded into one vast independent state the
conglomeration of fiefs in France and in Germany, which, by inheritance,
by marriage, by conquest, by haggling they had gradually gathered into
their maw, but their insatiable lust for dominion prompted them to
meddle also with the private concerns of France--to essay to direct
alike her domestic and foreign policy. Hence the memorable quarrel
between the Dukes of Burgundy and the French princes--a quarrel which,
notwithstanding the disasters it brought on their chiefs, was no little
advantage to the Flemish race.

But there was another circumstance which in no small degree favoured the
cause of freedom.

To carry out their vast enterprises the Dukes of Burgundy were
constantly in need of the sinews of war. They wanted men to do battle
for them, and they wanted money to further their political schemes. In
each of these commodities Flanders was rich, and in spite of her recent
enfeeblement, and in spite of internal divisions, she was still strong
enough, and shrewd enough, to withhold her aid on each occasion that it
was asked until she had first some substantial _quid pro quo_.

The necessity then of their Sovereigns was the burgher's opportunity,
and whenever they implored their assistance the answer, whether from
Ypres or Bruges or Ghent, was invariably one--they were prepared to sell
at a reasonable price, provided prepayment were made. Some grievance
must first be redressed; some large charter of liberties granted; some
obnoxious tax abolished, or some new treaty of commerce signed. But for
all that the burghers knew very well that when their lords made
concessions it was in spite of themselves, and when they curtailed their
liberties, which they invariably did whenever they could safely do so,
it was with a view later on to their total annihilation.

At the close of the reign of that magnificent ruffian, John the
Fearless, the communes had thus achieved no small measure of success,
whilst the progress which their rulers had made towards the goal of
their ambition, at least so far as Flanders was concerned, was _nil_.
For every two steps forward the exigencies of circumstances had forced
them three steps back, so that, when John the Fearless died, Flanders
was freer than she had ever been before.

This is all the more remarkable from the fact that Ghent, the mightiest
of the Flemish cities, had of late shown herself but half hearted in
support of the popular cause. It was the old story. Jealousy of her
great rival, Bruges, and the national inability to withstand corruption.
Philip the Rash and his morose son had alike favoured Ghent.

The vicissitudes of Bruges during the whole of this season were
marvellous in the extreme--a continual alternation of peace and
warfare, of merry-making and tumultuous frays, of luxury and pinching
need, of honeyed speech and dire threats, for Philippe and John alike
carried two faces under their hoods. When they wanted anything they
could smile sweetly enough, and when they felt themselves independent
they were wont to terrorize with fierce looks, and bloody deeds too, for
the matter of that.

Hardly had the echo of the _Carillon_ died away, which had swung out the
joy of the burghers at the great pacification at the opening of Duke
Philip's rule, when hostilities broke out again. Philip was in no way
sincere in signing that treaty which Ghent had so proudly negotiated
with him, more like an independent sovereign state than a conquered
rebel city, and presently he conceived a diabolical plot to slay all her
burghers by means of Breton mercenaries whom he would secretly have
brought into their midst. This fell design having been happily
discovered, the agents who were to have accomplished it, disappointed of
the rich booty they thought to have obtained at Ghent, turned their
attention to Bruges, and soon began to break into the houses of sundry
honourable burghers there, and to insult and molest their women.
Whereupon tumult unspeakable, and in the midst of it all the Duke of
Berri was descried riding towards the _Pont des Carmes_. This man was
the most hated of all the French knights, for his hands were red, every
burgher believed, with the blood of their favourite Louis of Maele. In a
moment he was surrounded by the howling mob, unhorsed, wounded almost to
death, and 'if it had not been for the intervention of the Sire de
Ghistelle--a man of weight, at Bruges--he would not have escaped with
his life.' Thus Froissart; and he adds, 'Nor would a single knight or
squire of France have been left alive in the town.'

Meanwhile Philip's affairs had prospered in France. He was now
practically regent of the kingdom. His wife, '_une creuse et haute
dame_,' was installed at Paris, and had undertaken the administration of
the Queen's household. The King's counsellors were in exile; the Bishop
of Laon was dead--poisoned, it was thought by many--and others would
have probably shared his fate had not Philip's hand been restrained by a
passing fear that the King's reason was returning.

Things then were going well with the Duke of Burgundy. He had time to
turn his attention to the taming of the Flemish burghers, and amongst
other regulations and proceedings, in direct contravention of the treaty
of Tournai, he began to fight against the popular conscience.

It was the time of the great schism. From Rome and Avignon rival
claimants to the Papal throne were hurling anathemas at one another. All
Europe was divided as to who was the rightful Pope, and since it suited
Philip to support Clement, of course his burghers felt bound in
conscience to acknowledge Urban. Thanks to a gift of sixty thousand
francs, the Ghenters had obtained permission to remain neutral, but
hardly had three months expired when the Bishop of Teruanne went over to
the side of Avignon, and at the same time all Antwerp followed his
example. A favourable moment, thought Philip, to commence proselytism,
by corruption, by violence, by any means at hand; and presently he
formally forbade any of his subjects to obey the Pope of Rome. Then
throughout Flanders all public worship ceased. Here and there, in the
chapel of some great castle protected by high walls and a double moat, a
Clementine priest would occasionally say Mass, but the boldest of them
would not celebrate in public. If they had ventured to do so, the people
would have dragged them from the altar. Bruges was beside herself. From
the pulpit of St. Walburge the curate proclaimed the curse of Heaven on
all who should recognize the Pope of Avignon, and forthwith fled the
country. So too the Abbot of St. Peter's and the Abbot of Bandeloo, and
a host of monks and burghers, not a few of whom took refuge in England,
where they obeyed the Pope of Rome. One of these last was not so
fortunate. Petrus van Roesclare, a civic dignitary of great wealth. He
was arrested and carried to Lille, and there they cut off his head. John
van der Capelle, the patriot whom Philip had appointed High Steward of
Flanders, after the pacification of Tournai, was for the same motive
deprived of his office. So too John of Heyle, whose good offices had
greatly contributed to the settlement of Tournai. He was loaded with
chains and cast into prison, where shortly afterwards he died. 'Men
called him a martyr, for during the two months previous to his death he
had tasted no solid food, and all that time he had passed in prayer.'

Philip, who was not ignorant of the rebellious spirit which his
religious policy had aroused, about this time came to Bruges, hoping
that his presence would frighten the burghers into submission. He had
brought with him the Clementine Bishop of Tournai. On the following
Sunday an ordination took place at St. Sauveur's, and the next day at
Sluys, but on neither occasion was a single burgher present, nor would
any of them avail themselves of the ministrations of the newly-ordained
clergy.

But though the Bruges men grumbled and stayed away from Mass, their
religious convictions were not sufficiently strong, or they were too
much awed by the presence of Philip, to attempt any overt act of
opposition. Not so the men of Ghent. As soon as the obnoxious edict had
been published, a riot ensued which was only with difficulty calmed by
the Urbanist clergy themselves. Whereupon Philip, perceiving that the
burghers had made up their minds, permitted them to follow the dictates
of conscience, and Ghent then became a place of pilgrimage throughout
Flanders. It was the only town in the country where men could worship as
they would, and all Bruges went out there at Easter-time to receive Holy
Communion (1394).

The death of Duke Philip, ten years later, afforded no little
consolation to his subjects, but the advent of a yet sterner ruler soon
taught them to regret the old man's decease, for if Philip had beaten
the Flemings with rods, his son John scourged them with scorpions.

As is the wont of most men when first they are invested with authority,
during the early days of his reign he had been all smiles and
condescension. At Ghent he had sworn on the true cross to 'respect the
rights and liberties of the communes and to do by them all that a
righteous Lord and Count of Flanders should do.' When a deputation of
huffy burghers from Bruges and the other _bonnes villes_ came out to
greet him at Menin and showed themselves more eager to make known their
grievances than to bid him welcome, he smoothed their ruffled feathers
with soft words. He was ready, he said, to do anything they wanted; and
when, a few days later, a second deputation waited on him at Ghent to
complain of the commercial depression caused by the war between England
and France, his answer was all that could be desired. He had already
done his utmost to effect a reconciliation, but was prepared to try
again, for no one, he added, with a touch of humour, was more interested
in the prosperity of Flanders than he, for the richer she was the more
she could afford to give him.

It was not until John had been thwarted that he showed of what stuff he
was made. Opposition first came from the burghers of Bruges, and the
burghers of Bruges were the first to experience the sting of his lash.
It happened thus.

When in 1414 an English fleet of a hundred vessels sailed up the Zwyn
and was threatening the fortress of Sluys--evil reminiscence of the
conquest of Charles VI.--the burghers of Bruges refused to defend it,
notwithstanding their Sovereign's earnest entreaties. 'It did not behove
them,' they said by the mouth of their burgomaster, Lievin van
Schotclaere, 'to protect a citadel which threatened the English less
than their own liberties,' nor was it until the invaders had taken Sluys
and burnt the castle that, at last, the Bruges men consented to arm, and
perhaps even then there was some secret understanding between them, for
the English retired at the approach of the burghers, 'slowly and without
any sign of disquietude, rather after the manner of friends and allies
than foes.'

As for John, he withdrew to Ghent disgusted; made it known that
henceforth he would reside in that city; with a lavish hand scattered
gold there; succeeded in corrupting not a few of the leading burghers,
and at length conciliated the goodwill of the whole town by concluding a
commercial truce with England, which by putting an end to the mutual
piracy of the belligerents was intended to pave the way for a regular
commercial treaty. Being thus in a position to act without hindrance, he
turned his attention to the truculent burghers of Bruges, and presently
the watchers on the belfry--for then, as now, night and day, there were
watchers on the belfry--descried slowly winding its way through the
woods of Maele, like some huge silver snake, and drawing nearer and
nearer to the city, a troop of armed men. In an instant the tocsin was
swinging, but the signal had been given too late, and when the
breathless citizens reached the market-place, they found it filled with
the Duke's guard, and there on the Halles balcony was John himself with
a rod in his hand--symbol of coming chastisement. Sixteen great city
officers were deprived of their appointments and condemned to exile or
mulcted in heavy fines, and their places were given to certain obscure
citizens on whose subservience John could rely. It was gall and wormwood
to the burghers, but they bent their heads to the storm, nor did they
refuse to set their seal of acceptance to the humiliating _Kalfvel_
which the Duke imposed on them in place of their time-honoured charter,
nor to thank him for it into the bargain, and that, though it wounded
alike their pride and their pockets, curtailed their liberty, and
imperilled their necks, by putting burthensome restrictions on the use
of guild banners, by utterly suppressing the _maenghelt_, or monthly
subsidy, which from time immemorial the corporation had granted to each
of the trade guilds, and by making all kinds of vexatious enactments
which were sanctioned by pain of death.

Note amongst the banished, Nicholas Barbesaen, erst burgomaster and city
treasurer, who had been in former days a devoted adherent of Louis of
Maele, and on more than one occasion, as he himself recounts in a memoir
still extant amongst the archives of Lille, had risked his life to save
him. He was also a man of much public spirit, and at his own cost had
rebuilt the town gates which had been destroyed by the Ghenters in 1382.
Two of them, the _Porte Ste. Croix_ and the _Porte de Gand_, are still
standing. 'I showed great diligence,' he says, in the document above
referred to, 'anent the public buildings of the town, such as bridges,
fountains, gates, towers and the like, the greater number of which were
rebuilt during the time that I was burgomaster and treasurer of this
city.'

[Illustration: THE PORTE DE GAND]

But the meed of John's vengeance was not yet complete. Emboldened by the
ease with which he had obtained the burghers' acceptance of the
_Kalfvel_, he imposed by means of the new corporation a host of onerous
taxes which had never been heard of before, notably a heavy duty on
wheat, and obtained from his subservient magistrates a legal decision
that the seventh _denier_ in all town revenues belonged by right to the
Sovereign.

To every honest burgher submission meant sorrow and bitterness of heart,
but with their town in the hands of foreign mercenaries, Ghent bound
hand and foot with golden fetters, sycophants and traitors in their own
camp, they could but lie low and wait, and they waited for four years,
and then their hour of triumph came.

It was the fall of the year 1411. The strife between the Burgundians and
the Armagnacs was at its height. John was encamped in the plain of
Montdidier waiting for Orléans to give battle. With him was an army of
Flemings recruited from all the towns in the county. Their services, for
a limited period, had been purchased by means of concessions--according
to one account at the cost of a commercial union with England
consecrated by an acknowledgment of the suzerainty of Henry IV. Each
city was to fight under its own banner and be commanded by its own
elected chiefs; on these conditions only had the burghers consented to
leave their homes, and so eager was John for their services that he had
made no protest even in the case of the Bruges men who had chosen Lieven
van Schotclaere the burgomaster, whom he himself had deposed in 1407.

Presently the allotted term expired, the French had made no sign, and
John could only prevail on the burghers to remain with him one week more
by granting them fresh favours 'on account of the good, agreeable and
notable services which they have rendered us, do render us, and will, we
hope, continue to render us.' But when the week had passed and still
Orléans tarried, neither prayers nor promises could induce them to
further prolong their soldiering. At daybreak a mighty roar went up from
the Flemish camp--_Go go, wapens wapers, te Vlaendren waert_, and they
went. John rode out to confront them, and, with his hat off and his
hands clasped, very humbly begged them to remain only four days longer;
they were his brothers, he said, his comrades, the dearest friends he
had; he was ready to renounce in their favour all the taxes of Flanders.
But they were deaf to all his prayers; their only answer was to show the
letter which limited the duration of the expedition, and to point to the
ducal seal with which it was stamped.

Perceiving that it was useless to insist further, John the Fearless
accompanied the Flemings as far as Péronne, where, having thanked them
for their services and commissioned the Duke of Brabant to conduct them
to the frontier, he bade them farewell, and almost alone set out for
Paris. Thus ended the famous expedition to Montdidier, and thus did
Bruges obtain her first instalment of vengeance. She had wrung from John
undoubted favours, refused the only boon he asked, and received from him
into the bargain a sufficiently humble acknowledgment for the 'good,
agreeable and notable services which she had daily rendered,' but the
hated _Kalfvel_ was still in force; she was still governed by the
creatures of the man who had wronged her, and of both the one and the
other she was determined to be rid.

On the evening of the 6th of October, 1411, the Bruges men with
Schotclaere at their head, and accompanied by the soldiery of eleven
other towns, reached the great plain of Ten Belle, three leagues from
home. Here they encamped for the night, here too they took counsel
together, and next morning when Baldwin de Voss came out to greet them
and to learn the hour of their arrival at Bruges, they replied that the
_Kalfvel_ must first be cancelled, and all grievances redressed.
Whereupon the wily burgomaster with much plausible speech essayed
negotiation. He would make known their wishes to the Duke, who would
doubtless give favourable ear to them, but meanwhile they must lay down
their arms and return peaceably to their homes. _Sils ne veulent perdre,
he added, la bonne grâce de mon dit seigneur, en lequelle ils estoient
sur tous autres qui l'avoient suivi de son pays de Flandres._

These specious words deceived no man, and De Voss tried again. There
were three points which it was beyond his power to concede. The Duke
alone could repeal the _gabelle_, and the edicts anent confiscation, and
the use of guild banners; for the rest, he was prepared to do all they
wanted, but the burghers were adamant; they would never disarm, they
averred, until they had obtained full satisfaction. At last, after much
parleying, messengers were dispatched to the Duke, who by the advice of
his Council conceded every point. The obnoxious taxes were repealed, the
_Kalfvel_ was torn up, and the officers appointed in 1407 were thrust
out of the city. Thus after four years' servitude Bruges was once more
free.

The causes of the enmity between John the Fearless and his cousin
Philippe of Orléans are intricate and multiple and do not come within
the scope of this book, nor would the tragedy in which it culminated be
here alluded to were it not that some of the chief actors were either
Bruges men, or intimately connected with Bruges, notably John Gerson,
the famous theologian of the Council of Pisa, and perhaps the most
brilliant scholar of his day. The following are the main outlines of the
story. Towards the fall of the year 1407 the Duke of Burgundy set out
for Paris, determined to rid himself forever of his powerful enemy and
rival the Duke of Orléans. When, however, he reached the French capital,
to the surprise of all men, for all men were well aware of his morose
and sullen temper, he gave favourable ear to the words of King Charles,
consented to a reconciliation, had an interview with Orléans at his
house, the _Château de Beauté_, and on the following Sunday (November
20), by way of sealing their friendship, received Holy Communion with
him at the Chapel of the Augustinian Friars.

Three days after, when Orléans was at the Queen's palace, a messenger
arrived from the King to summon him to his presence. Attended by two
esquires and four or five lackeys bearing torches, for the night was
dark, he mounted his mule and set out for the royal abode.

Hardly had the little cavalcade left the palace gates when a band of
armed men sprang out at them, crying, 'Death, death!' 'Hold,' shouted
the prince, '_je suis le Duc d'Orléans.' 'C'est ce que nous voulons_',
was the reply, and they slashed him to death with their axes.

At that moment a tall man, with his face concealed by a red slouch hat
turned down over his eyes, rushed out from Burgundy's house and cut off
the dead Duke's hand, and with a club smashed in his skull.

The only one of his attendants who had made any show at resistance was a
Flemish page called Jacques de Mene. This youth interposed his own body
to receive the blows intended for his master until he fell dead by his
side. The rest took flight.

When the Orléanists heard what had happened next morning, they were
filled with consternation, and all kinds of rumours were abroad as to
the identity of the murderer, but strangely enough no one suspected the
Duke of Burgundy. He had attended the funeral, which took place in due
course, attired in deep mourning, and had there exhibited every outward
manifestation of grief, but it was afterwards remembered that during the
ceremony he had laid his hand on the coffin, and that, as he did so,
blood had spurted out from his victim's wounds.

Be this as it may, when, after the completion of the funeral ceremonies,
the Provost of Paris entered the royal chamber and demanded permission
to extend his inquiries 'even into the palaces of princes,' the Duke,
who was present, turned pale, and drawing the Duke of Berri aside,
avowed to him that he was the author of the crime. 'The devil,' he said,
'had beguiled him.'[34]

Berri for the moment held his tongue, but next day at the house of the
Lord of Nesle, the Duke of Burgundy made public confession of his guilt.
'In order that no man may be wrongfully accused of the death of the Duke
of Orléans, I avow that I myself and no other am the author of that
which has taken place.' Immediately afterwards he fled the city, never
halting until at half-past twelve in the afternoon he reached Bapaume.
The number of his confederates must have been considerable, for relays
of horses were awaiting him at successive stages, and the Admiral of
France and a handful of knights, who almost immediately gave chase,
found all the bridges over which he had passed entirely demolished.

In memory of the peril which John had so successfully evaded, he gave
orders that henceforth the great town bell should be daily rung at
half-past twelve, and for years afterwards the Duke's Angelus, as the
citizens called it, kept alive the memory of his escape.

Presently John was at Ghent, endeavouring by the mouth of Chancellor
Saulk to justify his conduct in the eyes of the communes, for he had
convoked the estates of Flanders to meet him there. Presently he was at
Amiens, guarded by three thousand men-at-arms, making conditions with
the royal envoys whom Charles had sent to dissuade him from joining
hands with England; closeted with Friar Petit, whom he had summoned from
Paris 'to advise him anent certain secret matters greatly touching his
honour'; doing anything and everything to safeguard his person and his
interests, and to further his ambitious schemes. At last he deemed it
safe to return to the French capital.

The sudden death of the Duke of Orléans had sown terror and confusion in
the ranks of his supporters, whilst so mighty was the name of Burgundy
that his friends among the roughs of Paris had feared not to insult the
remains of his victim as they were being solemnly carried to the place
of burial. True the King had promised the Duchess of Orléans vengeance,
but it was a promise beyond his power to keep; the influence of Jean
Sans Peur was increasing day by day, and when early in March he once
more returned to the French capital, he was hailed as the saviour of the
realm. The Duke of Berri made a banquet in his honour in the very house
in which he had first avowed his guilt. 'Maître' Jean Petit, who was not
only a _persona grata_ at Court, but a divinity professor at the
Sorbonne, whose opinions were not without weight in the world of the
learned, did not hesitate to avow in the presence of the Dauphin and the
royal princes that it was lawful to slay tyrants, and that those who did
so deserved no punishment, but ought rather to receive reward.

In a solemn assembly, at which were present the King of Sicily, and the
Dukes of Guienne, of Berri, of Lorraine and Bretagne, not a few counts
and several bishops, John ratified all that Master Petit had said anent
the laudable motives which had inspired his action, and soon his speech,
reproduced by a host of scribes, was echoing all over France, 'like a
triumphal pæan in the midst of the stupefied silence of the Orléanists,'
and to crown all, the King himself published letters of approval.
'Seeing that our very dear and well-beloved cousin has explained that it
was with a view to our own safety and the preservation of our line, for
the utility and welfare of our realm, and to keep with us that faith and
loyalty by which he is bound, that he has caused to be put out of the
world our very dear and well-beloved brother the Duke of Orléans, whom
God forgive, we make known, and will, that the aforesaid Duke of
Burgundy is, and remains, in our singular love even as he was before.'

Thus ended the first scene of the tragedy, and twelve years passed by,
replete with strife and turmoil, which concerns not these pages; then
came the grand finale.

'Joab,' had thundered John Petit in his famous glorification of the Duke
of Burgundy, '_Joab a répandu le sang de la guerre au milieu de la paix:
sa viellesse ne descendra pas paisiblement dans la tombe_,' and in the
light of after events the words of the notorious friar seem almost
prophetic. On the 10th of September 1419, some twelve years after the
murder of the Duke of Orléans, John the Fearless was himself slain on
French soil. It happened thus. About a month previous to this date, John
had requested an interview with the Dauphin, who was now chief of the
Orléanist party, with a view to concluding peace. After some hesitation,
the latter had consented, and on the 14th of August, on the bridge of
Montereau-Faut-Yonne, the meeting took place. During the discussion
which ensued, words ran high, and presently the spectators on either
bank of the Seine observed that the men on the bridge were struggling.
For a moment they suspected foul play, and a cry went up that the
Dauphin had been slain, but it was not the Dauphin but John himself whom
the crowd had seen hurled to the ground, and the figure bending over
him, and perhaps essaying to staunch his wounds, was no other than that
of Guillaume le Bouteille, once servant to Philippe d'Orléans. 'As thou
didst serve my master,' muttered the old man, as he hacked off the dead
Duke's hand, 'as thou didst serve my master even so do I now serve
thee.' But the crowd on the banks heard not his words, and wist not what
he was doing.

Was John the victim of his cousin's treachery, or had he at length been
taken in his own net? In a word, was he slain by the Dauphin in
self-defence? Such the latter averred to be the case, and there is this
much in favour of his assertion--Juvenal des Ursins, the most reliable
and impartial historian of his century, gives credence to it. So too
Olivier of Dixmude, who relates the following anecdote:--

One night, towards the hour of matins, about a month after Philippe's
murder, whilst the Duke of Burgundy was staying at Ypres, a strange and
lurid light appeared in the air over the cloister of St. Martin, where
he was lodged. Thither ran a host of citizens from all quarters of the
town, thinking that the place was on fire, but they soon perceived the
true cause thereof--a dragon hovering over the Duke's chamber, which
suddenly turned his flaming dart on himself and so disappeared, and,
Olivier adds, even thus did John the Fearless die--in a plot of his own
hatching.

When in the year 1408 Duke John the Fearless, glorying in the crime he
had committed, and vaunting it as an act of virtue, was heaping wealth
and favours on the shameless friar who, as he cynically avowed, for
gold and the hope of more gold had made himself his apologist, there was
one man who ventured to lift up his voice in protest; this man was Jean
de Gerson, erst chaplain to Philip the Hardy, and since 1394 Dean of the
great Collegiate Church of St. Donatian's at Bruges.

Burning with indignation at the bloody deed and at the sophistry of the
priest who had dared to defend it, he publicly proclaimed Petit's
doctrine anent tyrannicide to be false, scandalous and heretical, and
never rested until he had prevailed on the Bishop of Paris to condemn it
as such. The Duke of Burgundy was furious, and gave orders for Gerson's
arrest, but the Dean had received timely warning, and when the
_pursuivants_ came to seize him they found their quarry flown. He had
eluded pursuit by concealing himself among the rafters between the vault
and the roof of Notre Dame. Presently he succeeded in leaving Paris, and
in due course, after many hairbreadth adventures, reached German soil.
Whereupon John declared him legitimately dispossessed of his deanery
(May 27, 1411), and appealed to Pope John XXIII., one of the three
claimants to the Papal throne, who, after having appointed a commission
to examine the case, quashed the Paris decision. But the intrepid Dean
of Bruges would not suffer the matter to rest here; he, in his turn,
appealed to the Council of Constance, and with such good effect that
'Master' Petit's theories were unanimously condemned, and though the
Duke of Burgundy had sufficient credit with the assembled fathers to
prevent the name of his favourite from appearing in the condemnation,
all those who obstinately maintained his opinions were declared to be
heretics, and ordered to be dealt with as such in accordance with Canon
law.

As long as John lived, Gerson remained in Germany, but when at length
his enemy was called to his account, he took up his abode at Lyons,
where the chief delight of his declining years was to teach little
children. He died in 1429, and the men of Lyons called him a saint. Be
this as it may, he feared not to withstand, for justice sake, the
fiercest tyrant in Christendom. It was chiefly owing to his efforts that
the schism which for so many years had rent Christ's seamless garment
was at length healed; he was a brilliant scholar, a kindly, gentle,
God-fearing man, perhaps the author of _The Imitation_, and
unquestionably the greatest divine of the age in which he lived. The
life of John de Gerson was not then spent in vain, and Flemings may well
be proud of the Frenchman whom Philip the Hardy set over the
time-honoured church of Bruges.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XX

_The Great Humiliation_


The great struggle with the communes of Flanders was continued by
Philippe l'Asseuré, who ascended the throne upon the death of his
father, John the Fearless, in 1419, but from this time forth, slowly but
surely, the cities lost ground, and ere Philippe was gathered to his
fathers, in 1467, the stubbornest of them had made their submission.

It was not until 1437 that serious trouble began at Bruges. Its
ostensible cause was the old dispute anent her jurisdiction over Sluys,
but in reality it was the outcome of the people's discontent at
Philippe's centralizing policy, and at the ignoble means by which he
pursued it; by stirring up strife betwixt class and class, and town and
town, and man and man; by corrupting magistrates, in order that they
might lend themselves to the falsification of money, and the increase of
taxation; by undermining the authority of city officers by modifying the
basis on which it reposed, and by exciting the lower classes against
them.

The treaty of Arras, by which Philippe concluded, on July 1, 1435, a
formal alliance with France, was profoundly unpopular with the Flemish
burghers, and the war with England, in which it involved them, was still
less to their liking. They knew very well that it was not to their
interest to quarrel with their former ally, and if in those days there
had been in England an Edward III., or an Artevelde in Flanders, they
would have had no hesitation in joining hands with the English against
the tyrant who was oppressing them, as they had done in the days of
Louis of Maele. As it was, it needed all Philippe's tact and sophistry,
and no inconsiderable expenditure of cash in bribes, to induce them to
render him assistance, and perhaps even then there was some secret
understanding with the enemy. The force which the burghers had given him
only remained under arms some two months, from June 11 to August 26,
(1436). When the Burgundian fleet under De Horne fled before the English
admiral, a great cry went up from the Flemings encamped before
Calais--_'Go, go wy zyn all vermanden_,' and they forthwith packed up
their traps, staved in the casks of wine that they were unable to carry
with them and returned to their homes.

In consequence of this defection Philippe was compelled to raise the
siege of Calais, and soon the English were overrunning the greater part
of West Flanders. Henry VI., as soon as he had learned what had
happened, sent letters to all the towns which acknowledged his
authority, bitterly complaining of 'the disloyal conduct of that most
faithless Philippe, commonly called Duke of Burgundy,' who, having
acknowledged his suzerainty from his (Henry's) youth upwards, had at
length ventured to renounce it. In doing so, the letter continued,
Philippe had rendered himself guilty of _lèse-majesté_ and had thereby
forfeited all claim to the county of Flanders, which, as its suzerain,
Henry now awarded to his own uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. This
letter was dated August 30, 1436. Soon all the towns in the
neighbourhood of Calais were in Gloucester's hands; at Poperinghe he
was solemnly recognized as Count, and presently the English fleet was
seen slowly coasting along towards the waters of the Zwyn where De Horne
was anchored off Sluys, but dared not go out to engage it. Indeed the
news of its approach filled him with such consternation that he fled to
shore. His fate is not without significance. Wandering about amongst the
sandhills, he presently fell in with a band of Karls, who recognizing in
the woe-begone stranger the admiral of their Count's fleet, used him so
ill that he died from the effects, at Ostend, a fortnight later.

About this time the burghers of Bruges sent an armed force to Sluys,
demanding that the fleet and the town should be handed over to them, on
the ground that from time immemorial Sluys had been subject to their
jurisdiction. But Sluys was a hot-bed of Leliaerts, or Burgundians as
they were now called, as it had been since the days of Louis of Maele,
and though the Bruges men brought with them an order, signed by the
Duchess of Burgundy, and had come ostensibly to defend the port against
the English, the governor, Roland van Uutkerk, refused to permit more
than forty of them on board ship, and the rest were forced to spend the
night in the open, in torrents of rain, save some half-dozen, who
perhaps had friends in the city, and somehow or other managed to find a
lodging there. These men, however, next morning incurred an
inconvenience greater than a wetting. When their comrades remonstrated
on the treatment which they had received, the men who had lodged in the
city were forthwith thrown out of window. Every other citizen of Bruges,
who happened to be in Sluys, was ordered to at once quit the town under
penalty of losing his head, and Van Uutkerk, declaring that the whole
gang of them were traitors and mutineers, bade them go back to the
place from whence they came.

What was the true cause of this extraordinary reception accorded by the
Sluysers to men who were supposed to be their allies, and had come forth
ostensibly to fight for the Duke? Was it simply the outcome of the
national jealous temperament, or did the Sluysers suspect, or had they,
perhaps, been secretly informed, that some great act of treachery was in
contemplation by the men of Bruges, that if the fleet and the citadel
had been given into their keeping, they would have handed them over to
the English? It is hard to say. 'The influence of the Dukes of
Burgundy,' notes Kervyn, 'has so deeply penetrated the historical
sources of this period that it is almost impossible to throw light on
questions relative to the movements of the Flemish burghers.' Certain it
is that Bruges was profoundly mortified and disappointed, and that a
riot ensued, during which the Duke's representative, _Écoutète_ Eustace
Buch, fell a victim to the people's anger. But this was not all. The
charter of 1323, which placed Sluys under the jurisdiction of Bruges,
having been solemnly read from the Halles gallery, the city magistrates
were called upon to explain why and how they had connived at its
infraction, and their answers not appearing satisfactory, so great was
the feeling of the people, that the houses of several of them were
sacked. So terrified was the Duchess of Burgundy at the threatening
attitude of the mob that in the midst of it all she set out for Ghent,
where Philippe was at present stationed, and though no attempt was made
to offer Isabelle violence, or to restrict her personal liberty of
action, the burghers deemed it prudent to retain as hostages two of her
women, the widow of Jean de Hornes, and the wife of his successor,
Roland van Uutkerk, who were actually snatched from the ducal litter.

In all this we may see the handiwork of the guildsmen, and likewise in
the events which followed. The city of Bruges was not left to fight her
battle alone. The Franc gave her assistance--a circumstance not a little
remarkable, as the men of the Franc and the men of the city had already
begun to grow jealous of one another--and, more remarkable still, all
the neighbouring communes, including Ghent, rallied round her. Philippe,
unable to resist the united pressure thus brought to bear on him,
acknowledged the rights of Bruges over Sluys, consented to the
banishment of Roland van Uutkerk for a hundred years and a day, and
intimated that he would shortly come to Damme with a view to redressing
grievances.

Thus far fortune had favoured the men of Bruges, but she was not
destined to show herself their friend much longer. When Philippe reached
Damme, on the 4th of October, he at once made it known that before
anything else could be done, the burghers must lay down their arms; but
that, if within three days a general disarmament were effected, he would
at once re-establish and confirm all the ancient rights and privileges
of the city. The guildsmen seem to have been satisfied of Philippe's
good faith, for by the 9th of October the disarmament was completed, but
when four days had gone by, and Philippe made no sign of fulfilling his
part of the contract, they began to grow suspicious; and when presently
information was brought them that the Duke had only named Damme as the
place of conference in order to obtain possession of that important
vantage post, and that since his arrival there he had been secretly
reinforced by troops from Lille and from Holland, they knew that they
had been duped, and at once made ready for battle. Soon the
market-place was again filled with armed guildsmen, and auxiliaries from
sixty-two neighbouring communes to boot.

[Illustration: OLD HOUSES AT DAMME]

Far from precipitating hostilities, these war-like preparations had the
effect of deferring them. Philippe had not sufficient soldiers to risk
an engagement, and when three days later the foreign merchants resident
in Bruges volunteered their good offices, he consented to resume
negotiations. By the end of the month terms were agreed upon. The
burghers once more disarmed, Philippe confirmed their rights and
privileges, and when he had done this, they in their turn sent deputies
to Damme to make humble apology for the disturbances which had recently
taken place in their city. But so little confidence did they place in
the Duke's good faith that they detained his ambassadors at Bruges until
their own had returned from Damme.

Thus was peace for the moment established. Neither party was satisfied
at the issue of the negotiations, but neither party was at present
strong enough to re-open the contest, and the winter passed on amid much
grumbling and no little display of sulkiness on each side.

Meanwhile, Philippe was watching the course of events. Early in the
spring (February 11, 1437), with a view to weakening the three _bonnes
villes_, he granted a charter to the Franc, by which he recognized that
corporation as fourth member of the Estates of Flanders, and forbade any
freeholder submitted to its jurisdiction to become a burgher of the
city. Whereat riot ensued, and blood again flowed in the streets.
Burgomaster Maurice van Varsenare who endeavoured to quell the tumult,
was slain for his pains in front of the Belfry, and beside him too fell
his brother Jacob, who essayed to defend him. Presently the storm
ceased, and the burghers began to tremble for the consequences of their
hot-headedness. They sent an embassy to Philippe with excuses and
explanations, and Philippe gave them a curt reply. Business in Holland
demanded his attention, but on his way there he would pass through
Bruges. Three months later, on May 22, he reached _St. Michel_, a
stone's throw from the city. With him was a numerous retinue of
knights, and four thousand Picard footmen--men hated of Flemings--but in
order to disarm public opinion, he had sent word to Burgomaster van de
Walle that he alone would enter Bruges with a handful of attendants, and
that the soldiers should camp at Maele.

Great then was the astonishment of that magistrate when next morning he
went out to welcome the Duke, and found all his Picards with him, and
recrimination and confabulation ensued, which lasted two hours, during
which time, unperceived by the angry burgomaster, the soldiers were
preparing to march.

At length, turning to his men-at-arms, and at the same time pointing to
the city, Philippe dropped the mask. 'That,' he cried, 'is the Holland
that we have come to conquer,' and, without waiting for further parley,
made for the city. Some of the foremost knights had already reached the
market-place ere the tocsin gave the alarm, but hardly had it sounded
than armed burghers seemed to spring up from the pavement; they were
swarming through the crooked streets and narrow lanes like angry ants
whose home had been disturbed, and so threatening was their attitude
that Philippe, when he reached the Church of St. Sauveur, bade his men
withdraw by the way they had entered. Covering their retreat with
arrows, they made for the Bouverie gate, but only to find it shut; and
thus Philippe, cut off from the bulk of his army, was at length in the
power of the guildsmen, who, raging about him like rabid hounds, had
already struck down not a few of his bodyguard. In another instant the
Duke himself would have been slain and Flanders saved from long years of
misery. If it had not been for the tenderness of heart and misplaced
loyalty of Burgomaster van de

[Illustration: THE CHURCH OF ST. SAUVEUR]

Walle, the whole course of European history would have been altered,
less blood and fewer tears would have been shed, and perhaps to this day
Bruges would have remained a great and flourishing city. This intrepid
old man, when he found that all his efforts to calm the mob were
unavailing, somehow or other procured a smith, and at the risk of his
life stood over him whilst he broke open the lock of the Bouverie gate.
Philippe rushed out, and with a handful of knights escaped to Courtrai.

As for his Picards, they fled in dismay. Twenty of them were taken
prisoners, and they paid the penalty of their would-be depredation with
their heads. A hundred and sixty of the Duke's own retainers likewise
fell into the hands of the guildsmen, but at the intercession of the
clergy and the foreign merchants their lives were spared, and they even
received honourable treatment.

Then followed nine months of dire warfare, and at each successive step
the men of Bruges suffered themselves to be hoodwinked. At the very
outset, as we have seen, they had lost a grand opportunity by allowing
Philippe to slip through their fingers. Then came the raising of the
siege of Sluys, almost in the hour of victory (one of the town gates had
been actually demolished) at the instigation of the Ghenters, who
averred that the Duke was prepared to treat for peace, a matter of the
highest moment, as foreign merchants were on all sides fleeing the
country.

The accomplishment of the task in hand was a matter of life and death to
Bruges, for with Sluys in the hands of the Burgundians, the way of the
Zwyn was barred, and Bruges cut off from the sea, and yet the burghers
had not sufficient backbone to withstand the entreaties of their
so-called friends, and presently they regretted their pusillanimity. No
sooner was the siege raised than the Burgundians poured out of Sluys,
and harried all the country round, and a band of a hundred and thirty of
them ventured even to the very walls of Bruges, and were on the point of
driving off a large herd of cattle intended for the provisionment of
the city when a thousand guildsmen swooped down on the marauders, took
not a few of them prisoners, and put the rest to flight.

The final catastrophe was brought about by the open defection of Ghent.
For some time past she had been halting between two opinions, but the
success which the men of Bruges had obtained over the marauding knights,
at the gates of their city, had emboldened her to make a definite
engagement to fight shoulder to shoulder with Bruges until peace were
established in Flanders, and even to despatch to her assistance a small
band of fighting men; but presently one of her leaders, Rasse Onredene,
a man who passed for an ardent patriot, but was in reality in Philippe's
pay, pointed out that it would be more to the advantage of Ghent to act
the part of peacemaker, with a view to arranging honourable terms than
to openly side with either of the belligerents; and when a deputation of
Bruges men went out, as they thought, to confer with their allies at
Eecloo, they found them posing as neutral mediators. Soon they
discovered that they were not even neutral, but open supporters of the
Duke, and that they would compel them even by threats to absolute
submission. Bruges refused the terms offered with disdain, Ghent
retaliated by declaring her an enemy of the state, and if it had not
been for the inclemency of the season--it was now December--she would
have forthwith commenced a campaign against her rival.

Bruges was thus left alone to brave Philippe's fury, and in what plight!
Cold, starving, plague-stricken, eaten up with leprosy. The absence of
supplies from foreign ports--she had long been cut off from the sea--and
the devastation of the surrounding country had produced famine; then
came that other handmaid of war, Pestilence, and on her heels, Winter,
before his time. Added to this, the prevailing misery had favoured the
spread of a disease always lurking in the insanitary cities of the
period, and the weird cry of the lazar and the clang of his doleful bell
were now heard in every street.

[Illustration: The Lepers' Hospital, Marché au Fil]

'From the wretched hovel of the working man writhing in the clutches of
famine, from the burning couch of the plague-stricken, and from the
barred cell of the leper, there rose up one cry, poignant as the
necessity which dictated it: Peace, peace.' Thus Kervyn, in his usual
high-flown way.[35]

In face of evils such as these, and with the entire population
clamouring for peace at any price, what could a handful of burghers do,
however brave and resolute? There was but one course open to them, and
early in February (1438) Bruges threw herself on the Duke's mercy; but
Philippe was deaf to the prayers of her representatives, prostrate and
trembling before him, nor was it until Isabelle of Portugal had thrown
herself at his feet that he at length vouchsafed to hear them, and even
then the declaration which he made on March 4, 1438, breathed a spirit
of cynicism, in which generosity had no part. He was mighty enough, he
said, to destroy the town of Bruges _et le mettre à toute misère et
povreté_, but, at the same time, it did not suit his convenience to
utterly crush the chief purveyor of food stuffs in his domains.

For the rest, the conditions which Philippe exacted were sufficiently
burthensome. Bare-headed and bare-footed the burgomaster, sheriffs and
other officials must meet him a league from the city upon the next
occasion he should come there, and after having sued on their knees for
mercy, and made him an offering of their persons and their goods,
present to him the keys of the city, which he should be free to keep or
return according to his good pleasure.

All this, though sufficiently galling to the burghers, inflicted on them
no real or, at all events, no material injury, but the remaining
conditions threatened alike their pride, their persons and their
pockets--a fine of two hundred thousand golden Philippes (afterwards
reduced to thirty thousand), the re-establishment of the hated _Kalfvel_
of 1407, and forty-two noble citizens, whom Philippe mentioned by name,
excluded from the general amnesty which, if these terms were accepted,
he professed himself ready to accord. Needless to say that Bruges
acquiesced, and soon the headsman was plying his bloody trade in the
market-place.

Note amongst those who were condemned to death the chivalrous
burgomaster, Louis van de Walle, who had saved the Duke's life at the
risk of his own, during the riot of 1437, and likewise his wife and his
son. Philippe showed his gratitude by commuting the death sentences of
the two former to one of life-long imprisonment in Winendael Castle. But
the son was executed before his parents' eyes, and Louis himself, ere he
was reprieved, was put to torture. Did he wish that he had let the
guildsmen have their way on that memorable occasion before the Bouverie
gate?

The standard-bearer of Oostcamp was another of Philippe's victims. His
bloody head, adorned with that wreath of roses which Bruges had awarded
to his commune for having been the first to come to her assistance when
Philippe was plotting against her in 1436, was impaled on an iron spike,
and set up on the parapets of the Halles.

To the Franc, too, was meted out punishment--twenty-two of her freemen
excluded from amnesty, and a fine so heavy--twenty thousand golden
Philippes--that many of her most opulent landowners were reduced to
want.

This was not the kind of peace which Bruges in her misery had prayed
for. All kinds of rumours were afloat, a general spirit of disquietude
was abroad, men on all sides were expecting some fresh and terrible act
of vengeance. Not a few resolved to emigrate, and in order to hide their
purpose from the Duke alleged that they were going on pilgrimages to our
Lady of Walsingham, to the three Kings of Cologne, to St. Martin of
Tours--to any popular shrine that was not within reach of his long
fingers. But Philippe got wind of their real design, succeeded in
arresting not a few of them ere they had crossed the frontier, and all
who fell into his clutches he put to death. Whereupon the foreign
merchants waxed wroth. How could trade flourish in face of the
_espionage_, the persecution, the bloodshed with which Philippe had
been so long harassing Flanders? and then, too, there was the war with
England, which in itself was fatal to their interests. Unless peace were
forthwith made, commercial intercourse with that country re-established,
and Flanders tranquillised, they would in a body quit the realm, and
indeed not a few of them packed up their chattels and went. Thereupon
Philippe took fright, set bounds to his evil humour, opened negotiations
with England, concluded a truce for three years, prolonged it next year
to five, and thus little by little confidence was restored and peace
once more established, and when two years later Philippe triumphantly
entered Bruges amid flaming torches, and clashing bells, and the blare
of silver trumpets, the people received the tyrant who had crushed them
with enthusiastic ovations and every outward manifestation of goodwill.

Not content with performing the stipulated humiliation, the burghers did
more than Philippe had prescribed. They erected triumphal arches,
adorned their houses and their public buildings with rich drapery, and
strewed flowers along his path; nor was this all--at intervals they set
up allegorical groups, typical of repentance and submission. Thus, hard
by the _Porte de Ste. Croix_ stood St. John the Baptist, bearing in his
hands a scroll on which was written: _Ego vox clamantis in deserto:
parate viam Domini_. Further on stood four prophets, each with his
parchment scroll, after the manner of the figures in the painted windows
of the period. On the first was inscribed--'Thy people shall rejoice in
thee'; on the second--'The prince of God is in the midst of us'; on the
third--'Come let us return to the Lord,' and on the fourth--'Let us do
all that the Lord saith to us.' Thus did these worthy merchants
cringe--an edifying sight--before the blood-stained tyrant who twelve
months before had tortured and slain their noblest fellows. For them he
had become as the Saviour of the Gospel, aye and as the God of Abraham,
for they chose the sacrifice of Isaac to typify the absolute obedience
which they owed to him. And who shall blame them? The craven cur who
licks the hand which has struck him is after all a more sagacious beast
that the mettlesome hound who resents an unjust blow by springing at his
master's throat. The former is sometimes received back into favour, the
latter is not unfrequently hanged. In the present case, as we shall see,
the burghers had their reward.

Till the close of Philippe's reign Bruges was at peace.

During ten years a great calm reigned throughout Flanders. 'Remember
Bruges,' Philippe had said to the citizens of Ypres, who for a moment
showed signs of being restive, and the warning was enough. But the men
of Ghent were made of sterner fibre, and when in 1450 Philippe would
have taxed their salt, they broke out in open rebellion. For three years
the burghers did battle for liberty with heroism and fortitude, but with
so redoubtable an opponent there could be but one issue to the conflict,
and in 1453, the year of the fall of Constantinople, the saddest year of
the fifteenth century, Kervyn calls it, Ghent too was conquered.

All this time the prosperity of Bruges was seemingly increasing by leaps
and bounds, but it was but the glow of the sunset which presaged eternal
night, though the pomp and splendour of the Ducal Court--the most
splendid Court of the richest sovereign in Europe--made the sunset a
golden one.

Magnificent _fêtes_ and gorgeous tournaments were following one another
in rapid succession, sumptuous palaces were springing up on all sides,
sanctuaries were being everywhere enlarged and adorned with a countless
array of art treasures. But there was another side to the picture. In
spite of lotteries and the sale of annuities, in spite of direct
taxation--a means of producing revenue hitherto unknown in Bruges--there
was now a constantly recurring and constantly increasing deficit in the
annual city budget, and the list of persons constrained to accept public
relief, including as it now did not only obscure names, but alongside of
them the names of clergymen, of merchants, and of men of honourable and
ancient lineage, was each year growing longer and longer. Intrigue, and
riot, and suppression, and the silting up of the Zwyn were driving trade
from Bruges. A host of merchants had left for Antwerp, a city less
subject to internal commotions; not a few, as we have seen, had
emigrated to England, to Germany, to the South of France, whilst the
shipping, which could no longer find its way into the harbours of Sluys
and Damme, now sought shelter in other ports.

This was the state of affairs at Bruges during the time which elapsed
between her humiliation in 1440 and the death of Philippe l'Asseuré in
1467--a time of peace and quietude after the long years of strife; a
time of _fêtes_ and royal pageants; a time of much intellectual
activity; a time of music, and poetry and art; but a time also of
gradual commercial wane, and in the midst of it the stupendous intellect
of the man who had accomplished all this became clouded, like the city
which he had beautified and destroyed, by premature decay. The astute
tyrant, who had been able to tame the burghers of Flanders, and, in
spite of bloody deeds, to make himself beloved; the cultured patron of
art who had known how to appreciate the works of the Van Eycks, and of
Roger Van der Weyden; the clear-headed man of business who had received
a heritage encumbered with debt, and, before his decease, was the
richest prince in Europe, now passed all his time in a little workshop
dyeing old fragments of cloth, fitting together pieces of broken glass,
and sharpening needles. Early in 1466 he was struck down with apoplexy;
though he rallied from the attack, his physicians knew that his days
were numbered, and on Monday, the 15th of June, 1467, the end came. They
buried him at Bruges in the Church of St. Donatian, and so great was the
throng at the funeral, and the heat engendered by thousands of candles,
that they shattered the gorgeous stained windows to let in the air.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXI

_The Terrible Duke and his Gentle Daughter_


During the short reign of that sombre and fantastical hero Charles the
Terrible, or, as he is generally called, Charles the Bold, things went
on at Bruges in something of the same fashion as they had done in the
days of his predecessor. There was much surface glory, a vast amount of
rottenness within, and, added to this, a very general feeling of
disquietude and a continuous undercurrent of grumbling, which, as time
progressed, grew louder and louder, at the hazardous policy of the Duke,
whose dream it was to restore the old Burgundian kingdom, or, at least,
to free himself from the vassalage of France, and who used to ask with
indignation whether it was a seemly thing for a lineal descendant of
Charlemagne to acknowledge the suzerainty of Hugh Capet's heirs.

There were gorgeous jousts and tournaments, when amid shouts of Noël, on
Palm Sunday 1468, Charles made his solemn entry into Bruges, swore to
maintain her rights and privileges, and held his first Chapter of the
Golden Fleece in the Church of Notre Dame, where, by the way, the
escutcheons of his knights are still hanging, and amongst them that of
Edward IV. There was much feasting and merriment, too, when three months
later he brought home his third bride, Edward's sister, Margaret of
York; but it was presently turned into tears and ashes by a sudden and
virulent outbreak of plague, made more terrible by wild rumours that the
nurses, impatient to grow rich on the spoils of their patients, had
infected the wells and even the holy water stoops in the churches in
order to spread the disease. There was much real distress when Warwick
the King-maker, angered with Charles, because he had urged the citizens
of London to oppose the restoration of Henry VI., surprised some Flemish
vessels charged with wine from Saintonge, and blockaded the port of
Sluys; great rejoicings when, two months later, the Lord of Ter-Vere
encountered Warwick's fleet and, after a terrible conflict, dispersed
it, but which, in its turn, gave place to dismay at the fact, made
manifest by the recent naval battles, that the Zwyn was shallower than
ever.

Whereupon the estates of Flanders conferred as to remedial measures, and
after much confabulation, and strenuous opposition on the ground of
expense on the part of Ypres and Ghent, manufacturing towns, whose
interests were not at stake, and the men of the Franc, pastoral folk,
whom the matter in no way concerned, thanks to the support of Charles, a
plan was at length adopted which its advocates averred would restore the
harbour of Sluys to its former depth--to wit, the cutting of a dyke
which closed an ancient channel by which the sea formerly ran into the
port of Sluys, and towards the close of July 1470 it was put into
execution.

Many there were who believed this scheme would be inefficacious, and
after events justified them. Eighteen years later the _Echevins_ of
Bruges decided to re-make the dyke, seeing that the 'Haven of Zwyn was
closing up yet faster than of yore.'

Meanwhile Charles's schemes of conquest were pressing harder and harder
on his unfortunate subjects. In 1474 the Carthusian nuns of the Convent
of St. Anne were forced to part with a portion of their property in
order to pay their taxes, and the burghers grumbled louder than ever.
The obstinate canons of St. Donatian went a step further; they
absolutely refused payment, and were, in consequence, dragged to prison.
In 1476 Charles made fresh demands, and the deputies of the estates of
Flanders waited on him at Bruges to remonstrate, but after much haggling
and many bitter words, granted a subsidy--a hundred thousand _ridders_
and the pay of four thousand sergeants. Presently fresh defeat
constrained him to ask for more, and this time the communes refused. The
people, they said, were overwhelmed with taxes, no further succour of
men or money would they afford him for any of his foreign wars, but if
he should haply find himself in peril from either Swiss or Germans, they
would risk their lives and goods to bring him back safely to Flanders.
Traitors and rebels! thundered Charles, they should soon learn how
terrible was his vengeance. Vain threat; on the 5th of January 1477 the
defeat of Nancy put an end to all his dreams of conquest. In the first
shock of battle the Burgundians were dashed to pieces, and in the dismay
and confusion which followed the Duke had disappeared. No one knew what
had become of him. Some said they had seen him streaming with blood, but
still defending himself like a man. Others averred that at the moment of
defeat he had turned tail and fled. Three days later they discovered in
a frozen pond the remains of a naked human body, scarred with wounds and
half-devoured by beasts of prey. On one finger was a ring which a humble
member of the Duke's household--the woman who washed his linen--fancied
she recognized as having once been the property of her master. On this
testimony the shattered fragments were said to be the body of Charles,
and as such they were honourably buried in the Church of St. George at
Nancy. They were not, however, suffered to rest there. More than fifty
years later the Emperor Charles V. caused them to be brought to Bruges,
and laid them up in the Church of St. Donatian. Five years afterwards
his son, Philip II., translated them to a marvellous shrine in the
Church of Notre Dame. Here they remained in peace till the close of the
last century, when the iconoclasts of the Revolution scattered them, on
the ground that they were the bones of a tyrant. May be they were, but
it is equally likely that they were the relics of some humble toiler.

But to return to the epoch of Charles's death, or, at all events, of his
disappearance. 'The people, the masses'--we are quoting from
Kervyn--'who had lately been astounded at the pomp and wealth of the
great Burgundian Duke, and who had so long been accustomed to bend to
his iron will, utterly failed to understand how so great a prince, the
sovereign of so many realms, a man so redoubtable throughout all the
West, could have been suddenly swallowed up with all his glory in a pit
which his own foolhardiness had digged for him. At the siege, too, of a
petty town in Lorraine, by a troop of Rhenish boors and a handful of
Swiss shepherds. It altogether passed their comprehension, and they
persuaded themselves that he had escaped, and would one day come back
again, as his great ancestor Baldwin of Constantinople had done two
centuries before.

Some of the vanquished had succeeded in crossing the Meurthe, and were
known to have escaped by concealing themselves in woods and so forth;
perhaps he was among this number. As late as January 15 Margaret of York
still cherished this hope. 'From news which we have received from divers
quarters,' she wrote at this date, 'we expect and hope that by God's
mercy the Duke is still alive and well,' and on the 23rd his daughter
Mary wrote that she was not yet sure that her father was dead. Five
years later a report was set abroad that he was leading the life of a
hermit at Bruchsal in Suabia--_genus vitæ super humanum morem horridum
atque asperum_. An old servant who had fought beside him at Nancy, and
had there been made prisoner by the Swiss, went to see, but he failed to
recognize his master. The figure, voice, beard, hands, scars of the
recluse were not those of Charles the Terrible. But others there were
who believed in the marvellous stories of the hermit of Bruchsal, and
loaded him with presents, thinking to receive them back tenfold when he
returned to his estates. Others swore they had seen Charles at Rome, at
Jerusalem, at Lisbon, at London. Others again whispered that he had been
spirited away by the machinations of Louis XI.[36]

Upon the mysterious disappearance of Charles the Terrible after the
defeat of Nancy, his dominions devolved on his only daughter, a girl of
nineteen years of age, without army, without treasure, without any rock
of defence save those Flemish communes which her ancestors throughout
seven generations had never ceased to persecute. They did not refuse to
help her, but they demanded that their grievances should first be
redressed. Flanders, they urged, was not a fertile land, its prosperity
depended wholly on commerce. Commerce could only flourish where freedom
was respected, and hence it was of paramount importance that the
time-honoured rights and liberties and privileges of the Flemish people
should be once more restored to them.

Nor did the new Sovereign turn a deaf ear to their reclamations. The
whole land was seething with misery and discontent bred of a hundred
years' oppression, and her ministers were wise enough and patriotic
enough to see that only one policy was possible--a policy of general
appeasement. On February 11, 1476, she signed a charter, by which was
established a representative council for the government of all her
states, and note the concluding clause, which is not a little
significant--the Duchess declares that if any of the enactments herein
contained be at any time violated, either wholly or in part, her
subjects and vassals shall be thereby absolved from their allegiance
until such time as they have obtained redress.

Nor was this all; to each of the cities and towns of Flanders a special
charter of liberties was granted. Bruges, by the mouth of Louis of
Gruthuise, had demanded the revocation of the edict by which Philippe
l'Asseuré, thirty years before, had taken away her independence, and by
the 7th of April the Lord of Gruthuise was able to ascend the balcony
over the great door of the Hôtel de Ville and declare, amid the cheers
of the assembled multitude, that Marie had granted their request. Next
day the list of the privileges of the town was solemnly read in the
market-place, as well as a new and more liberal charter than any
hitherto granted, which gave back to the city of Bruges all her communal
liberties and commercial monopolies, as well as her lordship over the
Franc and over the town of Sluys.

If the communes of Flanders had been at one with themselves, and if
their burghers had been agreed together, the timely concessions of their
new Sovereign would perhaps have enabled the Flemish people to withstand
the machinations of the feeble tyrant whom we shall presently see
compassing their destruction. But the feuds which had so long hampered
them in their conflicts with former rulers had not one whit abated; the
little men still envied the big men, the petty towns the _bonnes
villes_, the Franc Bruges, Bruges Ghent, and, added to this, there was a
fresh source of disunion, a burning thirst for vengeance which could
only be slaked by blood. The men who, under Philippe and Charles, had
bartered liberty for pelf must pay on the scaffold the penalty of their
offences, aye and if need be (for according to the law of Flanders no
citizen could be put to death unless he had previously acknowledged the
justice of the sentence which doomed him), if need be torture must wring
from them the avowal of their guilt. The pleading of the greatest lady
in the land was powerless to save them. Pale with anguish, alone and on
foot, attired in deep mourning and with no headgear but a simple veil,
Marie had made her way to the _Hooghuis_ and from a window there had
addressed the vast throng of angry guildsmen assembled in the Marché au
Vendredi. 'O men of Ghent,' she had besought them, 'remember that I
forgave you, and for my sake forgive your enemies.' But the burghers
refused to listen. It was the first duty of a Sovereign to administer
justice with an even hand, and it should never be said that in Flanders
there was one law for the rich and another for the poor. Whereupon, says
Philippe de Commines, '_retourna cette pauvre demoiselle, bien dolente
et descomfortée_.'

In other towns besides Ghent the burghers were as firmly resolved to
have their pound of flesh, and in exacting it they incurred the enmity
of men no less cruel than themselves, as later on they learned to their
cost.

At Bruges the burning question for the moment was the question of the
Franc. Would the bond after all be dishonoured, and would the
_Franchosts_ submit? And when, on the 5th of April, Marie was receiving
the homage of the burghers in the Church of St. Donatian, the mob burst
into the cathedral with cries of 'What of the Franc?' In vain the
Duchess once more proclaimed the overlordship of the city, in vain Louis
of Gruthuise assured them that their apprehensions were unfounded; the
guildsmen refused to disarm, nor was it until the 13th of April, when
the men of the Franc sent in their submission, that peace was once more
restored.

[Illustration: OLD ROOFS BELOW THE BELFRY]

Three days afterwards, on April 16, 1477, ambassadors arrived at Bruges
from the Emperor Frederick III. to demand for his son Maximilian the
hand of the girl Duchess. Louis of Gruthuise and Philip of Hornes
received them solemnly with lighted torches and led them to the
Princenhof. 'I understand,' was Marie's reply, 'that my father approved
this match, and as for me I desire no other.' The proposed marriage was
no less pleasing to the Flemish people, for though Maximilian was so
short of funds that Flanders was obliged to defray his travelling
expenses, 'he brought to the communes menaced by France the august
support of imperial blood and the contested traditions of the suzerainty
of the Germanic Cæsars.'[37]

Three days later the Duke of Bavaria solemnly plighted his troth to the
Duchess Marie in the name of Maximilian.

The reader will call to mind how one summer's morning, at daybreak,
Longfellow from the summit of the Belfry witnessed this quaint
betrothal, along with many other scenes in the history of Bruges.

    'I beheld proud Maximilian
       Kneeling humbly on the ground;
     I beheld the gentle Marie
       Hunting with her hawk and hound;
     And her lighted bridal chamber
       Where a duke slept with the queen,
     And the armed guard around them
       And the sword unsheathed between.'

The poet's account of the proceedings is not quite accurate. There was
no question of sleeping. The Duchess of Burgundy and the Duke of Bavaria
placed themselves on the nuptial couch for an instant only, and,
moreover, Marie was never a queen. She died before her husband was
elected King of the Romans.

Four months after the betrothal, at eleven o'clock on the night of
August 18 (1477), the youthful bridegroom--he was only eighteen years of
age--reached Ghent, and at once waited on Marie at the Hôtel de Ten
Walle, where a sumptuous banquet had been prepared for him. When he met
his _fiancée_, note the Flemish chroniclers of the day, both she and he
bowed down to the ground, and they each turned deathly pale. Sign of
their cordial love said some, presage of coming woe croaked others.

Next day the marriage was celebrated very quietly (August 19, 1477) in
the chapel of the Hôtel de Ten Walle, at six o'clock in the morning, in
the presence of Louis of Gruthuise and Jean of Dadizeele, of whom later
on. The same day Maximilian swore to respect the liberties of Ghent, and
shortly afterwards he took a similar oath at Bruges, where the burghers
had adorned their streets in his honour with bunting and greenery and
flowers, and had everywhere traced this one device, significant alike of
present misery and the expectation of brighter days: _Gloriosissime
Princeps defende nos ne pereamus_. Alas! their hopes were doomed to
disappointment. It could hardly have been otherwise. With such a feeble
pilot at the helm a prosperous voyage was out of the question.

Maximilian's faculties had developed so slowly that at the age of twelve
years he had not yet learned to articulate, and it seemed probable that
he would remain all his life with the intellect of a child. It was
doubtless owing to the hopelessness of the task that up to this time no
attempt was made to instruct him, and indeed, if his poor feeble brain
had been early pestered with facts and figures, it is not unlikely that
it would have altogether broken down under the strain. That he was able,
however, later on not only to entirely overcome the difficulty which he
had in speaking, but also to acquire an accurate knowledge of Latin,
French and Italian, shows that there was no radical brain malady, though
he remained, till the day of his death, unusually lacking in will power,
morbid, vacillating, vain, and so given to day-dreaming that his waking
visions sometimes almost amounted to hallucination. It would seem, then,
that his good qualities--his kindliness of heart, his generosity, the
ease with which he forgave injuries--were but the outcome of
inclination, and that his shortcomings--his overweening ambition, his
transparency, even whilst essaying to be most secret, his utter
inability to keep his word, even when sanctioned by the most solemn
oaths--were, after all, rather mental than moral defects.

Such was the man into whose keeping the honour and the freedom of
Flanders were now entrusted, nor were the burghers long in discovering
that the stalwart champion from whom they had hoped such great things
was after all but a broken reed, and soon their enthusiastic loyalty was
turned to bitter resentment.

As the war with France dragged on, and Maximilian, by his hesitancy and
vacillation, continued to frustrate the plans of his generals, and
render his own undoubted courage of no avail, his unpopularity increased
from day to day. His lavish prodigality too was no small cause of
annoyance to the thrifty burghers. Notwithstanding the hard times, they
had contributed generously and without complaint to the cost of the war,
and it was bad enough that the feebleness of their Sovereign should
render their sacrifices unavailing, but not to be borne that he should
lavish on foreign favourites those funds which they of their penury had
contributed for the defence of the fatherland.

But this was not all: Maximilian was rapidly exhausting his wife's
treasure. In 1479 he had already sold to the great house of Medici no
small portion of the famous Burgundian plate. Jewels of incalculable
value had found their way into the hands of Foulques Portinari, who was
now threatening to put them into the smelting pot if the cash for which
they had been pledged were not immediately forthcoming. He had borrowed
large sums from Spanish merchants at usurious rates of interest, paying
sometimes as much as thirty or even forty per cent., whilst a syndicate
of Bruges merchants, amongst whom was Hendrieck Nieulandt, of whom we
shall again hear later on, had advanced him no less than four thousand
_livres de gros_, and, worst of all, by the end of 1481, the famous
library of the Dukes of Burgundy, 'the richest and noblest library in
the world,' had been in great measure dispersed. No wonder that
discontent was rampant in the land, and that Maximilian, or rather the
men on whose advice he acted, was daily more and more hated. Presently
the deputies of the communes met to consider the situation. On one point
they had made up their minds: in these hard times, with trade paralysed,
industry at a standstill, and the country ravaged by war, no more of
their money should find its way into the pockets of foreign favourites.

It was the beginning of the great struggle which ended, so far as Bruges
was concerned, in the cancelling of all her liberties, the total
destruction of her commerce, and the utter and irreparable loss of her
influence and her prestige.

There was one man who, had he lived, might perhaps have rescued
Flanders--John of Dadizeele, the leader of the popular party. Himself
the scion of an old and noble house, after making his studies at Arras
and at Lille, he had entered the service of Simon de Lalainy, when that
warrior was defending Audenarde against the men of Ghent, and had
remained with him till his death in 1465. About this time he married
Catherine Breidel, a descendant of the great patriot, and returned to
his ancestral home, where it was his delight to give hospitality to the
numerous pilgrims who came to offer their vows at the famous shrine of
our Lady of Dadizeele, amongst them Philippe l'Asseuré, Charles the
Terrible, the English Earl of Scales (Edward IV.'s brother-in-law),
Marie of Burgundy, and Maximilian himself.

From this moment two varied occupations divided his time--the trade of
war and the paternal administration of his estate. At one time we find
him establishing a fair in the little town subject to his sway; at
another, busying himself with the erection of new and more commodious
dwellings for the poor; often leading his vassals to battle, as was the
case at the great triumph of Guinegate, the yeomen mounted on horses
which had lately drawn the plough, and the farm labourers armed with
pitchforks. He had shown himself a loyal and a devoted friend to Charles
the Terrible, and when that prince disappeared after the defeat of Nancy
he became the counsellor and defender of Marie of Burgundy. He had
received Maximilian on the Flemish frontier, and along with Louis of
Gruthuise, as we have seen, was present at the marriage which took place
next day. Later on, called by his victories to the supreme command of
the Flemish host, on more than one occasion he succeeded in foiling the
projects of Louis XI.; presently created Grand Bailiff of Ghent, and
anon High Steward of Flanders, again and again by his moderate counsel
he was able to quell the rising tide of sedition amongst the craftsmen
of Bruges and of Ghent. Respected alike by the Court and the communes,
he was the one man capable of defending the fatherland, threatened as
she was by intrigue and conquest abroad, and by anarchy and treason at
home.

It was destined to be otherwise. In the dusk of the evening of October
7, 1481, as John of Dadizeele was passing along an unfrequented lane in
Antwerp, he was attacked by a band of armed ruffians, and so grievously
wounded that he died three days afterwards.

The authors of this dastardly crime were never discovered, and perhaps
there was no wish to discover them; but rumour pointed to the Lord of
Montigny and the bastard of Gaesbeke, the first the father-in-law, and
the second an illegitimate son of Philip of Hornes, a man known to be
one of the chief foes of the victim and high in the favour of
Maximilian. Had John of Dadizeele lived, he might perhaps have moderated
the passions of his friends, and protected even those who hated him.
'His death was the bursting of the last _digue_ which opposed itself to
the flood of civil discord which had so long been threatening the
country. It was fatal alike to the men who had compassed it and to the
burghers, who celebrated his funeral in a manner befitting a prince; it
was the mourning of all Flanders, condemned as she now was to see the
extinction alike of her domestic peace and of the last faint ebullitions
of her power and liberty.'

Hardly had poor Dadizeele's mangled body been put under the sod than the
first clap of thunder rolled in the lowering heavens and the first flash
of lightning glittered across the sky. It happened thus. Maximilian, as
usual without cash and at his wit's end to know how to replenish his
empty treasury, ventured on a course of action which, had Dadizeele been
still alive, he would never have attempted. Under various flimsy
pretexts he caused to be put under arrest five of the principal
magistrates of Bruges, men of standing and unblemished character,
universally respected in the town and, to their cost, well known to be
the possessors of great wealth--one of them, Martin Lem, had from his
own purse lavished thousands on the war with France--hence the
prosecution. Maximilian hungered for their gold, and presently for a
consideration of two hundred thousand _louis d'or_, paid by way of a
fine, he consented to release them.

Though the _Echevins_ of Bruges were so terrified at the arrest of their
colleagues that they not only made no protest, but in order to
propitiate Maximilian granted him a very considerable subsidy, the
_Echevins_ of Ghent retaliated by pronouncing a sentence of exile for
fifty years against Philip of Hornes, who immediately after Dadizeele's
murder had fled to Marie's Court at Bruges, where, under shelter of her
popularity, he knew that no man would dare lay hands on him, for the
sweet and comely daughter of the Terrible Duke of Burgundy was very dear
to the Flemish people. As Philippe de Commines quaintly has it, '_Elle
estoit très honneste dame et bien aimée de ses sujets, et lui portoient
plus de révérence et de crainte qu'à son mary_.' Keeping herself
entirely apart from the intrigues and machinations of her husband, and
leaving the reins of government entirely in his hands, her delight was
to mix with her people like the wife of some plain citizen. When before
the victory of Guinegate all the women of Bruges walked through the
streets in procession barefoot and with candles in their hands to
implore God's blessing on the Flemish hosts, Marie was among the rest.
When in winter time the Minne Water was frozen and the lads and lasses
of the city disported themselves on skates, many a happy burgher was as
pleased and as proud at the skill and the grace of his beautiful
girl-sovereign as if she had been his own daughter. So too was it when
Marie, along with her ladies, went out to hunt. As she rode down the
_rue des Pierre_, across the _Grande Place_, and along the _rue aux
Laines_ towards the _Porte de Gand_ on her way to the marshes of
Oostcamp or to the woods of Maele the people cheered her to the echo.

One morning early in the spring of 1482, about

[Illustration: THE BELFRY FROM THE QUAI VERT]

six months after Dadizeele's death, Marie went out by the _Porte des
Maréchaux_ to hunt in the forest of Winendael, preceded by bands of
music, joyous, radiant, in festive attire. In the evening they carried
her home on a litter, pale, insensible, half dead. Her steed had
suddenly reared, overbalanced himself, and rolled on her. Marie was
expecting the hour of her delivery. From the first there was no hope of
saving her life. She lingered on for three weeks, and on the 27th of
March, 1482, passed quietly away.

Though the greater part of the stately Princenhof has been pulled down,
and the fragment which still remains has been irreparably disfigured and
spoiled, at least so far as the exterior is concerned, by stucco and
plaster, and the addition of three new storeys, the room in which Marie
died is still standing, and has been little changed, so it is said,
since the days when that hapless princess occupied it. It is an
oblong-shaped, comfortable-looking apartment of not very large
dimensions, with a beautiful panelled ceiling moulded all over with
flowers and foliage, and it gives on a pleasant garden.

The fair young Duchess was laid to rest in the Church of Notre Dame, and
if her wraith is not among the many ghosts who wander about that
mysterious fane, the memory of her beauty and her gentleness still
lingers there, kept green by the cunning workmanship of Pierre de
Becker, erst artist, sculptor, setter of gems, and skilled craftsman in
metal work at Brussels. This man conceived, and with his own hands
carried out, patiently toiling at it for seven years, from 1495 to 1502,
and thereby expending health, strength, fortune, and receiving in return
no adequate reward, a masterpiece the like of which is rarely seen. An
altar tomb of black marble, enriched with statues of saints and angels
of the most delicate workmanship, and with creeping plants and scrolls
and heraldic shields in bronze and gold and enamel, which now stands in
a side chapel off the southern ambulatory of Notre Dame. On it reposes
the form of a beautiful girl with her crowned head resting on a cushion
and at her feet two hounds. A quaint epitaph in old French proclaims her
name and rank, and begs also those who read it not to forget her soul.

     Sepulcre de très Illustre princesse dame Marie de Bourgoigne....
     Laquelle dame trèspassa de ce siecle. En l'age de vintcinq ans le
     28e jour de mars, l'an 1482.... Regrettee plainte et ploree fut
     de ses subjets et de tous autres qui la cognoissoient. Autant que
     fut onques princesse. Priez Dieu pour son ame. Amen.

But what of her once beautiful body? All that remains of it lies in a
vault beneath the choir, and here too are the bones of the Terrible Duke
and the dried-up heart of the son who erected to the memory of his
mother the glorious monument described above. They are all scattered
about pell-mell amongst the débris of the casket and the coffins which
once contained them. Thus: until the spring of 1796, the monument of
Marie of Burgundy, as well as the monument of her father, stood side by
side in the chancel of Notre Dame just over the vault which still
contains their ashes. At this time the French Revolutionists were
playing havoc with the churches of Bruges, and in order to preserve
these treasures from their fury, Peter de Zitter, who was then parish
beadle, with the assistance of Stephen of Sierzac, a stone mason,
dismounted them and secretly carried away the fragments to a house hard
by the church. The Republicans, thus baulked of a rich booty, vented
their spleen on the ducal sepulchre, broke it open, wrenched off the
lids of the coffins, carried away all the iron and lead they could lay
hands on, and scattered the bones of Charles and of Marie on the bare
stone pavement.

Ten years after, in 1806, the monuments were brought forth from their
hiding-place and erected in the chapel where they now stand.

[Illustration: A Renaisance Gable]



CHAPTER XXII

_The Final Catastrophe_


Upon the death of Marie of Burgundy the storm for a moment lulled.
Philip of Hornes had fled the country; the Estates-General had assembled
at Bruges to provide for the administration of the realm during the
minority of the legal heir to all Marie's domains, her son Philip, now
an infant of three years of age; and Maximilian, who knew very well
that, in accordance with the marriage treaty of 1479, his authority over
the Netherlands should now come to an end, and who hoped, nevertheless,
to prevail on the communes to appoint him Regent of Flanders and
guardian of his infant son, was showing himself as conciliatory as
possible. He consented to the perpetual banishment of his favourite
Philip of Hornes, suffered the burghers to open negotiations with Louis
XI., with a view to the instant termination of the war with France, and
did not hesitate to confirm a treaty of peace, which they concluded at
Arras on December 23, 1482, and that, notwithstanding that the King of
France was thereby acknowledged suzerain of Flanders, and that as such
Louis XI. had confirmed and renewed all the rights and privileges
granted by Marie at the commencement of her reign.

Meanwhile little Philip had sworn to respect the liberties of Flanders,
and the deputies of the Estates-General had quietly appointed a council
of regency to act in his name, viz., Adolphe of Clèves,[38] Lord of
Ravestein, a kinsman of Maximilian's, erst his competitor for Marie's
hand, and the most popular man in Flanders; Philip of Beveren;[38a]
Adrien of Rasseghem; and Louis of Bruges, Lord of Oostcamp and Lord of
Gruthuise, knight of the Golden Fleece, peer of Flanders, France and
England--Edward IV. had created him Earl of Winchester in gratitude for
the kindness which he had shown him in the days of his exile at
Bruges--and, what he prized most of all, a burgher of his native town.
The patron and friend of Caxton and of Colard Mansion, he was a
marvellous lover of books, and had gathered together in the fascinating
palace which he built for himself on the banks of the Roya--not his
least glory, and which still bears witness to his love of the beautiful,
and to the distinction and refinement of his taste--so rich a collection
of choice manuscripts that the Gruthuise Library was said to equal, if
not to surpass, the world-renowned library of the Dukes of Burgundy. In
a word, he was a worthy scion of the house of Erembald, a patriot true
to the core, the richest and the mightiest and the most beloved of the
burgher-nobles of Bruges.

As for Maximilian, he was as meek as a lamb. A rebellion had broken out
in Holland, and perhaps he was unusually short of cash. Certain it is
that on the eve of his departure for that country, on June 5, 1483, he
confirmed at Hoogstraeten, for an annual pension of twenty-four thousand
_écus_, the authority of the council of regency appointed by the
Estates-General. Before the end of the year, however, the conjunction of
events had changed the Duke's dispositions. The man he most feared, the
royal burgher of Ghent, that most incomprehensible of devotees, who
stopped before no crime, and never undertook any matter of moment
without first commending it to God, King Louis XI. of France, had at
length set out on that inevitable journey which all his life long he had
looked forward to with apprehension and dismay.

For years past the old man had been ailing. Some said that he was a
leper; he had certainly had a paralytic stroke in the spring of 1480,
and the sands of his life were fast running out when the Flemish
ambassadors waited on him at the Château du Plessis, at the beginning of
the year 1483, to obtain his ratification of the Treaty of Arras. It was
evening when they reached the palace. They found the old King huddled up
in the corner of a room purposely ill-lighted so as to hide the
disfigurement which disease had wrought in his countenance, and so weak
that he was unable to rise to receive them. His right hand was
completely paralysed, and when they brought the Book of the Gospels, on
which he was to swear to observe peace, he just managed to raise his arm
sufficiently to touch it with his elbow.

Louis knew that his end was near. He had summoned François the
thaumaturgus of Paula from the depths of Calabria to beseech him on
bended knees for a few days' respite, and the saint had given him no
hope. 'Set thy house in order,' he had said, 'for thou wilt die and not
live.' Presently, towards the close of the year, it became clear to the
King's physicians that there was no hope of further prolonging his life.
Louis had strictly forbidden that any one should pronounce in his
presence _le cruel mot de la mort_, his approaching end must be
euphoniously announced to him by the sentence, '_Parlez peu_;' but
Olivier le Dain, erst barber of Thielt, now Count of Meulan, who had for
thirty years past been in the King's service--ever since the days when
Louis was in exile at Bruges--with brutal levity hurled these words at
his dying benefactor: '_C'est fait de vous pensez à votre conscience_,'
and a few hours afterwards the old King passed quietly away.

The news of Louis's death found Maximilian elated by an easy and
unexpected triumph over his Dutch rebels. Men wiser and more wicked than
he had little difficulty in persuading the weak and vacillating prince
that fortune herself had cancelled the bond of Hoogstraeten, and he lost
no time in revoking the powers therein granted anent the government of
Flanders. Nor were the Regents slow to reply. On the 15th of October
they sent in a long memorial: in virtue of the marriage treaty of 1477,
the right of _mainbournie_ did not appertain to the Duke of Austria, his
assumption of the arms of the county of Flanders was altogether illegal,
he had overwhelmed the land with taxes, pledged the Sovereign's domain,
sold the crown jewels and given ear to the perfidious counsel of
strangers--let France, the suzerain, judge betwixt them. To all of which
Maximilian replied with reproaches and insult: he in no way recognized
the right of the Regents to speak in the name of the country--men of
little weight, headstrong, proud, who desired more their own profit than
the welfare of the realm. Gruthuise and his comrades responded no less
warmly: Adrien Villain, William Rym and the rest were men of as great
weight as by far the larger number of the Duke's friends, some of whom,
alike Germans and Burgundians, were in a very small way before they came
to Flanders; for the rest, they had in no wise usurped the government of
the county, no prince had ever been acknowledged in Flanders save by the
consent of the 'three members,' and in the absence of the Sovereign, or
during his minority, it was for the Estates to provide for the
government of the county, and after all, justice was better administered
in Flanders than in Brabant, where Maximilian still retained about his
person the murderers of Myn Heer van Dadizeele. Further declaration from
Maximilian: whilst he in no way recognized the right of tradesmen to put
themselves on a par with the gentlemen of his Court, he begged leave to
observe that the treaty of 1477 was invalid; the Duchess of Burgundy had
affixed her signature to a document the contents of which she did not
understand; and he ended up by summoning the Lords of Gruthuise, and
Ravestein, and Borsselle, and Beveren, who were knights of the Golden
Fleece, to Brussels, on the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, there to
submit their conduct to the judgment of their fellow knights.

No further correspondence between Maximilian and the council was carried
on for the moment. The States sent a mission to Charles VIII. to appeal
for his arbitration; as suzerain, they said, and affianced spouse of the
heiress-apparent, he was doubly interested in the matter, they would
abide by his decision; and Maximilian, on his side, prepared to make war
on his subjects, hoping to prevent by his victories the mediation of the
French King. With this object in view he advanced on Bruges with the
army which had lately been victorious in Holland,--this was in the
beginning of February 1484--with much trumpeting drew up his men in
order of battle in front of the Bouverie gate, and sent a herald to the
city fathers demanding that it should be opened. But Sheriff Van
Bassevelde, who was their mouthpiece, would have none of it. 'Go tell
your master,' he said, 'that if he desires to speak with the magistrates
of Bruges they are ready to give him audience in the council chamber of
the _Hôtel de Ville_, where they are now assembled, provided his escort
do not exceed ten or at most twelve persons.'

Maximilian had reckoned on a rising in his favour. A plot to assist him
there certainly had been, but his friends, who were numerous, made no
sign, and he retired to Oudenburg in dudgeon, thereby leaving them at
the mercy of their foes. Active inquiries were at once set on foot as to
the number of conspirators, and not a few leading citizens were found to
be compromised. Note amongst them ex-burgomaster John Breidel, a
descendant of the great patriot; this man, along with many others, was
put to death, and Peter Lanchals, of whom we shall hear again, condemned
to banishment.

For sixteen weary months the war dragged on. Backed, as they were, by a
large French army, under the command of Crévcoeur, the greatest
captain of the fourteen hundreds, it seemed at first almost certain that
the Flemings would presently succeed in driving Maximilian back again to
Germany; but Crévcoeur was not a _persona grata_ to the burghers, they
could never forget that he had fought against them in the days of Louis
XI., and when the palm of victory was almost within their grasp, it was
snatched from them by the frenzied hand of suspicion.

In the month of June 1485, Crévcoeur encamped at Ghent--here too was
little Philip--nor were quarrels slow to arise between the burghers and
the men who had come to defend them--matter for no great wonderment; the
hosts were Flemish merchants, and the guests French soldiers.

One morning Crévcoeur set Philip on horseback, and made him ride
through the city, in order to show him to the people. Forthwith a report
was spread abroad that the French were going to carry the young prince
off to Paris, and so threatening was the attitude of the mob that
Crévcoeur deemed it prudent to quit Flanders and take up his
headquarters at Tournai. This was on June 11, 1485.

Meanwhile Maximilian, profiting by these quarrels, for it was not only
at Ghent, but throughout Flanders, that opinion was divided, had been
scattering gold broadcast amongst those burghers who were known to be
wavering in their allegiance to France, and by this means had succeeded
in raising up a party in his favour at Ghent and at Bruges. On June 1,
when the people of the latter city were making solemn procession round
the _Place du bourg_, with relics, and incense, and torches, to implore
the protection of Heaven for the armies of Flanders, news came that the
town gates had been treacherously opened to Maximilian's mercenaries,
and immediately afterwards a great troop of knights and German horsemen
galloped into the market.

So sudden and so unexpected was the calamity which had befallen them
that the burghers, who seem to have lost their heads, made no show at
resistance, and when John of Houthem, the German commander, made them a
speech, and asked the vast throng assembled before him whether they
wished for peace or war, a great cry went up: Peace! Peace! 'Then will
you accept the Archduke for regent,' demanded Houthem, 'and acknowledge
his right to the guardianship of his son?' and, with one mouth, the
people answered, 'We will.'

So too was it at Ghent. The funds expended in corruption there proved an
equally satisfactory investment. Hardly had the burghers hounded their
French friends out of the city than, just chastisement, Maximilian's
Germans took possession of it.

Presently the Archduke of Austria himself arrived at Bruges, and,
before the end of the month, a treaty of peace was signed, in virtue of
which he obtained the regency he had so long coveted, and the
guardianship of his son. He in return granted an amnesty to all who had
taken arms against him, save only certain of the ringleaders. Amongst
them note Jan van Keyt, erst Burgomaster of Bruges, and Franz van
Bassevelde, famous for the boldness with which he had opposed
Maximilian's threats two years before. These men suffered death in the
market-place, and their heads were set up on the turrets of the Halles.
Note also among the excluded, Louis of Gruthuise, and that,
notwithstanding that he had claims on Maximilian's gratitude, for no man
had done more than he to strengthen the tottering throne of Marie of
Burgundy. As a knight of the Golden Fleece, Louis of Gruthuise had the
right to be tried by the brethren of his order, but he refused to
exercise it. He was a burgher, he said, of the city of Bruges, and
desired no other judges than the magistrates of his native town.
Maximilian, however, did not dare go to extremities, Gruthuise was too
popular and too powerful; he sent him prisoner to the Château of
Vilvorde, and made him pay a fine of three hundred thousand _écus_.

By the end of the year 1485 the Archduke of Austria had not only
re-established his authority in Flanders, but also throughout the whole
of his son's domains.

Maximilian was one of those men whose appetites grow larger with eating.
Conciliation increased his exigencies. Yield to him but an inch, and he
asked for an ell, and when he got his ell he wanted a furlong. Fortune
was singularly kind to him for a time; she gave him so much rope that he
did not know what to do with it, and presently essayed to hang himself.

The first use which he made of his re-established authority was to break
the oath which he had solemnly sworn at Bruges, and carry his son Philip
out of the county; the second to further irritate the three _bonnes
villes_ by appointing the Franc fourth member of Flanders. The charter
by which he committed this piece of folly was signed at Frankfort on
February 16, 1486, immediately after he had been elected King of the
Romans. The acquisition of this new and pompous title seems to have
completely turned his head, and he gave himself over to the wildest
dreams of ambition, fatuously believing that his would be the glorious
destiny which the crowd of soothsayers and astrologers who frequented
his Court had predicted for him. The kingdom of Hungary, the duchy of
Milan were already his by right of conquest, and by the same right also
the crown of Naples, and at the sword's point he had demanded, and led
back from France, his daughter Marguerite, whom the Treaty of Arras had
made the bride of Charles VIII., that direst foe who had stirred up
trouble for him at Liège, equipped fourteen great ships in support of
his rebellious Dutch subjects, and, worst of all, by promises and deeds
had aided and abetted the hated burghers of Flanders, and would, but for
their suspicions, have brought their affairs to a successful issue.

Presently the time arrived when Maximilian believed that he was going to
realize this vision. On the 14th of August 1486, at the head of a great
army, he set out for France. At Bruges the day before he had listened to
an harangue by Hermolao Barbaro, the Venetian ambassador, who told him
that all his successes had been his own handiwork, and his reverses the
work of destiny. Puffed up by this flattery, he started fully convinced
that he would soon be reckoned amongst the greatest conquerors the
world had ever seen, and so sure was he of his approaching success that
he dated his letters from Lens, '_première ville de notre conqueste_.'

Never was man doomed to be more bitterly disappointed. Disaster followed
disaster; the treasure which he had squandered in corruption brought in
no return; the princes whose support he had purchased failed him in the
hour of need; his mercenaries threw down their arms for lack of pay, and
presently he was constrained, with his cap in his hand, to humbly ask
the help of the men he most despised, and withal to endure the shame of
a curt refusal. The burghers of Flanders, the three _bonnes villes_ made
answer, in no way approved of the war with France, and were perfectly
content with the Treaty of Arras; and when Maximilian threatened to
collect taxes himself, they not only laughed at his threats but
clamoured for redress of grievances. Whereupon Maximilian, in
desperation, led the remnant of his army against his own subjects; but
his efforts in Flanders were no more successful than they had been in
France, and he was constrained to fall back on Bruges, the one town
which had not yet openly broken with him.

Great was the consternation of the burghers when on December 16, 1487,
Maximilian entered their city. His German mercenaries, it was well
known, had for months past received no pay, and were now living on
plunder. This in itself was no small cause of alarm. Moreover, the
burghers profoundly distrusted him. His shameless disavowal of the
Treaty of Arras had shattered their dearest hopes and overwhelmed them,
to boot, with taxes, and it was now more than suspected that the real
object of his visit was to wring from them fresh supplies--nay, that the
city was to be deprived of its franchise and handed over to plunder.
There were some garrulous old men still living who remembered the
horrors of fifty years ago under Philippe l'Asseuré, and a new exodus to
Antwerp was the outcome of their harrowing stories. Whereat Maximilian
sought to re-establish confidence with fair speech:--he desired nothing
better than peace with France, had, in fact, demanded and received a
safe conduct from the French King, with a view to a meeting anent this
very object.

Meanwhile the Ghenters had taken Courtrai, and the Duke, in consequence,
had sent an embassy to them to treat for peace, but the victors proudly
refused to deal with any but Flemish, and Maximilian, at his wit's end,
besought the good offices of Bruges.

The burghers did not refuse, but they made their conditions:--the
dismissal of the German guards, whose insolence and insubordination were
intolerable in a commercial community, and until this was accomplished
they would themselves take charge of the city gates.

After some hesitation the Duke deemed it prudent to yield: Philip of
Hornes would soon be at Bruges with reinforcements and then he would be
in a position to reassert his authority.

Presently (January 24, 1488) the deputies returned from Ghent with news
that they had failed in the object of their mission. Maximilian, who
received them in the hall of his palace, was bitterly disappointed, and
though at his urgent request the burghers promised to try again, from
that moment he again resumed his machinations against them, and mistrust
and suspicion and evil foreboding were once more rife in the city. That
very night his conduct at a banquet given in his honour at the _Hôtel de
Richebourg_ by the widow of Martin Lem (burgomaster in the time of
Charles the Terrible) was not a little disquieting. He had suddenly left
the table to make a tour of the ramparts, carefully examining the number
of guards at the gates, distributing money amongst them, and so forth.
On January 27 he left the city, ostensibly for the purpose of hawking,
but no one believed that sport alone was his object. So too on the 28th,
and on the 31st he received two pieces of news:--Philip of Hornes was
close to Bruges, and the second deputation to Ghent had been as
unsuccessful as the first.

The die was cast. Maximilian drew up his German guard in the courtyard
of the palace and sent messengers to Hornes to enter the town at once by
the _Porte des Maréchaux_. The same evening, accompanied by Burgomaster
Van Nieuwenhove, one of his creatures, and a small band of attendants,
to this gate he came, and demanded that it should be opened; but the
gatekeepers, who suspected foul play, flatly refused. No power on earth,
they said, should make them open their gates. There was no time to waste
in parleying, the main object being to quietly admit Hornes and his
reinforcements; but the burghers were aware of what was doing, and the
Regent hastened with like result to the _Porte de Gand_ and the _Porte
Ste. Croix_. More fortunate at the _Porte Ste. Catherine_, by this exit
he went forth--may be its guardians believed he was bent on some further
excursion--dispatched messengers to Hornes to bid him enter at this spot
and not to attempt to do so by the _Porte des Maréchaux_, once more
returned to the city and endeavoured by force to keep the way open for
him. But the guardians, crying 'Treason, treason,' had meanwhile aroused
the neighbours, and before Hornes could effect an entry they had lowered
the portcullis. Whereupon Maximilian fled to the Princenhof and

[Illustration: PORTE DES BAUDETS]

summoning _Écoutète_ Peter Lanchals bade him take measures to obtain
possession of the city gates. It was too late. What had occurred at the
_Porte Ste. Catherine_ was now known throughout Bruges, and all the
gates were strongly guarded by armed guildsmen. Almost in despair, the
Regent gave orders to fire the town, hoping that in the confusion Hornes
would somehow or other be able to effect an entrance--vain hope; the
fires were no sooner kindled than extinguished. Maximilian, however, was
not yet at the end of his tether. The _Porte de Gand_ had been entrusted
to Mathew Denys, Dean of Carpenters, who was said to be favourably
disposed towards him. Again he sallied forth with a handful of faithful
Germans, and again he was disappointed. With rude speech and violent
gestures Mathew disdained his addresses. 'Deliver your dean into my
hands,' cried Maximilian, furious at his refusal, 'and I will load you
with benefits.' This, to the soldiers under Mathew's command. 'While
there is a drop of blood in our veins,' was the reply, 'we will never
abandon him.' 'Then at least let me leave the town,' cried Maximilian,
but neither would they grant this request; they felt sure he would be
off to Damme to summon the little garrison there to join the army of
Hornes.

Whereupon council of war, and assembly in the _Place du bourg_ of all
the Duke's forces, strenuous exertions on the part of Peter Lanchals to
rouse the burghers of his party to rally round Maximilian, much
reluctance on their part to do so, great curiosity on the part of the
multitude to learn what was going on, and no little anxiety on the part
of the Germans to maintain order. _Stact! Stact!_ they shouted, making a
hedge with their halberds as the crowd pressed them closer and closer,
which, in plain English, means 'keep back,' but in the excitement and
turmoil of the moment, the people thought the soldiers cried _slact,
slact_, that is 'strike, strike,' and fled helter-skelter, cry-out as
they went that the Germans were going to slay them. Whereat panic
unspeakable, and whilst the tocsin shrieks over the city, a host of
armed guildsmen file into the market-place, bringing with them
forty-nine cannons and fifty-two standards; and a crowd of trembling
priests secrete in the crypt of St. Donatian's, in the secret chambers
in the thickness of the walls, in the vast _grenier_ above the vaults,
in holes and crannies, wherever they can, their relics and their art
treasures, and frantically call on clerk and sacrist to save them from
the Germans; messengers are sent off in hot haste to summon help from
Ypres and Ghent; Maximilian, trembling for his life, withdraws to his
palace, but not by way of the market-place; the whole town thrills with
excitement and a burning desire for vengeance, increased tenfold when
news comes of the arrest of the incendiaries, two Moors in the service
of Count van Zollern. Not a burgher but was convinced that Bruges had
escaped disaster by the skin of her teeth.

Meanwhile Lanchals's house had been searched; it was found to be full of
weapons, but Lanchals himself was not there--fresh proof of his
nefarious designs--and in the market-place a reward of fifty _livres de
gros_ was publicly offered for his arrest.

Though the patriots Van Keyt and Van Bassevelde had been dead three
years, their skulls were still impaled above the Halles--one on each of
the turrets which flank its façade. To suffer them to remain there, now
that the city was in their power, were an insult to the dead, and the
burghers determined to remove them, were actually engaged in doing so,
when suddenly the Regent's ministers appeared on the scene,
conciliatory, quaking. He was ready, they said, to pardon the people's
sedition. 'Pardon us!' roared a thousand throats, and a thousand fingers
pointed to the ghastly relics of Maximilian's vengeance. 'Pardon us! The
miscreant who offers us pardon is ten times more guilty than we.'

'What then would you have?' faltered Paul de Baenst. 'A new burgomaster
and a new _écoutète_,' replied the guildsmen, 'instead of Peter Lanchals
and Jan van Nieuwenhove, who merit death.' So terrified was Maximilian
that he dared not refuse the demand, and Josse de Decker was named
burgomaster, and Peter Metteneye _écoutète_.

For two days Maximilian remained shut up in his palace; on the 4th of
February he ventured out, and from the balcony of the Halles endeavoured
to explain, but the people refused to hear him. 'Wait,' they shouted,
'wait until the deputies of Ypres and Ghent come'; nor was this all. He
was forced to listen in silence to a long letter from the sheriffs of
Ghent, which must have been gall and wormwood to him, a letter promising
help, announcing the defeat and death at Courtrai of his favourite
Hornes, and offering congratulations that Bruges was now out of danger.
Nor until he had heard the command given to make diligent search for his
counsellors, in order to bring them to justice, was he at length
suffered to return to his palace.

On the morrow fresh news came from Ghent. Adrien of Rasseghem had just
torn up the _kalfvel_ of 1485. 'For God's sake do not disarm. Be not
deceived by Maximilian's specious promises, but keep good watch over him
until the meeting of the Estates-General, and make sure of the persons
of his counsellors.'

Great was the enthusiasm of the burghers, and they set about pitching
tents in the _Grande Place_, for the weather was bitterly cold, and they
were determined to remain under arms until all danger was past. In the
midst came news that Maximilian had fled, news which turned out to be
false, but in order to calm the people the burghers invited him to show
himself among them, and presently he appeared in the market-place,
gorgeously arrayed in cloth of gold and seated on a magnificent charger.
Nor did he meet with a lukewarm reception; the people cheered him to the
echo. Their hatred was for the moment transferred to the members of his
council. Whereat Maximilian, no doubt relieved, made them a speech: he
had no thought of leaving Bruges; if they doubted his word, let them set
a watch at the palace. The burghers, who were practical men, replied
that they would consider his proposal, and at the end of half an hour
informed him that the deputies of the three _bonnes villes_ were just
about to meet, and that while they were discussing matters it would be
well for him to take up his abode in the Craenenburg.

The Craenenburg was at this time the property of Hendrieck Nieulandt, a
merchant of great wealth, to whom Maximilian was heavily indebted. It
was situated at the corner of the _rue St. Amand_, and was the most
magnificent private residence in the market-place. From its balcony the
Counts of Flanders were wont to witness the public games and festivities
which so frequently delighted the citizens of Bruges, and there
Maximilian had himself been diverted, some three weeks before, by the
squeaks and grunts and ungainly bounds of a herd of frantic swine, and
the no less uncouth shouts and falls of the blind sportsmen who were
pursuing them. Not a very edifying spectacle, one would think, for a
prince who longed for and afterwards grasped an imperial diadem, and who
would, if he could, have put on his finger the ring of the fisherman.
But, other times other manners, and let us never forget, as a recent
writer aptly and pithily has it, 'Notre ancêtre du moyen âge est un
grand enfant, il s'amuse aux choses extraordinaires pullulant aux pays
lointains, et par dessous tout ... il est grossièrement joyeux.' He was
all that certainly in Bruges at the close of the fourteen hundreds, and
perhaps his descendants in the same city are all that to-day.

The King of the Romans, attended by a numerous suite, took up his abode
in Nieulandt's palace on the evening of the 4th February 1488. Shortly
afterwards, perhaps the next day, the deputies from Ghent and Ypres
arrived, the Ghenters bringing with them two thousand armed men. All the
trades guilds of Bruges were assembled in the _Grande Place_ to welcome
them, and their advent was greeted with cheers and the thunder of
cannon. After solemnly attending Mass in St. Donatian's the general
assembly of the three _bonnes villes_ was declared open, and presently
business commenced. There were some who were sanguine enough to believe
that peace would be the outcome, but for the burghers to come to an
understanding with Maximilian was in reality a task almost impossible of
accomplishment. The Prince was so shifty and the people were so
exacting. The chief point at issue was the guardianship of young Philip.
Maximilian had shown himself in forty several ways, the men of Ghent
alleged, unworthy to exercise the rights of a father, and he must never
again be permitted to do so. Had he not sworn to educate his son in
Flanders, and then taken him out of the county? Before any terms of
peace were arranged they must have some solid guarantee that Philip
would be brought back again. Then there was the question of the Treaty
of Arras, and the alleged plot to ruin Bruges, a matter which called for
instant investigation, and if their suspicions--they were more than
suspicions--should prove correct, justice must be meted out to the men
who had instigated it, and there were a hundred other grievances to be
redressed before any lasting peace could be established.

Meanwhile Charles VIII. was doing all in his power to help the Flemish
people. Divesting, as suzerain, of their legal authority all those
officers who continued to act for and in the name of Maximilian, 'who,'
he averred, 'had usurped the regency, violated sworn treaties and minted
base coin in his own name,' authorizing the burghers to themselves
appoint magistrates who should 'act in the name of the child Philip, now
held prisoner by the King's enemies,' and to coin their own cash,
signing charters innumerable, confirming ancient privileges, conferring
new rights, granting full liberty to the merchants of Flanders to travel
without let or hindrance throughout the kingdom of France--in a word,
showing himself generally the friend and staunch supporter of democracy,
the last barrier, as it seemed to him, to the Germanisation of the
Netherlands.

On the 13th February all these charters were solemnly read in the
market-place at Bruges, as well as the text of the Treaty of Arras, and
a long report on the attempted destruction of the city, whereat the
guildsmen wax furious, break into Maximilian's palace--the
Princenhof--find there four hundred barrels of gunpowder, scaling
ladders innumerable, and something more ominous still, coils upon coils
of stout rope. What was this for? Not a man of them but believed that
the Duke had meant to hang him. Next day, in consequence, arrest of
fourteen privy councillors, Flemings, Burgundians, Germans, four of them
in Maximilian's own chamber. All of these men had fancied themselves
safe because they were attached to the royal person.

The same evening a deputation of burghers pay Maximilian a visit of
condolence, bid him take heart, and assure him that they bear _him_ no
enmity; that his person is perfectly safe in their hands, and that they
are ready to do anything in their power to make him comfortable.
Maximilian, nevertheless, unconvinced and exceedingly depressed.
February 16, commencement of trial of Jan van Nieuwenhove and sundry
others arrested the day before. Great deliberation on the part of the
judges who, sitting with closed doors, have already spun out the
proceedings for two days, when the mob outside, losing all patience and
frantically shouting that the judges have gone

[Illustration: Hôtel Gruthuise]

to sleep and it is time to awaken them, break into the Court House, drag
the accused forth into the market-place, and presently bring hither the
rack.

On the evening of February 17, Carnival. Hell let loose:--a weird
farrago of gibbering masks, and wailing ghosts, and gorgeous dresses; a
veritable pandemonium of obscene songs and lecherous yells and
hysterical laughter; a drunken whirlwind of mad furies shrieking
vengeance, whilst, to the strains of delirious music, they wildly dance
around the headsman's block and bloody axe, and, a still ghastlier
thing, a rack of new and improved fashion, which has never yet been
used, but soon will be, set out in grim array before the Halles.
Suddenly the air grows thick with smoke, the Belfry gleams out roseate
against the black sky, and great tongues of flame dart up to heaven.
Somehow or other the venders of fruit and fried fish and cheap finery
have managed to fire their booths, and thus, during the small hours of
Ash-Wednesday morning, the fierce orgies are fittingly brought to a
close with a fiercer conflagration.

The tumult of Monday night seems to have had the desired effect. When
the Court re-assembled on Ash-Wednesday morning the judges were wide
awake, and one after another in rapid succession the accused were found
guilty and condemned to death. Before, however, the sentences which had
been passed were carried out, it was deemed prudent to change the place
of Maximilian's imprisonment. On more than one occasion he had almost
effected his escape, and the Craenenburg was not thought to be
sufficiently secure. Moreover, it was not roomy enough to accommodate
the numerous retinue of gaolers with which, under the guise of
attendants, it was deemed necessary to surround him. Perhaps too the
burghers wished to spare Maximilian the pain of seeing his friends die.
During the whole period of his captivity they seem to have treated him
with the utmost consideration, regarding him not so much as a criminal
as an amiable but dangerous lunatic, whom, indeed, for the sake of the
public weal, they were bound to put under restraint, but whom, at the
same time, they were no less bound to make as comfortable as possible.
When he passed through the _Grande Place_ on his way to his new prison
and in trembling accents besought the people to see that no harm befell
him, 'have no fear,' they cried, 'we bear you no grudge, your
counsellors alone are to blame,' and the palace to which they led him,
in the _rue St. Jacques_--it had recently been occupied by Jean Gros,
Chancellor of the Golden Fleece--was in all probability hardly less
spacious and no less luxuriously furnished than the Princenhof itself.

[Illustration: KITCHEN IN GRUTHUISE]

Some idea may be gathered of the stately homes of the burgher-nobles of
Bruges during this period from the recently-restored habitation of the
Lords of Gruthuise, the most perfect and the best preserved of the few
mediæval palaces still left to the city; and be it noted that the _Hôtel
Gruthuise_[39] of to-day is only a fragment of the original building;
there was another great wing on the further bank of the river connected
with it by a bridge, nor is it likely that the mansion of the Chancellor
of the Golden Fleece was in any way less magnificent. Here, then, we may
picture to ourselves the same beautiful pavements of glistening white
tiles relieved by delicately-designed patterns in red and blue and green
and gold; the same wealth of carved oak in door and shutter and ceiling;
the same huge chimney-pieces of carved stone, brilliant with colour,
jutting out over hearths not deeply set in the thickness of the wall, as
in England, but shallow and broad and high and all lined with fair
ceramic tiles of russet and sage green, and glowing now, for it is
winter-time, in the light of flaming timber placed on dogs richly
wrought in brass or iron. We know that costly tapestry was hung on the
walls and that curtains of silk and velvet draped the windows; of their
delicate texture and marvellous design a visit to the museum beneath the
Belfry will show something, and here, too, are treasured up not a few
specimens of the beautiful carved oak furniture, as well as of the
glassware and pottery, which was used at Bruges when Maximilian was a
prisoner there; whilst the pictures of the Van Eycks of Memlinc and of
other artists of the period bear witness to the glorious colouring of
the woven fabrics and the embroidery of those days.

Nor was the King of the Romans without companions or means of
distraction. Twelve members of his household were permitted to share his
prison. _Tir à l'oiseau_ was inaugurated in the courtyard. From time to
time the trade guilds with flaunting banners marched past his windows,
'in order to occupy his leisure and to drive away his melancholy.' His
table too was sumptuously served. The burghers had even got his plate
out of pawn for him, and every evening some of the most stately of them
were wont to pay him visits, in order, as they said, to cheer him with
conversation friendly and loving--_vriendelic end mimusamelic_.

[Illustration: CHIMNEY-PIECE IN THE GRUTHUISE PALACE]

Nor was this all. _Écoutète_ Peter Metteneye was in constant attendance,
as he was in duty bound to be, and at his beck and call were thirty-six
servants, who, like their chief, never left the house. But Maximilian
knew very well that all this solicitude on the part of Myn Heer Peter
was not the outcome of a keen desire to exactly fulfil the obligations
of his office, but was rather prompted by fear lest his victim should
escape; that his thirty-six servants were in reality thirty-six
turnkeys, and that the _Écoutète_ himself was gaoler-in-chief. What
wonder that when Antoine de Fontaine came to visit Maximilian in Master
Jean Gros's mansion he found him '_fort amaigry et pâle_.'[40]

In consenting to quit the Craenenburg Maximilian had removed the last
obstacle which might perhaps have prevented or at all events retarded
the execution of those of his friends who were prisoners like himself.
The day after he left a great scaffold draped in black was erected in
the _Grande Place_. Gilbert du Homme, a Norman, erst Burgomaster of the
Franc, died first, then came Jan van Nieuwenhove; so battered and weak
was he with the torture which he had undergone that they had to give him
an armchair in which to await his turn for death. Perhaps the sight of
his misery had unnerved the executioner; he struck three times before he
succeeded in severing the head from the body.

Another man who had been Burgomaster of Bruges perished the same day,
Jacob van Dudzeele, Lord of Ghistelle. He had been arrested in the
Craenenburg under the very eyes of Maximilian, and to the last he
protested his innocence. 'For fifty years,' he said, 'I have served the
princes who have succeeded one another in the government of this county,
and I have never played the traitor. If any man affirm the contrary, I
am ready to do battle with him, no matter who he may be, and to do all
that behoveth a good and loyal knight, a nobleman, and a burgher of this
town.'

Note that Ghistelle here esteems his citizenship no less highly than his
knighthood or his nobility. Such was the wont of the burgher-nobles of
Bruges. In vain the lady of Ghistelle besought the guildsmen to spare
her lord. In vain his children, the Provost of St. Donatian's, the Dean
of Notre Dame and the foreign merchants, joined their supplication to
hers. Jacob's head rolled on the scaffold.

On the 15th March Peter Lanchals, long sought for, was at last found,
betrayed by one of his friends for a hundred _livres de gros_ and to
save his own head, for death had been decreed against any man who should
shelter him. He was arrested the same day by Burgomaster Jan van Haman,
who conducted him to the Steen, and the howls of contempt and hatred
which greeted his passage through the city were kept up around his
prison all night. The men of Bruges were beside themselves with a
delirium of fierce gladness. Volleys of cannon were fired off, bands of
music paraded the town, and they danced and drank in the streets till
morning, for had not this man been Maximilian's head and heart and right
hand in all his infernal machinations? Had he not intended to deliver
Bruges over to be pillaged by the Germans? Had not the whole devilish
plot been of his hatching? That cruel instrument of torture which he had
invented, more cruel than any known hitherto in Flanders, should
persuade him to own it. And it did, whatever we may think of an
assertion made under such circumstances. By a strange irony of fate
Lanchals was the first to test the efficacy of his own invention.
Tortured as he had been, and in pitiable plight, Peter still clung to
dear life. 'Put me in some black hole and there let me eat out my
heart,' he vainly pleaded, 'but for God's sake let me live!' When at
length he saw that the people had no pity, he suffered the executioner
to strip him of his clothes. One of the guild deans touched the gold
chain which he wore round his neck. 'Sir Dean,' said the dying man, 'you
know well that no burgher of Bruges can be condemned to forfeit his life
and his goods,' and he handed the chain to his confessor and begged him
to give it to his wife; then he besought the people that his body might
receive honourable burial, and having commended his soul to God, he bade
the executioner do his duty. In addition to his tomb and the chantry
erected by his widow in the Church of Notre Dame--the same chantry in
which now stand the tombs of Charles the Terrible and Marie of
Burgundy--there is yet another souvenir at Bruges, and a more pleasing
one, of poor Peter Lanchals:--the graceful, long-necked birds which
disport themselves in great flocks, sometimes as many as thirty or forty
of them together, on the canals and streams of the city. These birds
belong to the corporation, and they are the descendants, tradition says,
of the swans which Maximilian, when he regained his liberty, bade Bruges
maintain for ever as a perpetual memorial of his favourite's death.
Lanchals, it should be noted, signifies in Flemish, long neck, and the
swan is a prominent figure in the Lanchals family arms.

The news of these executions and of others, which, like them, were the
outcome, it was said, of 'the justice of the people,' made Maximilian
tremble in his prison. Perhaps he had cause to do so. The men of Venice
had written to the men of Bruges to urge them to cut off his head: _Homo
mortuus non fecit guerram_. And there were others who trembled for
him--his father, the Emperor Frederick III., who wrote to the
magistrates of Bruges warning them that he should hold them personally
responsible for any evil which might befall the King of the Romans; the
Pope, who threatened interdict; several German princes, who were making
ready, it was said, for invasion; and his son Philip, who summoned the
estates of Hainault and of Brabant with a view to obtaining their good
offices. They invited the communes of Ghent and Bruges to meet them in
conference at Malines. Louis of Gruthuise, now set at liberty, threw in
his weight on the side of conciliation, and early in the spring of 1488
the Estates-General of all the provinces of the Netherlands met in
solemn conclave at Ghent. Two great measures were the outcome of their
deliberations--a treaty of confederation by which the various provinces
mutually bound themselves to defend their rights and privileges, and a
treaty of peace with Maximilian of which the conditions are sufficiently
curious. The communes on their part promised to set their prince at
liberty without further delay, on condition that he should undertake to
dismiss his foreign _gens de guerre_ within four days. In order to
facilitate their departure the three _bonnes villes_ undertook to pay
Maximilian within a month twenty-five thousand _livres_ Flemish upon the
understanding 'that if the aforesaid _gens de guerre_' had not departed
within the stipulated period, the money should be expended in the
payment of '_autres gens de guerre_ who by force should expulse them.'

For the rest, it was agreed that Maximilian should at once bring back
his son to Flanders, and that during his minority the county should be
administered by the three Estates in Philip's name, that Maximilian
should strictly adhere to the Treaty of Arras, cease to quarter the
arms of Flanders on his escutcheon and promise to protect Flemish
merchants all the world over, and that the communes should pay him by
way of _solatium_ an annual pension of a thousand _livres_.

There was some difficulty at first as to sureties. Maximilian had named
the Duke of Saxony and the Marquis of Baden, but these princes hesitated
to guarantee his good faith; it were an undertaking, they averred, too
risky. The knot was at length cut by Philip of Cleves, who, on learning
of the difficulty, wrote to Maximilian offering to do anything in his
power to help him. Philip was the son of the Lord of Ravestein, one of
the four regents whom Maximilian had accepted at the commencement of his
son's reign. He was a man deservedly popular amongst the burghers, his
influence with them had contributed in great measure to the successful
issue of the negotiations, and in due course his name appeared at the
head of the list of guarantors.

The communes, however, were not yet satisfied, and that, though
Maximilian, in order to further reassure them, had renounced Philip's
homage so that he might be free to take up arms against him in the event
of his breaking his troth, and Philip, at his request, had bound himself
by oath to do so. The treaty of peace, they said, must be ratified by
the Pope, the Emperor and the imperial Electors, and before Maximilian
was set free he must undertake to obtain such ratification. He seems to
have had no hesitation in doing so, for the same day he left Jean Gros's
palace and, preceded by priests with relics, and guildsmen with banners
and torches, betook himself to the market-place, where, on the very spot
on which the scaffold had lately stood, a magnificent throne had been
erected, surmounted by a richly-embroidered canopy. Hard-by there stood
an altar, and on it was set a Book of the Gospels and amid flaming
torches the Host. Before these sacred objects Maximilian presently knelt
down and 'with much seeming fear and reverence took the appointed oath.
"Of our free will we promise," he said, in a voice so sweet'--we are
quoting the words of one who heard him--'that it would have melted a
heart of stone, "of our free will we promise and swear in good faith on
the Sacred Host here present, on the cross, on the Book of the Gospels,
on the precious body of St. Donatian and on the Canon of the Mass to
carry out wholly and entirely the treaty of peace and alliance which we
have concluded with our well-beloved Estates ... and on our princely and
royal word, on our honour, and on our faith we hereby promise never to
do anything to violate it."' Maximilian having thus pledged himself, the
Bishop of Tournai solemnly blessed all those who should keep inviolate,
and afterwards solemnly cursed all those who should presume to infringe,
the treaty agreed to that day (May 16, 1488). Then followed a sumptuous
banquet, then, at St. Donatian's a _Te Deum_, after which Philip of
Cleves, who had only just reached Bruges, took oath 'to aid them of
Flanders against all infractors of the said peace, union and alliance.'
At length, after an imprisonment of eleven weeks, Maximilian was once
more free. Towards sundown he set out for his château at Maele, the
deputies of the Estates of Flanders accompanied him part of the way, and
before he bade them farewell he again confirmed his promises.
'Monseigneur,' Philip had said, 'you are now a free man, tell me frankly
your intentions.' 'Fair cousin of Cleves,' replied Maximilian, 'believe
me I shall keep my word,' and thus they parted.

Great was the joy of the city of Bruges, and the people determined to
make a night of it in the _Grande Place_, as is still their wont upon
festive occasions, with malt liquor and music and dancing, without which
accompaniments no Flemish festival ever has been, or probably ever will
be, complete. Suddenly the band of musicians who had stationed
themselves on the summit of the Belfry ceased playing. They had descried
a hundred tongues of flame rising up from the woods of Maele.
Maximilian's foreign _gens de guerre_ were celebrating their master's
return by firing the peasants' homesteads, and though next day
Maximilian sent word to Bruges that the incendiaries had not acted under
his instructions, and perhaps he spoke the truth, what had happened was
far from reassuring, and men began to doubt whether the peace which had
just been signed would after all be one of long duration; nor were their
fears ill founded. From the first the King of the Romans had been
playing a double part. Even whilst the negotiations with his burghers
were pending he was secretly pressing the imperial Electors to send
their armies against them; four days after the peace of May 16 had been
publicly proclaimed in the cities of Flanders he felt himself strong
enough to drop the mask.

Maximilian had now taken up his abode in the impregnable fortress of
Hulse, and from thence he issued a proclamation to all the communes of
Flanders informing them that he did not intend to observe the treaty he
had sworn to. An oath, he said, taken under obligation had no binding
force.

It was enough. Maximilian had once more shown the cloven hoof, the
Flemings had once more been deceived, and soon in every city and in
every hamlet in Flanders the tocsin was shrieking war.

In an age when treason and suspicion of treason were rampant throughout
the realm, when on all sides men were plotting against their neighbours
and at the same time were surely convinced that their neighbours were
plotting against them, Philip of Cleves affords us a bright and shining
example of loyalty and good faith. An honest, straightforward, generous
man, conscious of the cleanness of his own heart and his own hands, he
found it difficult to convince himself that even those whom he felt it
his duty to oppose were inspired in any sort by motives less
conscientious than his own. As soon as he had learned of Maximilian's
treachery he thus wrote to him:--

     'PRINCE MONSEIGNEUR,--In fulfilment of my oath, and for fear of
     offending God our Creator, I have promised to aid and assist the
     three members of Flanders. This with very great regret of heart I
     now signify to you, for, inasmuch as it toucheth your noble person,
     as your very humble kinsman I would fain do you all service and
     honour, but inasmuch as it toucheth the observance of my oath I am
     bound to God, the Sovereign King of Kings.'

They made him captain of the Flemish army, and all that was noblest and
all that was best in Flanders rallied to the side of the communes; men
like Louis of Gruthuise and Philip of Burgundy, and even the Lord of
Chantraine, who from the walls of Sluys had threatened the frantic
guildsmen during the reign of terror at Bruges. Nor under Philip's
leadership do we find the burghers guilty of the excesses--the
bloodshed, the violence, the illegal confiscations--which had rendered
their government so evilly notorious at the time of Maximilian's
captivity. Their chief object for the moment was to quell the German
mercenaries who were scouring the whole country, pitiless in face of
submission, craven when their victims showed fight. Thus, on the night
of the 8th of June these marauders had surprised Deynze; before morning
it had gone up in flames, and of its people but a handful were left to
tell the tale; so too Courtrai, where the citizens and their wives and
their children perished along with the churches in which they had sought
refuge; but when they appeared before the walls of Ypres and found there
the burghers of Bruges under Louis of Gruthuise standing beside their
cannons, they halted and cried out for a truce. 'What God can your
master invoke to witness his oaths?' were the scornful words hurled back
to them.

It does not lie within the scope of this handbook to give any detailed
account of the incidents of the campaign which followed. Save the
abortive attempt to take Sluys, and Maximilian's equally futile
endeavour to obtain possession of Damme, they only concern indirectly
the city of Bruges. Suffice it to say that though during the first few
weeks of the struggle the Communes held their own, after twelve months'
hard fighting they were compelled to submit.

Under the circumstances no other issue was to be expected. Maximilian
had behind him the strength and resources of the empire, and he was
actively supported by Henry of England, who for political reasons had
now become his staunch friend, whilst the Flemish mistrusted their only
ally the French, and by their jealousy and suspicion foiled all their
efforts to save them.

On October 30, 1489, a treaty of peace was signed. By it the communes
undertook to acknowledge Maximilian as Regent of Flanders, to pay him a
fine of five hundred thousand livres, of which two-thirds was to be
forthcoming before Christmas, and to send deputies to beg his pardon
and perform in their name the usual childish humiliations; whilst the
King of the Romans agreed to dismiss his German garrison, to grant a
full and complete amnesty, to confirm all the administrative acts of
Philip of Cleves and his council, and to swear to observe all the rights
and privileges of the county of Flanders.

When first the treaty was signed the joy at Bruges was unbounded, but
when it became a question of the first instalment of the indemnity, and
of assessing the amount for which each commune was liable, trouble again
broke out. The three _bonnes villes_ complained that they had been
assessed unfairly and appealed to Philip of Cleves, who, foreseeing at
the time that the treaty was signed that the trouble was not yet in
reality over, had retired to the great fortress at Sluys, and from that
vantage post was watching events.

About this time Adrien van Rasseghem, a citizen of Ghent, who had
hitherto been taken for an honest man and a staunch patriot, having been
corrupted by Maximilian, turned traitor and opened the city gates to the
Germans. Some four nights afterwards, as he was returning home, he was
attacked by a band of armed men and slain, and next day Philip of Cleves
publicly avowed that he was responsible for what had happened; whereupon
the Count of Nassau, Maximilian's lieutenant in Flanders, threatened
Bruges with fire and sword unless she should instantly submit and break
her alliance with Philip. The burghers refused. The city and the whole
country round was seething with misery. The land, long untilled, and
almost bereft of inhabitants, was so infested by wolves that the
peasants dared not lead out their flocks to pasture. The dikes,
altogether neglected, because no man in these troublous times had
leisure to repair them, had at last given way, and great part of the
country-side was flooded. But this was not all. The peasants had to
contend with a foe more to be dreaded than wolves and fiercer than
rushing waters: English and Spanish and German adventurers were
ravishing and slaying and burning everywhere. The historic castle of
Maele, save the basement and one great tower, which is still standing,
had been reduced to ashes, and every night the watchers on the Belfry
saw the sky grow suddenly red with some new fire. In the town matters
were worse. So great was the expense of the war, that from August 1 to
October 27 (1490) it had cost the burghers ten thousand six hundred
_livres de gros_, and the city treasury was empty. Trade was altogether
at a standstill, for months past no vessel had entered the harbour, the
foreign merchants had migrated to Antwerp, the land supplies were all
intercepted by the Count of Nassau, and even rich men were starving. So
real and so great was the distress, that among the crowd of famished
wretches who daily waited outside the bakers' shops to obtain a meagre
pittance of bread, not a few dropped dead in the streets. Yet,
notwithstanding all this, Bruges was resolute. In the hour of his
necessity she would not break with the man who had risked his all to
save her. Nor did Philip of Cleves show himself less generous. As soon
as he knew that he alone was the obstacle to the re-establishment of
peace, he wrote to the _Echevins_ of Bruges, begging them to make the
best terms they could, leaving his interests out of the question. At
last, after several abortive negotiations, a treaty was signed at Damme
on November 29, 1490. Bruges agreed to pay eighty thousand _couronnes
d'or_ as her share of the fine fixed by the Treaty of Tours, to make
humble apology to the Count of Nassau, and to hand over to him sixty
persons to be dealt with according to his pleasure; but for all that she
did not escape pillage. A house-to-house visitation was made, and all
the gold and silver and precious objects that they could discover the
Germans laid hands on. Nassau reserved no small part of the booty for
himself. It is said that the famous Hôtel de Nassau at Brussels was
built with the funds thus raised, and a hundred years later, during the
troubles under Philip II., his descendant William of Orange was
reproached with it: _le Comte Inghelbert vouloit que l'on vous hachât
tous en pièces, et la maison du Comte Henri de Nassau fust faicte des
amends de ceux de Bruges_.

Thus disappeared amid riot and terror the last remnant of that
prosperity which had so long made Bruges glorious.

As for Philip of Cleves, he held his ground manfully at Sluys for two
years longer. At length, owing to an accidental explosion by which he
lost all his ammunition, he was compelled to surrender to Maximilian's
English allies under Sir Edward Poynings. Nevertheless, such was the
esteem in which he was held, even by his enemies, that he obtained an
honourable peace. True he swore fidelity to Maximilian and resigned to
him the town of Sluys with the small fortress. But he was permitted to
hold the great castle until such time as Maximilian should pay him a sum
of forty thousand florins, for which he was in his debt. Further, he was
assured an annual pension of six thousand florins, and all his property,
which had previously been confiscated, was assured to him.

Later on we find him fighting under the banner of the Cross, and
presently, when he visited Rome, Pope Alexander VI. averred that to him,
along with Gonzalves, was due the honour of having kept the Infidel out
of Italy.

V.--Genealogical Table of the Counts of Flanders from Philippe le Hardi
to Philippe le Beau.

                =Marguerite= = =Philippe= (le Hardi), Duke
                 (of Maele)  |  of Burgundy, son of John
                 _d._ 1405   |  II. of France, _d._ 1404
                         =John= (the = Marguerite, daughter of
                          Fearless)  | Albert, Count of
                          _d._ 1419  | Hainault and Holland
                   +-----------------+------+-----------------------+
Iola Prellæa, = =Philippe=  = Isabel of   Agnes = Charles of  Marie = Adolph I
a Portuguese  | (l'Asseuré) | Portugal          |  Bourbon          |   of
lady. Perhaps |  _d._ 1467  |                   |                   | Cleves
one of the    |             +--------+          +------+            |
ladies of     |                      |                 |            +--+
Isabel of     |  (1) Catherine = =Charles= (the = (2) Isabel           |
Portugal      | daughter of      Terrible)      |                   Adolph II
              | Charles VII.      _d._ 1477     | = (3) Margaret of  of Cleves
              | of France                       |   York (sister     Lord of
              |                                 |   of Edward IV.    Ravestein
              |                                 |   of England)         |
          Anthony                               |   _d._ 1503           |
      Lord of Beveren                           |                       |
     (le grand bâtard                           |                       |
      of Bourgogne)                  +----------+                   Philip of
              |                      |                              Ravestein
           Philip of         =Marie= = Maximilian of
           Beveren         _d._ 1482 | Austria, son of
                                     | the Emperor
                                     | Frederick III.
                         +-----------+--------------+
                   =Philippe= (le Beau)        Marguerite, betrothed to
                     _d._ 1506                Charles VIII. of France

Philip ended his days in the forest of Winendael, hard-by Bruges, clad
in a hair shirt and leading a life of no little austerity, perhaps by
way of penance for the murder of Adrien van Rasseghem, the one blot on
his character.



CHAPTER XXIII

_The Architects and Architecture of Bruges in the Fifteenth Century_


From the commencement of the fourteen hundreds until the dawn of the
struggle with Maximilian, which ended in the final catastrophe of 1490,
the city of Bruges was growing almost daily more picturesque and more
beautiful. Most of her public and private buildings date from this
period, and those of them which were erected earlier were now enlarged
and adorned with sculpture and painting. We have seen poor Louis of
Maele laying the foundation stone of the _Hôtel de Ville_ at the close
of the previous century, but it was certainly not completed until the
opening years of the fourteen hundreds. The documents are still in
existence which prove a fact not generally known that at this time no
less an artist than John van Eyck was gilding and colouring the façade.
The stately octagonal lantern, the crowning glory of the Belfry, was
erected some sixty years later, in 1482, when the signing of the Treaty
of Arras had re-kindled hope; the same year the chevet of the Cathedral
was commenced and the Church of St. Jacques completed, whilst the
southern aisle of Notre Dame and the beautiful Paradise porch at the
foot of the tower date from the middle of the century. About this time
too the present aisles and transepts and choir were added to the Church
of St. Gilles, the Jerusalem Church was finished, the Church of

[Illustration: The "Paradise" of Notre Dame and Gruthuise.]

the Beguins and the Hospital Church of St. John rebuilt, and a host of
convent chapels and chantries and shrines were springing up all over the
city.

In 1477 the beautiful building in the _Place des Biscayens_, which is
now the Municipal Library, was erected for a Custom House; the
architectural gem which adjoins it, the guild-hall of the porters, dates
from seven years earlier, and all over the town the great city
companies--there were no less than forty-seven of them--were building
for themselves chapels and courts, a few of which exist to the present
day, notably the Shoemakers' Hall in the _rue des Pierres_ and in the
same street the hall of the great guild of masons; the beautiful shrine
which the painters erected in the _rue d'Argent_ (it is now the Chapel
of the Josephite nuns) and dedicated to their patron St. Luke; and the
Smiths' Chapel in the _rue des Maréchaux_, in front of which every year,
on the feast of St. Eligius, the horses of Bruges were blessed.
Strangely enough the building in question now serves as a stable. The
foreign merchants, too, were vying with one another in the erection of
sumptuous palaces, where the traders of each nationality dwelt together
in almost monastic seclusion.

Note amongst those still standing the Black House, as it is called, a
grim, weird-looking building behind the theatre. It is erroneously said
to have been used later on as the Court House of the Inquisition, and of
course is in consequence haunted. A most interesting habitation this,
with mullioned windows in which much of the beautiful old green glass is
still remaining, protected on the outside by wrought-iron grills. It
contains a spacious hall with a timber roof, vast chambers with low
ceilings moulded all over with fruit and flowers and foliage, and a
suite of apartments panelled in cedar, the whole fast falling to decay.
Then there is the Paris Hall, where French merchants formerly
congregated, now degraded into a pot-house called _Charles le Bon_. The
façade has been spoiled with whitewash and plaster, but the old gables
at the back are still brown and beautiful, and have endured nothing
worse than the caresses of time. At the corner of the _rue des
Pelletiers_ at its junction with the _rue Flamande_, stands an old
mansion of beautiful grey stone, embellished with sculpture and Gothic
windows rich in geometrical tracery. Unspoiled and unrestored, it is
still a fair and stately building. It was once the hall of the merchants
of Genoa.

Looking on to the canal at the end of the _rue Espagnole_ stands a
spacious habitation which has evidently seen better days. Here dwelt the
merchants of Spain. A little further down on the banks of the same canal
was the loveliest palace of all, the _Maison des Orientaux_, the home of
the great traders of the Hanseatic League (1480). The builders were
already at work at it in the month of August 1478,[41] and when it was
completed three years later, it was one of the most beautiful edifices
in brick in the city of Bruges. Zegher van Maele, who lived early enough
to behold it in all its glory, affirms of the tower that in his day
there was not its equal in all Flanders, and Guiccaiardini, who wrote in
the early sixteen hundreds, informs us that all the iron work in the
interior was gilded. Mark Gheeraert's plan of Bruges, published in 1562,
furnishes an illustration of this wondrous mansion. It was a large,
oblong-shaped, crenelated building, four storeys high, with slender
turrets at each corner corbelled out from the walls at the second
storey, and terminating in iron finials surmounted with metal flags.
The façade giving on the _Place des Orientaux_ was divided into five
vertical panels or bays with round-headed arches. In these the windows
were placed, and the spaces between each storey were filled with
flamboyant tracery. Adjoining the main building, but slightly in the
rear, there was a turreted annex of smaller dimensions, though conceived
in the same style. This, perhaps, was the refectory, for all the
inhabitants dined at a common board. In front of this building was a
spacious courtyard, two sides of which were formed by the façade of the
refectory and the eastern façade of the main building, and the other two
by beautiful crenelated walls with a slender and very graceful turret at
their angle. The tower and spire which called forth the admiration of
Van Maele sprang from the side of the main building, which gave on the
courtyard, and for the rest, towers, turrets, chimneys were everywhere
adorned with graceful panelling or dainty Gothic tracery in moulded
brick. All this splendour is among the things which have been. Only a
fragment of the old palace now remains: the main building, shorn of its
tower, its pinnacles, and its upper storeys, and there is now nothing
left to indicate its glory of former days. This piece of vandalism was
committed about a hundred years ago, when the prosperity of the city of
Bruges was at its lowest ebb. The proprietor at that time was without
the means of keeping so extensive and costly a mansion in repair, and
the city fathers either could not or would not come to his assistance.

It was not only, however, by these public or semi-public buildings that
Bruges was enriched during the period we are now considering. At this
time, and more especially during the long peace of over thirty years
which followed the great humiliation of 1437, there appears to have been
a veritable mania for construction. From Duke Philip himself to the
meanest householder in Bruges, every man seems to have been afflicted
with it.

[Illustration: Hooded Fire Place in the Gruthuise]

Those of the great burgher-nobles who already possessed palaces enlarged
and embellished them; the new men who had recently amassed fortunes vied
with the old aristocracy in the magnificence and luxury of the mansions
which they now built; plain, well-to-do merchants were everywhere
constructing those roomy, comfortable abodes, which, with their high
stepped gables and their façades enriched with stately panelling and
Gothic tracery, still render the streets and squares and waterways of
Bruges the most picturesque in Europe. Even working men, humble members
of the great guilds of smiths, or masons, or carpenters, were making
their homes beautiful with the fruit of their handicraft; constructing
canopied niches at street corners, or over the doorways of the hovels
in which they lived, and placing in them graven images of Our Lady or of
some favourite saint; hammering out exquisite lanterns, which it was
their delight to hang before them, from brackets of no less dainty
fashion; fabricating, of wrought-iron, those quaintly beautiful trade
signs by which it was their wont to call attention to their avocations;
making door, and lintel, and chimney, and rafter comely with fruit and
foliage, fascinating with heraldic devices, and grotesque and leering
heads, and the images of devils and of saints.

Much of this work has of course disappeared, but some of it still
remains to bear witness to the skill and the energy and the devotion of
these poor toilers.

Amongst the nobles who about this time enlarged their palaces note Louis
of Gruthuise, whose grandfather John had erected, probably during the
closing years of the previous century, that portion of the _Hôtel de
Gruthuise_ which skirts the left bank of the river. The stupendous
kitchen, of which we give a sketch, dates from this period. Not content
with this magnificent pile, Louis added thereto, in 1464 or thereabouts,
the great wing at right angles to it, and thus made the home of his
ancestors the most magnificent mansion in the city. Here it was that he
stored his famous library, and here he entertained, in 1471, King Edward
IV. and Richard Crookback. Even the upper chambers in this sumptuous
abode are paved with encaustic tiles, and it is no less than three
storeys high, and when it was restored some few years since, it was
found that the spaces between the timber ceilings and the flooring in
the rooms above were in each case filled with earth. Thus all noise is
effectually confined to the floor in which it is produced. The palace is
connected by a covered way with the Church of Notre Dame, and here Louis
erected, in 1474, a very beautiful tribune of sculptured stone and
carved oak. It is an exquisite piece of workmanship, in the flamboyant
style of the period, adorned with rich tabernacle-work and fruit and
flowers, and with Louis's initials and his family arms, and his proud
device, _Plus est en nous_, which last appears over and over again
throughout the whole palace. It is in a wonderful state of preservation,
and, strangely enough, seems to have entirely escaped alike the hand of
the iconoclast and the restorer. Indeed, the Gruthuise tribune in the
Church of Notre Dame has probably been little changed since the days
when its founder and his family worshipped there more than four hundred
years ago.

[Illustration: Tribune of the Gruthuise in Notre Dame]

There are two other points of interest about this fascinating mansion.
During the process of restoration there was recently discovered a secret
chamber in the great kitchen chimney, and in it the skeleton of a man.
Behind the same chimney there was also discovered a secret staircase
leading to two underground passages branching off in opposite
directions. Neither has yet been explored, but it is supposed, and
probably rightly, that one of them communicates with the vaults beneath
Notre Dame. As for the other, the _concierge_ avers that it leads to the
Château of Maele some four miles out of the town, a most unlikely
conjecture. True there is a tradition that an underground passage exists
between the Chapel of St. Basil and the château in question, and this is
sufficiently conceivable. Subterranean ways and subterranean chambers
are not unknown in Bruges, and they have sometimes been discovered in
strange places. Only recently, when a heavily-laden waggon was entering
the _rue Flamande_ from the _Grande Place_, the ground sank beneath its
weight, and one of the wheels was embedded in a deep hole. Some bricks
in the vault of an unsuspected cavern had suddenly given way, and the
vast chamber thus disclosed was afterwards found to extend for a
considerable distance along the street and beneath several houses on
each side of it. Moreover, St. Basil's was originally the Court Chapel,
and Maele, as we have seen, had from time immemorial been a favourite
residence of the Sovereigns of Flanders. But why should the Lords of
Gruthuise have secretly connected their town house with one of the ducal
castles? It is much more likely that the passage in question
communicated with their own manor at Oostcamp.

Chief among the _parvenus_ who at this time laid out vast sums in bricks
and mortar note Peter Bladelin, son of Peter de Leestmaker, by trade
himself dyer of buckram, and who, in his youth entering the service of
Philippe l'Asseuré, presently rose to the important position of
Controller-General of Finance. Not content with erecting a palace at
Bruges and a _château fort_ in the open country beyond Maele, around the
walls of his castle he built a whole town (1444), which he endowed with
a church (1460) in honour of St. Peter, and surrounded with
fortifications. This place he called Middelburg, and though it has now
dwindled down to a mere village, it was at one time a centre of no small
importance. Here, after the sack and burning of Dinant by Charles the
Terrible in 1466, a colony of brassworkers found refuge. Bladelin
obtained for them from Edward IV. the same privileges and exemption from
English custom dues as they had enjoyed in their native city, and to
this day a street in Middelburg is called _La rue des Dinantais_.

In the great quarrel with Maximilian, Middelburg took the side of that
shifty prince, and the men of Bruges repaid them in 1488 by razing their
fortifications and destroying their castle.

We first get a glimpse of the founder of Middelburg in the spring of the
year 1452, when we find him, in company with Louis of Gruthuise,
shutting the gates of Bruges in the face of a deputation of Ghenters who
had come to beg that city to give them her support in their struggle
with Philippe l'Asseuré, and afterwards, along with Gruthuise, going out
to parley with them and trickily making them believe that they had
attained the object of their mission. 'He was a man,' says the Flemish
chronicler Chastelain, 'of much wealth and of much sense, and the most
trustworthy person in the county of Flanders, although his honesty was
not to the taste of all, and many, alike gentle and simple, grieved
thereat.... He was, moreover, controller of the Duke's household, one of
the four treasurers of the order of the Golden Fleece and but a plain
citizen of Bruges. One excellent quality he had--he managed the Duke's
affairs marvellously well; there, where there was rent or wound, he
always found means to heal or mend, and he paid cash for all goods
delivered at the palace. All this the Duke was well aware of, and on
this account and for other reasons he gave him the high position he
held. For in sooth he was a wise man, and one to be relied on, comely
alike in person and in morals, and none more industrious and diligent
than he could well be found.'

[Illustration: THE HÔTEL BLADELIN]

In the _rue des Aiguilles_ at Bruges there still stands a fragment of
this worthy's town house. It is a spacious, picturesque gabled
construction of tawny brick, with a bold octagonal tower of the same
material crowned with a balustrade of sculptured stone and a beautiful
crocheted steeple. Beneath a canopy of delicately-carved tabernacle
work, which, in its turn, is sheltered by a more substantial canopy of
lead and wrought-iron and oak, note, over the doorway, a statue of the
Madonna and Child, with Bladelin himself kneeling in adoration, and, in
a carved niche below, a shield displaying the arms which Philippe
l'Asseuré granted him. This is a restoration of some five or six years
since. The original work, save some fragments of the stone canopy, had
totally disappeared, but drawings fortunately existed from which it was
possible to construct a facsimile.

Sir Peter Bladelin was treasurer of the Golden Fleece, and the emblems
of this order appear over and over again carved on the great oak beams
in the interior of his mansion.

All that is most interesting in Bruges is, somehow or other, associated
with the Church of Notre Dame, and here, though his palace was in the
parish of St. Jacques, Bladelin founded a chantry, which he dedicated to
St. Margaret, the patron saint of his wife. It is the second chapel off
the northern ambulatory, but is now completely shut off from the rest of
the church and converted into a chamber for the _marguilliers_. Together
with some interesting old pictures, and a few quaint pieces of
furniture, it contains the only ancient stained-glass window in the
Church of Notre Dame. This relic, however, is in no way connected with
the Lord of Middelburg, and dates only from the year 1520.

Peter Bladelin died on the 6th of April 1462, and was buried in the
parish church of the town which he had founded.

There is still in existence in the museum at Berlin a portrait of the
worthy Peter. It was painted by Roger van der Weyden, or, as he is
sometimes called, Roger of Bruges, the most famous of the pupils of John
van Eyck (1400-1464) and is one of the master's last and most perfect
works. It is in the form of a triptych, and was undoubtedly painted for
the church at Middelburg, where it most probably remained until the
opening years of the sixteen hundreds, for a copy on canvas of about
this date is still in possession of the church. It was discovered in
1854 by Canon Andries, at that time parish priest, behind a panel in the
wall of the presbytery kitchen. He had it restored and placed it in the
chancel over Bladelin's tomb. The subject is the Nativity of Our Lord,
and the artist's method of treating it is a curious and unusual one.
_Lumen ad revelationem gentium: et gloriam plebis tuæ Israël_; this must
have been the text which inspired him. In the central panel the Divine
Infant is lying on the ground, adored by His Blessed Mother, St. Joseph
and angels. On the left the Cumæan Sibyl is showing the Emperor
Augustus, through the open lattice window of a typical Flemish
apartment, an apparition of the 'Light to enlighten the Gentiles.' The
Emperor, arrayed in the richly-embroidered garments of the fourteen
hundreds, is in a kneeling posture, and holds his cap in one hand,
whilst with the other he offers incense from a Gothic thurible. On the
right-hand panel are the Magi presenting their gifts, and along with
them Bladelin himself kneeling in adoration, whilst, in the background,
is a view of the town of Middelburg.

The mansion called De Zeven Torens (the Seven Towers) in the _rue Haute_
(Nos. 6 and 8) was also erected during this period. Who was its builder
is uncertain, nor has its early history come down to us, but we know
that Charles II. of England dwelt there two hundred years later, from
June 1656 to February 1658, and when Mark Gheeraerts made his famous
plan of Bruges in 1594 it was still a magnificent building, with four
graceful towers springing from the façade which gives on the _rue
Haute_, and three on the opposite side of the house. These have long
since disappeared. The whole building was remodelled, probably during
the course of the eighteenth century, and it is now, alas! no longer
beautiful.

The Ghistelhof, in the _rue des Aiguilles_, so called from its having
been at one time the home of the powerful lords of Ghistelle, has fared
better. Erected in the year 1460, with its mullioned windows and high
pitched roofs, and far above them its beautiful brown cylindrical tower
crowned with a steeple of red tiles, it still forms a most picturesque
group, though there can be no doubt that, in the heydey of its glory, it
was a much more spacious and magnificent building than it is at present.

Then there is the Hôtel d'Adornes,[42] of which the Jerusalem Church was
at one time the private chapel. These buildings were erected by two
brothers, Anselm and John Adornes, the former in the year 1428, and the
latter in 1465. The courtyard of the ancient palace, with its gables and
Gothic windows, and beautiful wrought-iron, is a quaint and comely
corner, and the little old-world sanctuary, though it has suffered much
from the ravages of time, and more from the devastations of man, is no
less pleasing. The plan is sufficiently uncommon, perhaps unique: a nave
without aisles, and, at the east end, a huge tower of which an upper
storey forms the sanctuary. This is approached from the nave by two

[Illustration: THE GHISTELHOF]

staircases with balustrades of wrought-iron, and separated from it by a
sculptured rood screen. The general effect is very curious, the high
altar being thus

[Illustration: COURTYARD OF THE HÔTEL ADORNES.]

raised some ten or twelve feet above the rest of the church. The
building is lighted by eight windows, six of which are filled with
ancient stained glass (1482-1560), with portraits of the founders and
other members of the family, along with their wives and their patron
saints. In the centre of the nave is an altar-tomb on which repose the
effigies, carved in stone, of Anselm Adornes, the son of one of the
founders, who died in Scotland in 1483, and his wife, Margaret van der
Banck.

Beneath the choir, and slightly below the level of the nave, is a dark
and gloomy crypt, the atrium to the Holy Sepulchre. This is approached
by a passage so low that it can only be traversed by going on hands and
knees, and so narrow that but one person can enter at a time. The
sepulchre itself, which is behind an iron grill, is said to be a
facsimile of the Holy Tomb in the garden of Joseph of Arimathæa. One of
the founders of the Jerusalem Church is known to have visited Palestine.
When Philippe l'Asseuré was contemplating a new crusade, he applied to
this man for information as to the holy places, and there is still in
existence an account of the pilgrimage which his son Anselm made to
Jerusalem. Within the sepulchre, covered with a veil of richly-worked
point lace, lies the effigy of the dead Christ, so realistically
modelled that, in the dim light of the single taper which illumines the
vault, it is difficult not to believe that one is in the presence of a
corpse.

Note yet another glorious mansion--a stately pile of red brick at the
end of the _rue du Vieux Bourg_. It is still a building of vast
proportions, and in former times it was considerably larger. When Mark
Gheeraerts made his map it was adorned with a beautiful steeple, and to
this day it possesses a stupendous Gothic doorway through which there
would be no difficulty in driving a coach and four. A house with marked
features this, and a face full of expression--a house which one
instinctively feels must have a story. Perhaps Peter Lanchals dwelt
here; certainly in later and calmer days it was the home of Mark Laurin,
Lord of Watevliet and Canon of St. Donatian's, and a staunch supporter
of the New Learning, who numbered among his guests and intimate friends
Erasmus, and perhaps too Sir Thomas More and Cuthbert Tunstall.
Presently tenants of another sort inhabited its hospitable walls. Here
for three weeks dwelt the Merry Monarch before he went to the _Zeven
Toren._

[Illustration: TOMB OF ANSELM ADORNES]

For the rest, the Craenenburg in the Grande Place, of which we have
already spoken; the great brown brick house with a tower and a grey
stone gable by the _Pont St. Jean Nepomucene_, and where later on Perez
Malvenda hid the relic of the Precious Blood; and, most famous of all
the palaces of Bruges, the Princenhof of Philippe l'Asseuré; these too
were erected during the period we are now considering, and there are
others no less magnificent, all trace of which has long since
disappeared; amongst them the mansion of Jean de Gros, where Maximilian
was imprisoned. But if this sumptuous residence has been swept away,
Bruges still possesses a sample, sadly mutilated indeed and shorn of all
its splendour, of its founder's handiwork--the aisle which he built in
1472 off the southern side of the choir of St. Jacques.

And what of the architects who designed, and the masons and carpenters
and other craftsmen who together produced all these glorious buildings?
The names of some of them have come down to us--Nicholas Willemszuene,
for example, who was Master Mason of the city of Bruges from 1414 to
1436, and Dean of the Guild of Masons from 1426 to 1432; he constructed
the southern turrets of the Hôtel de Ville, and probably also the
beautiful house of the Florentine Consuls (1429); George Weylaert, Dean
of Masons in 1468 and 1473 and 1482; he was the architect and builder of
the Church of St. Jacques, all his work is perfectly executed, and the
brick moulding of the windows is especially excellent; Vincent de Roode,
Master Mason of the Hospital of St. John, and probably the author of the
beautiful chapel, now sadly defaced, erected in 1475; and, greatest of
them all, Jan van de Poele, member of the Guild of Masons from 1472 to
1516. The most beautiful monuments erected in Bruges during this period
are from his designs. He was not only an architect and a builder but a
sculptor of no mean order. The stately octagonal tower of the Belfry is
perhaps his work; the beautiful façade of the Palais du Franc, of which
we shall have something to say later on, is certainly so, and it was he
who designed the chevet of the Cathedral of St. Sauveur, with the
ambulatory and the seven bays of the apse, and also the _Maison des
Orientaux_, whilst we find him furnishing five statues for the adornment
of the chantry of Peter Lanchals. Van de Poele's work in the Cathedral
is not only in itself exceedingly beautiful, but it bears witness also
to his skill as an engineer. He conceived and successfully carried out
the daring scheme of converting the seven huge windows of the apse into
arcades, whilst at the same time retaining the ancient triforium and
clerestory above them. Thus the Cathedral of Bruges affords a perhaps
unique example of a structure of the thirteenth century supported by
piers and arches of the fifteenth. Van de Poele did not live to complete
the chevet; he died in 1520, and the work was carried on and at last
completed in 1527 by Ambrose Roelandts and John Beyts, each of them
Master Masons and perhaps his pupils.

Until the end of the thirteen hundreds the houses of Bruges were all
constructed of wood, and the designs of the buildings of brick which at
this time began to take their place, with their lofty gabled façades,
adorned, as they generally were, with a vast Gothic arch, were perhaps
inspired by the reminiscence of the wooden edifices which preceded them.
This is the opinion of the learned architect and archæologist
Verschelde, who, for years, had made the ancient buildings of his native
town his especial study, and Mr. Weale and Canon Duclos are of like
opinion; but the most casual observer cannot fail to be struck with the
resemblance which these great arches bear to the huge windows so common
in the gables of churches of the thirteen and fourteen hundreds, and it
may well be that it was from these that the architects of the brick
dwellings of the period we are considering and of the similarly adorned
timber façades of the century which preceded it alike drew their
inspirations.

So too the series of panels or bays which presently superseded the
single arch. These formed a frame for the windows of the various stages,
and terminated at the summit, sometimes in pointed, more frequently in
round-headed arches, which were at first filled with geometrical
tracery. So like are they to the long, narrow windows usual in the
public buildings of the period that a mansion thus adorned might easily
be mistaken for some old Gothic church or hall with its windows bricked
up converted into a dwelling-house.

Later on, towards the close of the century, the geometrical tracery
above the highest storey became flamboyant, and the spaces in the panels
between the various stages were similarly enriched. Jan van de Poele was
probably the first to introduce this innovation, witness the _Hôtel des
Orientaux_. One of the most beautiful specimens of this kind of ornament
is to be found in the façade of an old red brick mansion, now divided
into three houses, Nos. 38, 36 and 34 in the _rue de Jerusalem_, which
dates from the opening years of the fifteen hundreds. In the _rue Pré
aux Moulins_ there is a smaller but yet more beautiful example of the
same date; in the _rue Queue de Vache_, a whole series of houses on
either side of the way, and, most beautiful of all, the charming bay
window which Herman van Oudvelde, in his day Dean of Goldsmiths, added
to his house at the foot of the _Pont Flamand_ in 1514. This system of
ornamentation, which gradually grew more and more elaborate as time
progressed, continued to be employed until the middle of the sixteen
hundreds, or perhaps even later. There is hardly a street in the city
which does not contain one or more, often a long, unbroken series of
façades thus adorned.

[Illustration: VAN OUDVELDE'S WINDOW BY THE PONT FLAMAND]

The tower, too, was a very ordinary feature, not

[Illustration: QUAI DU ROSAIRE]

only in public buildings and palaces, but in the ordinary domestic
architecture of mediæval Bruges. Indeed, at the opening of the fifteen
hundreds, as Mark Gheeraert's map bears witness, Bruges was a city of
steeples. They have, however, for the most part disappeared, and those
that have come down to us can be almost counted on the fingers. The old
mansion in the _rue aux laines_, to which we have just called attention,
possesses, as we have seen, one. It is at the back of the house, and the
summit alone is visible from the street. A stone's throw from it, on the
further bank of the Roya, hard-by the _Quai du Rosaire_, there is
another--a beautiful, red brick, dilapidated structure, crowned with a
silvery steeple, the last tower erected in mediæval Bruges. Those in the
_rue des Aiguilles_ we have already noted. There is a fifth in the
_Place Memlinc_, very tall and very slender, octagonal in shape and
wholly devoid of ornament. When the Smyrna Consuls, who dwelt in the
house to which it is an adjunct, first erected it, it was not so comely
as it is to-day. The waxing and waning of four hundred summers and the
rude embraces of wind and weather have marvellously beautified it, and
the blushing brick of which it is constructed is now all shot with gold.
Close by, in the _Place des Biscayens_, there is another and a more
stately tower of grey stone. It stands alongside of the _Poorters
Logie_, a sort of mediæval club-house where the burghers in days gone by
were wont to hold convivial meetings. There is a seventh and very
beautiful tower on the ramparts at the end of the _rue des Carmes_. It
adorns the home of the great military guild of St. Sebastian. There is
an eighth by the _École Normale_, a mere ruin, the last remnant of the
habitation of a kindred society--the Crossbowmen of St. George and St.
Denis. It is a great square tower of red brick, which originally was
considerably higher than it is at present, and it contains a very
curious stone staircase with a beautiful groined ceiling. This building
is the property of the town, and the corporation intend to restore it
and convert it into a clock-tower for the _École Normale_ and furnish it
with a _carillon_.

The list of ancient turreted mansions in Bruges is completed by the
_Hôtel Gruthuise_. Here are two octagonal towers, one of them of
considerable dimensions and no less curious than pleasing.

[Illustration: GUILD HALL OF THE ARCHERS OF ST. SEBASTIAN]

It will be interesting to note that the taste for towers has recently
revived in the city of Bruges. At least five new buildings are provided
with them, nor do they compare unfavourably with some of the work of the
builders of former days. Notably the red brick tower of the _Académie_
in the _rue Ste. Cathérine_, from the designs of Monsieur de Wolf, who
at present occupies the position of city architect, and the station
clock-tower, of which the steeple is a reproduction in miniature of the
glorious steeple which once crowned the Belfry.

As for the material employed by the ancient architects of Bruges, it was
chiefly brick, not the smooth, fine grained, sharp edged kiln brick
beloved of the modern English builder, but beautiful, rough surfaced,
clamp brick, for the most part small in dimensions, in hue sometimes
red, sometimes what is technically called white, more often
parti-coloured, always fair to look on, exceedingly durable, and in some
cases carved like stone. No less pleasing were the tiles and slates with
which they roofed their buildings, the former flat, oblong, ruddy, of
slender dimensions, the latter of similar shape but not quite so small,
and their colour! grey, purple, green, and, when the sun shines on them,
silver shot with gold. Go up into the Belfry on some glad summer's
morning, look down on the ancient roofs of Bruges, and thou shalt not
regret it.



CHAPTER XXIV

_The Painters and the Pictures of Bruges in the Fifteenth Century_


From time immemorial the culture of the arts, and notably of the art of
painting, has largely entered into the lives alike of the people of
Flanders and of the kindred folk of the neighbouring provinces. Thanks
to the influence and the fostering care of the great monastic houses,
which were everywhere scattered about these lands, the races which
inhabited them had at a very early period attained no little
proficiency, not only in the science of construction, but in the art of
adorning their buildings with sculpture and pictorial representations,
and it may be justly said that the monks of Flanders--her first artists
and her first artisans--made possible that glorious page in the history
of Flemish painting which begins with the divine harmonies of Hubert van
Eyck and ends with the colossal splendour of Rubens.

The chronicles which these cloistered toilers compiled, the books which
they made beautiful with gold and colour and fantastic devices, the
frescoes which of late years have been brought to light in all parts of
the country, these things bear witness to it.

Adelard II., Abbot of St. Trond, who died in 1082, was renowned in his
day as a painter. At Liège there were frescoes in the Church of St.
Martin dating from the close of the nine hundreds, the Cathedral of St.
Lambert in the same city was similarly adorned years before the fire
which destroyed it at the end of the twelfth century, and at this epoch
the artist-monks of the Abbeys of Lobbes and of Stavelot were famous
throughout Europe.

The great Abbey of St. Bavon at Ghent as early as the eleventh century
possessed a school of artists. Some of their illuminated manuscripts
have actually come down to us, and are at present in the Ghent
university library. At the little town of Maeseyck in Holland they still
preserve an eighth-century manuscript adorned by Harlinde and Rilinde,
two of the abbesses who ruled the convent which in those days flourished
there. Among the seven hundred and thirty-four manuscripts in the
municipal library at Bruges, and in the library of the Bruges diocesan
seminary, there are some which date from the thirteenth century, a few
from the twelfth. Many of them are of rare beauty. Notably, at the city
library, a thirteenth-century missal embellished with exquisite
miniatures (No. 314), and, at the seminary, a Cistercian missal and a
Cistercian Breviary of the fourteen hundreds, and a splendid Valerius
Maximus in four volumes, with paintings which are perhaps by John van
Eyck. The greater number of these books were written and illustrated in
the famous Cistercian Abbey which once stood on the Dunes at Coxyde,
between Furnes and Ostend, or by the monks of the affiliated house,
called Ter Doest (All Saints), which Hacket founded at Lisseweghe.

Bruges in the thirteen and in the fourteen hundreds was famed for her
miniaturists and her illuminators. The _Bibliothèque royale_ at Brussels
contains a whole series of manuscripts which once formed part of the
sumptuous libraries of the last Flemish Counts--of Robert of Bethune, of
Louis of Maele, of Philip the Rash, and which one and all bear witness
to the marvellous skill and untiring patience of the men who wrote and
adorned them; these assuredly were not all monks, many of them,
doubtless, were laymen, members of that great artist-guild of St. Luke,
of which we shall have something to say later on. Some of them basked in
the smiles of princes, like John van Eyck, whom Philippe l'Asseuré
enriched and to whose son he stood godfather, and who enjoyed too the
patronage of the Regent Bedford; or Simon Marmion, who received from
Charles the Terrible a sum equal to no less than three hundred and sixty
pounds for a single book of Hours; or Jean Fouquet, the friend and
confidential adviser of Louis XI. Others there were content with the
position of sleek upper servant in the household of some lesser Mæcenas,
and others again, who longed to hold such a post, but were unable to
obtain it; men like poor Jehan Gillemer, for example, who, on the tramp
in search of a patron, was presently arrested as a spy by the agents of
Louis XI. and handed over to the tender mercies of Tristam l'Hermite, a
circumstance, notes M. Lecoy de la Marche,[43] not too deplorable, since
to it we are indebted for the details of his life which have come down
to us, and are thereby enabled to lift a corner of the veil which covers
the manners and customs of one of the most interesting corporations of
the middle ages.

A poor, weak-spirited credulous creature was this obscure miniature
painter, but for all that he seems to have had the soul of an artist and
no little skill in his calling. Sometimes, indeed, he worked for
princes, but he by no means despised the custom of their menials, was
not above mere penmanship, and did not think it beneath him to alter or
complete, even for a humble client, the unfinished work of a _confrère_.
He journeyed half over Europe to dispose of his productions, to obtain
new orders, to have his works bound in the most artistic fashion, to
seek inspiration from the best models and to perfect himself generally
in his art; and he used to collect wherever he went and from whomsoever
he came in contact--from churches, from monasteries, from the private
libraries of the nobles whose houses he frequented, from the menials
whose acquaintance he made in the servants' hall, from courtiers, from
begging friars, from the chance companions whom he drank with at inns,
sometimes, perhaps, new receipts for mixing his colours and for laying
on and burnishing gold, more often strange forms of devotion and
talismans warranted to cure every imaginable ill, from love-philtres and
charms to soothe toothache and settle disputes, to astrological formulæ
to drive away the devil, and, above all, to enable him to keep in order
'those five great hulking apprentices' at home who always would idle
away their time, and whenever he ventured to say a word to them ill-used
him.

Amongst the illuminators enrolled in the Guild of St. Luke were all
sorts and conditions of men; from polished courtiers like John van Eyck
to men doubtless of as questionable character as the obscure individual,
half artist, half perhaps fortune teller, though, for the matter of
that, he swore on the damnation of his soul he had had no dealings with
familiar spirits, whose vagabond life the rack of Tristam has revealed
to us. But whatever their social rank may have been, like the monks who
worked alongside of them, the cloister was the rock from which they were
hewn, and 'the exquisite work which some of them produced is sufficient
to alone explain the origin of Flemish panel painting.'

Thus, Monsieur Fiérens-Gevaert recently,[44] and Lübke and Wauters and
Jules Helbig, before him, though these experts tell us that sculpture
and wall painting had likewise some measure of influence, and traces of
frescoes almost as old as the buildings they once adorned have of late
years been found all over Flanders.

At Bruges, for example, we have the frescoes which Mr. Weale discovered
at Notre Dame in the Chapel of St. Victor at the entrance to the tower.
Here the lower portion of the wall was diapered in crimson and gold, and
above were depicted five angels playing on instruments of music. Mr.
Weale describes these paintings as exceedingly beautiful and in a
sufficiently good state of preservation; alas! they have been again
covered with whitewash. Others were found behind the woodwork of the
churchwarden's pew at the west end of the nave, and yet another in the
southern ambulatory near the sacristy door--a beautiful figure of St.
Louis, dating apparently from the middle of the fourteen hundreds, and
there can be no doubt whatever that, if the whitewash were carefully
removed, it would be found that the whole building is similarly adorned.
So too the Cathedral of St. Sauveur and the Church of St. Jacques, and,
just outside the city, the Churches of Notre Dame at Lisseweghe and at
Damme, in all of which there are, or rather there were mural paintings.
Indeed, those in the last church extended round the whole building.
Unfortunately they were much damaged in removing the whitewash, and they
have again been hidden from view. Other vestiges of wall painting have
been found in various parts of the city, and we know from documentary
evidence that in 1336 Jan van Jabbeke was commissioned to paint a series
of frescoes in the Justice Chamber of the old Hôtel de Ville. Even the
vaults and brick graves in the churchyards were thus adorned, though in
ruder fashion. Several discovered at Varssenaere, in the cemetery of
Notre Dame, and in the _Place St. Jean_, where an old church dedicated
to that saint once stood, have been bodily removed and are now in the
museum beneath the Belfry. They suffered very little injury in the
process and are in a marvellous state of preservation.

But this was not all; even the very stonework at Bruges, and this was no
doubt also the case in other Flemish cities, glowed with gold and
colour; sculpture, statuary, tracery, the mouldings of doors and arches
and windows were not unfrequently thus embellished; we have seen Van
Eyck and other artists engaged in illuminating the niches and the carved
figures on the façade of the Hôtel de Ville; there is an ancient picture
of the interior of Notre Dame which represents the capitals of the nave
radiant with gold and vermilion; vestiges of polychromy within and
without, on woodwork, on plaster, on iron, on stone, have been
discovered all over the city. It is no exaggeration to say that Bruges
at the opening of the fourteen hundreds, the richest, the mightiest and
the loveliest city of Northern Europe, was at this time steeped in
harmonious tints. She had already entered upon the autumn of her
existence, but, like Nature, she had arrayed herself in a vesture of
gold wrought about with divers colours, and the cunning workers who had
woven and embroidered it--the painters of frescoes and the stainers of
glass, the illuminators of vellum and the illuminators of stone--were
the precursors and fathers and founders of the most glorious school of
painting which the world has yet produced. The Van Eycks, the Memlincs,
the Van der Weydens, all the Flemish primitives, whose marvellous
pictures still fill us with admiration, lived and moved and had their
being in the beauty which these men created. The statues, the
miniatures, the mural painting of these poor craftsmen were the models
which inspired their first work, and there is reason to believe that the
insatiate thirst for colour which their predecessors had experienced
led indirectly to the famous discovery which rendered its execution
possible.

In a country like the Netherlands, devoid of precious marbles, there was
only one way of satisfying it--to find some artificial means of
colouring the material at hand, and in that damp, changeable climate the
pigment applied must needs be of a nature to withstand the vagaries of
weather.

The monk Theophilus, a writer often quoted in the twelfth century, gives
exact formulæ for mingling colour and oil, but the pigment thus obtained
was far from being satisfactory; a second coat could not be applied
until the first was completely dry, and the length of time which it took
in drying rendered it practically useless, at all events for the
painting of pictures.

For centuries artists all over Europe were vainly endeavouring to remedy
this defect, and it was not until the opening of the fourteen hundreds
that the problem was at last solved, but long before that period oil
paint had been successfully employed for decorative purposes. We know
that the sculptor Wuillaume du Gardin made use of it for his statues as
early as 1341, and when Hubert van Eyck first came to Bruges at the
close of the fourteenth or at the opening of the fifteenth century the
practice seems to have been generally adopted. It has long been known
that John van Eyck was an _enlumineur des statues_, and a document
recently discovered in the archives of Ghent makes it quite certain that
his elder brother Hubert followed the same calling; what more likely
then, than that the idea should have struck him of painting his pictures
with the same pigment with which he had been in the habit of decorating
stone? But whatever may have led to his great discovery, certain it is,
that the day on which he made it was the birthday of modern art.

The invention of oil painting has until recently been generally
assigned to the year 1420 or thereabouts, but if Mr. Weale is right in
his calculations, and be it borne in mind he has devoted a lifetime to
the study of the Flemish primitives, and has done more to elucidate
their history than any living man, Hubert van Eyck's great oil-painting,
the only picture which can as yet be certainly assigned to him, 'The
Adoration of the Lamb,' at Ghent, cannot have been commenced later than
1415, probably even earlier. It follows then that the new process must
have been invented prior to that date.


HUBERT VAN EYCK

Hubert van Eyck, the first and the greatest of the Flemish masters, was
born at the little market town of Maeseyck in Limbourg, somewhere about
the year 1366. He seems to have been of an old painter family, as not
only Hubert himself but his brothers John and Lambert and his sister
Marguerite all followed this calling. Of his life's story we know
little, of his early years hardly anything. An illuminator of missals
and an illuminator of statues, as well as a painter of pictures,
perhaps, as Mr. Weale has recently suggested, he made his first studies
at Maestricht or at Cologne and afterwards travelled in Spain and in
Italy. By the opening of the fifteenth century he must certainly have
been an artist of some reputation, for in 1413 John de Visch, Lord of
Axel and Capelle, bequeathed to his daughter Mary, who was later on
Abbess of Bourbourg near Gravelines, a picture which Hubert had painted.
What was its subject or what has become of it is not known.[45]

He seems to have passed his middle life at Bruges,[46] and there are
still in existence two pictures attributed with reason to him, which
must have been painted during his sojourn there. The first represents
Our Lady, St. Anne and Herman Steenken, who was Vicar of the Chartreuse
of St. Anne at Woestine near Bruges, from 1402 to 1404, and from 1406
till his death on April 23, 1428. This picture is at present in the
possession of Baron Rothschild at Paris; the second is now in the Berlin
Gallery; it depicts the same monk, but apparently some ten years older,
Our Lady and St. Barbara.

The last years of Hubert's life were spent at Ghent. In the year 1424 we
find him receiving from the aldermen of that city 6s. gr. for the
sketches of two pictures which they had commissioned him to paint for
them but were apparently never executed. Perhaps he had not leisure to
do so. About this time Hubert must have been fully occupied. He had a
triptych in hand which Robert Poortier had ordered for a chapel in
honour of St. Anthony, which he had founded in the Church of St.
Sauveur, at Ghent, and a statue of the same saint to gild and colour,
also for Robert Poortier. For years he had been at work on 'The
Adoration of the Lamb,' and we know that he had not completed it when
death struck him down on the 18th of September 1426.

These facts, if they be facts, represent all, or very nearly all, that
is known of the story of Hubert van Eyck. Perhaps we have his portrait.
Amongst the crowd of figures displayed on his marvellous triptych at
Ghent, note in the foreground of the outer left wing a citizen riding on
a white horse. Tradition tells us that this man is no other than Hubert
himself, and that the rider behind him on the brown horse is his younger
brother John.

But if we know little or next to nothing of the home life and
surroundings of Hubert van Eyck, his merits, says Lübke, as the founder
of an entirely new mode of painting are established beyond doubt. 'Not
only by reason of the improvement which he effected in the process of
mingling colour with oil, and his successful adaptation of the new
method to the painting of pictures, does he justly deserve the title of
Father of Northern art.' He was the first to bring back the cultus of
beauty, and the first to bend before Nature's shrine. He was set in the
midst of a plain full of dry bones, and by the might of his genius he
made them live, and whilst he gave largeness and depth and reality to
the conventional art of the Middle Ages he lost not one whit of its old
ideal grandeur. Utterly discarding the golden backgrounds of former
days, he bathed his creations in the glow of Nature's aureole as he saw
it in the green fields and fair woodlands of his native land, and whilst
he set on them the impress of his own epoch and his own race, he at the
same time invested his sacred figures with sublime grandeur and dignity
and a certain ineffable sweetness which is altogether peculiar to
himself. In this respect his painting has been rarely equalled and never
yet surpassed.

No vestige of Hubert's work remains in the city on the Roya, but hard by
in the old Cathedral of St. Bavon at Ghent is his masterpiece, 'The
Adoration of the Lamb'--a picture, indeed, not painted at Bruges, but
for all that instinct with the ethos of Bruges, which still preserves
the memory of her magnificence, still keeps alive one quivering ray of
her aureole, and is perhaps the most perfect reflection we have of the
beauty which enshrined her at the epoch when she was fairest. Nay, it is
something grander and nobler and holier than this. It is a sublime
transcription in gold and colour of the poetry of the Mass, an
inspiration incomparable and altogether unique. 'Like Dante's Divine
Comedy and Bach's Passion Music it stands, in its sphere, alone.' Make a
journey to Ghent and gaze upon this marvellous picture, and perchance
its splendour shall enlighten thy soul, and then go down into the crypt
and kneel before the tomb of the man who created it.


JOHN VAN EYCK

We know something more of the life of John van Eyck than of the life of
his master and elder brother Hubert. His junior by twenty years, like
him he was born at Maeseyck, and though his pictures have little in
common with the primitives of Maestricht or Cologne he seems to have
made his first studies in his own neighbourhood, and later on to have
accompanied Hubert to Bruges. A man of many parts and many achievements,
painter of pictures, stainer of glass, illuminator of parchments,
illuminator of stone--no uncommon circumstance at a time when every
artist was an artisan, and every craftsman an artist--he added yet to
his varied talents no little skill in diplomacy, was entrusted by his
sovereign with sundry private and delicate missions, and travelled for
him frequently and far, sometimes in order to paint pictures, sometimes
on matters of state.

Whilst still a young man John van Eyck parted company for a time with
his brother. In the autumn of 1422 he was appointed _peintre et varlet
de chambre_ to Duke John of Bavaria, the famous Jean sans Pitié,
Prince-Bishop of Liège. When that militant prelate was gathered to his
fathers some two years afterwards, Philippe l'Asseuré received his
heritage, and upon the recommendation of '_plusieurs de ses gens_' he
confirmed Van Eyck in his office and in all the customary honours and
profits appertaining thereto,' granting to him, over and above, an
annual stipend of a hundred _livres_, a sum equal in current coin to
about one hundred and sixty pounds.

After a short sojourn at Bruges the young painter journeyed to Lille,
probably to execute some work there for his new master, for during his
entire stay in that city, nearly three years, Philippe paid his house
rent. In the summer of 1428 he set out on _certains lointains voyages
secrez_ which the Duke had commanded him to make, _en certains lieux
dont il ne voulut autre déclaration être faite_. Probably Spain was the
place of his destination, and the object of his journey to find Philippe
a wife. If so, his sojourn there must have been of short duration, for
before the end of the year we find him in Portugal busy painting 'a most
life-like portrait of the Infanta' Isabella, who shortly afterwards
became Philippe's affianced bride. By 1433 he was again at Bruges, and
in the course of the year he purchased a house in the _rue de la Main
d'Or_, which he henceforth made his headquarters. Often from home,
sometimes at Hesdin, sometimes at Lille to visit his friend and patron
and to obtain from him instructions as to work which he wished him to
execute, once at least, in 1435, _en certains voyages lointains et
étranges marches_, no doubt anent matters of state, here it was that he
seems to have painted most of his pictures which have come down to us,
and there are a whole series of signed and dated panels for each year
from 1432 to 1440, save only 1435, the year of his secret journey. He
must have been residing in this house when he illuminated the statues,
six of them, of the Hôtel de Ville, and received for his labour, as the
town archives bear witness, 33 _livres_ 12 _escalins de gros_, a sum
representing in purchasing value to-day from fifty to sixty pounds.

Here he entertained the burgomaster and aldermen of Bruges, who, on July
17, 1432, repaired in a body to his studio to inspect a picture which he
had just completed, and which no doubt they had commissioned, perhaps a
Madonna and Child at present at Ince Bloundel Hall, near Liverpool, for
this picture, one of the few that are dated, bears the following
inscription: _Complendum anno Domini 1432, als ich kan_.

It will be interesting to note that upon this occasion John's two
apprentices made merry, for the city fathers presented them with five
_escalins_ by way of _gratification_. Here was born his only child, or
at all events the only child of whom there is any record; we know that
Duke Philippe was the godfather, and it may well be that he was present
at the christening feast.

Here too he painted for the Guild of St. Luke that portrait of his pale,
sad-faced, patient wife, which at present hangs in the Academy at
Bruges. Though she looks considerably older, the quaintly-worded legend
on the frame informs us that at this time she was only thirty-three
years of age--_Conjunx meus Johannes me complevit anno 1439º 17º Junii,
etas mea triginta annorum, als ich kan_; and lastly, here, not much more
than twelve months afterwards, on July 9, 1440, the great painter died.
They laid him to rest in the cloister of St. Donatian's, and it would
seem that his obsequies were celebrated with some circumstance, for the
city archives inform us that three bells were tolled:--Donatian, Leonard
and Bernard.

It is still the custom at Bruges to toll several bells at solemn
funerals. They are rung one after the other at intervals of perhaps half
a minute, beginning with the highest bell, and ending with the
_bourdon_. The effect produced is very solemn and very striking and
somewhat uncanny.

Some two years after John's death his bones were translated to the
Baptistry Chapel in the interior of St Donatian's.

His widow continued to hold, and no doubt to inhabit the house in the
_rue de la Main d'Or_ until 1443. On June 4, in that year, she paid the
ground rent for the last time.

In all that concerns _technique_ John was the equal, perhaps the
superior of his great brother. His _mise en scène_ is perfect. He
arranged his figures in symmetrical groups, clad them in glorious
apparel, and set them in the midst of fair courts, or stately shrines,
rich in sculpture and polished marble and costly hangings. He delighted
in the _clair-obscur_, in the lustre of gold, in the shimmer of silk, in
the scintillation of gems. In the wealth and variety of his palette and
in the richness and depth and harmony of his mellow colouring he is
unsurpassed. In spite of his realism and his love of detail his pictures
are full of poetry, and if, as Mr. Weale says, he only saw with his
eyes, he has somehow or other managed to make us see the souls of the
figures he painted, but they lack the seriousness, the grandeur, the
simple dignity of Hubert's sublime creations.

All this is exemplified in a marked degree in the St. Donatian's
altar-piece in the academy at Bruges. The scene is laid in the apse of
an old Byzantine church, glowing with gold and colour--perhaps St.
Donatian's. The columns are of shining porphyry--red, purple, green; the
pavement is of encaustic tiles of the colour of amber, the brown walls
are of stone, in the background beyond the choir pale green light
streams through arched windows set with little circular panes of bottle
glass. Our Lady with her Divine Child on her knee forms the central
figure of the picture. She is seated beneath a canopy on a sculptured
throne, her outer garment is silken and of the colour called Indian
red, her kirtle is dark blue, a mediæval carpet is spread beneath her
feet. On her right hand stands St. Donatian, a noble figure, but with a
face too stern for a saint's. In one hand he holds his pastoral cross
and in the other his traditional wheel with five lighted tapers. He is
attired in a cope of indigo and gold brocade lined with crimson silk and
edged with sable. On the left kneels the donor, George van der Pale,
Canon of St. Donatian's--thick-necked, asthmatic, kindly, obese, a
devout old Flemish gentleman. In one fat trembling hand he holds his
half-open Breviary, in the other his reading glass; he is robed in a
white surplice, his spectacle-case hangs at his side. The portrait is
full of detail, very life-like and evidently unflattered. Behind him
stands a youth in polished mail, who naïvely raises his helmet as, with
his left hand on the canon's shoulder, he presents him to Our Lady--his
patron, St. George; a very loyal, large-hearted, human, joyous saint,
who, one feels quite sure, will regard with a lenient eye the
shortcomings of his clients and do his best to help them, but for all
that he seems to have the air of being not quite at ease, not quite sure
perhaps whether the poor old canon is worthy of an introduction. May be
this strangely fascinating figure is also a portrait.

As for the scheme of colour, it is simply glorious. Gold gleams
everywhere. We see it in the blue brocade of the canopy and in the blue
brocade of St. Donatian's cope; there are threads of it in the
intricately-embroidered borders of Our Lady's robe; it glisters round
her neck and on her fingers and in her hair. St. George's armour is all
golden, and on the other side of the picture there stands St. Donatian
arrayed in a vesture of gold wrought about with divers colours; even

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF GEORGE VAN DER PALE

_From the St. Donatian's Altar-piece of John van Eyck, in the Municipal
Gallery, Bruges_]

the sculptured capitals of the columns are gilded, and wherever there is
gold there are precious stones. Diamonds and carbuncles and pearls
glisten in St. George's breastplate and in St. Donatian's crosier and in
the orphreys of his cope, his gleaming mitre is all sewn with amethysts
and pearls; there are pearls, too, round Our Lady's mantle and on her
breast and in her yellow hair, and all this splendour is so delicately
manipulated and so minutely and carefully portrayed that it bears
looking at through a magnifying glass, and it is arranged with such
exquisite taste, and the figures which it adorns are so calm, and about
the whole scene there is an atmosphere of such profound peace, that the
picture is in no way tawdry or garish or vulgar.

This is the largest panel which John van Eyck is known to have painted;
the figures are about half life size. It was placed originally over the
high altar in St. Donatian's, and we know from an inscription on the
frame that it was completed in 1436.

At that time Bruges was straining every nerve to free herself from the
tyranny of Philippe l'Asseuré. John, indeed, was on the winning side,
but the battle had not yet been fought out to the bitter end, and in
1436 it was as likely as not that his patron would be worsted, and yet
he went on quietly painting, and the calm saints of the St. Donatian's
picture bear no trace of the storm amid which they were created.


GERARD DAVID

Half a century later, when Bruges was once more in the throes of
rebellion, and the burghers, for the moment triumphant, had the weakling
who would have enslaved them under lock and key and were exacting the
uttermost farthing from the instigators and instruments of his crimes, a
painter less famous than John van Eyck, but for all that well skilled in
his art, and one whose hand, in spite of the turmoil around him, had not
lost its cunning, was at work on two panels which now hang in the
gallery at Bruges hard by Van Eyck's picture. Similar in colour, hardly
less delicate in design, adorned like it with jewels and gold, these
pictures form the very antithesis to the calm altar-piece of St.
Donatian's. It is instinct with serene splendour, they are quick with
gruesome motion; it is the portrayal of God's mercy, they depict man's
vengeance. Van Eyck was inspired by the spirit of love, David by the
frenzy of delirium.

It was but a passing phase. As in the days of the French Terror men who
before had been peaceful citizens, carried away by the fury around them,
committed all kinds of excesses, and when the blizzard had passed
stepped quietly back into the old humdrum groove of former days as if
nothing had happened, so David, under similar circumstances, defiled his
brush by painting one loathsome picture, and presently, when the storm
had spent itself, clothed and in his right mind, again resumed his old
themes and his old methods: busied himself in adorning altars with fair
virgins and sweet-faced angels, and by making breviaries beautiful with
the legends of the saints.

From the little that is recorded of him he seems to have been a devout
and charitable man, and the placid scenes he delighted to paint indicate
that he was naturally of a humane and gentle disposition.

We know that in 1508 he joined the brotherhood of Our Lady of the Dry
Tree, a famous religious guild affiliated to the Franciscan order. The
following year he presented to the Carmelite nuns of Bruges one of his
most exquisite pictures, an altar-piece representing Our Lady
surrounded by virgin saints, at present in the gallery at Rouen; and
later on, when the same nuns were in straitened circumstances, he
advanced them a very considerable sum free of interest, only stipulating
that the money should be returned when he asked for it. This he did
during his last illness, several years afterwards, and it is pleasing to
find that the nuns at once complied with his request. But to return to
the days of his aberration. Shortly after the execution of Peter
Lanchals and other members of the magistracy of Bruges, who like him had
been accused of corruption and of conspiring with Maximilian to deprive
the town of its liberty, the new magistrates whom the people had chosen
to fill their place commissioned Gerard David to paint for the Court of
Justice in the Hôtel de Ville two pictures which should remind the
judges that if they should at any time fail in their duty punishment
would assuredly follow.

Gerard was a native of Oudewater in Holland, who some four years
previously had taken up his abode in Bruges. On the 14th of January 1484
he was enrolled among the members of the Guild of St. Luke. He was
probably an ardent patriot, at all events was in touch with the popular
leaders, for we know from documentary evidence that they employed him to
paint the iron gratings which were placed before the windows of Jean de
Gros's mansion when Maximilian was imprisoned there, and, as we have
seen, it was he whom they commissioned to paint the panels for the Town
Hall.

The theme selected for his pictures is a horrible one--the conviction
and the flaying alive of Sisamnes, an Egyptian judge who had been
accused of receiving bribes. The story is first told by Herodotus, but
David had probably culled it from the pages of Valerius Maximus, and
there can be no doubt that the subject was suggested to him by the
tragedy which had just taken place beneath the shadow of the Belfry. He
has represented himself in the first panel calmly surveying the arrest
of Sisamnes, and it may well be that he actually witnessed the execution
of Lanchals, perhaps expressly with a view to these paintings. In each
case the scene is laid at Bruges, the figures, the faces, the attitudes,
the costumes, are all essentially Flemish, and it is in the highest
degree probable that he introduced other portraits besides his own.

Mark the expression of Sisamnes in the flaying scene. See how his
features twitch, how he clenches his hands and his teeth, and draws back
his lips in agony. Did Peter Lanchals look like that when he was being
racked in the infernal machine which he himself had invented?

There are only seven other pictures which can at present be certainly
attributed to Gerard David. They are all of a sacred character, and four
of them were painted for churches in Bruges. Of these the most beautiful
is the triptych presented to the Carmelite nuns in 1509, and which
adorned the high altar of their chapel until the community was
suppressed by Joseph II. in 1783. Two years later, when their property
was sold at Brussels, David's picture was purchased by a dealer named
Berthels for fifty-one florins. He sold it to a French collector,
Monsieur Miliotti, in whose possession it remained until his estate was
confiscated by the Revolutionary government some years later. Presently
it was hung in the Municipal Gallery at Rouen, where it still remains.
This is the most decorative, and perhaps the most charming of David's
pictures. The subject is Our Lady surrounded by angels and virgin
saints. The grouping is sufficiently symmetrical and altogether
excellent, the scheme of colour is rich and harmonious, and though the
sacred figures almost entirely cover the panel, owing to the lack of
detail in the background, a mass of deep, sombre green, almost black,
they appear in no way crowded. The faces are for the most part somewhat
heavy, and decidedly Flemish, but there is an air of calm repose about
them which is very restful, and the fair-haired, white-robed angels
which stand on each side of Our Lady's throne are of another type. David
must have drawn them from peasant models. This picture is all the more
interesting from the fact that the artist has introduced his own
portrait, and also that of his wife Cornelia,[47] the daughter of a
Bruges goldsmith, one Jacob Cnoop, a native of Middelburg in Holland.
Unless David flattered his wife, she must have been a woman of
singularly prepossessing appearance, with bright eyes and an intelligent
face. She stands with her hands clasped in prayer, the last figure but
one on the left-hand side of Our Lady, beyond her stands St. Lucy, a
child saint who suffered martyrdom at fourteen. She is here represented
as a woman of forty, gorgeously arrayed in two shades of crimson, fat
and not fair. David himself balances his wife on the opposite side of
the picture. A sufficiently artistic face this, but upon the whole not a
pleasing one. His eyes are too prominent, his lips are too thick, and he
has a weak, receding chin.

Gerard David painted two pictures for the Church of St. Donatian:--an
altar-piece representing the mystic marriage of St. Catherine, and two
panels which formed the shutters of a triptych. These, together with
the wings of several other triptychs, were sold by the Cathedral Chapter
in 1787 at the request of the sacristan, a lazy, clumsy fellow who,
objecting to the trouble of opening and closing them, averred that he
invariably broke the altar candles in doing so. One of David's shutters
has disappeared, the other, after passing through several hands, was
purchased in 1859, for five hundred and twenty-five guineas, by Mr.
Benoni White, who, at his death in 1878, bequeathed it to the National
Gallery.

Here we have a portrait of the donor Bernardin Salviati, Canon of St.
Donatian's and the son of a wealthy Florentine merchant who had married
a Flemish lady and settled at Bruges. The kneeling canon is attired in a
surplice of fine linen and is accompanied by three saints--St. Donatian
resplendent in black brocade glistering with jewels and gold, St. Martin
in a crimson velvet cope, with richly-embroidered orphreys, and his
patron, the Franciscan saint, Bernardin, in the rough grey frock of the
poor man of Assisi. The heads are very fine, full of expression and more
Italian than Flemish in type, but the figures are not gracefully posed;
there is too much landscape, and the picture is hardly decorative enough
for an altar-piece.

The St. Donatian's 'Marriage of St. Catherine' is also at present in the
National Gallery. It seems to have been taken to Paris when the old
cathedral was destroyed. It eventually became the property of M. de
Beurnoville; when his collection was sold in 1881, the late Mrs Lyne
Stephens purchased it for 54,100 frs. (£2164), and it was bequeathed by
her to the nation.

This panel is far superior to the Salviati picture. The colouring is
very rich and mellow, the composition is perfect, the faces are
admirably painted and, though somewhat heavy and Flemish in character,
are on the whole pleasing; the background, with its vine-clad walls and
lovely garden of roses, and lilies, and trees beyond, and picturesque
buildings, is altogether beautiful and in no way obtrusive. The whole
picture is admirably adapted to the purpose for which it was designed.

The only one of David's sacred pictures which remains in Bruges is the
triptych known as 'The Baptism of Christ.'

The history of this picture is a strange one. It was painted early in
the fifteen hundreds for John des Trompes, who at that time was city
treasurer, probably for his private oratory; later on, in 1520, it was
presented by his heirs to the Guild of Advocates, and placed over the
altar of their chantry in the crypt of St. Basil in the Bourg. A coat of
black distemper inscribed with the Ten Commandments saved it from the
fury of the Calvinists in 1579. Carried off by the French in 1794, it
remained in Paris until 1815, when it was at last sent back to Bruges
and placed in the City Gallery, where it still remains. It hangs
alongside of David's other pictures, is in striking contrast to them,
and as a work of art their inferior. The grouping is not happy. Two of
the three principal figures in the central panel are decidedly weak, and
those in the distance are for the most part stumpy and graceless. On the
other hand, the figure of the kneeling angel who holds our Lord's
garments is singularly beautiful. His sweet, placid face might have been
drawn by Memlinc and his glorious vesture by John van Eyck. The
landscape setting is the most interesting portion of this panel, and in
all probability it is not David's work. Mr. Weale thinks that Joachim
Patenier may have painted it, and Jules Helbig is of the same opinion.
'Nothing,' says Mr. Weale, 'can well be finer than this portion of the
picture; the trees, vigorously painted and finished with wonderful
minuteness, have evidently been studied individually from nature....
Between their trunks we get glimpses of real distant landscape. The
herbage, lilies, mallows, violets, and other flowers in the immediate
front have never been more admirably reproduced by the art of the
painter.... The transparency of the water, the reflection of surrounding
objects and the shadows on its surface are faithfully rendered. The
bedding of the rocks too is imitated with perfect truth. The colouring
of all this portion is so remarkably bright and lovely that the faults
of the composition are not at first noticed.'

All this is no exaggeration. Bearing in mind the age in which it was
produced, this piece of landscape painting is in truth a marvellous
achievement. Considered in itself it is worthy of the highest
admiration. But instead of being a mere accessory, as was the case in
the pictures of the Van Eycks, of Memlinc, of Van der Weyden, of all the
earlier masters, the landscape here forms, so to speak, the dominant
note of the picture. The beauty of these fair fields and woods and
mountains is the first thing which attracts the spectator's attention.
The sacred figures are overwhelmed and belittled and cast into the shade
by the splendour of their setting, and, after all, the sacred figures
should form the principal feature of a picture like this, intended for
an altar-piece. On the whole we cannot help regretting that Gerard David
called in the aid of Joachim Patenier. The left wing shows the donor and
his little son Philip, and his patron, St. John the Evangelist; the
right, the donor's first wife, her four daughters and her patroness, St.
Elizabeth of Hungary. Each of these panels has a landscape background,
no less beautiful and no less obtrusive than the landscape in the
central panel. The triptych when

[Illustration: GERARD DAVID'S 'BAPTISM OF CHRIST'

_Municipal Gallery, Bruges_]

shut displays five figures--Our Lady seated beneath a canopy, with the
Divine Infant on her knee, and facing them the donor's second wife, her
little daughter and her patroness, St. Mary Magdalene. Here there is an
architectural background of open arcades, with a view beyond, perhaps of
Bruges.

This is perhaps the least satisfactory of the nine pictures which, to
quote the words of Mr. Weale, 'can at present with certainty be assigned
to Gerard David.'

In the Museum of the Holy Blood there is a triptych representing the
Deposition, which, according to documents preserved in the confraternity
archives, was painted by David in 1520. The authenticity of this picture
is, however, contested, and it is certainly far inferior to any of his
known paintings.

Gerard David married probably during the year 1496. His wife, as we have
seen, was Cornelia Cnoop. They had issue one daughter, who was
christened Barbara, and was already married at the time of her father's
death. During forty years he held a foremost place among the painters of
Bruges. He was elected a councillor of the Guild of St. Luke in 1488,
and again in 1495 and in 1498. He was gathered to his fathers on the
13th of August 1523. They buried him in Notre Dame, beneath the tower,
but no stone marks the place of his sepulture. When the church was
repaired at the beginning of the last century it disappeared. Many of
the old Notre Dame tombstones have been put to ignoble purposes, serve
as doorsteps for houses in the neighbourhood, or to pave kitchens, or
are stowed away in cellars and back-yards. Perhaps David's monument is
among the number. It was engraved with his arms, which are known, and
those of his wife, and the memorial inscription has been preserved.
Hence in all probability it would be easy of identification.

Great painter as he undoubtedly was, the fame of Gerard David hardly
survived him, even in the city in which he had so long dwelt.

Van Mander, writing as early as 1604, was obliged to avow that he had no
information concerning him, save only this, that Peter Pourbus, who died
in 1584, considered him to be an excellent artist, and Van Mander had
long inhabited Bruges.

By the close of the sixteen hundreds even those of his pictures which
still adorned the city of his adoption were attributed to other
painters, and for more than two hundred and fifty years his name was
buried in oblivion.

Less than half a century ago Mr. Weale brought it back to men's memory.
To his diligent research the world is indebted for all that is now known
of the life and labours of this great artist. From his writings in the
_Beffroi de Bruges_, the _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, and elsewhere, we
have culled the notes here set down on the history of Gerard David and
the histories of the pictures he painted.

To return for a moment to John van Eyck. There are two other pictures at
Bruges which are possibly his. The first is a small panel in the
municipal gallery representing the head of Christ. Mr. Weale refuses to
acknowledge this as an authentic picture, and says that the only part
which is well painted is the embroidered collar of the tunic. Lübke, on
the other hand, speaks of it as a genuine Van Eyck, and ascribes the
date to 1440, the year of John's death, but he adds, 'like the head of
Christ in the Berlin Museum, painted two years previously, it exhibits a
certain want of expression, seeming to intimate to us the limits of
John's genius.'

M. de Copman, the curator of the Bruges Gallery, has no doubt that it is
authentic, and describes it as such on the frame. One thing is certain.
If this picture was indeed painted by John van Eyck it is not worthy of
him.

The second picture, a finely-painted Mater Dolorosa, is in the
Cathedral. From the fact that it is signed with the initials _J. E._ it
was formerly attributed to John, but it is now generally acknowledged to
be the work of some other artist.

Among the crowd of artists who in the course of the fourteen hundreds
flocked to Bruges, and whose method of painting was inspired either
directly or indirectly by the brothers Van Eyck, note Pieter Christus, a
native of Baarle near Tilburg, who died at Bruges in 1473, the only
pupil of John van Eyck whose name has come down to us; Gerhard van der
Meire, Dierick Boudts, Roger van der Weyden, all of them perhaps pupils
of Hubert's; Roger's pupil, Hans Memlinc, the greatest of all the Bruges
painters after the brothers Van Eyck, and, towards the close of the
century, Quentin Metsys, Albert Cornelis and Jerome Bosch.

Strangely enough, of these men only one, Albert Cornelis, was a native
of Bruges, and though they all of them spent a considerable portion of
their lives there, the sum of their united labours is at present
represented in the city by hardly a score of pictures. Of the work of
Pieter Christus nothing remains; Quentin Metsys, Hugo van der Goes and
Roger van der Weyden are likewise unrepresented, though several of the
masterpieces of the last two were in the Church of St. Jacques at the
close of the seventeen hundreds. When they disappeared, or what has
become of them, is unknown. One picture remains in Bruges which was
perhaps painted by Gerhard van der Meire, four which are probably the
work of Dierick Boudts; Jerome Bosch and Albert Cornelis are each
represented by one picture, Gerard David, as we have seen, by three or
perhaps four, and Hans Memlinc by six which are certainly his work, and
by some half-dozen others which are attributed to him with more or less
probability, whilst scattered about the town there are many pictures,
some of them very beautiful, which were no doubt painted at Bruges
during the period we are now considering, but by artists who have not as
yet been identified.

Of the lives and surroundings of these great masters little has come
down to us. All that is certainly known concerning most of them is the
place of their birth and death, and the date of those events--even these
meagre details are in the case of some of them lacking--and that of the
multitude of pictures of the Flemish school of this period scattered
throughout the churches and galleries of Europe, not a few can be
positively traced to one or other of the Bruges masters.


ROGER VAN DER WEYDEN.

Roger van der Weyden, the greatest of the immediate disciples of John
van Eyck, was born at Tournai early in the fourteen hundreds. In 1436 he
was appointed painter to the city of Brussels, and it was probably
during this time that he adorned with gold and colour the statuary of
the tomb of Jeanne of Brabant, which Philippe l'Asseuré erected in the
Carmelite Church there. In 1450 he made a pilgrimage to Rome for the
great jubilee which was celebrated during that year. We know something
of the details of this journey. _En route_ he sojourned at Ferrara, at
Milan and at Florence, and in all of these towns he received the most
cordial welcome, not only from his brother artists, but from the ruling
princes. At Ferrara he must have worked for Lionel d'Este, for on his
return to Brussels we find him receiving from that prince the sum of
twenty golden ducats in part payment for _certe depicture_ executed in
his palace at Ferrara. At Milan he painted for Francesco Sforza a
Calvary, with the portraits of Francesco himself, his wife, Blanche
Visconti, and their young son, Galéas. This splendid picture is now in
the _Musée des Beaux Arts_ at Brussels. At Florence he was employed by
Cosmo de' Medici. The fruit of his labours in that city is at present in
the Stadel Museum at Frankfort--a glorious triptych which represents the
Madonna and Child, with St. Peter and St. John the Baptist, patrons of
the city, on the right, and on the left the mighty Cosmo himself and one
of his brothers, perhaps Lorenzo, in the guise of the patrons of the
Medici family--Saints Cosmas and Damian. 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 sight-seeing 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.

During the later part of his life Roger seems to have resided at Bruges,
and here perhaps he painted the Middelburg triptych now in the Berlin
Gallery, and the missing triptych which formerly adorned the Church of
St. Jacques. This picture excited the admiration of Albert Dürer when he
visited Bruges in 1521. Its theme was the life of St. John the Baptist.
The same subject is portrayed in a painting attributed to Roger, at
present in the Berlin Gallery. Have we here the Bruges picture?

The exact date of Roger's death is known--June 18, 1464; we also know
the name of his wife, Elizabeth Goffart, and that he was the father of
four children, Corneille, Margaret, Peter and John, of whom Peter
followed his father's calling. He seems, like his master John van Eyck,
to have been a man of many parts; we have already seen him colouring
statues, he was also an illuminator of manuscripts. A miniature of
exceptional beauty, attributed with reason to him, is in the possession
of M. Gielen of Maeseyck (see _Rev. de l'Art Chrétien_, 1889, p. 380). A
reproduction of it is published in the _Annales de l'Académie
d'archéologie de Belgique_, vol. xxiv. Perhaps, too, he was a wood
engraver. Waagen is of opinion (_see_ Sotheby's _Principia
Typographica_) that the woodcuts of the _Biblia Pauperum_ were designed
by him.

Roger van der Weyden was, in his way, even more of a realist than John
van Eyck, and he possessed all John's love of elaborate detail; but
whereas the latter was pleased with serene immobility Roger delighted in
tragic action, and his tall, wan, emaciated figures are often convulsed
with weeping. He could, however, depict tranquillity when he liked, and
his portraits are as calm and collected as any of Van Eyck's. His heads
are invariably finely painted and full of expression, but they are
almost always ascetic looking, and very often sad. Take for example the
portrait of Bladelin in the Middelburg picture. He seems, indeed, to
have been unable to appreciate the beauty of health and gladness, and to
corpulence he had a rooted objection. If that fat, flabby-faced old
canon, George van der Pale, had commissioned Roger to paint his
portrait, he would somehow or other have managed, without losing the
likeness, to make him look fragile and refined.

Of the Flemish painters of the fourteen hundreds M. Fiérens-Gevaert
remarks: '_La morbidesse que Bruges dissimule si richement, se prolonge
dans leur art. Ils créent des figures minces, élancées, splendidement
vêtues._' The assertion is too sweeping, but it is certainly true in the
case of Roger van der Weyden.


DIERICK BOUDTS.

Of Roger's contemporary Dierick Boudts we know little save that he was
born at Harlem, towards the close of the thirteen hundreds, that he
passed a portion of his life in Bruges, and that in 1462 he settled at
Louvain, where he continued to reside until his death in 1475.

Two of his most famous works are still in the Church of St. Peter in
that city--an altar panel representing the martyrdom of St. Erasmus, and
the central panel of a polyptych, of which the subject is the Last
Supper. This picture has been broken up, and the side shutters are now
in the Berlin Gallery. There is a contemporary copy of the entire
painting, perhaps a replica by Dierick himself, in the seminary at
Bruges. The Church of St. Jacques in the same city contains another of
his works, or rather a work attributed, probably correctly, to him, a
retable in three compartments, wherein is depicted the legend of St.
Lucy. The soft, mellow colouring of this picture is perfect, and all the
details, the rich brocades and velvets, the embroidery and precious
stones, the flowers and fruit in the foreground, are quite admirable,
but the figures are stiff and ill-proportioned. In the background is a
view of the city of Bruges with the Belfry as it appeared before the
lantern was added, and the Church of Notre Dame. This picture is dated
1480.[48]

There is a triptych in Bruges Cathedral, in the first chapel on the
northern side of the chevet, which is attributed to Memlinc. The
painting on the left shutter is quite in his style and is in all
probability his work. Here are shown portraits of the donors, Hippolytus
de Berthoz and Elizabeth van Keverwick, his affianced bride. This panel
has been much spoiled by restoration, and the removal of the _glacis_
has chilled the tone of the colouring. The other panels are evidently
the work of another painter, and there is little doubt that that painter
was Dierick Boudts. The ill-proportioned figures, the finely-drawn
heads, and the rich, mellow colouring are all his. The scene depicted on
the central panel is the martyrdom of St. Hippolytus, who is being torn
to pieces by four horses; in the further panel he confesses himself a
Christian and is condemned to death.

There is a fourth picture in Bruges, which perhaps may have been painted
by Dierick Boudts. It is in the Chapel of the Soeurs Noires in the
_Place Memlinc_, and represents eight episodes in the legend of St.
Ursula. It probably dates from an earlier period than the famous shrine
of St. Ursula in the Hospital of St. John, and it is not unlikely that
we have here the prototype of that marvellous production.

The picture attributed to Gerhard van der Meire hangs in the southern
aisle of the Cathedral. Therein are depicted three Passion scenes--the
Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion and the Deposition. The treatment
is coarse and realistic in the extreme. The picture is not a pleasing
one. Alike in colour, in sentiment, in design it is far inferior to any
of Gerhard's authentic works.

In the Municipal Gallery there is an 'Adoration of the Magi' (No. 28),
which formerly belonged to the monks of the great Cistercian Abbey of
Our Lady on the Dunes at Coxyde. Much spoiled by restoration, somewhat
quaint and naïve in design, it is still a beautiful picture. There is no
extrinsic evidence to show who painted it, but the style is the style of
Jerome Bosch.

In the Church of St. Jacques, about half-way up the southern aisle,
hangs the picture of Albert Cornelis--the central panel of a triptych on
which is portrayed the Coronation of Our Lady in the presence of the
nine choirs of angels. This is in every respect a most remarkable and a
most interesting picture. Painted in 1520, at a time when the artists of
Bruges had already begun to adopt the methods of the Renaissance, it is
instinct with the spirit which animated the old illuminators of the
beginning of the previous century. Of a delicate, miniature-like style,
beautiful alike in sentiment, in design, in colour and in execution, it
is the only known work of the master-hand that produced it.


HANS MEMLINC.

Hans Memlinc, the greatest painter in Christendom, as a writer of his
own day calls him, seems to have been born somewhere about the year
1430. He was in all probability a native of Mayence, or of some locality
within the electorate. M. Wauters, in his _Sept Études pour servir à
l'histoire de Hans Memlinc_, published at Brussels in 1893, inclines to
Memlingen, a village about forty miles from the city. M. Jules Helbig
suggests Aschaffenburg, near which place flows a stream called the
Mumling.

Be this as it may, the Jesuit Father Henri Dursart's discovery in 1889
of Romboudt de Doppere's journal (1491 to 1498) at least puts an end to
the dispute as to Memlinc's nationality. There can no longer be any
doubt that the great Bruges painter was, at all events, of German
extraction, and the same document informs us that he died at Bruges on
August 11, 1494, and that he was buried in the Church of St.
Gilles--_Die. XI. Augusti (1494), Brugis obiit Joannes Memmelinc, quem
prædicabant peritissimum fuisse et excellentissimum pictorem totius tunc
orbis Christiani oriundus erat Magunciaco, sepultus Brugis ad Ægidii_.

A note at the beginning of his journal informs us that Doppere was a
priest, a notary of Bruges and registrar to the Chapter of St. Donatian,
and he himself tells us that in 1491 he had been attached to the Church
of St. Donatian for over forty-six years--_Ego Romboldus de Doppere,
presbyter, versatus sum hic in ecclesia S. Donatiani ultra annos XLVI._
... We find him acting as notary from 1483 to 1491, and in that capacity
he witnessed, on October 21, 1489, the translation of the relics of St.
Ursula to Memlinc's new shrine. Doppere was then personally acquainted
with Memlinc, perhaps his friend. In the later years of his life he
seems to have been a canon of Notre Dame. He died, according to Meyer,
in 1501, and was buried in the church he had so long served.

As long ago as 1861 Mr. Weale proved by documentary evidence, published
for the first time in the _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, that Memlinc had
obtained the freedom of the city of Bruges in 1478, that two years later
he was in the enjoyment of a considerable fortune, a portion of which
was invested in house property, and that the dwelling which he himself
inhabited was in the _rue St. George_ on a site now occupied by the
garden of the house No. 20, that his wife's Christian name was Anne,
that she bore him three children, John, Corneile and Nicolas, and that
she died in 1487. This is all that is at present certainly known
concerning the story of Hans Memlinc.

According to a legend long current in the city, Memlinc was a poor
soldier who, having escaped with his life from the battlefield of Nancy
(January 4, 1477), somehow or other succeeded in making his way to
Bruges, sought shelter in the Hospital of St. John, and was there healed
of his wounds. Having no money wherewith to requite the brethren for the
kindness they had shown him, he painted them a picture, or rather a
whole series of pictures--the famous Shrine of St. Ursula.

There is no documentary evidence in support of this story. The first
writer to mention it is the Abbé Jean Baptiste Descamps in his _Vie des
peintres Flamands_, which appeared in 1733, some two hundred and forty
years after Memlinc's death, and since Mr. Weale's discoveries in 1861
it has been generally and perhaps too lightly regarded as devoid of all
foundation.

The documents which have of late years been brought to light do not,
however, touch the main outlines of the hospital story, though they
certainly prove that some of the incidents could not have taken place as
the Abbé Descamps relates them.

Perhaps, as Mr. Weale suggests, Memlinc learned the first elements of
his art at Cologne. There is a tradition that he was at one time the
pupil of Van der Weyden. May be he first conceived his love of that
delicate, miniature-like style which he afterwards brought to such
perfection from 'Master Simon Marmion of Valenciennes, who,' Louis de la
Fontaine tells us, 'had such skill in the noble science of painting that
he surpassed not only all the other artists resident in the said town,
but likewise those of all the neighbouring cities,' that 'prince of
illuminators,' whom Jean Lemain, the poet-secretary of Marguerite of
Austria, in his _Couronne Margaritique_ enumerates among the most famous
painters of his day.

    'Et Marmion, prince d'enlumineure
     Dont le nom croit comme paste en levain
     Par les effets de son noble tournure.'

We know that a young Brussels painter, whose Christian name was Hans,
was sojourning at Valenciennes from 1454 to 1458,[49] and this same Hans
seems later on to have returned to Brussels and entered the service of
Roger van der Weyden.

Of course Hans was a sufficiently ordinary name in Germany, but it was
not a common one in the Netherlands, and there is another circumstance
which makes it probable that the Hans in question was Hans Memlinc.

No picture of Marmion has come down to us which can be identified as
certainly his, but there are several which may be his handiwork. Amongst
them four panels on which is depicted the life of St. Bertin. They once
formed the wings of the sculptured retable of silver gilt, adorned with
enamel and precious stones, which for more than three hundred years
glistered behind the high altar in the Abbey Church of St. Bertin at St.
Omer, the last resting-place of so many of the early Counts of Flanders.

Exquisite alike in colour and design, in days when Gothic art was least
esteemed these marvellous paintings excited universal admiration, and
Rubens himself is said to have been so enamoured of their beauty that he
offered to cover them with _Louis d'or_ if only the monks would consent
to sell.

Presently came the evil days of the French Revolution. The old church
was pillaged and razed to the ground, and the triptych disappeared.
Fortunately the shutters were saved. Somehow or other they came into the
hands of a baker of St. Omer, who later on sold them to an art collector
in the neighbourhood. In 1823 they were put up for sale at the Hôtel
Bullion in Paris and purchased for 7500 francs (£300) by Monsieur
Nieuwenhuys for William I., King of the Netherlands. Only the larger
shutters, however, were placed in the King's collection. The smaller
ones were re-sold to M. Beaucousin, and when he died in 1861 they were
purchased along with his other pictures for the National Gallery.

In days gone by these exquisite pictures were unhesitatingly attributed
to Memlinc. There was an unbroken tradition at St. Bertin's that he had
painted them. 'Never,' says M. de Laplane in his _Abbés de St. Bertin_
(1844), 'had there existed a doubt at the abbey as to their authorship.'
The Abbé Descamps, who visited St. Omer in 1769, was quite sure that
they were Memlinc's, and for over a hundred years historians, artists
and archæologists alike were unanimous in adjudging them his. Even as
recently as 1881 the well-known Dutch art critic Victor de Stuers
expressed the same opinion.

It was probably the Comte de Laborde who first expressed doubt as to
their authorship. Writing in 1851 of the larger panels he says, 'To whom
must we attribute these two delicious pages--to Memlinc in a peculiar
phase of his talent, painting in a different and in some respects a
less precise style than he painted at Bruges? or have we here the work
of a disciple or, may be, of a rival? If so the artist who produced them
must be reckoned among the most eminent.... I shall have no peace until
I have discovered the date, the price, and the author of these
pictures.[50]

Crowe and Cavalcaselle are no less undecided:--if Memlinc painted the
shutters in question, he must have been aided by his pupils. Others
shared their uncertainty, others again unhesitatingly averred that the
triptych could not be Memlinc's.

The Comte de Laborde was never able, perhaps he had never time, to solve
the riddle he had propounded, but of late years a no less capable and
patient investigator has, at least in part, succeeded in doing so.

Mgr. Dehaisnes, like the author of _Les Ducs de Bourgogne_, was unable
to affirm that the paintings on the St. Bertin's triptych were the
handiwork of Memlinc. If now and again an angel for example resembled
his angels, there were other figures reminiscent of the style of Dierick
Boudts or of Roger van der Weyden. The scheme of colour too recalled
rather the rich, mellow, sunny tints of the 'Adoration of the Lamb' than
the clearer tones of the shrine of St. Ursula, and in point of vigour
and precision the unknown artist fell short of the great masters of the
Bruges school and especially of the greatest of them all.

The long and careful investigation which Mgr. Dehaisnes undertook
resulted in the identification of the donor of the precious triptych,
viz., William Fillustre, Bishop of Toul, who ruled the Abbey of St.
Bertin from 1450 to 1473; in the discovery of the price he paid for it,
1828 _livres_ 26 _sous_, a sum equivalent in current coin to at least
£1400, not including the value of the gold, silver and precious stones,
all of which were furnished by the abbey treasury; and in the discovery
of the approximate date of its completion, between 1455 and 1459,
probably in the June of the latter year. And although Mgr. Dehaisnes has
not been able to establish the identity of the author of the pictures,
he has shown that it is in the highest degree probable than Simon
Marmion painted them.

If what Mgr. Dehaisnes modestly calls his '_conjectures vraisemblables_'
should prove to be correct, and if Memlinc was indeed Marmion's pupil,
it may well be that he aided his master in painting the marvellous
shutters, and in that case the St. Bertin's tradition that he was their
author may perhaps be thus accounted for.

The pictures which Memlinc executed at Bruges represent the work of his
middle life and of his declining years. In former days they were
sufficiently numerous, but now there are only six or at most seven of
his authentic pictures within the limits of the city, and they are all
of them save one, at present in the old chapter house of the Hospital of
St. John. Of these the first in order of date is the great triptych
which formerly adorned the high altar of the hospital chapel, and was
painted in 1479. The subject of the central panel is the 'Mystic
Marriage of St. Catherine.' Here Our Lady is seated in a cloister, on a
rich throne backed with cloth of gold; above her head two hovering
angels hold a crown. On her knee is the Divine Infant who, leaning
forward, places a ring on St. Catherine's finger. Behind His mystic
bride stands an angel playing on an instrument of music, and beyond St.
John the Baptist with his lamb beside him. On the other side of Our Lady
a kneeling angel holds a book of which she appears to be turning one of
the leaves; hard-by is St. Barbara reading, and in the background St.
John the Divine. Beyond the cloister in the background is a fair
landscape in which are depicted scenes from the life of the Baptist and
from the life of the beloved disciple. The principal theme of the
left-hand panel is the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, that of the
panel on the right the vision at Patmos of the other St. John.

Painted, most probably at the suggestion of John Floreins, who at that
time was hospital treasurer, by an artist bearing the same Christian
name, for a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the
Divine, at the cost of devout men and women who divided their time
between labour and prayer, this triptych is in the first place the
glorification of the precursor and the beloved disciple, and in the
second of St. Catherine and St. Barbara, who typify respectively in
mediæval art the contemplative and the active life.

In this picture we have the portrait of John Memlinc over and over
again, for it was his wont, at least so it is said, to make himself his
own model when he painted St. John the Baptist. Here too John Floreins
appears twice. Once in the habit of his order--a small black-robed
figure in the left-hand corner of the central panel, and again in the
background of the same panel, between a marble column and Our Lady's
throne. This time he is represented in his secular capacity as public
gauger of wine, near a huge crane in the _rue Flamande_, with the old
Church of St. John, long since demolished, in the distance.

Such are the main outlines of the hospital triptych, the largest of
Memlinc's uncontested works, and the most beautiful in colour, at all
events of his pictures in Bruges.

Its prototype is in England--perhaps it was painted there--and is at
present in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire. Executed for Sir
John Donne, who

[Illustration: MEMLINC'S 'ADORATION OF THE MAGI'

_In St. John's Hospital at Bruges_]

was slain at the Battle of Edgecote near Banbury on July 26, 1469, this
picture must be among the earliest, perhaps indeed it is the most
ancient of Memlinc's uncontested works. Most of the figures herein
portrayed are identical, or almost identical, with the figures in the
Bruges triptych. Not only are they manifestly the same individuals, but
their faces have the same expression and they are dressed in the same
costumes. The colouring of this triptych is less rich than the colouring
of the hospital picture, and perhaps the execution is less sure, but the
grouping is more simple and more symmetrical, and there is an atmosphere
of repose about it which one does not find to the same extent in the
Bruges picture. The attention of the spectator is not distracted by a
multiplicity of scenes in the background. Here there are no fluttering
angels above Our Lady's head, and the calm, dignified figure of the
Evangelist on the left-hand shutter is decoratively far more effective
than the ecstatic Evangelist in the corresponding wing of the Bruges
triptych.

In the same year that Memlinc painted the 'Mystic Marriage of St.
Catherine,' he painted also the picture which hangs opposite to it. This
work is likewise a triptych, but of much smaller dimensions than the
first. It probably adorned the private oratory of John Floreins, as an
inscription in Flemish on the frame informs us that it was painted for
him: _Dit werk dede maken Broeder Jan Floreins alias vander Rüst Broeder
Proffes vanden hospitale van Sint Jans in Brygghe anno 1479 opus Johanis
Memlinc_.

If there is any truth in the Abbé Descamps's legend it was probably this
picture, and not the shrine of St. Ursula, that Memlinc painted as a
thank-offering to John Floreins, who, if he was not superior of the
hospital when Memlinc is said to have been a patient there, certainly
occupied a responsible position and was doubtless able to dispense
favours. To the right of the central panel there is the figure of a man
wearing a yellow cap, a form of headgear used until recently by
convalescents in the hospital. Tradition says that we have here the
portrait of Memlinc, and if Memlinc, indeed, portrayed his own features
when he painted St. John the Baptist, tradition speaks the truth. These
heads bear a striking resemblance to the head of the man in the
nightcap.

The central panel represents the Adoration of the Magi, that on the
right the Nativity, and the other panel the Presentation.

The triptych when closed shows two figures, St. John the Baptist--this,
according to Jacques van Oost is the veritable portrait of the
painter--and St. Veronica. On the frame are representations of the Fall
and the Expulsion from Paradise painted in _grisaille_. These are also
undoubtedly Memlinc's handiwork. '_Ici_,' notes Canon Duclos, '_nous
avons tout un poème: celui de la chute, de la rédemption et des
manifestations du Rédempteur_.' The picture is certainly a glorious one,
alike in design and in execution, and the scheme of colour is
magnificent. It is esteemed by some to be Memlinc's masterpiece, and it
is without doubt the best of his Bruges pictures.

The third picture is a portrait of exquisite delicacy and finish,
representing Marie, the second daughter of Willem Moreel, a master
grocer of considerable wealth and standing in the city, and one of
Memlinc's chief patrons. An inscription on the frame, which in Mr.
Weale's opinion is certainly authentic, informs us that this picture was
painted in 1480. The same year another Bruges tradesman, Master Tanner
Peter Bultencke, commissioned Memlinc to paint a triptych for Notre Dame
with scenes from the life of

[Illustration: ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

_From Memlinc's 'Adoration of the Magi' in St. John's Hospital,
Bruges_]

[Illustration: ST. VERONICA

_From Memlinc's 'Adoration of the Magi' in St. John's Hospital,
Bruges_]

Christ. Alas! it has long since left the city and is now in the gallery
at Munich.

The fourth picture is a beautiful diptych painted in 1487 for Martin van
Nieuwenhove, and presented by him to the Hospice of St. Julian, a
half-secular, half-religious house of entertainment for poor pilgrims,
of which he was one of the two patrons appointed by the town. The left
panel shows Our Lady with her Divine Infant, to whom she is offering a
golden apple; the right has a portrait of the donor with his hands
clasped in prayer, and an open breviary before him. This is one of
Memlinc's finest portraits.

The date of the paintings on the shrine of St. Ursula is not certainly
known, but since the relic for which it was constructed was placed in
the new shrine on October 24, 1489, it is probable that they were
completed before that date.

In this dainty casket we have a striking example of the imperfections
and excellencies of the age which produced it. It stands in the centre
of the chapter house and is in the form of a Gothic chapel. Bristling
with heavy and superfluous ornament, with even the flat surface of the
roof painted so as to simulate relief, the pictorial representations
which adorn it are exquisite alike in design, in colour and in
execution. Each side is divided into three round-headed arcades of equal
dimensions; within them Memlinc has painted the pictures which tell the
story of St. Ursula as it was current in his day. These six panels
contain the arrival of the saint and her companions at Cologne, their
arrival at Basle and then at Rome, their homeward journey, in which they
are accompanied by the Pope and his cardinals, their return to Cologne,
and their martyrdom in the camp of the Huns. Of the six scenes the third
is the most beautiful, both in colour and composition. At the gable ends
of the shrine are two other pictures. One of them represents Our Lady
with her Divine Son in her arms, and two of the hospital sisters
kneeling at her feet; the other St. Ursula sheltering beneath her mantle
ten of her companions. The high-pitched roof is adorned on each side
with a large medallion set between two smaller ones; these contain
angels playing on instruments of music, and Ursula receiving the crown
of martyrdom, and the same saint surrounded by her companions in heaven.
All these pictures are executed in a delicate, miniature-like style, and
with great care and finish.

There is one other picture in the hospital museum attributed to
Memlinc--a triptych of which the subject of the central panel is the
Deposition. It is perhaps the rough design of a picture which was never
carried out.

There is also a triptych by Memlinc in the Municipal Gallery. It once
adorned the chantry of the Moreel family in the Church of St. Jacques,
and was the gift of William Moreel, the father of Marie Moreel, whose
portrait we have already seen in St. John's Hospital. This picture was
painted in 1484 in honour of St. Christopher.

In the central panel the gigantic form of the saint is seen wading
through a river with the infant Jesus on his shoulders, and leaning on
the trunk of a young tree which he uses as a staff. He cannot understand
how it is that so small a burthen should weigh so heavily, and,
wondering, turns his head to behold the child, who, with a smile on his
face, lifts one hand to bless him, whilst with the other he steadies
himself by grasping a white linen bandage which is wound round the
saint's head. On his right stands the Benedictine saint, Maurus, in his
monk's habit. One of Moreel's daughters was a Benedictine nun, and it
was doubtless on this account that Memlinc introduced his portrait. On
the other side St. Gilles caressing the doe whose life he saved by
receiving an arrow, which a huntsman had aimed at her, in his own arm.
The figure of the saint is very fine, his face is the most beautiful in
the whole composition. The reason why he is here introduced is not
apparent. The left wing shows the donor with his five sons and his
patron, St. William; the right, his wife, her patroness, St. Barbara,
and their eleven daughters. The figures of St. George and St. John the
Baptist are painted in grisaille on the outer side of the shutters.
These last are probably not Memlinc's work. Mr. Weale thinks that they
may have been added in 1504 by order of John and George Moreel, two of
the sons of the donor.

This picture is one of the most beautiful of Memlinc's later works.
Unfortunately it has suffered much from the ravages of time and
restorers. The lower portion of the face of one of the donor's sons has
been clumsily repainted, and the removal of the _glacis_ has chilled,
and to a certain extent spoiled, the harmony of the scheme of colour.

We have said that Hans Memlinc was the greatest of all the Flemish
masters of the fourteenth century save only the brothers Van Eyck. Mr.
Weale places him on a higher pinnacle. In his estimation Hubert alone
surpassed him. John van Eyck, he says, saw with his eyes, Memlinc beheld
with his soul, and he adds--we are quoting from memory--that Memlinc was
the most poetical and the most musical of all the Bruges painters. If
this be so we can only say that John was more apt to portray what he saw
than Hans what he imagined, that if Memlinc idealised the Flemish type
he at the same time denaturalised it, that if his figures are more
refined they are also less human.

That Memlinc was inspired by the true spirit of poetry no one can deny,
but his imagination sometimes runs away with him and his verses are not
wholly devoid of false quantities. In other words, by reason of the
multitude of scenes which he not unfrequently introduces in single
panels, his pictures sometimes lack the beauty and the dignity of
simplicity; and though he at first composed in symmetrical groups, after
the manner of his predecessors, in his later work he sacrifices too much
to his love of the picturesque.

Hans Memlinc was a man of lofty ideals, and his creations are sometimes
sublime, but not always.

John van Eyck was cast in a different mould. He was content to portray
Nature as he saw her.

Give me beautiful models, we can imagine him saying, and I will paint
you beautiful pictures. Give me ill-favoured models, and your pictures
shall be beautiful still. Yet do I scorn to flatter; I will be true to
life. If I must needs paint Flemings, my portraits shall be the
portraits of Flemings. I will neither make a fat man thin nor a coarse
woman refined. I will portray every blemish and every wrinkle, but I
will place my figures to the best advantage. Their surroundings shall be
magnificent; I will set them in the midst of fair courts and lovely
temples; I will array them in the most becoming garments; I will bathe
them in an aureole of glorious tones. Your eye shall be enchanted by the
symmetry of my grouping and the graceful flow of my drapery; I will
shower jewels with a lavish hand, and I will harmonize everything with
my magic gold. Thus will I compel you to fall down and adore the
splendour of the True.



CHAPTER XXV

_Modern Bruges_


We have said that Bruges never recovered from the blow which Maximilian
had dealt her. She had no chance of doing so. Misfortune followed
misfortune. Most of her foreign merchants had migrated to Antwerp, and
once settled there they were loth to return. The discovery of America,
and of a new route to the Indies, added to her discomfiture by forcing
commerce to forsake its old paths and its old havens; the river, the
source of her wealth, was rapidly filling with sand. As early as 1410
the navigation of the Zwyn, even as far as Sluys, had become exceedingly
difficult; by the close of the century no great vessel could reach
Damme, and before another fifty years had elapsed Bruges was altogether
cut off from the sea. If a ship canal had been made, as Lancelot
Blondeel suggested, from the city to Heyst, where there is deep water
quite close to the shore, she might perchance have yet found salvation.
But still poor, and weary from her conflict with Maximilian, she had
neither the means nor the heart to carry out so vast a project.

Then, too, there were the troubles bred of the religious revolution and
the tyranny of Spanish rule; the cruelty of Philip, and the cruelty of
Alva, and the no less cruel retaliation of 'the Beggars of the Sea,' who
on March 26, 1578, captured the city, and by the aid of Colonel Henry
Balfour, a Scotch adventurer in the service of William of Orange, held
it for six years.

During this period Catholic worship was strictly prohibited, many of the
leading citizens were thrust into prison, amongst them the bishop, a
large-minded and liberal man, who had done his utmost to stay Alva's
hand, and most of the clergy were driven into exile. Some of them fared
worse still--were tortured, scourged, burnt at the stake in front of the
Cathedral. Nor was this all. Sanctuaries were pillaged, altars cast
down, art treasures innumerable were wantonly destroyed, the Church of
St. Anne was razed to the ground, and Notre Dame was turned into a
stable.

Two years later Balfour received his reward. It happened thus. About
this time the Spaniards were threatening the city, and the Scotch
colonel led out his troops to oppose them. Wounded in the conflict which
followed, but apparently not grievously, for he was still able to keep
his saddle, he turned his horse's head towards Bruges. Presently his
comrades saw him reel, and then, without a cry or any other sign, he
fell back dead. They carried him home to the city, and buried him in the
churchyard of St. Sauveur.

During these troublous times hundreds of the best and wealthiest
families left the city, and when peace was at length restored in 1584,
the population hardly numbered thirty thousand souls. If it had not been
for the Church, Bruges would in all probability have gradually dwindled
down to a mere village like Sluys or Damme, or even little Middelburg.

The action of Pope Pius IV., who, at the instance of Philip II. in 1560,
had made Bruges an Episcopal See, saved her from this fate. Bitterly
opposed as the measure had been by all classes of society--by the higher
clergy, who feared that the presence of a bishop amongst them would
lessen their prestige; by the monks, who knew that they would be shorn
of revenue for the endowment of the new See; by the nobles, who regarded
the great abbeys as the appanage of their younger sons; by the people,
who believed that this step was the prelude to the installation of the
Spanish Inquisition--it proved in the outcome the town's salvation. And
Bruges owed something more to the Church:--towards the close of the
fifteen hundreds and during the opening years of the succeeding century,
a vast immigration of wealthy families, who brought with them gold, and,
better still, treasures of literature and treasures of art.

Many of the religious houses in the outlying country had been destroyed
by the Ghent Calvinists, not a few in the immediate neighbourhood of
Bruges by the burghers themselves, who, when the Gueux were threatening
them in 1578, had caused all buildings within a mile of their walls to
be razed to the ground, in order that the enemy might find no place for
shelter. For fifty years after the settlement of 1582, even when the
religious troubles were over, Flanders was the scene of continual
warfare. Amid the coming and going of troops there was no guarantee of
security outside the walls of the towns, and, as might be expected, the
monks and nuns of the country-side flocked into the episcopal city.
Amongst them were representatives of almost all the great religious
orders--Benedictines, Carthusians, Dominicans, Augustinians, Carmelites,
Capuchins, Jesuits, and, most noteworthy of all, Cistercians from the
famous Abbey of St. Mary on the Dunes at Coxyde, and from the affiliated
house called Ter Doest, at Lisseweghe.

Of all the religious communities to which Bruges now offered an asylum,
this was the mightiest and the most renowned. It was unsurpassed alike
in wealth, in learning, in numbers, in dignity of life, in dignity of
tradition, in spiritual and temporal achievements. St. Bernard was its
founder. Some of the holiest and wisest men of the Middle Ages had been
numbered among its members; the abbey at Coxyde was magnificent; its
church was, perhaps, the most beautiful in the land; thanks to the
patient toil of its monks, as one of their abbots used to boast, the
barren dunes which surrounded it had become a fertile garden.

[Illustration: BRUGES FROM THE RIVER YPERLET]

A whirlwind of fanaticism swept them away, and now their vast domain is
what it was before the white-robed brethren settled there--a wilderness
of shifting sand.

Bruges during the opening years of the sixteen hundreds was seething in
misery. War had brought forth famine and pestilence, and the flight of
commerce had left thousands of working men without any means of gaining
their bread; but there was still gold in the city. The fortunes which
had been made in trade, or at all events a certain proportion of them,
remained after trade had departed, and the monastic immigrants, as we
have seen, were not without resources, nor did the possessors of the
mammon of unrighteousness suffer it to remain idle. They made to
themselves friends with it. Churches and monasteries were restored; the
monks and nuns from the country built for themselves new habitations;
hospices and almshouses, _Godshuisen_ (God's Houses), as they are at
Bruges picturesquely termed, were founded all over the city. Thus was
work provided for those who were able to do it, and a permanent
provision made for the aged and the infirm.

The buildings now erected in no way resembled the sumptuous palaces and
stately guild halls of bygone days, but some of them are sufficiently
picturesque. Take, for instance, the Carthusian Convent in the _rue du
Vieux Bourg_, with its seven gables, and mullioned windows, and
beautiful Gothic doorway surmounted by three niches, with statues of
saints in the style of the Renaissance--it has recently been restored,
and is now the _local_ of a workmen's club, the _Gilde van Ambachten_;
or the Leper Hospital, at the end of the _Marché au fil_; or the Pest
House on the Grand Canal adjoining the thirteenth-century Hospice of
_Notre Dame de la Poterie_ and there are a host of others equally
interesting, and above all and everywhere the little _Godshuisen_ with
their quaint gables, and blinking windows, and picturesque doorways,
often with a niche above them and the image of a saint. They are not the
least beautiful feature in the architecture of this beautiful city, and
the number of them is legion. Some are large enough to afford
accommodation for thirty or forty inmates. These are generally built
round a courtyard laid out as a garden. In others again there is only
room for six or seven persons. Some are for women only, some for men,
some for married couples; each _Godshuis_ has its little oratory; all of
them are comfortable and clean, and all are picturesque.

[Illustration: GODSHUIS, QUAI DES MARBRIERS]

The inmates are left very much to themselves, the oldest inhabitant
generally acting as superior. Each inmate or married couple, as the case
may be, in addition to his or their apartment, receives a monthly
pension varying in amount from house to house, but in no case very
large. Many of the inhabitants, however, are able to do a little work,
others, perhaps, have children who are in a position to contribute to
their support. Your true Fleming is rarely lacking in filial piety--it
is one of the most pleasing characteristics of the race--and thus these
old people are able to rub along, not perhaps in affluence, but for all
that with a good roof over their heads, without enduring the pangs of
hunger, and, no small boon, in the enjoyment of their liberty.

Thus was Bruges transformed in the seventeenth century, thus did she
become what she still is--a vast conglomeration of religious houses and
charitable institutions, a city of nuns and friars. The _évêché_ had
taken the place of the Court, the monk of the merchant; commerce had
fled, and charity was doing what she could to supply its place.

Thus, thanks in great measure to the initiative of the Church, the evil
days were tided over. When, later on, in the following century, the wars
and rumours of wars had passed away, and the 'pastoral folk' of the
Franc were enabled to obtain some profit from their former avocations,
Bruges to a certain extent participated in their prosperity; but though
she on more than one occasion essayed to revive her commerce--notably in
1722 by the canalization of the river Yperlet, with a view to putting
herself in communication with Ostend--her efforts in each case proved
abortive. Flanders had become, to quote the words of a
seventeenth-century historian, _famosum antiquitatis sepulchrum_, and
her capital was constrained to live on the reputation of its former
glory.

Let us not, however, shed too many tears over the commercial decay of
Bruges. If her prosperity had continued she would hardly have remained
what she still is--the fairest city in Northern Europe.

We know indeed that her private palaces were suffered to fall into decay
because their owners were too poor to maintain them, but if they had
been never so rich the old buildings would have disappeared just the
same. The art of the Middle Ages was abhorrent to the eighteenth
century, and the Gothic palaces of Bruges would surely have given place
to rococo mansions. Moreover, that same poverty which destroyed so much
of her splendour not only endowed her, as we have seen, with a multitude
of picturesque buildings, but has preserved for us what remains of her
ancient domestic architecture.

On the 2nd of October 1670 the members of the Confraternity of the
Blessed Sacrament established in the Church of St. Sauveur--now the
Cathedral--decreed that the three fifteenth-century stained-glass
windows in their chantry--the central chapel of the ambulatory,
immediately behind the high altar--should be forthwith destroyed, in
order that the public might the better appreciate the new altar they had
erected, which 'was such an admirable imitation of marble.'

In 1739 a like act of vandalism, but on a larger scale, was perpetrated
in the same church. The ancient stained-glass windows were at this time
removed from the clerestory of the choir and replaced by white glass,
and there were no less than thirteen of them. Similar outrages were
committed in all the churches and public buildings of Bruges, and if
only her private citizens had been rich enough to pull down and rebuild
their dwellings there would have been little left by this time of the
mediæval city.

It is only fair to add that Bruges has long since learned to appreciate
her old buildings. Many of them have been carefully restored, others are
in course of restoration, the work has for the most part been
accomplished with no little skill and taste, and, for the rest, it may
be safely said that no other great mediæval city has preserved so much
of its old-world character. How long this will continue to be true is
another question. Lancelot Blondeel's scheme, or one no less nefarious,
is at length being carried out; much havoc has already been wrought in
the northern outskirts of the city; old houses have been pulled down,
old timber has been felled; in despite of strenuous opposition, the
course of one of the loveliest canals has been diverted, and its former
bed filled in for the convenience of the jerry builder.

If the projected sea canal should fulfil the expectation of its
promoters there can be no doubt that Bruges will lose much of her charm.
She will no longer be a city of sleepy streets and of picturesque canals
unfrequented save by swans, choked up with water lilies, and fringed
with trees and flowering shrubs and dreamy old houses blinking at the
water. She will become a second Ghent, a second Antwerp, and the
knowing ones aver that all the profit will find its way into the pockets
of Jews and Germans. The modern Fleming, it would seem, has little
aptitude for commerce.

There is some consolation in this thought, and there is more in
this--the scheme is a vast one, and Bruges moves slowly. It took her
twenty years to restore the Hôtel Gruthuise. Twenty-five years ago she
decided to restore the western façade of Notre Dame. Between that time
and this the architect who was commissioned to undertake the work has
submitted no less than twenty-five different plans. When the façade has
actually fallen, and it is said that it cannot last much longer, perhaps
those who are responsible for the delay will select one of them.

We may take it then that mediæval Bruges will at all events last our
day.

The following notes will perhaps be of service to those who wish to see
the most beautiful and interesting spots in Bruges, and to examine its
art treasures.

Let such an one, coming forth from his inn, which, if he be a wise man,
will be either _Le Flandre_ or _Le Commerce_--there are others cheaper
but none so comfortable--unaccompanied by a guide, who would only
irritate and confuse him, and keeping his eyes always open, for there is
much to see, make his way as best he can to the _Grande Place_, and
there let him feast his eyes on the majestic splendour of the Belfry,
and fill his ears with the weird music which every quarter of an hour
proceeds from it--

    Low and loud and sweetly blended,
    Low at times and loud at times,
    And changing like a poet's rhymes
    _Ring_ the beautiful wild chimes
    From the Belfry in the market
    Of the ancient town of Bruges.

Next let him turn off into the street called Philipstock, proceeding
along which he will presently descry, beyond the houses on the left-hand
side, all that remains of the old Church of St. Peter, where Bertulph
once celebrated the obsequies of Charles the Good. The first turning on
the right leads, through a grove of sycamore and chestnut trees planted
on the site of St. Donatian's, to the _Place du Bourg_, one of the
loveliest squares in Europe. The great Gothic building opposite is the
_Hôtel de Ville_; the two-storeyed church of tawny brick hard-by, with a
portal at right angles to it of dark grey stone carved into flamboyant
panelling and enriched with statues of bronze, the Sanctuary of the Holy
Blood; in the gabled edifice on the left, half Gothic and half
Renaissance in style, glorious with colour and gold, and altogether
beautiful, we have the last architectural effort of the waning
prosperity of Bruges--the _Maison de l'ancien Greffe_, built in 1537. It
now serves as a Court of Justice, has been carefully restored, and is
well worth a visit. The justice-room, with its old oak and old brass,
its stained-glass windows and its glorious chimney-piece, is perfect; so
too the inner chamber, which serves as the magistrates' private
apartment. The _Hôtel de Ville_ has also been well restored; the
entrance hall is particularly fine, and the great hall above, with its
ancient timber roof, and its excellent modern frescoes, not yet
completed, is no less charming. In this building there are several
interesting pictures of Bruges in days gone by and of the surrounding
country. Of the beauty of the two churches we have already spoken. In
the upper church there are some interesting pictures, there are more in
the adjoining museum, and here too there are some fragments of ancient
stained glass, the original designs of the windows in the upper chapel,
some beautiful antique lace and embroidery, and the silver-gilt

[Illustration: LANCELOT BLONDELL'S CHIMNEY-PIECE IN THE PALAIS DU
FRANC]

reliquary studded with jewels--amongst them a splendid black diamond
which once belonged to Marie, Queen of Scots--in which the Holy Blood is
annually carried in procession through the streets in the month of May.
This reliquary was the gift of the burghers of Bruges in 1614; the
original reliquary was destroyed by the Protestants in 1578. The relic
is exposed for the veneration of the faithful every Friday in the upper
chapel from eight till eleven thirty, and the ceremony of Benediction
which then takes place is singularly impressive.

The beautiful groined archway which pierces the _Maison de l'ancien
Greffe_ leads to a region where there are exquisite views: from the
centre of the Great Fishmarket, the backs of the buildings of which we
have just been speaking--they are no less fascinating than their
façades; and from the _Pont de l'âne Aveugle_ the loveliness of the
Roya, and the façade of the _Palais du Franc_ where, in the great
council chamber, is Lancelot Blondeel's famous chimney-piece. The
approach to this building is through the _Palais de Justice_ in the
_Place du Bourg_. Bearing to the right through the Little Fishmarket,
most picturesque, we presently reach the _Marché aux Herbes_, the _Quai
de Rosaire_ and the _Dyver_, where the scenery is no less charming. The
great red house on the further bank of the Roya is the house where
Malvenda hid the Holy Blood, and the majestic spire in the distance the
spire of _Notre Dame_. Almost at the end of the _Dyver_ there is a
little street called the _rue de Groeninghe_, which branches off the
main thoroughfare between two walled gardens. That on the left is the
site of the ancient abbey of Eeckhout, a very peaceful place, where in
summer-time there are roses in abundance and old-world herbs and
flowers, and, on a crumbling wall, snap-dragon. The gabled house
hard-by, with a little Gothic window, was formerly the residence of the
provosts of Notre Dame; the picturesque group of buildings in the
distance, which, amid thick foliage, cluster round its spire, is the old
palace of Louis of Gruthuise; the garden beyond the narrow stream, the
garden of the nuns of St. André. Let the traveller linger awhile in this
tranquil spot and, if he will, for twopence half-penny, refresh himself
with a beautiful bunch of roses.

Continuing his walk along the _rue de Groeninghe_ the tourist will
presently see a wrought-iron grill at the end of an _impasse_ which
gives on the river. Let him approach it and look through the railings.
Here there is a nook which strangers rarely find; many who have lived in
the city for years do not know of it, and yet it is perhaps the most
beautiful of all the beautiful spots in Bruges. To discover this
priceless jewel is the main object of our journey. Here the Roya is
often a rushing torrent. On one side of the stream, rising clean out of
the water, is the oldest wing of the _Gruthuise_; on the other a walled
garden with lofty trees spreading their branches over the river which,
to the right, disappears beneath an archway piercing an old house, once
part of the palace; in the near background, immediately facing the
grill, is the choir of Notre Dame with its grove of flying buttresses,
and beyond, towering high above all, the majesty of its steeple--the
grandest and the fairest thing in brick or stone which the genius of man
has yet created. It was from this lovely spot, or rather a few yards
higher up stream, that Mr. Railton took the beautiful sketch of the
_Hôtel Gruthuise_ which appears on p. 287.

Hard-by, on the bank of this same river, a little higher up stream,
stands the Beguinage (_see_ map), that most picturesque cloister where
the quaint dwellings of the nuns--for each Beguin has her own home, her
own purse and her own household--fringe a fair and spacious green
planted with lofty elms, a very tranquil spot where the ghost of the
thirteenth century still lingers. The convent church dates from the year
1245, but it has been so changed and spoiled by repeated restorations
that little of the original building remains, and it can no longer,
perhaps, be called beautiful. But, notwithstanding, it has a certain
charm which is quite its own. It is so picturesque and so clean and so
quiet and so comfortable, and with it all there is such a quaint,
old-world atmosphere about the place that many a much more beautiful
church is far less attractive. And the worshippers who frequent it!--the
very precise and deliberate and ceremonious old ladies who totter across
the green to church at intervals throughout the day--from _angelus_ to
_angelus_, and there let down their long black trains and put on their
white choir veils, and presently, with much curtseying to one another
and many genuflections before the high altar, together chant their
breviary in feeble, quavering tones, whilst the old caretaker, in a
secluded corner, calmly tells her beads or knits stockings.

The entrance to the Beguinage is by the _Place de la Vigne_, over a
bridge which spans the Roya, whence there are beautiful views of that
stream, of the Beguins' little gardens, of their church, of the old
lockhouse at the head of the Minne Water, of the lake itself beyond,
and, in the far background, of those lovely wooded ramparts, where all
night long in summer-time the nightingale intones _his_ psalmody.

The canals of Bruges are all of them exceedingly beautiful. The great
canal, which enters the city on the eastern side between the _Porte de
Gand_ and the Infantry Barracks, and divides it into two unequal parts,
is interesting from end to end, and as there are roads on each side,
and it is spanned by five bridges, there is no difficulty in exploring
it. The most picturesque route is from the Bourg by the _rue de l'âne
Aveugle_ and the terrace which skirts the backwater of the Roya--the
_Quai des Marbriers_, as it is called, and the _Quai Vert_. Hard-by the
spot where the main stream of the Roya--a vista here of ancient gables
with the _Poorters Logie_ and its charming tower in the
distance--empties itself into the canal is the old tavern which Rubens
is said to have frequented. It stands in the _rue des Blanchisseurs_, a
narrow lane off the road which skirts the right-hand bank of the canal,
and is called the _Vlissinghe_. A most interesting old place this, the
tourist should not fail to visit it. The accompanying sketch is of the
back of the house.

[Illustration: THE VLISSINGHE TAVERN, FREQUENTED BY RUBENS]

The Ghent Canal skirts the whole of the eastern side of the town, from
the Minne Water Bridge, that is, to the old _Porte de Damme_; on its
banks stand the _Porte de Gand_ and the _Porte Ste. Croix_. From the
high ramparts beyond the latter gate there is a beautiful panoramic view
of the city and of the open country on the other side of the water.

There is also a canal which branches off from the Ghent Canal by the
Minne Water Bridge in the opposite direction; it runs alongside of the
ramparts as far as the _Porte des Baudets_, where it turns off into the
open country. Its banks are for the most part well wooded, beyond the
picturesque _Porte des Maréchaux_ they are high and steep, and from this
spot too there is a beautiful view of the city.

Hard-by the hospital for incurable women, a vast and splendid modern
building which stands on the banks of the Minne Water, a fourth canal
enters the town. This is perhaps the fairest of all the Bruges
waterways. The best points of view are from its bridges, which are all
save one beautiful and all save one ancient. There are no less than six
of them:--the _Pont de la Clef_, which separates the _rue des Bouchers_
from the _rue Fossé aux Loups_--Mr. Railton has given us a sketch of it;
the _Pont aux Lions_, hard by the _rue du Marécage_ and the Church of
St. Jacques; the _Pont des Baudets_ in the _rue d'Ostende_; the _Pont
Flamand_, which connects the _rue Flamande_ with the _rue St.
Georges_;--this is the oldest bridge in Bruges, originally constructed
by the Augustinian friars in 1294, it was rebuilt by the town in
1391--the _Pont des Augustins_ at the end of the _rue Espagnole_, and
the _Pont de la Tour_ by the _Place des Orientaux_. The tourist will do
well to visit all these bridges and also to follow the road which skirts
the canal from the last bridge to its junction with the great canal,
about five hundred yards further on. The gardens and houses on the
opposite side of the stream are most picturesque. It was here that John
van Eyck lived, though, alas! his dwelling has been swept away.

[Illustration: Quai des Ménétriers]

Of the Roya and of the beautiful backwater which connects it with the
great canal, at the end of the _rue des Dominicains_, we have already
spoken in a previous chapter. There are other streams too which wend
their way through the city. It is impossible within the limits of this
manual even to indicate their whereabouts, so numerous are they and so
intricate is their meandering. The tourist will come upon them, in the
course of his rambles, in the most unexpected places, and he will find
them on that account none the less beautiful.

Bruges possesses seven parish churches--_Notre Dame_, which claims
precedence of all the rest; _St. Sauveur_, which is also the
Cathedral--a finer but less picturesque and less interesting building;
_St. Jacques_, a noble structure spoiled by Calvinist fury and
seventeenth century restoration; _St. Gilles_, which suffered more than
all, and has now renewed its youth and splendour; _Ste. Anne_, which
dates from the opening years of the sixteen hundreds and which, with its
carved oak, its old brass, its pictures, its stained glass and its
polished marble, is a very pleasing specimen of the work of the period;
_Ste. Walburge_, erected about the same date from the design of the
Jesuit Peter Huyssens, a native of Bruges, who died in that city in
1637; and _Ste. Marie Madeleine_, a modern building which, if it were in
London, would be called 'handsome.'

All of these churches, save the last, are worth visiting, not only
because of their intrinsic beauty, but on account of the beautiful and
interesting objects which they contain. Pictures, wood carving,
wrought-iron, brass, all these things shall here delight the eye--aye,
and gold too and silver and precious stones, tapestry, embroidery, lace,
if only the custodians can be persuaded to discover their hidden
treasures.

Of the other sanctuaries of Bruges, the traveller should at least visit
the Chapel of the Hospital of St. John (1473), which is rich in _objets
d'art_, and possesses, amongst other treasures, a set of embroidered
Mass vestments which date from 1633, and are all sewn with pearls, no
less than seventy-three thousand of them, so it is said; the Chapel and
Hospice of _Notre Dame de la Poterie_ (1358), beautifully restored,

[Illustration: Pont St. Augustin]

where there is a small collection of early Flemish pictures, some
charming old oak furniture and sculpture, and several pieces of
fifteenth-century tapestry; the Carmelite Church in the _rue d'Ostende_,
built in 1688 from the designs of Frère Patrice de Saint-Hubert; here
the dancing angels over the altar are spindle-shanked and
ill-proportioned, the cupids which flutter about them have the faces of
demons, and seem bursting with evil passions, the sacred figures carved
on the confessionals are caricatures, the whole scheme of ornament is in
the worst possible taste, but somehow or other, in spite of it all, this
church is a very fascinating and a very devotional one; the proportions
are good, it is rich in carved oak and sculptured marble, the colouring
is harmonious, and the windows, amber-hued and pale green, with
beautiful patterns traced in lead, are simply perfect; and of course
there is the Jerusalem Chapel and the chapels of the Precious Blood, of
all of which we have already spoken, and, if the tourist would go
further afield, the stately thirteenth-century Church of Our Lady at
Damme, and the no less beautiful shrine of Our Lady at Lisseweghe, which
dates from the same period.

Damme is about three miles out of the city. It is situated on the banks
of the Sluys Canal. There is a very good steamboat service, and the
pleasantest way to reach it is by water. The Damme Town Hall dates from
the end of the fourteenth century, and is a charming old building. Here,
too, is a convent and hospital which dates from the thirteenth century,
and there are some quaint old houses. When Bruges was at its heyday the
population of Damme amounted to sixty thousand souls. The number of its
inhabitants is now probably less than one thousand.

Lisseweghe is some five miles from Bruges. The pleasantest way to reach
it is by walking or driving. About a mile short of the village, a little
off the high road on the left-hand side, are the ruins of _Ter Doest
Abbey_, well worth visiting. The great Gothic grange or barn dates from
the close of the thirteenth century (about 1280), and is still intact,
a stupendous building, 187 feet by 75 feet or thereabouts, and nearly
100 feet high from the ground to the ridge of the roof. Lisseweghe can
also be reached by rail.

Of the other famous buildings of Bruges we have already spoken. By the
aid of the map and the directions previously given, the reader will have
no difficulty in ascertaining their whereabouts.

Bruges is a city of considerable size; its ramparts measure nearly five
miles round, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say there is no spot
within this magic circle devoid of interest.

The stranger who, having hurried through its churches and picture
galleries in the morning, and whiled away an hour or so in its streets
in the afternoon, fancies that he knows Bruges is vastly mistaken. For
our own part, we have dwelt in this enchanted city for many years, and
the sum of its loveliness, we feel very sure, has not yet been revealed
to us.

[Illustration: PLAN OF BRVGES]



INDEX


A

Abbey of St. Bavon at Ghent, 335.

Abbey of St. Bertin at St. Omer, to which Arnulph acted as abbot, 23.

Acta of Louis the Fat, the, compiled by Suger, Abbot of St. Denis,
   and containing a life of Charles the Good, 40.

Adelard II., Abbot of St. Trond, 334.

Adornes, Hôtel d', erected by Anselm and John Adornes, 320-2.

Alliance, the, of Bruges, Ghent and Ypres, 192.

Amand, St., Bishop of Bourges, 2.

Arnulph, son of Baldwin Calvus, 21;
  his work in the reformation and re-organisation of the
   Church in Flanders, 22-5.

Arnulph II., his reign, 26.

Arnulph, Abbot of Blandinium, requested to bury
   the body of Charles secretly, 50.

Arras, the Treaty of, 230.

Artois, Count of, his part in the invasion of Flanders in
   conjunction with Philippe le Bel, 154, 155, 157;
  his death, 159.

Aspremont, the Lord of, lieutenant to Louis II. of Nevers, 177;
  rebellion of the Karls against his tyranny, and his
   dismissal from office, 178.

Austria, the Archduke of, his regency over Flanders, 274, 275.


B

Backwater of the Roya, upon which Baldwin's new Bourg was built, 11, 12.

Baldwin the Bald, 17;
  his death in 918, and burial at St. Omer and Blandinium, 18.

Baldwin of Constantinople, his character, 111, 112;
  his receipt of the symbol of the Cross, 113;
  revolt of the Greeks against his rule, 114;
  his reported death and discovery twenty years after, 114, 115;
  the story of his adventures, 116-8;
  the attempt by his daughter and the King of France
   to discredit his story, 119;
  his arrest by the Baron Erard de Chastenay, and
   execution by his daughter Jeanne, 121.

Baldwin the Good, 29;
  his disposition, 30;
  his death, 32.

Baldwin Hapkin, the influence exercised over him by Charles of Denmark, 37.

Baldwin of the Iron Hand, the real founder of Bruges, his coming, 5;
  his abduction of Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald, 6;
  his flight to Rome, 7;
  and subsequent rise to power, 8;
  his death, 17.

Baldwin of Lille, forced to rebuild and extend the walls of Bruges, 27, 28.

Baldwin of the Long Beard, his continuation of the work of Arnulph, and the
   increased prosperity of Flanders, 27.

Baptistry Chapel, 11.

Barbesaen, Nicholas, banished from Bruges, his work, 218.

Bavichove, the battle at which Count Robert
   signally defeated Richilde, 34, 36.

Becket, Thomas à, his shelter at the Flemish Court, 110.

Belfry of Bruges, the, 169.

Berri, the Duke of, hated by the burghers, wounded almost to
death, 213;
  the confession of John the Fearless to him, 224.

Bertulph, his charge against Charles of Denmark, 44;
  his sorrow at the death of Charles the Good, 53;
  his escape from Bruges, 64;
  concealment at the manor of Alard of Woesten,
   and capture by William of Löo, 65;
  his death, 67;
  story of his life, 76-8.

Beuterbeke, the, 64.

_Bibliothèque royale_ at Brussels, 335.

Black House, the, 309.

Bladelin, Sir Peter, treasurer of the Golden Fleece, 318;
  foundation of a chantry, _ibid._;
  his portrait at Berlin, 319.

Bourchard d'Avesnes, 123;
  Flanders's universal belief in, 125;
  his marriage with Margaret, daughter of Baldwin of Constantinople,
   her declaration of the marriage, 127;
  birth of two children, 128;
  the effect of the crushing of Baldwin of Constantinople upon him, 128;
  his imprisonment, and the breaking by Margaret of her plighted troth, 129;
  his death, 131;
  the connection of Bruges with his love story, 132.

Boudts, Dierick, 367-9.

Breidel, John, Dean of the Butchers' Guild, throws in his lot with those
   rebelling against Philippe le Bel, 149.

Brugge, the residence of Baldwin and Judith, after their
   reconciliation with Charles the Bald, 9, 10.

Burchard, his leadership of the Erembalds against the Stratens, 47;
  his house burned as a punishment, _ibid._;
  his murder of Charles the Good, 48;
  his attempt to make his peace with the dead man, 53;
  his death, 71.

Burgundy, the Dukes of, their constant enmity with the French princes, 211.


C

Carmelite Church, the, 408.

Carthusian Convent, the, 393.

Chapel of St. Basil, 11.

Chapter of St. Donatian's, founded by Arnulph, 22.

Charles VIII. of France, his help to the Flemings, 285;
  and the reading of his charters, 286.

Charles the Bald, King of the Franks, 5;
  his action against those who rebelled against him, 7;
  the reconciliation, 8.

Charles le Bel, his submission to the
   reign of Louis of Nevers in Flanders, 174;
  his death, 184.

Charles the Bold, his reign in Flanders, 248-67;
  his schemes, and defeat at Nancy, 249, 250;
  his further demands, 250;
  his disappearance, _ibid._

Charles the Good, his influence over Baldwin Hapkin;
   his reign as Count of Flanders, 37;
  Provost Bertulph's charge against him, 44;
  called away to France, 45;
  forced Erembalds and Stratens to swear a truce
   to hostilities during his absence, 46;
  his punishment of Burchard, 47;
  his murder by Burchard, 48;
  and his hurried secret burial, 51;
  his character considered, 51, 52.

Charter, the Great, 164-71.

Châtillon, Jacques de, 146;
  his policy, 147;
  and its results, 148;
  his arrival at Bruges with 2000 knights, their defeat, 150;
  and his escape, 151.

Cnopp, Wulfric, the first prisoner executed after the
   surrender of Bruges to the Isegrins, 70.

Coins, their evidence that Bruges was a commercial town of some note, 16.

Commines, Philippe de, quoted, 262.

Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, 395.

Coninck, Petrus de (_see_ Peter King).

Coucy, Albéric de, chief councillor to Richilde of Hainault, 33.

Courtrai, the Battle of, and its results, 154-61.

Craenenburg, the, 284, 324, 325.

Crévcoeur, his command of the Flemings during
   their revolt against Maximilian, 273.


D

Damme, 409.

Danes, their constant warfare with Baldwin of the Iron Hand,
   and their fierce pillage of Flanders, 17.

David, Gerard, 351-64.

Deken, Willem de, his horrible fate, 189.

Dierick of Alsace, proclaimed Count of Flanders, 87;
  his confirmation and increase of the rights and privileges of Bruges, 88;
  his triumph over William Cliton, 90;
  the bringing to Bruges of a religious relic, 92;
  his part in the second Crusade, _ibid._

Doest, Ter, 391, 392, 409.

Duclos, Canon, his opinion of Gothic architecture, 326.

Dunstan, St., his munificence to the monasteries of Flanders, 23.


E

Edward III. of England, his active co-operation
   with the communes of Flanders, 190;
  hostilities between England, France, and Louis of Nevers, 191;
  negotiations with Louis and with Flemish burghers, _ibid._;
  his generous support to Flanders, 193.

Eeckhout, the Abbey, its story, 76, 78.

Eligius, the Feast of St., 309.

England, the changed attitude of Flanders with regard to, 36;
  the taking of Sluys, and orderly retreat therefrom, 217.

Erembald, his appointment as Châtelain of Bruges, 35.

Erembald Family, the, 40;
  its feud with the house of Straten, 41, 45.

Etheldritha, wife of Baldwin the Bald.
   Baldwin's body re-buried by her command, 18.

Exiles, their flight to Bruges, 28.

Eyck, Hubert van, 339-44.

Eyck, John van, 336, 337, 339, 340, 344-51.


F

Feast of the Precious Blood (_see_ also Relic), 96.

Ferdinand of Portugal, 123;
  his marriage to Jeanne, daughter of Baldwin of Constantinople, and
   renunciation of Philip's overlordship, 123;
  his capture at the Battle of Bouvines, 125.

Fiérens-Gevaert, 337.

FitzOsberne, William, Earl of Hereford,
   his assistance of Richilde of Hainault, 33.

Flotte, Pierre, his escape, along with de Châtillon, from Bruges, 152;
  his death, 158.

Fouquet, Jean, 336.

Froissart quoted, 201, 213.


G

Gachard quoted, 293.

Galbert quoted, 62 (_see_ Walbert).

Gardin, Wuillaume du, 340.

Gerson, Jean de, his denunciation of Petit's doctrine, 228;
  his residence in Lyons, 229.

Gheldorf, 165-7.

Ghent, 50;
  the secret negotiations of the Ghenters
   for the body of Charles the Good, 63;
  their renunciation of homage to William Cliton, 87;
  the playing of Bruges against Ghent by Louis of Nevers, 176;
  its loyalty and pride, 182;
  the preservation of its liberties after the
   invasion of Philip of Valois, 189;
  its omission from the favours of Louis of Valois, 192;
  alliance with Bruges and Ypres, 192;
  charges against Sohier, the Regent, 194;
  complications with Bruges, 199;
  capture of Bruges, 200;
  conciliation between the two towns, 210;
  defection of burghers fighting against Philippe, 240;
  their fight for liberty defeated, 245;
  sentence of exile against Philip of Hornes, 262;
  possession taken by Maximilian, 274.

Ghistelhof, 320.

Gillemer, 336.

Gilliodts, Monsieur, his opinion on the Belfry, 169.

Godshuisen, 392-4.

Godwin, Earl, the outlawry of his son, and his negotiation for a marriage
   between Tostig and Baldwin of Lille's daughter, 28.

Gosfried, a Northern chieftain, 5.

Green's _Short History of the English People_ quoted, 191.

Gruthuise, Hôtel, 291-313;
  connected with the Church of Notre Dame, 314, 315, 332;
  its restoration, 397, 402.

Gunhilda, residence with her mother at Bruges, her
   gift to the Collegiate Church, and her death, 29.

Guntfried, a Northern chieftain, 5.

Guy de Dampierre, Count, his brilliant Court, 136, 137;
  his mistrust of Flanders, 137;
  the difficulties of his reign, 138-43;
  his imprisonment, treaty with Philip, and death, 161, 162.

Guy of Namur, son of Guy of Flanders, his welcome in Flanders, 153;
  his battle cry, and its effect, 158.


H

Hacket, Desiderius, head of the house of Erembald, 40;
  his speech to the Isegrins, 60;
  escape from Bruges, and journey across the great salt
   marsh to the stronghold of his son-in-law, 72;
  his life and descendants, 73-4.

Helbig, Jules, 337.

Henry VI. of England, his complaint at Philippe l'Asseuré's disloyalty, 231.

Holy Sepulchre, the, 323.

Hospital of St. John, the Chapel of, 407.

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, to whom the county
   of Flanders was awarded by Henry VI., 231;
  his recognition as Count, 232.


I

Inns, 397.

Isaac of Reninghe, nephew to Bertulph, hanged by William of Löo, 82.

Ivan of Alost, his speech to William Cliton at Ghent, 86;
  and the proclamation that he renounced his homage to William, 87.


J

Jabbeke, Jan van, 338.

John of Dadizeele, his character, 259, 260;
  attacked by ruffians, 260;
  and killed, 261.

John the Fearless, reign in Flanders, 212;
  character, 213;
  disappointment at the retreat of English before burghers of Bruges, 217;
  vengeance on Bruges, 217-20;
  use of Flemings to fight against France, their refusal
   to fight beyond a stated time, 220, 221;
  compelled to yield at all points to the burghers, 222;
  murder of the Duc d'Orléans, 223;
  confession and flight, 224;
  increased power, 225;
  death, 226, 227.

John of Namur, appointment as warden at Sluys, and imprisonment, 175.

Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald, her marriage to King Ethelwolf
   of Wessex, and abduction by Baldwin, 6.

Jurisdiction, the right of Bruges to exercise it over Sluys and Damme, 171.


K

Karls of the seaboard, constant feud with sovereigns of Flanders, 30;
  home and manners, 31;
  independence, 32, 33;
  Leliart nobles' opinion of, 177;
  rebellion, 178-82;
  preparations to resist Philip of Valois, 186;
  descent on the French camp, 187;
  defeat, 188.

_De Kerels van Vlaanderen_, by Hendrick Conscience, 38, 39.

Kervyn quoted, 141, 187, 233, 241, 251.

King, Peter, consideration of his original station and position, 145;
  leadership of Bruges, 146;
  retreat from Bruges, 147;
  failure to win over the Ghenters, and the
   consequent terror of his followers, 148;
  wisdom, 149;
  recall to Bruges, and defeat of De Châtillon, 150.

Krangrok, Herred, a typical Karl, 31.


L

Lanchals, Peter, his flight, 282;
  betrayal, 294;
  and death, 295.

_La Noble Confrérie du Précieux Sang_, 103.

Laws of Bruges, the, 106-8.

Lisseweghe, 409, 410.

Lisseweghe, the monastery, 73.

Longfellow quoted, 256.

Louis XI. of France, 270, 271.

Louis the Fat, 67-69, 71;
  his message to the people of Flanders, and
   nomination of William Cliton as Count, 82;
  plan to wrest Normandy from Henry Beauclerc, 83.

Louis of Maele, son of Louis of Nevers, policy, 195;
  attempt to make burghers renounce allegiance to Edward III., 195, 196;
  means for avoiding marriage with Isabella of England, 197;
  oppression of Ghent, and rising of Ghenters, 190;
  defeat of Louis, 200;
  flight and escape, 201;
  his wife, 205;
  generosity to Bruges, _ibid._

Louis of Nevers, 172;
  imprisonment by his father, 173;
  death, _ibid._

Louis II. of Nevers, accession to throne of Flanders, 174;
  appointment of his uncle, John of Namur, as warden of Sluys,
   and anger of the citizens of Bruges, 175;
  his life at the Court of Nevers, 176;
  action of his lieutenant in Flanders, 177;
  rebellion of Flemings against him, 178;
  fear of treachery, 180;
  and violent measures to crush the rebels, 181;
  his defeat and capture, _ibid._;
  charter issued from prison, 182;
  his release and oath to respect the liberties of the Flemings, 183;
  his changed mood, 191;
  death, 194.

Louis, son of Charles the Bald, conspiracy
   with Guntfried, Gosfried, and Baldwin, 6;
  their defeat, 7.

Lübke, 337.


M

Maison de l'ancient Greffe, 398, 401.

Marche, M. Lecoy de la, _note_, 336.

Marché aux Herbes, 401.

Margaret, daughter of Baldwin of
   Constantinople, wife of Bourchard d'Avesnes, 127;
  birth of her two sons, 128;
  breaking of her troth to Bourchard, 129;
  hatred for him, 130;
  and her attempt to prove the illegitimacy of her children, 131.

Marie, daughter of Charles the Bold, accession to throne of Flanders, 252;
  betrothal, 256;
  marriage, 257;
  death, 265;
  monument erected to her memory, 266.

Marmion, Simon, 336.

Maximilian, of Austria, betrothal to Marie of Flanders, 256;
  marriage, 257;
  weakness of intellect, 257;
  vacillation, 258;
  expenditure of his wife's money, 258, 259;
  arrest of Bruges' magistrates, 261;
  release of same on payment of a heavy fine, 262;
  departure for Holland and confirmation of the authority
   of the council of regency, 269;
  victory over Dutch rebels, and insults to Regents, 271;
  declaration regarding
 his treaty, and preparations for war, 272;
  triumph by treachery over Bruges and Ghent, 274;
  foolish disdain for the Flemings, and ambitious
   attempt to invade France, 276;
  defeat, 277;
  attempt to re-establish confidence in burghers, 278;
  further trouble, 279, 282;
  his speech to burghers, 283, 284;
  visit of condolence from burghers, 286;
  new prison, 290;
  terms of his release, 296, 297;
  residence in Hulse, and declaration therefrom, 299;
  peace treaty, 301.

Memlinc, Hans, 339, 369-88.

Middelburg, near Bruges, 316.

Moerseke, Lord of, surrender of Guy of Dampierre's
   sword to William of Juliers, 153.

Mural paintings, 338.


N

Nancy, the Battle of, its effect on Charles the Bold, 250.

Napoleon, visit to Bruges, and preservation of St. Basil's, 100.

Nassau, Count of, Maximilian's lieutenant, in Flanders, 302;
  interception of food supplies, 303;
  terms offered by Bruges, _ibid._

Nicholas II., Pontiff of Rome, intercession for Baldwin and Judith, 7.

Notre Dame, the Church of, 18, 75-80, 170, 208, 306;
  connected with the Hôtel de Gruthuise, 313;
  restoration of western façade, 397, 401, 407.

Notre Dame de la Poterie, 407.


O

Orientaux, Maison des, 310, 327.

Orléans, Duc d', his death, 223.

Oudewater, the birthplace of Gerard David, 353.


P

Palace of the Liberty of Bruges, 15.

Palais du Franc, 401.

Paris Hall, the, 310.

Petit, John, 225;
  quoted, 226;
  his doctrine denounced, 228.

Philip of Alsace, his reign, 105.

Philip Augustus of France, his action regarding the throne of Flanders, 122-4;
  invasion of Flanders, 124.

Philippe l'Asseuré, accession to the throne of Flanders, 230;
  treaty of Arras, 230;
  defection of his army, 231;
  acknowledgment of rights of Bruges over Sluys,
   and attempt to dupe Bruges, 234;
  terms agreed upon, 236;
  Philippe's march upon Bruges, 237;
  defeat, and escape, 238;
  return to power, and conditions, 242;
  his victims, 242, 243;
  triumphant entry of Bruges, 244;
  quiet in Flanders during the concluding years of reign, 245;
  death, 246.

Philip of Cleves, oath, 298;
  letter to Maximilian, 300;
  upholding of oath, 304;
  his end, 305.

Philip the Rash, 212;
  character and popularity, 213;
  policy, 214;
  death, 216.

Philip, son of Marie, accession, 268;
  return to Bruges, 279.

Philip of Thielt, connection with the Great Charter, 164.

Philip of Valois, King of France, accession, 184;
  invasion of Flanders, 185.

Philippe le Bel, hatred of Guy de Dampierre, 139-43;
  affiancing of sister and daughter to Edward I. of England and his son, 142;
  visit to Flanders, 144;
  and resultant rebellion, 145;
  invasion of Flanders, 153, 154;
  Battle of Courtrai, defeat, and subsequent negotiations, 155-62;
  death, 163.

Place du Bourg, 398, 401.

Place de la Vigne, 403.

Poele, Jan van de, 325;
  work and successors, 326.

Pont aux Lions, 405.

" de l'âne Aveugle, 401.

" des Augustins, 405.

" des Baudets, 405.

" de la Clef, 405.

" de la Tour, 405.

" Flamand, 405.

Poorters Logie, 404.

Porte des Baudets, 405.

" de Damme, 405.

" de Gand, 403, 405.

" des Maréchaux, 405.

" Ste. Croix, 405.

Praet, Gervais, speech to the men of Bruges, 64;
  pacification of burghers, 85;
  declaration in favour of Dierick of Alsace, 87.


Q

Quai de Rosaire, 401.


R

Rasseghem, Adrien van, treachery of, 302.

Relic. The water in which Joseph of Arimathea
   was supposed to have washed the blood-stained body of Christ,
  brought to Bruges by Dierick, 92;
  its adventures, 95, 96.

Religious persecution, 390, 391.

Richard of Raeske, his challenge to Walter of Straten, 'the Winged Lie,' 43.

Richilde of Hainault, Countess Dowager, assumption of the reins of government
   during the minority of Arnulph, 32, 33;
  action against the Karls, assisted by William FitzOsberne,
   Earl of Hereford, and others, 33;
  defeat by Robert the Frisian, 34, 35;
  acknowledgment of Robert as Count, 35.

Robert of Bethune, 162;
  influenced by his son, Louis of Nevers, 172;
  confession of an attempt to poison him, and imprisonment of Louis, 173;
  his death, _ibid._

Robert of Cassel, his claim to the throne of Flanders, 174;
  opposition to rebellious Karls withdrawn, 179.

Robert the Child, 59;
  popularity, 69;
  execution, 71.

Robert the Frisian, Richilde's defiance of, 33;
  his preparations for revenge, 34;
  and defeat of Richilde, 54, 55.

Rolf the Ganger, benefited by the treaty of Claire-sur-Epte, 21.

Roode, Vincent de, 325.

Rotbert, 5;
  his vassalage to Charles the Bald, 6;
  his position and influence, 8.

Roya, the river, 9;
  its course, 10.

Rudolphe of Nesle, his death, 158.


S

St. Amand's Chapel, 11.

Ste. Anne, 407.

St. Basil, 99, 100.

St. Bertin, the Abbey of, at St. Omer, to which Arnulph acted as abbot, 23.

St. Donatian, the Cathedral of, 75.

St. Eloi's Church of Our Lady, 11.

St. Gilles, additions to the Church of, 306, 407.

St. Jacques, the Church of, 306, 407.

Ste. Marie Madeleine, 407.

St. Mary at Ardenburg, its foundation by Arnulph, 22.

St. Peter at Thorhout, its foundation by Arnulph, 22.

St. Peter, the Church of, 75.

Ste. Walburge, 407.

Sanctuary of the Precious Blood, the, 96;
  its foundation by Count Robert of Jerusalem, 99.

Shoemakers' Hall, 309.

Sluys, bombardment and capture by English, 217;
  demand made by Bruges for the surrender of its fleet and town, 232;
  expulsion of Bruges' burghers from the town, 232, 233;
  siege raised, 239.

Smiths' Chapel, 309.

Sohier of Courtrai, his election as regent, 193;
  his siege, 194.

Steeples, 331.

Straten, the house of, its feud with the house of Erembald, 41;
  their flight from Flanders after the murder of Charles the Good, 48;
  seizure of Bertulph's palace, 63.

Stubbs, Dr., his theory regarding a letter
   addressed from England to Arnulph, 23.

Suger, Abbot of St. Denis, his life of Charles the Good, contained in his work
   on the Acta of Louis the Fat, 40.


T

Tancmar, head of the house of Erembald, 41.

Thémard, Châtelain of Brudburch, his attempt to avenge his master, Charles
   the Good, and resultant death, 48.

Theophilus, the monk, 340.

Thorhout, Baldwin's castle there, used to
   store the relics of St. Donatian, 11.

Trees, the, in and near Bruges, 134, 135.


V

Van Artevelde, 192;
  prosperity of Flanders under his rule, and agreement
   with Edward III. of England, 193;
  his setting out for Bruges from Ghent, 199;
  triumph over a drunken rabble from Bruges, 200;
  generous treatment of the conquered town, 201;
  conditions, 202;
  and government, 202, 203;
  death, 203.

Van Bassevelde, Sheriff, spokesman of the City Fathers of Bruges, 272.

Van der Weyden, 339, 364-7.

Van Oudenaerde, Ian, his architecture, 99.

Verschelde, his opinion of Gothic architecture, 326.

Ville, Hôtel de, 205-7, 306, 398.

Vredius, his _Flandrica Ethnica_, 40.


W

Walbert's life of Charles the Good, 39.

Walbert quoted, 60, 61, 68, 69, 71, 77.

Walter quoted, 66, 78.

Walter of Straten, his refusal to fight Richard of Raeske, 43.

Walter, Archdeacon of Tournai, his life of Charles the Good, 39.

Walter, the son of the Châtelain of Ardenburg, his execution, 70.

Wauters, 337.

Weale, Mr., his opinion of Gothic architecture, 326;
  discovery of frescoes at Bruges, 338.

Wegener, Dr., his opinion regarding Charles the Good, 52.

Wegener, his life of Charles the Good in Danish, 40;
  theory about Straten-Erembald feud, 41.

Wehrgeld, the, 106.

Willemszuene, Nicholas, 325.

William Cliton, reign in Flanders, 82-9;
  mode of government and its effect on Bruges, 85;
  poverty and attempted taxation, 86;
  cause lost, 87;
  victory at Axpoel Heath, and death, 88.

William of Juliers, Provost of Maestricht,
   his leadership of Flemish patriots, 149;
  demand that the sword of Guy of Dampierre should be surrendered, 153;
  exhortation to his burghers, 155;
  trophies sent to the Church of St. Mary to
   commemorate the victory of Courtrai, 160.

William of Löo, 46, 48, 81;
  his denunciation, and loss of Flemish throne, 82.

William the Norman, lured to destruction and murdered by Baldwin Bladzo, 25.

'Winged Lie,' The (_see_ Walter of Straten).


Y

Ypres, panic of the burghers at the news of the Karls' defeat, 188;
  alliance with Bruges and Ghent, 192.


Z

Zannekin, Nicholas, leader of the Karls against
  the misrule of Louis II. of Nevers, 178;
  hailed as the saviour of his country, 179;
  governorship of Ypres, 182;
  leadership of the Karls, 186;
  death, 188.

Zeven Torens, De, 319, 320.

Zitter, Peter de, 266.

Zwyn, its silting up, 198, 246, 249, 389.

                               EDINBURGH
                           COLSTONS LIMITED
                               PRINTERS

                   *       *       *       *       *

                             FOOTNOTES:

 [1] _See_ BOLL. ACTA SS., VI. FEB. _Vita S. Amandi auctore Baudemundo
 ejus discipulo_.

 [2] _See_ TAINE, _l'Ancien Régime_, livre 1er, ch. I., § II.

 [3] _See_ Genealogical Table I.

 [4] _Memorials of St. Dunstan._ Rolls Series. Introduction.

 [5] _Epistola ad Arnulfum Comitem_ (MS. Cotton, Tiberius A. 15, fo.
 155b).

 [6] _See_ Genealogical Table I.

 [7] The marriage of King Ethelwolf with Judith was not consummated.

 [8] Charles's palace occupied the site of the present Palais de
 Justice.

 [9] Bertulph's house occupied the site of that portion of Government
 House which gives on the _rue Breidel_.

 [10] Charles is always depicted in red.

 [11] A name given by the Karls to the feudal lords.

 [12] In the _rue Breidel_. The Boterbeke has been vaulted over for
 centuries, and of course the bridge no longer exists; the gates too
 have disappeared, but the holes into which the bolts were slipped are
 still to be seen in the facade of a house on the left-hand side at
 the further end of the street, which once formed part of the ancient
 gateway.

 [13] Immediately after the murder, Bertulph had sent letters to the
 Bishop of Tournai containing evidence which he deemed sufficient to
 prove his innocence. These letters never reached their destination.
 Bertulph's messenger, a monk of Eeckhout Abbey, had hardly left Bruges
 when he fell into the hands of the Isegrins. _See_ also p. 59.

 [14] The ruins of this monastery, most picturesquely situated, are
 well worth a visit. The huge brick barn with magnificent timber roof,
 a splendid specimen of thirteenth-century architecture, and some other
 out-buildings are still intact and still fulfil their original purpose.

 [15] _See_ p. 72, footnote.

 [16] _See_ Genealogical Table II.

 [17] A nephew of Bertulph's.

 [18] A vagabond of any description.

 [19] _See_ Genealogical Table III.

 [20] _See_ Genealogical Table III.

 [21] _See_ Genealogical Table IV.

 [22] GESTA TREVIR. _Arch. ap. Martène, Coll. Ampliss._, iv., p. 363.
 _See_ KERVYN DE LETTENHOVE, _Histoire de la Flandre_, p. 77, vol. ii.

 [23] The French party--supporters of the lily.

 [24] The Nationalists--supporters of the lion of Flanders.

 [25] _See_ Genealogical Table IV.

 [26] _See_ KERVYN DE LETTENHOVE. _Histoire de Flandre_, livre 9e,
 tome ii., p. 113.

 [27] See _Oud. Vlaemsche liederen_, published by Abbé Carton, p. 154.

 [28] _Corp. Chr. Fl._ i., p. 190.

 [29] _See_ KERVYN, vol. ii., p. 262.

 [30] _See_ GREEN'S _Short History of the English People_, chap, v.,
 sec. i., p. 218.

 [31] Chronicles of Boucecault.

 [32] Monk of St. Denis.

 [33] _Rel. de St. Denis_, iv. 6.

 [34] See _Rel. de St. Denis_, xxviii. 30, Monstrelet I.

 [35] KERVYN DE LETTENHOVE. _Histoire de Flandre_, livre 14me, tom.
 iii., p. 239.

 [36] Ann. Nov., ap. Martène, Ampliss. Coll., v. Col. 621; Lettre MS.
 de Rodolphe Agricola, 1 Nov. 1482.

 [37] KERVYN. Livre 19e, vol. iv., p. 247.

 [38] _See_ Genealogical Table V.

 [39] See p. 287.

 [40] GACHARD. _Lettres inédites de Maximilian_, i., p. 80.

 [41] _Chronique de Despars_, vol. iv., p. 178.

 [42] The freehold of this property is still held by a descendant of
 the Adornes family.

 [43] See _Revue de l'Art Chrétien_, 1892, p. 396.

 [44] See _Revue des Deux Mondes_, June 15, 1900. _De van Eyck à Van
 Dyck._

 [45] _Revue de l'Art Chrétien_, 1900, 4me livr. _Les Frères van
 Eyck_, JAMES WEALE.

 [46] _See_ LÜBKE. _History of Art_, vol. ii., p. 326.

 [47] This lady followed her husband's calling. Mr. Henry Willett of
 Brighton is the possessor of three beautiful miniatures in the form
 of a triptych, which are certainly her work. The central panel shows
 the Madonna and Child, and in the background the old manor house at
 Oostcamp of Louis of Gruthuise.

 [48] This date has every appearance of being authentic, but it may
 have been added later.

 [49] _See_ DE LABORDE. _Les Ducs de Bourgogne. Memoriaux de Jean
 Robert, Abbé de Saint-Aubert._

 [50] _Les Ducs de Bourgogne. Etude sur les lettres, les arts et
 l'industrie pendant le quinzième siècle_, vol. ii., Preface, p. xliv.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

chatelaincy=> châtelaincy {pg 35}

first ecclesastical preferment=> first ecclesiastical preferment {pg 36}

Nothwithstanding=> Notwithstanding {pg 40}

the indentity of their name=> the identity of their name {pg 77}

Lady of Dadizeelle=> Lady of Dadizeele {pg 260}

franctically shouting=> frantically shouting {pg 286}

nothwithstanding all this=> notwithstanding all this {pg 303}

series of mauuscripts=> series of manuscripts {pg 335}

execucution by his daughter Jeanne=> execution by his daughter Jeanne
{pg 411}





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