Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

How the Earl of Flanders Escaped from Bruges

Since the men of Ghent put little effort in finding the earl, he succeeds in leaving the conquered city.

Book II, ch. 98. I was informed, and believe my authority good, that on the Sunday evening, when it was dark, the earl of Flanders escaped from Bruges. I am ignorant how he accomplished it, or if he had any assistance, but some I believe he must have had. He got out of the town on foot, clad in a miserable jerkin, and when in the fields was quite joyous, as he might then say he had escaped from the utmost peril.

He wandered about at first, and came to a thorn bush, to consider whither he should go: for he was unacquainted with the road s or country, having never before travelled on foot.

As he lay thus hid under the bush, he heard some one talk, who by accident was one of his knights, that had married a bastard daughter of his: his name was sir Robert Mareschaut. The earl, hearing him talk as he was passing, said to him, "Robert, art thou there?" The knight, who well knew his voice, replied, "My lord, you have this day given me great uneasiness in seeking for you all round Bruges: how were you able to escape?"

"Come, come, Robert," said the earl: "this is not a time to tell one's adventures: endeavour to get me a horse, for I am tired with walking, and take the road to Lille, if thou knowest it."

"My lord," answered the knight, "I know it well."

They then travelled all that night and the morrow until early morn, before they could procure a horse. The first beast they could find was a mare, belonging to a poor man in a village. The earl mounted the mare, without saddle or bridle, and travelling all Monday, came, towards evening, to the castle of Lille, whither the greater part of his knights who had escaped from the battle of Bruges had retired. They had got off as well as they could; some on foot, others on horseback, but all did not follow this road: some went by water to Holland and Zealand, where they received better news.

Sir Guy de Guistelles was fortunate in getting into a good situation; for he found the count Guy de Blois in one of his towns in Zealand, who handsomely entertained him, and gave him wherewithal to remount and equip himself again, retaining him with him as long as he chose to stay. In a similar manner were the discomfited knights remounted by those lords to whom they had fled; they took great compassion on them, which was but justice, for nobles and gentlemen ought to be assisted and comforted by each other.

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