Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

The French Dukes Opt for War

The duke of Burgundy takes up the cause of the earl of Flanders against Ghent.

Book II, ch. 103. The duke of Burgundy was not forgetful of the engagements he had entered into with his lord and father the earl of Flanders. He set out from Bapaume attended by sir Guy de la Trimouille and sir John de Vienne, admiral of France, who were very desirous the earl should be assisted. These two were the principal persons of his council. They continued their journey until they arrived at Senlis, where the king was with his two uncles of Berry and Bourbon. He was received with joy, and then was asked what was the news in Flanders, and how the siege of Oudenarde was going on.

The duke of Burgundy made very prudent replies to these first questions of the king and his uncles; but when he found an opportunity, he drew his brother the duke of Berry aside, and explained to him how the Ghent men, in the insolence of their pride, were endeavouring to be masters everywhere, and to destroy all gentlemen; that they had already burnt and pillaged part of the kingdom of France, which was much to the prejudice and dishonour of the realm, and ought not to be patiently borne.

"Fair brother," said the duke of Berry, "we will talk to the king on this subject: you and I are the principal of his council. The king being made a party, no on will attempt to thwart our inclinations in fomenting a war between France and Flanders, which have hitherto been at peace with each other: it will be proper we give some good reasons for it, and that the barons of France be of our opinion; otherwise we may be blamed and the fault thrown on us; for the king is young, and every one knows that he will do whatever we shall tell him or advise him. If it turn out successful, it will be passed over; but should it be otherwise, we shall be charged with it, and much more blamed, and with reason, than any of the other counsellors. Every one will say, 'See how badly the king's uncles, the dukes of Berry and Burgundy, have advised the king; they have engaged the nation in a war in which it had nothing to do.' I therefore say, my fair lord, that we must assemble the greater part of the prelates and nobles of the kingdom of France, and lay before them, in the presence of the king, who is personally interested in this business, all the events which bear any relation to the inheritance of Flanders: we shall then soon see what is the general wish of France."

The duke of Burgundy replied, "You say well, my fair brother, and what you have advised shall be done."

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