Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

Hostility grows between France and Flanders

Because the count of Flanders has given hospitality to the duke of Brittany, relations between the count (Johnes: earl) and the king of France have worsened, and the king has sent menacing letters to Flanders.

Book II, ch. 30. The earl [of Flanders] wrote back again, and made the best excuses he could. These were, however, of no avail; for the king of France sent him sharper letters, in which he declared, that if he did not send away his enemy the duke of Brittany, he would look upon him in the same light.

When the earl of Flanders saw the manner in which the king took it, and that he would follow it up, he considered with himself (for he had a quick imagination), and resolved to show these menaces to his principal towns, more especially to Ghent, to know what answer they would wish him to send. He dispatched copies to Bruges, Ypres, and Courtray; and he set out with the duke of Brittany for Ghent, where they were lodged at the postern gate. He was received by the citizens with very great joy, for at that time they were much pleased to have him among them.

When the deputies from the other towns were arrived, according to their orders, the count had them assembled; and John de la Faucille harangued them, in his name, on the cause of his meeting them: he read to them the letters which had been received within the last two months from the king of France.

After these letters had been read, the earl spoke as follows: "My children, and good people of Flanders, through God's grace, I have been for a long time your lord: I have governed you in peace as much as was in my power; and you have never seen any think in me but a desire to maintain you in prosperity, as a good lord should act in regard to his subjects. It must be very displeasing to me, and to you also who are my faithful subjects, that I should incur the hatred of my lord the king, because I keep with me my cousin-german the duke of Brittany, who at this time is not in favour with the court of France; nor, in truth, can he place any dependence on his vassals of Brittany, through the hatred of five or six of his barons. The king insists that I banish him my house and territories, which would be very extraordinary. I do not say but that if I should assist my cousin in opposition to France, the king might have cause to complain: but I have neither done so, nor have I any such inclinations. It is for this cause I have assembled you, to explain to you the dangers that might happen if you should be desirous for him to remain with me."

They answered unanimously, "My lord, we do wish him to remain with you: and we know not that prince, however great he may be, who should resolve to make war upon you, but who would find in your earldom of Flanders two hundred thousand men completely armed."

This reply was very agreeable to the earl of Flanders, who said, "My good children, I thank you."

The assembly now broke up; and the earl was so well pleased that he gave them permission to return to their own homes in peace. The earl, at a proper time, returned to Bruges in company with the duke of Brittany. Things remained in this situation. The earl was very popular with his subjects, and the country continued in peace and prosperity; this, however, did not last long, through extraordinary wickedness, which brought on great tribulation, as you will hear related in this history.

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