Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

The Earl of Flanders Gives Harsh Terms to Ghent

Deputies from the neighbouring countries of Liege, Brabant and Hainault have been trying to make peace between the earl of Flanders and his subjects, but the earl refuses to meet with them. He promises instead to send his council to Tournay to give his terms for peace.

Book II, ch. 94. Six days afterwards, arrived at Tournay, by orders of the earl, the lord de Raseflez, the lord de Gontris, sir John Villame and the provost of Harlebeque, who made excuses from the earl why he came not in person. They then delivered the earl's determination, that the inhabitants of Ghent were not to expect peace from him, unless all persons, from the age of fifteen to sixty, submitted to come out of that city, bare-headed in their shirts, with halters about their necks,, on the road between Ghent and Bruges, where the earl would wait for them, and grant them pardon or put them to death, according to his pleasure.

When this answer was carried by the deputies of the three countries to those of Ghent, they were more confounded than ever. The bailiff of Hainault, then addressing them, said, -- "My good gentlemen, you are in great peril, as you may each of you judge, and we can assure you of it: now, if you accept these terms, he will not put all to death that shall present themselves before him, but only some who have angered him more than the rest; and means may be found to mollify him, and excite his compassion; so that those who may think themselves certain of death will be pardoned: accept, therefore, these offers, or at least consider well before you refuse them; for I believe you will never have such made to you again."

Philip von Artaveld replied, -- "We are not commissioned to treat on such terms by our townsmen, nor will they ever accept them; but if the citizens of Ghent, upon our return, after having informed them of the answer from the earl, shall be willing to submit themselves, it shall not be our fault that peace is not made. We give you our best and warmest thanks for the great trouble and pains you have taken in this business."

They then took lave of those well-intentioned persons, and the other deputies from the principal towns of the three countries, and showed plainly that they would not accept of the offered terms for peace. Philip von Artaveld and his companions went to their hotels, discharged their bills, and returned through Brabant to Ghent.

Thus was the conference broken up, which had been assembled with the best intentions, in the town of Tournay, and each man returned to his home. The earl of Flanders never made an inquiry what was the answer of the Ghent deputies, so very cheap did he hold them. He wished not for any treaty of peace; for he well knew he had pushed them so hard they could not hold out against him much longer, and that the end must be honourable to him: he was also desirous to reduce Ghent to such a situation that all other towns might take warning from it.

This story continues.

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