Page 040

Page 40 (Chronicles of Froissart)



page 40


Jaques d'Arteveld ; he was entered into such fortune and grace of the people, that all thing was done that he devised: he might command what he would through all Flanders, for there was none, though he were never so great, that durst disobey his commandment. He had always going with him up and down in Gaunt sixty or fourscore varlets armed, and among them there were three or four that knew the secretness of his mind, so that if he met a person that he hated or had him in suspicion, incontinent he was slain: for he had commanded his secret varlets, that whansoever he met any person and made such a sign to them, that incontinent they should slay him, whatsoever he were, without any words or reasoning; and by that means he made many to be slain, whereby he was so doubted, that none durst speak against anything that he would have done, so that every man was glad to make him good cheer. And these varlets, when they had brought him home to his house, then they should go to dinner where they list, and after dinner return again into the street before his lodging, and there abide till he come out, and to wait on him till supper-time. These soldiers had each of them four groats Flemish by the day, and were truly paid weekly. Thus he had in every town soldiers and servants at his wages, ready to do his commandment and to espy if there were any person that would rebel against his mind, and to inform him thereof: and as soon as he knew any such, he would never cease till they were banished or slain without respite. All such great men, as knights, squires or burgesses of good towns, as he thought favourable to the earl in any manner, he banished them out of Flanders, and would levy the moiety of their lands to his own use and the other half to their wives and children. Such as were banished, of whom there were a great number, abode at Saint-Omer's.1 To speak properly, there was never in Flanders nor in none other country, prince, duke nor other that ruled a country so peaceably so long as this Jaques d'Arteveld did rule Flanders. He levied the rents, winages and rights that pertained to the
1 The original says `abode at Saint-Omer for the most part and were called les avolles or les outre-avolles.'

earl throughout all Flanders, and spended all at his pleasure without any account making. And when he would say that he lacked money, they believed him, and so it behoved them to do; for none durst say against him: when he would borrow anything of any burgess, there was none durst say him nay. These English ambassadors kept an honourable estate at the town of Valenciennes : they thought it should be a great comfort to the king their lord, if they might get the Flemings to take their part. Then they took counsel of the earl in that matter, and he answered that truly it should be one of the greatest aids that they could have; but, he said, he thought their labour in that behalf could not. prevail without they get first the good-will of Jaques d'Arteveld. Then they said they would assay what they could do; and so thereupon they departed from Valenciennes and went into Flanders, and departed into three or four companies ; some went to Bruges, some to Ypres, and some to Gaunt: and they all kept such port and made so large dispense, that it seemed that silver and gold fell out of their hands ; and made many great promises and offers to them that they spake to for that matter. And the bishop with a certain with him went to Gaunt, and he did so much, what with fair words and otherwise, that he gat the accord of Jaques d'Arteveld and did get great grace in the town, and specially of an old knight that dwelt in Gaunt, who was there right well beloved, called the lord Courtrisien1, a knight banneret, and was reputed for a hardy knight and had always served truly his lords. This knight did much honour to the Englishmen, as a valiant knight ought to do to all strangers. Of this he was accused to the French king, who incontinent sent a strait commandment to the earl of Flanders, that he should send for this said knight, and



Page 40 (Chronicles of Froissart)