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river of Lys, to have the easement of the course of the water. And the earl was well accorded to them and sent great number of pioneers and men of arms to assist them. Before that in time past they would have done the same, but they of Gaunt by puissance brake their purpose. These tidings came to Gaunt, how they of Bruges were digging to turn the course of the river of Lys, the which should greatly be to the prejudice of Gaunt. Many folks in the town began to murmur, and specially the mariners, for it touched them near ; wherefore they said they of Bruges should not be suffered so to dig, to have the course of the river to them, whereby their town should be destroyed. And some said privily : ' Ah, God help now John Lyon, for if he had been still our governour, it should not have been thus: they of Bruges would not have been so hardy to attempt so far against us.' John Lyon was well advertised of all these matters: then he began a little to wake, and said to himself: `I have slept a season, but it shall appear that for a small occasion I shall wake and shall set such a tremble between this town and the earl, that it shall cost peradventure a hundred thousand men's lives.' The tidings of these diggers increased : so it was, there was a woman that came from her pilgrimage from our Lady of Boulogne, who was weary and sat down in the market-place, whereas there were divers men, and some of them demanded of her from whence she came. She answered, `From Boulogne, and I have seen by the way the greatest mischief that ever came to this town of Gaunt : for there be more than five hundred pioneers, that night and clay worketh before the river of Lys ; and if they be not let, they will shortly turn the course of the water.' This woman's words was well heard and understanded in divers places of the town. Then they of the town began to moan and said `This deed ought not to be suffered nor consented unto.' Then divers went to John Lyon and demanded counsel of him, how they should use themselves in this matter. And when John Lyon saw himself sought on by them, whom he desired to have their good wills and love, he was greatly rejoiced. Howbeit, he made no semblant of joy, for he thought it was not as then yet time, till e the matter were better ascertained. And so he was sore desired, or he would speak or declare his thought, and when he spake, he said: ` Sirs, if ye will adventure to remedy this matter, it behoveth that in this town of Gaunt ye renew an old ancient custom, that sometime was used in this town : and that is, that ye bring up again the white hats,' and that they may have a chief ruler to whom they may draw and by him be ruled.' These words were gladly heard, and then they said all with one voice ' We will have it so: let us raise up these white hats.' Then there were made white bats, and given and delivered to such as loved better to have war than peace, for they had nothing to lose ; and there they chose John Lyon to be chief governour of all the white hats, the which office he took on him right gladly, to the intent to be revenged on his enemies and to bring discord between the towns of Bruges and Gaunt and the earl their lord : and so it was ordained that they should go out against the diggers of Bruges with John Lyon their sovereign captain, and with him two hundred with their companies, of such as had rather have had war than peace. And when Gilbert Mahew and his brethren saw the manner of these white hats, they were not very joyful thereof. Then Stenuart said to his brethren: ` I said to you before how this John Lyon should discomfit us at length. It had been better that ye had believed me before and to have let me have slain him rather than he should be in this estate that he is now in and is likely to be in ; and all is by the white hats that be hath brought up.' `Nay, nay,' quoth Gilbert, `when I have once spoken with my lord the earl, I warrant you they shall be laid down again. Let them alone to do their enterprise against the pioneers of Bruges for the profit of this our town ; for else, to say the truth, the



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