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never after so hardy to dig there again. When John Lyon and his company saw nothing to do, they returned again to Gaunt ; but for all that John Lyon left not his office, but that the white hats went daily up and down the town and John Lyon kept them still in that estate ; and to some he would say secretly: `Hold you well content : cat and drink and make merry, and be not afraid of anything that ye dispend. Such shall pay in time to come for your scot, that will not give you now one penny.'

CHAPTER CCCXLIX

How by the exhortation of John Lyon the Gauntois sent certain notable burgesses of the town of Gaunt to the earl of Flanders for the conservation of their privileges and old franchises, and of the desire the earl made to lay down the white hats.

IN the same week that John Lyon had been thus at Deynse, to have met with the pioneers of Bruges, there came divers out of the franchise of Gaunt to complain to them that had as then the rule of the law, and said: `Sirs, at Eccloo beside us, the which is within the franchise of Gaunt, there is one of our burgesses in the earl's prison, and we have desired the earl's baily there to deliver him, but he hath plainly answered that he will not deliver him, the which is plainly against the privilege of this town of Gaunt. And so thereby little and little your privileges shall be broken, the which in time past have been so noble and so highly praised, and beside that so well kept and maintained, that none durst break them, and that the most noblest knight of Flanders held himself well reputed to be a burgess of Gaunt.' Then they of the law answered and said how they would write to the baily desiring him that the burgess may be delivered, `for truly his office extendeth not so far as to keep our burgess in the earl's prison.' And so they wrote to the baily for the deliverance of the burgess, being in prison in Eccloo. The baily answered and said `What needeth all these words for a mariner? Say,' quoth the baily, who had to name Roger d'Auterive, 'to them of Gaunt, that though he were a richer man ten times than he is, he shall never go out of prison without my lord the earl command it. I have puissance to arrest, but I have no power to deliver.' The words of this Roger d'Auterive were reported to them of Gaunt, wherewith they were sore displeased and said how he had answered right proudly. By these answers and incidents, as well [as] for the pioneers of Bruges, who would have digged against the heritage and profit of Gaunt, and for such other semblable deeds, whereby the franchises o� Gaunt should have been hurt, there began to run through the town and abroad in the country these unhappy ribalds called the white hats, to the intent to be the more feared and renowned :1 for it behoveth in a lineage that there be some foolish and outrageous, to maintain and sustain the peaceable. The tidings of this mariner burgess of Gaunt being in the earl's prison at Eccloo, whom the baily would not deliver, spread abroad in the town of Gaunt, and divers folks began to murmur and to say how it was not to be suffered ; for in sitting still and being too soft in maintaining of their franchise they might lose all, the which hath been so noble. John Lyon, who intended always but to one thing, and that was to set in trouble the town of Gaunt against the earl their lord, in such wise that he should not appease it again but with much sorrow and great damage, wherefore he was nothing displeased of these adventures, but he would always that for one of them there had fallen thirty. He put forth his words and covertly did sow them through the town, saying how that whensoever offices be bought in a town, the jurisdictions and privileges cannot be well kept: `for the earl receiveth now yearly three or four thousand franks beyond the old usage or customs, whereby the merchants and mariners greatly complaineth them and leaveth to resort to the town of Gaunt, both they of Valenciennes, of Douay, of Lille, of Bethune and of Tournay : and this may be a thing whereby the town may 1 Froissart wrote as follows



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