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CHAPTER CCCXCVI

Of the great necessity of victuals that they of Gaunt endured, and how they were succoured by them of Liege.

ALL the season after the destruction and brenning of the town of Grammont and of the raising of the siege of Gaunt because of the displeasure that the earl of Flanders had for the death of his cousin the young lord d'Enghien, slain by the ambushment of the Gauntois, as ye have heard herebefore, the knights and squires nor good towns made no war to them of Gaunt but by garrisons ; so that all the country held with the earl against Gaunt except the Four Mestiers, and so by them some victual came into Gaunt, and some victual came into Gaunt out of the county of Alost ; but the earl of Flanders, as soon as he knew that, he found remedy; for incontinent he sent to the garrison of Termonde commanding them to overrun and to bren all the plain country of the county of Alost, which was done at his commandment, so that the poor folks with their beasts were fain to fly away into Brabant and into Hainault, and the most part to go a-begging. Yet there was a country pertaining to the Four Mestiers,1 from whom there came ever some aid or victual into Gaunt. Thus all this winter the earl and they of Flanders constrained so sore them of Gaunt, that they could have nothing come to them nother by land nor by water. The earl had so won his cousins, the duke of Brabant and duke Aubert, that their countries were kept close against them of Gaunt, so that nothing came to them from thence, without it were by stealth and by great adventure and peril for them that did it. The sage men said how it could not long endure, but that they must die for famine ; for all their garners were void and the people could get no bread for no money, and when any bread was baken in the town, they were fain to keep it by strong hand, or else the common people that died for hunger would have taken it by force. It was great pity to see and to hear the poor people, both men, women and children, yea, such as were right notable fell in this danger, and every
1 ` Yet there remained one country, that which is called the Quatre-Metiers.'

day increased the complaints, weepings and cries made to Philip d'Arteveld their sovereign captain, who had of them great pity and compassion and made many good orders, whereof he was greatly praised for he caused the garners of the abbeys to be opened, and of rich men, and set a reasonable price of the corn, whereby the town was greatly comforted. And some corn there came to them by stealth out of Holland and Zealand, and tuns full of flour and biscuit bread, the which greatly comforted them ; for they had been long discomfited before, if they had not been comforted by these said countries. It was defended in all Brabant by the duke that on pain of death they should carry anything to Gaunt, but if they of Gaunt would jeopard to fetch any, then they might give them or sell to them at their pleasure. And when the time of Lent came, then were they in great distress, for they bad no lenten stuff. Then there departed out of the town a twelve thousand 0f soldiers and such as had nothing t0 live by but were overcome with famine, and so they came to the town of Brussels. The town closed their gates against them, for they feared them, they knew not their thoughts. When they were near to Brussels, they sent a certain of their company unarmed to the gate of the town, and there they desired them of the town for God's sake to have pity of them, as to suffer them to have victual for their money, saying how they died for hunger, and sware how they thought none evil to them nor to the country about. The good men of Brussels had pity on them and brought them victual for their money, and so they passed their time about in the country the space of three weeks, but they could enter into no good town ; and so they came to Louvain, who had pity on them and did them much good and refreshing: their captain and leader was Francis Ackerman, he made the treaties for them with the good towns. And in this s



Page 264 (Chronicles of Froissart)