Page 227

Page 227 (Chronicles of Froissart)

page 227

that the earl granted them all their requests as touching their prisoner at Eccloo, and promising to keep and maintain the franchises of Gaunt without breaking of any of them, and defended them of Bruges that they should not be so hardy to dig on the heritage of them of Gaunt : and the better to please them of Gaunt, he commanded them of Bruges to fill again the dikes that they had made. And so they amiably departed from the earl and returned to Gaunt, and recorded all that they had done with the earl their lord, and how he will maintain them in their franchises without breaking of any of them: howbeit, he desired them by fairness to lay down the white hats. And with those words the earl's servants brought again the prisoner from Eccloo, and so yielded him again, as by the way of reestablishing, whereof they had great joy. At this answer making was John Lyon and a ten or twelve of the most notable of his company ; and when they heard that the earl required that the white hats should be laid down, every man held his peace then John Lyon spake and said : `All ye good people that be here present, ye know and have seen but late how the white hats hath better kept your franchises than either red or black hats have done, or of any other colour. Be ye sure, and say that I said it, as soon as the white hats be laid down by the ordinance that the earl would have it so, I will not give for all your franchises after not three pence.' The which words blinded so the people, that every man departed thence, and the most part went home to their houses and said : ` Let him alone : John Lyon saith truth : we have not seen in him but good and profitable for our town.' So the matter stood still in the same case ; and John Lyon was then in more fear of his life than he was before, and imagined anon as it fell after; for he thought that Gilbert Mahew had wrought some matter against him and his company in his last voyage with the earl, because the earl made so amiable an answer. Then he thought to find some remedy, and ordained and made secretly captains of the white hats, as centeniers and cinquanteniers,1

1 ` Heads of hundreds and heads o� fifties,' to which is added in the full text ` diseniers,' `heads of tens.' and to them said: ` Sirs, say unto your company that they be day and night purveyed ready, and as soon as they know or hear any moving, let them come to me ; for it were better we slew than to be slain, sith we have begun so far.' And as he ordained, so it was done, every man ready.

CHAPTER CCCL How the white hats slew the baily in the market-place, and of the goods and houses of mariners that were destroyed, and of the great brulling that was then in Gaunt.

IT was not long after but that the baily of Gaunt, Roger d'Auterive, came to Gaunt with a two hundred horse and ordained to do as the earl and Gilbert Mahew and his brethren had devised. The baily, with two hundred men that he broughtwith him,came down along the streets with the earl's banner in his hand; and when he came into the market-place, he rested and set the banner before him : then anon drew to him Gilbert Mahew and his brethren and the ruler of the mean crafts. It was ordained that his men of arms should go to John Lyon's house, and to take him, as chief ruler of the white hats, and a five or six other of his company of them that were most culpable, and they to have been brought to the castle of Gavre and there to have had their heads stricken off. John Lyon, who thought no less and was well advised of this deed, for he had spies and watches in every corner of the town, he knew well of the coming of the baily, and knew for certain, and so did all the white hats, that the same journey was set for them. They all drew together betimes and came to John Lyon's house, who was ready in the street abiding for them. So there came ten, then twenty, and ever as they came they fell in array in the street; and when they were assembled to the number of four hundred, then John Lyon departed as fierce as a lion and said : ` Let us go on these traitors that will betray th

Page 227 (Chronicles of Froissart)