Tales from Froissart
edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University
Artaveld Speaks to the People of Ghent
Philip von Artaveld returns from the conference at Tournay to relate the earl of Flanders' terms for peace.
Book II, ch. 95. When Philip von Artaveld and his companions returned to Ghent, great crowds of the common people, who only wished for peace, were much rejoiced on his arrival, and hoped to hear from him good news. They went out to meet him, saying, "Ah, dear Philip von Artaveld, make us happy: tell us what you have done, and how you have succeeded."
Philip made no answer to these questions, but rode on, holding down his head: the more silent he was, the more they followed him, and were the more clamorous. Once of twice, as he was advancing to his house, he said, "Get you to your homes, and may God preserve you from harm: to-morrow morning be in the market-place by nine o'clock, and there you shall hear every thing." As they could not obtain any other answer, the people were exceedingly alarmed.
When Philip von Artaveld had dismounted at his door, and his companions were returned to their homes, Peter du Bois, anxious to learn what had been done, came in the evening to Philip, and, having shut himself in a chamber with him, asked what success he had met with. Philip, who wished to hide nothing from him, replied, -- "By my faith, Peter, from the answer which my lord of Flanders has given by those of his council whom he sent to Tournay, he will not pardon a soul in Ghent; no not one."
"By my troth," said Peter du Bois, "he is in the right, and has been wisely advised to send such an answer; for we are all equally implicated one as much as another. I have succeeded in all my expectation; for the town of Ghent is in such confusion that it cannot well be appeased. We must become desperate, and it shall be seen if there be not prudent and valiant men in Ghent.
"In a few days, the town of Ghent shall be the most respected town in Christendom, or the most humbled. However, if we do perish in this quarrel, we shall not die alone. You must now, Philip, consider how you will relate the conferences of Tournay to-morrow, so that every one may be satisfied with your conduct.
"You are at this moment in high favour with the people for two reasons; one, on account of the name you bear, for Jacob von Artaveld, your father, was formerly much beloved in this town; the other, form the gentle and friendly manner with which you address them, which they publicly praise: they will therefore firmly believe every thing you shall tell them; and, towards the end, you shall add, 'If I were to advise, I would so and so:' but it is necessary you consider this well, so that you stand on sure grounds and gain honour by it."
"Peter," said Philip von Artaveld, "you speak truth; and I think I shall be able to explain and harangue in such a manner on the affairs of Ghent that, between ourselves, we who are the governors and leaders in Ghent shall live and die with honour." Nothing more was said or done at that time, for they separated: Peter du Bois returned to his house, and Philip remained where he was.
You may easily imagine, when the day so eagerly expected was come, in which Philip was to report what had passed in the conferences at Tournay, that all the inhabitants of Ghent were early in the marketplace. It was on a Wednesday morning, and the time of meeting nine o'clock. Philip von Artaveld, Peter du Bois, Peter le Nuitre, Francis Atremen, and the other chiefs came there; and , having entered the town-hall, they ascended the staircase, when Philip, showing himself from the windows, thus spoke:
"My good friends, it is true, that through the entreaties of the very noble lady the duchess of Brabant, the most puissant and noble prince duke Albert, regent of Hainault, Holland and Zealand, and of my lord the bishop of Liege, a conference was appointed to be holden at Tournay these last days which the earl of Flanders was personally to attend, and which he had promised to the noble persons just mentioned, who have indeed most handsomely acquitted themselves ... but he came not, nor indeed sent any excuses.
"When they perceived this, they resolved to choose three knights from the three countries, and six citizens, and send them to him. Out of affection to us they undertook the business, and went to Bruges, where they found my lord of Flanders, who entertained them well, as they said, and willingly listened to them: he then declared, that out of respect to their lord, and to his sister-in-law, madame de Brabant, he would send his council to Tournay in the course of five or six days, so well instructed, that they would clearly explain his determined intention, which when they should hear, they would know how to act...
"In consequence of this, the lord de Raseflez, the lord de Gontris, sir John Villames, and the provost of Harlebeque, came to Tournay, where they very graciously declared his final terms for peace between him and the inhabitants of Ghent were, that every male inhabitant, excepting priests and monks, from the age of sixteen to that of sixty, should march out of the town in their shirts, with bare heads and feet, and halters about their necks, and should thus go two leagues or more to the plains of Burlesquans, where they would meet the earl of Flanders, attended by such whom he may choose to bring with him; and that, when he should see us in this situation, with joined hands, crying out for mercy, he would, if he pleased, take compassion on us.
But I could not learn from his council, that there was to be the least plea of justice to put to death such numbers of people as would be there that day. Now, consider if you will have peace on these terms?"
This story continues.