Tales from Froissart
edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University
The Count de Blois Saves Hainault From Various Menaces
Bruges sends representatives to offer their surrender to the king of France.
Book II, ch. 126. Twelve deputies...came to the king at Courtray, where they found him accompanied by his uncles. They cast themselves on their knees, and entreated him to accept them for his subjects; that they were his men, and the town was at his mercy; but begged him, for the love of God, to have pity on them, and not suffer the town to be destroyed or pillaged; for if it were, too many persons would be ruined. With regard to having opposed their lord, they had been force to it by Philip von Artaveld and the Ghent men; for they had always loyally acquitted themselves to the earl. The king heard this speech through the interpretation of the earl of Flanders, who was present, and who on his knees entreated for them.
It was explained to the citizens of Bruges, that it would be necessary to satisfy the Bretons and men at arms who were encamped between Tourout and Bruges, and that there was no other means of doing so but with money. Upon this, negotiations were entered upon as to the sum: at first, two hundred thousand francs were demanded; but it was reduced at last to six score thousand francs, sixty thousand of which they were to pay down, and the remainder at Candlemas; for which the king assured them peace; but they surrendered themselves simply as liege men to the king of France by faith and homage. By this means was the good town of Bruges prevented from being pillaged.
The Bretons were much vexed at it, for they thought to have their share; and some of them said, when they heard peace had been made, that this war in Flanders was not worth any thing; adding, -- "But when we return home, it should be through the country of Hainault; and duke Albert, who governs it, has not assisted his cousin the earl of Flanders, but has acted in a double manner. It will be right that we pay him a visit: for Hainault is a rich and plentiful country: besides, we shall not find any one to obstruct our passage, and we may there make amends for our losses and ill paid wages."
There was a time when those of this opinion amounted to twelve hundred spears, Bretons, Burgundians, Savoyards and others. You may suppose the charming country of Hainault was in jeopardy. The gallant count de Blois, who was one of the greatest lords of the rearguard, and of the king's council, heard of this intended march, and that the Bretons, Burgundians and others, who only looked for pillage, menaced the fair country of Hainault; he took immediate steps to prevent it, saying, it was not to be suffered that so fine a country should be overrun and pillaged.
He summoned to his lodgings his cousins, the count de la Marche, the count de St. Pol, the lord de Coucy, the lord d'Anghien and several more, all holding lands in Hainault, and who had come thither to serve the king, and remonstrated with them, that they ought not by any means to suffer the good country of Hainault, whence they had sprung, and where they had estates, to be pillaged in any way whatever; for, with regard to the war, Hainault had not been in the least wanting, but had most loyally assisted the king in this expedition with its barons, and, before the king came into Flanders, it had aided the earl of Flanders with its knights and squires, who had shut themselves in Oudenarde and Dendremonde, at the risk of their lives and fortunes.
The count of Blois exerted himself so much, and gained so many partisans, that all those measures were broken, and Hainault remained in peace. This gallant lord performed another noble service. There was in Flanders a knight called the lord d'Esquemine, who from affection to a relation of his, called Daniel Buse, killed in Valenciennes by his own fault, had declared that he would make war on and harass that town. He had done so, and threatened to insult it still more, being seconded by many friends inclined to evil; for it was reported that he had collected full five hundred spears, who would follow him into Hainault to attack the town of Valenciennes, in which they said he was justified.
But when the count de Blois heard of it, he went to him nobly accompanied, and order the knight not to dare to enter Hainault, nor to conduct any men at arms into the countries of his cousin duke Albert, otherwise he should pay dearly for it. This gallant count went further, and made the knight his particular friend, and obsequious to himself and the lord de Coucy; and thus was that town kept in peace. Such services did the count de Blois to Hainault and Valenciennes, for which he gained great love and affection, but particularly from Valenciennes.