Annals of Ghent

Annals of Ghent

Annals of Ghent

Annals of Ghent

Excerpt

Of the writer of this short but valuable chronicle posterity knows nothing except a few facts which he himself volunteered in his prologue, eked out by such inferences as can be drawn from the character and contents of his book. He tells us that when he began to write it, in 1308, he was a friar in the Franciscan convent at Ghent. He was not, just then, very busy; he had collected a number of small membranes of parchment, of no great value; he was a quick writer; and he had lived at close quarters with leading actors and incidents in a momentous stage of Flemish history. So, at the request of some of his brother friars, he would now seize the opportunity to commit what he knew to writing, while it was still fresh in his memory. There is nothing in this explanation to suggest that he was anything but a simple friar among the rest. Kervyn de Lettenhove thought he might be that Fulk of Ghent, custos of the whole group of Flemish Franciscan houses, who was among the witnesses to a document concerning the betrothal of Philippa, daughter of Guy, count of Flanders, to the heir of Edward I of England; but there seems nothing to support this guess. The fact that the annalist gives much space to Philippa's affairs, and was hotly indignant at the repudiation of the marriage contract, is not enough in itself. Such an attitude might be expected from any loyal Flemish subject, especially as the bride substituted was Isabella, daughter of Philip IV of France, the overlord against whom Guy of Flanders rose in revolt.

It seems probable that the annalist was an elderly or even an old man. His tone is sometimes that of the veteran who . . .

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