Jacob van Artevelde


This statue stands in the Vrijdagsmarkt (“Friday Market”) in Ghent just round the corner from the hotel I stayed in last week. It is of
Jacob van Artevelde , a merchant turned statesman who brokered an alliance with Edward III during the early stages of the Hundred Years War. Flanders had close commercial ties with England at the time and Artevelde thought it would be very bad for business to be on the wrong side of the conflict.

The statue is supposed to show Artevelde pointing in the direction of England, but it isn’t aligned correctly.

Artevelde was very close to the Plantagenet royal family. His son, Philip, being the godson of the Queen, Philippa of Hainault, and named in her honour.

Incidentally, among the actual sons of Philippa of Hainault was John,  who happened to be born in Ghent, which for some reason was rendered in the English of the time as “Gaunt”. John of Gaunt was the first Duke of Lancaster, and founded the House of Lancaster, which gave us Henry IV to Henry VI (inclusive).  In fact (or at least in Shakespeare) it was the eldest son of John of Gaunt, Bolingbroke, who deposed Edward III’s successor Richard II and thus became Henry IV..

3 Responses to “Jacob van Artevelde”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    It is true in both fact and Shakespeare.

    Richard II came to the throne young because his father, Edward III’s oldest son Edward the “Black Prince”, predeceased his own father (ie, Edward III). But he didn’t occupy it for long.

    The descendants of Edward III would squabble for the throne again decades later and give England the unsettled times of the Wars of the Roses.

    • telescoper Says:

      The Midlands have a lot to answer for.

    • telescoper Says:

      This is the great speech from Shakespeare’s Richard II:

      Where is the duke my father with his power?


      No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
      Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
      Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
      Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
      Let’s choose executors and talk of wills:
      And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
      Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
      Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke’s,
      And nothing can we call our own but death
      And that small model of the barren earth
      Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
      For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
      And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
      How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
      Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
      Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
      All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
      That rounds the mortal temples of a king
      Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
      Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
      Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
      To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
      Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
      As if this flesh which walls about our life,
      Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
      Comes at the last and with a little pin
      Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
      Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
      With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
      Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
      For you have but mistook me all this while:
      I live with bread like you, feel want,
      Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
      How can you say to me, I am a king?

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