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soldier like himself was unworthy to be the bearer of so sacred a treasure. So he hung the silver chain attached to it round the neck of his chaplain, Abbot Leo of St. Omer, who had accompanied him to Palestine. The Abbot never parted with it night or day until, on the evening of April 7, 1 150, he reached the gates of Bruges. News of the treasure having reached the city, crowds came out to meet him, and with solemn pomp the relic was transferred to the custody of the Court chaplains, four of whom were appointed to guard it, after it had been deposited, in the presence of the Count and all the magnates of Bruges, in the chapel of St. Basil, which Baldwin of the Iron Hand had built. The earlier history of this precious relic is veiled in mystery, but from the day when it was brought to Bruges its story is unbroken. Count Thierry was away on another and a last expedition to the Holy Land when St. Thomas of Canterbury, forced to fly from England in consequence of having resisted the king's encroachments on the rights of the Church, landed in disguise near Bruges, and placed himself under the protection of the Count's son, Philip, who was governing Flanders during his father's absence. The King of England sent letters demanding that the Archbishop should be given up, but no heed was paid to them. Philip was then building a Church at Crépy, and the fugitive Archbishop asked to what saint he intended to dedicate it P Philip answered : “To the first martyr.” “The first of those who were martyred or of those who shall be P” rejoined Thomas with a significant smile. The Church was not yet finished when the Archbishop was murdered in the cathedral of Canterbury, and to him it was dedicated. Many traditions connected with the saint linger in the vicinity of Bruges. In 1203 Count Baldwin IX., with the chivalry of Flanders, assembled in the Church of St. Donatus at Bruges to receive the cross before starting on the fourth crusade. The Bishop of Tournay presided at the ceremony; taking a linen cross embroidered with gold, he fastened it on the Count's right shoulder, saying: “Take this sign of the cross in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, in memory of the Passion and Death of Christ.” Baldwin was elected Emperor of Constantinople, where he died, leaving only two young daughters as his heirs. King Philip Augustus, of France, availed himself of this opportunity to invade Flanders, and take possession of Bruges. The carnage was terrible; a thousand dwellings were burnt and acres of fertile crops consumed before the French retired, in consequence of the destruction of their feet. The people of Bruges detested the overlordship of France, and were faithful to their own Counts; they were involved in constant struggles in order to maintain their rights and privileges and to prevent annexation to France.
On one occasion the inhabitants of Bruges rose up against the French who occupied the city, cutting down all who could not pronounce the fatal shibboleth: Schilt ende vriendt; Flanders for the lion. All the day the slaughter went on. Villani says the streets and squares were so encumbered with corpses, that three days were required to remove the dead for burial without the walls. This was called the Bruges Matins. The King of France sent an army to avenge his fallen soldiers; it was met by the Flemish army, stalwart peasants wielding heavy clubs. The marshy ground proved fatal to the armor-clad knights, and the French army was completely routed. This, the most memorable battle in Flemish history, was called the Battle of the Golden Spurs, from the great number of golden spurs found on the field of battle, four thousand, some say. On that day the flower of French chivalry perished; seven hundred spurs were hung up as a trophy in the church of Notre Dame, and as the cavaliers of that day wore only one spur, this testifies to the death of at least seven hundred gallant knights.
Another historic fight was that of Minnewater (lac d'amɔur). When the inhabitants of Bruges were digging a canal to carry the waters of the river Lys to their own city, they were attacked by the citizens of Ghent, whose commerce would have been injured by the formation of the canal. The assailants gained the day and entered Bruges in triumph; but the fighting was soon suppressed and peace restored.
These and other contests did not, however, impede the growth and prosperity of Bruges. As the head of the Hanseatic league it was a centre of commerce and industry. The merchants of North and South met in its markets, and the produce of the North was exchanged for that of Southern . Europe and distant India. The principal source of wealth was
the skill of the legions of weavers; England supplied wool which, in the populous villages of Flanders, was woven into fabrics for all lands, of varied texture and coloring. The heavy market-dues belonged to two noble families who were bound to protect the traders against pirates and robbers.
Bruges was also famous for her guilds and corporations of foreign merchants—trade guilds for the most part, though some were military. The most powerful guild was that of the masons, while the carpenters claimed precedence, as formerly the houses were entirely constructed of wood. It was under the patronage of St. Joseph. These guilds took part in all pageants and municipal displays, which were often of great magnificence. Our own poet Longfellow says, when to his imagination the shadowy phantoms of the past seemed to walk the earth again at Bruges:
“I beheld the pageants splendid that adorned those days of old;
Stately dames, like queens attended, knights who bore the Fleece of Gold;
Lombard and Venetian merchants with deep-laden argosies;
Ministers from twenty nations; more than royal pomp and ease " o
A chronicler of the Middle Ages describes the inhabitants of Bruges as “tall, refined of features, fair in complexion, frugal and sober, and rich in dress.” In fact, so splendid was the attire of the citizens that when Puilip the Fair, King of France, visited Flanders with his Queen, she was so astonished at the display of wealth, and the magnificence of the dames of Bruges, that she exclaimed: “I thought I alone was queen, but behold hundreds here. It appears that the burghers are all princes, since their wives are arrayed like queens and princesses.” Again we read that in the fifteenth century, when an alliance was formed with England, on the occasion of the marriage of Duke Charles the Bold with Princess Margaret of York, all the leading citizens of Bruges went out to meet the Duke and his bride at Holy Cross gate, and do homage to the princess, offering her wine and wax. Minstrels were posted in the turrets of the gate, who sang sweetly as she passed, and there were grand rejoicings for many days, tournaments and banquets. At the palace were two figures of archers; from the bolt of the crossbow of one flowed red wine, from the end of the arrow of the other, white wine, wherewith to regale the crowd. The fair of Bruges, lasting six weeks, was a matter of European celebrity.
It is recorded that when, in 1351, the burgomasters of Bruges and Ghent went to Paris, to pay homage to King John, they were received with great pomp and distinction; but being invited to a banquet they observed that their seats at table were not furnished with cushions; whereupon, to show their displeasure at this want of regard for their dignity, they folded their richly embroidered cloaks and sat upon them. On rising from table, they left the cloaks behind; when reminded of this, Simon van Eertrycke, Burgomaster of Bruges, replied : “We are not in the habit of carrying away our cushions after dinner." And when Louis XI., while Dauphin, having quarreled with his father, took refuge at the court of the Duke of Flanders, the latter desired to impress the future King of France with the greatness and might and wealth of the Low Countries. Consequently, when he and his guest came in sight of Bruges, the nobles and magnates, with eight hundred merchants, clad in robes of silk and velvet, went to meet the prince with torches and shouts of greeting. Louis, who was not famed for courage, was alarmed at this noisy reception and turned pale with apprehension. But the sight of such opulence and prosperity excited his avarice, and he, when King, endeavored, though vainly, to annex Flanders to France.
The grandest of all the pageants was the yearly procession, in May, of the relic of the Precious Blood. The first procession was in 1303. The circuit made in old times was from the Chapel of St. Basil, whence it started at ten o'clock, to the ramparts and back round the town The bells of all the churches announced the start of the procession, which was preceded by a body of horsemen to clear the way. These were followed by trumpeters, blowing silver trumpets decked with costly embroidery; then came the city magnates and magi. strates in gala dress, the trade guilds with their deans and chaplains, the members of noble confraternities, the municipal authorities with the great standard, a black lion on a gold
ground, the clergy, religious and secular, prelates from all parts, musicians and singers, thurifers in a cloud of incense; lastly the relic borne between two priests, and followed by a crowd of devout persons. *
The burghers of Bruges on two occasions all but lost their much-prized treasure. During the troubles with Ghent, in the days of Philip Van Artevelde, the relic was one May day being carried in procession round the ramparts, when a band of soldiers was encountered. During the confusion some one cried out: “The Ghenters are upon us !” A panic ensued, the clergy hurried away with the relic, and when order was restored it was missing. For some days no one knew where it was, until one morning, a Béguine, going to wash some linen in the stream that ran through the convent grounds, saw something shining at the bottom of the water. It was the reliquary which one of the fugitives, not knowing where to hide it, had thrown into the stream. Again, during the troublous times at the commencement of the sixteenth century, when Calvinism was triumphant, and churches and monasteries were sacked, it was through the prudence of an individual, one of the wardens of St. Basil's Chapel, that the relic was saved from falling into the hands of the heretics. He secretly conveyed it to his own house and concealed it in a cellar until the storm had passed. For twenty five years, at the period of the French Revolution, from 1795–1820, the treasure was hidden in the houses of various citizens to preserve it from Jacobin fanaticism.
There were many monastic institutions in Bruges during the Middle Ages. The oldest was the abbey of Eeckhout (Canons regular of St. Augustine), so called because it was built in an oak wood which fringed the left bank of the Roya. No vestige of it now remains. The Carmelites came to Bruges in 1265, thanks to the piety of Margaret of Constantinople, the younger daughter of Baldwin, the Emperor of Constantinople. There was also the great Abbey of St. Clare, founded in 1270; the Black, or nursing Sisters; and two centuries later the far-famed Grey Sisters. The Carmelite nuns of Sion came in 1487. The Béguinage, instituted in the thirteenth century, still subsists. It is a spot where peace and tranquillity reign * This procession still takes place yearly on the first Monday after the ad of May.
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