Edward III goes to aid of Jacob van Artevelde

On 3 July 1345 King Edward III sailed for Sluys as a matter of urgency

England’s strategy for the wars with France depended very much upon the support of Flanders. Edward had gained a valuable ally in Jacob van Artevelde, who had risen to become ruler of Ghent. His was a rule that was not without problems, though. In 1345, this led to an urgent change of plans by Edward III, who needed to intervene to try and secure his ally’s position.

Jacob van Arteveldt
Statue (DeVigne-Quyo, 1863) of Jacob of Artevelde on the Vrijdagmarkt in Ghent. Via Wikipedia.

The major towns of Flanders had wrestled free of the control of the Count of Flanders some years previously. Economics had been the driving force, leading to the townsfolk successfully rebelling against their feudal masters. Those economic concerns did not go away though. In 1343 Ghent saw a revolt, which van Arteveldt managed to survive. May of 1345 had then seen hundreds killed in a clash between members of different guilds.

Since May, other Flemish towns had suffered outbreaks of violence. The hold that van Artevelde had on Ghent was being weakened, both internally and externally. In June, King Edward heard that the Count of Flanders, Louis of Nevers, was once more plotting. And this time, it would see the overthrowing of the urban leaders once and for all.

Edward III had a fleet and army ready for a planned campaign against France. On 29th June, the entire operation was changed. Edward changed the destination, to Sluys. The fleet embarked on 3rd July 1345. Destined for the Flemish port of Sluys.

Edward held conferences over the next few weeks onboard his flagship. The intention was to affect a solution that would retain the support of Flanders for English campaigns, whilst also reducing the unrest that occurred as a result of the Count’s absence.

In Ghent, the negotiations were not viewed sympathetically. On 17th July a mob gathered at van Artevelde’s house, demanding to know what deals were being made. It became unruly, at which van Artevelde fled from his house. The mob caught him and bludgeoned him to death.


Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse graduated in History and Politics and has since undertaken postgraduate studies in Medieval History and Education. Dan is a member of the Royal Historical Society and has previously been a member of the Historical Association’s Secondary Education Committee. Dan’s early publishing was in the Secondary School History Education field. This included co-authoring the Becta Award shortlisted Dynamic Learning: Medicine Through Time series for Hodder Murray and contributing to the Bafta Award winning Smallpox Through Time documentary series by Tmelines.tv. A former teacher, Dan now concentrates on research and writing, predominantly in Medieval English history. Books by Dan Moorhouse On this day in the Wars of the Roses On this day in the Hundred Years War

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