Episode 8: Advancing French and Angry Flemings

The image above shows Bertrand Du Guesclin being made Constable of France by Charles V. Du Guesclin would serve as Constable of France from 1370 until his death in 1380 and led the charge to reconquer almost all of the land ceded to the English in 1360. Bertrand Du Guesclin became a legend and not long after his death he was featured among famous knights of legend in art. This image is from a 15th century manuscript about his life.

The 1370s were a time of recovery for France. The sons of John the Good set to work rebuilding their country and driving out the English. Philip the Bold found himself tasked with retaking a number of castles and harassing English raids. But Philip did not spent those years solely as a soldier. These years see Philip beginning to flex his diplomatic muscles and learning the secrets of state building that will serve him well in the future.

Time Period Covered: 1364-1380

Notable People: Philip the Bold, Charles V, Louis of Male, Bertrand Du Guesclin, John of Gaunt, Charles the Bad, Louis of Anjou

Notable Events/Developments: Hundred Years War Caroline Phase, Castilian Civil War, The Western Schism, The Ghent War


Chronicles by Jean Froissart

The Hundred Years War: Trial by Fire by Jonathan Sumption

The Hundred Years War: Divided Houses by Jonathan Sumption

Philip the Bold by Richard Vaughan

The Promised Lands by Wim Blockmans and Walter Prevenier

The Golden Age of Burgundy by Joseph Calmette

The Burgundians by Bart Van Loo

Medieval Flanders by David Nicholas


3 thoughts on “Episode 8: Advancing French and Angry Flemings

  1. You’ve covered the weavers guild, as a particularly radical force within the cities of Flanders several times now. What was it you think that imbued it with a greater amount of radicalism?
    Was its economic position more disadvantageous than other guilds, or is there something else at play?


    1. That’s a good question, and one I’ve honestly been taking for granted for the most part. I’ll add a quick disclaimer that most of what I’m about to say is conjecture.

      In my opinion it’s actually the opposite. The Weavers were the biggest and most numerous Guild in most of the Flemish cities and they tended to be fairly well off. David Nicholas wrote a paper on Ghent’s population in the 14th century where he estimated that the Weavers Guild had about a third of all of Ghent’s workers in 1358, while the next largest guild, the Fullers, had about a fifth. Therefore in a political shift that moved power from the Comital Government or the Urban Patricians to the Guilds, the Weavers Guild would gain more than the others. Hence the Weavers tend to be the most radical because they would gain the most power from a reorganization of the government.

      We can see a bit of an inverse of this on occasions where the Fullers Guild allies itself with either the Count or the Urban Patriciate against the Weavers, assuming that Weaver domination would be worse than the current Comital or Patrician domination.

      A book called The Fabric of the City by Peter Stabel was published a few months back which is a social history of cloth production in Ypres. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet (but really want to as it looks quite good), but I would guess it probably goes into some of this.


      1. That’s a very interesting interpretation, and one I think fits quite nicely with the groups you find most active in lots of revolutions, those who’s economic heft has outpaced their political influence.


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