Ghent, 1379: on Self-organizing Urban Structures
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Ghent, 1379: on Self-organizing Urban Structures
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The article deals with some causes of Ghent revolt of 1379—1385 that we learn from the narrative sources of the period (Jean Froissart’s “Chronicles” and “Chronique rimée des troubles de Flandre”). The study of these events gives an opportunity to determine some ways of interaction of different urban self-organizing structures: lineages, professional communities, forces of urban self-defence. Conflict between the Yoens and the Mayhuus from the Ghent’s shippers’guild, which was among the causes of the revolt, reveals the great influence of powerful urban families to the corporations despite the principle of collective discussion of important matters that was traditional to the guilds. It allowed the lineages to affect the urban policy too. On the other hand these families could directly interact with some forces, external for the town; in our case Mayhuus had connections with count of Flanders Louis de Male and his Council. The powerful members of the guilds managed to provide decisions that were necessary for them, but their pressure sometimes led to the implementation of the interests of the corporation itself (approval of a tax that should pay ships sailing through Ghent). Such situations could be the reason of rumble inside the guild and the ground for social conflicts. The revival of the “White Hoods” in Ghent (who interrupted the construction of the channel by Bruges’ citizens and later became the main military force of the insurgents) shows that urban corporations were able to use the previous experience. They included the mediation (for example, the count’s one) and negotiations to deal with the conflict as well as the implementation of violence when peaceful methods did not lead to necessary result. But when urban corporations or urban commune faced serious dangers (the construction of a channel between the river Leie and Bruges that threatened the position of Ghent as a centre of domestic trade and the interests of shippers’ guild) it awoke the complex of protection mechanisms. This helped the spontaneous revitalising of defensive and resistance patterns proved their efficiency in previous conflicts and preserved in the collective memory of urban corporations.
revolts, Ghent, Flanders, medieval town, professional communities, guilds, self-organizing uraban structures, lineages
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