More My Ancestor, The Insurrectionist

Here is some more information that I found regarding my ancestor, the insurrectionist. On Google Books, I found about five books published in the late 19th century/early 20th century whose subject matter was the history of Belgium (Flanders). Each book described in some part, the events of late 15th century Flanders where the Flemish towns were in revolt for a second time. Yet, I only found Jan Van Coppenole or John of Coppenhole, mentioned in two of those books.

This is an excerpt from Belgian Democracy, Its Early History by Henri Prienne (1915) pg 198-200. I went back a few paragraphs to lay the groundwork of the situation where the townspeople of Flanders were unhappy with the way the Dukes of Burgundy had been treating them by taking away privileges that they had paid for.

“The more rigorously the despotism of the Dukes [of Burgundy] had justified by the common law its intolerable encroachments, the more the towns [of Flanders] sought to regain their privileges. All the great communes hastened to profit by the annihilation of the ducal Army [at the Battle of Nancy 1477] and the disorder of their young princess’s [Mary of Burgundy] affairs to reestablish their franchises and to revive their ancient methods of government [Great Privilege]. Everywhere the crafts took up arms, and democratic government was set up again, just as it had existed in the 14th century. But its success lasted only a moment. Hardly was it restored when its powerlessness was apparent. The old spirit of municipal particularism soon let loose once more the old spirit of universal rivalry. [Ed. In political science, political particularism is the ability of policymakers to further their careers by catering to narrow interests rather than to broader national platforms.]

“In the county districts and the small towns, falling once more under the yoke of the great communes, declared against them. Bruges and Ghent excited the ill will of Antwerp, whose development was threatened by their policy of protection. Accordingly, at work at once went back to the side of the Prince. The towns of Holland, which in great measure owed their growing maritime supremacy to Burgundian policy, also abandoned their opposition after the first moment of excitement.

“Flanders alone refused to lay down her arms. The stronger and more privileged towns of Flanders had been in times past, the less capable they were of understanding the necessity of reconciling the interests with those of the state. The crafts of the Flemish towns perceived that their forces were not strong enough to give them the victory. Recalling the action of the Leliaerts in 1302, they turned to the king of France [Cf. Lily Pads]. They summoned Louis XI to their rescue, just as their ancient enemies appealed to Philip the Fair for aid against the crafts.

The democracy sought the same support as the decaying patriciate, the help of the foreigner. French mercenaries arrived to do the fighting on its behalf, for the communal militia confined itself to keeping watch on the ramparts and did not venture to meet regular troops in the open field. The war was clumsily conducted by Maximilian of Austria, who had married Mary of Burgundy in August 1477; accordingly, it dragged on for a while with vicissitudes on which we need not now dwell.

“The obstinacy of Ghent prolonged hostilities until 1492, even after all chance of success had vanished. Maximilian was a foreigner, and he showed a lack of intelligence and parading at absolutism modeled on that of Charles the Bold. He quarreled with a large number of the nobles after the death of Mary; his resources were scanty; he was frequently absent in Germany, where he had been elected King of the Romans in 1486. These circumstances sufficiently explained the length of the resistance offered by Ghent, notwithstanding the fact that France was a long way off and supported the townsmen with no great energy. In reality, outside Flanders and even in Flanders outside Ghent, the partisans of the old municipal policy and of the urban democracy by which it was supported were only a feeble minority.

The coin that Jan Van Coppenolle minted; the Coppenollen or Coppenhollestuiver

Ghent herself gradually abandoned its principles. Under the domination of the demagogue, John of Coppenhole, formerly clerk to the echevins [Aldermen of Ghent] who had risen to power during the troubles, the burgesses lived in a state of anarchy and violence against which, ultimately, a large part of the burgers rose in revolt. The craft of the boatman, the most influential of the trade guilds since the decline of the cloth trade had robbed the weavers of all their influence, demanded the end of a ruinous and aimless war.

To secure his position, Coppenhole had their leader beheaded and pitted against them the lesser crafts, whose extreme industrial particularism was the mainstay of extreme municipal particularism.

“A shoemaker became the captain-general of the commune. But the boatman rebelled, and Coppenhole, in his turn, mounted the scaffold. [Jan Van Coppenolle was beheaded, on June 16, 1492, in the main market square in Ghent known as Vrijdagmarkt or Friday market.] After that, peace was only a question of days. It was concluded at Cadzand on July 29, 1492, and brought Ghent back to the state of things set up within its walls after the peace of Gavere.”

There was another brief mention of Jan Van Coppenolle found in The Memoir of Phillip de Commines. By Philippe de Commynes, Jean de Roye · 1856. It appears Jan replaced another tyrant, a man named William Ryn. Note the date of Jan’s beheading is different in this account.

The first book made reference to the Loliaerts (leliaards=lily pads). This Wikipedia articles explains who they were and the events of 1302.

“The leliaards (Latin: liliardi ) were a party of francophone or royalist noblemen, patricians and merchants in the county of Flanders during the Franco-Flemish conflict of 1297-1305 . They named themselves after the lily , the symbol of the French crown, because they fought for the (re)incorporation of the county into the French crown domain .

“Many wealthy citizens in the cities sided with the French king Philip the Fair against Count Guy de Dampierre . The cities that paid their taxes directly to the king were given privileges or liberties in return. If the king needed more money, the cities could command more privileges. For example, they were given the right to choose their own board. In addition to patricians, nobles also sided with the king, including the lord of Sijsele and the lord of Male .

“The lilies’ opponents, both politically and militarily, were the sweethearts , also known as claws . The battle turned into a violent conflict in which in April 1302 a Bruges militia marched to the castles of the lilies to murder those present (see Brugse Metten ).”

To put things in reference, Jan Van Coppenolle’s great-great-grandfather, Adelaert de Coppenhole was born in Ghent in 1310. Adelaert was my 18th great-grandfather.

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