5. An Unpopular Ruler Who Kept Driving His Subjects Into Rebellions
Scattered rural riots erupted in Flanders in late 1323 after a poor harvest, and peasants refused to pay taxes to Count Louis I. Soon, the rioters coalesced into larger bands, led by prosperous farmers, local gentry, and the mayor of Bruges. The count, lacking military force, negotiated a peace with the rebels in 1324, and recognized the legitimacy of their complaints. It proved a short-lived peace: the rebels returned to the warpath after a knight murdered a commoner, and Count Louis arrested six burghers from Bruges. The hated count was captured and brought to Bruges, where several of his leading adherents were executed in 1325.
After negotiations, combined with pressure from the king of France, Count Louis was released in 1326, and a peace treaty was ratified soon thereafter. When insurrection broke anew in 1328, following the French king’s death, the count of Flanders called upon the new king, Phillip VI, for military aid. A French military expedition was organized, which defeated the rebels at the Battle of Cassel later that year. Taking hostages for the Flemish burghers’ good behavior, Philip VI returned to France, where he executed the mayor of Bruges. Back in Flanders, Count Louis set about punishing the defeated rebels and stamping down the last embers of resistance.