James van Artevelde, Myth or Reality?
(Patricia Carson) The Low Countries - 1996, № 4, pp. 182-190
When the statue of James van Artevelde was unveiled in the Friday Market in Ghent in 1863, the burgomaster pronounced the following: ‘He thought of the Belgian nation and gave his life to realise his dream.' Many peculiar things are said on such occasions but seldom as peculiar as this The Belgian nation was created in 1830. James van Artevelde lived from about 1290 until 1345. Such foresight would have been superhuman! Having been forgotten for close on three hundred years he suddenly became, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a symbol of a growing feeling of independence for a group of citizens in the Southern Netherlands and a benevolent, wise and prosperous example for his home-town, Ghent. So what was he really like and what did he achieve? Neither question is easy to answer.
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