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Jacob van Artevelde
Van Artevelde was born in Ghent of a wealthy commercial family. He married twice and amassed a fortune in the weaving industry. He rose to prominence during the early stages of the Hundred Years' War. Fearful that hostilities between France and England would hurt the prosperity of Ghent, he entered political life in 1337. He set up an alliance with Bruges and Ypres (later the Four Members) in order to show neutrality. Van Artevelde gained control of the insurrection against Louis I, the Count of Flanders who had abandoned his father's anti-French policies. Louis I was forced to flee to France, while van Artevelde served as captain general of Ghent from that time until his death.
Flemish relations with England had traditionally been good, due to wool and textile trade. Neutrality was eventually broken, and the towns took the side of the English in 1340. In that year, van Artevelde persuaded the federation to recognize King Edward III of England as sovereign of France and overlord of Flanders.
Flemish trade and industry flourished under van Artevelde's semi-dictatorial rule. In 1345, however, rumours that he planned to recognise the son of Edward III, the Black Prince, as count of Flanders, suspicion of embezzlement, and the excommunication by the Pope caused a popular uprising in Ghent and van Artevelde was killed by an angry mob.
Artevelde is a supporting character in Les Rois maudits (The Accursed Kings), a series of French historical novels by Maurice Druon. He was portrayed by Christian Barbier in the 1972 French miniseries adaptation of the series.
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