The Lion of Flanders

by Hendrik Conscience

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Characters Discussed

Philip the Fair

Philip the Fair, king of France. With his treasury almost depleted, he eyes the rich cities of Flanders for possible revenue. When the Flemish burghers refuse to pay the taxes levied by the king, he brings his armies against them. He encounters such stubborn resistance that he finally is forced to give up his efforts to subdue the fiercely independent people of Flanders.

Joanna of Navarre

Joanna of Navarre, queen of France, whose hatred of the Flemings causes King Philip to dishonor himself and to make an enemy of his brother, Charles de Valois.

Count Guy of Flanders

Count Guy of Flanders, a vassal of Philip the Fair. A victim of Philip’s displeasure, he finds himself the king’s prisoner and, at the same time, the rallying point of the party supporting Flemish independence. He dies in prison before the peace treaty with France is signed.

Count Robert de Bethune

Count Robert de Bethune, called the Lion of Flanders. He is the son of Count Guy of Flanders. Imprisoned with his father by Philip the Fair, he is released for a time when Adolf of Niewland takes his place. During his freedom, he rallies the forces of Flanders and finally leads them to victory against the French. Returning to prison, he is freed after the signing of the peace treaty and becomes the ruler of Flanders.

Adolf of Niewland

Adolf of Niewland, a Flemish knight who goes to prison as a hostage for Count Robert de Bethune. He is the protector and, later, the husband of Lady Matilda.

Peter Deconinck

Peter Deconinck, the dean of the cloth-workers’ guild at Bruges, and

Jan Breydel

Jan Breydel, the dean of the butchers’ guild, who are knighted by Count Robert de Bethune for their services in the cause of Flemish independence.

Lady Matilda

Lady Matilda, Count Robert de Bethune’s daughter and later the bride of Adolf of Niewland.


Philippa, Count Guy of Flanders’ daughter, who is imprisoned and poisoned by the French.

Sir Diederik die Vos

Sir Diederik die Vos, called The Fox, a Flemish noble who has escaped from prison in France. Disguised as a friar, he brings word from Count Robert de Bethune that Count Robert’s jailer would free him temporarily if someone would take his place.

Lord Guy

Lord Guy, the younger brother of Count Robert de Bethune.

Count Robert d’Artois

Count Robert d’Artois, leader of the French forces defeated at Courtrai.

Charles de Valois

Charles de Valois, King Philip’s brother, who is betrayed by the king when he tries to effect a reconciliation between the Flemish nobles and King Philip.

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