How Galbert of Bruges made me a medievalist

This week we finished the latest issue of Medieval Warfare magazine - one that I have really been looking forward to since becoming editor last year.

Our theme for this issue is the Murder of Charles, Count of Flanders, in 1127. He would be the victim of a plot led by the leading nobles of Flanders, and it would unleash a wave of violence and warfare for the next year and a half.

Most of what we know about these events come from the pen of Galbert of Bruges, a notary who worked for Charles. He left us a chronicle known as De multro, traditione et occisione gloriosi Karoli comitis Flandriarum - The Murder, Betrayal, and Slaughter of the Glorious Charles, Count of Flanders - which offers an almost day-by-day account of what happened.

It was about twenty years ago that I read this book, from James Bruce Ross’ translation known as The Murder of Charles the Good. I was then a young undergraduate at the University of Toronto, and this was the first medieval chronicle that I had ever read. I was truly surprised by what I saw, for I had believed these kind of works to be brief, dry and written by a boring writer. Instead this was a vivid story, written by someone in the middle of the action. It was emotional and compelling, as if I was reading a great novel.

It was thanks to Galbert of Bruges that I became interested in medieval Europe (my interest in history was sparked by Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but that is another story), and started me on a path leading me to become a medievalist. It has since occupied a special place in my heart, and I even created a video for Medievalists.net talking about the book:

Now in the pages of Medieval Warfare we have been able to tell the story of Count Charles and the Civil War of Flanders, thanks to writings of Jeff Rider, Steven Isaac and Erich Anderson. Their articles tell us about the murder, the siege of Bruges, and the warfare between those who wanted to be the next Count. Special appreciation goes to Jeff Rider, who has spent much of his career working on Galbert of Bruges, and has the latest translation of his chronicle. He actually wrote two articles for this issue, one looking at the murder and another about Galbert and his connection with him.

I hope you enjoy this issue and get a better understanding of this fascinating period of history. Click here to buy this issue.

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