Here it is:
|Medieval Towns- Bruges|
Granted, I'm not sure exactly what that says. But it's somebody's name, somewhere in England, and the book was acquired in 1904. Finally,
This book thrills me. The corners are bent. The pages are yellowed with brown splotches. The paper is thick and unevenly cut. It's old but it's completely intact. The fold out maps and geneological tables are not torn. And best of all, the book is exactly what I was looking for in a history of Bruges. In fact, it was even better than I'd hoped.
As a fan of Galbert of Bruges's The Murder of Charles the Good, I have been pretty well indoctrinated to his interpretation of the assassination. It almost goes without saying that when a pious count is murdered at the altar during Lent by a small group of his own vassals, those vassals are in the wrong. And although there are explanations for why those men did what they did, the bias is nevertheless against them. I expected this book to tell me more of the same. The men who murdered Charles were vile and deserved their eventual fate.
However, this book is a larger history of Bruges and puts Charles's assassination into a broader historical context. Charles is not without fault and the villains are portrayed very differently. It is fascinating to be reminded that there are always two sides to every story.
As a history book, the writing style is naturally very different from modern-day books. I tried to imagine whether this would be considered academic or popular. (The author uses the appropriate primary sources for his research, but the book is very sparsely footnoted and the author inserts quotes without attribution.) So my main question is, is it reliable? How would today's historians refute the arguments put forth by Gilliat-Smith?
I tried to discover the identity of the author. Internet searches revealed only a couple other history books in the same vein, but no clue as to his credentials. Does anybody out there know?
In the end, I'm not qualified to judge its relative historical accuracy. I'm just pleased to have discovered this beautiful old, old book that is such a delight to read. The facts line up more or less with those in Galbert's work (Galbert was one of the primary sources), the difference lies in the interpretation of those facts. I'll leave the tricky business of interpretation to historians.