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Some of Gent's violent history is commemorated by the magnificent statue of Jacob van Artevelde erected at a time when Flanders ardently celebrated key historical figures in order to cultivate a national identity within a relatively new nation state. Also known as the Brewer of Ghent, Jacob van Artevelde made a fortune in the textile industry and, through the guilds, was elevated to a key position of influence. In order to maintain trade with England, he outmanoeuvred the French rulers by securing a trade deal with the English on whom the city depended for the supply of wool. It is claimed that he even persuaded his countrymen to recognise King Edward III as sovereign of France and overlord of Flanders. The English monarch regarded him as Prince of Flanders. Trade flourished under Artevelde's semi-dictatorial rule and life was good ... for a while. Jacob van Artevelde is alleged to have promised Edward III funds for his war chest against the French in the Hundred Years' War. Coupled with allegations of corruption and excommunication from Rome, he was forced to seek refuge in England. His return to Gent coincided with a weavers' revolt and during the unrest Artevelde was killed by an angry mob. In the background is an important building known as Ons Huis or Our House which has great significance with Ghent's early socialist movement. Designed by Ferdinand Dierkens, the building has been described as being in the macaroni style, in that its classical influences have been pick'n'mixed.
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