31st May 2013
William Morris had a passionate interest in medieva,l northern European, history, art and culture and he visited Ghent in 1859. Whilst in Ghent, Morris would have seen the medieval castle that was built in 1189 by Philip of Alsace to replace the previous wooden castle.
The stone castle is said to have been influenced by visual style of the crusader castles that Philip of Alsace saw during the second crusade. It is a clear physical expression of the strength and power of the Counts of Flanders. The castle was the seat of the Counts of Flanders until the fourteenth century, after which it was used for administrative and legal functions.
William Morris wrote the Revolt of Ghent during the 1880s, arising out of his abiding interest in the dramatic history of the medieval period in Flanders. As well as the history of the medieval Kings and Bishops, Flanders had another aspect of its history which Morris found very significant.
This was the development of the conflict between the craft and merchant guilds which arose in Flanders in general, and in Ghent in particular, in the medieval era. Morris believed that the medieval guilds provided a model for the ideal craft production system that he would have like to see developed in nineteenth century Britain.
The history of the Revolt of Ghent was initially published in serial form during Morris’ life time and then edited and published as a book in 1910.