De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (novel)

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De Leeuw van Vlaanderen
Early edition of De Leeuw van Vlaenderen
Author Hendrik Conscience
Language Dutch
Subject War, Romance
Genre Historical novel
Publication date
Media type Print
An 1836 pre-study of De Slag der Gulden Sporen by Nicaise de Keyser in the museum Kortrijk 1302

De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (Dutch; originally: De Leeuw van Vlaenderen or De Slag der Gulden Sporen. In English: The Lion of Flanders) is a historical novel written by the Flemish writer Hendrik Conscience in 1838. The book tells the story of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302. Conscience was probably inspired to write the book after seeing the painting De Groeningeslag by Nicaise De Keyser.

In De Leeuw van Vlaanderen Conscience describes the Battle of the Golden Spurs which he uses as a background for the love adventures of Machteld, the daughter of Robrecht III van Béthune with knight Adolf van Nieuwlandt. Conscience was sometimes accused that his book contained historical inaccuracies. E.g. because Robrecht III van Béthune is depicted as the saviour of the Flemish army on the battlefield, whilst in reality he was in French custody at the time. However Conscience did consult about twenty historical sources, scouted the site of the battle and asked for the advice of experts in medieval history although he did use some dated inaccurate information from medieval chronicles.


With the immense success of the De Leeuw van Vlaanderen Conscience was credited as "the man who taught his people to read". Apart from that the book contributed to the increased awareness of the Flemish national consciousness in the 19th century and the rapid growth of the Flemish national movement in the 20th century and beyond.

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