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Witte Beer beeld In the weekend of 6 & 7 July the Tournament of the White Bear will be held. This tournament is the annual highlight of the Bruges company of the same name which is portrayed by the knights of Foundation HEI. This company consisted of the top layer of the citizens of Bruges and namely those who wanted to prove their martial valour and wished to pursue a political career. Not only citizens of Bruges jousted there but also Anthony the bastardson of duke Philips the Good and after him emperor Maximilian sometimes participated in the White Bear Tournaments. The winner from Bruges was named the ‘Forestier’ like the title of the predecessor of the first counts of Flanders Baldwin with the Iron Arm. According to legend he kidnapped the daughter of the French king to Flanders. They were attacked by a ferocious White Bear near Bruges which he battled and impaled against a tree. 4
This edition six knights will travel to Denmark to show their prowess. They are from the following houses:

Adornes – De Baenst – Bave

Nyborg wapens 2013 - 1

De Bul – Metteneye – Von der Weyden

Nyborg wapens 2013 - 2


Anselmus Adornes (Wouter Nicolai), knight, lord of Corthuy, Gentbrugge and Ronse

WouterAt the start of the fourteenth century a branch of the Genuese merchant family Adorno  settled down in Bruges and it never left again. The fifteenth century member of this family Anselmus started participating in jousts at the early age of eightteen and fervently kept on jousting afterwards. He won the horn in the White Bear tournament multiple times and once even became Forestier, the winner. The motto of the family is ‘Para Tutum’.

Anselmus was married to Margaretha van der Banck and had sixteen children. In daily life he was actively trading on an international scale which is why he lived at the Schottendijk in Bruges, where all the Brits lived. Because of his relations there he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Scotland. The results of this made him popular with the Scottish king James III. Anselmus became his councilor and received the Scottish seigneury of Cortachy. Anselmus was knighted and he became mayor of Bruges in 1472.

In 1470 he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. His father and uncle had even started to build a Holy-Sepulchre-Church, the Jerusalemchurch, in Bruges. This was finished by Anselmus. Next to being devout he was a champion of humanism and was befriended with Italian and Flemish intellectuals. He ordered books and had polyphone music and paintings made by Flemish masters. Next to that he is known to have been a great orator.


Jan De Baenst (Bertus Brokamp), knight, lord of Sint-Joris-ten-Distel, Beernem, Zotschore, Veldegoed, De Walschen, Ter Walle and Oostkerke

BertusThe De Baenst family’s motto was ‘Casant!’ due to the origin of the family: Cadzand. By the fifteenth century members of the family had come into high positions all over the county of Flanders, most important the city magistrates of Bruges, Ghent and Sluis. The pater familias of this network was Jan. He was an alderman on the Bruges city magistrate for a few decades and became mayor of the councillors and mayor of the alderman several times. Also he went on diplomatic missions, for example he represented the Flemish cities in their negotiations with the Hanseatic League in Lübeck. In daily life he lived in his city manor, the Court of Saint George, in Bruges. He was married to Margaretha de Fever and had three children.

During one of the White Bear tournaments he won the horn. At another edition he jousted with Anthony, the bastardson of the duke. He also participated in the Epinette joust in Lille. As the only one of his family and one of the few ones of Bruges Jan was a member of the nobility of Flanders and had been knighted. He had made a career for himself and was a courtier at the court of the duke Philips the Good and after him Charles the Bold. He even was part of their inner circle and one of their twelve knight councillors and chamberlains. Next to that he was made a member of the High Council, the central legal court of the duke.

Within the mainly francophone elite, Jan was a champion of the Dutch language. He was a great orator and befriended with a well know poet and he ordered Dutch translations of well known French books. Next to that he went on a pilgrimage to Jeruzalem and together with the duchess Isabella he helped the Fransiscans build a cloister just outside Bruges.


Joris Bave (Alix van Zijl)

AlixThe Baves were a broker family and closely connected to the Vander Beurses. Joris (George) Bave was dean of the hatmakers and often sat on the city council as councillor or captain of one of the city quarters. He had two kids and lived in the big house called the Pensée (the Viola) situated at the Kuiperstraat in Bruges. Joris was maître d’hôtel of golden fleece knight Jacob of Luxemburg.

As a jouster Joris was known for his valiant behavior during the tournaments of the White Bear. He won this tournament at least once. Also he won the Sparrowhank prize once at the Epinette tournament in Lille. And when the duke of Burgundy and dauphin of France watched the White Bear tournament in which Joris participated they were impressed by ‘the many feats of arms that had been endeavoured miraculously’.



Joos De Bul (Arne Koets)

ArneOf old the De Buls had been merchants of Bruges. In the fifteenth century some of them started to pursue other careers. For example the family members Jan de Bul and Joris de Bul were next to being a merchant also hostelier and secretary to the duke. Joos de Bul on the other hand went into the local politics and became councillor of the city. He probably lived in the complex of houses called De Halleux, nearby the manor of Jan de Baenst. He was married to Katheline Backers. The motto of the family was ‘The Why Is All’.

Joos was one of the most active jousters of the company of the White Bear. He participated at least seven times in the tournament of the White Bear and won it at least three times. Next to that he travelled to the tournament of the Epinette in Lille three times. There he won the Sparrowhawk prize and one time jousted with Charles, the son of the duke. When in 1461 Joos won the main prize in the White Bear tournament, the Spiet (bear spear), it was personally handed to him by the duke because of his acts during the tournament.

In 1465 Joos called for an exra joust the day after the White Bear tournament ‘in honour of the magnificent king Edward of England’. Joos was closely involved with the English royalties because when in 1470 Edward was in exile in Bruges Joos gave shelter to Edwards brother in law, the famous tournament knight Anthony Woodville. As a return gift Edward granted Joos the privilege to bear the English arms in his own coat of arms. Joos was also a devout man, for he was the main benificiary of the saint Joos chapel in Bruges. For example he financed the construction of the pelgrim wayhouse at this complex and was given the right to be buried there in front of the altar.


Pieter Metteneye (Joram van Essen), squire, lord of Marcke, Marquillies and Poelvoorde

JoramAt the start of the thirteenth century an italian knight came to Bruges and started there the Metteneye family. Many of its members came to take seats in the Bruges magistrate. A few were knighted and Pieters father even became a knight councillor and chamberlain to the duke of Burgundy. Pieter himself earned the title of squire and was pannetier at the court of the duke. When Anthony, bastardson of the duke, sailed to London for a tournament with Anthony Woodville, Pieter was one of the squires in his following.

Pieter became councillor and treasurer in the Bruges city magistrate a few times and once even mayor. He was married to Margaretha de Baenst and had six children. The Mettenye family had their main quarters in the complex of houses situated on the Spanjaardstraat next to the Spaanse Loskaai in Bruges.

Above all Pieter was a martial man. In 1467 he was the captain of the Bruges contingent of 200 foot soldiers who helped the duke in his battle with the Liegeois troops at Brustem. A year later he received a new suit of armour, paid for by the duke. Pieter was ordered to keep troops ready for the duke. In 1477 he carried the banner of the city of Bruges on a campaign against the French king. Pieter participated in the White Bear tournament a few times and won it at least once. Next to that he also won the Sparrowhawk at the Epinette tournament in Lille.


Wolfgang von der Weyden (Andreas Wenzel)

AndreasIn the fifteenth century Bruges was the main trading centre of North Western Europe. The merchants of the Hanseatic League, the so called Easterlings, had their own office and community in this city. Wolfgang von der Weyden was one of them. He was from Lübeck, from a merchant family that originally came from Flanders.

During his trading he stayed in various place and sometimes participated in tournaments there. Mainly in England but also in Bruges. During one of the White Bear tournaments he had himself and his valets dressed as a bunch of wild men. This was a great delight for the spectators.




John Nesfield (Martyn Smith), acting Herald Bear and judge

Martyn Smith - John NesfieldNothing is known of John Nesfield before 1471, when he appears in the service of Edward IV. Being granted for life on June 20th the office of “Riding Forrester of the Forest of Galtres” (in Yorkshire). In the following months he was commissioned to bring to justice several Lancastrian dissidents. Due to his sudden rise in favour, it is logical to assume that he had been active in Edward’s campaign of 1470/71 to reclaim the throne from the restored Henry VI. He may have been with Edward in exile in Bruges.

When in Bruges he would have socialized with the Bruges patricians since king Edward was staying with Lord Gruuthuuse and the kings brother in law, the tournament knight Anthony Woodville, was entertained by Joos de Bul. It is therefor possible that in honour of the English king the herald of Bruges, called Herald Bear, for the duration of the tournament of the White Bear granted someone of Edwards following, perhaps someone taught in the arts of the joust by Anthony Woodville, the privilege to act as herald and judge…

Later on John received the title of squire and acted as constable of Hertford Castle. He was made attendent for life to queen Elizabeth Wydville. He fought against Buckinghams rebellion and was awarded the manor of Hewtesbury in Wiltshire. Finally he fought at the battle of Bosworth in 1483.

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