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Christ in Flanders
Honore de Balzac

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CHRIST IN FLANDERS 

At a dimly remote period in the history of Brabant, communication
between the Island of Cadzand and the Flemish coast was kept up by a
boat which carried passengers from one shore to the other.  Middelburg,
the chief town in the island, destined to become so famous in the
annals of Protestantism, at that time only numbered some two or three
hundred hearths; and the prosperous town of Ostend was an obscure
haven, a straggling village where pirates dwelt in security among the
fishermen and the few poor merchants who lived in the place. 

But though the town of Ostend consisted altogether of some score of
houses and three hundred cottages, huts or hovels built of the
driftwood of wrecked vessels, it nevertheless rejoiced in the
possession of a governor, a garrison, a forked gibbet, a convent, and
a burgomaster, in short, in all the institutions of an advanced
civilization. 

Who reigned over Brabant and Flanders in those days? On this point

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