Brugge was one of the top centres for commerce until the 14th century, around which point a change in the coastline caused the main canal to fill with silt leading to a swift decline in the prosperous city. Yay for us; we are left with a city that shot forward in time and held onto its narrow cobbled streets and gothic and baroque buildings. I took a city tour (with PJ!) hence the semi-knowledgable building banter.
Deal is: this duke guy was in love with a french (kings..?) daughter and they ran away together and sought to be married by the pope which they were (yay). One day while on a romantic picnic a bear came out of the woods and mr duke throws his princess into the bushes away from the bear and proceeds to rustle the bear. Man and bear tussle and as the bear leans back to pummel the duke the duke, using one throw spears the giant bear against a tree killing it. Bam. Hence Brugge’s hero and why we see random bear statues over Brugge and why Brugge has a bear on its coat of arms. Here’s our tour guide PJ being the bear on the coat of arms