Brugge

( Bruges )

Bruges ( BROOZH, French: [bʁyʒ] ; Dutch: Brugge [ˈbrʏɣə] ; German: Brügge German pronunciation: [ˈbʁʏɡə] ) is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country. It is the sixth most populous city in the country.

The area of the whole city amounts to more than 14,099 hectares (140.99 km2; 54.44 sq miles), including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge (from Brugge aan zee, meaning 'Bruges by the Sea'). The historic city ce...Read more

Bruges ( BROOZH, French: [bʁyʒ] ; Dutch: Brugge [ˈbrʏɣə] ; German: Brügge German pronunciation: [ˈbʁʏɡə] ) is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country. It is the sixth most populous city in the country.

The area of the whole city amounts to more than 14,099 hectares (140.99 km2; 54.44 sq miles), including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge (from Brugge aan zee, meaning 'Bruges by the Sea'). The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval and about 430 hectares in size. The city's total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008), of whom around 20,000 live in the city centre. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km2 (238 sq mi) and had a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam and Saint Petersburg, it is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North. Bruges has significant economic importance, thanks to its port, and was once one of the world's chief commercial cities. Bruges is a major tourism destination within Belgium and is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, a university institute for European studies.

Origins

Bruges was a location of coastal settlement during prehistory. This Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement are unrelated to medieval city development. In the Bruges area, the first fortifications were built after Julius Caesar's conquest of the Menapii in the first century BC, to protect the coastal area against pirates. The Franks took over the whole region from the Gallo-Romans around the fourth century and administered it as the Pagus Flandrensis. The Viking incursions of the ninth century prompted Count Baldwin I of Flanders to reinforce the Roman fortifications; trade soon resumed with England and Scandinavia. Early medieval habitation starts in the ninth and tenth centuries on the Burgh terrain, probably with a fortified settlement and church.[1]

Golden age (12th to 15th centuries)  The Markt (market square)

In 1089, Bruges became the capital of the County of Flanders. Bruges received its city charter on 27 July 1128, and new walls and canals were built. By the 12th century, the city had gained an autonomous administration.[2] Het Zwin (Golden Inlet), the tidal inlet of Bruges, was crucial to the development of local commerce.[3][4] Since about 1050, gradual silting had caused the city to lose its direct access to the sea. A storm in 1134, however, re-established this access, through the creation of a natural channel at the Zwin. The new sea arm stretched to Damme,[3] a city that became the commercial outpost for Bruges.

Bruges had a strategic location at the crossroads of the northern Hanseatic League trade, who had a kontor in the city, and the southern trade routes. Bruges was already included in the circuit of the Flemish and French cloth fairs at the beginning of the 13th century, but when the old system of fairs broke down, the entrepreneurs of Bruges innovated. They developed, or borrowed from Italy, new forms of merchant capitalism, whereby several merchants would share the risks and profits and pool their knowledge of markets. They employed new forms of economic exchange, including bills of exchange (i.e. promissory notes) and letters of credit.[5] The city eagerly welcomed foreign traders, most notably the Portuguese traders selling pepper and other spices.[6]

 The Battle of Beverhoutsveld (1382) in Froissart's Chronicles, with Bruges as setting

With the reawakening of town life in the 12th century, a wool market, a woollens weaving industry, and the cloth market all profited from the shelter of city walls, where surpluses could be safely accumulated under the patronage of the counts of Flanders. The city's entrepreneurs reached out to make economic colonies of England and Scotland's[7] wool-producing districts. English contacts brought Normandy grain and Gascon wines. Hanseatic ships filled the harbor, which had to be expanded beyond Damme to Sluys to accommodate the new cog-ships.

In 1277, the first merchant fleet from the Republic of Genoa appeared in the port of Bruges, the first of the merchant colony that made Bruges the main link to the trade of the Mediterranean.[8] This development opened not only the trade in spices from the Levant but also advanced commercial and financial techniques and a flood of capital that soon took over the banking of Bruges. The building where the Genoese Republic housed its commercial representation in the city still survives, now housing the Frietmuseum.[9]

 Merchants in Bruges, first half of the 16th century

The Bourse opened in 1309 (most likely the first stock exchange in the world) and developed into the most sophisticated money market of the Low Countries in the 14th century. By the time Venetian galleys first appeared, in 1314, they were latecomers.[10] Numerous foreign merchants were welcomed in Bruges, such as the Castilian wool merchants who first arrived in the 13th century. After the Castilian wool monopoly ended, the Basques, many hailing from Bilbao (Biscay), thrived as merchants (wool, iron commodities, etc.) and established their own commercial consulate in Bruges by the mid-15th century.[11] The foreign merchants expanded the city's trading zones. They maintained separate communities governed by their own laws until the economic collapse after 1700.[12]

Such wealth gave rise to social upheavals, which were for the most part harshly contained by the militia. In 1302, however, after the Bruges Matins (the night-time massacre of the French garrison in Bruges by the members of the local Flemish militia on 18 May 1302), the population joined forces with the Count of Flanders against the French, culminating in the victory at the Battle of the Golden Spurs, fought near Kortrijk on 11 July. The statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, the leaders of the uprising, can still be seen on the Big Market square. The city maintained a militia as a permanent paramilitary body. It gained flexibility and high prestige through close ties to a guild of the organized militia, comprising professionals and specialized units. Militia men bought and maintained their own weapons and armour, according to their family status and wealth. Later, Bruges would be consumed in the Flemish revolts that occurred around the County of Flanders between 1323 and 1328.

 The Burg in Bruges, painted c. 1691–1700 by Meunincxhove

At the end of the 14th century, Bruges became one of the Four Members, along with Brugse Vrije, Ghent, and Ypres. Together they formed a parliament; however, they frequently quarrelled amongst themselves.[13]

In the 15th century, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, set up a court in Bruges, as well as Brussels and Lille, attracting several artists, bankers, and other prominent personalities from all over Europe.[14] The weavers and spinners of Bruges were thought to be the best in the world, and the population of Bruges grew to at least 46,000 inhabitants at this time around 1350 AD.[15]

The new oil-painting techniques of the Flemish school gained world renown. The first book in English ever printed was published in Bruges by William Caxton. Edward IV and Richard III of England were then living in exile in Bruges.

Decline after 1500  Bruges on the Ferraris map, c. 1775

Starting around 1500, the Zwin channel, (the Golden Inlet) which had given the city its prosperity, began silting up and the Golden Era ended.[4] The city soon fell behind Antwerp as the economic flagship of the Low Countries. During the 17th century, the lace industry took off, and various efforts to bring back the glorious past were made. During the 1650s, the city was the base for Charles II of England and his court in exile.[16] The maritime infrastructure was modernized, and new connections with the sea were built, but without much success, as Antwerp became increasingly dominant. Bruges became impoverished and gradually faded in importance.[17]

The symbolist novelist George Rodenbach made the city into a character in his novel Bruges-la-Morte, meaning "Bruges-the-dead", which was adapted into Erich Wolfgang Korngold's opera, Die tote Stadt (The Dead City).[18]

19th century and later revival  Postcard showing the Cranenburg House[19]

In the second half of the 19th century, Bruges became one of the world's first tourist destinations, attracting wealthy British and French tourists. By 1909, the 'Bruges Forward: Society to Improve Tourist' association had come into operation.[20]

In World War I, German forces occupied Bruges. However, the city suffered virtually no damage, and was liberated on 19 October 1918 by the Allies. The city was occupied by the Germans from 1940 during World War II and was again spared destruction. On 12 September 1944, it was liberated by the 12th Manitoba Dragoons' Canadian troops. The liberation of the city was facilitated by the bridge, now known as the Canada Bridge [nl], connecting the outer municipalities with the city centre.

After 1965, the original medieval city experienced a "renaissance". Restorations of residential and commercial structures, historic monuments, and churches generated a surge in tourism and economic activity in the downtown area. International tourism has boomed, and new efforts resulted in Bruges being designated European Capital of Culture in 2002. It attracts some eight million tourists annually.[21]

The port of Zeebrugge was built in 1907. The Germans used it for their U-boats in World War I. It was greatly expanded in the 1970s and early 1980s and has become one of Europe's most important and modern ports.

^ Boogaart, Thomas A. (1 January 2004). An Ethnogeography of Late Medieval Bruges. Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 9780773464216. ^ Fossier, Robert (1986). The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-521-26644-4. ^ a b Charlier, Roger H. (2005). "Charlier, Roger H. "Grandeur, Decadence and Renaissance". Journal of Coastal Research: 425–447. JSTOR 25737011. ^ a b Charlier, Roger H. (2010). "The Zwin: From Golden Inlet to Nature Reserve". Journal of Coastal Research. 27 (4): 746–756. doi:10.2112/10A-00003.1. S2CID 131619959. ^ Ott, Mack (2012). The Political Economy of Nation Building: The World's Unfinished Business. Transaction Publishers. p. 92. ISBN 9781412847421. ^ James Donald Tracy (1993). The Rise of Merchant Empires: Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern World, 1350-1750. Cambridge U.P. p. 263. ISBN 9780521457354. ^ Nimmo, William; Gillespie, Robert (1880). The history of Stirlingshire (3rd ed.). Glasgow: Thomas D. Morison. p. 369. Retrieved 5 April 2017. ^ Aerts, Erik (1992). Bruges and Europe. Fonds Mercator. ISBN 9789061532804. ^ "Frietmuseum, Bruges - Museum". www.frietmuseum.be. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2021. ^ Braudel, Fernand, The Perspective of the World, in Vol. III Civilization and Capitalism, 1984 ^ Collins, Roger (1990). The Basques (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell. p. 241. ISBN 978-0631175650. ^ Phillips, William D. Jr. (1986). "Local Integration and Long-Distance Ties: The Castilian Community in Sixteenth-Century Bruges". Sixteenth Century Journal. 17 (1): 33–49. doi:10.2307/2541354. JSTOR 2541354. S2CID 165895860. ^ Philip the Good: the apogee of Burgundy by Richard Vaughan, p201 ^ Dumolyn, Jan (2010). "'Our land is only founded on trade and industry.' Economic discourses in fifteenth-century Bruges". Journal of Medieval History. 36 (4): 374–389. doi:10.1016/j.jmedhist.2010.09.003. S2CID 153711918. ^ De Brugse stadsmagistraat in de late 14e eeuw - Een prosopografische studie voor de periode 1359-1375 ^ Plant, David (10 September 2007). "Charles, Prince of Wales, (later Charles II), 1630-85". British-civil-wars.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 September 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2009. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 160. ^ Andre de Vries (2007). Flanders:A Cultural History: A Cultural History. Oxford U.P. p. 143. ISBN 9780199837335. ^ (Excelsior Series 11, No. 51, Albert Sugg a Gand; ca. 1905): Cranenburg, from the windows of which, in olden times, the Counts of Flanders, with the lords and ladies of their Court, used to watch the tournaments and pageants for which Bruges was celebrated, and in which Maximilian was imprisoned by the burghers in 1488 (Bruges and West Flanders, George W. T. Omond, Illustrated by Amédée Forestier, 1906. Project Gutenberg Edition.) ^ Stephen V. (Stephen Victor) Ward (1998). Selling Places: The Marketing and Promotion of Towns and Cities, 1850-2000. Spon. p. 40. ISBN 9780419206101. ^ Mason, Antony (10 December 2018). "The Belgian city that solved the problem of a tourist invasion". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022.
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