Netherlands 1935 Part V

By | December 1, 2021

The two oldest groups of cities are that of the Meuse and that of the Scheldt. On the Meuse are Dinant, Namur, Huy, Liège, Maastricht and, on the lower reaches, the port of Tiel. The river puts these cities in communication with the sea and the ancient Roman road Boulogne-Bavai-Cologne assures them easy communication with the Rhine and with the interior of Germany. The other group includes above all the cities of Flanders: Bruges, on the Gulf of Zwijn; Ghent, at the confluence of the Scheldt and the Lys; Ypres, on the Iperleet; Lilla, on the Deule; Saint-Omer, on the Aa; and further south Arras. To be added, upstream on the Scheldt, Tournai, an episcopal city, and Valenciennes, the only important city in the county of Hainaut. The appearance of most of these cities can be traced back to the century. X and their first developments in the century. XI.

Utrecht, on the old Rhine, and Deventer, on the Yssel, instead participated in the development of the Rhenish cities and seem to be contemporaries of the cities of the Meuse and the Scheldt basin.

Two other groups, made up of cities from Brabant and Holland, are later formations. The cities of Brabant appeared in the century. XI and experienced their first developments in the following century: Antwerp on the Scheldt, Brussels on the Senne, Louvain on the Dyle, to which we must add, on the same river, Malines, belonging to the bishop of Liège, but participating in the life of the cities of Brabant. Their development was a consequence of that of Bruges and of the importance assumed by the commercial relations between this port and Cologne, relations that could not take place directly except through Brabant. The oldest Dutch cities are Dordrecht, Leiden and Haarlem, all in communication with the sea; but their evolution can be considered a century later than the cities of Brabant. On the other hand, Middelburg on the island of Walcheren, the only Zeeland city of any importance, can be considered almost contemporary to these. As for Rotterdam and Amsterdam, they appear as cities only towards the end of the century. XIII, and The Hague was only a princely residence in the Middle Ages. On the other hand, all the cities of the current Netherlands, except Maastricht, were, before the century. XVI, completely secondary urban centers, including the imperial city of Nijmegen and, in Gelderland, Arnhem, both on the Rhine. They were in no way comparable to the cities located on the territory of present-day Belgium. For Netherlands 1999, please check

Most of the cities of the ancient Netherlands exhibit parallel characteristics in the history of their economic, territorial, constitutional and social development. In the economic field, some facts are typical: cities were born from trade and some have always remained commercial centers, such as Bruges, Antwerp and Dordrecht, that is to say those that were ports. Almost all the others have instead become large industrial centers. In fact, the Netherlands, like the Italian cities, knew large-scale industry since the Middle Ages, which does not limit itself to producing only for the local market, but fuels exports. There were two main forms: the drapery factory and the brass industry, both prior to the rise of the cities and dating back to Roman times in the countryside. It seems that these two industries settled in the cities during the century. XI. The brass industry is characteristic of the Meuse region, where it formed the wealth of Huy until the beginning of the century. XIII and of Dinant until the XV. The drapery industry flourished in Flanders and Brabant; in the first of these two principalities it reached the apogee of development during the century. XIII; in the second during the XIV. However, it persisted in most of the cities of the Netherlands, although it did not reach as much importance there. Main manufacturing centers were Arras, Ghent, Ypres, Lille, Douai, in Flanders; Leuven and Brussels in Brabant. The export towards the south of Europe took place during the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries mainly through the Champagne fairs. This was a capitalist industry, funded by entrepreneurs who were, for the most part, also merchants. In Arras, Douai, Ghent, the Loucharts and Crespins, the Boinebrokes, the Utenhoves made hundreds of workers work. Other capitals were brought together in Bruges by international trade. The wealth that thus accumulated facilitated financial operations. In the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the trade in money was practiced on a large scale especially in Flanders and Brabant, particularly in Arras and Ghent, by enriched merchants and even more so by the agents of the great Italian companies: the Buonsignori and Gallerani of Siena, the Bardi and Peruzzi of Florence, the Rapondi of Lucca; alongside these were the Italians, mainly from Asti and Chieri, who held loan banks and were called Lombardi.

The development of the urban population, the concern to protect the accumulated mobile wealth and a tendency towards autonomy towards the prince, induced the residents of the cities to build their own fortifications. The first city walls date back to the 12th century in the Mosana region. XI; in Flanders, certainly at the beginning of the century. XII; in Brabant, in the second half of this century or in the 13th century, to which those of Holland generally belong. In the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, the increase in residents gave rise to new extra-muros neighborhoods, often with new defensive lines. These date mostly in Flanders to the century. XIII and in Brabant to XIV; with the exception of Antwerp, where they marked the boundaries of the city until the century. XIX forwarded. However, we must not exaggerate the numerical importance of urban populations: in 1340, Bruges could have had 30,000 residents.

Netherlands 1935 Part V