Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death. He was never crowned by the Pope, he was instead proclaimed Emperor elect by Pope Julius II at Trent, thus breaking the long tradition of requiring a papal coronation for the adoption of the imperial title. Maximilian was the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, Eleanor of Portugal, he ruled jointly with his father for the last ten years of the latter's reign, from c. 1483 to his father's death in 1493. Maximilian expanded the influence of the House of Habsburg through war and his marriage in 1477 to Mary of Burgundy, the heiress to the Duchy of Burgundy, though he lost the Austrian territories in today's Switzerland to the Swiss Confederacy. Through marriage of his son Philip the Handsome to eventual queen Joanna of Castile in 1498, Maximilian helped to establish the Habsburg dynasty in Spain, which allowed his grandson Charles to hold the thrones of both Castile and Aragon. Maximilian was born at Wiener Neustadt on 22 March 1459.
His father, Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, named him for an obscure saint, Maximilian of Tebessa, who Frederick believed had once warned him of imminent peril in a dream. In his infancy, he and his parents were besieged in Vienna by Albert of Austria. One source relates that, during the siege's bleakest days, the young prince would wander about the castle garrison, begging the servants and men-at-arms for bits of bread; the young prince was an excellent hunter, his favorite hobby was the hunting for birds as a horse archer. At the time, the dukes of Burgundy, a cadet branch of the French royal family, with their sophisticated nobility and court culture, were the rulers of substantial territories on the eastern and northern boundaries of France; the reigning duke, Charles the Bold, was the chief political opponent of Maximilian's father Frederick III. Frederick was concerned about Burgundy's expansive tendencies on the western border of his Holy Roman Empire, and, to forestall military conflict, he attempted to secure the marriage of Charles's only daughter, Mary of Burgundy, to his son Maximilian.
After the Siege of Neuss, he was successful. The wedding between Maximilian and Mary took place on 19 August 1477. Maximilian's wife had inherited the large Burgundian domains in France and the Low Countries upon her father's death in the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477. Before his coronation as the King of the Romans in 1486, Maximilian decided to secure this distant and extensive Burgundian inheritance to his family, the House of Habsburg, at all costs; the Duchy of Burgundy was claimed by the French crown under Salic Law, with Louis XI of France vigorously contesting the Habsburg claim to the Burgundian inheritance by means of military force. Maximilian undertook the defence of his wife's dominions from an attack by Louis XI and defeated the French forces at Guinegate, the modern Enguinegatte, on 7 August 1479. Maximilian and Mary's wedding contract stipulated that their children would succeed them but that the couple could not be each other's heirs. Mary tried to bypass this rule with a promise to transfer territories as a gift in case of her death, but her plans were confounded.
After Mary's death in a riding accident on 27 March 1482 near the Wijnendale Castle, Maximilian's aim was now to secure the inheritance to his and Mary's son, Philip the Handsome. Some of the Netherlander provinces were hostile to Maximilian, and, in 1482, they signed a treaty with Louis XI in Arras that forced Maximilian to give up Franche-Comté and Artois to the French crown, they rebelled twice in the period 1482–1492, attempting to regain the autonomy they had enjoined under Mary. Flemish rebels managed to capture Philip and Maximilian himself, but they were defeated when Frederick III intervened. Maximilian continued to govern Mary's remaining inheritance in the name of Philip the Handsome. After the regency ended and Charles VIII of France exchanged these two territories for Burgundy and Picardy in the Treaty of Senlis, thus a large part of the Netherlands stayed in the Habsburg patrimony. Maximilian was elected King of the Romans on 16 February 1486 in Frankfurt-am-Main at his father's initiative and crowned on 9 April 1486 in Aachen.
He became ruler of the Holy Roman Empire upon the death of his father in 1493. Much of Austria was under Hungarian rule when he took power, as they had occupied the territory under the reign of Frederick. In 1490, Maximilian entered Vienna; as the Treaty of Senlis had resolved French differences with the Holy Roman Empire, King Louis XII of France had secured borders in the north and turned his attention to Italy, where he made claims for the Duchy of Milan. In 1499/1500 he drove the Sforza regent Lodovico il Moro into exile; this brought him into a potential conflict with Maximilian, who on 16 March 1494 had married Bianca Maria Sforza, a daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, duke of Milan. However, Maximilian was unable to hinder the French from taking over Milan; the prolonged Italian Wars resulted in Maximilian joining the Holy League to counter the French. In 1513, with Henry VIII of England, Maximilian won an important victory at the battle of the Spurs against the French, stopping their advance in northern France.
His campaigns in Italy were not as successful, his progress there was checked. The situation in Italy was not the only problem; the Swiss won a decisive victory against the Empire in the Battle of Dornach on 22 July 1499. Maximilian had no choice but to agree to a peace treaty signed on 22 September 1499 in Basel that granted the Swiss Confederacy independence from the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, the Cou
The Markt of Bruges is located in the heart of the city and covers an area of about 1 hectare. Some historical highlights around the square include the 12th-century belfry and the West Flanders Provincial Court (originally the Waterhall, which in 1787 was demolished and replaced by a classicist building that from 1850 served as provincial court and after a fire in 1878 was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style in 1887. In the center of the market stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. In 1995 the market was renovated. Parking in the square was removed and the area became traffic-free, thus being more celebration friendly; the renovated market was reopened in 1996 with a concert by Helmut Lotti. Cranenburg House Live WebCam
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge; the historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval in about 430 hectares in size; the city's total population is 117,073. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km2 and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008. Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North. Bruges has a significant economic importance, thanks to its port, was once one of the world's chief commercial cities. Bruges is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, a university institute for European studies; the place is first mentioned in records as Bruggas, Brvccia in 840–875 as Bruciam, Brutgis uico, in portu Bruggensi, Bricge, Brycge, Bruges, Bruggas and Brugge.
The name derives from the Old Dutch for "bridge": brugga. Compare Middle Dutch brucge and modern Dutch bruggehoofd and brug; the form brugghe would be a southern Dutch variant. The Dutch word and the English "bridge" both derive from Proto-Germanic *brugjō-. Bruges was a location of coastal settlement during prehistory; this Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement is 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 4th 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. Early medieval habitation starts in the 9th and 10th century on the Burgh terrain with a fortified settlement and church Bruges became important due to the tidal inlet, important to local commerce, This inlet was known as the "Golden Inlet".
Bruges received its city charter on 27 July 1128, new walls and canals were built. In 1089 Bruges became the capital of the County of Flanders. 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 all the way to Damme, a city that became the commercial outpost for Bruges. Bruges had a strategic location at the crossroads of the northern Hanseatic League trade and the southern trade routes. Bruges was 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 letters of credit; the city eagerly welcomed foreign traders, most notably the Portuguese traders selling pepper and other spices.
With the reawakening of town life in the twelfth century, a wool market, a woollens weaving industry, the market for cloth 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 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 Genoa appeared in the port of Bruges, first of the merchant colony that made Bruges the main link to the trade of the Mediterranean; this development opened not only the trade in spices from the Levant, but advanced commercial and financial techniques and a flood of capital that soon took over the banking of Bruges. The Bourse opened in 1309 and developed into the most sophisticated money market of the Low Countries in the 14th century.
By the time Venetian galleys first appeared. 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, thrived as merchants and established their own commercial consulate in Bruges by the mid-15th century; the foreign merchants expanded the city's trading zones. They maintained separate communities governed by their own laws until the economic collapse after 1700; such wealth gave rise to social upheavals, which were for the most part harshly contained by the militia. In 1302, after the Bruges Matins, the population joined forces with the Count of Flanders against the French, culminating in
Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo