Ghent is a city and a municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province, the second largest municipality in Belgium, after Antwerp; the city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe, with some 50,000 people in 1300. It is a university city; the municipality comprises the city of Ghent proper and the surrounding suburbs of Afsnee, Drongen, Ledeberg, Mendonk, Sint-Amandsberg, Sint-Denijs-Westrem, Sint-Kruis-Winkel and Zwijnaarde. With 260,467 inhabitants in the beginning of 2018, Ghent is Belgium's second largest municipality by number of inhabitants; the metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,205 km2 and has a total population of 594,582 as of 1 January 2008, which ranks it as the fourth most populous in Belgium. The current mayor of Ghent, Mathias De Clercq is from the liberal & democratic party Open VLD.
The ten-day-long Ghent Festival is attended by about 1 -- 1.5 million visitors. Archaeological evidence shows human presence in the region of the confluence of Scheldt and Leie going back as far as the Stone Age and the Iron Age. Most historians believe that the older name for Ghent,'Ganda', is derived from the Celtic word ganda which means confluence. Other sources connect its name with an obscure deity named Gontia. There are no written records of the Roman period, but archaeological research confirms that the region of Ghent was further inhabited; when the Franks invaded the Roman territories from the end of the 4th century and well into the 5th century, they brought their language with them and Celtic and Latin were replaced by Old Dutch. Around 650, Saint Amand founded two abbeys in Ghent: Saint Bavo's Abbey; the city grew from the abbeys and a commercial centre. Around 800, Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, appointed Einhard, the biographer of Charlemagne, as abbot of both abbeys. In 851 and 879, the city was however plundered twice by the Vikings.
Within the protection of the County of Flanders, the city recovered and flourished from the 11th century, growing to become a small city-state. By the 13th century, Ghent was the biggest city in Europe north of the Alps after Paris. Within the city walls lived up to 65,000 people; the belfry and the towers of the Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas' Church are just a few examples of the skyline of the period. The rivers flowed in an area; these rich grass'meersen' were ideally suited for herding sheep, the wool of, used for making cloth. During the Middle Ages Ghent was the leading city for cloth; the wool industry established at Bruges, created the first European industrialized zone in Ghent in the High Middle Ages. The mercantile zone was so developed that wool had to be imported from Scotland and England; this was one of the reasons for Flanders' good relationship with England. Ghent was the birthplace of John of Duke of Lancaster. Trade with England suffered during the Hundred Years' War.
The city recovered in the 15th century, when Flanders was united with neighbouring provinces under the Dukes of Burgundy. High taxes led to a rebellion and the Battle of Gavere in 1453, in which Ghent suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of Philip the Good. Around this time the centre of political and social importance in the Low Countries started to shift from Flanders to Brabant, although Ghent continued to play an important role. With Bruges, the city led two revolts against Maximilian of Austria, the first monarch of the House of Habsburg to rule Flanders. In 1500, Juana of Castile gave birth to Charles V, who became Holy Roman King of Spain. Although native to Ghent, he punished the city after the 1539 Revolt of Ghent and obliged the city's nobles to walk in front of the Emperor barefoot with a noose around the neck. Saint Bavo Abbey was abolished, torn down, replaced with a fortress for Royal Spanish troops. Only a small portion of the abbey was spared demolition; the late 16th and the 17th centuries brought devastation because of the Eighty Years' War.
The war ended the role of Ghent as a centre of international importance. In 1745, the city was captured by French forces during the War of the Austrian Succession before being returned to the Empire of Austria under the House of Habsburg following the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, when this part of Flanders became known as the Austrian Netherlands until 1815, the exile of the French Emperor Napoleon I, the end of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and the peace treaties arrived at by the Congress of Vienna. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the textile industry flourished again in Ghent. Lieven Bauwens, having smuggled the industrial and factory machine plans out of England, introduced the first mechanical weaving machine on the European continent in 1800; the Treaty of Ghent, negotiated here and adopted on Christmas Eve 1814, formally ended the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States. After the Battle of Waterloo and Flanders ruled from the House of Habs
The Great Explosion
The Great Explosion is a satirical science fiction novel by English writer Eric Frank Russell, first published in 1962. The story is divided into three sections; the final section is based on Russell's 1951 short story "... And Then There Were None". Twenty-three years after the novel was published, it won a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award; the Blieder drive, a faster-than-light drive system, has permitted the population of Earth to colonize the galaxy. Each planet has become the home for a particular social group. Four hundred years after the diaspora, a spaceship from Earth visits three of the planets, the first steps to unifying the galaxy under a new Empire; the ship contains two thousand Terrans including many pompous officials, an army of bureaucrats, a military force and the ship's crew, including some misfits. Things do not go as hoped, as the incompetent military authoritarians of the ship encounter three different societies; the first planet was a penal colony. The second planet, Hygeia, is populated by fitness fanatic nudists.
The third planet, was colonized by a religious group, but when the ship arrives, the Terrans cannot find any human life, only empty villages overgrown by jungle. They decide not to land on the planet, because the captain fears that the colonists could have been killed by a disease and he doesn't want to endanger the crew; the final planet, K22g, has developed an unusual social system. The population call themselves Gands and practise a form of classless, philosophically anarchic libertarianism, based on passive resistance. To perform a service for somebody "lays an ob" on them; as the planet's population are demonstrably non-hostile, the officials have to approve shore leave, which brings the crew into contact with the anarchist natives. Many find reasons to stay on the planet, refusing to return to the ship; the officials have to get the ship back into space before they lose so many that the ship will never fly again. The Waitabits - a similar story by Russell involving Earth bureaucrats encountering unusual aliens.
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