Adrien de Gerlache
Baron Adrien Victor Joseph de Gerlache de Gomery was an officer in the Belgian Royal Navy who led the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–99. Born in Hasselt as the son of an army officer, de Gerlache was educated in Brussels. From a young age he was attracted by the sea and made three voyages in 1883 and 1884 to the United States as a cabin boy on an ocean liner, he studied Engineering at the Free University of Brussels. After finishing his third year in 1885, he quit the university and joined the Belgian Navy on 19 January 1886. After graduating from the nautical college of Ostend he worked for some time on fishery protection vessels as second and third lieutenant. In October 1887 he signed on as seaman on the Craigie Burn, an English ship, for a voyage to San Francisco, but the ship failed to round Cape Horn and was sold for scrap in Montevideo, he returned to Europe after spending some time in Argentina. After a trip to Constantinople and the Black Sea he worked for the Holland-America Line as fourth officer, before obtaining an appointment as lieutenant in the Belgian Navy.
Until July 1894 he was an officer on Ostend-Dover ferries, all the while taking further courses, becoming captain on 22 August 1894. Frustrated by the monotonous work aboard the Ostend-Dover ferries he offered his services to King Leopold II and Stanley for an expedition to the Congo but was turned down. A letter to Otto Nordenskiöld went unanswered, he started planning and promoting an Antarctic expedition of his own, proposing his plan in 1894 to the Royal Geographical Society. In 1896, de Gerlache purchased the Norwegian-built whaling ship Patria, following an extensive refit, he renamed as the Belgica. With a multinational crew, which included Roald Amundsen, Frederick Cook, Antoni Bolesław Dobrowolski, Henryk Arctowski and Emil Racoviță, he set sail from Antwerp on August 16, 1897. During January 1898, the Belgica reached the coast of Graham Land. Sailing in between the Graham Land coast and a long string of islands to the west, de Gerlache named the passage Belgica Strait, it was renamed Gerlache Strait in his honor.
After charting and naming several islands during some 20 separate landings, they crossed the Antarctic Circle on February 15,1898. On February 28, 1898, de Gerlache's expedition became trapped in the ice of the Bellinghausen Sea, near Peter Island. Despite efforts of the crew to free the ship, they realised that they would be forced to spend the winter on Antarctica. Several weeks on 17 May, total darkness set in, which lasted until July 23. What followed were another 7 months of hardship trying to free the ship and its crew from the clutches of the ice. Several men lost their sanity, including one Belgian sailor who left the ship "announcing he was going back to Belgium"; the party suffered badly from scurvy. On February 15, 1899, they managed to start down a channel they had cleared during the weeks before, it took them nearly a month to cover 7 miles, on 14 March they cleared the ice. The expedition returned to Antwerp on November 5, 1899. In 1902, his book Quinze Mois dans l'Antarctique was awarded a prize by the Académie Française.
Adrien de Gerlache participated in several other expeditions, including: a commercial and scientific expedition to the Persian Gulf in 1901 the first Antarctic expedition of Jean-Baptiste Charcot, which he abandoned before they reached Antarctica due to the bad atmosphere on board Expedition to the Greenland Sea on board the Belgica Expedition to the Barents Sea and Kara Sea Expedition to Greenland and the Frans-Jozef archipelago on board the Belgica He had two children with his first wife, Suzanne Poulet, whom he married in 1904: Philippe and Marie-Louise. After this marriage ended in 1913, de Gerlache married Elisabeth Höjer from Sweden. With her, he had another son, Gaston de Gerlache in 1919. In the 1950s, Gaston followed in his father's footsteps, participating in a Belgian research station in Antarctica. Adrien de Gerlache died in Brussels in 1934. Several geographical features were named in his honor in Antarctica: Cape Gerlache, Mount Gerlache, Gerlache Inlet, Gerlache Island, Gerlache Strait and the de Gerlache seamounts, as well as Pic de Gerlache in Greenland and de Gerlache crater, near the south pole of the moon.
One of Antwerp's quays is named De Gerlachekaai. Newspaper clippings about Adrien de Gerlache in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, short range, long range, long range target engagement; until the early 20th century, field artillery were known as foot artillery, for while the guns were pulled by beasts of burden, the gun crews would march on foot, thus providing fire support to the infantry. This was in contrast to horse artillery, whose emphasis on speed while supporting cavalry units necessitated lighter guns and crews riding on horseback. Whereas horse artillery has been superseded by self-propelled artillery, field artillery has survived to this day both in name and mission, albeit with motor vehicles towing the guns, carrying the crews and transporting the ammunition. Modern artillery has advanced to deployable wheeled and tracked vehicles and precision delivered munitions capable of striking targets at ranges between 15 and 300 kilometers. Field guns – capable of long range fire Gun howitzers – capable of high or low angle fire with a long barrel Howitzers – capable of high angle fire Infantry support guns – directly support infantry units Mortars – weapons that fire projectiles at an angle of over 45 degrees to the horizontal, modern versions being lightweight with fin-stabilized explosive ammunition Mountain guns – lightweight weapons that can be moved through difficult terrain Multiple rocket launchers – mobile rocket artillery launchers Early artillery was unsuited to the battlefield, as the massive pieces could not be moved except in areas that were controlled by the combatant.
Thus, their role was limited to such functions as breaking sieges. Following the beginning of the gunpowder era, the first field artillery came into being as metallurgy allowed thinner cannon barrels to withstand the explosive forces without bursting. However, there was still a serious risk of the constant changes of the battlefield conspiring to leave behind slow-moving artillery units – either on the advance, or more dangerously, in retreat. Artillery units were vulnerable to assault by light cavalry, which were used in this role. Only with a number of further inventions, did the concept of field artillery take off.\ The medieval Ming dynasty Chinese invented mobile battlefield artillery during the early part of the fourteenth century at the time when gunpowder and the primordial cannon were first being adopted in the West. One of the earliest documented uses of field artillery is found in the 14th-century Ming Dynasty treatise Huolongjing; the text describes a Chinese cannon called a "thousand ball thunder cannon", manufactured of bronze and fastened with wheels.
The book describes another mobile form of artillery called a "barbarian attacking cannon" consisting of a cannon attached to a two-wheel carriage. Before World War I, field artillery batteries fired directly at visible targets measured in distances of meters and yards. Today, modern field batteries measure targets in kilometers and miles and do not directly engage the enemy with observed direct fire; the hundredfold increase in the range of artillery guns in the 20th century has been the result of development of rifled cannons, improvements in propellants, better communications between observer and gunner, technical improvements in gunnery computational abilities. Most field artillery situations require indirect fire due to weather, night-time conditions, distance, or other obstacles; these gunners can rely upon a trained artillery observer called a forward observer, who sees the target and relays the coordinates of the target to their fire direction center, which in turn translates those coordinates into: a left-right aiming direction.
Modern field artillery has three distinct sections: All batteries have a Fire Support Man, Fire Direction Control, Cannoners. The FOs are forward with the infantry where they can Call For Fire upon them, they call the FDC on the radio and transmit a request for fire in the format of CFF. The FDC send a deflection and elevation to the gun line; the gun line cranks the specified elevation and deflection on the howitzers, punch the artillery shell followed by the bag. Depending on the CFF, the gunline will fire the round when they are ready or when the FO calls and tells them to fire; the FO spots the round and sends a correction back to the FDC and the process starts all over again until its done. The batteries are many kilometres behind the FLOT, they plan a location where they can be Fire Capability for some certain amount of time and do multiple fire missions before needing to displace. In normal operations the FOs transmits the CFF to the FDCs, they can calculate "defensive fire" tasks. These are pre‑planned missions just in front of or upon one's own positions, designed with the intention of either suppressing potential attacks, or in dropping fire on a abandoned or overrun position to prevent the enemy from consolidating there.
Because the calculations have been done, the fire can be called down quickly when it is needed. The advance party consists of the battery commander, his driver, first sergeant, gu
Henryk Arctowski, born Henryk Artzt, was a Polish scientist and explorer. Living in exile for a large part of his life, he was one of the first persons to winter in Antarctica and became an internationally renowned meteorologist, he was instrumental in restoring Polish independence after the First World War. Several geographical features, the Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station and a medal of the National Academy of Sciences are named in his honor. Henryk Arctowski was born in Warsaw on 15 July 1871 to the Artzt family, whose ancestors came to Poland in the 17th century from Württemberg; as a pupil in the German-occupied part of Poland, he was prosecuted for speaking Polish in school, so his parents sent him to Liège. In 1888 he started studying mathematics and astronomy at the University of Liège, chemistry and geology at the Sorbonne. Upon completion in 1893, he returned to Liège where he worked in the laboratory of professor Spring in the chemistry department until 1869. In 1893, to emphasize his Polishness, Artzt asked the Belgian government for permission to change his name to Arctowski.
In 1895 he applied to participate in the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, the first expedition to spend the winter in the Antarctic. Shipmates included Frederick A. Cook, he coordinated the scientific work and performed physical observations himself, assisted by Antoni Bolesław Dobrowolski. After his return from the Antarctic he lived in Brussels, analyzing the results of the expedition at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, at that time headed by Lecointe, the second-in-command of the expedition. Besides publishing, he presented lectures on the expedition both in Belgium and abroad. On a lecture tour in London he met the American actress and opera singer Arian Jane Addy, whom he married in March 1909. During this period he obtained the Belgian nationality. In 1909 he moved with his wife to New York, where he headed the science division of the New York Public Library from 1911 to 1919. In 1915 he became an American citizen. Arctowski joined The Explorers Club in New York in 1920. In 1920 he returned to newly independent Poland.
Prime minister Paderewski had offered him the position of minister of education, but he refused and became professor of geophysics and meteorology at Jan Kazimierz University. He was active in research and involved in the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. In 1939 he traveled with his wife to the United States to attend a conference of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, when the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Poland, they never lost all their possessions. He accepted a position as a research associate at the Smithsonian and continued doing research until his death when he was obliged to resign in 1950 due to an illness, he died in Maryland. His name has been given to a phenomenon in which a halo resembling a rainbow, with two other partial arcs symmetrical to the main one, forms around the sun as light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. In recognition of his work and his contribution to science, his name has been given to a number of geographical features: In Antarctica: Arctowski Dome Arctowski Cove Arctowski Peninsula Arctowski Nunatak Arctowski PeakIn Spitsbergen: Arctowskifjellet Arctowskibreen The Polish research station on King George Island, Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station, is named after him.
His widow established the Arctowski Medal through the Henryk Arctowski Fund, awarded every two years by the National Academy of Sciences for "studies in solar physics and solar-terrestrial relationships."The Polish Navy named its survey ship ORP Arctowski after him. Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station Works by or about Henryk Arctowski at Internet Archive The Polish Antarctic Station "Henryk Arctowski" Henryk Arctowski at Find a Grave
The Belgian Navy the Belgian Maritime Component of the Belgian Armed Forces the Belgian Naval Force, is the naval service of Belgium. The Belgian Navy was created as the Marine Royale in 1831; this force has operated in various forms throughout Belgian history. When the country became independent after the Belgian Revolution of 1830, a Dutch squadron blocked the Scheldt estuary. To deal with this threat the Belgian Congress ordered two brigantines to be built, which bore the names Congrès and Les Quatre Journées. After the French Army, led by Marshal Count Gérard, captured the citadel of Antwerp in 1832, the captured Dutch gun boats were pressed into Belgian service. In 1840 the Belgian government bought in 1845 the brig Duc de Brabant. Louise Marie participated in the Rio Nuñez Incident in 1849. In 1862, the Belgian government pursued a minimalistic naval policy. At the outbreak of World War I, Belgium had no navy but the war caused this policy to change and a Corps of Destroyers and Sailors was created in 1917.
The Belgian naval personnel served onboard French minesweepers and provided the artillerymen for Belgian merchant ships. The Treaty of Versailles allocated Belgium 11 torpedo 26 minesweepers. For budgetary reasons, Belgium again abolished its navy in 1927. In 1939, against the looming threat of a new war with Germany, Belgium once again resurrected its navy as the Naval Corps; this new navy, consisting of small patrol vessels and coastal artillery units, lasted a year until the German invasion of May 1940. During the 18 days campaign, the trawler A4 evacuated much of the government's gold reserve to Britain, while several others helped at the Allied evacuation at Dunkirk. During World War II many members of the Naval Corps, together with Belgian fishermen and merchant sailors, escaped to Britain with the explicit wish of fighting the German occupiers; the Royal Navy took advantage of this opportunity to enlist the Belgians into separate groups of more or less Belgian-manned ships. From 1940 to 1946, the Belgian Section of the British Royal Navy manned two corvettes, a squadron of MMS minesweepers and three patrol boats.
In 1946, Britain donated the ships to Belgium. These vessels became the backbone of the new Belgian Navy. In the beginning of the nineties, the end of the Cold War caused the Belgian government to restructure the Belgian Armed Forces in order to cope with the changed threats; this led to a reduction in the size of the Armed Forces. With regards to the Belgian navy, these cutbacks meant that one Wielingen-class frigate was taken out of service and that three Tripartite-class minehunters were sold to France. In 2002, the government decided to impose a "single structure" on the armed forces in which the independent Belgian Marine Royale ceased to exist; the former Navy became the Belgian Naval Component of the Armed Forces. On 20 July 2005, the Belgian government decided to buy two of the remaining six Dutch M-class frigates to replace the two remaining frigates of the Wielingen class still in service with the Belgian Navy, which in turn might be sold to Bulgaria. On 21 December 2005, the Dutch government sold Willem Van Der Zaan to Belgium.
The two ships were sold for about 250 million Euros. These two M-class frigates entered service with the Belgian Navy where they were renamed Leopold I and Louise-Marie. In October 2005, the Wielingen-class frigate Wandelaar was handed over to the Bulgarian Navy, which christened the ship as Drăzki; the remaining ships of the class were transferred to Bulgaria as well, after completing modernization in Belgium. A Tripartite-class minehunter, renamed Tsibar was transferred to Bulgaria soon after; the current Commander of the Maritime Component is Divisional Admiral Wim Robberecht. In February 2013 it was announced that Belgium had ordered two 52-metre patrol vessels from the French shipyard SOCARENAM, to be delivered within two years. Both were received, P901 Castor in 2014 and P902 Pollux in early 2015; the two vessels are to remain in service until 2044–2045 In times of crisis and war the Belgian Navy will manage, with the support of its allies, the crises rising from the infringements to the principles of International law and/or from the Humans right and exercise the Belgian sovereignty in the maritime zones where the Navy is qualified, defend the lines maritime of communication, main roads and allied, protect the ports against any air, surface or underwater attack.
In times of peace the Belgian Navy has the following roles: To ensure the presence of Belgium at sea. To give a support for our diplomacy and our foreign trade. Technical and military collaboration with the allied countries. Participation in humane actions. Contribute to the nation in the maritime zones for which Belgium is responsible: Contribution to oceanographic search. Control of fishing Contribution to the control of pollution at sea. Participation in the plan of assistance in territorial waters Support for the customs and police operations Detection of wrecks of boats. Participation in rescues at sea. Contribution to the training of the commercial naval officers Control of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone. If necessary, opening of the centre of hyperbare medicine to the population. Destruction of explosive devices at sea Preparation with the tasks to be carried out in times of crisis and war. Contribution to dissuasion at sea by the mea
International Astronomical Union
The International Astronomical Union is an international association of professional astronomers, at the PhD level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy. Among other activities, it acts as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations and names to celestial bodies and any surface features on them; the IAU is a member of the International Council for Science. Its main objective is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation; the IAU maintains friendly relations with organizations that include amateur astronomers in their membership. The IAU has its head office on the second floor of the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Working groups include the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature, which maintains the astronomical naming conventions and planetary nomenclature for planetary bodies, the Working Group on Star Names, which catalogs and standardizes proper names for stars.
The IAU is responsible for the system of astronomical telegrams which are produced and distributed on its behalf by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. The Minor Planet Center operates under the IAU, is a "clearinghouse" for all non-planetary or non-moon bodies in the Solar System; the Working Group for Meteor Shower Nomenclature and the Meteor Data Center coordinate the nomenclature of meteor showers. The IAU was founded on 28 July 1919, at the Constitutive Assembly of the International Research Council held in Brussels, Belgium. Two subsidiaries of the IAU were created at this assembly: the International Time Commission seated at the International Time Bureau in Paris and the International Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams seated in Copenhagen, Denmark; the 7 initial member states were Belgium, France, Great Britain, Greece and the United States, soon to be followed by Italy and Mexico. The first executive committee consisted of Benjamin Baillaud, Alfred Fowler, four vice presidents: William Campbell, Frank Dyson, Georges Lecointe, Annibale Riccò.
Thirty-two Commissions were appointed at the Brussels meeting and focused on topics ranging from relativity to minor planets. The reports of these 32 Commissions formed the main substance of the first General Assembly, which took place in Rome, Italy, 2–10 May 1922. By the end of the first General Assembly, ten additional nations had joined the Union, bringing the total membership to 19 countries. Although the Union was formed eight months after the end of World War I, international collaboration in astronomy had been strong in the pre-war era; the first 50 years of the Union's history are well documented. Subsequent history is recorded in the form of reminiscences of past IAU Presidents and General Secretaries. Twelve of the fourteen past General Secretaries in the period 1964-2006 contributed their recollections of the Union's history in IAU Information Bulletin No. 100. Six past IAU Presidents in the period 1976–2003 contributed their recollections in IAU Information Bulletin No. 104. The IAU includes a total of 12,664 individual members who are professional astronomers from 96 countries worldwide.
83% of all individual members are male, while 17% are female, among them the union's former president, Mexican astronomer Silvia Torres-Peimbert. Membership includes 79 national members, professional astronomical communities representing their country's affiliation with the IAU. National members include the Australian Academy of Science, the Chinese Astronomical Society, the French Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the National Academies, the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, KACST, the Council of German Observatories, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Science Council of Japan, among many others; the sovereign body of the IAU is its General Assembly. The Assembly determines IAU policy, approves the Statutes and By-Laws of the Union and elects various committees; the right to vote on matters brought before the Assembly varies according to the type of business under discussion.
The Statutes consider such business to be divided into two categories: issues of a "primarily scientific nature", upon which voting is restricted to individual members, all other matters, upon which voting is restricted to the representatives of national members. On budget matters, votes are weighted according to the relative subscription levels of the national members. A second category vote requires a turnout of at least two-thirds of national members in order to be valid. An absolute majority is sufficient for approval in any vote, except for Statute revision which requires a two-thirds majority. An equality of votes is resolved by the vote of the President of the Union. Since 1922, the IAU General Assembly meets every three years, with the ex
Antwerp is a city in Belgium, is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders. With a population of 520,504, it is the most populous city proper in Belgium, with 1,200,000 the second largest metropolitan region after Brussels. Antwerp is on the River Scheldt, linked to the North Sea by the river's Westerschelde estuary, it is about 40 kilometres north of Brussels, about 15 kilometres south of the Dutch border. The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, ranking second in Europe and within the top 20 globally; the city is known for its diamond industry and trade. Both economically and culturally, Antwerp is and has long been an important city in the Low Countries before and during the Spanish Fury and throughout and after the subsequent Dutch Revolt. Antwerp was the place of the world's oldest stock exchange building built in 1531 and re-built in 1872; the inhabitants of Antwerp are nicknamed Sinjoren, after the Spanish honorific señor or French seigneur, "lord", referring to the Spanish noblemen who ruled the city in the 17th century.
The city hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics. According to folklore, notably celebrated by a statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend about a giant called Antigoon who lived near the Scheldt river, he extracted a toll from passing boatmen, for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. The giant was killed by a young hero named Silvius Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen, akin to Old English hand and wearpan, which has evolved to today's warp. A longstanding theory is that the name originated in the Gallo-Roman period and comes from the Latin antverpia. Antverpia would come from Ante Verpia, indicating land that forms by deposition in the inside curve of a river. Note that the river Scheldt, before a transition period between 600 and 750, followed a different track; this must have coincided with the current ringway south of the city, situating the city within a former curve of the river.
However, many historians think it unlikely that there was a large settlement which would be named'Antverpia', but more something like an outpost with a river crossing. However, John Lothrop Motley argues, so do a lot of Dutch etymologists and historians, that Antwerp's name derives from "anda" and "werpum" to give an't werf. Aan't werp is possible; this "warp" is a man-made hill or a river deposit, high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a construction could be built that would remain dry. Another word for werp is pol hence polders. Alfred Michiels has suggested that derivations based on hand werpen, Antverpia, "on the wharf", or "at the warp" lack historical backing in the form of recorded past spellings of the placename, he points instead to Dado's Life of St. Eligius from the 7th century, which records the form Andoverpis, he sees in it a Celtic origin indicating "those who live on both banks". Historical Antwerp had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicus. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952–1961, produced pottery shards and fragments of glass from mid-2nd century to the end of the 3rd century.
The earliest mention of Antwerp dates from the 4th century. In the 4th century, Antwerp was first named; the Merovingian Antwerp was evangelized by Saint Amand in the 7th century. At the end of the 10th century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate in 980, by the German emperor Otto II, a border province facing the County of Flanders. In the 11th century, the best-known leader of the First Crusade, Godfrey of Bouillon, was Margrave of Antwerp, from 1076 until his death in 1100, though he was also Duke of Lower Lorraine and Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. In the 12th century, Norbert of Xanten established a community of his Premonstratensian canons at St. Michael's Abbey at Caloes. Antwerp was the headquarters of Edward III during his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, his son Lionel, the Duke of Clarence, was born there in 1338. After the silting-up of the Zwin and the consequent decline of Bruges, the city of Antwerp part of the Duchy of Brabant, grew in importance.
At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Bruges to Antwerp, the building assigned to the English nation is mentioned in 1510. Antwerp became the sugar capital of Europe, importing the raw commodity from Portuguese and Spanish plantations; the city attracted Italian and German sugar refiners by 1550, shipped their refined product to Germany Cologne. Moneylenders and financiers developed a large business lending money all over Europe including the English government in 1544–1574. London bankers were too small to operate on that scale, Antwerp had a efficient bourse that itself attracted rich bankers from around Europe. After the 1570s, the city's banking business declined: England ended its borrowing in Antwerp in 1574. Fernand Braudel states that Antwerp became "the centre of the entire international economy, something Bruges had never been at its height." Antwerp was the richest city in Europe at this time. Antwerp's golden age is l
Ypres is a Belgian municipality in the province of West Flanders. Though the Dutch Ieper is the official name, the city's French name Ypres is most used in English; the municipality comprises the city of Ypres and the villages of Boezinge, Dikkebus, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Voormezele and Zuidschote. Together, they are home to about 34,900 inhabitants. During the First World War, Ypres was the centre of the Battles of Ypres between German and Allied forces. Ypres is an ancient town, known to have been raided by the Romans in the first century BC, it is first mentioned by name in 1066 and is named after the river Ieperlee on the banks of which it was founded. During the Middle Ages, Ypres was a prosperous Flemish city with a population of 40,000 in 1200 AD, renowned for its linen trade with England, mentioned in the Canterbury Tales; as the third largest city in the County of Flanders Ypres played an important role in the history of the textile industry. Textiles from Ypres could be found in the markets of Novgorod in Kievan Rus' in the early 12th century.
In 1241, a major fire ruined much of the old city. The powerful city was involved in important treaties and battles, including the Battle of the Golden Spurs, the Battle at Mons-en-Pévèle, the Peace of Melun, the Battle of Cassel; the famous Cloth Hall was built in the thirteenth century. During this time cats the symbol of the devil and witchcraft, were thrown off Cloth Hall because of the belief that this would get rid of evil demons. Today, this act is commemorated with a triennial Cat Parade through town. During the Norwich Crusade, led by the English bishop Henry le Despenser, Ypres was besieged from May to August 1383, until French relief forces arrived. After the destruction of Thérouanne, Ypres became the seat of the new Diocese of Ypres in 1561, Saint Martin's Church was elevated to cathedral. On 25 March 1678 Ypres was conquered by the forces of Louis XIV of France, it remained French under the treaty of Nijmegen, Vauban constructed his typical fortifications that can still be seen today.
In 1697, after the Treaty of Ryswick, Ypres was returned to the Spanish Crown. During the War of the Spanish Succession, the Duke of Marlborough in 1709 intended to capture Ypres, at the time a major French fortress, but changed his mind owing to the long time and effort it had taken him to capture Tournai and apprehension of disease spreading in his army in the poorly drained land around Ypres. In 1713 it was handed over to the Habsburgs, became part of the Austrian Netherlands. In 1782 the Habsburg Austrian Emperor Joseph II ordered parts of the walls torn down; this destruction, only repaired, made it easier for the French to capture the city in the 1794 Siege of Ypres during the War of the First Coalition. In 1850 the Ypresian Age of the Eocene Epoch was named on the basis of geology in the region by Belgian geologist André Hubert Dumont. Ypres had long been fortified to keep out invaders. Parts of the early ramparts, dating from 1385, still survive near the Rijselpoort. Over time, the earthworks were replaced by a partial moat.
Ypres was further fortified in the 17th and 18th centuries while under the occupation of the Habsburgs and the French. Major works were completed at the end of the 17th century by the French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. Ypres occupied a strategic position during the First World War because it stood in the path of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north; the neutrality of Belgium, established by the First Treaty of London, was guaranteed by Britain. The German army surrounded the city on three sides. To counterattack, British and allied forces made costly advances from the Ypres Salient into the German lines on the surrounding hills. In the First Battle of Ypres, the Allies captured the town from the Germans; the Germans had used tear gas at the Battle of Bolimov on 3 January 1915. Their use of poison gas for the first time on 22 April 1915 marked the beginning of the Second Battle of Ypres, which continued until 25 May 1915, they captured high ground east of the town.
The first gas attack occurred against Canadian and French soldiers, including both metropolitan French soldiers as well as Senegalese and Algerian tirailleurs from French Africa. The gas used was chlorine. Mustard gas called Yperite from the name of this town, was used for the first time near Ypres, in the autumn of 1917. Of the battles, the largest, best-known, most costly in human suffering was the Third Battle of Ypres, in which the British, Canadian, ANZAC, French forces recaptured the Passchendaele Ridge east of the city at a terrible cost of lives. After months of fighting, this battle resulted in nearly half a million casualties to all sides, only a few miles of ground won by Allied forces. During the course of the war the town was all but obliterated by the artillery fire. English-speaking soldiers in that war referred to Ieper/Ypres by the deliberate mispronunciation Wipers. British soldiers published a wartime newspaper called the Wipers Times; the same style of deliberate mispronunciation was applied to other Flemish place names in the Ypres area for the benefit of British troops, such as Whyteshaete becoming White Sheet and Ploegsteert becomi