Saint Vincent Panels
The Saint Vincent Panels, or the Adoration of Saint Vincent panels, are a polyptych consisting of six panels that were perhaps painted in the 1450s. They are attributed to the Portuguese painter Nuno Gonçalves, who was active from 1450 to 1471, the polyptych is dated to the 1450s due to the putative prominence of Prince Henry the Navigator among the persons represented in the panels. The original retable, during its stay in the Cathedral of Lisbon, contained over twelve panels and they were displayed in the cathedral at least until 1690 and were set aside in the cathedral until 1742. They were transferred to the palace of Mitra, where they escaped the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755. The panels are now housed in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, in Lisbon, found during the late 1880s in the monastery of Saint Vicente de Fora in Lisbon, the panels depict scenes associated with the veneration of Saint Vincent of Saragossa. This polyptych consists of six panels of oak painted with oil or tempera.
The only reference that art historians can use to support the attribution of the creation of the panels to the painter Gonçalves was written in the 16th century by Francisco de Holanda, the reference mentions a great work of art made by him that is inferred to be these panels. There has been speculation that the father of Hugo van der Goes collaborated in the painting of the panels, in any case, the Saint Vincent Panels are regarded as the greatest achievement of pre-modern Portuguese art. Since their discovery in the late 19th century, there has been a dispute over the identity of the painter. Some basic questions, still unanswered, are these, What scene, who are the sixty persons portrayed. What symbolism is expressed in the panels, who commissioned these panels to be painted. The majority of experts who have studied this polyptych agree that the panels display several social groups of 15th-century Portugal and they agree that the children of King John I are represented on these panels, but there is disagreement about their placement and identity.
One of the controversial issues concerning the panels is the depiction of Prince Henry the Navigator. However, there are reasons to doubt that this is him. The most basic problem in identifying the man-in-the-chaperon in the Saint Vincent Panels derives from the lack of confirmed portraits of Prince Henry that date from his lifetime. The only other 15th-century image of the man-in-the-chaperon is found in the frontispiece of a copy of Gomes Eanes de Zuraras Crónicas dos Feitos de Guiné, written in 1453. Zuraras book is an account of the early Portuguese discoveries in Africa along with a hagiography of Prince Henry, as a result, it has been assumed that the frontispiece depicts Henry, especially since the motto underneath it seems to have been Henrys own. One alternative hypothesis postulates that the man-in-the-chaperon in Zuraras book might actually be King Edward of Portugal and this alternative hypothesis can be used to help clarify the identity of the figures surrounding St. Vincent in the Panel of the Prince
John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, KG was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third of five surviving sons of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. He was called John of Gaunt because he was born in Ghent, when he became unpopular in life, scurrilous rumours and lampoons circulated that he was actually the son of a Ghent butcher, perhaps because Edward III was not present at the birth. This story always drove him to fury, due to some generous land grants, John was one of the richest men in his era. John of Gaunts legitimate male heirs, the Lancasters, include Kings Henry IV, Henry V and his other legitimate descendants include his daughters Queen Philippa of Portugal and Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter, and Queen Catherine of Castile. John fathered five children outside marriage, one early in life by a lady-in-waiting to his mother, the children of Katherine Swynford, surnamed Beaufort, were legitimised by royal and papal decrees after John and Katherine married in 1396.
Through his daughter Philippa, he was grandfather of King Edward of Portugal, through John II of Castiles great-granddaughter Joanna the Mad, John of Gaunt is an ancestor of the Habsburg rulers who would reign in Spain and much of central Europe. When John of Gaunt died in 1399, his estates and titles were declared forfeit to the crown, since King Richard II had named Henry a traitor, Henry Bolingbroke returned from exile to reclaim his inheritance and depose Richard. Bolingbroke reigned as King Henry IV of England, the first of the descendants of John of Gaunt to hold the throne of England, John was the fourth son of King Edward III of England. His first wife, Blanche of Lancaster, was his third cousin and they married in 1359 at Reading Abbey as a part of the efforts of Edward III to arrange matches for his sons with wealthy heiresses. He became the 14th Baron of Halton and 11th Lord of Bowland, John inherited the rest of the Lancaster property when Blanches sister Maud, Countess of Leicester, died without issue on 10 April 1362.
John received the title Duke of Lancaster from his father on 13 November 1362, by well established, he owned at least thirty castles and estates across England and France and maintained a household comparable in scale and organisation to that of a monarch. He owned land in almost every county in England, a patrimony that produced a net income of between £8,000 and £10,000 a year, Johns ascendancy to political power coincided with widespread resentment of his influence. Although he fought in the Battle of Nájera, for example, when Edward III died in 1377 and Johns ten-year-old nephew succeeded as Richard II of England, Johns influence strengthened. However, mistrust remained, and some suspected him of wanting to seize the throne himself, John took pains to ensure that he never became associated with the opposition to Richards kingship. As de facto ruler during Richards minority, he made unwise decisions on taxation that led to the Peasants Revolt in 1381, when the rebels destroyed his home in London, the Savoy Palace.
Unlike some of Richards unpopular advisors, John was away from London at the time of the uprising and thus avoided the direct wrath of the rebels. In 1386 John left England to seek the throne of Castile, claimed in Jure uxoris by right of his wife, Constance of Castile. However, crisis ensued almost immediately in his absence, and in 1387 King Richards misrule brought England to the brink of civil war
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, to the west and south it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east and north by Spain. The Portugal–Spain border is 1,214 kilometres long and considered the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union, the republic includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments. The territory of modern Portugal has been settled, invaded. The Pre-Celts, Celts and the Romans were followed by the invasions of the Visigothic, in 711 the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by the Moors, making Portugal part of Muslim Al Andalus. Portugal was born as result of the Christian Reconquista, and in 1139, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed King of Portugal, in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal established the first global empire, becoming one of the worlds major economic and military powers.
Portugal monopolized the trade during this time, and the Portuguese Empire expanded with military campaigns led in Asia. After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, democracy was restored after the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Shortly after, independence was granted to almost all its overseas territories, Portugal has left a profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe and a legacy of over 250 million Portuguese speakers today. Portugal is a country with a high-income advanced economy and a high living standard. It is the 5th most peaceful country in the world, maintaining a unitary semi-presidential republican form of government and it has the 18th highest Social Progress in the world, putting it ahead of other Western European countries like France and Italy. Portugal is a pioneer when it comes to drug decriminalization, as the nation decriminalized the possession of all drugs for use in 2001.
The early history of Portugal is shared with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula located in South Western Europe, the name of Portugal derives from the joined Romano-Celtic name Portus Cale. Other influences include some 5th-century vestiges of Alan settlements, which were found in Alenquer, the region of present-day Portugal was inhabited by Neanderthals and by Homo sapiens, who roamed the border-less region of the northern Iberian peninsula. These were subsistence societies that, although they did not establish prosperous settlements, neolithic Portugal experimented with domestication of herding animals, the raising of some cereal crops and fluvial or marine fishing. Chief among these tribes were the Calaicians or Gallaeci of Northern Portugal, the Lusitanians of central Portugal, the Celtici of Alentejo, a few small, semi-permanent, commercial coastal settlements were founded in the Algarve region by Phoenicians-Carthaginians. Romans first invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 219 BC, during the last days of Julius Caesar, almost the entire peninsula had been annexed to the Roman Republic.
The Carthaginians, Romes adversary in the Punic Wars, were expelled from their coastal colonies and it suffered a severe setback in 150 BC, when a rebellion began in the north
Edward III of England
Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. Edward was crowned at age fourteen after his father was deposed by his mother, Isabella of France, at age seventeen he led a successful coup against Mortimer, the de facto ruler of the country, and began his personal reign. After a successful campaign in Scotland he declared himself heir to the French throne in 1337. This started what would become known as the Hundred Years War, following some initial setbacks the war went exceptionally well for England, victories at Crécy and Poitiers led to the highly favourable Treaty of Brétigny. Edwards years, were marked by international failure and domestic strife, largely as a result of his inactivity, Edward III was a temperamental man but capable of unusual clemency. He was in ways a conventional king whose main interest was warfare. Admired in his own time and for centuries after, Edward was denounced as an adventurer by Whig historians such as William Stubbs.
This view has been challenged recently and modern historians credit him with some significant achievements, Edward was born at Windsor Castle on 13 November 1312, and was often referred to as Edward of Windsor in his early years. The reign of his father, Edward II, was a problematic period of English history. One source of contention was the inactivity, and repeated failure. Another controversial issue was the kings patronage of a small group of royal favourites. The birth of an heir in 1312 temporarily improved Edward IIs position in relation to the baronial opposition. To bolster further the independent prestige of the prince, the king had him created Earl of Chester at only twelve days of age. In 1325, Edward II was faced with a demand from his brother-in-law, Charles IV of France, Edward was reluctant to leave the country, as discontent was once again brewing domestically, particularly over his relationship with the favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger. Instead, he had his son Edward created Duke of Aquitaine in his place, the young Edward was accompanied by his mother Isabella, who was the sister of King Charles, and was meant to negotiate a peace treaty with the French.
While in France, Isabella conspired with the exiled Roger Mortimer to have Edward deposed, to build up diplomatic and military support for the venture, Isabella had Prince Edward engaged to the twelve-year-old Philippa of Hainault. An invasion of England was launched and Edward IIs forces deserted him completely, the king was forced to relinquish the throne to his son on 25 January 1327. The new king was crowned as Edward III on 1 February 1327 and it was not long before the new reign met with other problems caused by the central position at court of Roger Mortimer, who was now the de facto ruler of England
SantEustachio is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, named for the martyr Saint Eustace. It is located on Via di SantEustachio in the rione SantEustachio, a block west of the Pantheon and via della Rotonda, and a block east of SantIvo alla Sapienza, the church was founded in the 8th century, or possibly even earlier. The church was recorded as a diaconia at the end of the pontificate of Pope Gregory II and it is mentioned in some documents dating from the 10th and 11th centuries, where this church is called in platana referring to the tree planted in the garden of the martyr Eustace. The emperor Constantine I had previously built an oratory on this same spot and this church was called ad Pantheon in regione nona e iuxta templum Agrippae. At the end of the 12th century during the pontificate of Pope Celestine III, in the 16th century, it was a favoured praying-place for St Philip Neri. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was almost completely rebuilt, the church was designed in the Roman Baroque style.
The new high altar, in bronze and polychrome marble, was added by Nicola Salvi in 1739, the choir and the sacristy were designed by Canevari and built by Giovanni Moscati. The church was elevated to basilica status in 1918. The facade was built under the direction of Cesare Corvara with the collaboration of other architects and it consists of two sections, with the upper section standing back. The lower part is marked with four pilasters and two columns, all with Ionic capitals with in the middle of each capital a small head of a deer, the spirals of the volutes are connected by a small laurel wreath. On the right side of the facade a plaque was placed in memory of the flood of the Tiber River in 1495, the top section is divided by four pilasters with on each side a large volute. In the middle is a window with an arcuated cornice. On top is a pediment with in its middle a circular window surrounded with palm branches. On top of the pediment stands a head with a cross between the antlers (done by the sculptor Paolo Morelli, in reference to the legend of Saint Eustace.
An iron gate, made by Gian Battista Contini, closes off the porch, the square Romanesque campanile is situated on the back of the church at its left side. Construction was started in 1196 under the pontificate of Pope Celestine III, the top part can be dated back to the end of the 12th century, while the base is somewhat older and can be dated at ca. The interior has an architectural plan and consists of a single nave. Its construction was carried out in mature Baroque style under the supervision of the architects Cesare Corvara, the nave is marked on each side by three pilasters resting on a broad base
Blanche of Lancaster
Blanche of Lancaster was a member of the English royal House of Plantagenet and the daughter of the kingdoms wealthiest and most powerful peer, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. She was the first wife of John of Gaunt, the mother of King Henry IV, Blanche is said to have been born on 25 March 1345, although the year 1347 has been suggested. She was the daughter of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. She and her elder sister Maud, Countess of Leicester, were born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lindsey, Maud married Ralph de Stafford and William I, Duke of Bavaria, Maud did not have children so her younger sister inherited their fathers titles and estates. On 19 May 1359, at Reading Abbey, Berkshire, Blanche married her cousin, John of Gaunt. The whole royal family was present at the wedding, and the King gave Blanche expensive gifts of jewellery, the title Duke of Lancaster became extinct upon her fathers death without male heirs in 1361. However, John of Gaunt became Earl of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Earl of Lincoln, the Duchy of Lancaster was bestowed on Gaunt.
The influence associated with the titles would lead him to become Lord High Steward of England, Jean Froissart described Blanche as jone et jolie. Gaunt and Blanches marriage is believed to have been happy. Blanche and Gaunt had seven children, three of whom survived infancy, Blanche died at Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire, on 12 September 1368 while her husband was overseas. She was 23 years of age at the time of her death and it is believed that she may have died after contracting the Black Death, which was rife in Europe at that time. Her funeral at St. Pauls Cathedral in London was preceded by a magnificent cortege attended by most of the upper nobility, John of Gaunt held annual commemorations of her death for the rest of his life and established a joint chantry foundation on his own death. In 1373, Jean Froissart wrote a poem, Le Joli Buisson de Jonece. The poem tells the story of the poets dream, wandering a wood, the poet discovers a knight clothed in black, and inquires of the knights sorrow.
The knight, perhaps representing Gaunt, is mourning a terrible tragedy, in 1374, six years after her death, John of Gaunt commissioned a double tomb for himself and Blanche from the mason Henry Yevele. The magnificent monument in the choir of St Pauls was completed by Yevele in 1380, with the assistance of Thomas Wrek, Gaunt himself died in 1399, and was laid to rest beside Blanche. The two effigies were notable for having their hands joined. An adjacent chantry chapel was added between 1399 and 1403, Blanche and John of Gaunt together had seven children, Philippa of Lancaster, wife of John I of Portugal
Pope Pius II
Pope Pius II, born Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini was Pope from 19 August 1458 to his death in 1464. He was born at Corsignano in the Sienese territory of a noble and his longest and most enduring work is the story of his life, the Commentaries, which is the only autobiography ever written by a reigning pope. He settled in the city as a teacher, but in 1431 accepted the post of secretary to Domenico Capranica, bishop of Fermo. Capranica was protesting against the new Pope Eugene IVs refusal of a cardinalate for him, arriving at Basel after enduring a stormy voyage to Genoa and a trip across the Alps, he successively served Capranica, who ran short of money, and other masters. In 1435 he was sent by Cardinal Albergati, Eugenius IVs legate at the council, on a mission to Scotland. He visited England as well as Scotland, underwent many perils, the journey to Scotland proved so tempestuous that Piccolomini swore that he would walk barefoot to the nearest shrine of Our Lady from their landing port.
This proved to be Dunbar, the nearest shrine was 10 miles distant at Whitekirk, the journey through the ice and snow left Aeneas afflicted with pain in his legs for the rest of his life. In Scotland, he fathered a child but it died, upon his return to Basel, Aeneas sided actively with the council in its conflict with the Pope, although still a layman, eventually obtained a share in the direction of its affairs. He supported the creation of the Antipope Felix V and participated in his coronation, Aeneas was sent to Strasbourg where he sired a child with a Breton woman called Elizabeth. The baby died 14 months and he withdrew to the court of Holy Roman Emperor Emperor Frederick III in Vienna. He had been crowned imperial poet laureate in 1442, and he obtained the patronage of the emperors chancellor, some identify the love adventure at Siena that Aeneas related in his romance The Tale of the Two Lovers with an escapade of the chancellor. Aeneas character had hitherto been that of an easy and democratic-minded man of the world with no pretense to strictness in morals or consistency in politics.
He now began to be regular in the former respect. This he did most effectually by the diplomatic dexterity with which he smoothed away differences between the court of Rome and the German imperial electors. He played a role in concluding a compromise in 1447 by which the dying Pope Eugene accepted the reconciliation tendered by the German princes. As a result, the council and the antipope were left without support and he had already taken orders, and one of the first acts of Pope Eugenes successor, Pope Nicholas V, was to make him Bishop of Trieste. He served as Bishop of Siena, in 1450 Aeneas was sent as ambassador by the Emperor Frederick III to negotiate his marriage with Princess Eleonore of Portugal. In 1451 he undertook a mission to Bohemia and concluded an arrangement with the Hussite leader George of Poděbrady
Order of the Golden Fleece
It became one of the most prestigious orders in Europe. The chaplain of the Austrian branch is Cardinal Graf von Schönborn and it is restricted to a limited number of knights, initially 24 but increased to 30 in 1433, and 50 in 1516, plus the sovereign. The Orders first King of Arms was Jean Le Fèvre de Saint-Remy, so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order. Should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds, the bishop of Châlons, chancellor of the Order, rescued the fleeces reputation by identifying it instead with the fleece of Gideon that received the dew of Heaven. He was succeeded as king by Philip V, a Bourbon, in either case the sovereign, as Duke of Burgundy, writes the letter of appointment in French. These, and other awards by Joseph, were revoked by King Ferdinand on the restoration of Bourbon rule in 1813, napoleon created by Order of 15 August 1809 the Order of the Three Golden Fleeces, in view of his sovereignty over Austria and Burgundy.
This was opposed by Joseph I of Spain and the new order was never awarded, in 1812 the acting government of Spain awarded the order to the Duke of Wellington, an act confirmed by Ferdinand on his resumption of power, with the approval of Pope Pius VII. Wellington therefore became the first Protestant to be awarded the Golden Fleece and it has subsequently been awarded to non-Christians, such as Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand. There was another crisis in 1833 when Isabella II became Queen of Spain in defiance of Salic Law that did not allow women to become heads of state and her right to award the Fleece was challenged by Spanish Carlists. Sovereignty remained with the head of the Spanish house of Bourbon during the republican and Francoist periods and is today by the present King of Spain. Knights of the Order are entitled to be addressed with the style His/Her Excellency in front of their name, King Juan Carlos I of Spain – Former Sovereign of the Order as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014.
The problem of inheritance was avoided on the accession of Maria Theresa in 1740 as sovereignty of the Order passed not to herself but to her husband. Sovereignty remains with the head of the House of Habsburg, which was handed over on 20 November 2000 by Otto von Habsburg to his elder son, die Schatzkammer in Wien, Symbole abendländischen Kaisertums. Der Schatz des Ordens vom Goldenen Vlies, ISBN 3-7017-0541-0 Boulton, DArcy Jonathan Dacre,1987
History of Florence
In the Quaternary Age the Florence-Prato-Pistoia plain was occupied by a great lake bounded by Monte Albano in the west, Monte Giovi in the North and the foothills of Chianti in the South. Even after most of the water had receded, the plain,50 metres above sea level, was strewn with ponds, most of the marshland was in the region of Campi Bisenzio and Bagno a Ripoli. It is thought there was already a settlement at the confluence of the Mugnone with the River Arno between the 10th and the 8th century BC. Between the 7th and 6th centuries BC Etruscans had discovered and used the ford of the Arno near this confluence, a bridge or a ferry was probably constructed here, about ten metres away from the current Ponte Vecchio, but closer to the ford itself. The Etruscans, preferred not to build cities on the plain for reasons of defence and instead settled about six kilometres away on a hill. This settlement was a precursor of the centre of Vipsul. Florence was founded in 59 BC as a settlement for soldiers who were allotted land by Julius Caesar in the rich farming valley of the Arno.
Florentia was situated at the Via Cassia, the route between Rome and the North, which position enabled it to rapidly expand as a commercial center. Emperor Diocletian made Florentia capital of the province of Tuscia in the 3rd century AD, st Minias was Florence’s first martyr. He was beheaded at about 250 AD, during the persecutions of the Emperor Decius. The Basilica di San Miniato al Monte now stands near the spot, peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Conquered by Charlemagne in 774, Florence became part of the March of Tuscany, the population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854 Florence and Fiesole were united in one county, margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residence instead of Lucca at about 1000 CE. This initiated the Golden Age of Florentine art, in 1013 the construction was begun of the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The exterior of the baptistry was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128, in 1257 the city was ruled by a podestà, the Guelph Luca Grimaldi.
The Guelphs had triumphed and soon split in turn into feuding White and Black factions led respectively by Vieri de Cerchi and these struggles eventually led to the exile of the White Guelphs, one of whom was Dante Alighieri. This factional strife was recorded by Dino Compagni, a White Guelph, political conflict did not, prevent the citys rise to become one of the most powerful and prosperous in Europe, assisted by her own strong gold currency. The florin quickly became the dominant trade coin of Western Europe and this period saw the eclipse of Florences formerly powerful rival Pisa, which was defeated by Genoa in 1284 and subjugated by Florence in 1406
Peter, Duke of Coimbra
Infante D. Pedro, Duke of Coimbra KG, was a Portuguese infante of the House of Aviz, son of King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt. In Portugal, he is known as Infante D. Pedro das Sete Partidas, of the Seven Parts because of his travels, possibly the best-travelled prince of his time, he was regent between 1439 and 1448. He was 1st Lord of Montemor-o-Velho, Tentúgal, Pereira, from the time he was born, Peter was one of John Is favourite sons. Along with his siblings, he received an education rarely seen in those times for the children of royalty. Close to his brothers Edward, the king of Portugal. On 14 August 1415, he accompanied his father and brothers Edward and his mother had died the previous month, giving each of her sons on her deathbed an arming sword she had ordered forged for them. Peter refused to be knighted before showing valour in battle, and he was knighted along with his brothers the following day and his younger brother Henry was made Duke of Viseu.
These were the first dukedoms created in Portugal, on finishing a translation of Senecas De Beneficiis in 1418, he initiated extensive travels throughout Europe, which would keep him away from Portugal for the next ten years. After meeting with John II of Castile in Valladolid, he continued to Hungary, where he met with the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, and entered his service. He fought with the Imperial armies against the Turks and in the Hussite Wars in Bohemia and was awarded the dukedom of Treviso in Northern Italy in 1422, from Constantinople he travelled to the Holy Land via Alexandria and Cairo. In 1425, Peter travelled to France and England and visited the universities of Paris and Oxford before arriving in Flanders in 1426, after the death of the second wife of Philip the Good of Burgundy in 1425, Peter recommended his sister Isabella to him as a wife. Philip sent a delegation to Portugal in 1428–29 that included Jan van Eyck and Isabella eventually married on 7 January 1430, and one of their sons became Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy.
In 1427, Peter wrote a letter to his older brother, King Edward, on the proper administration of the kingdoms. Later that year, King Henry VI of England made him a Knight of the Garter, in 1428, Peter visited his dukedom of Treviso and the nearby Republic of Venice, where he was presented with a copy of the book of Marco Polo by the doge. He offered that book, as well as maps of the Venetian trade routes in the Orient he purchased, in 1433, he completed his famous six-volume work, the Tratado da Virtuosa Benfeitoria. When Peters brother King Edward I of Portugal died in 1438, at first, the choice for regent was the Queen mother Eleanor of Aragon. This choice was not popular among many Portuguese, because Eleanor was Aragonese, a war of influences started, and a few years later, Afonso of Barcelos managed to become young King Afonso Vs favourite uncle
Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium, although there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language and history. It is one of the communities and language areas of Belgium, the demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although Brussels itself has an independent regional government, in historical contexts, Flanders originally refers to the County of Flanders, which around AD1000 stretched from the Strait of Dover to the Scheldt estuary. In accordance with late 20th century Belgian state reforms the area was made two political entities, the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region. These entities were merged, although geographically the Flemish Community, which has a cultural mandate, covers Brussels. Flanders has figured prominently in European history, as a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy.
Belgium was one of the centres of the 19th century industrial revolution, Flanders is generally flat, and has a small section of coast on the North Sea. Much of Flanders is agriculturally fertile and densely populated, with a density of almost 500 people per square kilometer. It touches France to the west near the coast, and borders the Netherlands to the north and east, the Brussels Capital Region is an enclave within the Flemish Region. Flanders has exclaves of its own, Voeren in the east is between Wallonia and the Netherlands and Baarle-Hertog in the consists of 22 exclaves surrounded by the Netherlands. It comprises 6.5 million Belgians who consider Dutch to be their mother tongue, the political subdivisions of Belgium, the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community. The first does not comprise Brussels, whereas the latter does comprise the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Brussels, the political institutions that govern both subdivisions, the operative body Flemish Government and the legislative organ Flemish Parliament.
The two westernmost provinces of the Flemish Region, West Flanders and East Flanders, forming the central portion of the historic County of Flanders, a feudal territory that existed from the 8th century until its absorption by the French First Republic. Until the 1600s, this county extended over parts of France, one of the regions conquered by the French in Flanders, namely French Flanders in the Nord department. French Flanders can be divided into two regions, Walloon Flanders and Maritime Flanders. The first region was predominantly French-speaking already in the 1600s, the latter became so in the 20th century, the city of Lille identifies itself as Flemish, and this is reflected, for instance, in the name of its local railway station TGV Lille Flandres. The region conquered by the Dutch Republic in Flanders, now part of the Dutch province of Zeeland, the significance of the County of Flanders and its counts eroded through time, but the designation remained in a very broad sense. In the Early modern period, the term Flanders was associated with the part of the Low Countries