Meuse is a department in northeast France, named after the River Meuse. Meuse is part of the current region of Grand Est and is surrounded by the French departments of Ardennes, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, has a short border with Belgium on the north. Parts of Meuse belong to Parc naturel régional de Lorraine. Front lines in trench warfare during World War I ran varying courses through the department and it hosted an important battle/offensive in 1916 in and around Verdun. Meuse is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790, by order of the National Constituent Assembly; the new departments were to be uniformly administered and equal to one another in size and population. The department was created from the former provinces of Three Bishoprics. From about 500 AD, the Franks controlled this part of northeastern France, the Carolingian Empire was the last stage of their rule; the Carolingian territories were divided into three sections in 843 at the Treaty of Verdun, the area, now the department of Meuse became part of Middle Francia.
The new ruler was Lothair I, on his death in 855, his territory north of the Alps was passed to his second son Lothair II, after whom the hitherto nameless territory was called Lotharingia, which name evolved into the modern Lorraine. Lothair II died without legitimate heirs and Lotharingia was divided into east and west parts; the king of East Francia, Louis the German, received the eastern part and Charles the Bald, king of West Francia, received the western part, which included Meuse, thus establishing the medieval Kingdoms of Germany and France. The Battle of Sedan was fought in the western part of the department during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, it resulted in the capture of the Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies. The area was again a battleground in World War I when the Battle of Verdun was fought in 1916. In the Second World War it again saw action in another battle when the Germans sought to establish a base from which to capture the Meuse bridges and cross the river.
Meuse is part of the region of Grand Est.. The capital and largest town in the department is Bar-le-Duc, other large towns are Commercy and Verdun; the northern edge of the department is on the border with Belgium, to the east lies the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, to the south lies Vosges, to the southwest lies Haute-Marne, to the west lies Marne and to the northwest, Ardennes. The main rivers flowing through the department are the Aire and the Chiers. A ridge running from south to north separates the watersheds of the Rhine; these hills are clothed in oak forests. The area of the department is 2,408 sq mi; the total land area of the department is 1,539,700 acres, of this, 830,000 acres are cultivated for arable crops, 120,000 acres are grassland, 440,000 acres are woods and forests and 35,000 acres are cultivated for the production of grapes. The principal crops grown are wheat and oats, oilseed rape and fruit. Livestock is raised and timber is extracted from the forests; the main industries are the manufacture of glass and tiles.
Lace-making is a traditional craft in the department. Part of the department is in the Lorraine Regional Natural Park, a stretch of pastoral countryside stretching eastward from Metz and Nancy and spanning three departments; the park has many natural habitats including calcareous grassland, forested valleys, wet meadows and streams. There are many Natura 2000 protected areas and it is an important resting area for migratory birds. Among the different habitats it includes a stretch of coast, the plain of Woëvre, the Lac de Madine, the Meuse valley and the Hague plateau; the total area of the park is 205,000 hectares. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the exodus of the countryside inhabitants to the cities has caused the population of rural France to fall. Meuse has no big cities to receive population and the total population of the department has thus decreased, it reached 328,657 inhabitants in 1851, but had fallen to 277,955 by 1911. The First World War dealt a heavy blow to the department, by 1921, only 207,309 inhabitants were recorded.
Many residents had fled, entire villages that were on or near the front line in 1916 were destroyed. Meuse thus has several uninhabited communes because the villages were never rebuilt, in fact are known as "Morts pour la France". Since the end of the Battle of Verdun in 1916, these communes have been unoccupied with an official population of zero. In the part of the twentieth century, the number of inhabitants in the department has varied little, but fell below 200,000 inhabitants in the 1980s; because of its low population density, Meuse is considered to fall within the empty diagonal. The European Beer Museum in Stenay, founded in 1986, is considered the largest of its kind on the continent. Cantons of the Meuse department Communes of the Meuse department Arrondissements of the Meuse department Meuse General Council Prefecture website Meuse General Council Official Tourist Board website Rhine-Meuse delta studies Bibliography on Water Re
Dinant is a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse, in the Belgian province of Namur. It is around 90 kilometres south-east of Brussels, 30 kilometres south-east of Charleroi, 30 kilometres south of Namur and 20 kilometres north of Givet; the municipality includes the old communes of Anseremme, Bouvignes-sur-Meuse, Dréhance, Falmignoul, Foy-Notre-Dame, Lisogne and Thynes. Dinant is positioned in the Upper Meuse valley, at a point where the river cuts into the western Condroz plateau. Sited in a steep sided valley, between the rock face and the river; the original settlement had little space in which to grow away from the river, it therefore expanded into a long, thin town, on a north-south axis, along the river shore. During the 19th century, the former Île des Batteurs to the south was attached directly to the town when a branch of the river was filled in. Dinant has been enriched by the agricultural opportunities presented by the fertile land on the plateau that overlooks it.
Within the town, brassware production is a traditional craft that has benefited from the presence of the broad and, at this point navigable river which has facilitated easy delivery of the raw materials and ready distribution of the resulting products of the artisans' workshops. Another traditional source of wealth is provided by the limestone cliffs overlooking the town, which supported a high-end quarrying industry, producing black marble and bluestone, whose distribution benefitted from the proximity of the wide and deep navigable river; the name Dinant comes from the Celtic Divo-Nanto, meaning "Sacred Valley" or "Divine Valley". The Dinant area was populated in Neolithic and Roman times; the first mention of Dinant as a settlement dates from the 7th century, when Saint Perpete, bishop of Tongeren, which at the time had its capital in Maastricht, took Dinant as his residence and founded the church of Saint Vincent. In 870, Charles the Bald gave part of Dinant to be administered by the Count of Namur, the other part by the bishop of Tongeren, by that time based in Liège.
In the 11th century, the emperor Henry IV granted several rights over Dinant to the Prince-Bishop of Liège, including market and justice rights. From that time on, the city became one of the 23 ‘‘bonnes villes’’ of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège; the first stone bridge on the Meuse and major repair to the castle, built earlier date from the end of the 11th century. Throughout this period, until the end of the 18th century, Dinant shared its history with its overlord Liège, sometimes rising in revolt against it, sometimes partaking in its victories and defeats against the neighbouring County of Namur, its strategic location on the Meuse exposed Dinant to battle and pillage, not always by avowed enemies: in 1466, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, uncle of Louis de Bourbon, Prince-Bishop of Liège, Philip’s son Charles the Bold punished an uprising in Dinant during the Liège Wars, by casting 800 burghers into the Meuse and setting fire to the city. The city's economic rival was downriver on the opposite shore of the Meuse.
Late Medieval Dinant and Bouvignes specialised in metalwork, producing finely cast and finished objects in a silvery brass alloy, called dinanderie and supplying aquamaniles, candlesticks and other altar furniture throughout the Meuse valley, the Rhineland and beyond. Henri Pirenne gained his doctorate in 1883 with a thesis on medieval Dinant. In the 16th- and 17th-centuries wars between France and Spain, Dinant suffered destruction and epidemics, despite its neutrality. In 1675, the French army under Marshal François de Créquy occupied the city. Dinant was taken by the Austrians at the end of the 18th century; the whole Bishopric of Liège was ceded to France in 1795. The dinanderies fell out of fashion and the economy of the city now rested on leather tanning and the manufacture of playing cards; the famous couques de Dinant appeared at that time. The city suffered devastation again at the beginning of the First World War. On the 15 August 1914, French and German troops fought for the town in the Battle of Dinant, among the wounded was Lieut.
Charles de Gaulle. On 23 August, 674 inhabitants were summarily executed by Saxon troops of the German Army — the biggest massacre committed by the Germans in 1914. Within a month, some five thousand Belgian and French civilians were killed by the Germans at numerous similar occasions; the city's landmark is the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant. It was rebuilt in Gothic style on its old foundations after falling rocks from the adjacent cliff destroyed the former Romanesque style church in 1227. Several stages for a pair of towers on the west end were completed before the project was abandoned in favour of the present central tower with a famous onion dome and facetted multi-staged lantern. Above the church rises the vertical flank of the rocher surmounted by the fortified Citadel of Dinant, first built in the 11th century to control the Meuse valley; the Prince-Bishops of Liège rebuilt and enlarged it in 1530. Its present aspect, with the rock-hewn stairs, is due to rebuilding in 1821, during the United Kingdom of the Netherlands phase of Dinant's chequered history.
A cable car is available during the high season to take visitors from the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame to the top of the Citadel. Apart from the main block is the Rocher Bayard t
The Delta Works is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, locks, dykes and storm surge barriers located in the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland; the aim of the dams and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised. Along with the Zuiderzee Works, the Delta Works have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers; the estuaries of the rivers Rhine and Scheldt have been subject to flooding over the centuries. After building the Afsluitdijk, the Dutch started studying the damming of the Rhine-Meuse Delta. Plans were developed to shorten the coastline and turn the delta into a group of freshwater coastal lakes. By shortening the coastline, fewer dikes would have to be reinforced. Due to indecision and the Second World War, little action was taken.
In 1950 two small estuary mouths, the Brielse Gat near Brielle and the Botlek near Vlaardingen were dammed. After the North Sea flood of 1953, a Delta Works Commission was installed to research the causes and develop measures to prevent such disasters in future, they revised some of the old plans and came up with the "Deltaplan". Unlike the Zuiderzee Works, the Delta Plan's purpose is defensive and not for land reclamation; the Delta Plan is a national programme and demands collaboration between the national government, provincial authorities, municipal authorities and the water boards. The plan consisted of blocking the estuary mouths of the Oosterschelde, the Haringvliet and the Grevelingen; this reduced the length of the dikes exposed to the sea by 700 kilometres. The mouths of the Nieuwe Waterweg and the Westerschelde were to remain open because of the important shipping routes to the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp; the dikes along these waterways were to be strengthened. The works would be combined with road and waterway infrastructure to stimulate the economy of the province of Zeeland and improve the connection between the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.
An important part of this project was fundamental research to come up with long term solutions, protecting the Netherlands against future floods. Instead of analysing past floods and building protection sufficient to deal with those, the Delta Works commission pioneered a conceptual framework to use as norm for investment in flood defences; the framework is called the'Delta norm'. These are called "dike ring areas"; the cost of flooding is assessed using a statistical model involving damage to property, lost production, a given amount per human life lost. For the purpose of this model, a human life is valued at €2.2 million. The chances of a significant flood within the given area are calculated; this is done using data from a purpose-built flood simulation lab, as well as empirical statistical data regarding water wave properties and distribution. Storm behaviour and spring tide distribution are taken into account; the most important "dike ring area" is the South Holland coast region. It is home to four million people.
The loss of human life in a catastrophic flood here can be large because there is little warning time with North Sea storms. Comprehensive evacuation is not a realistic option for the Holland coastal region; the commission set the acceptable risk for complete failure of every "dike ring" in the country at 1 in 125,000 years. But, it found, it set "acceptable" risks by region as follows: North and South Holland: 1 per 10,000 years Other areas at risk from sea flooding: 1 per 4,000 years Transition areas between high land and low land: 1 per 2,000 yearsRiver flooding causes less damage than salt water flooding, which causes long-term damage to agricultural lands. Areas at risk from river flooding were assigned a higher acceptable risk. River flooding has a longer warning time, producing a lower estimated death toll per event. South Holland at risk from river flooding: 1 per 1,250 years Other areas at risk from river flooding: 1 per 250 years; these acceptable risks were enshrined in the Delta Law.
This required the government to keep risks of catastrophic flooding within these limits and to upgrade defences should new insights into risks require this. The limits have been incorporated into the new Water Law, effective from 22 December 2009; the Delta Project has been designed with these guidelines in mind. All other primary defences have been upgraded to meet the norm. New data elevating the risk assessment on expected sea level rise due to global warming has identified ten'weak points.' These have been upgraded to meet future demands. The latest upgrades are made under the High Water Protection Program. During the execution of the works, changes were made in response to public pressure. In the Nieuwe Waterweg, the heightening and the associated widening of the dikes proved difficult because of public opposition to the planned destruction of important historic buildings to achieve this; the plan was changed to the construction of a storm surge barrier and dikes were only built up. The Delta Plan intended to create a large freshwater lake, the Zeeuwse Meer.
This would have caused major environmental destruction in Oosterschelde, with the
The Zuiderzee Works is a man-made system of dams and dikes, land reclamation and water drainage work, in total the largest hydraulic engineering project undertaken by the Netherlands during the twentieth century. The project involved the damming of the Zuiderzee, a large, shallow inlet of the North Sea, the reclamation of land in the newly enclosed water using polders, its main purposes are to create additional land for agriculture. The American Society of Civil Engineers declared these works, together with the Delta Works in the South-West of the Netherlands, as among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World; the "Netherlands" have low flat topography, with half its land area less than one metre above sea level, has for centuries been subject to periodic flooding by the sea. The seventeenth century saw early proposals to tame and enclose the Zuiderzee, but the ambitious ideas were impractical given the technology available. From 1200 to 1900 AD the Dutch reclaimed 940,000 acres of land from the sea and 345,000 acres by draining lakes, a total of 1,285,000 acres, but lost 1,400,000 acres of land to the Zuiderzee.
Hendrik Stevin in 1667 was the first to publish a study proposing to drain the Zuiderzee. After the IJ and Haarlemmermeer were drained in the mid-19th century, van Diggelen and Faddegon proposed that the Zuiderzee be drained. Test drilling by the Zuiderzeevereeniging found that about three quarters of the Zuiderzee would be useful land. Plans were developed during the second half of the nineteenth century to protect areas from the force of the open sea and creating new agricultural land. Cornelis Lely was an ardent supporter, an engineer, government minister, his 1891 plan was the basis for the development of. It consisted of a large dam connecting the northern tip of North Holland with the western coast of Friesland and the creation of four polders in the northwest, the northeast and southwest of what would be renamed the IJsselmeer. Two major lanes of open water were defined for drainage; the initial body of water affected by the project was 3,500 square kilometres. Opposition came from fishermen along the Zuiderzee who would lose their livelihood, from others in coastal areas along the more northerly Wadden Sea.
They feared higher water levels as a result of the closure. Other critics doubted. Queen Wilhelmina's 1913 throne speech urged reclamation of the Zuiderzee; when Lely became Minister of Transport and Public Works that year, he used his position to promote the Zuiderzee Works and gained support. The government started developing official plans to enclose the Zuiderzee. On January 13 and 14, 1916 the dikes at several places along the Zuiderzee broke under the stress of a winter storm, the land behind them flooded, as had happened in previous centuries; this flooding provided the decisive impetus to implement the existing plans to tame the Zuiderzee. In addition, a threatening food shortage during the other stresses of World War I added to widespread support for the project. On June 14, 1918, the Zuiderzee Act was passed; the goals of the Act were threefold: Protect the central Netherlands from the effects of the North Sea. Unlike earlier proposals the act intended to preserve part of the Zuiderzee and create large islands, as Lely warned that rerouting the rivers directly to the North Sea might cause inland flooding if storms raised the sea's level.
He wanted to preserve the Zee's fisheries, for the new land to be accessible by water. The Dienst der Zuiderzeewerken, the government body responsible for overseeing the construction and initial management, was set up in May 1919, it decided against building the main dam first, proceeding to construct a smaller dam, the Amsteldiepdijk, across the Amsteldiep. This was the first step in rejoining the island of Wieringen to the North Holland mainland; the dike, with a length of 2.5 km, was built between 1920 and 1924. As with dike building, polder construction was tested on a small scale at the experimental polder at Andijk. A new study, commissioned after doubts arose over the financial feasibility of the project, recommended that work should continue and be accelerated; the Zuiderzee Works Department initiated the next two major projects at the same time, in 1927. The most important of these was the main dam, the Afsluitdijk, running from Den Oever on Wieringen to the village of Zurich in Friesland.
It was to be 32 km long and 90 meters wide, rising to 7.25 meters above sea-level, with an incline of 25% on each side. Experience showed that till, rather than just sand or clay, was the best primary material for a structure like the Afsluitdijk. An added benefit was that it was available. Work started at four points: on both sides of the mainland and on two purpose-made construction-islands along the line of the future dam. From these points, the dam was expanded as ships deposited till into the open sea in two parallel lines. Sand was poured between these two lines; the nascent dam was streng
Limburgish called Limburgan, Limburgian, or Limburgic, is a group of East Low Franconian varieties spoken in the Belgian and Dutch provinces both named Limburg and some neighbouring areas of Germany. The area in which it is spoken fits within a wide circle from Venlo to Düsseldorf to Aachen to Maastricht to Tienen and back to Venlo. In some parts of this area it is used as the colloquial language in daily speech, it shares many characteristics with both German and Dutch and is considered as a variant of one of these languages. Within the modern communities of the Belgian and Dutch provinces of Limburg, intermediate idiolects are very common, which combine standard Dutch with the accent and some grammatical and pronunciation tendencies derived from Limburgish; this "Limburgish Dutch" is confusingly often referred to as "Limburgish", although in Belgium such intermediate idiolects tend to be called tussentaal, no matter the exact dialect/language with which standard Dutch is combined. The name Limburgish derives only indirectly from the now Belgian town of Limbourg, the capital of the Duchy of Limburg during the Middle Ages.
More directly it is derived from the more modern name of the Province of Limburg in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, split today into a Belgian Limburg and a Dutch Limburg. In the area around the old Duchy of Limburg the main language today is French, but there is a particular Limburgish language, sometimes referred to as "Low Dietsch dialects". People from Limburg call their language Plat, the same as Low German speakers do; this plat refers to the fact that the language is spoken in the low plains country, as opposed to the use of High in High German languages, which are derived from dialects spoken in the more mountainous southerly regions. The word can be associated with platteland; the general Dutch term for the language of ordinary people in former ages was Dietsch or Duutsch, as it still exists in the term Low Dietsch. This term is derived from Proto-Germanic "þiudiskaz", meaning "of the people". In Dutch the word "plat" means "flat", but refers to the way a language is spoken: "plat" means "slang" in that case.
Limburgish has overlapping definition areas, depending on the criteria used: All dialects spoken within the political boundary of the two Limburg provinces. Limburgish according to Jo Daan, the associative "arrow" method of Meertens Institute. South Lower Franconian, isogloss definition between the Uerdingen and Benrath lines by Wenker and Goossens. Western limit of Limburgish pitch accent Southeast Limburgish dialect. Except for the Southeast Limburgish dialect, Modern Limburgish descends from some of the dialects that formed the offspring of Old Dutch in the Early Middle Ages, its history being at least as long as that of other Low Franconian languages, of which some yielded Standard Dutch. Being a variety of Franconian descent, Limburgish can today be considered as a regional language overarched by two succeeding Dachsprachen, which are Dutch in Belgium and the Netherlands and German in Germany. Under the influence of the Merovingian and the Carolingian dynasty, Eastern Low Franconian underwent much influence from the neighbouring High German languages.
This resulted among other things in the partial participation of Eastern Low Franconian in the High German consonant shift in the 10th and the 11th century, which makes the Limburgish-speaking area part of the so-called Rhenish fan. It is this trait which distinguishes Limburgish from Western Low Franconian. In the past, all Limburgish dialects were therefore sometimes seen as West Central German, part of High German; this difference is caused by a difference in definition: the latter stance defines a High German variety as one that has taken part in any of the first three phases of the High German consonant shift. It is most common in linguistics to consider Limburgish as Low Franconian. From the 13th century on, the Duchy of Brabant extended its power; as a consequence, at first the western and also the eastern variants of Limburgish underwent great influence of Brabantian. When Standard Dutch was formed out of elements of different Low Franconian dialects in the 16th century, the Limburgish dialects spoken in the Low Countries had little or no influence on this process.
As a result, Limburgish – although being a variety of Low Franconian – still has a considerable distance from Standard Dutch with regards to phonology and lexicon today. Moreover, being of East Low Franconian origin, it has many distinctive features in comparison with the West Low Franconian varieties such as the Hollandic dialect, the Brabantian dialect and South Guelderish. In German sources, the dialects linguistically counting as Limburgish spoken to the east of the river Rhine are called Bergish. West of the river Rhine they are called "Low Rhenish", considered a transitional zone between Low Franconian and Ripuarian, thus German linguists tended to call these dialects L
Maastricht is a city and a municipality in the southeast of the Netherlands. It is largest city of the province of Limburg. Maastricht is located at the point where the Jeker joins it, it is adjacent to the border with Belgium. Maastricht developed from a Roman settlement to a medieval religious centre. In the 16th century it in the 19th century an early industrial city. Today, the city is a thriving regional hub, it became well-known as the birthplace of the Euro. Maastricht has 1677 national heritage buildings, the second highest number in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam; the city is popular with tourists for shopping and recreation, has a large international student population. Maastricht is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network and is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, which includes the nearby German and Belgian cities of Aachen, Hasselt, Liège, Tongeren; the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion is a metropolis with a population of about 3.9 million with several international universities.
Maastricht is mentioned in ancient documents as Treiectinsem ab. 575, Treiectensis in 634, Triectu in 7th century, Triiect in 768-781, Traiecto in 945, Masetrieth in 1051. The place name Maastricht is an Old Dutch compound Masa- + Old Dutch *treiekt, itself borrowed from Gallo-Romance *TRAECTU cf. its Walloon name li trek, from Classical Latin trajectus with the addition of Maas "Meuse" to avoid the confusion with the -trecht of Utrecht having the same original form and etymology. The Latin name first appears in medieval documents and it is not known whether *Trajectu was Maastricht's name during Roman times. A resident of Maastricht is referred to as Maastrichtenaar whilst in the local dialect it is either Mestreechteneer or, Sjeng. Neanderthal remains have been found to the west of Maastricht. Of a date are Palaeolithic remains, between 8,000 and 25,000 years old. Celts lived here around 500 BC, at a spot where the river Meuse was shallow and therefore easy to cross, it is not known when the Romans arrived in Maastricht, or whether the settlement was founded by them.
The Romans built a bridge across the Meuse in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Augustus Caesar. The bridge was an important link in the main road between Cologne. Roman Maastricht was relatively small. Remains of the Roman road, the bridge, a religious shrine, a Roman bath, a granary, some houses and the 4th-century castrum walls and gates, have been excavated. Fragments of provincial Roman sculptures, as well as coins, glass and other objects from Roman Maastricht are on display in the exhibition space of the city's public library. According to legend, the Armenian-born Saint Servatius, Bishop of Tongeren, died in Maastricht in 384 where he was interred along the Roman road, outside the castrum. According to Gregory of Tours bishop Monulph was to have built around 570 the first stone church on the grave of Servatius, the present-day Basilica of Saint Servatius; the city remained an early Christian diocese until it lost the distinction to nearby Liège in the 8th or 9th century. In the early Middle Ages Maastricht was part of the heartland of the Carolingian Empire along with Aachen and the area around Liège.
The town was an important centre for manufacturing. Merovingian coins minted in Maastricht have been found in places throughout Europe. In 881 the town was plundered by the Vikings. In the 10th century it became the capital of the duchy of Lower Lorraine. During the 12th century the town flourished culturally; the provosts of the church of Saint Servatius held important positions in the Holy Roman Empire during this era. The two collegiate churches were rebuilt and redecorated. Maastricht Romanesque stone sculpture and silversmithing are regarded as highlights of Mosan art. Maastricht painters were praised by Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival. Around the same time, the poet Henric van Veldeke wrote a legend of Saint Servatius, one of the earliest works in Dutch literature; the two main churches acquired a wealth of relics and the septennial Maastricht Pilgrimage became a major event. Unlike most Dutch towns, Maastricht did not receive city rights at a certain date; these developed during its long history.
In 1204 the city's dual authority was formalised in a treaty, with the prince-bishops of Liège and the dukes of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. Soon afterwards the first ring of medieval walls were built. In 1275, the old Roman bridge collapsed under the weight of a procession. A replacement, funded by church indulgences, was built to the north and survives until today, the Sint Servaasbrug. Throughout the Middle Ages, the city remained a centre for trade and manufacturing principally of wool and leather but economic decline set in. After a brief period of economic prosperity around 1500, the city's economy suffered during the wars of religion of the 16th and 17th centuries, recovery did not happen until the industrial revolution in the early 19th century; the important strategic location of Maastricht resulted in the construction of an impressive array of fortifications around the city during this period. The Spanish and Dutch garrisons became an important factor in the city's economy.
In 1579 the city was sacked by the Spanish army led by
The Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta or Helinium is a river delta in the Netherlands formed by the confluence of the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt rivers. The result is a multitude of islands and branch names that may at first sight look bewildering as a waterway that appears to be one continuous stream may change names as many as seven times, e.g. Rhine → Bijlands Kanaal → Pannerdens Kanaal → Nederrijn → Lek → Nieuwe Maas → Het Scheur → Nieuwe Waterweg. Since the Rhine contributes most of the water, the shorter term Rhine Delta is used. However, this name is used for the river delta where the Rhine flows into Lake Constance, so it is clearer to call the larger one Rhine–Meuse delta, or Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta, as the Scheldt ends in the same delta. By some calculations, the delta covers 25,347 km2; the economic importance of the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta is enormous, since the three rivers are important navigable waterways. The delta is the entrance from the North Sea to the vast Central European hinterland.
Major ports in the delta are Rotterdam, Vlissingen and Ghent. The land areas in the delta are protected from flooding by the Dutch Delta Works; the shape of the Rhine delta is determined by two bifurcations: firstly, at Millingen aan de Rijn, the Rhine splits into the Waal and the Nederrijn, secondly near Arnhem, the IJssel branches off from the Nederrijn. This creates three main flows; the largest and southern main branch begins as the Waal and continues as the Boven Merwede, the Beneden Merwede, the Noord River, the Nieuwe Maas, Het Scheur and the Nieuwe Waterweg. The middle flow begins as the Nederrijn changes into the Lek joins the Noord, thereby forming the Nieuwe Maas; the northern flow keeps the name IJssel. Three more flows carry significant amounts of water: the Nieuwe Merwede, which branches off from the southern branch where it changes from the Boven to the Beneden Merwede. Before the St. Elizabeth's flood the Meuse flowed just south of today's line Merwede–Oude Maas to the North Sea and formed an archipelago-like estuary with the Waal and the Lek.
This system of numerous bays, estuary-like extended rivers, many islands and constant changes of the coastline, is hard to imagine today. From 1421 to 1904, the Meuse and the Waal merged further upstream at Gorinchem to form the Merwede. For flood protection reasons, the Meuse was separated from the Waal through a lock and diverted into a new outlet called the "Bergse Maas" the Amer flowing into the former bay known as the Hollands Diep; the northwestern part of the estuary, is still called Maasmond, ignoring the fact that it now carries only water from the Rhine. This might explain the confusing naming of the various branches; the hydrography of the current delta is characterized by the delta's main arms, disconnected arms and smaller rivers and streams. Many rivers have been closed and now serve as drainage channels for the numerous polders; the construction of Delta Works changed the delta in the second half of the 20th century fundamentally. Rhine water runs into the sea, or into former marine bays now separated from the sea, in five places, namely at the mouths of the Nieuwe Merwede, Nieuwe Waterway, Dordtse Kil, Spui and IJssel.
The Rhine–Meuse Delta is a tidal delta, shaped not only by the sedimentation of the rivers, but by tidal currents. This meant that high tide formed a serious risk because strong tidal currents could tear huge areas of land into the sea. Before the construction of the Delta Works, tidal influence was palpable up to Nijmegen, today, after the regulatory action of the Delta Works, the tide acts far inland. At the Waal, for example, the most landward tidal influence can be detected between Brakel and Zaltbommel. In the time of Julius Caesar, the "Island of the Batavi" was known to the Romans, its eastern point was the split of the Rhine into the Oude Rijn and the Waal, which at this time were the two main branches of the Rhine. The Waal flowed into the Meuse in the Roman period. Pliny the Elder's Natural History gives a list of tribes living in the "Gaulish islands" within the delta region between different mouths of the Rhine. First he mentions the large island of the Batavians and the Cananefates.
He gives the list of other peoples who he says are stretched out along 100 Roman miles, between the mouths Helinius and Flevus. The Helinius is understood to be the main mouth of the Meuse, where the main water of the southern branch of the Rhine, the Waal discharged. Flevus was a Roman fortification on the Ocean, north of the more important Old Rhine, mentioned by Tacitus, equated today with Velsen. Although the details are no longer clear, there was sometimes an extension of the Old IJ that came close to the north sea here, but the term Flevo was have used by Pomponius Mela to refer to the fresh water lakes which were in the area of the modern Zuiderzee, which Mela says that the Rhine fed into. So the Rhine mouth mentioned by Pliny might have been a discharge into a lake, or water running to Flevum on the coast may have