An engraved gem referred to as an intaglio, is a small and semi-precious gemstone, carved, in the Western tradition with images or inscriptions only on one face. The engraving of gemstones was a major luxury art form in the Ancient world, an important one in some periods. Speaking, engraving means carving in intaglio, but relief carvings are covered by the term; this article uses cameo in its strict sense, to denote a carving exploiting layers of differently coloured stone. The activity is called gem carving and the artists gem-cutters. References to antique gems and intaglios in a jewellery context will always mean carved gems. Vessels like the Cup of the Ptolemies and heads or figures carved in the round are known as hardstone carvings. Glyptics or glyptic art covers the field of small carved stones, including cylinder seals and inscriptions in an archaeological context. Though they were keenly collected in antiquity, most carved gems functioned as seals mounted in a ring. A finely carved seal was practical, as it made forgery more difficult – the distinctive personal signature did not exist in antiquity.
Gems were cut by using abrasive powder from harder stones in conjunction with a hand-drill often set in a lathe. Emery has been mined for abrasive powder on Naxos since antiquity; some early types of seal were cut by hand, rather than a drill. There is no evidence. A medieval guide to gem-carving techniques survives from Theophilus Presbyter. Byzantine cutters used a flat-edged wheel on a drill for intaglio work, while Carolingian ones used round-tipped drills. In intaglio gems at least, the recessed cut surface is very well preserved, microscopic examination is revealing of the technique used; the colour of several gemstones can be enhanced by a number of artificial methods, using heat and dyes. Many of these can be shown to have been used since antiquity – since the 7th millennium BC in the case of heating; the technique has an ancient tradition in the Near East, is represented in all or most early cultures from the area, the Indus Valley civilization. The cylinder seal, whose design only appears when rolled over damp clay, from which the flat ring type developed, was the usual form in Mesopotamia and other cultures, spread to the Minoan world, including parts of Greece and Cyprus.
These were made in various types of stone, not all hardstone. The Greek tradition emerged in Ancient Greek art under Minoan influence on mainland Helladic culture, reached an apogee of subtlety and refinement in the Hellenistic period. Pre-Hellenic Ancient Egyptian seals tend to have inscriptions in hieroglyphs rather than images; the Biblical Book of Exodus describes the form of the hoshen, a ceremonial breastplate worn by the High Priest, bearing twelve gems engraved with the names of the Twelve tribes of Israel. Round or oval Greek gems are found from the 8th and 7th centuries BC with animals in energetic geometric poses with a border marked by dots or a rim. Early examples are in softer stones. Gems of the 6th century are more oval, with a scarab back, human or divine figures as well as animals; the forms are sophisticated for the period, despite the small size of the gems. In the 5th century gems became still only 2-3 centimetres tall. Despite this fine detail is shown, including the eyelashes on one male head a portrait.
Four gems signed by Dexamenos of Chios are the finest of two showing herons. Relief carving became common in 5th century BC Greece, most of the spectacular carved gems in the Western tradition were in relief, although the Sassanian and other traditions remained faithful to the intaglio form. A relief image is more impressive than an intaglio one; however inscriptions are still in reverse so they only read on impressions. This aspect partly explains the collecting of impressions in plaster or wax from gems, which may be easier to appreciate than the original; the cameo, rare in intaglio form, seems to have reached Greece around the 3rd century. The conquests of Alexander the Great had opened up new trade routes to the Greek world and increased the range of gemstones available. Roman gems continued Hellenistic styles, can be hard to date, until their quality declines at the end of the 2nd century AD. Philosophers are sometime
The Czech Republic known by its short-form name, Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres with a temperate continental climate and oceanic climate, it is a unitary parliamentary republic, with 10.6 million inhabitants. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava and Pilsen; the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe. It is a developed country with an advanced, high income export-oriented social market economy based in services and innovation; the UNDP ranks the country 14th in inequality-adjusted human development. The Czech Republic is a welfare state with a "continental" European social model, a universal health care system, tuition-free university education and is ranked 14th in the Human Capital Index, it ranks as the 6th safest or most peaceful country and is one of the most non-religious countries in the world, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance.
The Czech Republic includes the historical territories of Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The Czech state was formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power transferred from Moravia to Bohemia under the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1002, the duchy was formally recognized as an Imperial State of the Holy Roman Empire along with the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, numerous other territories, becoming the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1198 and reaching its greatest territorial extent in the 14th century. Beside Bohemia itself, the King of Bohemia ruled the lands of the Bohemian Crown, holding a vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. In the Hussite Wars of the 15th century driven by the Protestant Bohemian Reformation, the kingdom faced economic embargoes and defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed by the leaders of the Catholic Church. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the whole Crown of Bohemia was integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary.
The Protestant Bohemian Revolt against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years' War. After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Habsburgs consolidated their rule, eradicated Protestantism and reimposed Catholicism, adopted a policy of gradual Germanization; this contributed to the anti-Habsburg sentiment. A long history of resentment of the Catholic Church followed and still continues. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian Kingdom became part of the German Confederation 1815-1866 as part of Austrian Empire and the Czech language experienced a revival as a consequence of widespread romantic nationalism. In the 19th century, the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and were subsequently the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, formed in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in this part of Europe in the interwar period. However, the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in World War II, while the Slovak region became the Slovak Republic.
Most of the three millions of the German-speaking minority were expelled following the war. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the 1946 elections and after the 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a one-party communist state under Soviet influence. In 1968, increasing dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, which ended in a Soviet-led invasion. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed and market economy was reintroduced. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia; the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004. The traditional English name "Bohemia" derives from Latin "Boiohaemum", which means "home of the Boii"; the current English name comes from the Polish ethnonym associated with the area, which comes from the Czech word Čech. The name comes from the Slavic tribe and, according to legend, their leader Čech, who brought them to Bohemia, to settle on Říp Mountain.
The etymology of the word Čech can be traced back to the Proto-Slavic root *čel-, meaning "member of the people. The country has been traditionally divided into three lands, namely Bohemia in the west, Moravia in the east, Czech Silesia in the northeast. Known as the lands of the Bohemian Crown since the 14th century, a number of other names for the country have been used, including Czech/Bohemian lands, Bohemian Crown and the lands of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas; when the country regained its independence after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the new name of Czechoslovakia was coined to reflect the union of the Czech and Slovak nations within the one country. After Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1992, the Czech part lac
The National Socialist German Workers' Party referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany, active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party, existed from 1919 to 1920; the Nazi Party emerged from the German nationalist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. The party was created to draw workers away into völkisch nationalism. Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, anti-capitalist rhetoric, although this was downplayed to gain the support of business leaders, in the 1930s the party's main focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes. Pseudo-scientific racist theories were central to Nazism, expressed in the idea of a "people's community"; the party aimed to unite "racially desirable" Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race.
The Nazis sought to strengthen the Germanic people, the "Aryan master race", through racial purity and eugenics, broad social welfare programs, a collective subordination of individual rights, which could be sacrificed for the good of the state on behalf of the people. To protect the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate Jews, Romani and most other Slavs, along with the physically and mentally handicapped, they disenfranchised and segregated homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state set in motion the Final Solution–an industrial system of genocide which achieved the murder of an estimated 5.5 to 6 million Jews and millions of other targeted victims, in what has become known as the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler, the party's leader since 1921, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. Hitler established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich.
Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the party was "declared to be illegal" by the Allied powers, who carried out denazification in the years after the war. Nazi, the informal and derogatory term for a party member, abbreviates the party's name, was coined in analogy with Sozi, an abbreviation of Sozialdemokrat. Members of the party referred to themselves as Nationalsozialisten as Nazis; the term Parteigenosse was used among Nazis, with its corresponding feminine form Parteigenossin. The term was in use before the rise of the party as a colloquial and derogatory word for a backward peasant, an awkward and clumsy person, it derived from Ignaz, a shortened version of Ignatius, a common name in the Nazis' home region of Bavaria. Opponents seized on this, the long-existing Sozi, to attach a dismissive nickname to the National Socialists. In 1933, when Adolf Hitler assumed power in the German government, the usage of "Nazi" diminished in Germany, although Austrian anti-Nazis continued to use the term, the use of "Nazi Germany" and "Nazi regime" was popularised by anti-Nazis and German exiles abroad.
Thereafter, the term spread into other languages and was brought back to Germany after World War II. In English, the term is not considered slang, has such derivatives as Nazism and denazification; the party grew out of smaller political groups with a nationalist orientation that formed in the last years of World War I. In 1918, a league called the Freier Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden was created in Bremen, Germany. On 7 March 1918, Anton Drexler, an avid German nationalist, formed a branch of this league in Munich. Drexler was a local locksmith, a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I and was bitterly opposed to the armistice of November 1918 and the revolutionary upheavals that followed. Drexler followed the views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing the Treaty of Versailles, having antisemitic, anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views, as well as believing in the superiority of Germans whom they claimed to be part of the Aryan "master race".
However, he accused international capitalism of being a Jewish-dominated movement and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the political violence and instability in Germany as the result of the Weimar Republic being out-of-touch with the masses the lower classes. Drexler emphasised the need for a synthesis of völkisch nationalism with a form of economic socialism, in order to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers' movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics; these were all well-known themes popular with various Weimar paramilitary groups such as the Freikorps. Drexler's movement received support from some influential figures. Supporter Dietrich Eckart, a well-to-do journalist, brought military figure Felix Graf von Bothmer, a prominent supporter of the concept of "national socialism", to address the movement. In 1918, Karl Harrer convinced Drexler and several others to form the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel; the members met perio
Bohemian Crown Jewels
The Bohemian Crown Jewels, sometimes called the Czech Crown Jewels, include the Crown of Saint Wenceslas, the royal orb and sceptre, the coronation vestments of the Kings of Bohemia, the gold reliquary cross, St. Wenceslas' sword, they were held in Prague and Karlštejn Castle, designed in the 14th century by Matthias of Arras. Since 1791 they have been stored in St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. Reproductions of the jewels are permanently exhibited in the historical exposition at the former royal palace in the castle; the crown was made for the coronation of Charles IV in 1347. The crown has an unusual design, with vertical fleurs-de-lis standing at the front and sides. Made from 22-carat gold and a set of precious 19 sapphires, 30 emeralds, 44 spinels, 20 pearls, 1 ruby, 1 rubellite and 1 aquamarine, it weighs 2475g. At the top of the crown is the cross, which stores a thorn from Christ's crown of thorns; the Royal sceptre is made from 18-carat gold, 4 sapphires, 5 spinels and 62 pearls with an extra large spinel mounted on top of the sceptre.
The Royal orb is made from 18-carat gold, 8 sapphires, 6 spinels and 31 pearls. It weighs 780g and is decorated with wrought relief scenes from the Old Testament and the Book of Genesis; the Coronation robe was used from 1653 until 1836. It is lined with ermine; the robe is stored separately from jewelry in a specially air conditioned repository. For the coronation ceremonies, St. Wenceslas' sword, a typical Gothic weapon, was used; the first mention of the sword reported in historical records is in 1333, but the blade dates back to the 10th century, while the hilt is from the 13th century and textiles are from the time of Charles IV. The iron blade length is 76 cm, at the widest point has a ripped hole in a cross shape; the wooden handle is covered with yellow-brown fabric and velvet embroidered with the ornament of laurel twigs with thick silver thread. After coronation ceremonies, the sword was used for the purpose of granting knighthoods; the oldest leather case for the crown was made for Charles IV in 1347.
On top are inscribed four symbols: the Imperial eagle, Bohemian lion, the coat of arms of Arnošt of Pardubice and emblem of the Archbishopric of Prague. The door to Crown Jewels chamber, the iron safe, is hardly accessible and has seven locks. There are seven holders of the keys: the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Prague Archbishop, the Chairman of the House of Deputies, the Chairman of the Senate, the Dean of the Metropolitan Chapter of St. Vitus Cathedral and the Mayor of Prague, who must all convene to facilitate opening the impenetrable door and coffer; the crown is dedicated after the Duke St. Wenceslaus of the Přemyslids dynasty of Bohemia; the jewels should be permanently stored in the chapel of St. Wenceslaus in St. Vitus, they were only lent to Kings, only on the day of the coronation, should be returned in the evening that day. After 1918 and the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic the Coronation Jewels ceased to serve their original function, but remained important as symbols of national independence and statehood.
In the past, the Jewels were kept in different places, but have been always brought to royal coronations in Prague. Wenceslaus IV moved them to Karlštejn Castle, they were repeatedly moved for safety reasons: in the 17th century, they were returned to Prague Castle, during the Thirty Years' War they were sent to a parish church in České Budějovice, they were secretly taken to the Imperial Treasury, Vienna. While the Jewels were stored in Vienna, the original gold orb and sceptre from the 14th century were replaced with current ones; the new orb and sceptre originated with an order by Ferdinand I in 1533. Possible reasons for this replacement might be that the originals were too austere, lacked any precious stones. Deemed unrepresentative of the prestige of the Kingdom of Bohemia, it made sense to replace them with an orb and sceptre in an ornate, jeweled style that resembled the crown; the Jewels were brought back to Prague on the occasion of the coronation of Bohemian king Leopold II in 1791.
At that time, the current tradition of seven keys was established, though the holders of the keys in the course of time were changed according to political and administrative structures. The jewels were kept in Vienna due to the threat from the Prussian Army, but were returned to Prague, arriving in the city on 28 August 1867. According to the ancient tradition and regulations laid down by Charles the Fourth in the 14th century, the Jewels are exhibited only to mark special occasions. Exhibitions can take place only at the Prague Castle. In the 20th century there were nine such moments in history; the President of the Republic has the exclusive right to decide on the display of the Crown Jewels. An ancient Czech legend says that any usurper who places the crown on his head is doomed to die within a year; this legend is supported by a rumor that Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi governor of the puppet state Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia secretly wore them, was assassinated less than a year by the Czech resistance.
If not mentioned coronation was held in Prague. Kings and queens crowned by Crown of Saint Wenceslas: Crown jewels Media related to Crown jewels of Bohemia at Wikimedia Commons The Bohemian Crown Jewels - Prague Castle website
Filigree is a delicate kind of jewellery metalwork of gold and silver, made with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both in combination, soldered together or to the surface of an object of the same metal and arranged in artistic motifs. It suggests lace and remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork, it was popular as well in Italian and Portuguese metalwork from 1660 to the late 19th century. It should not be confused with ajoure jewellery work, the ajoure technique consisting of drilling holes in objects made of sheet metal; the English word filigree is shortened from the earlier use of filigreen which derives from Latin "filum" meaning thread and "granum" grain, in the sense of small bead. The Latin words gave filigrana in Italian. Though filigree has become a special branch of jewellery in modern times, it was part of the ordinary work of the jeweler. Indeed, all the jewelry of the Etruscans and Greeks was made by soldering together and so building up the gold rather than by chiselling or engraving the material.
Archaeological finds in ancient Mesopotamia indicate that filigree was incorporated into jewelry since 3,000 BC. Specific to the city of Midyat in Mardin Province in upper Mesopotamia, a form of filigree using silver and gold wires, known as "telkari", was developed in the 15th Century. To this day, expert craftsmen in this region continue to produce fine pieces of telkari; the Egyptian jewelers employed wire, both to lay down on a background and to plait or otherwise arranged jour. But, with the exception of chains, it can not be said, their strength lay rather in their molded ornaments. Many examples, remain of round plaited gold chains of fine wire, such as those that are still made by the filigree workers of India, known as trichinopoly chains. From some of these are hung smaller chains of finer wire with minute fishes and other pendants fastened to them. In ornaments derived from Phoenician sites, such as Cyprus and Sardinia, patterns of gold wire are laid down with great delicacy on a gold ground, but the art was advanced to its highest perfection in the Greek and Etruscan filigree of the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC.
A number of earrings and other personal ornaments found in central Italy are preserved in the Louvre and in the British Museum. All of them are made of filigree work; some earrings are in the form of flowers of geometric design, bordered by one or more rims each made up of minute volutes of gold wire, this kind of ornament is varied by slight differences in the way of disposing the number or arrangement of the volutes. But the feathers and petals of modern Italian filigree are not seen in these ancient designs. Instances occur, but only in which filigree devices in wire are self-supporting and not applied to metal plates; the museum of the Hermitage at Saint Petersburg contains a large collection of Scythian jewelry from the tombs of the Crimea. Many bracelets and necklaces in that collection are made of twisted wire, some in as many as seven rows of plaiting, with clasps in the shape of heads of animals of beaten work. Others are strings of large beads of gold, decorated with volutes and other patterns of wire soldered over the surfaces.
In the British Museum a sceptre that of a Greek priestess, is covered with plaited and netted gold wipe, finished with a sort of Corinthian capital and a boss of green glass. It is probable that in India and various parts of central Asia filigree has been worked from the most remote period without any change in the designs. Whether the Asiatic jewellers were influenced by the Greeks who settled on that continent, or trained under traditions held in common with them, it is certain that the Indian filigree workers retain the same patterns as those of the ancient Greeks and work them in the same way, down to the present day. Wandering workmen are given so much gold, coined or rough, weighed, heated in a pan of charcoal, beaten into wire, worked in the courtyard or verandah of the employer's house according to the designs of the artist, who weighs the complete work on restoring it and is paid at a specified rate for his labour. Fine grains or beads and spines of gold, scarcely thicker than coarse hair, projecting from plates of gold are methods of ornamentation still used.
Cuttack, of the eastern Indian state Odisha, features traditional filigree work Known as tarakasi in the Odia language, most filigree work revolves around images of deities, though due to lack of patronage and modern design ideas, it is a dying art. Noted is silver filigree of Karimnagar in Telangana state. Passing to times, there are in many collections of medieval jewel work reliquaries, covers for Gospel books, etc. made either in Constantinople from the 6th to the 12th centuries, or in monasteries in Europe, in which studied and imitated Byzantine goldsmiths' work. These objects, besides being enriched with precious stones, but not cut into facets, with enamels, are decorated with filigree. Large surfaces of gold are sometimes covered with scrolls of filigree soldered on, corner pieces of the borders of book covers, or the panels of reliquaries, are made up of complicated pieces of plaited work alternating with spaces encrusted with enamel. Byzantine filigree work has small stones set amongst the curves or knots.
Examples of such decoration can be seen in the Victoria and Albert, British Museums. Examples include the Cross of Lothair in Aachen. In the north of Europe, the Saxons, Bri
Florennes Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery in Florennes, Province of Namur, Belgium. The abbey was founded in the 11th century, but has left few visible remains. A community of canons led by Gerard, a canon of Reims Cathedral and son of the lord of Florennes, established themselves here in about 1010 and were given the spiritual care of the collegiate church. Towards 1025, the community became a Benedictine monastery; the abbey was important in the region. It was associated with the de Rumigny family, it was dissolved during the French Revolution, afterwards demolished. On the site, only the former abbey farm remains, on the outskirts of Florennes on the road leading to Morialmé, with a tower characteristic of the 17th century. Three bas-reliefs from the former abbey church, including one of Saint Michael, are now at Maredsous Abbey; the abbey triptych, dating from 1200–1210, is now in the Musée du Cinquantenaire in Brussels. The Reliquary of St. Maurus, a masterpiece of Mosan goldsmith's work from the early 13th century, was saved in a nearby church when the abbey was destroyed in the French Revolution.
It was bought in 1838 by Alfred, duc de Beaufort-Spontin, some decades moved to Petschau Castle, one of the family's residences. When the castle was evacuated during World War II, the reliquary was buried for safe-keeping under the floor of the chapel, forgotten, it was re-discovered in 1985, remains in the hands of the Czech government. Dierkens, Alain, 1984: Abbayes et chapitres entre Sambre et Meuse: Contribution à l'histoire religieuse des campagnes du Haut Moyen Âge. Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke ISBN 3-7995-7314-3 Florennes - Les vestiges d'une abbaye millénaire
Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo