The most powerful and flourishing of all were those of Flanders - Ghent, Bruges and Ypres.
Flourishing communities were likewise to be found in Hainault, Namur, Cambrai and the other southern districts of the Netherlands, but nowhere else the vigorous independence of Ghent, Bruges and Ypres, nor the splendour of their civic life.
A permanent memorial of it remains in the famous Order of the Golden Fleece, which was instituted by the duke at Bruges in 1430 on the occasion of his marriage with Isabel of Portugal, a descendant of John of Gaunt, and was so named from the English wool, the raw material used in the Flemish looms, for which Bruges was the chief mart.
The primatial see was placed at Malines (Mechlin), having under it Antwerp, Hertogenbosch, Roermond, Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres constituting the Flemish province; the second archbishopric was at Cambray, with Tournay, Arras, St Omer, and Namur, - the Walloon province; the third at Utrecht, with Haarlem, Middleburg, Leeuwarden, Groningen and Deventer, - the northern (Dutch) province.
Of Bruges, once among the most important commercial ports of Europe.
It is situated on the canal from Bruges to Sluys (Ecluse), but in the middle ages a navigable channel or river called the Zwyn gave ships access to it from the North Sea.
In 1490 a treaty was signed at Damme between the people of Bruges and the archduke Maximilian, and very soon after this event the channel became completely closed up, and the foreign merchant gilds or "nations" left the place for Antwerp. This signified the death of the port and was indirectly fatal to Bruges as well.
One of the most interesting institutions of Ghent is the great Beguinage (Begynhof) which, originally established in 1234 by the Bruges gate, was transferred in 1874 to the suburb of St Amandsberg.
To the north, thus making Ghent practically a sea-port; while a second canal, from the Lys, connects the city via Bruges with Ostende.
The wealth of the burghers during this period was equalled by their turbulent spirit of independence; feuds were frequent, - against the rival city of Bruges, against the counts, or, within the city itself, between the plebeian crafts and the patrician governing class.
Bruges and Ypres rejected a request of Edward II.
The great route was that which led from Venice over the Brenner and up the Rhine to Bruges; and this route became the long red line of municipal development, along which - in Lombardy, Germany and Flanders - the great towns of the middle ages sprang to life.
At Bruges he became acquainted with the famous Spanish scholar, Juan Luis Vives, with whom he lodged.
Allocutions, epistolae, &c. (Bruges and Lille, 1887, &c.); the encyclicals (Sdmtliche Rundschreiben) with a German translation (6 vols., Freiburg, 1878-1904); Discorsi del Sommo Pontefice Leone XIII.
At this time also flourished Simon Stevinus (Stevin) of Bruges, who published an arithmetic in 1585 and an algebra shortly afterwards.
In March1298-1299letters were sent from " the Mayor and Commune of the City of London " to the municipalities of Bruges, Caen and Cambray.
In 1252 the first treaty privileges for German trade in Flanders show two men of Lubeck and Hamburg heading the "Merchants of the Roman Empire," and in the later organization of the counter at Bruges four or five of the six aldermen were chosen from towns east of the Elbe, with Lubeck steadily predominant.
The Germans recognized the staple rights of Bruges for a number of commodities, such as wool, wax, furs, copper and grain, and in return for this material contribution to the growing commercial importance of the town, they received in 1309 freedom from the compulsory brokerage which Bruges imposed on foreign merchants.
The importance and independence of the German trading settlements abroad was exemplified in the statutes of the "Company of German merchants at Bruges," drawn up in 1347, where for the first time appears the grouping of towns in three sections (the "Drittel"), the Wendish-Saxon, the Prussian-Westphalian, and those of Gothland and Livland.
Even more important than the assistance which the concentration of the German trade at Bruges gave to that leading mart of European commerce was the service rendered by the German counter of Bruges to the cause of Hanseatic unity.
An embargo on trade with Flanders, voted in 1358 by a general assembly, resulted by 1360 in the full restoration of German privileges in Flanders, but reduced the counter at Bruges to an executive organ of a united town policy.
This action was confirmed in 1366 by an assembly of the Hansa which at the same time, on the occasion of a regulation made by the Bruges counter and of statutes drawn up by the young Bergen counter, ordered that in future the approval of the towns must be obtained for all new regulations.
The counter at London was soon forced to follow the example of the other counters at Bruges, Novgorod and Bergen.
It rebelled at the authority of the counter at Bruges, and at the time of the war with England (1469-1474) openly defied the League.
In the Netherlands the Hanseatics clung to their position in Bruges until 1540, while trade was migrating to the ports of Antwerp and Amsterdam.
The Hanseatic embargo against Bruges from 1451 to 14J7, its later war and embargo against England, the Turkish advance closing the Italian Black Sea trade with southern Russia, all were utilized by Nuremberg and its fellows to secure a landtrade outside the sphere of Hanseatic influence.
At the Hanseatic assembly of 1469, Dantzig, Hamburg and Breslau opposed the maintenance of a compulsory staple at Bruges in the face of the new conditions produced by a widening commerce and more advantageous markets.
He died, still in exile, at Bruges in September 1652.
In 1488 he marched with the imperial forces to free the Roman king Maximilian from his imprisonment at Bruges, and when, in 1489, the king returned to Germany, Albert was left as his representative to prosecute the war against the rebels.
On his release he withdrew to Bruges, where he devoted himself to the composition of numerous works, chiefly directed against the scholastic philosophy and the preponderant authority of Aristotle.
He died at Bruges on the 6th of May 1540.
A second Barrier Treaty was signed between Great Britain and Holland on 29th of January 1713, by which the strong places designed for the barrier were reduced to Furnes, the fort of Knocke, Ypres, Menin, Tournai, Mons, Charleroi and the citadel of Ghent, and certain fortresses in the neighbourhood of that city and of Bruges; Great Britain undertaking to obtain the right for the Dutch to garrison them from the future sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands.
Besides going to Aachen for the coronation, he made excursions down the Rhine from Cologne to Nijmwegen, and back overland by 's Hertogenbosch; to Brussels; to Bruges and Ghent; and to Zealand with the object of seeing a natural curiosity, a whale reported ashore.
Passenger steamship services are worked in connexion with the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway to Amsterdam, Antwerp, Bruges, Copenhagen, Rotterdam and other north European ports.
In 1438 he was driven with the duchess out of Bruges by the revolted citizens, a revolt which he repressed with great severity.
The old duke died at Bruges on the 15th of June 1467, and was buried at Dijon.
The Jesuits of St Omer, after emigrating to Bruges and Liege, were disorganized by the revolutionary troubles at the close of the 18th century, and a large body came to England, when Thomas Weld, in 1795, conferred his property of Stonyhurst upon them.
Von Berquen of Bruges in 1476.
These, in their order of interest, are Bruges, Antwerp, Louvain, Brussels, Ghent, Ypres, Courtrai, Tournai, Fumes, Oudenarde and Liege.
The hierarchy of the Church of Rome in Belgium is composed of the archbishop of Malines, and the bishops of Liege, Ghent, Bruges, Tournai and Namur.
At the beguinages of Ghent and Bruges women and girls able to contribute a specified sum towards their support are given a home.
A steam service was established in 1906 from Hull to Bruges by Zeebrugge and the ship canal.