Flanders

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Created in the year 862CE, the County of Flanders was divided when its western districts fell under French rule in the late 12th century. The remaining parts of Flanders came under the rule of the counts of neighbouring Hainaut in 1191. The entire area passed in 1384 to the dukes of Burgundy, in 1477 to the Habsburg dynasty, and in 1556 to the kings of Spain.

During the late Middle Ages Flanders' trading towns (notably Ghent,Bruges and Ypres) made it one of the most urbanised parts of Europe, weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export.

Increasingly powerful from the 12th century, the territory's autonomous urban communes were instrumental in defeating a French attempt at annexation (1300-1302), finally defeating the French in the Battle of the Golden Spurs (July 11, 1302), near Kortrijk. Two years later, the uprising was defeated and Flanders remained part of the French Crown. Flemish prosperity waned in the following century, however, owing to widespread European population decline following the Black Death of 1348CE, the disruption of trade during the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War (1338-1453), and increased English cloth production. Flemish weavers had gone over to Worstead and North Walsham in Norfolk in the 12th century and established the woollen industry.


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