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(gĕnt), Du. Gent, Fr. Gand, city (1991 pop. 230,246), capital of East Flanders prov., W Belgium, at the confluence of the Scheldt and Leie rivers. Connected with the North Sea by the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal and by a network of other canals, Ghent is a major port and the chief textile and banking center of Belgium. Other products of the city include metals, chemicals, paper, processed food, and motor vehicles. It is also the trade center of a flower- and bulb-producing region. Ghent is an episcopal seat and has a university (founded 1816) as well as numerous museums.

Points of Interest

Ghent is noted for its many beautiful medieval and Renaissance structures, among which are the ruins of the Abbey of St. Bavo (founded 631) and of the imposing castle (begun 867) of the counts of Flanders, the Cathedral of St. Bavo (10th–16th cent.), the cloth weavers' hall (16th cent.), an unfinished 14th-century belfry (c.300 ft/91 m high) with a celebrated carillon, and the churches of St. Nicholas (13th cent.) and St. James (13th–16th cent.). Flemish painting flourished in Ghent under the Burgundian dynasty (15th cent.); Hugo van der GoesGoes, Hugo van der
, d.1482, Flemish painter. Probably born in Ghent, he was a member of the painters' guild there in 1467 and became dean of the guild in 1474, a year before his semiretirement to a monastery near Brussels. Early works, such as The Fall of Man (c.
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 worked there most of his life, and the world-famous masterpiece of the Van EyckEyck, van
, family of Flemish painters, the brothers Hubert van Eyck, c.1370–1426, and Jan van Eyck, c.1390–1441. Their Lives

Very little is known of Hubert, the older of the two brothers.
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 brothers, The Adoration of the Lamb, is in the Cathedral of St. Bavo. The cathedral also contains a noted RubensRubens, Peter Paul,
1577–1640, foremost Flemish painter of the 17th cent., b. Siegen, Westphalia, where his family had gone into exile because of his father's Calvinist beliefs.
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 painting. The poet and dramatist Maurice MaeterlinckMaeterlinck, Maurice
, 1862–1949, Belgian author who wrote in French. After practicing law unsuccessfully for several years, he went to Paris in 1897. He had already been touched by the influence of the symbolists and the mystical thought of Novalis and Emerson; his
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 was born in the city.


One of Belgium's oldest cities (first mentioned in the 7th cent.) and the historic capital of FlandersFlanders
, former county in the Low Countries, extending along the North Sea and W of the Scheldt (Escaut) River. It is divided among East Flanders and West Flanders provs., Belgium; Nord and Pas-de-Calais depts., France; and (to a small extent) Zeeland prov., the Netherlands.
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, Ghent developed around a fortress built (early 10th cent.) by the first count of Flanders on a small island. The town soon spread to nearby islets, still connected by numerous bridges. By the 13th cent. the city had become a major wool-producing center, rivaled only by BrugesBruges
or Brugge
, city (1991 pop. 117,063), capital of West Flanders prov., NW Belgium, connected by canal with Zeebrugge (on the North Sea), its outer port. It is a rail junction as well as a commercial, industrial, and tourist center.
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 and YpresYpres
, Du. Ieper, commune (1991 pop. 35,235), West Flanders prov., SW Belgium, near the French border. It is an agricultural market and an industrial center. Manufactures include textiles, textile-making machinery, and processed food.
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. Medieval Ghent was an industrial city in the modern sense. Its four chief guilds—weavers, fullers, shearers, and dyers—comprised the majority of the working population. Social conflict emerged between the workers and the rich bourgeoisie; strikes and insurrections were frequent.

After the Battle of the SpursBattle of the Spurs.
1 Fought in 1302 near Courtrai, Belgium, between the rebellious Flemish towns, led by Bruges, and an army sent by Philip IV of France, who had annexed Flanders in 1301. The French were totally defeated.
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 (1302), at KortrijkKortrijk
, Fr. Courtrai, city (1991 pop. 76,141), West Flanders prov., SW Belgium, on the Leie River. It is an important linen, lace, and textile-manufacturing center. Kortrijk was one of the earliest (14th cent.
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, the guilds' role in communal government increased rapidly, although not without opposition. A turbulent period of oligarchic rule followed, but the guilds regained power at the beginning (1337) of the Hundred Years War under Jacob van ArteveldeArtevelde, Jacob van
, c.1290–1345, Flemish statesman, of a wealthy family of Ghent. In 1337 the Flemish cloth industry underwent a severe crisis. The pro-French policy of the count of Flanders in the conflict between Edward III of England and Philip VI of France cut off
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 and, later, Philip van ArteveldeArtevelde, Philip van,
1340–82, Flemish popular leader, captain general of Ghent; son of Jacob van Artevelde. In the struggle between the so-called Goods (the propertied classes supported by the count of Flanders) and the Bads (the workers, led by the weavers), he put
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. The guilds continued to rule even after the French defeated and killed (1382) Philip van Artevelde at the battle of RoosebekeRoosebeke, battle of
, 1382, in the modern-day village of Westrozebeke, Staden commune, West Flanders prov., W Belgium. The French under Olivier de Clisson defeated Flemish weavers and other guild workers under Philip van Artevelde.
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, and in 1385 the weavers made a favorable peace with Philip the Bold of Burgundy, who had inherited Flanders the previous year. Ghent retained its liberties and privileges until 1453, when, as a result of an unsuccessful rebellion, they were drastically curtailed by Philip the Good of Burgundy.

Rights were restored by the Great Privilege, promulgated (1477) by Mary of BurgundyMary of Burgundy,
1457–82, wife of Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I), daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The marriage of Mary was a major event in European history, for it established the Hapsburgs in the Low Countries and
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. Mary's marriage (1477) to Archduke Maximilian (later Emperor Maximilian I) was at Ghent; their children were kept virtual prisoners by the burghers after Mary's death (1482). It was only in 1485 that Maximilian was able to overcome the rebellious city and obtain the release of his son Philip (later Philip I of Castile). Philip's son, later Emperor Charles V, was born (1500) and raised in Ghent. In 1539 the city rose against Charles, who hastened to Flanders, suppressed (1540) the rebellion, abrogated Ghent's liberties, and established a garrison to prevent further outbreaks.

Ghent later joined (1576) William the Silent in the revolt of the NetherlandsNetherlands
, Du. Nederland or Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, officially Kingdom of the Netherlands, constitutional monarchy (2015 est. pop. 16,938,000), 15,963 sq mi (41,344 sq km), NW Europe.
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 and Flanders against Spain. The Pacification of Ghent, signed in November of the same year, was an alliance of the provinces of the Netherlands for the purpose of driving the Spanish from the country. For a time Ghent was a city-republic under Calvinist domination, but its capture (1584) by the Spanish under Alessandro FarneseFarnese, Alessandro
, 1545–92, duke of Parma and Piacenza (1586–92), general and diplomat in the service of Philip II of Spain. He was the son of Duke Ottavio Farnese and Margaret of Parma and thus a nephew of Philip II and of John of Austria, under whom he
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 restored it to Hapsburg rule, under which it remained until the French Revolution. The modern industrialization of the city began in the early 19th cent. with the development of its port and the establishment of textile factories. The city was occupied by the Germans in World Wars I and II.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Flemish, Gent; French, Gand), a city in Belgium on the Schelde River at its confluence with the Lys. Connected by canals with the ports of Ostend and Terneuzen on the North Sea. Administrative center of the province of East Flanders. Population, including suburbs, 229,700 (1969).

Ghent first appeared in historical sources in the seventh century. From the 11th to 12th centuries it was one of the chief centers of cloth manufacture in Europe. Although the city was directly under the authority of the counts of Flanders, in the 12th and 13th centuries it won considerable independence in the management of internal urban affairs, and it became one of the centers of sociopolitical struggle in Flanders. The population of the city took part in the Flanders Uprising of 1323-28, then in the rebellion of 1338, which was led by J. van Artevelde, and in the Ghent Uprising of 1539-40. Ghent was one of the centers of the revolutionary movement during the time of the Netherlands Bourgeois Revolution in the 16th century. As a result of the general decline of guild crafts, Ghent lost its position in the 16th century. The city underwent an economic revival again in the 19th century.

Ghent is a major industrial center and transportation junction. It is the second most important port in the country and the chief textile center. Cotton and linen production predominate. The city is noted for metallurgy, a textile and electrotechnical machine-building industry, oil refining, and chemical and food-processing industries, including flour milling and beer brewing. Its lace industry has been noted for a long time. The city imports cotton, flax, coal, petroleum, and other raw materials.

Ghent is a center of Flemish culture. The university was founded in 1817. There are archaeology and fine arts museums. The city has a medieval plan and an abundance of architectural monuments dating from the Roman period. The castle of the counts of Flanders was erected between 1180 and 1200. It has an oval plan, with strong walls and towers. The storehouse for grain was built circa 1200. Old squares and quays give the center of Ghent the appearance of a museum city. Ghent is especially rich in Gothic buildings. The Cathedral of St. Bavon, under construction from about 1228 to 1559, contains the Ghent altarpiece by the brothers van Eyck. The city tower, which is 91 m high, was built from 1183 to 1339. The town hall, which was built between 1518 and 1535, was designed by the architects D. De Waghemakere and R. Keldermans. The House of Free Shipowners dates from 1530-31 and the fortified Bridge of Travails from 1489. There are also numerous medieval churches, monasteries, and residential buildings. Later buildings include the Palace of Justice, 1836-46, designed by L. Roelandt, and the university library, 1935-40, by C. van de Velde. The new industrial districts are also worthy of note.


Pirenne, H. Srednevekovye goroda Bel’gii. Moscow, 1937. (Translated from French.)
D’Hondt, J., and P. de Keyser. Gent. [Antwerp, 1947.]
Fris, V. Histoire de Gand. Brussels, 1913.
Keyser, P. de. 1000-jarig Gent. Ghent, 1949.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an industrial city and port in NW Belgium, capital of East Flanders province, at the confluence of the Rivers Lys and Scheldt: formerly famous for its cloth industry; university (1816). Pop.: 229 344 (2004 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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