A city of northwest Belgium connected by canal with the North Sea. It was founded in the 9th century and was a leading member of the Hanseatic League in the 13th century. Today the old city is a popular tourist center.x
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.