Facts in brief:
The town in the Belgian province of Hainaut lies along the Schelde River, northwest of Mons. Throughout its history it has changed possession many times. It served as the capital of a Roman province. It was seized by the Salic Franks in the 5th century, and was the Merovingian capital. From the 860s it was controlled by the counts of Flanders, then by France from 12th century. After 1521 Charles V of Spain attached it to Netherlands, then a Spanish Habsburg province. It favored the rebels against Spain and was retaken for Spain in 1581. Louis XIV captured it in 1667, it was transferred to the Austrian Habsburgs by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, recaptured by the French in 1745, and restored to Austria in 1748. During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, it was again French from 1794 to 1814.In medieval times it was a center for copperware and tapestry production, and in the 17th century well known for carpets. All of these crafts have been revived. There was also a renowned school of sculpture based there, and the painter Rogier van der Weyden was a native son. In the 20th and 21st centuries the town features museums of archaeology, natural history, fine arts, and folklore, as well as several academic institutions. The town has many examples of fine old architecture, including the 11th and 12th century Cathedral of Notre Dame, the 236 foot high Belfry of 1188, the Renaissance Cloth Hall, the 13th century Trous Bridge, and the tower of Henry VIII of England, built 1513-1516. Its 2003 estimated population was about 67,400
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