The ancient medieval Flemish city Gent is situated about 60 km northwest of Brussels, at the mouth of Leie River into the Scheldt River. The city of Gent is also capital of the Belgian province Oost-Vlaanderen.
According to archeological research, there were already settlements during the time of the Roman Empire. However, the real history of Gent starts in the seventh century, when Saint Amandus founded one monastery (Saint Peter) on a hill between river Scheldt and river Leie and a second one (Saint Bavo) on the junction of both rivers.
During the ninth century, the city was destroyed by the Vikings. This is one of the reasons why Count of Flanders, Baudouin the Bald, started with the construction of a fortress. The fortress was reconstructed into the still existing Gravensteen castle.
Gent became the capital of Flanders and was number one in textile production. During the Middle Ages, Gent was a world city with a population of circa 65 000 inhabitants, about the same number as Paris.
Around 1100, the count granted the city the privilege to setup its own council. Gent became a powerful autonomous and independent city. Up until 1302, the city was actually only ruled by patricians, a small number of people who had become rich thanks to textile production. The patricians, who were only acting in accordance to their own needs, mostly took side of the French King against the Count of Flanders. In 1297, the Count of Flanders excluded the patrician city council of any power and after the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302, the guilds and some other people could become part of the city council.
During the Hundred Years War, Gent was neutral in the beginning, but chose side of England, since England had blocked any textile or materials merchandising with Flanders. Jacob van Artevelde, a rich textile merchandiser put himself to head of a government that resisted to the Count of Flanders (Louis of Nevers), who was on the side of France. Social conflicts started again in Gent and in 1345 van Artevelde was killed during a revolt. In 1349, the authority of the new Count of Flanders (Louis of Male) was accepted, but the situation in the city continued to be agitated. The people of Gent demanded more political rights and in 1369 a solution was found. Since the Count of Flanders wanted more power, new uprisings started. This ended in the battle at Westroozebeke (1382), where Gent was defeated. In 1385, they signed the peace treaty of Tournai and the new Count, Philip the Bold was accepted.
From then on the city found its new opposer in the Burgundic Empire. The rebellious city resisted to Philip the Good, Maria of Burgundy and finally to Maximilian of Austria. With the peace treaty of 1492, the city was restricted from a lot of its privileges. In 1540, the city lost its independence completely after rebellion against Emperor Charles V, who was born in Gent.
During the 16th century, the religious wars had a nefarious influence on Gent. Decay started soon and the city counted a merely 30 000 inhabitants.
During the 17th century Gent continued to play the role of a battlefield and only in the 18th century there was some economical revival. In 1814 Great-Britain and the United States of America signed a peace treaty in Gent, known as the 'Treaty of Ghent'.
During governance of King Willem I of the Netherlands, a university was founded and the canal Gent-Terneuzen was built. During the 19th century Gent became again