Mons (French: Mons) is a Walloon city in Belgium and the
capital of the province of Hainaut. The city has over 95,000
inhabitants. Saint Waldetrudis is the patron saint of the city. Mons
is the principal town in the Bergen district, and the seat of one of
the country's five courts of appeal.
The city of Bergen originated on a hilly terrain (hence the name) between the rivers Hene and Trouille . Despite the discovery of cemeteries from the 2nd century and the old name "Castri locus" (that is Camp Place ), which first appears in 642 , the presence of a Roman army camp at the site of the current city remains a hypothesis. In any case, the site was located on a diverticulum (that is "branch" ) from the Roman road Bavay - Asse.
It was not until around the middle of the 7th century that an important city center developed here, around a castle where the counts lived. This development was partly the result of the foundation in Frankish times of an abbey , around 650 , by Saint Waltrude . This monastery would later be reformed in the 11th century into a chapter of noble secular canons , which continued to dominate the spiritual life in the city until its dissolution in 1792 .
Around the 10th century , the counts of Bergen built a fortified castle on the neighboring hill, and under Count Baldwin IV ( 1120 - 1171 ) work began on the construction of a first wall, parts of which still exist today. This soon allowed the city to rival Valencijn / Valenciennes , the then capital of the county of Hainaut.
In 1136 a major city fire took place in Bergen.
Bergen quickly developed into an important administrative, trade and educational center. Countess Margaret II of Flanders founded a beguinage in 1248 , and the increase in the population made it necessary around 1290 to construct a second, larger city wall . This city wall was about 4.5 km long and had six gates. In 1295 Mons became the capital of the county of Hainaut. The cloth industry laid the foundation for an economic boom, which would not end until the 16th century, with the religious troubles .
Eighty Years' War
On May 24, 1572 , Louis of Nassau, at the head of 500 horsemen, entered the city quite unexpectedly, where he was greeted with enthusiasm, because the disaffection with Alva 's policy was very great. This triggered Louis's plan to establish a base of operations for Gaspard de Coligny 's army , which would harass the Spaniards from France. However, these auxiliary troops did not show up because Coligny had been murdered on Bartholomew's Day Night , and Louis, threatened on all sides, was forced to capitulate and surrender the besieged Bergen to Alva ( September 19, 1572 ). Despite the promise of generalamnesty , after the departure of Louis and his troops, Alva took a bloody revenge. Many of the citizens of Mons were arrested, tortured and executed, and their property seized. The prosperity of Bergen, one of the most flourishing industrial cities in Europe, had been totally destroyed.
17th and 18th centuries
Immediately a long period began for Bergen in which the violence of war regularly slowed down the economic recovery. On April 8, 1691 , Philip Frans van Glymes had to surrender the city to the French troops (80,000 strong) after a nine-month siege. King Louis XIV had descended in person on March 15 to attend the military operations. The French artillery had done a lot of damage all over the city. Bergen remained French until 1697 , after which it passed alternately into Austrian and French hands. The French ruled from 1701 to 1709 , and then from 1746 to 1749. Because the military operations of the 18th century caused so much damage, the city was mainly rebuilt during that period, making the current townscape largely 18th century.
In the late 17th century and first half of the 18th century, Bergen was one of the fortified cities that formed part of the Dutch fortress barrier in the Southern Netherlands.
On November 6, 1792 , the Austrians lost the Battle of Jemappes (now part of Bergen) and had to leave the field for good.
At the beginning of the First World War , the British Expeditionary Force , led by the British General French, managed to stop the German troops of Von Kluck for 48 hours near Bergen . Bergen was then in German hands for four years and was finally liberated by Canadians early in the morning of November 11, 1918 , after three days of fierce fighting.
The Second World War was also murderous for Bergen and the
surrounding area, and caused a lot of human suffering. As an
industrial town and transport hub, it was often heavily bombed, and
from 2 to 4 September 1944 , heavy fighting continued between
American troops (en route from Avesnes and Nouvion ) and German
troops withdrawing from northern France.
The economic crisis in the second half of the 20th century hit hard for the Bergen industry and for the entire Borinage . Many brownfields were created due to factory closures . The reconversion was not without problems, but in the end tourism and trade were stimulated on the basis of the cultural heritage. In 1998, for example, the Mundaneum was built and in 2015, Bergen was the European Capital of Culture with Pilsen.