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Liege History, Belgium

Just like Brussels, Liege is one of Belgium’s chief cities. This city is the administrative center of the region of Wallonia, where most of the residents speak French. Liege is found on the eastern side of the country, near the border of Germany and Netherlands. The city is the center of culture and economy of the whole region. Before being a major city, the place underwent some struggles. These ones are reflected in Liege History.

Liege History – Early Medieval Period

Even before the first mention of the city as Vicus Leudicus in 558 AD, there were already Roman settlements in the area. In the succeeding centuries, Liege saw the foundation of Catholicism in the city. Pagans were baptized into Christianity and the first basilica was built near the residence of the bishop. When Liege became the center of a prince-bishopric, it became a chief center of intellect and the ecclesiastic.

Liege History – Late Medieval Period and the Renaissance

Liege was prone to attacks from foreign tribes and invaders because of its strategic location. This is the reason why the city was fortified with a castle situated on a sharp hill. The residents of the city had an uprising against the Prince-Bishop in 1345. The war was successful and the ruler of the city was defeated. Another uprising took place in 1468 resulting in the capture of Liege by King Louis XI of France along with his ally, the Duke of Burgundy named Charles.

For a time after that, the city was ruled by the Hasburgs and then became a part of the Spanish rule. The diocese of Liege lost its regional influence at some point during the Counter-Reformation.

Liege History – 18th and 19th Century

When the War of the Spanish Succession broke, in 1704, the Duke of Marlborough was able to take over the city of Liege. During the French Revolution, the army from France marched into the city and enforced cruel and fierce antireligious rule. They destroyed Saint Lambert Cathedral.

In 1815, France lost Liege to Netherlands due to the Congress of Vienna agreement. The rule of the Dutch lasted for only 15 years because the Belgian Revolution liberated the whole of Belgium including the city of Liege. Following the independence, the city developed into one of the most significant center of industry and became one of the first in Europe in terms of large-scale steel manufacturers. This remarkably changed Liege History.

Liege History – 20th Century

The fortifications, which were reconstructed in the 1880s, proved to be a big obstruction to the German forces during the First World War. Initially the 30,000 troops in Liege were able to defend the city from German invasion. However, after five days of bombardment, the Belgian troops submitted to the Germans. The German forces occupied the city until the end of the war.

In 1940, Liege saw the return of the Germans to the city. Many of the Jewish residents in the city were saved mainly because of the commiserating citizens, who hid the Jews in many monasteries. The invaders were driven out of the city by the army from the United States.

After World War II, the steel industry in the city declined causing immense unemployment and social conflicts. In recent years, Liege slowly recovered from the industrial, economic and political crises it experienced. The city opened its doors to many cities, which are a part of the European Union. Several industries are revived and new ones are established. Now, it enjoys trading with its neighboring cities like Cologne in Germany.

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