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Mons History, Belgium

Mons is both a city and municipality situated in the Hainaut province in Belgium. The word “Mons” means mountains, and the city was named so because of its geographic location. Aside from this fact in Mons History, there are yet other pertinent details worth learning about. Here are some of them.

Mons History – From the Establishment to the Medieval Era

It is believed that the establishment of Mons started in Spiennes, where European Neolithic tools were found. The Nervii inhabited the area in the 1st century BC just before Julius Caesar reached the region. The first name given to the settlement was Castrolicus after the Romans constructed a castrum in the area. Shortly after, the name was changed to Montes after the hill where the castrum was erected.

During the 12th century, the count of Hainaut, Baldwin IV, had the city fortified. Subsequently, trading thrived in Mons and its population increased. A number of industrial buildings were constructed close to the Grand’Place. Add to this, the first town hall of the city materialized. By the 13th century, Mons replaced Valenciennes as the capital of Hainaut.

Mons History – Between the 16th and the 18th Century

During the course of the 16th to 18th century, the city of Mons became a susceptible target of numerous occupations. The first one was the Protestant conquest led by Louis of Nassau. Soon after, the Duke of Alba, in the name of the King of Spain, gained control over the city. During this time, many citizens were arrested and Mons faced destruction. At the latter part of the 1500s, the city was made the capital of Southern Netherlands.

Mons swayed back and forth from French to Austrian rule between 1697 and 1701. The city was briefly integrated to the Dutch territory in the early years of the 18th century. However, Mons was a part of France for the most part of the century. In 1792, it was made the capital of the French district Jemappes.

Mons History – 19th Century

After the fall of the First French Empire in the city, William I, king of Netherlands, greatly strengthened Mons. When Belgium secured its independence in 1830, Mons was one of the dismantled cities. Its walls were torn down to make way for the construction of new boulevards and other city developments. Mons quickly progressed because of its coal mines and the Industrial Revolution.

Mons History – 20th Century

The British Army’s first battle during the First World War took place in Mons. The Germans eventually won and took control of the city until its emancipation in the last days of the war. Because of its industrial importance, Mons was greatly bombed during the World War II. As a consequence of the war, most of the city’s businesses weakened and its economy declined. The national government formulated ways to revive the city’s economy and these solutions worked out. Today, Mons thrives as one of Belgium’s most significant commercial centers.

Mons History reflects the strength of the city. Just like other cities in Europe such as Rotterdam in Netherlands and Lille in France, Mons proved to be one of the vital fortresses of the continent.

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