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Ghent (Gent in Dutch; Gand in French, formerly Gaunt in English) is a city located in Flanders, Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and became in the Middle Ages one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe.

Most historians believe that the older name for Ghent, 'Ganda' is derived from the Celtic word 'ganda' which means confluence.

When the Franks invaded the Roman territories (from the end of the 4th century and well into the 5th century) they brought their language with them and Celtic and Latin were replaced by Old Dutch.

In 851 and 879 the city was attacked and plundered twice by the Vikings.

The city recovered and flourished from the 11th century on. Until the 13th century Ghent was the biggest city in Europe after Paris; it was bigger than London, Cologne or Moscow. Within the city walls lived up to 65,000 people.

The wool-industry, originally established at Bruges, created the first European industrialized zone in Ghent in the High Middle Ages. The mercantile zone was so highly-developed that wool had to be imported from England. This was one of the reasons for Flanders' good relationship with England. Ghent was the birthplace of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The trade with England suffered significantly during the Hundred Years' War.

The city recovered in the 14th century, while Flanders was united with neighboring provinces under the Dukes of Burgundy. High taxes led to a rebellion and eventually the Battle of Gavere, in which Ghent suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of Philip the Good.

The late 16th and the 17th century brought devastation because of the Religious wars. At one time Ghent was a Calvinistic republic, but eventually the Spanish army reinstated Catholicism. The wars ended the role of Ghent as a center of international importance.
In the 18th and 19th century Ghent the textile industry flourished again in Ghent. Lieven Bauwens introduced the first mechanical weaving machine on the European continent, of which he smuggled the plans out of England, in 1800.

Ghent was also the site of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which formally ended the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States of America. After the battle of Waterloo Ghent became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands for 15 years. In this period Ghent got its own university (1817) and a new connection to the sea (1824–27).

Today it is a busy city with a port and a university. The city is connected to the sea by the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, it lies at the intersection of the European highways E17 and E40 and it has the third busiest railway station in Belgium.

Ghent

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Additional Photos by Oleg Kuznetsov (osub) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 28 W: 0 N: 264] (1663)
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