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Belgium, History

Belgae, dukes of Burgundy, Pyrenees Mountains, French crown, fief

Belgium derives its name from the Belgae, an ancient Celtic tribe. The Roman region of Gallia Belgica (Belgian Gaul) included modern Belgium, northern France, The Netherlands, and part of Switzerland. Rome’s successor in western Europe was the kingdom of the Franks, which originated in Belgian Gaul and expanded into Germany, eventually extending from the Pyrenees Mountains eastward across the Alps and southward as far as Rome itself. The Franks were led by Charlemagne, who united all of western Europe through conquest during his reign from 768 to 814. When the Frankish realm was partitioned in 843, Belgium was incorporated in the duchy of Lorraine, which was part of Francia Orientalis (the East Frankish Kingdom, or Germany). In the extreme west of this realm arose the county of Flanders, which was a fief of the kings of France. In 1384 Flanders was united with Burgundy, and by the mid-15th century the dukes of Burgundy ruled the greater part of the Belgian and Dutch Netherlands. While owing allegiance to the French crown, Burgundy’s aim was to found a powerful state between France and Germany. This effort was disrupted by the death in 1477 of the last Burgundian ruler, Charles the Bold.

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Article key phrases:

Belgae, dukes of Burgundy, Pyrenees Mountains, French crown, fief, kings of France, Dutch Netherlands, Charlemagne, allegiance, Alps, northern France, reign, Franks, conquest, western Europe, Bold, Charles, Switzerland, death, century, Germany, effort


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