Brussels: History

The Smallest World-City

Brussels History

Brussels could have been founded as early as the 6th century but its official existence is in the year 979. In 977 the German emperor Otto II gave the Low-Lorraine area to Carl of France (Charlemagne's grandson). The island was then known as Saint-Gorik. Carl of France built a fortified castle on the island. After Carl’s death at the end of the 10th century, Low-Lorraine was taken over by Lambert of Leuven. It is not until the 11th century that Lambert II’s castrum replaces Carl of France’s. Lambert II also builds the city’s first walls. Through the medieval times Brussels is in transition and by the 15th century the Habsburgians (Austrians) take rule of Brussels. In 1695 Brussels is attacked by legendary French King Louis XIV. More than 4000 homes, and the Grand Place were destroyed. Brussels changes hands into Dutch power under William I but in 1830 the city becomes independent again. On July 2nd 1831 the first Belgian king Leopold I takes the throne and Brussels becomes the new capital of the kingdom Belgium. During this time Brussels undergoes rebuilding and expansion. After WWII Belgium becomes divided into two semi-independent regions: Flanders and the Walloon Provinces. Brussels, however, is to be a distinct district with its own government and becomes the capital of the European Union. NATO is also situated in nearby Evere making Brussels the affluent and economically/politically influential world city it is today.