- Brussels holds a unique place in European municipal history stemming, first and foremost, from its physical location. A relative latecomer among western European capitals, the city began as a military outpost situated in Europe's northwestern lowlands, a region that has long served as a crossroads of commerce, culture, and conflict. Drawing on its strategic site, the city grew economically wealthy and politically prominent, and its geography has endowed it with a history that has made the Belgian capital truly western Europe's most "European" city. The banners of every major regional power—Roman, Carolingian, Bur-gundian, Spanish, Austrian, French, English, Dutch, and German— have flown here.In addition, its location at a place where borders meet, in straddling the linguistic frontier dividing the Germanic tongues from the Latin, has made Brussels a natural venue for communication and exchange. Immigrants, emigres, and expatriots have, over time, blended with, and added to, the local cultural mélange; and, while tensions, most famously between French speakers and Dutch speakers, have simmered here, they have never boiled over into civic lawlessness.Ruled for centuries by foreign overlords and exposed to continuing inflows of outsider influences, the city has long been a remarkably diverse place, where a tolerant cosmopolitanism and an openness to the wider world, acquired by necessity, are defining features. As such, Brussels has hosted more world's fairs than any other city of its size, and, as a favored site for international conferences, congresses, companies, and agencies for over a century and a half, its status as the headquarters city for the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a host of other multinational bodies is a logical one.At the same time, a hearty individualism and a defiant stubbornness in defense of local liberties are hallmarks of its inhabitants. The urge tosecure rights to self-government runs as a central theme throughout the city's history, its chronology peppered with recurrent riots, rebellions, and revolutions by residents resilient and resolute in preserving and promoting their autonomy. The last quarter of the last century has witnessed events that run true to the historical form. The creation of the Brussels Capital Region within a federal Belgium, the product of evolving demands and realities, has, in turn, given rise to new challenges that its citizens, long practiced in the arts of both accommodation and confrontation, are well prepared to meet.Dutch rather than Flemish is used in this book in reference to the language since standard Dutch is the official language in use in Belgium. Entry titles are given, where applicable, in both French and Dutch. French titles appear first in deference to the fact that French is the majority language of residents of the Brussels Capital Region. Within the text, French names are used in the interest of conserving space. The names of monarchs of Belgium are given in English for reasons of linguistic impartiality.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.