Brabant, Duchy of


Brabant, Duchy of
   The duchy of Brabant emerged in the Middle Ages and comprised the territory now included in the provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant, and Antwerp in Belgium and North Brabant in the Netherlands. The region formed a part of the duchy of Lower Lotharingia within the Germanic Empire founded by Charlemagne (800) and that devolved into the Holy Roman Empire (962). It included the castles of Brussels, Leuven, and Vilvoorde and all adjoining territories. By the close of the 12th century, the dukedom of Lower Lotharingia had become little more than an empty title, the duchy of Brabant having emerged as the title of the territory in 1190. The duchy was ruled by the House of Leuven until 1430, when it passed to Philip the Good of Burgundy. It was acquired by the Hapsburgs in 1477.
   Brussels, together with Antwerp (from the 13th to the mid-14th centuries), Mechelen, and Leuven, comprised its most important cities. The dukes relied on the towns to finance their lavish lifestyles and recurrent wars, and, over the course of time, they granted officials in Brussels and other municipalities virtual self-government and a share in the management of the duchy, notably in 1356 with the concession of the Joyeuse Entrée. The dukes favored the establishment of markets, supervised public works, and assured safety in travel by means of the armies they controlled.
   The duchy disappeared as a governing entity following the reforms of Emperor Joseph II and the succeeding French occupation.
   Brabant derives its name from the Braka River—Brabant (Bracbant) signifying the jurisdiction of the Braka.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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