- Mechelen (Malines) on the Dyle River north of Brussels was founded in the early Middle Ages as a fortified trading center. It grew wealthy on the textile and weaving industries and became a trading rival of Antwerp and Brussels. In the early 15th century, the city levied a toll on boats traversing the Senne River at Heffen, a river outpost of the town. A chain was laid across the riverbed, and boats were prohibited from passing and their cargoes seized from 1413 to 1417. In 1422, citizens of Brussels were arrested in Mechelen and Duke John IV sent troops to the town. An economic war ensued, which slowly abated in the second half of the century, but the rivalry with Brussels persisted.Mechelen became an important administrative center of Brabant during the Burgundian regime. Charles the Bold set up the ducal Grand Council here in 1473 and Margaret of Austria made it the capital of the Netherlands in establishing her court here in 1507. The archepiscopal center of Belgium since 1559, Mechelen has shared this status with Brussels since 1962.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.