Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Flanders, or Vlaanderen, was the name of a district of Western Europe, beginning from the Schelde just below what is now Fort Lillo and extending along the Western Schelde to the entry of the Straits of Dover. It was made a county in the 9th century by Charles the Bold of France for his son, Baldwin, and this name has been traditional for the Counts of Flanders and their descendants or representatives down to the present day, the late heir to the Belgian throne having borne the name. Readers of Norman history will remember the murder of William Longsword by Count Arnulf of Flanders. In later times it belonged to Spain and Austria, and later to Austria alone, till part was taken by France, and formed into what is now known as French Flanders, and part became Dutch and received the name of Zeeland. Besides French Flanders, which is more fitly dealt with under the head of France, there are the two Belgian provinces of East and West Flanders. Of these East Flanders has Holland on the N., the provinces of Antwerp and Brabant on the E., Hainault on the S., and West Flanders on the W. It is 34 miles long by 32 miles wide, and contains 1,157 square miles, being situated in the basin of the Schelde, and having a flat surface of a mixed sandy and clayey formation. The Pays de Waes is now noted for the high degree of cultivation it has been brought into, though till comparatively lately much of it was a sandy swamp, owing to the inundation of the Schelde which was brought about for strategic purposes. Much of the land on each side of the river can be laid under water, if necessary, in the course of a single tide. The land produces much wheat and flax, the latter crop making itself disagreeably apparent to the nostrils of anyone walking through the district bordering on the Schelde in late summer. There are abundance of horses and cattle, and much dairy produce. Wool, cotton, and flax are worked up, and flax, hops, and oil are exported. There is little wood except that planted by the roadsides, and this is chiefly soft wood, such as willow, which is largely employed for sabot-making. There are tanneries, breweries, and distilleries. The principal towns are Ghent, Alost, Termonde, St. Nicholas, and Eccloo. West Flanders has on the N. and N.W. the German Ocean, on the S. and S.W. France, on the S.E. Hainault, on the E. East Flanders, and on the N.E. Holland. It is 54 miles long by 48 miles wide, and contains 1,248 square miles. It is generally flat, but there are some sandy hills, and dunes line the coast. Part of it is in the basin of the Schelde and the Lys, and part in that of the German Ocean, into which several small streams flow, one of the chief being the Yperlee. The soil is naturally poor and sandy, but has been brought into high cultivation. There is also much moorland, and the cattle, poultry, game, and fish are abundant. The chief products are flax, oil seeds, barley, hops, madder, tobacco, and chicory. Excellent linen is manufactured, and a good deal of lace is made. There are also breweries, tanneries, distilleries, and dye, soap, oil, and sugar works. The principal towns are Bruges, Courtrai, Ypres, Dixmude, and Ostend (Oostend). The Flemish language is by no means confined to Flanders, but is spoken throughout North Belgium, most of whose inhabitants are bilingual, and there is a good deal of jealousy between the Walloon and Flemish parts of the country. The Flemish of Antwerp differs in many points from that of Ostend, and it shades off into Dutch as the Dutch frontier is approached.