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Liege, Belgium (Capital)
LIEGE (Walloon, Lige, Flemish, Luik, Ger. Liittich), the capital of the Belgian province that bears its name. It is finely situated on the Meuse, and was long the seat of a prince-bishopric. It is the centre of the Walloon country, and Scott commits a curious mistake in Quentin Durward in making its people talk Flemish. The Liege Walloon is the nearest existing approach to the old Romance language. The importance of the city to-day arises from its being the chief manufacturing centre in Belgium, and owing to its large output of arms it has been called the Birmingham of the Netherlands. The productive coal-mines of the Meuse valley, extending from its western suburb of Seraing to its northern faubourg of Herstal, constitute its chief wealth. At Seraing is established the famous manufacturing firm of Cockerill, whose offices are in the old summer palace of the prince-bishops.
The great cathedral of St Lambert was destroyed and sacked by the French in 1794, and in 1802 the church of St Paul, dating from the 10th century but rebuilt in the 13th, was declared the cathedral. The law courts are installed in the old palace of the prince-bishops, a building which was constructed by Bishop Everard de la Marck between 1508 and 1540. The new boulevards are well laid out, especially those flanking the river, and the views of the city and surrounding country are very fine. The university, which has separate schools for mines and arts and manufactures, is one of the largest in the country, and enjoys a high reputation for teaching in its special line.
Liege is a fortified position of far greater strength than is generally appreciated. In the wars of the 18th century Liege played but a small part. It was then defended only by the citadel and a detached fort on the right side of the Meuse, but at a short distance from the river, called the Chartreuse. Marlborough captured these forts in 1703 in preparation for his advance in the following year into Germany which resulted in the victory of Blenheim. The citadel and the Chartreuse were still the only defences of Liege in 1888 when, after long discussions, the Belgian authorities decided on adequately fortifying the two important passages of the Meuse at Liege and Namur. A similar plan was adopted at each place, viz. the construction of a number of detached forts along a perimeter drawn at a distance varying from 4 to 6 m. of the town, so as to shelter it so far as possible from bombardment. At Liege twelve forts were constructed, six on the right bank and six on the left. Those on the right bank beginning at the north and following an eastern curve are Barchon, Evegnee, Fleron, Chaudfontaine, Embourg and Boncelles. The average distance between each fort is 4 m., but Fleron and Chaudfontaine are separated by little over 1 m. in a direct line as they defend the main line of railway from Germany. The six forts on the left bank also commencing at the north, but following a western curve, are Pontisse, Liers, Lantin, Loncin, Hollogne and Flemalle. These forts were constructed under the personal direction of General Brialmont, and are on exactly the same principle as those he designed for the formidable defences of Bucarest. All the forts are constructed in concrete with casemates, and the heavy guns are raised and lowered automatically. Communication is maintained between the different forts by military roads in all cases, and by steam tramways in some. It is estimated that 25,000 troops would be required for the defence of the twelve forts, but the number is inadequate for the defence of so important and extensive a position. The population of Liege, which in 1875 was only 117,600, had risen by 1900 to 157,760, and in 1905 it was 168,532.
Liege first appears in history about the year 558, at which date St Monulph, bishop of Tongres, built a chapel near the confluence of the Meuse and the Legia. A century later the town, which had grown up round this chapel, became the favourite abode of St Lambert, bishop of Tongres, and here he was assassinated. His successor St Hubert raised a splendid church over the tomb of the martyred bishop about 720 and made Liege his residence. It was not, however, until about 930 that the title bishop of Tongres was abandoned for that of bishop of Liege. The episcopate of Notger (972-1008)was marked by large territorial acquisitions, and the see obtained recognition as an independent principality of the Empire. The popular saying was "Liege owes Notger to God, and everything else to Notger." By the munificent encouragement of successive bishops Liege became famous during the 11th century as a centre of learning, but the history of the town for centuries records little else than the continuous struggles of the citizens to free themselves from the exactions of their episcopal sovereigns; the aid of the emperor and of the dukes of Brabant being frequently called in to repress the popular risings. In 1316 the citizens compelled Bishop Adolph de la Marck to sign a charter, which made large concessions to the popular demands. It was, however, a triumph of short duration, and the troubles continued, the insurgent subjects now and again obtaining a fleeting success, only to be crushed by the armies of the powerful relatives of the bishops, the houses of Brabant or of Burgundy. During the episcopate of Louis de Bourbon (1456-1484) the Liegeois, having expelled the bishop, had the temerity to declare war on Philip V., duke of Burgundy. Philip's son, Charles the Bold, utterly defeated them in 1467, and razed the walls of the town to the ground. In the following year the citizens again revolted, and Charles being once more successful delivered up the city to sack and pillage for three days, and deprived the remnant of the citizens of all their privileges. This incident is narrated in Quentin Durward. The long episcopate of Eberhard de la Marck (1505-1538) was a time of good administration and of quiet, during which the town regained something of its former prosperity. The outbreak of civil war between two factions, named the Cluroux and the Grignoux, marked the opening of the 17th century. Bishop Maximilian Henry of Bavaria (1650-1688) at last put an end to the internal strife and imposed a regulation (reglement) which abolished all the free institutions of the citizens and the power of the gilds. Between this date and the outbreak of the French Revolution the chief efforts of the prince-bishops were directed to maintaining neutrality in the various wars, and preserving their territory from being ravaged by invading armies. They were only in part successful. Liege was taken by Marlborough in 1702, and the fortress was garrisoned by the Dutch until 1718. The French revolutionary armies overran the principality in 1792, and from 1794 to the fall of Napoleon it was annexed to France, and was known as the department of the Ourthe. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 decreed that Liege with the other provinces of the southern Netherlands should form part of the new kingdom of the Netherlands under the rule of William I., of the house of Orange. The town of Liege took an active part in the Belgian revolt of 1830, and since that date the ancient principality has been incorporated in the kingdom of Belgium.
The see, which at first bore the name of the bishopric of Tongres, was under the metropolitan jurisdiction of the archbishops of Cologne. The principality comprised besides the town of Liege and its district, the counties of Looz and Hoorn, the marquessate of Franchimont, and the duchy of Bouillon.
- Theodore Bouille, Histoire de la vile et du pays de Liege (3 vols., Liege, 1725-1732); A. Borgnet, Histoire de la revolution liegeoise (2 vols., Liege, 1865); Baron B. C. de Gerlache, Histoire de Liege (Brussels, 1843); J. Daris, Histoire du diocese et de la principaute de Liege (to vols., Liege, 1868-1885); Ferdinand Henaux, Histoire du pays de Liege (2 vols., Liege, 1857); L. Polain, Histoire de l'ancien pays de Liege (2 vols., Liege, 1844-1847). For full bibliography see Ulysse Chevalier, Repertoire des sources historiques. Topo-bibliographie, s.v. (Montbeliard, 1900).
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