The County of Flanders began in 862 AD as a feudal fief in West Francia – later to become France. When the western districts fell to French rule in the late 12th-century Flanders was divided.
After the French defeated several attempts at rebellion, Flanders remained part of France. Weaving was the primary source of income for the region during the middle ages. Flemish weavers migrated to England to establish the woollen industry. The English towns of Worstead and Norfolk particularly benefitted from the Flemish weavers’ skills.
The Burgundian Netherlands
In 1384, the Dukedom of Burgundy gained power in the region. By 1556, the rulers of the Burgundian Netherlands were their successors, the Habsburg kings of Spain. By this time Flanders was no longer part of France, but a kind of no man’s land fought over by the English, French, Spanish and the Netherlands.
The trading towns in the region became extremely prosperous. Consequently, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in art and architecture. Flanders began to rival even Italy.
The Kingdom of Belgium
Eventually, after years of battles and several sieges, Flanders became part of the Kingdom of Belgium on October 4, 1830. The Treaty of London confirmed Belgium as an independent state in 1839.
The biggest marina in Northern Europe
The Vlaamse Yachthaven Marina at Nieuwpoort is reputedly the biggest marina in northern Europe. It provides the ideal location for a stopover from the Netherlands, France or the UK. The modern marina is accessible regardless of the tide or weather.
The surrounding countryside is very attractive. There are miles of sandy beaches plus sports & shopping facilities. Additionally, just a short drive (or sail) away are the towns of Veurne, Diksmuide, Ypres and medieval Bruges.
In the 19th-century, the government began a large waterworks project in the town called the “Ganzepoot” (meaning Goose Foot, in Dutch). The objective was to drain water from the channel in and around the city towards the Sea.
During World War I, at the Battle of the Yser (one of the battles of Ypres), a local hero named Hendrik Geeraert opened the sluice gates of the river Yser. This succeeded in flooding the lower land and halted the German advance.