The Low Countries 1215 CE

The beginnings of a centuries-long land reclamation effort is going on in the Low Countries.

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What is happening in The Low Countries in 1215CE

In the 10th and 11th centuries, the Holy Roman emperors sought to impose their authority on the region through the bishops. This had the effect of creating a number of powerful prince-bishoprics, with Liege and Utrecht especially important. However, the Investiture Controversy of the 11th and 12th centuries undermined the emperors’ ability to appoint bishops, and these prince-bishoprics then became virtually independent states, alongside the principalities ruled by the local counts and dukes.

These principalities, whether secular and ecclesiastical, continually struggled for more freedom from the emperor, and they struggled with one another for territory. Of them, Flanders was the most powerful.

In northern Flanders, a process of reclaiming land from the sea had already begun, with the construction of dykes, canals and polders. Fields and villages are appearing where once was only sea. This is all part of a strong upswing in population, and with it an expansion of trade and the regional cloth industry. Cities such as Brugge, Ghent and Ypres are developing as major centres of commerce.

Next map, the Low Countries in 1453

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