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Middelburg

MIDDELBURG, the ancient capital of the province of Zeeland, Holland, in the middle of the island of Walcheren, 4 m. by rail N. by E. of Flushing, with which it is also connected by steam tramway and by ship canal (1873), which continues to Veere on the N.E. coast, with a branch eastward to Arnemuiden. Pop. (1903), 19,002. Middelburg contains many splendid old houses, which recall the prosperity which distinguished it until the end of the 18th century. The beautiful town-hall, built by Anton Keldermans about 1512, with a square tower 180 ft. high, and a facade adorned with statues of the counts and countesses of Zeeland and Holland, contains the valuable city archives and antiquarian and historical collections. The old abbey of St Nicholas, founded in 1150, and now occupied by the provincial council, has some fine old tapestry of the end of the 16th century. The building was added to in the 14th and isth centuries, and partly rebuilt after a fire in 1492. It was the scene in 1505 of a meeting of the knights of the Golden Fleece, and was frequently the residence of royal visitors, including Maximilian, Philip the Fair and Charles V. The abbot of Middelburg formerly possessed a vote of his own in the Provincial States. What was formerly the nave of the abbey church is now the New Church, and the ancient choir constitutes the Choir Church. These churches are interesting for the monuments of William II., count of Holland, king of the Romans (d. 1256), the 16th century scholar Hadrian Junius, and Jan Pieterszoon; and the tombs of Jan and Cornelius Evertsen, who fell in the naval war against England in 1666. The high tower (280 ft.), known as de lange Jan, standing apart from the church contains a good chime of bells. The corn exchange, the hof St Joris and the hof St Sebastian (formerly buildings belonging to the gilds of archers, and now places of amusement) also deserve mention. The museum of antiquities belonging to the Zeeland Society of Arts and Sciences (founded at Flushing in 1769, and transferred to Middelburg in 1801) contains a complete collection of the fauna and flora of the province, many maps, plans and drawings relating to Zeeland, the first telescope made by Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Jansen in Middelburg in 1608, and some provincial Roman antiquities.

The extensive trade which Middelburg formerly carried on with the East and West Indies and with England and Flanders, was ruined by the war with England and the French occupation. But the construction of the railway in 1872, followed by the opening of the ship canal and the large dock (1876), as well as the establishment, by the aid of the chamber of commerce, of certain manufacturing industries (iron, machinery, furniture, oil and cigars), lifted it out of its isolation.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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