MONS (Flemish Bergen), a town of Belgium situated on a small river called the Trouille in the province of Hainaut of which it is the capital. Pop. (1904), 27,072. Mons was the capital of the ancient countdom of Hainaut, well known in English history from the marriage of Edward III. with its Countess Philippa. The town was founded by the Countess Waudru in the 8th century, whereupon Charlemagne recognized it as the capital of Hainaut, and it has retained the position ever since. It was only in the 11th century, however, that it became the fixed residence of the counts, who had previously occupied the castle of Hornu, leaving Mons to the abbey and the church of St Waudru. Regnier V. moved to Mons at the beginning of that century, and his only child a daughter Richilde, married Baldwin VI. of Flanders. The junction of the two countdoms was only temporary, and they again separated in the person of Richilde's sons. In this age Hainaut was known as " the poor land of a proud people," and it was not until the beginning of the 14th century that Mons was converted into a trading town by the establishment of a cloth market. At the same time the count transferred his principal fortress from Valenciennes to Mons. When the Hainaut title became merged in the duchy of Burgundy, Mons was a place of considerable importance on account of its being a stronghold near the French frontier. Its capture, defence and surrender by Louis of Nassau in 1572 was one of the striking incidents of the religious troubles. In the long wars of the 17th and 18th centuries Mons underwent several sieges, but none of the same striking character as those of Namur. Several times dismantled and refortified, Mons was finally converted into an open town in 1862.
The most remarkable building in the city is the cathedral of St Waudru, named after the first countess, which was begun in the middle of the 15th century, but not finished for more than a century and a half later. It is a fine specimen of later Gothic, and contains some good glass as well as a few pictures by Van Thudden. The Hotel de Ville is about the same age as the cathedral, having been commenced in 1458 and finished in 1606. The tower was added a century later. There is also a fine belfry with a peal of bells. Mons is now a flourishing town with a, good trade in cloth, lace, sugar refinery, etc.; but its chief importance is derived from its proximity to the Borinage (place of boring), district containing mines of the finest coal in Belgium. The military engineering college for the Belgian army is here, and not far from Mons are the battle-fields of Malplaquet (1709) and Jemappes (1792).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)