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Namur, Belgium

NAMUR, BELGIUM, one of the nine provinces of Belgium. It lies between Hainaut on the one side and Liege and Luxemburg on the other, and extends from Brabant up the Meuse valley to the French frontier. Area, 1414 sq. m.; pop. (1904) 357,759. The part north of the Meuse is very fertile, but the rest is covered with forest and is little suited for agriculture. There are a few iron and coal-mines between the Sambre and Meuse, and the quarries are of great importance. Arboriculture, and especially fruit-tree plantation, is on the increase. The province is divided into the three arrondissements of Namur, Dinant and Philippeville, and there are fifteen cantons for judicial purposes.

NAMUR (Flemish, Namen), the town, is capital of the province. Pop. (1904) 31,940. It is most picturesquely situated at the junction of the rivers Sambre and Meuse, the town lying on the left banks of the two rivers, while the rocky promontory forming the fork between them is crowned with the old citadel. This citadel is no longer used for military purposes, and the hill on which it stands has been converted into a public park, while the crest is occupied by an enormous hotel to which access is gained by a cogwheel railway. Namur is connected with the citadel by two bridges across the Sambre, and from the east side of the promontory there is a fine stone bridge to the suburb of Jambes. This bridge was constructed in the 11th century and rebuilt in the reign of Charles V. It is the only old bridge in existence over the Meuse in the Belgian portion of its course. The cathedral of St Aubain or Albin was built in the middle of the 18th century. The church of St Loup is a century older, and is noticeable for its columns of red marble from the quarry at St Remy near Rochefort. There is a considerable local industry in cutlery, and there are numerous tanneries along the river-side.

The hill of the citadel is perhaps identical with Aduaticum, the fortified camp of the Aduatici captured and destroyed by Julius Caesar after the defeat of the Nervii, although many authorities incline to the plateau of Hast6don, north of the Sambre and of Namur itself, as the more probable site of the Belgic position. Many antiquities of the Roman-Gallic period have been discovered in the neighbourhood and are preserved in the local archaeological museum. Here also are deposited the human fossils of the Stone Age discovered at Furfooz on the Lesse. In the feudal period Namur was always a place of some importance, and long formed a marquisate in the Courtenay family. One institution of the medieval period came down to modern times, and was only discontinued in consequence of the fatalities with which it was generally accompanied. This was the annual encounter on the Place d'Armes of rival parties mounted on stilts. Galliot, the historian of Namur, says the origin of these jousts is lost in antiquity, but considers the use of stilts was due to the frequency with which the town was flooded before the rivers were embanked. Don John of Austria made Namur his headquarters during the greater part of his stay in the Netherlands, and died here in 1578. As a fortress Namur did not attain the first rank until after its capture by Louis XIV. in 1692, when Vauban endeavoured to make it impregnable; but it was retaken by William III. in 1695. The French recaptured it in 1 702 and retained possession for ten years. In 181 5 Marshal Grouchy on his retreat into France fought an action here with the Prussians under General Pirch. In 1888, under the new scheme of Belgian defence, the citadel and its detached works were abandoned, and in their place nine outlying forts were constructed at a distance of from 3 to 5 m. round the town. All these forts are placed on elevated points. They are in their order, beginning on the left bank of the Meuse and ending on the right bank of the same river: (i) St Heribert, (2) Malonne, (3) Suarlee, (4) Emines, (5) Cognelee, (6) Gelbressee, (7) Maizeret, (8) Andoy and (9) Dave. The whole position is correctly described as the " tte de pont " of Namur, and in addition to its strong bomb-proof forts it possesses great natural advantages for the defence of the intervals.

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

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