SCHELDT (Fr. Escaut, Flem. Schelde), a river rising near Catelet in France, entering Belgium near Bleharies in Hainaut, and flowing past Tournai, Oudenarde, Ghent and Termonde till it reaches Antwerp. Some distance below Antwerp, in front of the island Beveland, where the river divides into two channels, respectively north and south of the island, both banks belong to Holland. Of the two channels named, the southern, which reaches the sea at Flushing, is the more important and is used for ocean commerce. The Scheldt has a length of 250 m., of which, by a skilful arrangement of locks, not less than 207 m. are navigable. The principal tributaries are the Lys and the Dender. By the treaty of Munster in 1648 the Dutch obtained the right to close the Scheldt to navigation, and they clung tenaciously to it for over two centuries. In 1839 on the final dissolution of the kingdom of the Netherlands, Holland gave definite form to this right by fixing the toll, and by obtaining the assent of the powers to the arrangement which fettered the trade of Antwerp. In 1863 after long negotiations Belgium bought up this right each of the powers interested in the trade contributing its quota a*id the navigation of the Scheldt was then declared free.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)