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In 50 BC when the Romans recognized the strategic importance of a town at the junction of major trading routes and established Mosae Trajectum (i.e. : "crossing the river Meuse"). This settlement grew to become a walled "castellum", which was abandoned towards the end of the 4th century. From the end of the 4th to the beginning of the 8th century, Maastricht was a bishop’s diocese. St. Servatius, who died in 384, was the first and St. Lambertus the last bishop. The latter transferred the bishop’s diocese to Liege.

Until 1795, the Duke of Brabant and the Prince-Bishop of Liege jointly ruled Maastricht. The rights and privileges of both lords temporal and ecclesiastical were laid down in the so-called “Alde Caerte” (1284). Maastricht flourished in the 13th to 15th century, mainly due to the expanding cloth industry. Before long the town was perceived to be too cramped, and at the beginning of the 14th century construction work on a new series of walls was commenced.
The city was one of the strongest European fortresses in order to defend it against attacks from the South. The town had to endure 19 sieges (by Austria, Spain and France) with differing outcomes. Louis XIV, the famous Sun King of France, personally led the siege of Maastricht in 1673. The most recent siege was that of 1794. During 1795, the occupying French forces took drastic measures, making Maastricht the capital of a French province.

 After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Maastricht became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. When the southern provinces sought independence from the North to form Belgium in 1830, the garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king and in 1839 the city and the eastern part of Limburg, despite being geographically closer to Belgium, were permanently added to the Netherlands. Because of the resulting eccentric location Maastricht was often more focused on Belgium and Germany than on the rest of the Netherlands, adding to the distinct non-Dutch character of the city.


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