Special Sub-Topic: Belgium in the XVIIth Century
|In 1604 a city near the Belgian coast was captured by Archduke Albert's troops, after a three-year siege. Which city surrendered to Archduke Albert on September 20th?|
Ostend. Rumour has it that Isabella, Albert's wife, had promised not to change her underwear until Ostend had surrendered. As Ostend fell only after three years, the mind boggles ... Antwerp was also sieged during the Eighty Years' War. This city fell in 1585 to the Spanish troops. The pillage of Antwerp is still quite famous in Belgium.
The only interesting siege of Liège that I found was the one laid by Charles the Bold in 1468. A group of 600 citizens from the nearest city, called Franchimont, tried in vain to kill Charles.
|A mathematician born in Bruges published in 1608 a book entitled "Wisconstighe Ghedachtenissen" ("Ideas on Mathematics"). In this book, the author introduced a proper Dutch term for mathematics: "wiskunde" - which could be translated as "the knowledge of what is certain". Who was this author?|
Simon Stevin. Simon Stevin (1548-1620) introduced decimal fractions. He also wrote about geometry, trigonometry, astronomy, book-keeping and navigation.
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) invented the first calculating machine. He also wrote about hydrostatics and the functioning of the barometer. He is also well know for his (incomplete) "apologia" for (that is, justification of) Christianity.
René Descartes (1596-1650) is best known as a philosopher. He formulated the principles of analytic geometry.
Isaac Newton (1643- 1727) is best known for his study of gravity. He also experimented with prisms in order to study the refraction of light.
|In 1609, the Spanish government (led by Archduke Albert) and the Dutch rebels concluded a truce. How long did this truce last?|
Twelve years. At the end of the Twelve-Year Truce, both sides had some politicians who pleaded for a permanent peace based on the Twelve-Year Truce. Nevertheless, the majority on both sides chose to continue war.
There is no Seven-Year Truce, nor a Thirty-Year Truce, nor a Winter Truce. These options are related to other events: the Thirty Years' War in Germany (1618-1648), the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) and the reign of Frederick V (the "Winter King") in Bohemia.
The Thirty Years' War opposed Protestant territories in Central Europe (supported by Sweden, Denmark, France and by the Dutch nobility) to Roman-Catholic territories in Central Europe, led by the Austrian Habsburgs and supported by Spain.
At the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, King Frederick V was crowned King of Bohemia. His rule didn't last long: crowned in November 1619, he abdicated in 1620 and fled the country.
The Seven Years' War (1756-1763) opposed Prussia and Great Britain to Austria, Russia and France. These coalitions were rather surprising: up till 1756 Prussia and France had previously been traditional allies.
|In 1617, Lamoral de Tassis inherited the family estate of the family Von Thurn und Taxis. This estate included a monopoly on a certain service (in some parts of Europe). What service could only the family Von Thurn und Taxis provide between 1512 and 1801 in Belgium?|
Postal services. During the XVIth and XVIIth Century, almost every city had local wine merchants and local printing offices. As for banking services, only a few families (among them the Fuggers) delivered them, but there was no real monopoly.
The family Von Thurn und Taxis obtained in 1512 a real monopoly on postal services in the regions governed by the Habsburg family: the Benelux, Germany, Austria, Spain ... This monopoly was maintained in Belgium until 1801 and in Germany until 1867, when they were "bought out" in the German states by the Prussian government.
|1640 was a sad year for Belgian art. The painter who had made some marvellous paintings for the Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady, died on May 30th. Who was this painter, whose works include "The Raising of the Cross", "The Descent of the Cross" and "The Assumption of the Virgin"?|
Peter Paul Rubens. All the paintings I've mentioned are displayed in the Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady. Rubens was born in 1577 in the German town of Siegen.
Van Dyck (1599-1641), Jordaens (1593-1678) and Quellin (1607-1678) are other important Antwerp painters. Van Dyck's most famous painting is the portrait of King Charles I of England. He specialised in portraying noblemen and their children. Jordaens depicted more popular scenes. He's best known for his painting of "The Bean King" - a theme he painted several times. Quellin is not the most illustrious of these artists. His "Portrait of a Young Boy" can be visited in the Antwerp based "Museum van Schone Kunsten". The collection of the museum "Groeninghe" in Bruges includes Quellin's "Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes".
|In 1641 the Belgian sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder died. One of his well known statues still can be visited in Brussels. Which of the following statues did Jerome Duquesnoy make?|
Manneken Pis. Jerome Duquesnoy was inspired by one of the following stories. According to one story, a young boy named Jurriaan found a burning fuse and extinguished it by urinating on it. Another story tells that
the young boy Geoffrey witnessed a battle and started peeing on the heads of the opposition to humiliate them.
The other statues were sculpted in the XIXth Century: Dirk Martens' statue (in Alost) in 1856 by Jean Geefs, Jacob van Artevelde's statue (in Ghent) in 1863 by Pierre de Vigne and the Brabo fountain (in Antwerp) in 1887 by Jef Lambeaux.
|The Belgian scientist who invented the word "gas" died in 1644. Who was this physician and chemist?|
Jan Baptist van Helmont. Böttger (1682-1719) studied pharmacology. He is credited with having invented a way to produce porcelain in Saxony in Germany.
Drebbel (1572-1633) was a chemist, engraver and inventor. He invented the first navigable submarine.
Boyle (1627-1691) studied the relation between volume, temperature and pressure in gases. Boyle's Law states that if the temperature is constant, the volume of a gas decreases proportionally with the increase of pressure.
Van Helmont (1579-1644) may have derived the term "gas" from the Greek word "chaos": as gas has no form whatsoever, it immediately fills the entire container into which it is released.
|A Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 settled both the Eighty Years' War and the Thirty Years' War. The Thirty Years' War was ended by a treaty signed at Osnabrück. In which German city was the treaty signed that ended the Eighty Years' War?|
Münster. Schengen is not a German city but a village in Luxembourg that gave its name to the Schengen treaties. These treaties have abolished border controls between the participating countries (including Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and all countries of the European Union, except Ireland and Great-Britain).
Nuremberg didn't give its name to a treaty. The historical significance of Nuremberg is related to World War II: the anti-Semitic laws carry the name Neurenberg Laws, and the chief Nazis surviving the war were put on trial in Nuremberg. (Much earlier, it had been associated with Albrecht Duerer, Hans Sachs and the Meistersinger - and had been one of the leading cultural centres in the German-speaking lands).
Berlin has played many roles in history. I picked the Berlin Congress (1878) to illustrate this: in this congress, the main European nations tried to settle their differences. Bismarck played a leading role in this Congress.
|The architect of the Church of Our Lady at Hanswijk (a hamlet of Mechlin) died in 1697. Who was this famous architect and sculptor?|
Lucas Faydherbe. Lucas Faydherbe was born in 1617. He learned sculpting in Rubens' atelier.
Borromini (1599-1667) was an apprentice of Bernini. He completed the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone in Rome.
Wenzel Cobergher (1561-1634) was the architect of the church at Scherpenheuvel with its heptagonal dome.
André Le Nôtre (1613-1700) was the most famous French landscape architect. He designed the park surrounding the Palace at Versailles.
|Czar Peter the Great visited a Belgian thermal bath in 1699. In which city do we find this thermal bath?|
Spa. Evian, Vichy and Vittel are all French cities with thermal baths. The city we're looking for is Spa, a city that gave its name to the English word for "thermal bath".
There have been many other famous visitors of Spa. One of the wells was named after the Belgian Queen Marie Henriette who visited Spa quite often. The German Emperor Wilhelm I made his headquarters at Spa during World War I.
The French government granted Algeria independence in Evian-les-Bains in 1962.
Vichy is of course well known for the French government of Petain during World War II.
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