Hainaut , or Hainault (Flem. Henegouwen; Ger. Hennegau), a province of Belgium, bordering on France and the provinces of West and East Flanders, Brabant, and Namur; area, 1,437 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 896,285. It is traversed by the rivers Sambre, Scheldt, Dender, and Haine (from which last the province received its name), and several canals. It is very hilly in the southeast, but in other parts generally level. The soil, except in the district of Charleroi, is fertile. The mineral productions are coal, iron, lead, slates, marble, building stones, and limestone. The number of persons employed in the coal mines at the end of 1870 was 68,831, and the production amounted to 10,196,530 tons. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, rye, flax, beans, hemp, hops, potatoes, tobacco, and chiccory. Horned cattle, sheep, and horses are reared, the latter valued as draught animals. There is also abundance of poultry, game, and bees. Hardware, glass, woollen and linen goods, porcelain, pottery, bricks, lace, and Brussels carpets are the prin-cipal manufactures. The most important exports are coal, iron, and lime.
The province is traversed by good roads and railways, the great lines being the Brussels and Namur and the Brussels and Valenciennes. The principal towns are Mons, the capital, Tournay, Ath, Soignies, Charleroi, and Thuin. - The territory of Hainaut was known in ancient times as Han-agadennis Comilatus and Hannonia. Among the earliest inhabitants were the warlike Ner-vii. It was not called Hainaut until the 7th century, and it was long governed by local counts. It passed through many vicissitudes from the 10th to the 15th century, and, after having successively been united with Flanders and Burgundy, in 1477 came into the possession of the house of Hapsburg, and was ruled by the Spanish branch of that line from 1555 to 1713, and subsequently by the Austrian branch, with the exception of S. Hainaut, which in 1659 became part of France by the treaty of the Pyrenees. In 1793 the French annexed Austrian Hainaut, and formed of it the department of Jemmapes. In 1815 other districts were added to it, and it formed a part of the kingdom of the Netherlands until the establishment of the kingdom of Belgium in 1830.