Ghent (Flem. Gend; Fr. Gand; Ger. Gent), a city of Belgium, capital of the province of East Flanders; pop. in 1871, 123,765. It is situated at the junction of the Scheldt and the Lys, 30 m. N. W. of Brussels, and intersected by a great number of navigable canals, which communicate with those rivers, and form 26 islands connected with each other by about 80 bridges. The streets are spacious, and the fantastic variety of gable ends, rising stepwise or ornamented with scroll work and carving, imparts great picturesqueness to the stately houses. It has about 300 streets and 30 public squares, fine promenades, and a great number of churches. The sumptuous cathedral of St. Bavon contains the masterpieces of Jan and Hubert van Eyck. The city hall, with its Moorish front, the famous belfry, and the Vrydags markt, or Friday square, where Jacob van Artevelde kindled the flames of civil war, and where the duke of Alva lighted the fires of the inquisition, are celebrated for their historical associations. The city is rich in charitable, industrial, artistic, literary, and scientific institutions, and possesses a university attended by about 400 students, with an extensive library and a botanical garden.
There are about 20 public hospitals, of which that called Bylogue, founded in 1225, can accommodate 600 persons. The palais de justice, the central prison, and the Beguinage, the principal establishment in Belgium of the Beguin nuns, are worthy of special mention. The cotton manufacture employs upward of 30,000 persons. Sugar refining is also extensively carried on. The principal articles of trade are corn, oil, seeds, wine, and Flemish linens.-Ghent is first mentioned as a town in the 7th century. Toward the end of the 12th century it became the capital of Flanders, subsequently joined the Hanse league, and obtained the free navigation of the Rhine and other privileges; and by the end of the 13th century it had so much increased in wealth and power that it surpassedParis. Charles V. was born in Ghent, as was also John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster," who derived from it his appellation. As early as the latter part of the 14th century, Froissart estimated the number of fighting men that Ghent could bring into the field at 80,000. Under Jacob van Arte-velde it revolted against the count of Flanders, and, with all Flanders, maintained its independence from 1338 to 1345. The revolt was renewed under his son Philip in 1382. (See Artevelde.) Soon afterward it passed into the possession of the dukes of Burgundy, against whom it rose in vain in 1450. At the end of the loth century there was no town in Christendom to be compared with it for power, political constitution, or the culture of its inhabitants.
By its jurisdiction over many large but subordinate towns, Ghent controlled more than its own immediate population, which has been estimated as high as 200,000. The consitution of the city was very liberal, and in all but name it was a republic. All this 'prosperity was destroyed by the insurrection that broke out in 1539, occasioned by an attempt to force upon Flanders the payment of 400,000 ducats, being the third part of a subsidy granted by the Netherlands to Charles V. This claim was resisted by Ghent as a violation of the great charter granted to the city by Mary, sister of the emperor and regent of the Netherlands. Charles V. punished this resistance by depriving the city of all its privileges and immunities (1540). A number of the principal citizens were executed; the revenues, and all property held by the corporation or the traders in common, were confiscated; the ancient form of government was abolished; the right to appoint the city magistrates was vested in the crown; a new system of laws and political administration was established; and orders were given for erecting a strong citadel in order to bridle the revolutionary spirit of the population.
A fine of 150,000 ducats, in addition to the 400,000, was imposed upon the citizens, as well as an annual contribution of 6,000 for the support of the garrison. A congress assembled in Ghent in 1576 to form a confederacy for the expulsion of the Spaniards from the Netherlands. The massacre of Antwerp and the eloquence of the prince of Orange produced a quickening effect upon its deliberations, which had proceeded with decorum while the citadel was being cannonaded. The latter fell on the same day (Nov. 8, 1576) which saw the conclusion of the treaty known as the '"Pacification of Ghent," and in the following year it was razed to the ground. In the stormy period which followed, in which the revolt against the* Spanish authority was varied by intestine dissensions, the city became a prey to riot and anarchy. Early in the spring of 1584 a formal resolution was passed by the government of Ghent to open negotiations with Spain, and within three months after the murder of 'William of Orange, whose policy had saved the city on many occasions, it fell into the hands of the duke of Parma, the Spanish viceroy (Sept. 17, 1584). The citadel was rebuilt, and about a third of the population left the city.
In 1598 Ghent, with the other cities and provinces of the Netherlands, was severed from the Spanish crown in favor of Isabella, daughter of Philip II., who married Albert, son of the emperor of Germany. Louis XIV. took it in 1678, but restored it soon after to Spain in the peace of Nimeguen. During the war of the Spanish succession, at the end of which it was given by the treaty of Rastadt to Austria, Ghent was alternately in the hands of both contending parties. It was also taken by the French in the war of the Austrian succession, and twice in the campaigns of the revolution, when it became the capital of the French department of the Scheldt. After the downfall of Napoleon in 1814 it was attached to the kingdom of the Netherlands. During the hundred days Louis XVIII. took refuge in Ghent. The revolution of 1830 made Ghent, with Flanders, a part of the new kingdom of Belgium. Ghent is associated with American history by the treaty concluded there, Dec. 24, 1814, which terminated the second war between Great Britain and the United States.
The Place St. Phara'ilde, and Gateway of the Old Castle of the Counts of Flinders.