Battle of the golden spurs
Info on Belgium
The Town Hall
Our Lady's Church
According to archaeological discoveries, people were already living around
1500 B.C. where Kortrijk stands today. But there was no real colony before
First century A.D.: the Gallo-Roman colony called Caroticum came to the
light. It was settled on the borders of the Lys river and was situated on
the crossroads of Tongeren-Kassel and Tournai-Oudenburg. Caroticum is a
Latin form of an old Celtic name.
In Roman times Kortrijk saw its first trade activity at the junction of two
Roman roads. In the 5th century the Romans made way for the Frankish, who
converted to Christianism.
Between the 9th and the 18th centuries, Kortrijk was part of the County of
Flanders. This county was continuously endangered by the great European
powers. As a result, Flanders was annexed to the Burgundian, Habsburgian and
Spanish empires respectively. The Battle of the Spurs in1302, was the most
famous battle in the Flemish medieval history.
The 15th century marked the beginning of the textile industry, when artisans
laid the groundwork for damask, tapestry and sheet weaving.
Between the 16th and the 18th centuries, as a result of religious wars and
various border conflicts, periods of prosperity alternated with serious
crises. By the end of the 18th century, the French Revolution would lay the
foundation of modern society. During the French reign society was modernized
dramatically. A new legal system came into force, viz. the Code Napoleon. A
new political structure provided the basis for the district of Kortrijk
within the Department de la Lys, the current Province of West Flanders.
After a brief reunification with the Netherlands (1815-1830), Belgium gained
independence. The industrial revolution increased the pace of infrastructure
development: the railway and the canal Bossuit-Kortrijk had to secure the
supply of raw materials. However, in the 19th century the Kortrijk region -
in common with the rest of Flanders - remained a poor region. As a result,
part of the population emigrated to the industrialized regions in Northern
France or even to North America.
The inter-bellum period was characterized by economic diversification, which
fostered employment and prosperity. The flax industry set the tone. Thanks
to the retting process, the water in the river Leie was of an excellent
quality, which earned the Leie the name of "Golden River".
In the 60s and 70s the Kortrijk region underwent a new, far-reaching
reconversion. Following from the flax culture and the internal dynamics of
family businesses, new activities were developed, so that the region reached
an extraordinarily high level of prosperity.
This period is characterized by social and cultural emancipation: the good
relations between the workers and their employers, mostly in family
businesses, supported local prosperity. The Flemish culture as well as the
Dutch language have taken a firm position in the bilingual Belgian state.