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The Royal Lowlands refers to the low-lying basin along the European North Sea Coast south of where the Scheld River meets the ocean. The Treaty of Verdun in 843 handed these lands over to West Francia, which would later become the Kingdom of France. The region gave the Kings of France a bounty of wealth. The region was one of the high medieval economic powerhouses of Europe. The cloth trade, in particular, turned the region into Northern Europe’s wealthiest corner. The wealth and political autonomy of Flanders would drive the Renaissance across Europe.
Regions of the Royal Lowlands
Artois is a Medieval County based around Arras, a center of quality wool production dating back to Roman times and a center of coal mining in recent ones. The Medieval French Crown granted the wealthy city of Arras privileges to encourage its economic development, kickstarting the entire fabric industry throughout Flanders. Arras and Artois offer a spectacular, though incomplete, glimpse into the cityscapes of Renaissance Flanders.
Flanders is the only part of the Lowlands to have never been part of the Holy Roman Empire. Indeed, today it is also the only part of West Francia to never have reunited with France. This independence allowed the region’s cities to experiment and develop without the constraints of feudalism. In the Middle Ages, the cities of Bruges and Ghent were global centers of trade, and today this legacy is evident in the spectacular cityscapes of the region.