View on Geraardsbergen in 1648
The City of Geraardsbergen came into existence thanks to its location, which was of strategically importance in the 11th century. Count Baldwin VI (Boudewijn VI) of Flanders (also count of Hainaut), established this fortified city, probably in 1067-70, as a precautionary measure against invasions from his neighbours, the German emperor through his vassal in the Duchy of Brabant, or any future Count of Hainaut.
To get the city populated, Count Baldwin VI bestowed several rights to Geraardsbergen through a "stadskeure" (city statute), among which guaranteed freedom for its citizens (in opposition to the villeins living on feudal domains). No written copy of this city statute remains. It even might only have been an oral promise from the count, put to paper for the first time by Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders from 1168 to 1191. A replica of a copy, dating back to 1350, of the city statute, translated into nowadays Dutch, is being kept in the entrance hall of the City Hall of Geraardsbergen.
After a hesitating start, Geraardsbergen City grew into an important center in the County of Flanders.
By the end of the 11th century, the Count of Flanders, supported by the Lord of Boelare, succeeded into transferring the Abbey of Dikkelvenne to the City of Geraardsbergen. The abbey was renamed as Saint Adrian Abbey. The huge popularity of Saint Adrian, one of the saints worshipped against the plague, contributed to the growth of the city. Around 1200, Our Lady Hospital was established in Geraardsbergen, one of the oldest in Flanders.
The City of Geraardsbergen has a valuable art heritage and several places of interest : the city hall, Saint Bartholomew Church (Sint-Bartholomeuskerk), Marbol, Manneken Pis, Dierkost, Saint Catherine Churh (Sint-Catharinakerk), the church of the Josephite Fathers, and so on.
Source: Website Geraardsbergen City,
www.geraardsbergen.be, history, 2005.