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Mons (môNs) [key], Du. Bergen, commune (1991 pop. 91,726), capital of Hainaut prov., SW Belgium, near the French border. Located at the junction of the Canal du Centre and the Condé-Mons Canal, it is the processing and shipping center of the Borinage district, and the closing of most of the coal mines has caused economic hardship. It is also a manufacturing center. Known since the 7th cent., Mons became (1295) the seat of the counts of Hainaut. In the wars of the 16th to 18th cent., it was often attacked and occupied by Dutch, Spanish, and French forces. In World Wars I and II the city was the site of several battles. Of note in Mons are the Gothic Church of St. Waltrude (15th–16th cent.), the city hall (15th cent.), and many beautiful houses of the 16th to 18th cent. Educational institutions include the Polytechnic Faculty, the Academy of Beaux Arts, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the Higher Institute of Architecture. The city is the scene of an annual pageant and festival of St. George.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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