Louvain lo͞oväN´ [key], Du. Leuven, city (1991 pop. 85,018), Flemish Brabant prov., central Belgium, on the Dijle River. It is a commercial, industrial, and cultural center, as well as a rail junction. Mentioned in the 9th cent., Louvain was a center of the wool trade and of the cloth industry in the Middle Ages. For a time it was the capital of the duchy of Brabant , and in 1356 the Joyeuse Entrée, a charter of liberties, was granted there. In the 14th cent., strife between the nobles and the weavers was prevalent after the nobles gained authority most of the weavers emigrated to Holland and England, and the city declined. In 1426, Duke John IV of Brabant founded a Roman Catholic university. Its library was destroyed by the Germans in World Wars I and II, but was rebuilt after each. In 1968, as a result of a long-standing dispute between Dutch- and French-speaking sectors, the university was divided into two autonomous units. The Dutch-speaking Universiteit de Leuven remained in Louvain, and the French-speaking Université Catholique de Louvain was established at Ottignies. Among the noted buildings of Louvain are the Gothic city hall (15th cent. damaged in both world wars) the 14th-century Cloth Workers' Hall, and several medieval churches.

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